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

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

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

Title: Recent Developments in European Thought
Author: Various
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Recent Developments in European Thought" ***

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







    'To hope till Hope creates
    From its own wreck the thing it contemplates.'

    _Prometheus Unbound._








This volume, like its two predecessors, arises from a course of lectures
delivered at a Summer School at Woodbrooke, near Birmingham, in August,
1919. The first, in 1915, dealt with 'The Unity of Western Civilization'
generally, the second, in 1916, with 'Progress'. In this book an attempt
has been made to trace the same ideas in the last period of European
history, broadly speaking since 1870.

It was felt at the conclusion of the course that the point of view was
so enlightening and offered so many opportunities of useful further
study that it should, if possible, be resumed in future years. A large
number of subjects were suggested--'The Relations of East and West,'
'The Duty of Advanced to Backward Peoples,' 'The Rôle of Science in
Civilization,' &c.--all containing the same elements of 'progress in
unity' which have inspired the previous volumes. It was thought that
possibly for the next session 'World Reconstructions Past and Present'
might be most appropriate.

If any reader feels moved by interest or sympathy with the general idea
to send suggestions, either as to possible places of meeting, or topics
for treatment or any other kindred matter, they would be welcomed either
by the Editor or by Edwin Gilbert, Woodbrooke, Selly Oak, Birmingham.


BERKHAMSTED, _December, 1919._

[** Transcriber's Note: This text contains a single instance of a
    character with a diacritical mark. The character is a lower-case
    'r' with a caron (v-shaped symbol) above it. In the text, that
    character is depicted thusly: [vr] **]



   I. GENERAL SURVEY                                     7
      By F.S. MARVIN.

  II. PHILOSOPHY                                        25
      By Professor A.E. TAYLOR, St. Andrews.

 III. RELIGION                                          65
      By Dr. F.B. JEVONS, Hatfield Hall, Durham.

  IV. POETRY                                            91
      By Professor C.H. HERFORD, Manchester.

   V. HISTORY                                          140
      By G.P. GOOCH.

  VI. POLITICAL THEORY                                 164
      By A.D. LINDSAY, Balliol College, Oxford.

 VII. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT                             181
      1. THE INDUSTRIAL SCENE, 1842                    181
      2. MINING OPERATIONS                             195
      3. THE SPIRIT OF ASSOCIATION                     209
         By C.R. FAY, Christ's College, Cambridge.

VIII. ATOMIC THEORIES                                  216
      By Professor W.H. BRAGG, F.R.S.

  IX. BIOLOGY SINCE DARWIN                             229
      By Professor LEONARD DONCASTER, F.R.S.

   X. ART                                              247

  XI. A GENERATION OF MUSIC                            262
      By Dr. ERNEST WALKER, Balliol College, Oxford.

 XII. THE MODERN RENASCENCE                            293




We are trying in this book to give some impression of the principal
changes and developments of Western thought in what might roughly be
called 'the last generation', though this limit of time has been, as it
must be, treated liberally. From the political point of view the two
most impressive milestones, events which will always mark for the
consciousness of the West the beginning and the end of a period, are no
doubt the war of 1870 and the Great War which has just ended. From 1870
to 1914 would therefore be the most obvious delimitation of our study;
and it is a striking illustration of human paradox, that a great stage
in the growth of unity should be marked by two international tragedies
and crowned by the most terrible of all.

Nearly coincident with the political divisions there are important
landmarks in the history of thought. During the 'sixties, while the
power of Prussia was rising to its culmination in the Franco-Prussian
War, the Darwinian theory of development was gaining command in biology.
To many thinkers there has appeared a clear connexion between that
biological doctrine and the 'imperialism', Teutonic and other, which was
so marked a feature of the time. In any case 'post-Darwinian' might well
describe the scientific thought of the age we have in view.

Industrially the epoch is as clearly defined as it is in politics and
science. For in 1871, the year of the Treaty of Frankfort, an act was
passed after a long working-class agitation, assisted by certain eminent
members of the middle class, legalizing strikes and Trade Unions. And
now at the end of the war, all over the world, society is faced by the
problem of reconciling the full rights, and in some cases the extreme
demands, of 'labour', with democratic government and the prosperity and
social union of the whole community. This is the situation discussed in
our seventh and eighth chapters.

In philosophy and literature a similar dividing line appears. In the
'sixties Herbert Spencer was publishing the capital works of his system.
The _Principles of Psychology_ was published in 1872. This 'Synthetic
Philosophy' has proved up to the present the last attempt of its kind,
and with the vast increase of knowledge since Spencer's day it might
well prove the last of all such syntheses carried out by a single mind.
Specialism and criticism have gained the upper hand, and the fresh turn
to harmony, which we shall notice later on, is rather a harmony of
spirit than an encyclopaedic unity such as the great masters of system
from Descartes to Comte and Spencer had attempted before.

In literature also the dates agree. Dickens, most typical of all early
Victorians, died in 1870. George Eliot's last great novel, _Daniel
Deronda_, was published in 1876. Victor Hugo's greatest poem, _La
Légende des Siècles_, the imaginative synthesis of all the ages,
appeared in the 'seventies. There have been many writers since, with
Tolstoi perhaps at their head, in whom the fire of moral enthusiasm has
burnt as keenly, nor have the borders of human sympathy been narrowed.
Yet one cannot fail to note a less pervading and ready confidence in
human nature, a less fervent belief that the good must prevail if good
men will only follow their better leading.

Here then is our period, marked in public affairs by a progress from
one conflict, desperate and tragic, between two of the leading nations
of the West, to another and still more terrible which swept the whole
world into the maelstrom; and marked in thought by a certain dispersion
and depression of mind, a falling in the barometer of temperament and
imagination, but also by a grappling with realities at closer quarters.
No wonder that some have seen here a 'tragedy of hope' and the
'bankruptcy of science'.

But it must be noted at once that these obvious landmarks, though
striking, are in themselves superficial. They require explanation rather
than give it, and in some cases an explanation, much less tragic than
the symptom, is suggested by the symptom itself. We may at least fairly
treat them at starting simply as beacon-hills to mark out the country we
are traversing. We have to go deeper to find out the nature of the soil,
and travel to the end to study the vista beyond.

In making this fuller analysis of man's recent achievement, especially
in the West, the first, and perhaps ultimately the weightiest, element
we have to note is the continued and unexampled growth of science. Was
there ever a more fertile period than the generation which succeeded
Darwin's achievement in biology and Bunsen's and Kirchhoff's with the
spectroscope? Both have created revolutions, one in our view of living
things, the other in our view of matter. In physics the whole realm of
radio-activity has come into our ken within these years, and during the
same time chemistry, both organic and inorganic, has been equally
enlarged. All branches of science in fact show a similar expansion, and
a new school of mathematicians claim that they have recast the
foundations of the fundamental science and assimilated it to the
simplest laws of all thinking. Some discussion of this will be found in
the chapter on philosophy.

It may serve as tonic--an antidote to that depression of spirits of
which we have spoken--to consider that such an output of mental energy,
rewarded by such a harvest of truth, is without precedent in man's
evolution. No single generation before ever learnt so much not only of
the world around it but also of the doings of previous generations. For
since 1870 we have been living in an age as much distinguished for
historical research as for natural science. If mankind is now to go down
in a wrack of war, starvation, bankruptcy, and ruin, the sunset sky at
least is glorious.

And there is tonic in another thought which rises from the very nature
of this recent blossoming of knowledge. It marks the growing
co-operative activity of mankind. The fact that science and research of
every kind have advanced so rapidly is not only, or even primarily, a
proof of the continued vigour of the human intellect, but of the
stability of society, the coherence of social classes and nations, the
readiness of the bulk of men to allow their more immediately productive
work to be used for the support of those whose labours are in a more
remote and ideal sphere. Science did not begin until the ancient
priesthoods were enabled to pursue disinterested inquiries without the
need of earning their daily bread. Civilization, we may be assured, is
not threatened in its most vital part so long as the general will
permits the application of the general resources to the promotion of
learning and research without a claim for immediate marketable results.
Our last generation has not only permitted but has encouraged this in
all Western countries, and in other countries, such as China and Japan,
influenced by the West. The money thus spent is vastly greater than in
any equal period before, and the United States, the land of the fullest
democratic claims, is also the land of the amplest generosity for
scientific and educational purposes.

The growth of knowledge is a symptom not only of the collective capacity
of living man but also of the continuity of the present age with those
which had laid the earlier foundations. One school of vigorous action,
and still more vigorous talk, advises our generation to be done with the
past and make a fresh start on more ideal lines. This is not the voice
of science, which, just in proportion to its growth, has shown more and
more care for its origins and its past: and this is true at every stage
in the history of thought. The Greeks, fighting for freedom and
establishing in the city-state a new form of political organization for
the world, were yet in their scientific evolution true and grateful
successors of the priests who first compiled the observations necessary
for the scientific study of the heavens and founded the art of medicine.
The men of the Renascence, who were burnt and imprisoned for doubting
the verbal inspiration of Aristotle and the Bible, were in fact going
back to an earlier impulse than that of the scholastic philosophy. The
mathematics of Pappus and the mechanics of Archimedes had to be carried
further before the new sciences of which Aristotle had given the first
sketch could be securely founded. The pioneers of the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries built therefore on the past, although accused of
impiety and revolution; and it must be so with any intellectual
construction which is to hold its own and form the future. So far from
there being any opposition in nature between history and science, the
two are but different aspects of one continuous enlargement of the human
spirit, which sees and lives more fully at each great moment of its
progress, and, so far as it is alive, is always informed by the real
achievements of the past. We illustrate this advance in the marvellous
record of our fifth chapter, and its spirit is summed up in the great
saying of Benedetto Croce that 'all history is contemporary history'.

But the reader may here begin not unnaturally to feel some impatience
with the argument, and to think that he is being carried into a region
of ideal imaginings quite out of touch with the realities of blood and
hatred and starvation with which we have been actually surrounded at the
end of our period. It is well to be thus sharply reminded of the
contrariety of facts, when we are sailing smoothly along on the current
of any theory, whether of education or politics, religion or art. To get
right with our objector, to set our sail so that the rocks in the stream
may not completely wreck us, we will go back to the point where we were
insisting on the obvious truth that the collective resources and
capacity of mankind have of late enormously increased.

The material fruits of science are among our most familiar wonders--the
motor-car, the aeroplane, wireless telegraphy. But it is not
sufficiently realized how all these things and the like are dependent
upon the co-operation of a multitude of minds, the collective rather
than the individual capacity of man. Men had dreamt for ages of flying,
but it was not until the invention of the internal combustion engine
that bird-like wings and the mechanical skill of man could be brought
together and made effective. It is Humanity that flies, and not the
individual man alone. The German Daimler, the French Levassor, are the
two names which stand out most prominently in this later development of
engineering as our own Watt and Stephenson stand in the history of the
steam-engine. Wireless telegraphy offers a similar story. Faraday,
Maxwell, Hertz, Lodge, Marconi; the names are international. In 1913,
before ever the League of Nations had been planned, Lord Bryce was
telling an International Congress in London that 'the world is becoming
one in an altogether new sense.... More than four centuries ago the
discovery of America marked the first step in the process by which the
European races have gained dominion over nearly the whole earth. As the
earth has been narrowed through the new forces science has placed at our
disposal, the movements of politics, of economics, and of thought, in
each of its regions, become more closely interwoven. Whatever happens in
any part of the globe has now a significance for every other part. World
History is tending to become one History.'

The war, tragically as it has shaken this growing oneness of mankind,
has not destroyed it. In some ways it has even stimulated growth.
Against a background of blood and fire the League of Nations has been
forced into actual being, and the long isolation alike of the ancient
East and the youthful West has been broken down at last. Within the
State, again, even allowing for all setbacks, the efforts at social
solidarity have on the whole been strengthened, not weakened. This war
his been an accelerator of, not, as the Napoleonic, a brake upon,
reform. Many reforms, especially in England, which had been long
discussed and partly attempted before the war, were carried out with
dispatch at its close. This was the case with education, with the
franchise and with measures affecting the health, the housing, and the
industrial conditions of the people. And there is now a greater and
stronger demand among us for a further advance, above all for making
every citizen not merely or even primarily a voting unit, but a
consciously active, consciously co-operative, member of the community.

Comte, who died in 1857 just before our period, was perhaps the clearest
voice in Europe to herald both movements: the advance to international
unity, and social reform within the State. It was he who, under the
title of _Western Republic_, proclaimed the existence of a real unity of
nations, whose business it was to strengthen themselves as a moral
force, to act as trustees for the weaker people and lead the world. It
was he who, in the phrase 'incorporation of the proletariate', summed up
all those social reforms in which we are immersed, which aim at making
every citizen a full member of his nation. Like all ideals it was far
easier to conceive and to respect than to foresee or to secure the
necessary means to put it into effect. Perhaps the perfect symmetry of
the plan, the over-sanguine hopes of the man who framed it, have even
proved some hindrance to its rapid spread. It has seemed, like Dante's
polity in the _De Monarchia_, to take its place rather among the utopias
than the practical schemes of reform, and when men saw the infinite
complexity of the problems and met the living lions in the path, they
suffered the comparative depression which we have noticed as a feature
of the age.

Here indeed it would appear that we have reached one of the most serious
cross-currents in recent European thought. In science, in philosophy, in
politics, and in social economics, though we see the goal at least in
outline, we are in some danger of being overwhelmed by the difficulties
of the pursuit. Our vision is somewhat clouded and our steps hampered by
the entangling details of the country between. It is substantially the
same problem which faces us both in the philosophical and the practical
sphere, and the analogy between the two is instructive. Spencer's
synthesis, which we instanced as the last encyclopaedic attempt to
present all knowledge--at least all scientific knowledge--in one system,
has been riddled fore and aft by hostile shot, though in the end more
of it may be found to have survived than is seen at present above water.
The philosopher who in our generation has acquired the European vogue
most comparable to that of Spencer is Bergson. Now Bergson has dealt
some of the shrewdest blows at Spencer's system, but he does not set out
to construct a rival system of his own. He is most careful to say that
he is not doing this, that any such work must be done by later workers,
that he is only making suggestions for a new point of view. It is
interesting to note in general terms what that point of view is, as we
shall have occasion later on to revert to it. It rests on a new
interpretation of the nature and growth of conscious life. He is in
short a _semeur d'idées-force_ rather than an encyclopaedist or a
system-maker. The difference is characteristic of the age and might be
traced in the other contemporary schools, the pragmatists, the new
realists, and the rest. The new Descartes is looked for but not
announced. Perhaps when he arrives he will prove to be a whole army and
not a single man. But if an army, it will need a better co-ordination, a
more clearly defined common spirit, than is at present apparent in the
philosophic hosts.

A similar perplexity in the practical sphere has a similar cause but a
graver urgency. The multiplicity and contrariety of the facts are upon
us as we face in practice the ideals which we have accepted from the
earlier thinkers, from the century of hope. In science and philosophy we
feel that the cause of unity may with some safety be left to look after
itself. If the new Descartes does not appear in person, we may have
confidence that plenty of inferior substitutes will be found, who, if
they work together, will keep alive the great task of unifying thought.
For in this region the nature of things assists our efforts and will
sooner or later get the work done. The stars in their courses are
fighting for us and for unity. But in the world of wills the task is
tenfold more difficult and the dangers imminent. The poor and labouring
millions, the oppressed and dissatisfied nations, are forcing the door,
and though there is fair agreement in theory as to how they should live
and work together in peace, yet the realization is by no means
automatic, and the difficulties thicken as we come nearer to them.

But even here, perhaps most of all here, it is the first word of wisdom
to take stock of the favourable symptoms, to see clearly the forces on
which we can rely in our forward march. And they are not far to seek in
all classes and in every Western land. Read any account of an English
community in the early nineteenth century, say George Eliot's 'Milby' in
the _Scenes of Clerical Life_. How far more humane, more enlightened,
and happier is the state of the succeeding community, the Nuneaton or
Coventry of the present day! No question but the novelist would have
welcomed as a convincing proof of her 'meliorist' doctrine the progress
made in her own homeland in the century since her birth. We know by
personal experience the general kindliness and cheerfulness of our
fellow citizens, their tolerance, their readiness to hope, their
prevalent orderliness and self-restraint. We are thinking perhaps of a
certain tendency to slackness, a dangerous falling-off in the output of
work. If that be so, we need only look at the activities of any
playground, or of a class-room in a well-ordered school, to be sure of
the future. The natural man, at least in our temperate climates, and as
exhibited in the behaviour of his natural progenitor, the child, is all
for vigour and experiment. It is we, the adult community, the trustees
of the child, who are to blame if his maturity fails of the eager
questioning and the untiring labours of his unspoilt youth.

But we are dealing in this volume rather with changes of thought than
with the actual life of the times. Theories affecting the organization
of work, the distribution of the product, and the government of society
have had much to do with our present difficulties. They have arisen from
the conditions of the industrial revolution and the doctrines of the
political revolution which began about the same time, and they have
reacted ever since on the work and wages, the life and government of the
mass of Western men. They are discussed in our eighth chapter. It may be
said broadly that in this sphere, as in philosophy, the old and
_simpliste_ doctrines have been criticized almost to the point of
extinction, but that no new all-embracing practical synthesis has taken
their place. The Marxian theory that social evolution has been due
mainly to economic causes, that these have produced inevitably the
present--or recent--capitalist system, which inevitably must be turned
upside down in the interests of manual labour--this is no longer
dominant in any Western community, though it is fighting a desperate
battle in Eastern Europe. But it is equally true that the capitalist
system, presented in an ideal and moralized form in the Utopias of St.
Simon and Comte, is not generally accepted now as an ideal for industry.
The spirit which Comte desired and believed would animate the moralized
employer, acting as the providence of his workpeople, we look to find
rather in a reconstituted and moralized State. We all share this hope in
our degree, _The Times_ as well as the _Daily News_, and we do not
expect the new spirit to operate simply through the free-will and
private capacity and initiative of individuals. The joint stock company
has settled that.

What we are waiting and hoping for is the time when, under the aegis of
a benevolent State, capital and labour may live together in many
mansions and, like the monks of old, follow many rules of life. In this
region our ideal of unity is more diversified than in the realm of
thought, and there is no demand for a Descartes.

And here it is interesting to note that one of the most telling books on
social reconstruction published since the war is by an international
writer. This is Dr. Walther Rathenau, a German of Jewish descent, whose
ideas have just been popularized by a Frenchman, M. Gaston Raphael[1].
He fits in well with our general argument by virtue of his double
attitude, holding, on the one hand, that under the general supervision
of the State, industry should be organized in various self-governing
groups, 'Social Guilds' or 'professional syndicates' in which both
employers and workmen would be included with representatives of the
Government; while, on the other hand, he is emphatic that progress must
proceed from a changed and widening mentality, and aim in turn at
increasing the depth and capacity of the individual soul.

Our book has no special chapter on the League of Nations itself. The
idea pervades the whole, and the subject was treated in detail in the
first volume of this series (_The Unity of Western Civilization_, 1915).
The history behind the League offers a striking analogy to the other
struggles for unity of which we have spoken. There is the same advance
from the idea of a unity dictated and controlled by one mind to a unity
of spirit arising from the free co-operation of many diverse elements
all aiming at the same general good. Down even to yesterday it seemed to
many minds a necessary condition that one man, gathering in his hands
the resources of one great State, should from that centre dominate the
world. And in the dawn of human history it was no doubt often true, the
only way in which the world could then advance. This was true for
Alexander, the prototype of all the Roman conquerors, and true,
conspicuously, for the Roman empire at its best. But, after the break-up
of the empire, unity of this type became a delusive mirage, misleading
all who, like the Holy Roman emperors, sought to enjoy it again. By the
time of Napoleon it had become an anachronism of the most dangerous and
reactionary kind. The world was then too vast, the freedom of men and
nations too various and deeply rooted. Meanwhile a real unity, stronger
than before, had been forming beneath the surface and needed fresh
institutions to body it forth. This movement for unity has been, as we
have seen, precipitated by the war into visible and decisive action. It
had been simmering for three hundred years in 'Great Designs', 'Projects
of Peace', Treaties of Arbitration, and Hague Conventions.

Among much that is doubtful in the future of the League, one thing
stands out as a capital certainty. Without losing the very spirit of its
being it can never become a satellite system, revolving round one
dominant Power or even a dominant clique. It was formed to contradict
and destroy an oppressive imperialism: it can only thrive by the free
co-operation of the partners, finding their proper end in a prosperity
shared by all.

Such is a short summary of some of the leading topics treated here,
those perhaps in which public interest has been most keenly aroused. But
nothing has been said in this introduction of Art or Music, and of
Religion only a little by implication. It may be well in conclusion to
attempt a still more summary impression of the main drift of the period
on the spiritual side. We may in such a wider view see some common
tendency in all these activities, some inspiration of religion, some
link with art, some impulse to live strongly and to hope.

The present writer would find this leading thread in the increasing
stress laid by recent European thought on the spiritual, or
psychological, side of every problem, in the growing desire to
understand the character of man's own nature and to develop all the
powers of his soul.

One of the latest authorities[2] on anthropology has told us that 'to
develop soul is progress', and he has followed the clue through the
meagre relics of Palaeolithic and Neolithic man. So does the last
science of the nineteenth century throw light on the dim recesses of the
past. For unquestionably psychology is the characteristic science added
to the hierarchy in our period; it has crowned biology and is exercising
a profound influence on philosophy, literature, and even politics. If
Aristotle was its founder, if it was Descartes who first showed its
profound connexion with philosophy, it is to workers in our own day that
we must look for those methods of accurate observation, comparison, and
the study of causes without which it could not advance farther. And
modern psychology has advanced far enough to see that we must include in
its purview the 'soul' of a minnow as well as of a man. Descartes had
stopped too short, for to him animal life, as distinct from human,
showed only the movements of automata. But now, just as the biologist
conceives man as part of one infinite order of living things, so the
psychologist believes that the facts of his consciousness, the crown of
life, must find their place somewhere related to the simplest movements
of the amoeba. Hence the whole of animate evolution, and not only that
part of which Dr. Marett spoke, may be thought of as the growth of soul.

But, the objector will inquire, does this imply the enlargement of every
individual or even of the average or the typical personality? And if
not, what becomes of a 'growth of the soul'?

To this we must admit the impossibility of any complete, or even
approximate, answer with our present knowledge. We can only note one or
two points of certainty or of confident belief. The first, that there
have been individual men, an Aristotle or a Shakespeare, in the past,
with whom later ages never have, and perhaps never may, compare. The
second, that there are good grounds for thinking that the average man
has improved in goodness and in knowledge since we first knew him dimly
in the dawn of history. But more important and more certain is the fact
that the collective soul of man has grown, and all the extensions of
knowledge and of power of which our volume speaks bear witness to it.
They are essentially social in origin and outlook, and rest on a
foundation of common thought immeasurably wider than any in the more
distant past.

The man of science, the statesman, even the poet, now speaks for a
multitude, and out of a multitudinous consciousness, which had not
gathered to support, to inspire, or to weigh down, an Aristotle, a
Pericles, a Cromwell. This is a dominating fact from which it is well to
take our start. Assuredly the soul of mankind has been collectively
enlarged and enriched. How far the individual can share in this
enlargement is still one of the problems of the future. The West has
committed itself to a general policy of education which aims at making
every citizen a full partaker in the advance of the race. But it cannot
be said that this policy has yet been really tried. It is the
acknowledged ideal to which in all Western countries partial steps have
been taken, and the democracy, through their most enlightened leaders,
will continue to press for its fulfilment. As this approaches, the
individual may become more and more in his degree the microcosm which
philosophers have proclaimed him, and the enlargement of the soul, which
we know to be a fact for humanity, will become a fact for every man.
Need we doubt that with the general raising in the level new eminences
will appear? Do not great mountains sometimes rise from the sea and
sometimes from the high plateau? We are now in the very midst of a
struggle for settlement and incorporation, which, as it is accomplished,
should prepare the way for new excellences of every kind. What may not
be hoped of men if once they learn to live with their fellows? And they
can only so learn by studying them. This is felt by all contemporary
writers from Bergson in philosophy to Graham Wallas in politics. Poets
and novelists, above all, have turned more and more to problems of the
inner life.

The novelists who ushered in our age are significant of this, and none
more so than George Eliot, whose work, though somewhat out of fashion
for the moment, is yet marked by the transition from Victorian
complacency to modern unrest and modern hopes. Full of love and
appreciation for the old order in England--the contentment and humours
of the country-side, the difference of classes, the respect for
religion--she was carried by the evolutionary philosophy of her time
into thoughts of an eternal and world-wide order, the growth of
humanity, the kinship of man with the universe, the social nature of
duty. Her contribution was essentially psychological; she enlarged our
knowledge of the soul. She showed us, not certainly more living types
than Scott or Dickens, but more play of motives, more varied interests
in life, more mental crises. The soul, above all the woman's soul, had
widened its horizon between Flora Macdonald and Dorothea Brooke.

Every reader will think of famous novelists who have followed the same
broadening path, and their work is often really great as well as famous.
The history of thought has in fact throughout the last century been a
commentary on those words of Keats to which many of us have turned of
late for comfort and inspiration: 'The world is not a vale of tears, but
a vale of soul-making.' Tears there are in abundance, as the tears of
children. But sorrow is not the leading note of children, nor should it
be of humanity in growth. Soul-making--the practice and the theory--has
become more and more clearly and consciously the object of human thought
and endeavour. We need the greater mind to see the links in the
overwhelming mass of science, in the mazes of human action and history.
We need it still more to grasp and to preserve the unity of our social
life. Most of all for the healing of the world is the greater soul
needed, with a world-consciousness, some knowledge, some sympathy, some
hope for all mankind. Without this, a league of nations would be dead
before its birth.

The recent development of psychology, social as well as individual, its
pursuit on scientific lines, and its alliance with biology, suggest one
thought which applies generally to an age of science and may be found to
throw some illumination even on the future. Which of all types of modern
men is the most habitually hopeful, the man of letters, the politician,
the business man, or the man of science? There can be no question of the
answer. The typical man of science is sure of the greatness and solidity
of the work he shares, and confident that the future will extend and
make still more beneficial its results. His forward glance is more
assured because the backward reveals a course of growing strength and
continuous ascent. The physicist foresees unmeasured sources of energy,
still untapped. He warns us of our dangers, but has no doubt that, with
due foresight, we may overcome them, and make the reign of man upon the
planet wider and firmer than before. The doctor knows no disease which
may not in time yield to scientific treatment. The agricultural expert
foresees, and can produce, new types of grain and fruit which will
surpass the best yet known. And the trainer of youth, the man to whom
the new science of psychology stands most in stead, is the most hopeful
of them all. Dealing with human nature in its growth he puts no limits
to its powers of goodness and activity. He deplores the want of wise
methods in the past, and if he errs at all it is in an excess of
optimism, in believing that with new methods we may make a new man.

On this enlargement of the soul, enlightened by science, we build the
future. It is the crowning vision of the modern world, first sketched by
Descartes, filled out and strengthened by the life and thought of three
hundred years. In the interval we have lived much and learnt much, both
of our own nature and of the world in which we live. In our own age a
powerful stimulus has been given by a transformed biology and a new
science which shows the soul itself in growth from an immemorial past,
moulding the future by its own action, surmounting, while assimilating,
the mechanism which surrounds it. But for this building two things are
needed. One, that our souls, as builders, shall act as one with all our
fellows and strive for unity as well as power. The other, that in the
building the laws of growth shall be followed, which science has already
revealed in part and will reveal more fully. For the spirit of science
is the spirit of hope.


[Footnote 1: _Walther Rathenau. Ses Idées et ses Projets d'Organisation
Économique_. By Gaston Raphael (Paris: Payot, 4f. 50 c).]

[Footnote 2: R.R. Marett in _Progress and History_ (Oxford University




Between forty and fifty years ago a great European man of science, Emil
du Bois-Reymond, delivered before an audience of the leading scientific
men of Germany a famous discourse on _The Limits of our Knowledge of
Nature_, which he followed up some years later with a second discourse
on the _Seven Riddles of the Universe_. His object was to convince the
materialists of the 'seventies that there were at least seven such
unsound places in _their_ story of everything. Some of the 'riddles', he
admitted, might prove to be soluble as science advances, but the most
important of them will always remain unanswered. Our position as regards
them will always be _ignoramus et ignorabimus_--we do not know the
solutions and we never shall know them. I do not ask now whether du
Bois-Reymond was right in his judgement or not. If he was right, that
means, of course, that the one tale of everything will never be told by
human lips to human ears. There will no more ever be a finally true
Philosophy than there will ever be a finally perfect poem or picture or
symphony. But there is no reason why we should not, at any rate, try to
make our story as nearly perfect as we can, to reduce the number of the
places where we have to break off with 'that is another story', and
perhaps even to hazard a 'wide solution' in matters where absolute
certainty is beyond our reach. This is the work of human Philosophy as I
conceive it, and every man who is disinterestedly trying, without one
eye on wealth or fame or domination over the minds of others, to make
any contribution, however humble, to the telling of this one story or
the removal of loose threads from it, is inspired by the true spirit of
Philosophy. Whoever is doing anything else, no matter under what name or
with what profit or renown to himself, is no true philosopher.

This point of view implies, it will be seen, no sharp dividing line
between Philosophy and Science. The avoidance of this commonly made
distinction may offend two different sets of students--students of
metaphysics who wish to exalt their own pursuit at the expense of the
'special' sciences, and students of natural science who are accustomed
to pride themselves on the contrast between the finality and
definiteness of their own results and the vagueness and dubiousness of
the conclusion of the metaphysicians. But I must avow my own conviction
that the only distinction we can make is one of convenience, and it may
help to make my peace with both parties if I explain where I take this
distinction of convenience to come in. If we are ever to construct an
approximation to the one story of everything, clearly one result will
consist of a relatively few first principles and a great mass of
conclusions which can be inferred from them. And clearly again, since
men differ so widely in their mental aptitudes, some men will be most
successful in the detection of the principles which underlie all our
knowledge, and others most successful in the accumulation of facts and
the detailed working out of the application of the principles to the
facts. For convenience' sake it will be well that some of us shall be
engaged on the discovery of principles which are so very ultimate that
most men take them for granted without reflecting on them at all, and
others on the work of detail. Further, it will be convenient that,
within this second group, various students shall give their attention to
more special masses of detail, according to their several tastes and
aptitudes, some to the behaviour of moving particles, some to the
behaviour of living organisms, some again to the structure and
institutions of human societies, and so on. For convenience we may agree
to call preoccupation with the great ultimate principles Philosophy and
preoccupation with the application of the principles to masses of
special facts Science. If we make the distinction in this way, we shall
be following pretty closely the lines of historical development along
which 'special' sciences have gradually been constituted. When we go
back far enough in the history of human thought, we find that
originally, among the great Greeks who have taught the world to think,
there was no distinction at all between Science and Philosophy. Men like
Plato and Aristotle were busied at once with the discovery of the first
principles on which all our knowledge depends and with the construction
of a satisfactory theory of the planetary motions or of the facts of
growth and reproduction. As the study of special questions was pursued
further, it became advisable to hand over the treatment of first one and
then another group of closely interconnected questions to students who
would pursue them independently of research into ultimate
presuppositions. This is how Geometry, Astronomy, Biology came, in
ancient times, to be successively detached from general Philosophy. The
separation of Psychology--the detailed study of the processes of mental
life--from Philosophy hardly goes back beyond the days of our fathers,
and the separation of such studies as 'sociology' from general
Philosophy may be said to belong quite definitely to our own time. If
our children have leisure for study at all, no doubt they will see the
process carried much further. But it is important to bear in mind that
neither Philosophy in the narrower sense nor Science in the narrower
sense will be fruitfully prosecuted unless the men who are working at
each understand that their own labours are only part of a single
undivided work. Without a genuine grasp of some department of detailed
facts no man is likely to achieve much in the search for principles, for
it is by analysis of facts that principles are to be found, and without
real insight into broad general principles the worker in detail is
likely to achieve nothing but confusion. The antagonism between
'philosophers' and 'men of science' so characteristic of the last half
of the nineteenth century has been productive of nothing but evil. It
has given us 'philosophers' whose knowledge about the facts with which
serious thinking has to deal has been hopelessly inaccurate; it has also
given us 'men of science' who have been 'ageometretes' and have, by
consequence, when forced to offer some account of first principles,
taken refuge in the wildest and weirdest improvisation. For really
fruitful work we need the union in one person of the 'man of science'
and the 'philosopher', or at least the most intimate co-operation
between the two. Our theories of first principles require to be
constantly revised, purified, and quickened by contact with knowledge of
detailed fact; and our representations of fact call for constant
restatement in terms of a system of more and more thoroughly thought-out
postulates or first principles. This is perhaps why the department of
human knowledge in which the last half-century has seen the most
remarkable advances is just that in which unremitting scrutiny of
principles has gone most closely hand-in-hand with the mastery of fresh
masses of detail, pure mathematics, and again why the present state of
what is loosely called 'evolutionary' science is so unsatisfactory to
any one who has a high ideal of what a science ought to be. It exhibits
at once an enormous mass of detailed information and an apparently
hopeless vagueness about the meaning of the 'laws' by which all this
detail is to be co-ordinated, the reasons for thinking these laws true,
and the precise range of their significance. The work of men like
Cantor, Dedekind, Frege, Whitehead, Russell, is providing us with an
almost unexceptional theory of the first principles required for pure
mathematics. We are already in a position to say with almost complete
freedom from uncertainty what undefined simple notions and
undemonstrated postulates we have to employ in the science and to
express these ultimates without ambiguity. 'Evolutionary science,' rich
as is its information about the details of the processes going on in the
organic world, seems still to await its Frege or Russell. It talks, for
example, much of 'hereditary' and non-hereditary peculiarities, and some
of us can remember a time when our friends among the biologists seemed
almost ready to put each other to the sword for differences of opinion
about the inheritability of certain characteristics; but no one seems to
trouble himself much with the question a philosopher would think most
important of all--precisely what is meant by the metaphor of
'inheritance' when it is applied to the facts of biology. (Indeed, it is
still quite fashionable to talk not merely as if a 'character' were,
like a house or an orchard, a _thing_ which can be transferred bodily
from the possession of a parent to the possession of the offspring, but
even as though an 'heir' could 'inherit' himself.)

This last remark leads me to a further consideration. Science and
Philosophy are alike created by the simple determination to be
_thorough_ in our thinking about the problems which all things and
events present to us, to use no terms whose meaning is ambiguous, to
assert no propositions as true until we are satisfied that they are
either directly apprehended as true, or strictly deducible from other
propositions which are thus apprehended. But now that the area of facts
open to our exploration has become far too vast for a modern Francis
Bacon to 'take all knowledge for his province', and convenience has led
to the distinction between the philosopher and the man of science, a
_practical_ distinction between the two makes its appearance. It is
_convenient_ that our knowledge of detail should be steadily extended by
considering the consequences which follow from a given set of postulates
without waiting for the solution of the more strictly philosophical
questions whether our postulates have been reduced to the simplest and
most unambiguous expression, whether the list might not be curtailed by
showing that some of its members which have been accepted on their own
merits can be deduced from the rest, or again enlarged by the express
addition of principles which we have all along been using without any
actual formulation of them. The point may be illustrated by considering
the set of 'postulates' explicitly made in the geometry of Euclid. We
cannot be said to have made geometry thoroughly scientific until we know
whether the traditional list of postulates is complete, whether some of
the traditional postulates might not be capable of demonstration, and
whether geometry as a science would be destroyed by the denial of one or
more of the postulates. But it would be very undesirable to suspend
examination of the consequences which follow from the Euclidean
postulates until we have answered all these questions. Even in pure
mathematics one has, in the first instance, to proceed tentatively, to
venture on the work of drawing inferences from what seem to be plausible
postulates before one can pass a verdict on the merits of the postulates
themselves. The consequence of this tentative character of our
inquiries is that, so far as there is a difference between Philosophy
and Science at all, it is a difference in _thoroughness_. The more
philosophic a man's mind is, the less ready will he be to let an
assertion pass without examination as obviously true. Thus Euclid makes
a famous assumption--the 'parallel-postulate'--which amounts to the
assertion that if three of the angles of a rectilinear quadrilateral are
right angles, the fourth will be a right angle. The mathematicians of
the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, again, generally assumed
that if a function is continuous it can always be differentiated. A
comparatively unphilosophical mind may let such plausible assertions
pass unexamined, but a more philosophical mind will say to itself, when
it comes across them, 'You great duffer, aren't you going to ask _Why_?'
Suppose that, by way of experiment, I assume that the fourth angle of my
quadrilateral will be acute, or again obtuse, will the body of
conclusions I can now deduce from my set of postulates be free from
contradictions or not? If I really give my mind to the task, cannot I
define a continuous function which is _not_ differentiable? The raising
of the first question led in fact to the discovery of what is called
'non-Euclidean' geometry, the raising of the second has banished from
the text-books of the Calculus the masses of bad reasoning which long
made that branch of mathematics a scandal to logic and led distinguished
philosophers--Kant among them--to suspect that there are hopeless
contradictions in the very foundations of mathematical science.

Now, the effect of such careful scrutiny of first principles is not, of
course, to upset any conclusions which have been correctly drawn from a
set of premisses. All that happens is that the conclusion is no longer
asserted by itself as a truth; what is asserted is that the conclusion
is true _if_ the premisses are true. Thus we no longer assert the
'theorem of Pythagoras' as a categorical proposition; what we assert is
that the theorem follows as a consequence from the assertion of some
half-dozen ultimate postulates which will be found on analysis to be the
premisses of Euclid's proof of his forty-seventh proposition.

To come back to the point I wish to illustrate. The peculiarity of the
philosopher is simply that he still goes on to 'wonder' and ask _Why_
when other persons are ready to leave off. He is less contented than
other men to take things for granted. Of course, he knows that, in the
end, you cannot get away from the necessity of taking something for
granted, but he is anxious to take for granted as few things as
possible, and when he has to take something for granted, he is
exceptionally anxious to know exactly what that something is. De Morgan
tells a story of a very pertinacious controversialist who, being asked
whether he would not at least admit that 'the whole is greater than the
part', retorted, 'Not I, until I see what use you mean to make of the
admission.' I am not sure whether De Morgan quotes this as an ensample
for our following or as a warning for our avoidance, but to my own mind
it is an excellent specimen of the philosophic temper. Until you know
what use is going to be made of your admission, you do not really know
what it is you have admitted. It is this superior thoroughness of
Philosophy which Plato has in mind when he says of his supreme science
'Dialectic' that its business is to examine and even to 'destroy'
([Greek: anairein]) the assumptions of all the other sciences. It does
not let propositions which they have been content to take for granted
pass without challenge, and it may actually 'destroy' them by showing
that there is no justification for asserting them. Thus Euclid's
assumption about parallels ceased to be included among the indispensable
premisses of geometry, and was 'destroyed' in Plato's sense when
Lobatchevsky, Bolyai, and Riemann showed that complete bodies of
self-consistent geometrical theory can be deduced from sets of
postulates in which Euclid's assumption is explicitly denied. There are
two further points I should like to put before you in this connexion.
One of them has been forcibly argued by Mr. Bertrand Russell in his
admirable little work _The Problems of Philosophy_; the other has not.
Indeed, it is just in his unwillingness to allow the second of these
points to be raised at all that Mr. Russell seems to me to fall
conspicuously and unaccountably short of being what, by his own showing,
a great philosopher ought to be.

To take first the point with which Mr. Russell has dealt. There is one
very important branch of inquiry, if we ought not rather to say that
there are two, which appear to belong wholly to general Philosophy and
not to any of the 'sciences'. We cannot so much as ask the simplest
question without making the implication that there is an ultimate
distinction between true assertions and false ones, and certain definite
principles by which we can infer true conclusions from true premisses.
It is thus a very important part of the true 'story of everything' to
state the principles upon which valid reasoning depends, and to
enunciate the ultimate postulates which have to be taken for granted
whenever we try to reason validly about anything. This is the inquiry
known by the name of logic. We cannot expect men whose time is fully
taken up with the task of reaching true conclusions about some special
class of facts, those which concern the history of living organisms, or
the production and distribution of 'wealth', or the stability of various
forms of government, to burden themselves with this inquiry in addition
to their other tasks. They may fairly be allowed to leave the
construction of logic to others. But the man who makes it the business
of his life to get back to ultimate first principles must plainly be a
logician, though he need not be a specialist in biology or economics or
'sociology'. One great advantage which our children should have over
their parents as students of Philosophy is that the last half-century
has been one of unprecedented advance in the study of logic. In the
'logic of relations', founded by De Morgan, carried out further in the
third volume of Ernst Schröder's _Algebra der Logik_, and made still
more precise in the earliest sections of the _Principia Mathematica_ of
Whitehead and Russell, we now possess the most potent weapon of
intellectual analysis ever yet devised by man.

We must further remark that the serious pursuit of any kind of science
implies not only that there _are_ truths, but that some of them, at
least, can be _known_ by man. Hence there arises a problem which is not
quite the same as that of logic. What _is_ the relation we mean to speak
of when we talk of 'knowing' something, and what conditions must be
fulfilled in order that a proposition may not only be true but be known
by us to be true? The very generality of this problem marks it out as
one which belongs to what I have been all along calling Philosophy. (We
must be careful to note that the problem does not belong to the 'special
science' of psychology. Psychology aims at telling us how particular
thoughts and trains of thought arise in an individual mind, but it has
nothing to say on the question which of our thoughts give us 'knowledge'
and which do not. The 'possibility of knowledge' has to be presupposed
by the psychologist as a pre-condition of his particular investigations
exactly as it is presupposed by the physicist, the botanist, or the
economist.) The study of the problem 'what are the conditions which must
be satisfied whenever anything at all is known' is precisely what Kant
meant by _Criticism_, though the raising of the problem in this
definite form is not due to Kant but goes back to Plato, who made it the
subject of one of his greatest dialogues, the _Theaetetus_. The simplest
way to make the nature and importance of the problem clear is perhaps
the way Mr. Russell adopts in the _Problems of Philosophy_--to give a
very rough statement of Kant's famous solution.

Kant held that careful analysis shows us that any piece of knowledge has
two constituents of very diverse origin. It has a _matter_ or material
constituent consisting, as Kant held, of certain crude data supplied by
sensation, colours, tones of varying pitch and loudness, odours,
savours, and the like. It has also a _form_ or formal constituent. Our
data, when we know anything at all, are arranged on some definite
principle of order. When we recognize an object by the eye or a tune by
the ear, we do not apprehend simply so much colour or sound, but colours
spread out and forming a pattern or notes following one another in a
fixed order. (If you reverse the movement of a gramophone, you get the
same notes as before, but you do not get the same tune.) Further, Kant
thought it could be shown that the data of our knowledge are a
disorderly medley and come to us from without, being supplied by things
which exist and are what they are equally whether any one perceives them
or not, but the element of form, pattern, or order is put into them by
our own minds in the act of knowing them. Our minds are so constructed
that we _can_ only perceive things or think of them as connected by
certain definite principles of orderly arrangement. This, he thought,
explains the indubitable fact that we can sometimes know universal
propositions to be true without needing to examine all the individual
instances. I can know for certain that in every triangle the greater
angle is subtended by the greater side, or that every event has a
definite cause among earlier events, though I cannot examine all
triangles or all events one by one. This is because the postulates of
geometry and the law of causality are types of order which my mind
_puts_ into the data of its knowledge in the very act of attending to
them, and it is therefore certain that I shall never perceive or think
anything which does not conform to these types.

I give Kant's answer to the problem of Criticism not because I believe
it to be the correct one, but to show what important consequences follow
from our acceptance of a solution of this problem. If it is true that
one of the constituent elements of every piece of knowledge is a lump of
crude sensation, it follows that we can have no knowledge about our own
minds or souls, and still less about God, since, if there are such
beings as my soul and God, at any rate neither furnishes me with
sense-data. Hence a great part of Kant's famous _Critique of Pure
Reason_ is taken up by an elaborate attempt to show that psychology and
theology contain no real knowledge. We cannot even know whether there is
any probability for or against the existence of the soul or of God,
though Kant was very anxious to show that it is our duty on moral
grounds to _believe_ very firmly in both. Now if Kant is right about
this, his result is tremendously important. If psychology and theology
are wholly devoid of scientific value, it is most desirable that we
should know this, not only that we may not waste time in studying them,
but because it may reasonably make a very great difference to the
practical ordering of our lives. If Kant can be proved wrong, it is
equally important to be convinced that he is wrong. We may have been led
by belief in his teaching to neglect the acquisition of a great deal of
knowledge of high intrinsic interest, and may even have been betrayed
into basing the conduct of life on wrong principles. If, for example, we
can really know something about the soul, it _may_ be possible to know
whether it is immortal or not, and it is not unreasonable to hold that
certain knowledge, or even probable belief, on such a point ought to
make a great difference to our choice between rival aims in life. There
is clearly much less to be said for the recommendation to 'eat and drink
for to-morrow we die' if we have reason to believe our souls immortal
than if we have not, and some of us do not share Mr. Russell's view that
Philosophy is called upon to abdicate what the Greeks thought her
sovereign function, the regulation of life. It is true that Kant
convinced himself that it is a moral duty to act as if we knew the truth
of doctrines for or against which we cannot detect the slightest balance
of probability. But the logically sound inference from Kant's premisses
would be that, to use Pascal's famous metaphor, a prudent man will do
well to bet neither for nor against immortality. Unfortunately, as
Pascal said, you can't _help_ betting; _il faut parier_. If it makes any
difference to the relative values of different goods whether the soul
dies with the body or not, one _must_ take sides in the matter. In
making one's choices one must prefer either the things it is reasonable
to regard as good for a creature whose days are threescore years and ten
or those which it is reasonable to regard as best for a being who is to
live for ever. The only way to escape having to bet is not to be born.

I come to the second problem, the one which, as I think, Mr. Russell
arbitrarily ignores. A human being is not a mere knowledge-machine. The
relation of knower to known is not the only relation in which he stands
to himself and to other things. The 'world' is not merely something at
which he can look on, it is also an instrument for achieving what he
regards as good and for creating what he judges to be beautiful. To do
good and to make beautiful things are just as much man's business as to
discover truth. A knowledge of the world would be very incomplete if it
did not include knowledge of what ought to be, whether because it is
morally best or because it is beautiful, as well as knowledge of what is
actually there. And it is not immediately evident how the two, knowledge
of what ought to be and knowledge of what merely is, are connected.

There is, to be sure, one way in which it is pretty plain that they are
_not_ related. You cannot learn what ought to be--what is beautiful or
morally good--merely by first finding out what has been or what is
likely to be. This simple consideration of itself deprives many of the
big volumes which have been written about the 'evolution' of art and
morals of most of their value. They may have interest if they are
treated only as contributions to the history of opinion about art and
morals. But unhappily their authors often assume that we can find out
what really _is_ right or beautiful by merely discovering what men have
thought right and beautiful in the remote past or guessing what they
will think right or beautiful in the distant future. The fallacy
underlying this procedure has been happily exposed by Mr. Russell
himself in an occasional essay where he remarks that it is antecedently
just as likely that evolution is going from bad to worse as that it is
going from good to better. _Unless_ it is going from bad to worse it is
obviously absurd to suppose that you can find out what _is_ good by
discovering what our distant ancestors _thought_ good. And _if_ (as may
be the case) it is going from bad to worse, no amount of knowledge about
what our posterity will think good can throw any light on the question
what is good. There is, in fact, no ground whatever for believing that
'evolution' need be the same thing as progress, and this is enough to
knock the bottom out of 'evolutionary ethics'.

On the other hand, it is quite certain that when we call an act right
or a picture beautiful we do not mean to be expressing a mere personal
liking of our own, any more than when we make a statement about the
composition of sulphuric acid or the product of 9 and 7. As Dr. Rashdall
has put it, when we say that a given act is right, we do not pretend to
be infallible. We know that we may fall into mistakes about right and
wrong just as we may make mistakes in working a multiplication sum. But
we do mean to say that _if_ our own verdict 'that act is right' is a
true one, then the verdict of any one who retorts 'that act is wrong' is
false, just as when we state the result of our multiplication we mean to
assert that _if_ we have done the sum correctly any one else who brings
out a different answer has worked it wrongly. Indeed, we might convince
ourselves that these verdicts are not meant to be expressions of private
and personal liking in a still simpler way. All of us must be aware that
the line of action we pronounce 'right' is not always what we like nor
the conduct we call 'wrong' what we dislike. We often like doing what we
fully believe to be wrong and dislike doing what we believe right,
without being in the least confused in our moral verdicts by this
collision of liking and conviction. So again it is a common thing to
like one poem or picture better than another, and yet to be fully
persuaded that the work we like the less is the better work of art.
Indeed, the whole process of moral and aesthetic education may be said
to exist just in learning to like most what is really best.

All this, put into so many words, may seem too simple to call for
statement, but it makes nonsense of a great deal that has been written
about ethics of late years. It disposes once for all of the theory that
moral and aesthetic verdicts are 'subjective', that is, that they mean
no more than that the persons who make them have certain personal likes
and dislikes of which these verdicts are a record. Of course, it might
be urged that all of us do indeed mean to express truths which are
independent of our personal likings when we make moral and aesthetic
judgements, but that we never succeed in doing so. A man might
conceivably hold that there is no real distinction between right and
wrong or between beautiful and ugly, but that it is a universal illusion
of mankind to suppose that there are such distinctions. Or he might hold
that the distinctions are real, but that we do not know where to draw
them. He might suggest that some ways of acting are really right and
others really wrong, but that we do not know which are the right acts
and so regularly confuse what we like doing with what is 'really' right.
Mr. Russell, in some of his later writings, seems to incline to views of
this sort. But the suggestion is really unmotived. It would be just as
reasonable to suggest that all geometrical or astronomical propositions
are only expressions of the personal and private feelings of geometers
and astronomers, and that either there is no distinction between truths
and falsehoods in geometry and astronomy, or that, at any rate, we do
not know which the true propositions are. That there is a real
distinction between true and false propositions and that, with pains and
care, we can discover some truths are assumptions we must make if we are
to recognize the possibility of pursuing knowledge at all, and there is
no reason to suppose that these assumptions do not hold as good in
matters of art and morals as elsewhere. No doubt, in practice men are
prone to mistake what they like for what is right or beautiful, but this
danger, such as it is, is not confined to art and morals. Men do often
call acts right merely because they like doing them or pictures
beautiful merely because they get pleasure from them. But it is also
notorious that many men are prone to believe that a thing is likely to
happen merely because they wish it to happen, or that it is unlikely to
happen merely because they wish it not to happen. Yet no one seriously
makes the reality of these tendencies a ground for denying the
possibility of 'inferring the future from the past'. We must then, I
hold, regard it as an integral part of the whole story of everything to
find an answer to the questions What is good? and What is beautiful? as
well as to the question What is fact? By the side of the so-called
'positive sciences', which deal with the third question, we must
recognize as having an equal right to exist the so-called 'sciences of
value', which deal with the first and the second.

I want now to take a further step in which disciples of Mr. Russell
would perhaps decline to follow me. We have already seen what is meant
by the co-ordination of the sciences into a single body of deductions
from definite ultimate postulates, though in what we have said about the
task we were content to speak provisionally as if the sciences of 'what
is' were all the sciences to be co-ordinated. We talked, in fact, as if
the work of Philosophy were merely to work into a coherent story all
that can be known of 'objects that present themselves to the
contemplation' of a knower. But, of course, if Philosophy is ever to
attack its final problem, we must take into account two things which we
have so far ignored. The 'whole story of everything' includes the
knowing intelligence itself as well as the 'objects' which present
themselves to its gaze. Indeed, it is not even accurate to speak as if
'objects' 'presented themselves' to a merely passive intelligence; to be
apprehended, they have to be actively attended to. If we would see them,
we have to be on the look-out for them. And the knowing intelligence is
not aware merely of these objects. It is also aware of itself, though
it is certainly never a 'presented object'. Also, it is not only a
knower but a doer and a maker. Intelligence is shown as much in the
ordering of life by a rule based on a right valuation of goods and in
the making of things of beauty as in the discovery of propositions about
what is. Hence, we can hardly be content to leave the 'positive'
sciences and the 'sciences of values' simply standing over against one
another. There is that which 'is', and there is that which 'ought to
be', and, at first sight at any rate, the two seem very different. Much
that is--ignorance, sin, misery, ugliness--ought not to be, and much
that ought to be is very far from being fact. We are accustomed to
regard this as a matter of course, but, closely considered, it is
perhaps the supreme wonder of all the wonders. We creatures of
circumstance, as we call ourselves, can take stock of the sum of things
to which we belong, and judge it. It is not simply that we can, and
often do, _wish_ that it were different in various ways; we can judge
that it _ought_ to be different, and you may find a man of science like
Huxley, after a life spent in trying to understand the laws which
prevail in the world, deliberately making it his last word to his
fellows that their duty is to set themselves to reverse the 'cosmic
process', to select for preservation just the human types which, if the
much-abused metaphor may be tolerated, Nature, left to herself, selects
for destruction.

We might, of course, regard this apparently unreconcilable conflict
between the arrangements which do prevail; as is commonly supposed, in
the world, and those which ought to prevail, as a mystery which we must
despair of ever understanding. But, to say the least of it, it is hardly
consistent with the philosophic temper to treat any question as an
insoluble riddle until one has tried all ways of solution and found them
_culs-de-sac_. If we are to be thoroughly loyal to the spirit which
prompts all intelligent inquiry, we are bound at least to ask whether
it is, after all, beyond the power of human intelligence to think of the
world as a system in which somehow, in the end, what ought to be
prescribes what is. It is true that, for reasons already mentioned, we
cannot, like Spinoza or the Sufis, reconcile facts and values by the
simple assumption that what is is shown, by the fact that it is, to be
what ought to be, and that our common conviction that sin and ugliness
are painfully real is only an illusion due to spiritual short sight. We
have just as much reason to believe that some pleasures are good, that
pain which is not a means to good is evil, that justice and purity are
good, lewdness and cruelty bad, that some colours are lovely and others
odious, as we have to believe that between any two points there is
always a third, or that, if _B_ and _C_ are two points there is always a
point _D_ on the straight line _BC_ such that _C_ is between _B_ and
_D_, and a point _A_ on _CB_ such that _B_ is between _C_ and _A_.
Indeed, the most fanatical champion of what Mr. Russell in his
anti-ethical mood calls 'ethical neutrality' cannot well avoid
recognizing the truth of at least one proposition in ethics, the
proposition that knowledge of scientific truth is _better_ than
ignorance of it. The admission of this single truth of value is enough
to raise all the time-honoured problems of ethics and theodicy. If
knowledge of truth is better than ignorance of it, the actual present
state of the world, in which so much truth is yet to seek, is by no
means wholly good, and there really is at least one way in which it is
our duty to make it more like what it ought to be.

If then we cannot get rid of the apparent conflict between Is and Ought
by saying that Ought is an illusion, can we get rid of it, in the only
other possible way, by holding that what ought to be is the lasting and
primary reality and that the 'facts' which are so far from being what
they ought to be are by comparison only half-real, much what shadows are
to the solid things which throw them? This was the doctrine of Plato,
who makes Socrates say in the _Phaedo_ that it is the 'Good' which holds
the Universe together, and that in the end the true reason for each
particular arrangement in the world, whether we can see it or not, is
that it is 'best' that this arrangement, and no other, should exist. It
is also the foundation of Kant's well-known contention that, however
barren speculative theology and psychology may be, the reality of the
moral order and the unconditionality of moral obligation compel us to
make the existence of God, the immortality of our souls, and the moral
government of the world postulates of practical philosophy. More
generally, it is just this conviction that 'what is' has its source and
explanation in what 'ought to be', which is the central thought of all
philosophical Theism. If we can accept such a faith, we shall not, of
course, be enabled to eliminate mystery from things. We shall, for
instance, be still quite in the dark about the way in which evil comes
to be in a world of God's making. We shall neither be able to say _how_
any particular thing comes to be other than it ought to be, nor _how_ in
the end good is 'brought out of evil'. But if we are to have a right to
hold a view of the Platonic or Theistic type, we must be able, not
indeed to say how evil comes about or how it is to be finally got rid
of, but to say, in a general way, what it is 'good for'. Thus, if there
are certain goods of the highest value which could not exist at all
except on the condition of the existence of less important evils, this
consideration will remove, so far as _those_ goods and evils are
concerned, the time-honoured puzzle how evil can exist at all if God is.
To take a specific example. To many of us it appears directly certain
that such qualities of character as fortitude, patience, superiority to
carnal lusts, magnanimity, are goods of the highest value. We think also
that we see that these qualities are not primitive psychological
endowments but require for their development the experience of struggle
and discipline in a world where there is real suffering, real
disappointment, real temptation. To us, therefore, there seems to be no
contradiction between the existence of God and the presence in a world
made by God of the evils needed for the development of these virtues.
And this will include some of the worst of all the evils we know of. Few
things are more ghastly than some of the cruelties which have been
practised in the late War and are still being practised in the
distracted country of Russia. Yet we know how revulsion from these
horrors has made many a man who seemed to be sunk in sloth or greed or
carnality into a Bayard or a Galahad. It may well be that this moral
re-birth would never have been effected if the evils which provoked it
had been less monstrous. Here, then, we seem to discern a principle
which _may_ be adequate to explain what all the ills of human life are
'good for'.

I must not deny that all such explanation, in my judgement, involves the
postulate that the ennoblement of character and deepening of insight
brought about by suffering are permanent--in fact, that it requires the
postulates of the existence of God and the reality of everlasting life.
Mr. Russell, I imagine, would regard this as a confession that I am sunk
in what he airily dismisses as 'theological superstitions'. I should
reply that the 'superstition' is on his side; to dismiss God and the
eternal soul, without serious inquiry, as 'superstitions' is just the
most superficial of all the superstitions. It is, of course, incumbent
on anyone who holds the Platonic view to show that its postulates are
not inconsistent with any known truth, and I would add that he ought
also to show that there are at any rate known facts which seem to demand
just this kind of explanation. Both these points, as I hold, can be
established, but I do not in the least wish to suggest that any
philosopher will ever find it an easy task to 'justify the ways of God
to man'. As Timaeus says in Plato, 'to find the father and fashioner of
the Universe is _not_ easy', and I want rather to lay stress on the
magnitude of the task than to extenuate it. But I am concerned to urge
that the doctrine which accounts for what is by what ought to be is the
_only_ philosophical theory on which it ceases to be an unintelligible
mystery that we should have--as I maintain we certainly have--the same
kind of assurance about values that we have about facts. The chief
complaint I have to make about the mental attitude of Mr. Russell and
some of his friends is that, in their zeal for the unification of
science, they seem inclined to assume that the larger problem of the
co-ordination of Science with Life does not exist, or, at any rate, need
not occupy our minds. This is what I should call mere atheistic
superstition. On this point they might, I believe, learn much which it
imports them to know from the works of some of the notable living
philosophers of Italy, in particular from Professor Varisco of Rome and
Professor Aliotta of Padua, whose labours have been specially directed
to the co-ordination in a consistent system of the principles of the
sciences of fact with those of the sciences of value. Though, after all,
those who have refused to learn the lesson from the noble philosophical
work of Professor James Ward, the illustrious champion of sober thought
in their own University of Cambridge, are perhaps unlikely to master it
in the schools of Rome or Padua.

You will readily see that I am suggesting in effect that if Philosophy
is ever to execute her supreme task, she will need to take into much
more serious account than it has been the fashion to do, not only the
work of the exact sciences but the teachings of the great masters of
life who have founded the religions of the world, and the theologies
which give reasoned expression to what in the great masters is immediate
intuition. For us this means more particularly that it is high time
philosophers ceased to treat the great Christian theologians as
credulous persons whose convictions need not be taken seriously and the
Gospel history as a fable to which the 'enlightened' can no longer pay
any respect. They must be prepared to reckon with the possibility that
the facts recorded in the Gospel happened and that Catholic theology is,
in substance, true. If we are to be philosophers in earnest we cannot
afford to have any path which may lead to the heart of life's mystery
blocked for us by placards bearing the labels 'reactionary', 'unmodern,'
and their likes. That what is most modern must be best is a superstition
which it is strange to find in a really educated man--especially after
the events of the last five years. A philosopher, at any rate, should be
able to endure the charge of being 'unmodern' with fortitude. It is at
least a tenable thesis that many of the qualities which we Western men
have been losing in our craze for industrialism and commercialistic
'Imperialism' are just those which are most necessary to the seeker
after speculative truth. Abelard and St. Thomas would very likely have
failed as advertising agents, company promoters, or editors of
sensational daily papers. But it may well be that both of them were much
better fitted than Lord Northcliffe, Mr. Bottomley, or Mr. A.G. Gardiner
to tell us whether God is and what God is. In fact, one would hardly
suppose habitual and successful composition of effective 'posters' or
alluring prospectuses to be wholly compatible with that candour and
scrupulous veracity which are required of the philosopher. As for
'reaction', no one but a writer in a 'revolutionary' journal would be
fool enough to use the word as, in itself, an epithet of reproach. Most
persons who have a bowing acquaintance with Mechanics know that you
cannot have an engine in which there is all action and no reaction, and
most sane men can see that before you pronounce a given 'reaction' good
or bad you need to know what it is reacting against. If a man who wants
to go east discovers that he is walking west, he is usually reactionary
enough to go back on his steps.

In short, if we mean to be philosophical, our main concern will be that
our beliefs should be true; we shall care very little whether they
happen to be popular or unpopular with the intellectual 'proletarians'
of the moment, and if we can get at a truth, we shall not mind having to
go back a long way for it. Indeed, when one wants to get on the track of
the most ultimate and important truths of all, there is usually a great
positive advantage in going back a very long way for them. The questions
which deal with first principles, being the simplest--though the
hardest--of all, are mostly raised very simply and directly by Plato and
Aristotle, who were the very first writers to raise them. In the
discussions of later times, the great simple questions about principles
have so often been overlaid by mainly irrelevant accretions of secondary
details that it is usually very hard indeed 'to see the wood for the
trees'. This is the chief reason why one who, like myself, finds it his
main business in life to introduce younger men and women to the study of
Philosophy must think indifference to Greek literature about the worst
misfortune which could happen to our intellectual civilization.

I have tried in what I have said so far to explain what I understand by
the philosophical spirit and what I regard as the primary problems with
which Philosophy has to wrestle. If what I have said is not wholly wide
of the mark, it should be clear what is the deadliest enemy of the true
spirit of Philosophy. It is the temper which is too indolent to think
out a question for itself and consequently prefers to accept traditional
ready-made answers to the problems of Science and Life. Traditionalism,
wherever it is found, is the enemy, because Traditionalism is only
another name for indolence. Observe that I say Traditionalism, not
Tradition. Nowhere in life, and least of all in Philosophy, is the
solitary likely to work to much purpose unless he has behind him that
body of organized sound sense which we call Tradition. And I do not mean
that true philosophers are necessarily 'heretics', or that 'orthodoxy'
is less philosophical than 'heterodoxy'. I mean that however true an
'orthodox' proposition may be, it is no living truth for me unless I
have made it my own, as its first discoverer did, by personal labour of
the spirit. The truth is something which each generation must rediscover
for itself. True traditions may be quite as injurious, if they have
become mere traditions, as false ones. It was not so much because the
Aristotelian doctrines were false that the unquestioning acceptance of
Aristotelian formulae all but strangled human thought in the later days
of Scholasticism. Some of these doctrines were false, but many of them
were much truer than anything the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries
had to put in their place, and the rediscovery of their real meaning is
perhaps the chief service of the Hegelian school to Philosophy. The
trouble was that mechanical repetition of Aristotle's formulae as
matters of course inevitably led to loss of real insight into the
meaning the formulae had borne for Aristotle.

We may say, generally, that because Traditionalism is the death of sound
thinking, the ages in which the prospects of advance in Philosophy are
brightest are just those in which a powerful historical tradition has
broken down and men feel themselves compelled to go back on their steps
and raise once more the fundamental questions which their fathers had
supposed to be disposed of once for all by a formula. This has happened
twice since the downfall of the degenerate Scholasticism, Protestant and
Roman, of the sixteenth century. In the seventeenth century the result
was the great movement in Philosophy, Mathematics, and Physics, of which
Descartes and Galileo are the principal figures. Towards the end of the
eighteenth century, when the doctrines of Descartes had themselves been
traditionalized, the same thing happened again, the leading actors in
the drama being David Hume and Immanuel Kant; the result was first the
revival of the 'critical' problem by Kant, and then the great, if
over-hasty, attempt at a positive interpretation of the Universe which
culminated in the philosophical system of Hegel. In our own age, it is
mainly Kant and Hegel who have been traditionalized, and we seem to be
living through the last stages of the discrediting of this third
tradition with every prospect of a great advance if our own time can
only find its Descartes. In what I am going on to say I must naturally
speak of the disintegrating influences chiefly as we have seen them at
work in our own country; but I should like, before I do so, to remark
that on the Continent splendid work has been done in the requickening of
genuine philosophical thought by an influence which has, so far, not
made itself widely felt among ourselves. I mean the revival of Thomism
so earnestly promoted in the academies of the Roman Church by Pope Leo
XIII. Neo-Thomism, I am convinced, if its representatives will only
maintain it at the high level characteristic, for example, of the
Italian _Rivista Neo-Scolastica_, has a very great contribution to make
to the Philosophy of the future, and is much more deserving of the
serious attention of students in our own country than the
much-advertised 'impressionism' of Pragmatists and Bergsonians. Indeed,
I hardly know how much we may not hope from the movement if it should
please Providence to send into the world a Neo-Thomist who is also a
really qualified mathematician.

Of the state of thought in our own country we may fairly say that a
generation ago opinion on the ultimate questions was, in the main,
fairly divided into two camps. There were the professional
metaphysicians, mainly living on a tradition derived from Kant and
Hegel, and there were the men of science whose 'philosophy', such as it
was, is perhaps best represented by two well-known and most instructive
books, Mach's _Science of Mechanics_ and Karl Pearson's _Grammar of
Science_. The men of the Kant-Hegel tradition, whatever their family
dissensions, were generally united by the common view that--as William
James accused them of teaching--the function of sensation in
contributing to knowledge, whatever it is, is something 'contemptible'.
Kant himself, as we have seen, had thought very differently, but he was
supposed to have been 'corrected' on this, as on so many points, by
Hegel. The most distinguished of my own Oxford teachers seemed agreed to
believe that our thought builds up the fabric of knowledge entirely from
within by what Hegel called an 'immanent dialectic'. A rough idea of
what this means may be given in the following way. You take any
experience you please and try to put what you experience into a
proposition. The proposition may, to begin with, be as vague as, e.g. 'I
am now feeling something,' 'I am now aware of something.' On reflection
you find that the statement does not do justice to the experience. You
feel the need to say more precisely _what_ you are feeling or are aware
of, how it is related to what you experience on other occasions, and
what the 'I' is which is said to 'have' the experience. Until you have
done this your thought is a miserable reproduction of your experience,
and if you could ever do it completely, it would turn out that a really
adequate account of the most trivial experience would involve complete
knowledge of the structure and working of everything. Thus, if you once
begin to think about your experience at all, you are irresistibly driven
on to endless further reflection. If you try to stop short anywhere in
the process, the results of your reflection are found to contain
unexplained contradictions, just because you have not yet fitted on the
fact on which you are reflecting to everything else there is to know.
All the assumptions of every-day 'common sense' and all the more
recondite assumptions of the sciences are saturated with these
contradictions, because both 'common sense' and the sciences leave so
much of the whole 'story of everything' untouched. If the whole story
were told, all things would be found to be just one thing, which these
philosophers call the 'Absolute', and the only perfectly true statement
we can make would be a statement about this Absolute in which we
asserted of it all that it is. Since no science ever attempts to say
anything at all about this one sole thing, far less to get all there
might be to be said about it into a single statement, no scientific
proposition can be more than 'partially' true, and unhappily _we_ do not
know what alterations would be required to make our 'partial' truths
quite true. Naturally enough Kant's allegation that mathematical first
principles are so self-contradictory that you can rigidly demonstrate
mathematical propositions which contradict each other was grist to the
Hegelian mill. That our notions of space, time, the infinitely great,
the infinitely little, are all a jumble of contradictions was steadily
repeated by the Hegelian philosophers, and indeed the mathematicians
were accustomed to state their own principles so loosely and confusedly
that there was a great deal of excuse for the suspicion that the fault
lay with Mathematics and not with the mathematicians.

It is clear that such a philosophy ought to end in unqualified
Agnosticism. The Hegelians, to be sure, made merry over the Unknowable
of Mr. Spencer, but their own Absolute is really just the Unknowable in
its 'Sunday best'. Nothing that we can say about anything which is not
the Absolute is really true, because there really _is_ nothing but the
Absolute to speak about, and nothing that we can say about the Absolute
is quite true either, because we can never succeed in saying itself of
it. Mr. Bradley, far the most eminent of the philosophers of the
Absolute, has made persistent and brilliant attempts to show that, in
spite of this, we do know enough to be sure that our own mind is more
like the Absolute than a cray-fish, and a cray-fish more like it than a
crystal. But when all is said, though I owe more to Mr. Bradley than I
can ever acknowledge adequately, I cannot help feeling that there are
two men in Mr. Bradley, a great constructive thinker and a subtle
destructive critic, and that the destructive Hyde is perpetually pulling
to pieces all that the constructive Jekyll has built up. Of course it is
obvious that the truth of mathematics, if mathematics are true, is a
fatal stone of stumbling for this type of philosophy. Mathematics never
attempts to say anything about the 'Absolute'--the only 'Absolute' of
which it knows is only a 'degraded conic'--yet it claims that its
statements, if once they have been correctly expressed, are not
'partial' but complete.

Over against the Hegelianizing philosophers, we had, of course, the men
of science. No one could wish to speak of the scientific men of the
days of Huxley without deep respect for their success in adding to our
positive knowledge of facts. But it may perhaps be said at this distance
of time that it was not precisely the greatest among them who were most
prominent as mystagogues of Science with the big S, and it may certainly
be said that when the mystagogues, the Cliffords, Huxleys, and the rest,
undertook to improvise a theory of first principles, their achievement
was little better than infantile. They took it on trust from Hume that
the whole of knowledge is built up of sensations, actual or 'revived',
and quite missed Kant's point that their empiricism left the formal
constituent in knowledge, the type of order by which data are organized
into an intelligible pattern, wholly out of account. Even when they
deigned to read Kant, they read him without any inkling of the character
of the 'critical' problem. Hence they taught dogmatically as true a
theory of scientific method which Hume himself had elaborately proved
impossible. It was just because Hume had seen so clearly that no
universal scientific truths can be derived from premisses which merely
record particular facts that he professed himself a follower of the
'academic' or 'sceptical' philosophy. He recognized the impossibility of
constructing scientific knowledge out of its material constituent alone,
but did not see where the formal constituent could come from, and so
resigned himself to regarding the actual successes of science as a kind
of standing miracle.

The men of the 'seventies were, after all, in many cases more anxious to
damage theology than to build up Philosophy. They read Hume without any
delicate sense for his urbane ironies, and believed in good faith that
he and John Stuart Mill between them had shown that by a mysterious
process called 'induction' it is possible to prove rigorously universal
conclusions in science without universal premisses. A scientific law,
according to them, is only a convenient short-hand notation in which to
register the 'routine of our perceptions'. Thus we have known of a great
many men who have died, and have never known of any man who lived to
much over a hundred without dying. The universal proposition 'all men
are mortal' is a short expression for this information, and it is
nothing more. It ought to have been obvious that, if this is a true
account of science, all scientific 'generalizations' are infinitely
improbable. The number of men of whom we _know_ that they have died is
insignificant by comparison with the multitude of those who have lived,
are living, or will live, and we have no guarantee that this
insignificant number is a fair average sample. So again, unless there
are true universal propositions which are not 'short-hand' for any
plurality of observed facts whatever, we cannot with any confidence,
however faint, infer that a 'regular sequence' or 'routine' which has
been observed from the dawn of recorded time up to, say, midnight,
August 4, 1919, will continue to be observed on August 5, 1919. How,
except by relying on the truth of some principle which does not depend
itself on the validity of 'generalization', can we tell that it is even
slightly probable that the nature of things will not change suddenly at
the moment of midnight between August 4 and August 5, 1919? What is
called 'inductive' science certainly has 'pulled off' remarkable
successes in the past, but we can have no confidence that these
successes will be repeated unless there are much better reasons for
believing in its methods and initial assumptions than any which the
scientific man who is an amateur 'empiricist' in his philosophy can
offer us. We may note, in particular, that this empiricism, which has
been expounded most carefully by Pearson and Mach, coincides with
Hegelian Absolutism in leading to the denial of the truth of
mathematics. It would be a superfluous task to argue at length that,
e.g., De Moivre's theorem or Taylor's theorem is not a short-hand
formula for recording the 'routine of our perceptions'.

The general state of things at the time of which I am speaking was thus
that relations were decidedly strained between a body of philosophers
and a body of scientific men who ought at least to have met on the
common ground of a complete Agnosticism. The philosophers were, in
general, shy of Science, mainly, no doubt, because they were modest men
who knew their own limitations, but they had a way of being
condescending to Science, which naturally annoyed the scientific men.
These latter professed a theory of the structure of knowledge which the
philosophers could easily show to be grotesque, but the retort was
always ready to hand that at any rate Science seemed somehow to be
getting somewhere while Philosophy appeared to lead nowhere in

The conditions for mutual understanding have now greatly improved,
thanks mainly to the labour of mathematicians with philosophical minds
on the principles of their own science. If we admit that mathematics is
true--and it seems quite impossible to avoid the admission--we can now
see that neither the traditional Kant-Hegel doctrine nor the traditional
sensationalistic empiricism can be sound. Not to speak of inquiries
which have been actually created within our own life-time, it may fairly
be said that the whole of pure mathematics has been shown, or is on the
verge of being shown, to form a body of conclusions rigidly deduced from
a few unproved postulates which are of a purely logical character.
Descartes has proved to be right in his view that the exceptional
certainty men have always ascribed to mathematical knowledge is not due
to the supposed restriction of the science to relation of number and
magnitude--there is a good deal of pure mathematics which deals with
neither--but to the simplicity of its undefined notions and the high
plausibility of its unproved postulates. Bit by bit the bad logic has
been purged out of the Calculus and the Theory of Functions and these
branches of study have been made into patterns of accurate reasoning on
exactly stated premisses. It has appeared in the process that the
alleged contradictions in mathematics upon which the followers of Kant
and Hegel laid stress do not really exist at all, and only seemed to
exist because mathematicians in the past expressed their meaning so
awkwardly. Further, it has been established that the most fundamental
idea of all in mathematics is not that of number or magnitude but that
of _order_ in a series and that the whole doctrine of series is only a
branch of the logic of Relations. From the logical doctrine of serial
order we seem to be able to deduce the whole arithmetic of integers, and
from this it is easy to deduce further the arithmetic of fractions and
the arithmetic or algebra of the 'real' and 'complex' numbers. As the
logical principles of serial order enable us to deal with infinite as
well as with finite series, it further follows that the Calculus and the
Theory of Functions can now be built up without a single contradiction
or breach of logic. The puzzles about the infinitely great and
infinitely small, which used to throw a cloud of mystery over the
'higher' branches of Mathematics, have been finally dissipated by the
discovery that the 'infinite' is readily definable in purely ordinal
terms and that the 'infinitesimal' does not really enter into the
misnamed 'Infinitesimal Calculus' at all. Arithmetic and the theory of
serial order have been shown to be the sufficient basis of the whole
science which, as Plato long ago remarked, is 'very inappropriately
called geometry'. A résumé of the work which has been thus done may be
found in the stately volumes of the _Principia Mathematica_ of Whitehead
and Russell, or--to a large extent--in the _Formulario Matematico_ of
Professor Peano. Of other works dealing with the subject, the finest
from the strictly philosophical point of view is probably that of
Professor G. Frege on _The Fundamental Laws of Arithmetic_. The general
result of the whole development is that we are now at last definitely
freed from the haunting fear that there is some hidden contradiction in
the principles of the exact sciences which would vitiate all our
knowledge of universal truths. This removes the chief, if not the only
ground for the view that all the truths of Science are only 'partial'.
At the same time, the proof that pure mathematics is a strictly logical
development and that all its conclusions are of the hypothetical form,
'if _a b c_ ..., then _x_' definitely disproves the popular Kantian
doctrine that _sense_-data are a necessary constituent of scientific
knowledge. And with this dogma falls the _main_ ground for the denial
that knowledge about the soul and God is attainable. The recovery of a
sounder philosophical method has, as Mr. Russell himself says, disposed
of what was yesterday the accepted view that the function of Philosophy
is to narrow down the range of possible interpretations of facts until
only one is left. Philosophy rather opens doors than shuts them. It
multiplies the number of logically possible sets of premisses from which
consequences agreeing with empirical facts may be inferred. Mr.
Russell's unreasoned anti-theism seems to me to make him curiously blind
to an obvious application of this principle. On the other side, the
revived attention to the logical methods of the sciences is killing the
crude sensationalism of the days which saw the first publication of
Mach's _Science of Mechanics_ and Pearson's _Grammar of Science_. The
claims of 'induction' to be a method of establishing truths may be
fairly said to have been completely exposed. It is clearer now than it
was when Kant made the observation that each of the 'sciences' contains
just so much science as it contains mathematics, and that the Critical
Philosophy was fully justified in insisting that all science implies
universal _à priori_ postulates, though it went wrong in thinking that
these postulates are laws of the working of the human mind or are 'put
into' things by the human mind. How far Science has moved away from
crude sensationalistic empiricism may be estimated by a comparison of
the successive editions of the _Grammar of Science_. It must always have
been apparent to an attentive reader that the chapters of that
fascinating book which deal directly with the leading principles of
Physics and Biology are of very different quality from the earlier
chapters which expound, with many self-contradictions and much wrath
against metaphysicians and theologians whom the writer seems never to
have tried to understand, the fantastic 'metaphysics of the
telephone-exchange'. But the difference of quality is more marked in the
second edition than in the first, and in the (alas!) unfinished third
edition than in the second. So far, then, as the problem of the
unification of the sciences is concerned, the old prejudices which
divided the rationalist philosopher from the sensationalist scientific
man seem to have been, in the main, dissipated. We can see now that what
used to be called Philosophy and what used to be called Science are both
parts of one task, that they have a common method and presuppose a
common body of principles.

So far it may be said with truth that Philosophy is becoming more
faithful than Kant was himself to the leading ideas of 'Criticism', and
again that it is reverting once more, as it reverted in the days of
Galileo, to the positions of Plato. I do not mean that the whole
programme has been completely executed and that there is nothing for a
successor of Frege or Russell to do. It is instructive to observe that
at the very end of the great work on arithmetic to which I have referred
Frege found himself compelled by difficulties which had been overlooked
until Russell called attention to them to add an appendix confessing
that there was a single important flaw in his elaborate logical
construction of the principles of arithmetic. He had shown that if there
are certain things called 'integers', defined as he had defined them,
the whole of arithmetic follows. But he had not shown that there _is_
any object answering to his definition of an integer, and the logical
researches of Russell had thrown some doubt on the point. This proved
that some restatement of the initial assumptions of the theory was
needed. Since the date of Frege's appendix (1903), Mr. Russell and
others have done something towards the necessary rectification, and the
resulting 'Theory of Types' is pretty certainly one of the most
important contributions ever made to logical doctrine, but it may still
be reasonably doubted whether the 'Theory of Types', as expounded by
Whitehead and Russell in their _Principia Mathematica_, is the last word
required. At any rate, it seems clear that it is a great step on the
right road to the solution of a most difficult problem.

There still remains the greatest problem of all, the harmonization of
Science and Life. I cannot believe that this problem is an illegitimate
one, or that we must sit down content to accept the severance of 'fact'
and 'value' as final for our thought. Even the unification of the
sciences itself remains imperfect so long as we treat it as merely
something which 'happens to be the case' that there are many things and
many kinds of things in the universe and also a number of relations in
which they 'happen' to stand. It is significant that in his later
writings Mr. Russell has been driven to abandon the concept of personal
identity, which is so fundamental for practical life, and to assert that
each of us is not one man but an infinite series of men of whom each
only exists for a mathematical instant. I am sure that such a theory
requires the abandonment of the whole notion of value as an illusion,
and even more sure that it is ruinous to any practical rule of living,
and I cannot believe in the 'philosophy' of any man who is satisfied to
base his practice on what he regards as detected illusion. Hence I find
myself strongly in sympathy with my eminent Italian colleague Professor
Varisco, who has devoted his two chief works (_I Massimi Problemi_ and
_Conosci Te Stesso_) to an exceedingly subtle attempt to show that 'what
ought to be', in Platonic phrase 'the Good', is in the end the single
principle from which all things derive their existence as well as their
value. Mr. Russell's philosophy saves us half Plato, and that is much,
but I am convinced that it is whole and entire Plato whom a profounder
philosophy would preserve for us. I believe personally that such a
philosophy will be led, as Plato was in the end led, to a theistic
interpretation of life, that it is in the living God Who is over all,
blessed for ever, that it will find the common source of fact and value.
And again I believe that it will be led to its result very largely by
what is, after all, perhaps the profoundest thought of Kant, the
conviction that the most illuminating fact of all is the _fact_ of the
absolute and unconditional obligatoriness of the law of right. It is
precisely here that fact and value most obviously meet. For when we ask
ourselves what in fact we are, we shall assuredly find no true answer to
this question about what _is_ if we forget that we are first and
foremost beings who _ought_ to follow a certain way of life, and to
follow it for no other reason than that it is good. But I cannot, of
course, offer reasons here for this conviction, though I am sure that
adequate reasons can be given. Here I must be content to state this
ultimate conviction as a 'theological superstition', or, as I should
prefer to put it with a little more certainty, as a matter of faith. The
alternative is to treat the world as a stupid, and possibly malicious,
bad joke.

_Note_.--It may be thought that something should have been said about
the revolt against authority and tradition which has styled itself
variously 'Pragmatism' and 'Humanism', and also about the recent vogue
of Bergsonianism. I may in part excuse my silence by the plea that both
movements are, in my judgement, already spent forces. If I must say more
than this, I would only remark about Pragmatism that I could speak of it
with more confidence if its representatives themselves were more agreed
as to its precise principles. At present I can discern little agreement
among them about anything except that they all show a great impatience
with the business of thinking things quietly and steadily out, and that
none of them seems to appreciate the importance of the 'critical'
problem. 'Pragmatism' thus seems to me less a definite way of thinking
than a collective name for a series of 'guesses at truth'. Some of the
guesses may be very lucky ones, but I, at least, can hardly take the
claims of unmethodic guessing to be a philosophy very seriously. To
'give and receive argument' appears to me to be of the very essence of
Philosophy. As for M. Bergson, I yield to no one in admiration for his
brilliancy as a stylist and the happiness of many of his illustrations.
But I have always found it difficult to grasp his central idea--if he
really has one--because his whole doctrine has always seemed to me to be
based upon a couple of elementary blunders which will be found in the
opening chapter of his _Données Immédiates de la Conscience_. We are
there called on to reject the intellect in Philosophy on the grounds (1)
that, being originally developed in the services of practical needs, it
can at best tell us how to find our way about among the bodies around
us, and is thus debarred from knowing more than the _outsides_ of
things; (2) that its typical achievement is therefore geometry, and
geometry, _because it can measure only straight lines_, necessarily
misconceives the true character of 'real duration'. Now, as to the first
point, I should have thought it obvious that the establishment of a
_modus vivendi_ with one's fellows has always been as much of a
practical need as the avoidance of stones and pit-falls, and the alleged
conclusion about the defects of the intellect does not therefore seem to
me to follow from M. Bergson's premisses, even if we had any reason, as
I do not see that we have, to accept the premisses. And as to the second
point, I would ask whether M. Bergson possesses a clock or a watch, and
if he has, how he supposes time is measured on them? He seems to me to
have forgotten the elementary fact that angles can be measured as well
as straight lines. (I might add that he makes the further curious
assumption that all geometry is metrical.) It may be that something
would be left of the Bergsonian philosophy if one eliminated the
consequences of these initial blunders, but I do not know what the
remainder would be. At any rate, the anti-intellectualism which M.
Bergson and his disciple, Professor Carr, seem to regard as fundamental
will have to go, unless different and better grounds can be found for
it. I must leave it to others to judge of the adequacy of this apology.


Varisco, _The Great Problem_ (Macmillan).

Varisco, _Know Thyself_ (Macmillan).

Aliotta, _The Idealistic Reaction against Science_ (Macmillan).

Bertrand Russell, _Our Knowledge of the External World_ (Open Court
Publishing Co.).

Bertrand Russell, _The Problems of Philosophy_ (Home University

A.N. Whitehead, _The Principles of Natural Knowledge_ (Cambridge Press).

G.E. Moore, _Ethics_ (H.U.L.).

W. McDougall, _Philosophy_ (H.U.L.).

A.N. Whitehead, _Introduction to Mathematics_ (H.U.L.).




The living beings that exist or have existed upon the earth are of kinds
innumerable; and, in the opinion of man, the chief of them all is
mankind. Man, for the simple reason that he is man, is anthropomorphic
in all his judgements and not merely in his religious conceptions; he
holds himself to be the standard and measure in all things. If his right
so to regard himself were challenged, if he were called upon to justify
himself for having taken his foot as a unit of measurement, or his
fingers as the basis of his system of numbers, he might reply that
anything will serve as a standard for weights and measures, provided
that it never varies, but is always the same whenever referred to. But
the reply, valid though it is, does not do full justice to man: it
leaves room for the suspicion that a standard is something chosen by man
in a purely arbitrary manner and without reference to the facts of
nature. If that were really the case, then man's conception of himself
as superior to the other animals on earth might be but a prejudice of an
arbitrary kind. When, however, we consider, from the point of view of
evolution, the place of man among the other animals that occupy or have
occupied the earth, it is indubitable that the human organism is in
point of time the latest evolved and the human brain is in point of
complexity and efficiency the most highly developed. Further, the
evidence of embryology goes to show that the organism which has
eventually become human became so only by passing through successive
stages, each of which has its analogue in some of the existing forms of
animal life. Those forms of animal life exist side by side; and if we
conceive them to be represented diagrammatically by vertical lines,
differing in height according to their degree of evolution, the line
representing the human organism will be the tallest, and may be
considered to have become the tallest by successive increments or stages
corresponding to the height of the various other parallel vertical

When the conception of evolution, which had been employed to explain the
origin of species and the descent of man, and which had been gained by a
consideration of material organisms, came to be applied to the world of
man's thoughts, to the non-material and spiritual domain, and to be used
for the purpose of explaining the growth and the development of
religion, it was natural that the conception which had proved so
valuable in the one case should be applied without modification to the
other--as natural as that the first railway coach should be built on the
model of the stagecoach. The possibility that the theory of evolution
might itself evolve, and in evolving change, was one that was not, and
at that time could hardly be, present to the minds of those who were
extending the theory and in the process of extending it were developing
it. Yet the possibility was there, implicit in the very conception of
evolution, which involves continuous change--change in continuity and
continuity in change.

Any and every attempt to trace the evolution of religion seems at first
necessarily to involve the assumption that from the beginning religion
was there to be evolved. That was the position assumed by Robertson
Smith in _The Religion of the Semites_, which appeared in 1889. At that
date the aborigines of Australia were supposed to represent the human
race in its lowest and its earliest stage of development. In them,
therefore, if anywhere, we might expect to find what would be religion
in its lowest and earliest stage indeed but still religion. Reduced to
its lowest terms, religion, it was felt at first, must imply at least
belief in a god and communion with him. If, therefore, religion was to
be found amongst the representatives of the lowest and earliest stage in
the evolution of humanity, belief in a god and communion with him must
there be found. He who seeks finds. Robertson Smith found amongst the
Australians totem-gods and sacramental rites. Indeed, it was at that
time the belief universally held by students of the science of religion
that in Australia a totem was a god and a god might be a totem. It was
conjectured by Robertson Smith that in Australia the totem animal or
plant was eaten sacramentally. Since, then, the totem in Australia was
held to be both the god and the animal or plant in which the god
manifested himself, it followed that in Australia we had, preserved to
this day, the earliest form of sacrifice--that in which the totem animal
was itself the totem god to whom it was offered as a sacrifice, and was
itself--or rather himself--the sacramental meal furnished to his
worshippers. The totem was eaten, it was conjectured, with the object of
acquiring the qualities of the divine creature, or of absorbing them
into the person of the worshipper. That the totem was eaten
sacramentally rested, as has just been said, on the conjecture made by
Robertson Smith in 1889; but in 1899 Dr. (now Sir James) Frazer declared
that, thanks to the investigations of Messrs. Spencer and Gillen, 'here,
in the heart of Australia, among the most primitive savages known to
us, we find the actual observance of that totem sacrament which
Robertson Smith, with the intuition of genius, divined years ago, but of
which positive examples have hitherto been wanting.'

On the foundation thus laid by the intuition of Robertson Smith and
approved in 1899 by Sir James Frazer, a simple and complete theory of
the evolution of religion was possible. In any one tribe there were
several totem-kins. The totem of each kin was divine, but the
personality of a totem was so undeveloped in conception that, though it
might, and on the theory did, develop into a deity, it was originally
more of the nature of a spirit than a god, and totemism proper might
easily pass into polydaemonism, that is a system in which the beings
worshipped were conceived to possess a personality more clearly defined
than that attributed to totems but less developed than that assigned to
deities. From the beginning each tribe had worshipped a plurality of
totems; it was, therefore, readily intelligible that, as these totems
came to be credited with more and more definite and developed
personality, the plurality of totems became not only a polydaemonism,
but afterwards a plurality of deities, and a system of polytheism came
to be established. From polytheism then, amongst the Israelites,
monotheism was conceived to have been gradually developed.

On this theory the evolution of religion was, if we may so describe it,
linear or rectilinear: the process consisted in a series of successive
stages. In some cases, as for instance among the aborigines of
Australia, it never rose higher than its starting-point, totemism; in
others, as for instance in Samoa, it became polytheism without ceasing
to be totemism; in others again, as for instance amongst the Aryan
peoples, it became so completely polytheistic that even conjecture can
discover but few indications or 'survivals' of the totemism from which
it is supposed to have developed; and the polytheism of the Israelites
was so completely superseded by monotheism that the very existence of an
earlier stage of polytheism could be as strenuously denied in their case
as the pre-existence of totemism could be denied amongst the
polytheistic Aryans. Nevertheless the theory was that if we represent
the growth of the various religions of the world diagrammatically by
vertical lines parallel to one another but of various lengths, one line
standing for totemism, a longer line for polydaemonism, a still longer
one for polytheism, and the longest of all for monotheism, we should see
that the line of growth has been the same in all cases, and that it is
in their length, or (shall we say?) in their height alone that the
various lines differ, and that the longest line culminates in monotheism
only because it has been, so to speak, pulled out in the same way that a
telescope when closed, may be extended. The evolution of religion on
this view has been a process literally of 'evolution' or unfolding: the
idea of a god and of communion with him has been present from the
beginning; and, much though religion may have changed, it remains to the
end essentially the same thing. This view of the process of religious
evolution we may fairly term 'the pre-formation theory'; for on this
theory each stage is pre-formed in the stage immediately preceding it,
and in the earliest stage of all were all succeeding stages contained
pre-formed, though it depended on circumstances whether the seed should
spring up, and how many stages of its growth it should accomplish.

Robertson Smith's theory of the evolution of religion is in effect a
form of the pre-formation theory, and is liable to the same difficulties
as dog the theory of pre-formation in all its applications. On the
theory, if we cut open a seed we should find within it the plant
pre-formed; if we analyse totemism, the seed from which, in Robertson
Smith's view, all other forms of religion have grown in orderly
succession one after the other, we find in it religion in all its stages
pre-formed. In fact, however, if we cut open an acorn we do not find a
miniature oak-tree inside. The presumption, therefore, is that neither
in totemism, if we dissect it, shall we find religion pre-formed.
Indeed, there is the possibility that totemism, on dissection, will be
found to have no such content--that the hope or expectation of finding
anything in it is as vain, is as much doomed to disappointment, as is
the expectation of the child who cuts open his drum, thinking to find
inside it something which produces the sound.

It was, however, not on _a priori_ grounds like these that Sir James
Frazer was led eventually to combat and deny the existence, 'in the
heart of Australia, amongst the most primitive savages known to us' of
'that totem sacrament which', in 1899 he declared, 'Robertson Smith,
with the intuition of genius' had divined years before it was actually
observed. It was by the evidence of new facts, discovered by Messrs.
Spencer and Gillen, that Sir James Frazer was compelled to abandon
Robertson Smith's theory of the evolution of religion. Robertson Smith
had seen, or had thought he saw, amongst the Australians sacramental
rites and the worship of totem gods. Sir James Frazer is now compelled
by the evidence of the facts to hold that in what he calls 'pure
totemism', i.e., in totemism as we find it in Australia, 'there is
nothing that can properly be described as worship of the totems.
Sacrifices are not presented to them, nor prayers offered, nor temples
built, nor priests appointed to minister to them. In a word, totems pure
and simple are never gods, but merely species of natural objects,
united by certain intimate and mystic ties to groups of men.' It seems,
therefore, according to Frazer, that in totemism, when dissected, there
is no religion, just as in the child's drum, when cut open, there
is--nothing. Yet, we may reflect, on the battle-field from a drum
proceeds a great and glorious sound, inspiring men to noble deeds.
Whereas _ex nihilo nil fit_: from nothing naturally nothing comes. If,
however, something does come, it is not from nothing that it comes.
Amongst the most primitive savages known to us, men are united to their
totems, as Frazer admits, by 'certain intimate and mystic ties'.

What then is it in totemism from which, on Sir James Frazer's view,
something comes? We might, perhaps, have expected that it was from the
'mystic' bond uniting man with the world which is not only around him
but of which he is part, and in which he lives and moves and has his
being. To say so, however, would be to admit that in totemism there was
something not only 'mystic' but potentially religious. And Sir James
Frazer does not follow that line of thought, so dangerous in his view.
On the contrary, he maintains that 'the aspect of the totemic system,
which we have hitherto been accustomed to describe as religious,
deserves rather to be called magical'. The totem rites which Robertson
Smith had interpreted as being sacramental and as being intended as a
means of communion with the totem-gods Sir James Frazer regards as
merely magical: 'totemism,' he says, 'is merely an organized system of
magic intended to secure a supply of food.'

We may remark, in passing, that if totemism is 'mere' magic, there is
indeed (as Sir James holds) no worship in totemism, but in that case in
totemism there can be no such 'intimate and mystic ties' between the
totem and the totem-kin as Sir James at first maintained there was. But
be that as it may, according to Sir James Frazer, 'in the heart of
Australia, amongst the most primitive savages known to us,' we find
totemism; and totemism on examination proves to be 'merely an organized
system of magic'. If now we start by assuming these premisses, or by
granting these postulates for the sake of argument, we can, indeed,
erect on them a theory of the evolution of religion. But if we so start,
we must do as Sir James Frazer did in the first edition of _The Golden
Bough_: we must hold that religion is but a developed form of magic. _En
route_ it may have changed considerably in appearance, but in fact and
fundamentally it remains the same thing. In all the lower forms of
religion, and in most of the higher, there are practices which are by
common consent and beyond doubt magical. This indisputable fact lends
colour to the view that religion was in its origin nothing but magic,
and that religion is, to those who can see the facts as they are,
nothing but magic to this day: the magician was but a priest, and the
priest, claiming superhuman power, is but a magician still. Prayers were
at first but spells, and even now are supposed, by simple repetition, to
produce their effects.

If against this view it be objected that one of the most constant facts
in the history of all religions, from the lowest to the highest, is that
religion has at all times carried on war against sorcery, witchcraft,
and magic, that in the lowest stages of man's evolution witches have
been 'smelt out' by the witch-finder, and that in the higher stages of
civilization witches have been persecuted, tortured, and burnt, the
reply made to the objection is that the war against witchcraft and magic
is due simply to the jealousy and resentment which regular practitioners
of any art, e.g., medicine, have ever displayed and do still display
towards irregular, unprofessional practitioners. This reply, however, is
now generally admitted to be one which it is impossible to accept in
the case of religion for the simple reason that it does not account for
the facts. The plain fact which wrecks this attempted explanation is
that magic is punished and witches are burnt not because witch-finders
or priests are jealous of them, but because the community dreads them
and feels their very existence to be a danger. It is the community which
feels the world of difference there is between magic and religion.

The attraction of the view that religion is but magic under another
name, that prayers are to the end but spells, that 'priest' is but
'magician' written differently, is that it is a simplicist theory. It
simplifies things. It exhibits religion as evolved out of magic and as
containing at the end nothing more or other than was present at the
beginning in magic. It is but a variant of the pre-formation theory of
the evolution of religion. In fine, the notion that in magic we have
religion pre-formed is the counterpart of the idea that we can find
religion pre-formed in totemism. In both cases we secure continuity in
the process of evolution apparently, but the continuity secured is
appearance merely and is gained only at the price of ignoring the facts.

It is not surprising, therefore, that in the later, enlarged editions of
_The Golden Bough_, Sir James Frazer has given up the view that religion
evolved out of magic, being moved thereto by the fact, as he says, that
there is 'a fundamental distinction and even opposition of principle
between magic and religion'. There is, in Frazer's present view, no
continuity between the magic which came first and the religion which
came ages later: between them is an absolute breach of continuity, a
fundamental distinction, an opposition of principle. 'The principles of
thought on which magic is based,' Frazer says, 'resolve themselves into
two: first, that like produces like; and, second, that things which
have once been in contact with each other continue to act on each
other.' These beliefs are due to the association of ideas: if two things
are more or less like one another, or if two things have gone together
in our experience of the past, the sight of the one will make us think
of the other and expect to find it. So strong is the expectation which
is thus created that in the savage it amounts to absolute belief; and
magic consists in acting on that belief, in setting like to produce
like, with the firm conviction that thus (by magic) man can obtain all
that he desires. For long ages, according to Frazer, man acted on that
belief, and only eventually did he discover that magic did not always
act. This discovery set him thinking and led him to the inference that
at work in the world there must be supernatural powers or beings, that
the course of nature and of human life is controlled by personal beings
superior to man. And that inference, according to Sir James Frazer's
definition, constitutes religion.

The fundamental distinction, then, and even opposition of principle
between magic and religion, is that in the one case man thinks that he
can gain all that he desires by means of magic, and that in the other he
turns with offerings and supplication to the personal beings superior to
man whom he imagines to control the course of nature and of human life.

Whether the distinction which Sir James Frazer draws between magic and
religion will hold depends partly on whether his definitions of magic
and religion are acceptable. In his account of magic there at least
appears to be some confusion of thought. On the one hand, he says, 'it
must always be remembered that every single profession and claim put
forward by the magician, as such, is false; not one of them can be
maintained without deception, conscious or unconscious.' This
pronouncement makes it easy for us to understand that even the savage
would eventually find magic an unsatisfactory method of gratifying his
desires, a deception in fact. On the other hand, Sir James apparently
contradicts himself, that is to say, he denies that every single
profession or claim put forward by the magician is false, and says,
'however justly we may reject the extravagant pretensions of magicians
and condemn the deceptions which they have practised on mankind, the
original institution of this class of man has, take it all in all, been
productive of incalculable good to humanity.' The ground for this second
pronouncement, so contradictory of the first, is that magicians, Sir
James tells us, 'were the direct predecessors, not merely of our
physicians and surgeons but of our investigators and discoverers in
every branch of natural science.' Thus, though he no longer regards
priests as transmogrified magicians, he does regard magicians as the
earliest men of science, and does regard science, therefore, as a highly
developed stage of magic. This view logically follows from the premisses
from which it starts; and if it is felt to be unacceptable, we shall
naturally be inclined to scrutinize the premisses once more and more
carefully. When we do so scrutinize them, we see that the principles of
thought on which Sir James Frazer assumes magic to be based are in
effect the principles from which science started: they are the beliefs
that like produces like--the basis of the law of causation--and that
things which our experience shows to have gone together in the past tend
always to go together--which is one way of stating our belief in the
uniformity of nature. If then these principles of thought are the
principles on which magic as well as science is based, then science and
magic are the same thing, and we have only to choose whether we will
say that magic is not magic but undeveloped science, or that science is
not science but merely magic transmogrified. Thus, the pre-formation
theory once more reasserts itself: magic is the seed in which science is
prefigured or pre-formed.

If we wish to escape from this conclusion, if we wish to maintain the
validity of science and yet always to remember 'that every single
profession and claim put forward by the magician, as such, is false--not
one of them can be maintained without deception, conscious or
unconscious', we must consider whether Sir James Frazer's account of
magic, according to which the principles of magic are identical with
those of science, is the only account that can be given of magic; and
for that purpose we may contrast it with the view of Wilhelm Wundt. But
before doing so, since Sir James Frazer holds that there is 'a
fundamental distinction and even opposition of principle between magic
and religion', it will be well to try to see not only what he means by
magic, but also whether his description or definition of religion is

Whereas Robertson Smith held that religion, reduced to its very lowest
terms, must imply at least belief in a god and communion with him,
Frazer considers religion to be the belief that the course of nature and
of human life is controlled by personal beings superior to man. By the
one view stress is laid on the mystic side of religion, on the communion
which is effected through sacrifice; by the other view stress is laid on
the power which the gods may be induced by prayer and supplication to
exercise for the benefit of man. Our first reflection, therefore, is
that any view of religion, to be comprehensive, cannot confine itself to
either of these aspects singly, but must find room for both--for both
prayer and sacrifice. They cannot be mutually exclusive, nor can they
be simply juxtaposed, as though they were atoms unrelated to one
another, accidental neighbours in the same district. There must be a
higher unity, not created by or subsequent to the coalescence of
elements originally independent of each other, but a higher unity of
which both prayer and sacrifice are manifestations. This higher unity, I
venture to suggest, is the first principle of religion; and, if it is
not explicitly recognized as the first principle of religion either by
Robertson Smith or by Frazer, that may well be because their attention
is concentrated on the earlier stages in the evolution of religion, when
as yet it is not conspicuous and is, therefore, though in fact
operative, liable to be overlooked. As Ferrier has said, 'first
principles of every kind have their influence, and indeed operate
largely and powerfully long before they come to the surface of human
thought and are articulately expounded.' What then is the first
principle of religion which only after long ages of evolution rose to
the surface of human thought, and which, though it had been operative
largely and powerfully, came only in the slow course of human evolution
to be articulately expounded? The first principle of religion is
love--love of one's neighbour and one's God.

In the light of that first principle it is manifest that prayer and
sacrifice are not fundamentally unrelated and accidentally juxtaposed: a
sacrifice accompanied not even by unspoken prayer, prompted by no
desire, no wish for anything whatever, is a meaningless concept. Equally
unmeaning and unintelligible is the idea of a prayer which involves no
sacrifice--whether by sacrifice we understand the offering of gifts or
the sacrifice of self. But perhaps it may be said that, even though love
alone can lead to sacrifice of self, still it is undeniable that prayers
may be put up and sacrifices be offered by a man for the sake of what he
is going to get by doing so; and that that is what Sir James Frazer
means when he sees in religion the belief that beings superior to man
may be induced by prayer so to order things that man may get his heart's
desire. Then, indeed, we get a continuity of evolution, a continuity
between magic and religion, which Frazer perhaps did not intend wholly
to deny: that is to say the continuous thread running through both magic
and religion and uniting them is desire. Desire is continuous, though
the means of gratifying it change. In one stage of evolution magic is
the means; in another, religion. But throughout we find the process of
evolution to be continuous--change in continuity and continuity in

Now it is indeed undeniable that prayer and sacrifice may be made by a
man for the sake of what he is going to get, and may from the beginning
have been made, partly at least, from that motive. But if evolution in
one of its aspects is change, then one of the changes brought about by
evolution in religion is precisely that prayer and sacrifice come to be
regarded as no longer a means whereby a man can get his desires
accomplished--his will done--but as the indispensable condition for
doing God's will. Prayer then becomes communion with God, and the
sacrifice of self the living exhibition of love--the first principle of
religion, the principle which manifests itself now in prayer and now in

From this point of view, then, Sir James Frazer's account of religion
will be considered unacceptable: it makes religion and magic alike but
means whereby man has--vainly--sought to satisfy desire. And the
implication is that the day of both alike is over. But if Frazer's
account of religion is unacceptable, his account of magic also is open
to criticism. He wavers between two opinions about magic: at one time he
regards it as all falsehood and deception, at another as the source from
which science springs, just as at one time he considered magic
fundamentally the same as religion and then again as fundamentally
different from religion. When Frazer is bent upon identifying magic and
science, he attributes to primitive man a theory of causation (that like
produces like): magic is based, he says, upon 'the views of natural
causation embraced by the savage magician'. On the other hand, according
to Wilhelm Wundt in his _Völkerpsychologie_, primitive man has no notion
whatever of natural causation: primitive man, Wundt says, has only one
way of accounting for events--if something happens, somebody did it. If
any one mysteriously falls ill and dies, the question at once presents
itself to the savage mind, who did it? How any one could contrive to
make the man fall ill and die is, to the man's relations, thoroughly and
disquietingly mysterious. The one thing clear to them is that somebody
possesses and has exercised this mysterious and horrible power. The
person who, in the opinion not only of the relatives but also of all or
most of the community, naturally would do this sort of thing differs in
some way--in his appearance or habits--from the average member of the
community, and accordingly is credited, or discredited, with this
mysterious and dreadful power. Such a person, according to Wundt, is a
magician. Such an event is a marvel: so long as it is supposed to be
brought about by a man, it is a piece of magic; when it is ascribed (as,
according to Wundt, it comes in later, though not in primitive times, to
be ascribed) to a god, it is a miracle.

If science then does not work magic, there must be a fundamental
distinction between science and magic, an absolute opposition of
principles. The principles of thought on which magic is based cannot be,
as Frazer maintains, the same as those which give to science its
validity. In fine, the belief in magic seems to be based not on any
principle of thought, but upon the assumption that, if something
happens, somebody must have done it, and therefore must have had the
power to do it.

Wundt, whilst differing from Frazer in his description of magic, is at
one with him in believing that before religion existed there was an age
of magic. But Wundt's view that marvels are magic when supposed to have
been done by man, but miracles when supposed to have been done by a god
or his priests, suggests the possibility that, as the belief in magic is
found usually, if not always, to exist side by side with the belief in
miracles, the two beliefs may from the beginning have co-existed, that
the age of magic is not prior in the course of evolution to the age of
religion. This possibility, it will be admitted, derives some colour at
least from the way in which the theory of evolution is employed to
account for the origin of species: different though reptiles are from
birds, the serpent from the dove, both are descended from a common
ancestor, the archaeopteryx. If this instance be taken as typical of the
process of evolution in general, then the course of evolution is not, so
to speak, linear or rectilinear, but--to use M. Bergson's
word--'dispersive'. To suppose that religion is descended from magic
would then be as erroneous as to suppose that birds are descended from
reptiles or man from the monkey. The true view will be that the course
of evolution is not linear, is not a line produced for ever in the same
direction, not a succession of stages, but is 'dispersive', that from a
common starting point many lines of evolution radiate in different
directions. The course of evolution is not unilinear but multilinear; it
runs on many lines which diverge, but all the diverging lines start from
the same point.

If we apply this conception of evolution in general to the evolution of
religion in particular--and Bergson, I should say, does not--then the
centre of dispersion, common to all religions, is the heart of man. The
forms of religion evolving, emanating and radiating from that common
centre are, let us say, fetishism, polytheism, and monotheism. If we
wish to avoid, in the theory of religious evolution, an error analogous
to that of supposing birds to be descended from reptiles, we must
decline to suppose that monotheism is simply polytheism evolved, or that
polytheism is descended from fetishism. We must consider that each of
these three forms of religion is terminal, in the sense that no one of
them leads on to, or passes into, either of the other two. All three
forms of religious life may, and indeed do, exist side by side with one
another, just as the countless forms of physical life may be found
existing side by side. The foraminifera exist now, as they existed
millions of years ago; but the fact that they co-exist with higher forms
of physical life does not show that the higher forms of life are but
foraminifera in a more highly evolved form. Similarly, the fact that
fetishism exists side by side with polytheism, or polytheism with
monotheism, does not show that one is but a higher form of another: we
must consider each to be a terminal form, as incapable of producing
another, as it is impossible to conceive that the serpent develops into
the dove.

The common centre and starting-point of fetishism, polytheism, and
monotheism on this view (the 'dispersive' view) of the evolution of
religion lies in the heart of man, in a consciousness, originally vague
in the extreme, of the personality and superiority to man of the being
or object worshipped. In all these three forms of religion there is
worship, and in all three forms the being worshipped is personal.
Further, a special tie is felt to exist between the worshipper and the
personality worshipped: religion is the bond of union between them, and
it is also a bond which unites the worshippers to one another. It is by
its very nature a bond of union, a means of communion between persons,
human and divine. That is the mystic aspect of religion which finds
expression in the rite of sacrifice and in the sacramental meals which
are felt somehow to bind together, or rather to reunite and keep
together, the worshippers and their god. This communion however is not
merely mystic: it has its practical effects inasmuch as it affects the
conduct of the worshipper and enables him to do what without it he would
not have had strength to do.

If fetishism, polytheism, and monotheism radiate from a common centre,
the heart of man, then the heart of man must also be regarded as the
starting-point of magic. If they spring straight from the heart, though
in different directions, dispersively, then magic must also start from
the common centre; and, though its divergence from religion tends to
become total, at first, and indeed it may be for long, the discrepancy
between them is rather felt uneasily than recognized clearly.
Categories, such as those of cause and effect, identity and difference,
which are the common property of civilized thought, and which among us,
Mr. L.T. Hobhouse says, 'every child soon comes to distinguish in
practice, are for primitive thought interwoven in wild confusion.' Two
categories, which in primitive thought are thus interwoven in wild
confusion, are, it may be suggested, religion and magic; and only in the
dispersive process of evolution do they tend to become discriminated. In
ancient Egypt, in Babylon, in Brahminism, religion fails to disentangle
itself from magic; and not even has Christianity always succeeded in
throwing it off. Different as we may conceive magic and religion to be,
the fact remains that at first they grow up intertwined together. In the
lower forms of religion magic is worked not only by magicians but by
priests as well; spells and prayers are hardly to be distinguished from
one another. The idea that 'priest' is but 'magician' writ differently,
that prayers are but spells under another name, is now obsolete. The
truth may be that religion neither follows on, nor is evolved from
magic, but that both radiate from a common centre, the heart of man; and
that at first both are attempts made by man to secure the fulfilment of
his desires, to do his will, though eventually he finds that the way to
control nature is to obey her, not to try to command her by working
magic; and that it is in endeavouring to do God's will, not his own,
that man finds peace at the last.

In the three forms of religion which thus far we have taken into
account, fetishism, polytheism, monotheism, religion is felt to be a
personal relation--a relation between the human personality and some
personality more than human; and the human heart is reaching out and
groping after some divine personality, if peradventure it may find Him.
But there is yet another form of religion proceeding from the human
heart in which this does not seem to be the case--and that is Buddhism.
The Buddha definitely renounced the search after God and would not allow
his disciples to engage in the pursuit. Practically the pursuit was
useless, according to the Buddha: escape from suffering is all that man
can want or strive or hope for. Escape from suffering is possible only
by cessation from existence; and that cessation from existence, here and
hereafter, can be attained by man himself, who can reach Nirvana without
the aid of gods, if gods there be. From the point of view of metaphysics
the idea that there is any relation between the human personality and
the divine falls to the ground, according to the Buddha, because,
whether there be gods or not, at any rate there is no human personality.
As in a conflagration--and according to the Buddha the whole world,
burning with desire, is in a state of conflagration--the flames leap
from one house that is burning to the next, so in its transmigrations
the self, or rather the character, _Karman_, like a flame, leaps from
one form of existence to another. The flame indeed appears to be there
all the time the fire is burning; but the flame has no permanence, it is
changing all the time the process of combustion is going on; and 'I'
have no more permanence than the flame. 'I' only appear to be there as
long as the process of life goes on. And as the flame only continues so
long as there is something for it to feed on, so the process of
transmigration or re-birth continues only so long as the thirst for
being continues: the escape from re-birth is conditional on the
extinction of that thirst or desire; and the disciple who has succeeded
in putting off lust and desire has attained to deliverance from death
and re-birth, has attained to rest, to Nirvana.

Thus, on the 'dispersive' view of the evolution of religion, Buddhism is
a radiation from the common centre, from the heart of man, though it
radiates in a direction very different from that followed by any other
religion. The direction is indeed one which, as the history of religion
shows, it has been impossible for man long to follow, for, wherever
Buddhism has been established, it has relapsed; and the Buddha, who
strove to divert man from prayer and from the worship of gods, has
himself become a god to whom prayer and worship are addressed. Whether
in the future the direction may be pursued more permanently than it has
been by Buddhism up to now lies with the future to show.

Buddhism, however, on the 'dispersive' view of the evolution of
religion, is not the only radiation from the common centre, of which we
have to take account, in addition to fetishism, polytheism, and
monotheism. From the human heart also proceeds 'the religion of
humanity', the Positivist Church. Here, as originally in Buddhism, the
conception of a divine personality plays no part; but here the human
personality, the very existence of which is denied by the Buddha, is
raised to a high, indeed to the highest, level. There is no such thing
as an individual, if by 'individual' is meant a man existing solely by
himself, for a man can neither come into existence nor continue in
existence by himself alone. It is an essential part of the conception of
personality that it includes fellowship: a person to be a person must
stand in some relation to other persons. They are presented to him, the
subject, as objects of his awareness; and he, the subject, is also an
object of their awareness. Humanity is thus a complex, in which alone
persons are found and apart from which they have in fact no existence.
Humanity thus plays in Positivism, as a religion, the part of 'the great
Being', _le grand Être_, which in other religions is fulfilled by God,
but with this difference, that humanity is human always and never

The ruler of a country steers the ship of state, but he is a pilot only
metaphorically. Whether the terms worship and prayer are used more than
metaphorically by the Positivist seems hard to decide. On the one hand,
if it is felt that worship and prayer are indispensable to religion, it
may be argued that in religions other than Positivism they prove not
only on analysis, but in the course of history, to be, as by Positivism
they are recognized to be, of purely subjective import. On the other
hard, it may be that they provide merely a means of transition from the
religions of the past to the religion of the future.

Another matter of interest is the place of morality in Positivism as a
religion. According to M. Alfred Loisy in his book _La Religion_,
morality and religion are bound up together. They cannot exist apart
from one another: they might, he says, 'be dissociated in fact and
thought, were it not that they are inseparable in the life of
humanity.' And in his view morality is summed up in the idea of duty. He
says, 'in the beginning was duty, and duty was in humanity, and duty was
humanity. Duty was at the beginning in humanity. By it all things were
made, and without it nothing was made.' Thus, where duty is, there also
is religion. Not only, according to Loisy, has that always been so in
every stage through which the evolution of religion has passed, but it
will also be the case with the religion of the future. Thus the
conception of evolution which Loisy holds is the same as that
entertained by Robertson Smith, the difference being that, whereas on
the one view the idea of God and of communion with Him has been present
from the beginning, and, much though it may have changed, it remains to
the end the same thing; on the other view it is the idea of duty--the
duty which is humanity--that was in the beginning and will continue to
the end. Both views are applications of the 'pre-formation' theory of

But Positivism perhaps is not necessarily tied to the 'pre-formation'
theory. It seems equally capable of being fitted in to the 'dispersive'
theory, and of being regarded as an emanation or radiation proceeding
direct from the human heart. It may be so regarded, if we consider the
essence of it to be found not in the concept of duty, which seems to
imply the existence of some superior who imposes duties on man, but in
that love of one's fellow-man which, to be love, must be given freely,
and simply because one loves. The sense of obligation, the feeling of
duty, obedience to the commandments of authority and to the prohibitions
which the community both enforces and obeys, are, all of them, various
expressions of the primitive feeling of taboo--a feeling of alarm and
fear. If we confine our attention to this set of facts, we may say,
with M. Loisy, 'in the beginning was duty, and duty was in humanity'. We
may however hesitate to follow him when he goes on to say, 'by duty all
things were made, and without it nothing was made'. We may hesitate and
the Positivist may hesitate, because, primitive though the feeling of
fear may be, the feeling of love is equally original: on it and in it
the family and society have their base and their origin; and to it they
owe not only their origin but their continuance. Love however is not a
matter of duty and obedience; it is not subject to commandment or
prohibition; nor does it strive by commands or authority to enforce
itself. In the process by which duty--legal and moral
obligation--evolves out of the primitive feeling of taboo, love is not
implicated: love springs from its own source, the human heart, and runs
its own course. Taboo may have existed from the beginning; but to the
end, whatever its form--duty, obligation, obedience to authority--it
remains in character what it was at first, prohibitive, negative. Love
alone is creative: without it 'was not anything made that was made'.

There seems, therefore, no necessity to regard the 'pre-formation'
theory of evolution, rather than the 'dispersive theory, as essential to

Common to all the views about the evolution of religion that have been
mentioned in this paper is the belief that, the more religion changes,
the more it remains the same thing. If identified with duty, then duty
it was in the beginning, and duty it will remain to the end. For those
who conceive it to be merely magic, magic it was and magic it remains.
Those who define it as belief in a god and communion with him find that
belief in the earliest as well as the latest stages. All would agree in
rejecting Bergson's view of evolution--that in evolution there is
change, but nothing which changes. All would agree that in the evolution
of religion there is something which, change though it may, remains the
same thing, and that is religion itself. But on the question what
religion is, there is no agreement: no definition of religion as
yet--and there have been many attempts to define it--has gained general
acceptance. We may even surmise, and admit, that no attempt ever will be
successful. Such admission, indeed, may at first to some seem equivalent
to admitting that religion is a nullity, and the admission may
accordingly be welcomed or rejected. But a moment's reflection will show
that the admission has no such consequence. None of our simple feelings
can be defined: pleasure and pain can neither be defined; nor, when
experienced, doubted. And some of our general terms, those at any rate
which are ultimate, are beyond our power either to define or doubt: no
one imagines that 'life' can be defined, but no one doubts its
existence. And religion both as a term and as a fact of experience is
ultimate, and, because ultimate, incapable of definition. It is not to
be defined but only to be felt. It is an affair not merely of the
intellect, but still more of the heart.

In what sense, then, can we speak of the evolution of religion?
Evolution implies change; and no one doubts that there have been changes
in religion. No one can imagine that it has from the beginning till now
remained identically the same. What seems conceivable is that throughout
there has been, not identity but continuity--change indeed in continuity
but also continuity in change. The child 'learns to speak the words and
think the ideas, to reproduce the mode of thought, as he does the form
of speech' of the community into which he is born. In the speech,
thought, and feelings--even in the religious feelings--of the community,
from generation to generation, there is continuity, but not identity.
From generation to generation they are not identical but are
continuously changing; and they change because each child who takes them
over reproduces them; and, in reproducing them, changes them, not much
in most cases, but very considerably in the case of men of genius and
the great religious reformers. The heart is the treasure-house in which
not only old things are stored, but from which also new things are
brought forth. The process of evolution implies indeed that the old
things, though not everlasting, persist for a time; but it also implies
the manifestation of that which, though continuous with the old, is at
the same time new. It is from the heart of man, of some one man, that
what is new proceeds: the community it is which is conservative of the
old. The heart of man, or man himself, exhibits both change in
continuity and continuity in change.

The acorn, the sapling, and the oak are different stages of one
continuous process. But it is the same tree throughout the whole
process. So, too, perhaps it may be said, religion is a term which
includes or is applicable to all stages in the one process, and not to
the stage of monotheism alone, or of polytheism alone, or even to those
stages alone in which there is a reference to personal beings. Each of
these stages is a stage in the process of religion but no stage is by
itself the whole process. But this view of the evolution of religion
regards religion as though it were an organism, self-subsistent,
existing and evolving as independently of man as the oak-tree does;
whereas in truth religion has no such independent existence or
evolution. It is not from polytheism that monotheism proceeds; nor does
polytheism proceed from fetishism: it is from the heart of man that they
and all other forms of religion emanate and radiate. To conceive
fetishism, polytheism, and monotheism as three successive stages in one
process, to represent the evolution of religion by a straight line
marked off into three parts, or any other number of parts, is to forget
that they do not produce one another but that each emanates from the
heart of man. The fact that they emanate in temporal succession does not
prove that one springs from the other.

Nor can we say that values--religious or aesthetic--are to be determined
on the simple principle that the latest edition is the best. To say that
an _editio princeps_ has value only for the bibliophile is to admit that
all values are personal, as are all thoughts and all feelings, all
goodness and all love.


Robertson Smith, _The Religion of the Semites_ (A. & C. Black, 1889).

J.G. Frazer, _The Golden Bough_ (Macmillan & Co., 1890-1915).

Grant Allen, _The Evolution of the Idea of God_ (Grant Richards, 1897).

H. Bergson, _L'Évolution créatrice_ (F. Alcan, 1908).

F.B. Jevons, _The Idea of God in Early Religions_ (1910), and
_Comparative Religion_ (1913) (Cambridge University Press).

G.F. Moore, _History of Religions_ (T. & T. Clark, 1914).

A. Loisy, _La Religion_ (E. Nourry, 1917).





When Matthew Arnold declared that every age receives its best
interpretation in its poetry, he was making a remark hardly conceivable
before the century in which it was made. Poetry in the nineteenth
century was, on the whole, more charged with meaning, more rooted in the
stuff of humanity and the heart of nature, less a mere province of
_belles-lettres_ than ever before. Consciously or unconsciously it
reflected the main currents in the mentality of European man, and the
reflection was often most clear where it was least conscious. Two of
these main currents are:

(1) The vast and steady enlargement of our knowledge of the compass, the
history, the potencies, of Man, Nature, the World.

(2) The growth in our sense of the _worth_ of every part of existence.

Certain aspects of these two processes are popularly known as 'the
advance of science', and 'the growth of democracy'. But how far
'science' reaches beyond the laboratory and the philosopher's study, and
'democracy' beyond political freedom and the ballot-box, is precisely
what poetry compels us to understand; and not least the poetry of the
last sixty years with which we are to-day concerned.

How then does the history of poetry in Europe during these sixty years
stand in relation to these underlying processes? On the surface, at
least, it hardly resembles growth at all. In France above all--the
literary focus of Europe, and its sensitive thermometer--the movement of
poetry has been, on the surface, a succession of pronounced and even
fanatical schools, each born in reaction from its precursor, and
succumbing to the triumph of its successor. Yet a deeper scrutiny will
perceive that these warring artists were, in fact, groups of successive
discoverers, who each added something to the resources and the scope of
poetry, and also retained and silently adopted the discoveries of the
past; while the general line of advance is in the direction marked by
the two main currents I have described. Nowhere else is the succession
of phases so sharp and clear as in France. But since France does reflect
more sensitively than any other country the movement of the mind of
Europe, and since her own mind has, more than that of any other country,
radiated ideas and fashions out over the rest of Europe, these phases
are in fact traceable also, with all kinds of local and national
variations, in Italy and Spain, Germany and England, and I propose to
take this fact as the basis of our present very summary and diagrammatic
view. The three phases of the sixty years are roughly divided by the
years 1880 and 1900.

The first, most clearly seen in the French Parnassians, is in close, if
unconscious, sympathy with the temper of science. Poetry, brought to the
limit of expressive power, is used to express, with the utmost veracity,
precision, and impersonal self-suppression, the beauty and the tragedy
of the world. It sought Hellenic lucidity and Hellenic calm--in the
example most familiar to us, the Stoic calm and 'sad lucidity' of
Matthew Arnold.

The second, best seen in the French Symbolists, was directly hostile to
science. But they repelled its confident analysis of material reality in
the name of a part of reality which it ignored or denied, an immaterial
world which they mystically apprehended, which eluded direct
description, frustrated rhetoric, and was only to be come at by the
magical suggestion of colour, music, and symbol. It is most familiar to
us in the 'Celtic' verse of Mr. Yeats and 'A.E.'.

The third, still about us, and too various and incomplete for final
definition, is in closer sympathy with science, but, in great part, only
because science has itself found accommodation between nature and
spirit, a new ideality born of, and growing out of, the real. If the
first found Beauty, the end of art, in the plastic repose of sculpture,
and the second in the mysterious cadences of music, the poetry of the
twentieth century finds its ideal in life, in the creative evolution of
being, even in the mere things, the 'prosaic' pariahs of previous
poetry, on which our shaping wills are wreaked. We know it in poets
unlike one another but yet more unlike their predecessors, from
D'Annunzio and Dehmel and Claudel to our Georgian experimenters in the
poetry of paradox and adventure.


The third quarter of the nineteenth century opened, in western Europe,
with a decided set-back for those who lived on dreams, and a
corresponding complacency among those who throve on facts. The political
and social revolution which swept the continent in 1848 and 1849, and
found ominous echoes here, was everywhere, for the time, defeated. The
discoveries of science in the third and fourth decades, resting on
calculation and experiment, were investing it with the formidable
prestige which it has never since lost; and both metaphysics and
theology reeled perceptibly under the blows delivered in its name. The
world exhibition of 1851 seemed to announce an age of settled
prosperity, peace, and progress.

In literature the counterpart of these phenomena was the revolt from
_Romanticism_, a movement, in its origins, of poetic liberation and
discovery, which had rejuvenated poetry in Germany and Italy, and yet
more signally in England and in France, but was now petering out in
emotional incoherence, deified impulse, and irresponsible caprice.

The revolt accordingly everywhere sought to bring literature into closer
conformity with reality; with reality as interpreted by science; and to
make art severe and precise. In the novel, Flaubert founded modern
naturalism with his enthralling picture of dull provincials, _Mme
Bovary_ (1857); two years later George Eliot tilted openly in _Adam
Bede_ against the romancers who put you off with marvellous pictures of
dragons, but could not draw the real horses and cattle before their

Realism, at once more unflinching and more profoundly poetic, and yet
penetrated, especially in Tolstoy and Dostoievsky, with an intensity of
moral conviction beside which the ethical fervour of George Eliot seems
an ineffectual fire, was one of the roots of the Russian Novel; which
also reached its climax in the third quarter of the century. But though
it concurred with analogous movements in the West, it drew little of
moment from them; even Turgenjev, a greater Maupassant in artistry, drew
his inner inspiration from wholly alien springs of Slavonic passion and
thought. And it was chiefly through them that the Russian novel later
helped to nourish the radically alien movement of Symbolism in France.

In drama, Ibsen broke away from the Romantic tradition of his country
with the iconoclastic energy of one who had spent his own unripe youth
in offering it a half-reluctant homage. The man of actuality in him
denounced the drama built upon the legends of the Scandinavian past--the
mark for him of a people of dreamers oblivious of the calls of the hour.
On the morrow of the disastrous (and for Norway in his view ignominious)
Danish war of 1864, his scorn rang out with prophetic intensity in the
fierce tirade of _Brand_. Happily for his art, revolt against romance in
him was united, more signally than in more than two or three of his
contemporaries, with the power of seizing and presenting contemporary
life. 'Realism' certainly expresses inadequately enough the genius of an
art like his, enormously alive rather than fundamentally like life, and
no less charged with purpose and idea than the work of the great
Russians, though under cover of reticences and irony little known to
them. The great series of prose dramas--from 1867 (_The League of
Youth_) onwards--with their experimental prelude _Love's Comedy_
(1863)--were to be for all Europe the most considerable literary event
of the fourth quarter of the century, and they generated affiliated
schools throughout the West. They did not indeed themselves remain
untouched by the general intellectual currents of the time, and it will
be noticed below that the later plays (from _The Lady of the Sea_
onward) betray affinities, like the Russian novel, with what is here
called the second phase of the European movement.

In Criticism, the showy generalizations of Villemain gave place to
Sainte-Beuve's series of essays towards a 'natural history of minds'[4]
and Taine's more sweeping attempt to explain literature by
environment.[5] Among ourselves, Meredith's _Essay on Comedy_ (1872)
brilliantly restated Molière's dictum that the comic is founded on the
real, and not on a fantastic distortion of it, while Matthew Arnold
applied alike to literature and to theology a critical insight
fertilized by his master Sainte-Beuve's delicate faculty for disengaging
the native quality of minds from the incrustations of tradition and

In poetry the French Parnassians created the most brilliant poetry that
has, since Milton, been built upon erudition and impeccable art. Their
leader, Leconte de Lisle, in the preface of his _Poèmes antiques_
(1853), scornfully dismissed Romanticism as a second-hand, incoherent,
and hybrid art, compounded of German mysticism, reverie, and Byron's
stormy egoism. Sully Prudhomme addressed a sterner criticism to the
shade of Alfred de Musset--the Oscar Wilde of the later
Romantics[6]--who had never known the stress of thought, and had filled
his poetry with light love and laughter and voluptuous despairs; the new
poets were to be no such gay triflers, but workers at a forge, beating
the glowing metal into shape, and singing as they toiled.[7] Carducci,
too, derisively contrasts the 'moonlight' of Romanticism--cold and
infructuous beams, proper for Gothic ruins and graveyards--with the
benignant and fertilizing sunshine he sought to restore; for him, too,
the poet is no indolent caroller, and no gardener to grow fragrant
flowers for ladies, but a forge-worker with muscles of steel.[8] Among
us, as usual, the divergence is less sharply marked; but when Browning
calls Byron a 'flat fish', and Arnold sees the poet of _Prometheus_
appropriately pinnacled in the 'intense inane', they are expressing a
kindred repugnance to a poetry wanting in intellectual substance and in
clear-cut form.

If we turn from the negations of the anti-romantic revolt to consider
what it actually sought and achieved in poetry, we find that its
positive ideals, too, without being derived from science, reflect the
temper of a scientific time. Thus the supreme gift of all the greater
poets of this group was a superb vision of beauty, and of beauty--_pace_
Hogarth--there is no science. But their view of beauty was partly
limited, partly fertilized and enriched, by the sources they discovered
and the conditions they imposed, and both the discoveries and the
limitations added something to the traditions and resources of poetry.

(1) They exploited the aesthetic values to be had by knowledge. They
pursued erudition and built their poetry upon erudition, not in the
didactic way of the Augustans, but as a mine of poetic material and
suggestion. Far more truly than Wordsworth's this poetry could claim to
be the impassioned expression which is in the face of science; for
Wordsworth's knowledge is a mystic insight wholly estranged from
erudition; his celandine, his White Doe, belong to no fauna or flora.
When Leconte de Lisle, on the other hand, paints the albatross of the
southern sea or the condor of the Andes, the eye of a passionate
explorer and observer has gone to the making of their exotic sublimity.
The strange regions of humanity, too, newly disclosed by comparative
religion and mythology, he explores with cosmopolitan impartiality and
imaginative penetration; carving, as in marble, the tragedy of Hjalmar's
heart and Angentyr's sword, of Cain's doom, and Erinnyes never, like
those of Aeschylus, appeased. The Romantics had loved to play with
exotic suggestions; but the East of Hugo's _Orientales_ or Moore's
_Lalla Rookh_ is merely a veneer; the poet of _Qain_ has heard the wild
asses cry and seen the Syrian sun descend into the golden foam.

In the three commanding poets of our English mid-century, learning
becomes no less evidently poetry's honoured and indispensable ally.
Tennyson studies nature like a naturalist, not like a mystic, and finds
felicities of phrase poised, as it were, upon delicate observation. Man,
too, in Browning, loses the vague aureole of Shelleyan humanity, and
becomes the Italian of the Renascence or the Arab doctor or the German
musician, all alive but in their habits as they lived, and fashioned in
a brain fed, like no other, on the Book of the histories of Souls.
Matthew Arnold more distinctively than either, and both for better and
for worse, was the scholar-poet; among other things he was, with Heredia
and Carducci, a master of the poetry of critical portraiture, which
focusses in a few lines (_Sophocles_, _Rahel_, _Heine_, _Obermann Once
More_) the meaning of a great career or of a complex age.

(2) In the elaboration of their vision of beauty from these enlarged
sources, Leconte de Lisle and his followers demanded an impeccable
artistry. 'A great poet', he said, 'and a flawless artist are
convertible terms.' The Parnassian precision rested on the postulate
that, with sufficient resources of vocabulary and phrase, everything can
be adequately expressed, the analogue of the contemporary scientific
conviction that, with sufficient resources of experiment and
calculation, everything can be exhaustively explained. The pursuit of an
objective calm, the repudiation of missionary ardour, of personal
emotion, of the _cri du coeur_, of individual originality, involved the
surrender of some of the glories of spontaneous song, but opened the
way, for consummate artists such as these, to a profusion of
undiscovered beauty, and to a peculiar grandeur not to be attained by
the egoist. Leconte's temperament leads him to subjects which are
already instinct with tragedy and thus in his hands assume this grandeur
without effort. The power of sheer style to ennoble is better seen in
Sully Prudhomme's _tours de force_ of philosophic poetry--when he
unfolds his ideas upon 'Justice' or 'Happiness', for instance, under the
form of a debate where masterly resources of phrase and image are
compelled to the service of a rigorous logic; or in the brief cameo-like
pieces on 'Memory', 'Habit', 'Forms', and similar unpromising
abstractions, most nearly paralleled in English by the quatrains of Mr.
William Watson. But the cameo comparison is still more aptly applied to
the marvellously-chiselled sonnets of Heredia--monuments of a moment, as
sculpture habitually is, but reaching out, as the finest sculpture does,
to invisible horizons, and to the before and after--the old wooden
guardian-god recalling his former career as a scarlet figure-head
laughing at the laughter or fury of the waves; Antony seeing the flying
ships of Actium mirrored in the traitorous azure of Cleopatra's eyes.

In Italy the ideal of an austere simplicity and reserve, resting as it
did on the immense prestige of Leopardi, asserted itself even in the
naturally exuberant and impetuous genius of Carducci. Without it we
should not have had those reticences of an abounding nature, those
economies of a spendthrift, which make him one of the first poets of the
sonnet in the land of its origin, and one of the greatest writers of
Odes among the 'barbarians'. With reason he declared in 1891, when most
of his poetry had been written, that 'all the apparent contradictions in
my work are resolved by the triple formula: in politics Italy before
all, in aesthetics classical poetry before all, in practice, frankness
and force before all'. His two chief disciples, D'Annunzio and Pascoli,
antithetical in almost all points, may be said to have divided his
inheritance in this; Pascoli's Vergilian economy contrasting with the
exuberance of D'Annunzio somewhat as with us the classicism of the
present poet-laureate with that of Swinburne. In Germany the Parnassian
reserve, concentration, and aristocratic exclusiveness was to reappear
in the lyrical group of Stefan Georg.

(3) Finally, the Parnassian poetry, like most contemporary science, was
in varying degrees detached from and hostile to religion, and found some
of its most vibrating notes in contemplating its empty universe. Leconte
de Lisle offers the Stoic the last mournful joy of 'a heart seven-times
steeped in the divine nothingness',[9] or calls him to 'that city of
silence, the sepulchre of the vanished gods, the human heart, seat of
dreams, where eternally ferments and perishes the illusory
universe'.[10] Here, too, Leopardi had anticipated him.

In the ebullient genius of Carducci and Swinburne this lofty disdain for
theological illusions passes into the fierce derision of the Ode to
Satan and the militant paganism of the Sonnet to Luther, and the _Hymn
to Man_. In Matthew Arnold it became a half-wistful resignation, the
pensive retrospect of the Greek 'thinking of his own gods beside a
fallen runic stone', or listening to the 'melancholy long withdrawing
roar' of the tide of faith 'down the vast edges drear and naked shingles
of the world'; while in James Thomson resignation passed into the
unrelieved pessimism of the _City of Dreadful Night_. In all these
poets, what was of moment for poetry was not, of course, the
anti-theological or anti-clerical sentiment which marks them all, but
the notes of sombre and terrible beauty which the contemplation of the
passing of the gods, and of man's faith in them, elicits from their art.

Yet the supreme figure, not only among those who share in the
anti-Romantic reaction but among all the European poets of his time, was
one who had in the heyday of youth led the Romantic vanguard--Victor
Hugo. Leconte de Lisle never ceased to own him his master, and Hugo's
genius had since his exile, in 1851, entered upon a phase in which a
poetry such as the Parnassian sought--objective, reticent, impersonal,
technically consummate--was at least one of the strings of his
many-chorded lyre. Three magnificent works--the very crown and flower of
Hugo's production--belong to this decade, 1850-60,--the _Châtiments_,
_Contemplations_, and _Légende des Siècles_. I said advisedly, one
string in his lyre. Objective reticence is certainly not the virtue of
the terrible indictment of 'Napoleon the Little'. On the other hand, the
greatest qualities of Parnassian poetry were exemplified in many
splendid pieces of the other two works, together with a large benignity
which their austere Stoicism rarely permits, and I shall take as
illustration of the finest achievement of poetry in this whole first
phase the closing stanzas of his famous _Boaz Endormi_ in the _Légende_,
whose beauty even translation cannot wholly disguise. Our decasyllable
is substituted for the Alexandrine.[11]

    'While thus he slumbered, Ruth, a Moabite,
    Lay at the feet of Boaz, her breast bare,
    Waiting, she knew not when, she knew not where,
    The sudden mystery of wakening light.

    Boaz knew not that there a woman lay,
    Nor Ruth what God desired of her could tell;
    Fresh rose the perfume of the asphodel,
    And tender breathed the dusk on Galgala.

    Nuptial, august, and solemn was the night,
    Angels no doubt were passing on the wing,
    For now and then there floated glimmering
    As it might be an azure plume in flight.

    The low breathing of Boaz mingled there
    With the soft murmur of the mossy rills.
    It was the month when earth is debonnaire;
    The lilies were in flower upon the hills.

    Night compassed Boaz' slumber and Ruth's dreams,
    The sheep-bells vaguely tinkled far and near;
    Infinite love breathed from the starry sphere;
    'Twas the still hour when lions seek the streams.

    Ur and Jerimedeth were all at rest;
    The stars enamelled the blue vault of sky;
    Amid those flowers of darkness in the west
    The crescent shone; and with half open eye

    Ruth wondered, moveless, in her veils concealed,
    What heavenly reaper, when the day was done
    And harvest gathered in, had idly thrown
    That golden sickle on the starry field.'


The rise of French symbolism towards the end of the 'seventies was a
symptom of a changed temper of thought and feeling traceable in some
degree throughout civilized Europe. Roughly, it marked the passing of
the confident and rather superficial security of the 'fifties into a
vague unrest, a kind of troubled awe. As if existence altogether was a
bigger, more mysterious, and intractable thing than was assumed, not so
easily to be captured in the formulas of triumphant science, or mirrored
and analysed by the most consummate literary art.

Political and social conditions contributed to the change. France stood
on the morrow of a shattering catastrophe. The complacency of
mid-Victorian England began to be disturbed by menaces from the
workshops of industry. And it was precisely in triumphant Germany
herself that revolutionary Socialism found, in Karl Marx, its first
organizing mind and authoritative exponent. The millennium was not so
near as it had seemed; the problems of society, instead of having been
solved once for all, were only, it appeared, just coming into view.

In the secluded workshops of Thought, subtler changes were silently
going on. The dazzling triumphs of physical science, which had led
poetry itself to emulate the marble impassivity of the scientific
temper, were undiminished; but they were seen in a new perspective,
their authority ceased to be exclusive, the focus of interest was slowly
shifting from the physical to the psychical world. Lange, writing the
history of _Materialism_ in 1874, virtually performed its obsequies; and
Tyndall's brilliant effort, in 1871, to equip primordial Matter with the
'promise and the potency' of mind, unconsciously confessed that its
cause was lost. Psychology, after Fechner, steadily advanced in prestige
and importance from the outlying circumference of the sciences to their
very centre and core.

But it was not merely particular doctrines that lost ground; the scope
and validity of scientific method itself began to be questioned. In the
most varied fields of thought there set in that 'idealistic reaction
against science' which has been described in one of the most penetrating
books of our time. Most significant of all, science itself, in the
person of Mach, and Pearson, has abandoned the claim to do more than
provide descriptive formulas for phenomena the real nature of which is
utterly beyond its power to discover.

Of this changed outlook the growth of Symbolism is the most significant
literary expression. It was not confined to France, or to poetry. We
know how the drama of Ibsen became charged with ulterior meanings as the
fiery iconoclast passed into the poet of insoluble and ineluctable
doubt. But by the French symbolists it was pursued as a creed, as a
religion. If the dominant poetry of the third quarter of the century
reflected the prestige of science, the dominant poetry of the fourth
reflected the idealistic reactions against it, and Villiers de l'Ile
Adam, its founder, came forward proclaiming that 'Science was bankrupt'.
And so it might well seem to him, the visionary mystic inhabiting, as
he did, a world of strange beauty and invisible mystery which science
could not unlock. The symbolists had not all an explicit philosophy; but
they were all aware of potencies in the world or in themselves which
language cannot articulately express, and which are yet more vitally
real than the 'facts' which we can grasp and handle, and the
'respectable' people whom we can measure and reckon with. Sometimes
these potencies are vaguely mysterious, an impalpable spirit speaking
only by hints and tokens; sometimes they are felt as the pulsations of
an intoxicating beauty, breaking forth in every flower, but which can
only be possessed, not described; sometimes they are moods of the soul,
beyond analysis, and yet full of wonder and beauty, visions half
created, half perceived. Experiences like these might have been
described, as far as description would go, by brilliant artificers like
the Parnassians. Verlaine and Mallarmé did not discover, but they
applied with new daring, the fact that an experience may be communicated
by words which, instead of representing it, suggest it by their colour,
their cadences, their rhythm, their verbal echoes and inchoate phrases.
All the traditional artistry of French poetic speech was condemned as
both inadequate and insincere. 'Take eloquence and wring her neck!
Nothing but music and the nuance--all the rest is "Literature", mere
writing--futile verbosity!' that was the famous watchword of Verlaine's

The strength of symbolism lay in this demand for a complete sincerity of
utterance. Its revolt against science was at the same time a vindication
of truth, an effort to get nearer to reality both by shedding off the
incrustations of habitual phrase and by calling into play the obscure
affinities by which it can be magically evoked. In the subtleties of
suggestion latent in sensations the symbolists were real discoverers.
But the way had already been pointed in famous verses by Baudelaire:

    'Earth is a Temple, from whose pillared mazes
    Murmurs confused of living utterance rise;
    Therein Man thro' a forest of symbols paces,
    That contemplate him with familiar eyes.

    As prolonged echoes, wandering on and on,
    At last in one far tenebrous depth unite,
    Impalpable as darkness, and as light,
    Scents, sounds, and colours meet in unison.'

There Baudelaire had touched a chord that was to sound loud and long;
for what else than this thought of all the senses meeting in union
inspired the music drama of Wagner?--only one of his points of kinship,
as we shall see, with symbolism.

Thus the symbolists, in quest of reality, touched it only through the
inner life. There they are, in their fashion, realists. 'A landscape',
said Albert Samain, 'is a state of soul.' The landscape may be false,
but the state of soul is veracious. What interests them in life is the
image of life, not lucidly reflected but exquisitely transformed. Yet
the vision of the world caught in that transforming mirror was not
without strange revealing glimpses, invisible, like stars mirrored in a
well, to the plain observer. They could hear the music of the spheres;
or in the language of Samain's sonnet

    'Feel flowing through them, like a pouring wave,
    The music-tide of universal Soul;
    Hear in their heart the beating pulse of heaven.'[13]

In the earlier poetry of Maurice Maeterlinck, the inner life imposes a
more jealous sway. The poet sits not before a transforming mirror, where
the outer world is disguised, but in a closed chamber, where it is only
dreamed of, and it fades into the incoherence and the irrelevance of a
dream. But the chamber is of rare beauty, and in its hushed and perfumed
twilight, dramas of the spirit are being silently and almost
imperceptibly enacted, more tragic than the loud passion and violence of
the stage. He has written an essay on Silence,--silence that, like
humility, holds for him a 'treasure' beyond the reach of eloquence or of
pride; for it is the dwelling of our true self, the spiritual core of
us, 'more profound and more boundless than the self of the passions or
of pure reason.' And so there is less matter for drama in 'a captain who
conquers in battle or a husband who avenges his honour than in an old
man, seated in his arm-chair waiting patiently with his lamp beside him,
giving unconscious ear to all the eternal laws that reign about his
house, interpreting without comprehending, the silence of door and
window, and the quivering voice of the light; submitting with bent head
to the presence of his soul and his destiny.'

It is on this side that symbolism discloses its kinship with the Russian
novel,--with the mystic quietism of Tolstoy and the religion of
self-sacrifice in Dostoievsky; and its sharp antagonism to the
Nietzschean gospel of daemonic will and ruthless self-assertion, just
then being preached in Germany. The two faiths were both alive and both
responded to deep though diverse needs of the time; but the immediate
future, as we shall see, belonged to the second. They had their first
resounding encounter when Nietzsche held up his once venerated master
Wagner to scorn as the chief of 'decadents' because he had turned from
the superhuman heroism of Siegfried and the boundless passion of
Tristram to glorify the mystic Catholicism of the Grail and the
loveliness of the 'pure fool' Parzifal.

Outside France symbolism found eager response among young poets, but
rather as a literary than as an ethical doctrine. In Germany Dehmel, the
most powerful personality among her recent poets, began as a disciple of
Verlaine; in Italy, D'Annunzio wove esoteric symbols into the texture of
the more than Nietzschean supermanliness of his supermen and superwomen.
More significant than these, however, was the symbolism of what we call
the Celtic school of poets in Ireland. For here both their artistic
impressionism and their mystic spirituality found a congenial soil. The
principal mediating force was Mr. Arthur Symons, friend of Verlaine and
of Yeats, and himself the most penetrating interpreter of Symbolism,
both as critic and as poet.[14] And to the French influence was added
that of Blake, a poet too great to be included in any school, but allied
to symbolism by his scorn for 'intellect' and for rhetoric, and by his
audacities of figured speech. But Mr. Yeats and 'A.E.', the leaders of
the 'Celtic' group, are in no sense derivation voices. They had the
great advantage over the French of a living native folklore and faery
lore. Hence their symbolism, no less subtle, and no less steeped in
poetic imagining, has not the same air of literary artifice, of studio
fabrication, of cultured Bohemianism; it breathes of the old Irish
hills, holy with old-world rites, and the haunted woods, and the magical
twilight and dewy dawns. And beneath all the folklore, and animating it,
is the passion for Ireland herself, the mother, deathless and ever
young, whom neither the desolation of the time nor the decay of hope can

    'Out-worn heart in a time out-worn
    Come clear of the nets of wrong and right;
    Laugh, heart, again in the grey twilight;
    Sigh, heart, again in the dew of the morn.

    Your mother Eire is always young,
    Dew ever shining and twilight grey;
    Tho' hope fall from you and love decay
    Burning in fires of a slanderous tongue.

    Come, heart, where hill is heaped upon hill;
    For there the mystical brotherhood
    Of sun and moon and hollow and wood
    And river and stream work out their will.'

For that, the French had only the Fauns of a literary neo-classicism.
The passion for France was yet indeed to find a voice in poetry. But
this was reserved for the more trumpet-tongued tones of the contemporary
phase to which I now turn.


1. _Philosophic Analogies_

Nothing is more symptomatic of the incipient twentieth century than the
drawing together of currents of thought and action before remote or
hostile. The Parnassians were an exclusive sect, the symbolists an
eccentric and often disreputable coterie; Claudel, D'Annunzio, Rudyard
Kipling, speak home to throngs of everyday readers, are even national
idols, and our Georgians contrive to be bought and read without the
least surrender of what is most poetic in their poetry. And the
analogies between philosophic thinking and poetic creation become
peculiarly striking. Merely to name Friedrich Nietzsche, Henri Bergson,
and Benedetto Croce is to become vividly aware of these analogies and
of the common bent from which they spring. All three--whether with
brilliant rhetoric, or iron logic, or a blend of both--use their
thinking power to deride the theorizing intelligence in comparison with
the creative intuition which culminates in poetry. To define the scope
and province of this intuition is the purport of Croce's epoch-making
_Aesthetics_, the basis and starting-point of his illumining work, in
_Critica_, as a literary critic. Bergson is the dominant figure in a
line of French thinkers possessed with the conviction that life, a
perpetual streaming forth of creative energy, cannot be caught in the
mechanism of law, adapted to merely physical phenomena, which at best
merely gives us generalizations and lets the all-important
particulars--the individual living thing--slip through the meshes;
whereas intuition--the eye fixed on the object--penetrates to the very
heart of this individual living thing, and only drops out the skeleton
framework of abstract laws. Philosophy, in these thinkers, was deeply
imbued with the analogies of artistic creation. 'Beauty,' said
Ravaisson, 'and especially beauty in the most divine and perfect form,
contains the secret of the world.'[15] And Bergson's _Creative
Evolution_ embodied a conception of life and of the world profoundly
congenial to the artistic and poetic temper of his time. For he
restated, it has been well said, the two great surviving formulas of the
nineteenth century, evolution and the will to live, in terms precisely
suited to the temper of the age just dawning. The will to live became a
formula of hope and progress; evolution became a formula of vital
impulse, of creative purpose, not of mechanical 'struggle for

The idea that aesthetic experience gives a profounder clue than logical
thought to the inner meaning of things was as old as Plato. It was one
of the crowning thoughts of Kant; it deeply coloured the metaphysics of
Schelling. And Nietzsche developed it with brilliant audacity when in
his _Birth of Tragedy_ (1872) he contrasted scornfully with the laboured
and ineffectual constructions of the theoretic man, even of Socrates the
founder of philosophy, the radiant vision of the artist, the lucid
clarity of Apollo. 'His book gave the lie to a thousand years of orderly
development', wrote the great Hellenist Wilamowitz, Nietzsche's old
schoolfellow, indignant at his rejection of the labours of scholastic
reason. But it affirmed energetically the passion of his own time for
immediate and first-hand experience.

And it did more. Beside and above Apollo, Nietzsche put Dionysus; beside
vision and above it, _rage_. Of the union of these two Tragedy was born.
And Nietzsche's glorification of this elemental creative force also
responded to a wider movement in philosophy, here chiefly German. His
Dionysiac rage is directly derived from that will in which Schopenhauer
saw the master faculty of man and the hidden secret of the universe; and
the beginning of Schopenhauer's fame, about 1850, coincides with a
general rehabilitation of will as the dominant faculty in the soul and
in the world, at the cost of the methodic orderly processes of
understanding; a movement exhibited in the psychological innovations of
Wundt and Münsterberg, in the growth of the doctrine that what a thing
is is determined by what it _can_; that value is in fact the measure,
and even the meaning, of existence; that will can arm impotence, create
faith, and master disease; and in the call of the colossal will-power
which created the German empire and launched her on the career of
industrial greatness. Nietzsche's Superman is, above all, a being of
colossal and masterful will, and Zarathustra, the prophet of
superhumanity, is only an incarnation of the will that for Schopenhauer
moved the world. The moment at which the prestige of will began
definitely to overcome that of reasoning is marked, as Aliotta has
pointed out, by the appearance of James's _Will to Believe_, just when
agnosticism seemed triumphant.

Nietzsche and Bergson thus, with all their obvious and immense
divergences, concurred in this respect, important from our present point
of view, that their influence tended to transfer authority from the
philosophic reason to those 'irrational' elements of mind which reach
their highest intensity in the vision and 'rage' of the poet. James's
vindication of drunken exaltation as a source of religious insight was
not the least symptomatic passage of his great book. And both concurred,
however remote their methods or their speech, in conceiving reality as
creation, creation in which we take part--a conception which again, in
the hands of the constructive religious thinker, led directly to the
type of faith announced in that last--the Jamesian--'Variety' of
religious experience, which represents us as indispensable
fellow-workers and allies of a growing and striving God.

2. _The New Freedom_

No reader of the poetry of our time can mistake the kinship of its
prevailing temper with that which lies at the root of these
philosophies. Without trying to fit its infinite variety to any finite
formula, we may yet venture to find in it, as Mr. McDowall has found in
our Georgian poetry in particular, a characteristic union of grip and
detachment; of intense and eager grasp upon actuality as it breaks upon
us in the successive moments of the stream of time, and yet an inner
independence of it, a refusal to be obsessed by its sanctions and
authorities, a tacit assumption that everything, by whatever length of
tradition consecrated, must come before the bar of the new century to be
judged by its new mind. 'Youth is knocking at the door,' as it is said
of Hilda in the symbolical _Master Builder_, and doubtless in every
generation the philistines or Victorians in possession have had occasion
to make that remark. The difference in our time is rather that youth
comes in without knocking, and that instead of having to work slowly up
to final dominance against the inertia of an established literary
household, it has spontaneously, like Hilda Wrangel, taken possession of
the home, rinding criticism boundlessly eulogistic, the public
inexhaustibly responsive, and philosophy interpreting the universe, as
we have seen, precisely in sympathy with its own naïve intuitions. No
wonder that youth at twenty is writing its autobiography or having its
biography written, and that at twenty-five it makes a show of laying
down the pen, like Max Beerbaum, with the gesture of one rising sated
from the feast of life: 'I shall write no more.'

The fact that youth finds itself thus at home in the world explains the
difference in temper between the new poets of freedom and the old. The
wild or wistful cry of Shelley for an ideal state emancipated from pain
and death is as remote from their poetry as his spiritual anarchy from
their politics; they can dream and see visions, in Scott's phrase, 'like
any one going', but their feet are on the solid ground of actuality and
citizenship, and the actuality comes into and colours their poetry no
less than their vision. When Mr. Drinkwater looks out of his 'town
window' he dreams of the crocus flaming gold in far-off Warwick woods;
but he does not repudiate the drab inglorious street nor the tramway
ringing and moaning over the cobbles, and they come into his verse. And
I find it significant of the whole temper of the new poetry to ordinary
life no less than that of ordinary men and women to the new poetry,
that he has won a singularly intimate relationship with a great
industrial community. He has not fared like his carver in stone. But
then the eagles of his carving, though capable of rising, like
Shelley's, to the sun, are the Cromwells and Lincolns who themselves
brought the eagle's valour and undimmed eye into the stress and turmoil
of affairs.

No doubt a fiercer note of revolt may be heard at times in the poetry of
contemporary France, and that precisely where devotion to some parts of
the heritage of the past is most impassioned. The iconoclastic scorn of
youth's idealism for the effeteness of the 'old hunkers', as Whitman
called them, has rarely rung out more sharply than in the closing
stanzas of Claudel's great Palm Sunday ode. All the pomp and splendour
of bishops and cardinals is idle while victory yet is in suspense: that
must be won by youth in arms.

        'To-morrow the candles and the dais and the bishop with his clergy
                coped and gold embossed,
    But to-day the shout like thunder of an equal, unofficered host
        Who, led and kindled by the flag alone,
    With one sole spirit swollen, and on one sole thought intent,
    Are become one cry like the crash of walls shattered and gates rent:
        'Hosanna unto David's son!'

    Needless the haughty steeds marble-sculptured, or triumphal arches, or
                chariots and four,
    Needless the flags and the caparisons, the moving pyramids and towers,
                and cars that thunder and roar,--
        'Tis but an ass whereon sits Christ;
    For to make an end of the nightmare built by the pedants and the
    To get home to reality across the gulf of mendacities,
        The first she-ass he saw sufficed!

    Eternal youth is master, the hideous gang of old men is done with, we
    Stand here like children, fanned by the breath of the things to be,
        But victory we will have to-day!
    Afterwards the corn that like gold gives return, afterwards the gold
                that like corn is faithful and will bear,
    The fruit we have henceforth only to gather, the land we have
                henceforth only to share,
        But victory we will have to-day!'

In the same spirit Charles Péguy--like Claudel, be it noted, a student
of Bergson at the École Normale--found his ideal in the great story of
the young girl of Domremy who saved France when all the pomp and wisdom
of generals had broken down. And in our own poetry has not Mr. Bottomley
rewritten the Lear story, with the focus of power and interest
transferred from the old king--left with not an inch of king in him--to
a glorious young Artemis-Goneril?

But among our English Georgians this tense iconoclastic note is rare.
Their detachment from what they repudiate is not fanatical or ascetic;
it is conveyed less in invective than in paradox and irony; their temper
is not that which flies to the wilderness and dresses in camel hair, but
of mariners putting out to the unknown and bidding a not unfriendly
good-bye at the shore. The temper of adventure is deeply ingrained in
the new romance as in the old; the very word adventure is saturated with
a sentiment very congenial to us both for better and worse; it quickens
the hero in us and flatters the devil-may-care.

In its simplest form the temper of adventure has given us the profusion
of pleasant verses which we know as the poetry of 'vagabondage' and 'the
open road'. The point is too familiar to be dwelt on, and has been
admirably illustrated and discussed by Mr. McDowall. George Borrow,
prince of vagabonds, Stevenson, the 'Ariel', with his 'Vagabond-song'--

    'All I seek the heaven above,
      And the road below me',

and a few less vocal swallows, anticipated the more sustained flights
and melodies of to-day, while Borrow's wonderful company of vagabond
heroes and heroines is similarly premonitory of the alluring gipsies and
circus-clowns of our Georgian poetry. Sometimes a traditional motive is
creatively transformed; as when Father Time, the solemn shadow with
admonitory hour-glass, appears in Mr. Hodgson's poem as an old gipsy
pitching his caravan 'only a moment and off once again'.

Elsewhere a deeper note is sounded. It is not for nothing that Jeanne
d'Arc is the saint of French Catholic democracy, or that Péguy, her
poet, calls the Incarnation the 'sublime adventure of God's Son'. That
last adventure of the Dantesque Ulysses beyond the sunset thrills us
to-day more than the Odyssean tale of his triumphant home-return, and
D'Annunzio, greatly daring, takes it as the symbol of his own
adventurous life. Francis Thompson's most famous poem, too, represents
the divine effort to save the erring soul under the image of the hound's
eager chase of a quarry which may escape; while Yeats hears God 'blowing
his lonely horn' along the moonlit faery glades of Erin. And Meredith,
who so often profoundly voiced the spirit of the time in which only his
ripe old age was passed, struck this note in his sublime verses on
revolutionary France--

                      'soaring France
    That divinely shook the dead
    From living man; that stretched ahead
    Her resolute forefinger straight
    And marched toward the gloomy gate
    Of Earth's Untried.'

It is needless to dwell upon the affinity between this temper of
adventure in poetry and the teaching of Bergson. That the link is not
wholly fortuitous is shown by the interesting _Art Poétique_ (1903) of
his quondam pupil, Claudel, a little treatise pervaded by the idea of

It was natural in such a time to assume that any living art of poetry
must itself be new, and in fact the years immediately before and after
the turn of the century are crowded with announcements of 'new'
movements in art of every kind. Beside Claudel's _Art Poétique_ we have
in England the _New Aestheticism_ of Grant Allen; in Germany the 'new
principle' in verse of Arno Holz. And here again the English innovators
are distinguished by a good-humoured gaiety, if also by a slighter build
of thought, from the French or Nietzschean 'revaluers'. Rupert Brooke
delightfully parodies the exquisite hesitances and faltering half-tones
of Pater's cloistral prose; and Mr. Chesterton pleasantly mocks at the
set melancholy of the aggressive Decadence in which he himself grew up:

    'Science announced nonentity, and art adored decay,
    The world was old and ended, but you and I were gay.'

Like their predecessors in the earlier Romantic school, the new
adventurers have notoriously experimented with poetic _form_. France,
the home of the most rigid and meticulous metrical tradition, had
already led the way in substituting for the strictly measured verse the
more loosely organized harmonies of rhythmical prose, bound together,
and indeed made recognizable as verse, in any sense, solely by the
rhyme. With the Symbolists 'free verse' was an attempt to capture finer
modulations of music than the rigid frame of metre allowed. With their
successors it had rather the value of a plastic medium in which every
variety of matter and of mood could be faithfully expressed. But whether
called verse or not, the vast rushing modulations of rhythmic music in
the great pieces of Claudel and others have a magnificence not to be
denied. And the less explicitly poetic form permits matter which would
jar on the poetic instinct if conveyed through a metrical form to be
taken up as it were in this larger and looser stride.

In Germany, on the other hand, the rhythmic emancipation of Whitman was
carried out, in the school of Arno Holz, with a revolutionary audacity
beyond the example even of Claudel. Holz states with great clearness and
trenchancy what he calls his 'new principle of lyric'; one which
'abandons all verbal music as an aim, and is borne solely by a rhythm
made vital by the thought struggling through it to expression'. Rhyme
and strophe are given up, only rhythm remains.

Of our Georgian poetry, it must suffice to note that here, too, the
temper of adventure in form is rife. But it shows itself,
characteristically, less in revolutionary innovation than in attempts to
elicit new and strange effects from traditional measures by deploying to
the utmost, and in bold and extreme combinations, their traditional
resources and variations, as in the blank verse of Mr. Abercrombie and
Mr. Bottomley. This, and much beside in Georgian verse, has moods and
moments of rare beauty. But, on the whole, verse-form is the region of
poetic art in which Georgian poetry as a whole is least secure.

3. _The New Realism_

We see then how deeply rooted this new freedom is in the passion for
actuality; not the dream but the waking and alert experience throbs and
pulses in it. We have now to look more closely into this other aspect of
it. Realism is a hard-worked term, but it may be taken to imply that the
overflowing vitality of which poetry is one expression fastens with
peculiar eagerness upon the visible and tangible world about us and
seeks to convey that zest in words. Our poets not only do not scorn the
earth to lose themselves in the sky; they are positive friends of the
matter-of-fact, and that not in spite of poetry, but for poetry's sake;
and Pegasus flies more freely because 'things' are 'in the saddle' along
with the poet.

That this matter-of-factness is loved by poets, for poetry's sake, marks
it off once for all from the photographic or 'plain' realism of Crabbe.
But it is also clearly distinct from the no less poetic realism of
Wordsworth. Wordsworth's mind is conservative and traditional; his
inspiration is static; he glorifies the primrose on the river brink by
seeing its transience in the light of something far more deeply
interfused which does not change nor pass away. Romance, in a high
sense, lies about his greatest poetry. But it is a romance rooted in
memory, not in hope--the 'glory of the grass and splendour of the
flower' which he had seen in childhood and imaginatively re-created in
maturity; a romance which change, and especially the intrusions of
industrial man, dispelled and destroyed. Whereas the romance of our new
realism rests, in good part, precisely in the sense that the _thing_ so
vividly gripped is not or need not be permanent, may turn into something
else, has only a tenancy, not a freehold, in its conditions of space and
time, a 'toss-up' hold upon existence, as it were, full of the zest of
adventurous insecurity. A pessimistic philosophy would dissipate this
romance, or strip it of all but the mournful poetry of doom. Mr.
Chesterton glorifies the dust which may become a flower or a face,
against the Reverend Peter Bell for whom dust is dust and no more, and
Hamlet who only remembers that it once was Caesar. If our realism is
buoyant, if it had at once the absorbed and the open mind, this is, in
large part, in virtue of the temper which finds reality a perpetual
creation. Every moment is precious and significant, for it comes with
the burden and meaning of something that has never completely been
before; and goes by only to give place to another moment equally curious
and new. This is the deeper ground of our present fashion of paradox;
what Mr. Chesterton, its apostle, means when he says that 'the great
romance is reality'; for paradox, the unexpected, is, in a reality so
framed, the bare and sober truth. Hence the frequency, in our new
poetry, of pieces founded deliberately upon, as Mr. McDowall points out,
paradox: the breaking in of some utter surprise upon a humdrum society,
as in Mr. de la Mare's _Three Jolly Farmers_, or Mr. Abercrombie's _End
of the World_, or Mr. Munro's _Strange Meetings_.

Moreover, in this incessantly created reality we are ourselves
incessantly creative. That may seem to follow as a matter of course; but
it corresponds with the most radical of the distinctions between our
realism and that of Wordsworth. When Mr. Wells tells us that his most
comprehensive belief about the universe is that every part of it is
ultimately important, he is not expressing a mystic pantheism which
feels every part to be divine, but a generous pragmatism which holds
that every part _works_. The idea of shaping and adapting will, of
energy in industry, of mere routine practicality in office or household,
is no longer tabooed, or shyly evaded; not because of any theoretic
exaltation of labour or consecration of the commonplace, but because
merely to use things, to make them fulfil our purposes, to bring them
into touch with our activities, itself throws a kind of halo over even
very humble and homely members of the 'divine democracy of things'.
Rupert Brooke draws up a famous catalogue of the things of which he was
a 'great lover'. He loved them, he says, simply _as being_. And no
doubt, the simple sensations of colour, touch, or smell counted for
much. But compare them with the things that Keats, a yet greater lover
of sensations, loved. You feel in Brooke's list that he liked doing
things as well as feasting his passive senses; these 'plates', 'holes in
the ground,' 'washen stones,' the cold graveness of iron, and so forth.
One detects in the list the Brooke who, as a boy, went about with a book
of poems in one hand and a cricket-ball in the other, and whose left
hand well knew what his right hand did.[16] That takes us far from the
dream of eternal beauty, which a Greek urn or a nightingale's song
brought to Keats, and the fatal word 'forlorn', bringing back the light
of common day, dispelled. The old ethical and aesthetic canons are
submerged in a passion for life which finds a good beyond good and evil,
and a beauty born of ugliness more vital than beauty's self. 'The worth
of a drama is measured', said D'Annunzio, 'by its fullness of life', and
the formula explains, if it does not justify, those tropical gardens,
rank with the gross blooms of 'superhuman' eroticism and ferocity, to
which he latterly gave that name. And we know how Maeterlinck has
emerged from the mystic dreams and silences of his recluse chamber to
unfold the dramatic pugnacities of Birds and Bees.

Even the downright foulness and ugliness which some people find so
puzzling in poets with an acute delight in beauty, like Mr. Masefield,
come into it not from any aesthetic obtuseness, but because these
uglinesses are full of the zest of drama, of things being done or made,
of life being lived. When Masefield sounded his challenge to the old

    'Others may sing of the wine and the wealth and the mirth,
     Mine be the dirt and the dross, the dust and scum of the earth',

he knew well, as _The Everlasting Mercy_ and _The Widow of Bye Street_
showed, that dirt and dross, if wrought into tragedy, can win a higher
beauty than the harmonies of idyll. Even the hideous elder women in Mr.
Bottomley's _Lear's Wife_, or his Regan--an ill-conditioned girl,
sidling among the 'sweaty, half-clad cook-maids' after pig-killing,
'smeary and hot as they', participate in this beauty and energy of

Poetry, in these cases, wins perhaps at most a Pyrrhic victory over
reluctant matter. It is otherwise with the second of the great Belgian

In the work of Verhaeren, the modern industrial city, with its spreading
tentacles of devouring grime and squalor, its clanging factories, its
teeming bazaars and warehouses, and all its thronging human population,
is taken up triumphantly into poetry. Verhaeren is the poet of
'tumultuous forces', whether they appear in the roar and clash of 'that
furnace we call existence', or in the heroic struggles of the Flemish
nation for freedom. And he exhibits these surging forces in a style
itself full of tumultuous power, Germanic rather than French in its
violent and stormy splendour, and using the chartered licence of the
French 'free verse' itself with more emphasis than subtlety.

4. _The Cult of Force_

In Verhaeren, indeed, we are conscious of passing into the presence of
power more elemental and unrestrained than the civil refinement of our
Georgians, at their wildest, allows us to suspect. The tragic and heroic
history of his people, and their robust art, the art of Rembrandt, and
of Teniers, vibrates in the Flemish poet. He has much of the temperament
of Nietzsche, and if not evidently swayed by his ideas, or even aware of
them, and with a generous faith in humanity which Nietzsche never knew,
he thinks and imagines with a kindred joy in violence:

    'I love man and the world, and I adore the force
     Which my force gives and takes from man and the universe.'

And it is no considerable step from him to the poets who in this third
phase of our period have unequivocally exulted in power and burnt
incense or offered sacrifice before the altar of the strong man. The joy
in creation which, we saw, gives its romance to so much of the realism
of our time, now appears accentuated in the fiercer romance of conflict
and overthrow. Thanks largely to Nietzsche, this romance acquired the
status of an authoritative philosophy--even, in his own country, that of
an ethical orthodoxy.

The German people was doubtless less deeply and universally imbued with
this faith than our war-prejudice assumes. But phenomena such as the
enormous success of a cheap exposition of it, _Rembrandt als Erzieher_
(1890) by a fervent Bismarckian, and of the comic journal
_Simplicissimus_ (founded 1895) devoted to systematic ridicule of the
old-fashioned German virtues of tenderness and sympathy, indicated a
current of formidable power and compass, which was soon to master all
the other affluents of the national stream.

But older, and in part foreign, influences concurred to colour and
qualify, while they sustained, the Nietzschean influence,--the daemonic
power of Carlyle, the iron intensity and masterful reticence of Ibsen.
This was the case especially, as is well known, in the drama. Gerhardt
Hauptmann, who painted the tragedy of the self-emancipated superman,--as
Mr. Shaw about the same time showed us his self-achieved
apotheosis,--was no doubt the most commanding (as Mr. Shaw was the most
original) figure in the European drama of the early century.

In poetry, the contributory forces were still more subtly mingled, and
the Nietzschean spirit, which blows where it listeth, often touched men
wholly alien from Nietzsche in cast of genius and sometimes stoutly
hostile to him. Several of the most illustrious were not Germans at all.
Among the younger men who resist, while they betray, his spell, is the
most considerable lyric poet of the present generation in Germany.
Richard Dehmel's vehement inspiration from the outset provoked
comparison with Nietzsche, which he warmly resented.

He began, in fact, as a disciple of Verlaine, and we may detect in the
unrestraint of his early erotics the example of the French poet's
_fureur d'aimer_. But Dehmel's more strongly-built nature, and perhaps
the downright vigour of the German language, broke through the tenuities
of _la nuance_. It was not the subtle artistry of the Symbolists, but
the ethical and intellectual force of the German character, which
finally drew into a less anarchic channel the vehement energy of Dehmel.
Nietzsche had imagined an ethic of superhuman will 'beyond good and
evil'. The poet, replied Dehmel, had indeed to know the passion which
transcends good and evil, but he had to know no less the good and evil
themselves of the world in and by which common men live. And if he can
cry with the egoism of lawless passion, in the _Erlösungen_, 'I will
fathom all pleasure to the deepest depths of thirst, ... Resign not
pleasure, it waters power',--he can add, in the true spirit of Goethe
and of the higher mind of Germany, 'Yet since it also makes slack, turn
it into the stuff of duty!'

If Nietzsche provoked into antagonism the sounder elements in Dehmel, he
was largely responsible for destroying such sanity as the amazing genius
of Gabriele D'Annunzio had ever possessed. In D'Annunzio the sensuality
of a Sybarite and the eroticism of a Faun go along with a Roman
tenacity and hardness of nerve. The author of novels which, with all
their luxurious splendour, can only be called hothouses of morbid
sentiment, has become the apostle of Italian imperialism, and more than
any other single man provoked Italy to throw herself into the great
adventure of the War. Unapproached in popularity by any other Italian
man of letters, D'Annunzio discovered Nietzsche, and hailed him--a great
concession--as an equal. When Nietzsche died, in 1900, D'Annunzio
indicted a lofty memorial ode to the Titanic Barbarian who set up once
more the serene gods of Hellas over the vast portals of the Future.
Nietzsche indeed let loose all the Titan, and all consequently that was
least Hellenic, in the fertile genius of the Italian; his wonderful
instinct for beauty, his inexhaustible resources of style are employed
in creating orgies of superhuman valour, lust, and cruelty like some of
his later dramas, and hymns intoxicated with the passion for Power, like
the splendid Ode in which the City of the Seven Hills is prophetically
seen once more the mistress of the world, loosing the knot of all the
problems of humanity. His poetic autobiography, the first _Laude_
(1901)--counterpart of Wordsworth's _Prelude_ and its very
antipodes--culminates in a prayer 900 lines long to Hermes, god of the
energy which precipitates itself on life and makes it pregnant with
invention and discovery, of the iron will 'which chews care as a laurel
leaf'--the god of the Superman. And so he discovers the muse of the
Superman, the Muse of Energy, a tenth Muse whose first poet he modestly
disclaims to be, if he may only be, as he would have us interpret his
name, her Announcer.

If D'Annunzio emulates Nietzsche, the two great militant poets of
Catholic France would have scorned the comparison. Charles Péguy's brief
career was shaped from his first entrance, poor and of peasant birth, at
a Paris Lycée, to his heroic death in the field, September 1914, by a
daemonic force of character. His heroine, glorified in his first book,
was Jeanne d'Arc, who attempted the impossible, and achieved it. In
writing, his principle--shocking to French literary tradition--was to
speak the brutal truth _brutalement_. As a poet he stood in the direct
lineage of Corneille, whose _Polyeucte_ he thought the greatest of the
world's tragedies. As a man, he embodied with naïve intensity the
unsurpassed inborn heroism of the French race.

Claudel, even more remote as a thinker from Nietzsche than Péguy,
exhibits a kindred temper in the ingrained violence of his art. His
stroke is vehement and peremptory; he is an absolutist in style as in
creed. It is the style of one who apprehends the visible world with an
intensity as of passionate embrace, such as the young Browning expresses
in _Pauline_. 'I would fain have seen everything,' he cries, 'possessed
and made it my own, not with eyes and senses only, but with mind and
spirit.' And after he was converted he saw and painted supernatural
things with the same carnal and robust incisiveness. The half-lights of
Symbolist mysticism are remote from his hard glare. As a dramatist he
drew upon and exaggerated that which in Aeschylus and Shakespeare seems
to the countrymen of Racine nearest to the limit of the terrible and the
brutal permissible in art: a princess nailed by the hands like a
sparrow-hawk to a pine by a brutal peasant; the daughter of a noble
house submitting to a loathed marriage with a foul-mouthed plebeian in
order to save the pope.

And if we look, finally, for corresponding phenomena at home, we find
them surely in the masculine, militant, and in the French sense _brutal_
poetry of W.E. Henley and Rudyard Kipling. If any modern poets have
conceived life in terms of will, and penetrated their verse with that
faith, it is the author of 'I am the Captain of my Soul', the 'Book of
the Sword', and 'London Voluntaries', friend and subject of the great
kindred-minded sculptor Rodin, the poet over whose grave in St. Paul's
George Wyndham found the right word when he said--marking him off from
the great contemplative, listening poets of the past--'His music was not
the still sad music of humanity; it was never still, rarely sad, always
intrepid.' And we know how Kipling, after sanctioning the mischievous
superstition that 'East and West can never meet', refuted it by
producing his own 'two strong men'.

5. _The New Idealism_

(1) _Nationality_

We have now seen something of that power, at once of grip and of
detachment with which the dominant poetry of this century faces what it
thinks of as the adventure of experience, its plunge into the
ever-moving and ever-changing stream of life. How then, it remains to
ask, has it dealt with those ideal aspirations and beliefs which one may
live intensely and ignore, which in one sense stand 'above the battle',
but for which men have lived and died. With a generation which holds so
lightly by tradition, which revises and revalues all accepted values,
these aspirations and beliefs might well drop out of its poetry. On the
other hand, these same aspirations and beliefs might overcome the
indifference to tradition by ceasing to be merely traditional, by being
immersed and steeped in that moving stream of life, and interwoven with
the creative energies of men. The inherited faiths were put to this
dilemma, either to become intimately alive and creative in poetry or to
be of no concern for it. Some of them failed in the test. England has
still devotees of Protestantism, but Protestant religion has hardly
inspired noble poetry since Milton. Nationality, on the other hand, has
during the last century inspired finer poetry than at any time since the
sixteenth, and that because it has been brought down from the region of
political abstractions and ideologies into intimate union with heart and
brain, imagination and sense. This is true also of Catholicism and of
Socialism, and, if fitfully and uncertainly yet, of the ideal of
international fraternity, of humanity. And to all these ideals, to all
ideals, came finally the terrific, the overwhelming test of the War,--a
searching, annihilating, purifying flame, in which some shrivelled away,
some were stripped of the illusive glitter that concealed their mass of
alloy, and some, purged of their baser constituents, shone out with a
lustre unapproached before.

What is the distinctive note of this new poetry of nationality? And for
the moment I speak of the years before the War. May we not say that in
it the ideal of country is saturated with that imaginative grip of
reality in all its concrete energy and vivacity which I have called the
new realism? The nation is no abstraction, whether it be called
Britannia, or _Deutschland über Alles_. It is seen, and felt; seen in
its cities as well as in its mountains, in the workers who have made it,
as well as in the heroes who have defended it; in its roaring forges as
well as in its idyllic woodlands and its tales of battles long ago; and
all these not as separate strands in a woven pattern, but as waters of
different origin and hue pouring along together in the same great

Émile Verhaeren, six years before the invasion, had seen and felt his
country, living body and living soul, with an intensity which made it
seem unimaginable that she should be permanently subdued. He well called
his book _Toute la Flandre_, for all Flanders is there. Old
Flanders,--Artevelde and Charles Téméraire--whose soul was a forest of
huge trees and dark thickets,

    'A wilderness of crossing ways below,
    But eagles, over, soaring to the sun,'--

Van Eyck and Rubens--'a thunder of colossal memories'; then the great
cities, with their belfries and their foundries, and their warehouses
and laboratories, their antique customs and modern ambitions; and the
rivers, the homely familiar Lys, where the women wash the whitest of
linen, and the mighty Scheldt, the Escaut, the 'hero sombre, violent and
magnificent', 'savage and beautiful Escaut', whose companionship had
moulded and made the poet, whose rhythms had begotten his music and his
best ideas[17].

None of our English poets have rendered England in poetry with the same
lyric intensity in its whole compass of time and space, calling up into
light and music all her teeming centuries and peopled provinces. Yet the
present generation has in some respects made a nearer approach to such
achievement than its predecessors. A century of growing historic
consciousness has not passed over us in vain; and if any generic
distinction is to be found between our recent, often penetrating and
beautiful, poetry of the English countryside and the Nature description
of Wordsworth or of Ruskin, it is in the ground-tone of passion and
memory that pervades it for England herself. Wordsworth wrote
magnificently of England threatened with invasion, and magnificently of
the Lake Country, Nature's beloved haunt. But the War sonnets and the
Lake and mountain poetry come from distinct strains in his genius,
which our criticism may bring into relation, but our feeling insists on
keeping apart. His Grasmere is a province of Nature--her favoured
province--rather than of England; it is in the eye of Nature that the
old Cumberland beggar lives and dies; England only provides the
obnoxious workhouses to which these destitute vagrants were henceforth
to be consigned. Is it not this that divides our modern local poetry
from his? Mr. Belloc's Sussex is tenderly loved for itself; yet behind
its great hills and its old-world harbours lies the half-mystic presence
of historic England. And in Edward Thomas's wonderful old Wiltshireman,
Lob, worthy I think to be named with the Cumberland Beggar,

    'An old man's face, by life and weather cut
     And coloured,--rough, brown, sweet as any nut,--
     A land face, sea-blue eyed,'--

you read the whole lineage of sterling English yeomen and woodlanders
from whom Lob springs.

This note is indeed relatively absent from the work of the venerable
master who has made 'Wessex' the most vividly realized of all English
provinces to-day, and whose prose Egdon Heath may well be put at the
head of all the descriptive poetry of our time. But Mr. Hardy, in this
respect, belongs to an earlier generation than that into which he
happily survives.

Sometimes this feeling is given in a single intense concentrated touch.
When Rupert Brooke tells us of

      'Some corner of a foreign field
    That is for ever England. There shall be
    In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
    A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
    Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,'

do we not feel that the solidarity of England with the English folk and
of the English folk with the English soil, is burnt into our
imaginations in a new and distinctive way?

But the poetry of shires and provinces reacts too upon the poetry of
nationality. It infuses something of the more instinctive and
rudimentary attachments from which it springs into a passion peculiarly
exposed to the contagion of rhetoric and interest. Some of the most
strident voices among living nationalist poets have found an unexpected
note of tenderness when they sang their home province. Mr. Kipling
charms us when he tells, in his close-knit verse, of the 'wooded, dim,
Blue goodness of the Weald'. And the more strident notes of D'Annunzio's
patriotism are also assuaged by the tenderness and depth of his home
feeling. We read with some apprehension his dedication of _La Nave_ to
the god of seas:

    'O Lord, who bringest forth and dost efface
    The ocean-ruling Nations, race by race,
    It is this living People, by Thy grace
        Who on the sea
    Shall magnify Thy name, who on the sea
    Shall glorify Thy name, who on the sea
    With myrrh and blood shall sacrifice to Thee
        At the altar-prow,
    Of all earth's oceans make our sea, O Thou!

But he dedicated a noble drama, the _Figlia d'Iorio_, in a different
tone, 'To the land of the Abruzzi, to my Mother, to my Sisters, to my
brother in exile, to my father in his grave, to all my dead and all my
race in the mountains and by the sea, I dedicate this song of the
ancient blood.'

(2) _Democracy_

The growth of democratic as of national feeling during the later century
naturally produced a plentiful harvest of eloquent utterance in verse.
With this, merely as such, I am not here concerned, even though it be
as fine as the Socialist songs of William Morris or Edward Carpenter.
But the Catholic Socialism of Charles Péguy,--itself an original and,
for most of his contemporaries, a bewildering combination--struck out a
no less original poetry,--a poetry of solidarity. Péguy's Socialism,
like his Catholicism, was single-souled; he ignored that behind the one
was a Party, and behind the other a Church. It was his bitterest regret
that a vast part of humanity was removed beyond the pale of fellowship
by eternal damnation. It was his sublimest thought that the solidarity
of man includes the damned. In his first version of the Jeanne d'Arc
mystery, already referred to, he tells how Jesus, crucified,

    Saw not his Mother in tears at the cross-foot
    Below him, saw not Magdalen nor John,
    But wept, dying, only for Judas' death.
    The Saviour loved this Judas, and though utterly
    He gave himself, he knew he could not save him.

It was the dogma of damnation which for long kept Péguy out of its fold,
that barbarous mixture of life and death, he called it, which no man
will accept who has won the spirit of collective humanity. But he
revolted not because he was tolerant of evil; on the contrary to damn
sins was for him a weak and unsocial solution; evil had not to be damned
but to be fought down. Whether this vision of Christ weeping because he
could not save Judas was un-Christian, or more Christian than
Christianity itself, we need not discuss here; but I am sure that the
spirit of a Catholic democracy as transfigured in the mind of a great
poet could not be more nobly rendered.

(3) _Catholicism_

But Péguy's powerful personality set its own stamp upon whatever he
believed, and though a close friend of Jaurès, he was a Socialist who
rejected almost all the ideas of the Socialist school. As little was
his Catholicism to the mind of the Catholic authorities. And his
Catholic poetry is sharply marked off from most of the poetry that
burgeoned under the stimulus of the remarkable revival of Catholic ideas
in twentieth-century France. I say of Catholic ideas, for sceptical
poets like Rémy de Gourmont played delicately with the symbols of
Catholic worship, made 'Litanies' of roses, and offered prayers to
Jeanne d'Arc, walking dreamily in the procession of 'Women Saints of
Paradise', to 'fill our hearts with anger'.[18] The Catholic adoration
of women-saints is one of the springs of modern poetry. At the close of
the century of Wordsworth and Shelley, the tender Nature-worship of
Francis of Assisi contributed not less to the recovered power of
Catholic ideas in poetry, and this chiefly in the person of two poets,
in France and in England, both of whom played half-mystically with the
symbolism of their names, Francis Thompson and Francis Jammes. The
child-like naïvete of S. Francis is more delicately reflected in Jammes,
a Catholic W.H. Davies, who casts the idyllic light of Biblical pastoral
over modern farm life, and prays to 'his friends, the Asses' to go with
him to Paradise, 'For there is no hell in the land of the Bon Dieu.'

But the most powerful creative imagination to-day in the service of
Catholic ideas is certainly Paul Claudel. I pass by here the series of
dramas, where a Catholic inspiration as fervent as Calderon's is
enforced with Elizabethan technique and Elizabethan violence of terror,
cruelty, and pity.[19] From the ferocious beauty of _L'Ôtage_ turn
rather to the intense spiritual hush before the altar of some great
French church at noon, where the poet, not long after the first
decisive check of the invaders on the Marne, finds himself alone, before
the shrine of Marie. Here too, his devotion finds a speech not borrowed
from the devout or from their poetry:

    'It is noon. I see the Church is open. I must enter.
    Mother of Jesus Christ, I do not come to pray.

    I have nothing to offer and nothing to ask.
    I come only, Mother, to gaze at you.

    To gaze at you, to weep for happiness, to know
    That I am your son and that you are there.

    Nothing at all but for a moment when all is still,
    Noon! to be with you, Marie, in this place where you are.

    To say nothing, to gaze upon your face,
    To let the heart sing in its own speech.'

There the nationalist passion of Claudel animates his Catholic religion,
yet does not break through its confines. But sometimes the strain of
suffering and ruin is too intense for Christian submission, and he takes
his God to task truculently for not doing his part in the contract; we
are his partner in running the world, and see, he is asleep!

     'There is a great alliance, willy-nilly, between us henceforth, there
                is this bread that with no trembling hand
      We have offered you, this wine that we have poured anew,
    Our tears that you have gathered, our brothers that you share with us,
                leaving the seed in the earth,
      There is this living sacrifice of which we satisfy each day's demand,
      This chalice we have drunk with you!'

Yet the devout passion emerges again, with notes of piercing pathos:

    'Lord, who hast promised us for one glass of water a boundless sea,
        Who knows if Thou art not thirsty too?
    And that this blood, which is all we have, will quench that thirst
                in Thee,
        We know, for Thou hast told us so.
    If indeed there is a spring in us, well, that is what is to be shown,
        If this wine of ours is red,
    If our blood has virtue, as Thou sayest, how can it be known
        Otherwise than by being shed?'

(4) _Effects of the War upon Poetry_

Thus could the great Catholic poet sing under pressure of the supreme
national crisis of his country. Poetry at such times may become a great
national instrument--a trumpet whence Milton or Wordsworth, Arndt or
Whitman, blow soul-animating strains. The war of 1914 was for all the
belligerent peoples far more than a stupendous military event. It
shattered the patterns of our established mentality, and compelled us to
seek new adjustments and support in the chaotically disorganized world.
The psychical upheaval was most violent in the English-speaking peoples,
where the military shock was least direct; for here a nation of
civilians embraced suddenly the new and amazing experience of battle.
Here too, the imaginatively sensitive minds who interpret life through
poetry, and most of all the youngest and freshest among them, themselves
shared in the glories and the throes of the fight as hardly one of the
signers of our most stirring battle poetry had ever done before. How did
this new and amazing experience react upon their poetry? This, our final
question, is perhaps the crucial one in considering the tendencies of
recent European poetry.

In the first place it enormously stimulated and quickened what was
deepest and strongest in the energies and qualities which had been
apparent in our latter day poetry before. They had sought to clasp life,
to live, not merely to contemplate, experience; and here indeed was
life, and death, and both to be embraced. Here was adventure indeed, but
one whose grimness made romance cheap, so that in this war-poetry, for
the first time in history, the romance and glamour of war, the pomp and
circumstance of military convention, fall entirely away, and the
bitterest scorn of these soldier-poets is bestowed not on the enemy, but
on those contemplators who disguised its realities with the camouflage
of the pulpit and the editorial arm-chair. Turn, I will not say from
Campbell or from Tennyson, but from Rudyard Kipling or Sir H. Newbolt,
to Siegfried Sassoon, and you feel that you have got away from a
literary convention, whether conveyed in the manners of the barrack-room
or of the public-school, to something intolerably true, and which holds
the poet in so fierce a grip that his song is a cry.

But if the war has brought our poets face to face with intense kinds of
real experience, which they have fearlessly grasped and rendered, its
grim obsession has not made them cynical, or clogged the wings of their
faith and their hope. I will not ask how the war has affected the
idealism of others, whether it has left the nationalism of our press or
the religion of our pulpits purer or more gross than it found them. But
of our poetry at least the latter cannot be said. In Rupert Brooke the
inspiration of the call obliterated the last trace of dilettante youth's
pretensions, and he encountered darkness like a bride, and greeted the
unseen death not with a cheer as a peril to be boldly faced, but as a
great consummation, the supreme safety. How his poetry would have
reacted to the actual experience of war we can only guess. But in
others, his friends and comrades, the fierce immersion in the welter of
ruin and pain and filth and horror and death brought only a more superb
faith in the power of man's soul to rise above the hideous obsession of
his own devilries, to retain the vision of beauty through the riot of
foul things, of love through the tumult of hatreds, of life through the
infinity of death. True this was not a new power: poetry to be poetry
must always in some measure possess it. What was individual to the poets
was that this power of mastering actuality went along in them with the
fierce and eager immersion in it; the thrill of breathing the

         'calm and serene air
    Above the smoke and stir of this dim spot
    Which men call earth,'

with the thrill of seeing and painting in all its lurid colouring the
volcanic chaos of this 'stir and smoke' itself. Thus the same Siegfried
Sassoon who renders with so much close analytic psychology the moods
that cross and fluctuate in the dying hospital patient, or the haunted
fugitive, as he flounders among snags and stumps, to feel at last the
strangling clasp of death, can as little as the visionary Shelley
overcome the insurgent sense that these dead are for us yet alive, made
one with Nature.

He visits the deserted home of his dead friend--

    'Ah, but there was no need to call his name,
    He was beside me now, as swift as light ...
    For now, he said, my spirit has more eyes
    Than heaven has stars, and they are lit by love.
    My body is the magic of the world,
    And dark and sunset flame with my spilt blood.'

And so the undying dead

      'Wander in the dusk with chanting streams,
    And they are dawn-lit trees, with arms upflung,
    To hail the burning heaven they left unsung.'

Further, this war poetry, while reflecting military things with a
veracity hardly known before, is yet rarely militant. We must not look
for explicit pacifist or international ideas; but as little do we find
jingo patriotism or hymns of hate. The author of the German hymn of hate
was a much better poet than anyone who tried an English hymn in the same
key, and the English poets who could have equalled its form were above
its spirit. Edith Cavell's dying words 'Patriotism is not enough' cannot
perhaps be paralleled in these poets, but they are continually
suggested. They do not say, in the phrase of the old cavalier poet, that
we should love England less if we loved not something else more, or that
something is wanting in our love for our country if we wrong humanity in
its name. But the spirit which is embodied in these phrases breathes
through them; heroism matters more to them than victory, and they know
that death and sorrow and the love of kindred have no fatherland. They
'stand above the battle' as well as share in it, and they share in it
without ceasing to stand above it. The German is the enemy, they never
falter in that; and even death does not convert him into a friend. But
for this enemy there is chivalry, and pity, and a gleam, now and then,
of reconciling comradeship.

    'He stood alone in some queer sunless place
    Where Armageddon ends,'--

the Englishman whom the Germans had killed in fight, to be themselves
slain by his friend, the speaker. Their ghosts throng around him,--

    'He stared at them, half wondering, and then
    They told him how I'd killed them for his sake,
    Those patient, stupid, sullen ghosts of men:
    At last he turned and smiled; smiled--all was well
    Because his face would lead them out of hell.'

Finally, the poet himself glories in his act; he knows that he can beat
into music even the crashing discords that fill his ears; he knows too
that he has a music of his own which they cannot subdue or debase:

    'I keep such music in my brain
    No din this side of death can quell,
    Glory exulting over pain,
    And beauty garlanded in hell.'

To have found and kept and interwoven these two musics--a language of
unflinching veracity and one of equally unflinching hope and faith--is
the achievement of our war-poetry. May we not say that the possession
together of these two musics, of these two moods, springing as they do
from the blended grip and idealism of the English character, warrants
hope for the future of English poetry? For it is rooted in the greatest,
and the most English, of the ways of poetic experience which have gone
to the making of our poetic literature--the way, ultimately, of
Shakespeare, and of Wordsworth. But that temper of catholic fraternity
which finds the stuff of poetry everywhere does not easily attain the
consummate technique in expression of a rarer English tradition, that of
Milton, and Gray, and Keats. Beauty abounds in our later poets, but it
is a beauty that flashes in broken lights, not the full-orbed radiance
of a masterpiece. To enlarge the grasp of poetry over the field of
reality, to apprehend it over a larger range, is not at once to find
consummate expression for what is apprehended. The flawless perfection
of the Parnassians--of Heredia's sonnets--is nowhere approached in the
less aristocratically exclusive poetry of to-day. But the future, in
poetry also, is with the spirit which found the aristocracy of noble art
not upon exclusions, negations, and routine, but upon imagination,
penetration, discovery, and catholic openness of mind.


Pellissier, _Le Mouvement Littéraire au XIXme Siècle_.

Brunetière, _La Poésie Lyrique au XIXme Siècle_.

Eccles, F.Y., _A Century of French Poets_.

Vigié-Lecocq, _La Poésie Contemporaine_.

Phelps, _Advance of English Poetry in the Twentieth Century_.

Muret, _La Littérature Italienne d'aujourd'hui_.

Ladenarde, _G. Carducci_.

Symons, _The Symbolist Movement in Literature_.

Jackson, _The Eighteen Nineties_.

McDowall, _Realism_.

Aliotta, _The Idealist Reaction against Science_.

Soergel, _Die deutsche Litteratur unserer Zeit_.

Bithell, _Contemporary German Poetry_ (Translated).

Halévy, _Charles Péguy_.


[Footnote 3: The temper of the two realists was no doubt widely
different. 'C'est en haine du réalisme', wrote Flaubert, 'que j'ai
entrepris ce roman. Mais je n'en déteste pas moins la fausse idéalité,
dont nous sommes bercés par le temps qui court' (_Corresp._ 3, 67).]

[Footnote 4: _Causeries du Lundi_, 1850 f.]

[Footnote 5: _Histoire de la littérature anglaise_, 1863.]

[Footnote 6: But a Wilde who wrote no _De Profundis_ and no _Ballad of
Reading Gaol_.]

[Footnote 7: _La Forge_: dedicated to Gaston Paris, the greatest
_forgeron_ of his generation in the love of Old French.]

[Footnote 8: _Rime Nuove_: Classicismo e Romantismo.]

[Footnote 9: _Midi_.]

[Footnote 10: _La Paix des Dieux_.]

[Footnote 11: For this and the other verse-translations the writer is

[Footnote 12: Even the 'music' was far removed from the simplicity of
pure song. The song of these poets was an incantation. Nay, painting
itself witnessed a corresponding revolt against the 'eloquence' of the
pseudo-realists--the 'far away dirty reasonableness', as Manet dubbed
it, which missed the essential vision by using the worn-down accepted
phrases of the public.]

[Footnote 13: _Au jardin de l'Infante: Veillée_.]

[Footnote 14: To some types of Irish imagination French Naturalism, it
is true, was no less congenial; hence the rift between the realist and
the spiritual Irishmen delightfully played on in Max Beerbaum's cartoon
of Yeats presenting the _Faery Queene_ to George Moore.]

[Footnote 15: Aliotta, _The Idealistic Revolt_, p. 116. Cf. the account
of the analogous views of Boutroux and Renouvier in the same chapter.]

[Footnote 16: Keats, no doubt, also aspired to the life of action. But
in him the two moods were disparate, even in conflict; in Brooke they
were seemingly fused.]

[Footnote 17: Eighteenth-century observation, in the person of
Goldsmith, had found no worthier epithet for the great Flemish river
than 'lazy', and the modern tourist is likely to find this by far the
more 'characteristic'. But which had the best chance of seeing truly,
the life-long companion and lover, or the stranger, sad, lonely, and
longing for home?]

[Footnote 18: _Les Saintes du Paradis_.]

[Footnote 19: Cf. for instance the situation of Signe, in the grip of
the brutal _préfet_, with that of Beatrice, in _The Changeling_, in the
hands of De Flores.]




The scientific study of history began a hundred years ago in the
University of Berlin. Preparatory work of the highest importance had
been accomplished by laborious collectors like Baronius and Muratori,
keen-sighted critics such as Mabillon and Wolf, and brilliant narrators
like Gibbon and Voltaire. But it was not till Niebuhr, Böckh, and above
all Ranke preached and practised the critical use of authorities and
documentary material that historical scholarship entered on the path
which it has pursued with ever-increasing success for the last three
generations. It is my task to-day to direct your attention to some of
its main achievements during the last half-century.

The outstanding feature of our time has been the immense increase in the
material available for the knowledge and interpretation of every stage
and chapter in the life of humanity. Primitive civilization has been
definitely brought within the circle of historical study. The
discoveries of Boucher des Perthes, Pitt-Rivers, and their successors
have thrown back the opening of the human drama tens if not hundreds of
thousands of years, and we recreate prehistoric man from skull and
weapon, language and legend. Anthropology has become a science, and the
habits and beliefs of our savage ancestors have been rendered
intelligible by the piercing insight of Tylor and Sir James Frazer. In
its boundless erudition, its constructive imagination, and its wealth of
suggestion, the _Golden Bough_ stands forth as perhaps the most notable
contribution of the age to our knowledge of the evolution of the human

Among the most sensational events of the nineteenth century was the
resurrection of the Ancient East. We now know that Greece and Rome, far
from standing near the beginning of recorded history, were the heirs of
a long series of civilizations. Our whole perspective has been changed
or should be changed by the discovery. The ancient world thus revealed
by the partnership of philology and archaeology ceases to be merely the
vestibule to Christian Europe, and becomes in point of duration the
larger part of human history.

The story opens with Champollion's decipherment of the bilingual tablet
discovered more than a century ago at the Rosetta mouth of the Nile. The
key once fitted to the lock, the whole civilization of ancient Egypt lay
open to the explorer. A secure chronological basis was supplied by
Lepsius, and systematic excavation was commenced by Mariette, who was
named by the Khedive Director of Antiquities and established the Cairo
Museum. The work of the three great founders of Egyptology has been
carried forward during the last half-century by an international army of
scholars. The interpretation of the ancient scripts has reached a
technical mastery unknown to the pioneers, and the genius of Brugsch
unlocked the door to demotic, which Champollion had never thoroughly
mastered. But the triumphs of philology have been surpassed by the
conquests of the spade. The closest friend of Mariette's later years was
Maspero, who succeeded him as Director of Antiquities, and whose most
sensational find was the tombs of the Kings near Thebes. Equally eminent
as excavator, philologist, and historian, Maspero was the first to
popularize Egyptology in France, as Flinders Petrie, the greatest
excavator since Mariette, has popularized it in England. Until twenty
years ago the curtain rose on the pyramid-builders of the Fourth
dynasty. We have now not only recovered the earlier dynasties, but
neolithic and palaeolithic Egypt emerges from the primitive cemeteries.
The immense accession of new material has enabled Eduard Meyer to
construct something like a definite chronology; but though marvellous
progress has been made in our knowledge of the Early, Middle, and New
Empires, a great gap remains between the sixth and the eleventh
dynasties, and the period of the Hyksos is still tantalizingly obscure.
Egyptian history in the light of the latest discoveries may be best
studied in the judicial pages of Breasted, the foremost of American

The revelation of Assyrian civilization through Rawlinson's decipherment
of cuneiform and the excavations of Botta and Layard in the middle of
the nineteenth century was followed by a concerted attack on Babylonia.
It was clear from the Nineveh tablets that most of the literary
treasures of Assyria were merely copies of Babylonian originals; and
when in 1877 de Sarzec, French Vice-Consul at Basra, bored into the
mounds at Tello, the ancient Lagash, in Southern Babylonia, the most
eager anticipations were surpassed. Texts had been found which Rawlinson
pronounced to be pre-Semitic; but for the purpose of history the
Sumerians were discovered at Tello. When de Sarzec died in 1901 he had
opened a new chapter of history. The palaces of Sargon and Sennacherib,
at which the world had marvelled in the 'forties, appeared relatively
modern beside the vast antiquity of the Chaldean city. The chain of
human experience lengthened before our eyes when it was realized that as
Assyrian culture derived from Babylonia, so a large part of Babylonian
culture, including the art of writing, was inherited by the Semites from
the Sumerians.

While de Sarzec was busy at Tello, an American expedition was sent to
Nippur under the lead of Peters and Hilprecht; and the long array of
magnificent volumes which embody the results of the mission, including
the thousands of tablets found in the temple library, constitutes the
most important source of our knowledge of Northern Babylonia. Still more
recently a German mission under Koldewey commenced the systematic
excavation of Babylon itself; but its operations were interrupted by the
outbreak of the Great War. Though no monuments have been brought to
light in Babylonia comparable in magnificence to those of Khorsabad and
Nineveh, Babylonian culture towers above its neighbour. Since the
discovery in the royal library of Nineveh of a cylinder containing the
story of the Flood, no find has aroused such world-wide interest as that
of the Code of Hammurabi, unearthed by de Morgan at Susa in 1901. The
massive block of diorite, eight feet high, containing 282 paragraphs of
laws, revealed in a flash a complex, refined, and orderly civilization.
After expelling the Elamites about 2250 B.C. Hammurabi united North and
South Babylonia into a single State, and, desiring that uniform laws
should prevail, issued the code which bears his name. During the last
decade the exploration of Assyria has been resumed after a long
interval, and the city of Assur, the first capital, has been unearthed
by the German Oriental Society. We thus learn of Assyria before the days
of its greatness, when it was still a subject province under Babylonian

The history of the lands watered by the Tigris and the Euphrates, which
was almost a blank half a century ago, may now be tentatively
reconstructed. The vast mass of official correspondence, judicial
decisions, and legal documents, taken in conjunction with the evidences
of religion, science, and art, reveal a startlingly modern society a
thousand years before Rameses and two thousand years before Pericles.
Babylonia proves to have been to the ancient East what Rome was one day
to be to Europe. The Tel-el-Amarna letters prove the unchallenged
supremacy of its culture over vast areas, and the revelation of the
religious debt of the Jews sets the Old Testament in a new frame. So
rapid is the pace of excavation and interpretation that all but the most
recent narratives of the Ancient East are out of date. If we master
Leonard King's sumptuous volumes on Babylonia and the latest edition of
the first volume of Eduard Meyer's incomparable _History of Antiquity_,
we need go no farther afield.

Scarcely if at all less remarkable has been the discovery of an advanced
civilization in Crete in the second and third millenniums before Christ.
While in Egypt and Mesopotamia the frontiers of knowledge were pushed
back, in Crete an unknown world was brought to light. Its romantic
interest was intensified by the establishment of an historic foundation
for one of the most celebrated legends of the ancient world. How the
Minotaur devoured the tribute of youths and maidens in the labyrinth,
how Ariadne, daughter of Minos, fell in love with Theseus and gave him a
sword to slay the Minotaur and a thread to retrace his steps, was known
to every Greek child and has thrilled the imagination of the centuries.
The exploration of the city called by Homer 'Great Knossus' was among
the ambitions of Schliemann; but it was carried out by Sir Arthur Evans,
whose labours have outlined a series of chapters in Cretan history
extending two thousand years before the destruction of the palace about
the year 1400. Though the Minoan language still defies attack, the
frescoes, sculptures, and objects of art tell their tale of a luxurious
and peace-loving community, closely connected with Egypt and forming one
of the main sources of the Greek culture of a later age.

Most of us are old enough to remember the thrill of excitement when Susa
and Knossus, if not Tello or Thebes, yielded up their romantic secrets;
but the generation now growing to manhood may experience similar
emotions as it watches the ghost of the Hittite Empire materialize
before its eyes. The meagre references in the Old Testament have been
supplemented by Assyrian and Egyptian inscriptions, revealing an
important Power in Northern Syria and Asia Minor for a thousand years
before it was swallowed up by Assyria. During the last twenty years
Hittite remains, marked by crude vigour rather than by a sense of
beauty, have been discovered all over Asia Minor and in the northern
reaches of the great Mesopotamian plain. In 1911 the British Museum
undertook the excavation of Carchemish on the Euphrates, the capital of
the North Syrian sector of the Empire; but the most precious results
have been achieved by Winckler at Boghaz Keui, the capital of the
Cappadocian portion of the Hittite dominions, which yielded a library of
20,000 tablets of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, now stored in
the museum at Constantinople. A few bilingual inscriptions have
furnished valuable clues; but the world still eagerly awaits the coming
of a new Champollion to unlock the doors of the treasure-house. Winckler
himself died in 1913; but in 1915 the Austrian Professor Hrozny startled
the world by proclaiming his conviction that Hittite was an
Indo-European language. Whether or no his contention is confirmed,
orientalists of both hemispheres are hot in pursuit, and it is no rash
prophecy that within a decade scholars will read Hittite as they now
read cuneiform and hieroglyphics, and new chapters of incalculable
importance will be added to the story of the Ancient East.

The recovery of the political and religious history of the empires
surrounding Palestine has run parallel with the application of critical
methods to the Jewish scriptures. To read Ewald's _History of the People
of Israel_, which was regarded as dangerous by pious folk in the middle
of last century, is to realize the progress of Semitic studies. The
great revolution in our conception of the Old Testament which rendered
Ewald out of date was accomplished by Wellhausen's _Prolegomena to the
History of Israel_. That the arrangement of the Canon was utterly
misleading, that the Prophets were earlier than the priestly code and
that the Psalms for the most part were later than both, was proclaimed
in the writings and lectures of Vatke and Graf, Kuenen and Reuss; but it
was not till their discoveries were confirmed and elaborated by
Wellhausen that they won their way, and it was generally recognized that
their reconstruction alone rendered the religious development of the
Jews intelligible. This outline was shortly after filled in by Stade in
the first critical history of Israel; but his emphasis on the falsity of
tradition was overdone, and subsequent critics, while accepting the late
redaction of the law, have argued that parts of it are far older, in
substance if not in form, than Wellhausen and his disciple were prepared
to allow.

The history of the Jews owes much less to archaeological research on the
arena of their historic life than Egypt or Mesopotamia. No splendid
buildings or sculptures have been brought to light, and the inscriptions
are few. But British, American, and German excavators have flashed light
far back into the third millennium, and a partial excavation of
Jerusalem has revealed a network of prehistoric tunnels and aqueducts.
The historic life of Gezer has been minutely revealed by Macalister,
with the strata of seven cities reaching back to the neolithic age. The
most piquant result of his excavations has been to rehabilitate the
Philistines, the makers of the most artistic objects found in the debris
of two thousand years. Far more light, however, has been thrown on the
religious customs and beliefs of the Jews by discoveries beyond their
borders. The notion firmly held by our fathers that Israel was one of
the oldest of civilizations and formed a world by itself has vanished
into thin air; for an older and vaster civilization has been discovered
to which she owed not only her science but the larger part of her
religion. The dimension of the debt to Babylonia has been and continues
to be fiercely argued by conservative and radical critics; but its
recognition has sufficed to revolutionize the study of early Israel and
to provide a new background for the religious history of the world. The
relation of the beliefs and practices of the Jews to those of other
branches of the Semitic family was boldly explored by Robertson Smith,
and has lately been illuminated by the epoch-making volumes of Sir James
Frazer on the _Folklore of the Old Testament_.

The history of Greece, like the history of the Jews, presents a very
different aspect to that which was offered to the readers of Grote,
Thirlwall, and even Curtius. Schliemann's discoveries at Troy, Tiryns,
and Mycenae unearthed Mycenaean civilization and gave an incalculable
impetus to archaeological research; but the brilliant amateur was almost
pathetically incompetent to interpret the treasures he had brought to
light, and much of his work has had to be done again by Dörpfeld.
Despite the achievements of archaeology, however, the period before
Solon remains very dark. Barely second in importance to the discoveries
of Schliemann was the Aristotelian treatise on the Constitution of
Athens, which was given to the world in 1891 by Sir Frederick Kenyon and
has been most authoritatively interpreted by Wilamowitz, the greatest of
living Hellenists. With the growing mass of new literary material,
inscriptions, coins, and papyri, the exploration of sites, the recovery
of innumerable objects of art and fresh light streaming from Asia Minor
and Crete, new attempts to write the history of Greece have been made.
Professor Bury's narrative, at once scientific and popular, has
summarized for English readers the assured results of research; but the
most authoritative survey is that contained in the Greek volumes of
Eduard Meyer's vast survey of antiquity. 'For the great tasks of
history', he writes, 'salvation is only to be found when it becomes
conscious of its universal character, in ancient as well as in modern
times. Only by treating Greece in connection with the Mediterranean
peoples can its real nature be seized.' This colossal task, which proved
beyond the strength of Duncker, has been performed by the Berlin
Professor, the only scholar of our time who could have accomplished it
single-handed. The dazzling picture of Athenian democracy painted by
Grote has faded away; and Beloch, following in the footsteps of Droysen,
dwells with greater satisfaction on the diffusion of Greek influence
through the conquests of Alexander.

Greek culture has received no less attention than Greek politics. The
Homeric problem continues to exert an irresistible attraction. Every
expert from Wilamowitz to Gilbert Murray and Walter Leaf adds to our
comprehension of the epic; but no positive results have been
established, and Holm uttered the gloomy prophecy that we shall never
know whether Homer existed, who he was, or what he wrote. On the other
hand we have gained a deeper insight into the early mind and soul of
Greece, thanks in large measure to a group of English scholars with Jane
Harrison at their head. Rohde's _Psyche_, the most illuminating treatise
on any branch of Greek religion, has traced the conception of
immortality through the ages. The later editions of Zeller's _Philosophy
of the Greeks_, first published in 1851, kept pace with the progress of
scholarship, and remains one of the glories of German scholarship. The
more recent work of the Austrian Gomperz has won almost equal
popularity, without placing its predecessor on the shelf. In the realm
of literature the most interesting event has been the recovery of the
poems of Bacchylides and Herondas, fragments of Sappho and Pindar,
Euripides and Sophocles and Menander; and the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, which
have already produced undreamed-of treasures, may well have in store for
us further glad surprises. The attempt to assess the influence of
economic factors, courageously undertaken by Böckh and somewhat
neglected after his death, has in recent years been renewed, with the
fruitful results familiar to us in Zimmern's realistic picture of Athens
in the fifth century.

The history of Roman studies since Niebuhr is largely the record of the
activity of a single man. The most personal and popular of Mommsen's
works, the _Roman History till the death of Caesar_, the greatest effort
of his genius though not of his scholarship, was published as far back
as 1854, and carried his name all over the world. He next turned to
special departments of research, pouring forth in rapid succession his
treatises on Chronology, Coinage, the Digest, and above all the
_Staatsrecht_, the largest and in his opinion the most important of his
works, and perhaps the greatest constitutional treatise in historical
literature. Meanwhile the _Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum_, which he
edited for the Berlin Academy, was the main occupation and the most
enduring monument of his life. He had devoted himself to Latin epigraphy
and had edited the Sammite and Neapolitan inscriptions before the
publication of the Roman History. The first instalment of the Corpus
appeared in 1863, and the great scholar lived to hail the appearance of
nearly twenty volumes, half of them edited by himself. The Inscriptions
rendered possible a history of the Empire, and the whole world hoped
that the master would write it; but he contented himself with a survey
of the provinces. The closing years of his life were devoted to a
gigantic treatise on Roman Criminal Law, and to editions of Jordanes,
Cassiodorus, the Theodosian Code and the Liber Pontificalis, thus
enlarging the sphere of his operations till Rome was swallowed up in the
Middle Ages. His publications extended over sixty years. There is no
immaturity in his early works and no decline in the later. The
imaginative and critical faculties met and balanced, large vision mating
with a genius for detail. The complete assimilation and reproduction of
a classical civilization of which scholars have dreamed ever since
Scaliger has been achieved by Mommsen alone. Rome before Mommsen was
like modern Europe before Ranke. We may truly say of him, as was said of
Augustus, that he found it of brick and left it of marble.

Mommsen, like Ranke, was the founder of a school; and his inspiration
has been felt by every worker in the field of Roman studies. His
successors naturally confine themselves to some special province or
period. Gaetano de Sanctis is far advanced in the most ambitious history
of the Republic that has been attempted in the last half-century.
Ferrero's _Greatness and Decline of Rome_, though frowned on by
scholars, aroused world-wide interest by interpreting the fall of the
Republic in terms of economics and psychology. The political and social
crises which fill the century from Sulla to Augustus, he argues, were
due to the change of customs caused by the augmentation of wealth,
expenditure, and needs. Of greater value are the attempts to fill in
different sections of the vast canvas of Imperial Rome, such as
Gardthausen's monumental survey of the reign of Augustus, Camille
Jullian's volumes on Gaul, and Professor Haverfield's slender monographs
on Britain. Roman life and culture have been diligently explored; but
the extreme paucity of materials makes the recovery of the atmosphere of
the early Republic almost impossible. The most daring attempt was made
by Fustel de Coulanges in _La Cité Antique_, which offered a complete
interpretation of early society in terms of religion. Less harmonious
but more convincing pictures of religious life have been painted by
Warde Fowler, while the civilization of the Empire has been successively
analysed in the fascinating and authoritative works of Friedländer,
Boissier, and Dill. Meanwhile archaeology contributes a steady stream of
new material. Boni's excavations in the Forum and on the Palatine have
produced sensational results. The unveiling of Pompeii moves slowly
forward, and that of Ostia, the port of Rome, has begun. The
resurrection of Herculaneum should be witnessed by the next generation
if not by our own.

A more difficult because a more controversial problem than the Roman
Empire is its contemporary, the early Christian Church. In the middle
decades of last century Baur treated the rise of Christianity as an
historical phenomenon, leaving his hearers to determine for themselves
whether it was human or divine; but his influence proved more enduring
than his writings. Weiszäcker, his successor at Tübingen, in his
_Apostolic Age_, described with consummate scholarship and passionless
serenity the life and organization of the early Christian communities.
The necessity of a careful study of the soil out of which Christianity
has grown is now generally recognized, and great scholars such as
Schürer and Pfleiderer have re-created the religious atmosphere into
which Christ was born. The constitution of the primitive Church, too
long hotly discussed by the champions of rival sects, has been studied
with welcome impartiality by Lightfoot and Hatch. But no man, alive or
dead, can boast of such achievements as Harnack. His History of Dogma,
his vast survey of Christian Literature till Eusebius, his narrative of
the Expansion of Christianity before the conversion of Constantine, are
inseparable companions of the student who means business. The treasures
of the catacombs have been revealed by De Rossi, to whom we also owe the
publication of the Christian Inscriptions of Rome. The history of the
early Christian communities in the outlying provinces of the Empire has
been enriched by Ramsay's explorations in Asia Minor. While the best
work naturally goes into monographs, comprehensive narratives are
occasionally attempted by scholars of the first class. Renan's sparkling
volumes have enjoyed immense popularity, and some of them may still be
read with profit; but, like his History of the Jews, they belong rather
to literature than to science. If we desire a readable summary of the
scholarship of the last half-century we may turn to the Volumes of the
Catholic Duchesne or, better still, to those of the late Professor

Imperial Rome and the Christian Church meet and blend in the Byzantine
Empire, the later history of which appeared to Gibbon 'a tedious and
uniform tale of weakness and misery'. Its services to civilization and
the greatness of many of its rulers were revealed to the world by
Finlay, whose narrative was acclaimed by Freeman as the most
considerable work of English historical literature since the _Decline
and Fall_. In the half-century that has elapsed since its completion,
the exploration of a thousand years has gone busily forward. The lead
was taken in France by Rambaud, Schlumberger, and Diehl, the latter of
whom was rewarded for his efforts by his appointment as first occupant
of the Chair created in Paris in 1899. Greater than any of the three was
Krumbacher, the prince of German Byzantinists, for whom a Chair was
founded at Munich in 1892, and whose encyclopaedic survey of Byzantine
literature is beyond comparison the most important single work in this
field of historical study. England is worthily represented by Professor
Bury, whose narrative of the Empire has already reached the ninth

Byzantium has emerged from the scholarship of two generations no longer
decadent and inert but the mother of great statesmen and soldiers, the
home of culture while Central and Western Europe was plunged in
darkness, the rampart of Christian Europe for a thousand years against
the Arab and Turk, the educator of the Slavonic races. Freeman truly
remarked that Constantinople was for ages the seat of the only regular
and systematic Government in the world. Its administrative machine was
the most elaborate yet invented by man, and the Court was to mediaeval
Europe what Versailles was to the rulers of the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries. It was indeed a bureaucratic despotism in which
liberty was unknown, and, except in art, its spirit was imitative; but
to preserve Greek culture during the barbarism of the Middle Ages and to
defend it against the repeated assaults of Islam was to deserve well of

While the Byzantine Empire carried over important elements from the
classical world, Western and Central Europe passed under the dominion of
ideas which were as foreign to those of Greece and Rome as they are to
the conceptions of to-day. We have outgrown the blind contempt of the
eighteenth century and the gushing enthusiasm of the Romantic Movement;
but it is still a difficult task to form a just estimate of the
character of the thousand years that began with Augustine and ended with
Macchiavelli. It is true that our materials grow from year to year; that
the criticism of original authorities as taught in the École des Chartes
has become something like an exact science; that thanks to Lord Bryce
the Holy Roman Empire has become intelligible; that the structure and
function of institutions have been patiently analysed by Waitz and
Stubbs, Fustel de Coulanges and Vinogradoff, Maitland and Gierke; that
literature and art, scholasticism and the Universities, have found their
chroniclers and interpreters; that every ruler and every State, every
treaty and every council, may be studied in monographs innumerable. But
the Middle Ages were above all the reign of the Catholic Church; and we
are still far from agreement as to the merits and influence of that
venerable institution which, be it human or divine, occupies a unique
place in the story of civilization.

In the middle decades of last century the history of the mediaeval
Church was related from very different standpoints in the widely-read
works of Neander and Milman; but it was only with the opening of the
Vatican archives by Pope Leo XIII in 1881 that it became possible to set
forth the whole story of the Papacy and to understand the working of the
machinery of Catholicism. So vast is the accumulation of official acts
and documents, and such technical training is required for the task,
that we shall have to wait many years till the material is surveyed in
its entirety and its results made available for the use of the
historian. Some idea of the value of the Registers may be gained from
the Master of Balliol's pregnant lectures on Church and State in the
Middle Ages, based on the 8,000 documents of the eleven years of the
rule of Innocent IV in the middle of the thirteenth century. The study
of these documents, he tells us, stirred him to admiration of the
organization of the Papacy, and convinced him of its enormous
superiority over its secular contemporaries as a centre not merely of
religion but of law and government; but he adds that he derived an
equally profound impression of the abuses which ate into the heart of
the system, of the growing bitterness which it inspired, and of the
devastating effects of the passion to erect a powerful principality in
the heart of Italy.

No Protestant historian is tempted to glorify the record of the Papacy
in the last two centuries before the Reformation; but it is generally
agreed that in the earlier half of the Middle Ages the example and
influence of the Church were a bright light shining in a dark world.
This notion has been recently challenged by Mr. Coulton, who, angered by
the special pleading of Cardinal Gasquet and other professional
apologists, hotly denounces the exaltation of the Ages of Faith. The
Middle Ages, he complains, are the one domain of history into which, in
England at any rate, the scientific spirit has not yet penetrated.
Taking as his text the autobiography of the Franciscan Fra Salimbene,
the most precious authority for the ordinary life of Catholic folk at
the high-water mark of the Middle Ages, he draws a sombre picture of
manners and morals and maintains that hideous vices existed in all the
Orders long before the thirteenth century. 'Imagination', he cries,
'staggers at the moral gulf that yawns between that age and ours.' His
condemnation of the life and influence of the Church re-echoes in
somewhat shrill tones the verdict of Henry Charles Lea, whose massive
treatise on the Inquisition was rightly described by Lord Acton as the
most important contribution of the New World to the religious history of
the old, and whose volumes on Sacerdotal Celibacy constitute a
formidable indictment of mediaeval Catholicism.

Next to the origins of Christianity the most controversial of the larger
problems of history is the Reformation; and here Protestants of all
schools are ranged in a solid phalanx against Catholics. That the Church
was in need of reform is agreed by both sides; but the Catholic contends
that the evils to be remedied have been fantastically exaggerated, that
there was no need for a revolt, and that the revolution inaugurated by
Luther left Germany far worse than it found her. Realizing that the
Protestant view most authoritatively presented in Ranke's classical
work on the Reformation held the field, Janssen compiled a cultural
history of the German people from the end of the Middle Ages to the
outbreak of the Thirty Years War. Based throughout on original sources,
and illustrating his thesis from every angle, his eight massive volumes
were hailed with gratitude and enthusiasm by Catholics all over the
world. No Catholic historical work of the nineteenth century, and
certainly no attack on the Reformation since Bossuet's _Variations of
Protestantism_, obtained such resounding success or led to so much

Janssen's object was to show that the fifteenth century was not a period
of moral or intellectual decrepitude, with a few 'Reformers before the
Reformation' crying like voices in the wilderness, but an era of healthy
activity and abounding promise. He describes the flourishing state of
religious and secular education, the vitality of art, the comfort of the
peasantry, and the prosperity of the towns. On reaching the sixteenth
century, he denounces the paganism of the Humanists and paints a
terrible picture of the material and moral chaos into which Germany was
plunged by the Lutheran revolt. The later volumes are devoted to the era
of the Counter-Revolution and present a canvas of unrelieved gloom,
immorality and drunkenness, ignorance, superstition and violence. Thus
the story which opened with the bright colours of the fifteenth century
closes in deep shadows, and the moral is drawn that Germany was ruined
not by the Thirty Years War but by the Reformation.

Protestant historians fell upon the audacious iconoclast with fierce
cries of anger, and had no difficulty in exposing his uncritical use of
authorities, his habit of generalizing from isolated particulars, and
his suppression of facts damaging to his own side. But though it was a
dexterous polemic, not a work of disinterested science, Janssen's book
has made it impossible for any self-respecting Protestant to write on
the Reformation without knowing and weighing the Catholic side. Of
similar tendency though of far higher value is the monumental work in
which Pastor is narrating the story of the Renaissance and
sixteenth-century Popes from the Vatican archives, which neither Ranke
nor Creighton had been able to employ. No really objective picture of
the Reformation can be painted by Catholic or Protestant; but a good
deal of firm ground has been won, and the writings of Kawerau, the
greatest of Lutheran scholars, inspire us with a confidence that no
writings of the last generation deserved.

Though Ranke's chief works had been published before the period to which
this lecture is confined, his influence can be traced in almost every
writer on modern history during the last half-century. His greatest
service to scholarship was to divorce the study of the past from the
passions of the present, and, to quote the watchword of his first book,
to relate what actually occurred. A second was to establish the
necessity of founding historical construction on strictly contemporary
authorities. When he began to write in 1824 historians of high repute
believed memoirs and chronicles to be trustworthy guides. When he laid
down his pen in 1886 every scholar with a reputation to make had learned
to content himself with nothing less than the papers and correspondence
of the actors themselves and those in immediate contact with the events
they describe. A third service was to found the science of evidence by
the analysis of authorities, contemporary or otherwise, in the light of
the author's temperament, affiliations, and opportunity of knowledge,
and by comparison with the testimony of other writers. There can be no
better preparation for the perils and responsibilities of authorship
than to study the critical analyses of Guicciardini and Sarpi,
Clarendon, Saint-Simon, and many another, scattered through the sixty
volumes of the master. And finally he taught by precept and practice the
necessity of exploring the relations of States to one another and of
measuring the interaction of foreign and domestic policy.

These sound principles have been applied by the scholars of all
countries who have jointly built up the history of the last four
centuries. We may study the Tudors under the guidance of Pollard, the
Stuarts under Gardiner and Firth, the Hanoverians under Lecky, without
fear that we are being misled or that essential facts are being withheld
from our notice. We continue to admire the literary brilliance of
Macaulay and Carlyle, Motley and Froude; but we are instinctively aware
that their partisanship is out of date. The same cooling process has
taken place in France, where the passions and tempers of Thiers and
Michelet have tended to yield place to the calm lucidity of which Mignet
and Guizot were the earliest masters. There is, it must be confessed, a
good deal of the old Adam in Taine's elaborate study of Jacobinism, in
Masson's innumerable volumes on Napoleon, and even in Aulard's priceless
contributions to our knowledge of the French Revolution; but such works
as Lavisse's full-length portrait of Louis XIV, Ségur's volumes on
Turgot and Necker, Sorel's massive treatise on Europe and the
Revolution, and Vandal's incomparable presentation of the Consulate rank
as high in scholarship as in literature.

The unification of Germany after fierce struggles within and without
naturally deflected historical scholarship from the path marked out by
Ranke, who had grown to manhood in the era of political stagnation
following the downfall of Napoleon. The master's Olympian serenity was
deplored by the group of hot-blooded scholars who are collectively
known as the Prussian School, and who were firmly convinced that the
principal duty of historians was to supply guidance and encouragement to
their fellow-countrymen in the national and international problems of
the time. In his gigantic work on the History of Prussian Foreign
Policy, Droysen, the eldest of the Triumvirate, calls four centuries to
witness that the Hohenzollerns alone, from their unswerving fidelity to
German interests as a whole, were fitted to restore the Empire. He
worked exclusively from Prussian archives, and history seen exclusively
through Prussian spectacles was bound to be one-sided. No student of
European history would contest the value of his researches; but his
interpretation of Prussian policy in terms of German nationalism was at
once recognized as a fundamental error, and has long been abandoned. The
second member of the group, Sybel, himself one of the three favourite
pupils of Ranke, revolted in middle life, and in his two great treatises
on the era of the French Revolution and the foundation of the German
Empire championed the policy of the Hohenzollerns and delivered slashing
attacks on France and Austria, their rivals and antagonists.

The last and greatest of the triumvirate, Treitschke, the Bismarck of
the Chair, devoted his life to a history of Germany in the nineteenth
century which occupies the same unique place in the affections of German
readers as Macaulay's unfinished masterpiece enjoys throughout the
English-speaking world. Unlike the works of Droysen and Sybel, the
_German History_ was far more than a political narrative, and presented
an encyclopaedic picture of national development. His theme was the
conflict of the forces which were promoting and opposing the
transformation of his country into a powerful Empire, and he judges men
and states by the measure in which they promoted or obstructed that
purpose. On the one side stands Prussia, feeling her way to the
realization of her historic task, on the other the middle and smaller
states, aided and abetted by the arch-enemy Austria and deeply infected
with the doctrinaire liberalism of France. Treitschke's stage is a
battlefield, with the historian looking down and encouraging his friends
with loud cries of applause. Such methods could not survive the
realization of the aim which they had done so much to assist, and with
Treitschke's death in 1896 the Prussian School disappeared. Its members
were the political schoolmasters of Germany at a time of uncertainty and
discouragement, and they braced their countrymen to the efforts which
culminated in the creation of a mighty Empire. If the purpose of history
is to stir a nation to action, Droysen, Sybel, and Treitschke are among
the greatest masters of the craft. If its supreme aim is to discover
truth and to interpret the movement of humanity, they have no claim to a
place in the first class. The stream, temporarily deflected by their
powerful influence, began to return to the channel which Ranke had
marked out for it. Such works as Moriz Ritter's narrative of the
Counter-Reformation and the Thirty Years War, Koser's biography of
Frederick the Great, Max Lehmann's biographies of Scharnhorst and Stein,
and Erich Marcks' studies of Bismarck and his master are as notable for
their judgement as for their erudition.

The cooling process noted in the Old World has also occurred in the New,
and America of the twentieth century smiles at Bancroft's complacent
idealization of the Puritan colonies. Even the slavery struggle, the
ashes of which are scarcely yet cold, has found in James Ford Rhodes a
historian who can do justice to Jefferson Davis and Lee no less than to
Lincoln and Grant. But no American scholar compares in world-wide
influence with Mahan, whose study of Sea-Power in the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries, published in 1889, not only founded a school of
naval history but was inwardly digested by distinguished pupils in both
hemispheres, among them the Emperor William II and Theodore Roosevelt.
The Admiral's writings owe their importance not to research, for few new
facts are brought to light, but to the new angle from which familiar
events are envisaged. Occasionally, perhaps, the element of sea-power in
the determination of a particular result is over-emphasized at the
expense of other factors; but he was the first to seize the wider
bearings of naval history and to make the general reader aware of its
momentous significance.

The scope of history has gradually widened till it has come to include
every aspect of the life of humanity. No one would now dare to maintain
with my old master Seeley that history was the biography of States or
with Freeman that it was merely past politics. The growth of nations,
the achievements of men of action, the rise and fall of parties remain
among the most engrossing themes of the historian; but he now casts his
net wider and embraces the whole opulent record of civilization. The
influence of nature, the pressure of economic factors, the origin and
transformation of ideas, the contribution of science and art, religion
and philosophy, literature and law, the material conditions of life, the
fortunes of the masses--such problems now claim his attention in no less
degree. He must see life steadily and see it whole. We must master such
revealing works as Lecky's histories of Rationalism and Morals,
Burckhardt's and Symonds' interpretations of the Italian Renaissance,
Sainte-Beuve's full-length portrait of the Jansenists, Morley's studies
of Voltaire, Rousseau and the Encyclopaedists, Dean Church's sketch of
the Oxford Movement, and Merz's survey of European Thought in the
nineteenth century, if we are to understand the throbbing life of the
human spirit. We must measure the operation of economic factors and
forces and profit by the faithful labours of Schmoller and Thorold
Rogers, Cunningham and Kovalevsky, the Webbs and the Hammonds, if we are
to visualize the life of the unnumbered and the unknown who have done
the routine work of the world.

The fifty years roughly sketched in this lecture witnessed an immense
and almost immeasurable advance in historical studies. The technique
needed to turn raw materials into the finished article kept pace with
the supply, and men learned to write the history of their own country,
their own party, and their own beliefs, as impartially as that of other
lands and other creeds. But the Great War has ravaged the placid
pastures of scholarship no less than the fields of France and Belgium.
Too many historians in every belligerent country have lost their heads
and degenerated into shrieking partisans. International co-operation in
the pursuit of truth, which is the condition of progress in history no
less than in science, has been rudely shattered by the clash of arms.
With all but the calmest minds, national self-consciousness and national
self-righteousness have rendered frankness in dealing with the record of
our late allies and fairness in dealing with our late enemies difficult
if not impossible. Many years will elapse before the European atmosphere
regains the tranquillity in which alone the disinterested pursuit of
truth can nourish. Meanwhile it is a source of legitimate satisfaction
that while the world was rocking to its foundations two English
historians, Sir Adolphus Ward and Mr. William Harbutt Dawson, were
narrating the development of Germany in the nineteenth century with a
steadiness of pulse unsurpassed in the piping times of peace. The
historian is a man of flesh and blood and may love his country as
ardently as other men; but, if he is to be worthy of his high calling,
he must trample passion and prejudice under his feet and walk humbly and
reverently in the temple of the Goddess of Truth.


Gooch, _History and Historians in the Nineteenth Century_ (Longmans).




Political Philosophy or the philosophical theory of the State has closer
relations with history than any other branch of philosophical inquiry.
It is indeed distinguished from history in that it can disregard the
success or failure, the historical development of this or that state.
For it is concerned not with historical happenings but with ideals, not
with the varying extent to which different states have approximated or
fallen short of their purpose, but with that purpose itself, not, in
short, with states but with _the_ State. Yet this need not involve that
the ideal, _the_ State, is always and everywhere the same. Ideals are
born of historical circumstances and fashioned to meet historical
problems, and the would-be timeless ideals which political philosophers
have put before us have always borne clear marks of the country and time
of their origin. The ideal which men have set themselves in political
organization has varied from time to time. That such variation is
inevitable will be clear if we ask ourselves what we can possibly mean
by an ideal state. That states fall short of their ideal because of the
imperfections of their citizens is clear enough. All political life
demands a certain standard of moral behaviour, of capacity to work for a
common good, and an understanding of the results of our own and other
people's actions. Were human selfishness completely overcome, the state
would still be necessary to correct individual shortsightedness. The
policeman, exempt from the cares of apprehending criminals, would still
be needed to control traffic. But imagine, not that all citizens
attained a certain standard of moral and intellectual behaviour, as the
ideal demands, but that they were all perfectly good and perfectly wise,
should we need any kind of government at all? Is not the supposition of
perfection so far removed from any state of affairs we can really think
of or plan for, that it cannot enter into our reckoning, ideal or
practical? Every ideal takes certain facts of human life for granted
whilst it tries to improve others. All ideal states, Plato's as well as
others, assume certain facts about human nature and human society. These
facts may and do vary. The Greek city state assumed that a state must be
small, if it was to have the intensive life they demanded. The Roman
Empire was a denial of the anarchy to which the Greek ideal had led, but
it lost in intensity what it gained in extent. All political ideals
assume a certain sociological background on which the state is based and
from which spring the problems which the state is intended to solve. As
this sociological background varies from time to time, _the_ State, the
purpose which men set before themselves in political organization, will
vary also. The Greek city state and the mediaeval state were not
different approximations to the same ideal. They were the expressions of
different ideals. They rested on different assumptions, e.g. as to the
place of authority in society. With the disappearance at the Reformation
of one of the great assumptions on which the mediaeval state had been
based, a new theory of the state was inevitable. The national state of
the seventeenth century was something new in history, and Hobbes differs
from Aristotle, not because Hobbes is perverse and Aristotle right,
though Hobbes often is perverse, but because the political problems
which Hobbes and Aristotle had to face were not the same.

Two great historical facts at the end of the eighteenth century, the
French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution, profoundly modified the
basis of political organization. The modern state in consequence differs
in many important respects from any that have preceded it. It does not
rest on the common acceptance of authority, either religious, as did the
mediaeval state, or personal, as did the seventeenth-century state.
Unlike the Greek city state, it is large. Its administration is
concerned with millions who cannot be in personal relations to one
another, or share the same intensive life.

With the nineteenth century, then, a new chapter in the development of
political theory begins as the peculiar problems of the modern state
develop. Professor Dicey, in his _Law and Opinion in England_, has
divided the century into two periods of political thought--Individualism
and Collectivism--one marking the decrease, the other the increase of
the power and authority of the state. When our period begins, the day of
individualism was passing. Ever since the Reformation it had, in spite
of Burke, dominated political theory. Two forces had given it
strength--one idealistic, one scientific. It represented the revolt of
the individual conscience against the claims of authority, and as such
was a theory which attempted to limit the power of government over the
individual, whether by an appeal to natural rights in Locke and Tom
Paine, or to the greatest happiness of the greatest number in the
Utilitarians, or to the super-eminent value of individual liberty as set
forth in John Stuart Mill's noble panegyric. The French Revolution gave
a notable impetus to this side of individualism, with its passionate
assertion of the principle that political institutions exist for man,
not man for political institutions, and that all government must be
tested by the life which it enables each and every one of its citizens
to live. Individualism in this sense is concerned with the discovery of
principles by which the power of government over the lives of its
members may be limited. It is not necessarily a theory of the nature of
society. Hobbes, however, was an individualist as well as Locke, and for
Hobbes the individual was the scientific unit from which societies and
states were built up--the starting-point for a scientific treatment of
society. As the French Revolution gave a fresh impulse to idealistic
individualism, the Industrial Revolution reanimated the scientific, for
it displayed the economic man, Hobbes's hero, come to life and a
respectable member of society. With him came the growth of political
economy, apparently the first really scientific study of man. From
Political Economy Darwin borrowed the conception of the struggle for
existence and the survival of the fittest, and from the new biology the
doctrine of Evolution through individual competition returned to
reinforce with the prestige of the new science the economists'
conception of society.

For the first half of the nineteenth century all the forces inspiring
individualism seemed to work together, for economics and biology
breathed a benevolent optimism which promised that if the scientific
forces of individualism were left to work unchecked by state
restriction, they would of themselves produce that individual liberty
and free development which idealistic individualism desired.

The development of the industrial revolution, however, soon made
economic optimism impossible, and with its decay idealistic and
scientific individualism parted company. The former retained its concern
for individual liberty but came to see that its ideal was as much
threatened by economic dependence as by state control, that the choice
for most members of society was not one between state interference and
no interference at all, but between the state controlling or not
controlling the power of interference possessed by the economically
superior members of society. On such principles Henry Sidgwick
justified an extensive system of state control of industry, and for such
reason the strongest supporters of the rights of the individual have
been found among Socialists.

Scientific individualism, which found its unit in the economic man and
sought to absorb in economics both ethics and politics, was not in
essence affected by the discrediting of economic optimism. It painted
the struggle between individuals in gloomy instead of in attractive
colours, its 'scientific' prepossessions inclined it to a determinism
which led easily to the economic theory of history and even, by a
curious conversion of opposites, to the 'scientific socialism' of Karl
Marx. In its essence it is a denial of the real existence of politics.
For it is a theory of society which denies the possibility of a will for
the common good and therefore the possibility of political ideals.

It was this powerful and malignant theory which was attacked and
answered by the modern idealist school represented by Green, Wallace,
and Ritchie, and, in the present day, by Dr. Bosanquet. These writers
gave us a theory of the state based on the importance and reality of
social purpose. They went back to the theory of the Greek city state
expounded by Plato and Aristotle, finding modern reinforcement in the
teaching of Rousseau and more especially of Hegel. Their destructive
criticism of 'scientific' individualism was reinforced by the teaching
of anthropology and of historical jurisprudence, which emphasized the
part played in early forms of society by social solidarity and showed
the inability of individualism to account for the development of
society. Their destructive criticism was, however, the least part of
their achievement. They exhibited convincingly the state as the product
of will and purpose, based on man's moral nature and being in turn the
form in which that moral nature expresses itself. In a notable phrase of
Dr. Bosanquet's, a phrase to which he has given constant detailed
amplification, 'institutions are ethical ideas'; moral purpose may seem
to shine dimly enough in many actual institutions, but it is the only
light which shines in them at all, and only in that light can their
meaning and reality be understood.

The main principles of this idealistic school may be safely said to have
by this time established themselves against criticism. Of recent years
Social Psychology has done much to explain the gap between the
contemplated purpose and the actual working of institutions, and has
given precision and definiteness to those elements in human nature which
strengthen or weaken social solidarity. Economists have come to see that
economic relations are possible only within the framework of a society
which has its root in moral and political purpose, although within that
framework they may be theoretically isolated and studied by themselves.
Sociology, after many false starts, inspired by the mistaken belief that
a scientific treatment of society should interpret higher forms in the
light of lower, has now found it possible to study the manifold variety
of institutional and social life on the basis provided by idealistic

As a theory of society, in short, this philosophy holds the field. It
has been criticized of late years as a theory of the state, and as these
criticisms show both where the idealistic theory was in some respects
defective and also where the chief problems for political philosophy in
the future are to be found, I shall devote the greater part of my
lecture to these considerations.

The idealistic school drew their inspiration from the theory of the
Greek city state, and in their conception of the function of the state
they assumed an essential identity between the Greek city state and the
modern nation state. In so far as these two types of state have been the
most self-conscious types of society that have existed, and have
therefore displayed explicitly the purpose that is implicit in all
society, the identification has been sound and fruitful; in so far,
however, as the identity is pressed to imply that in the modern state
the definite political or governmental organization should play the same
function as it did in the Greek city state, the identification has been

The Greek city state failed conspicuously to solve the problem of
inter-state relations, and its philosophers, instead of recognizing the
failure and trying to remedy it, made their ideal state even more
self-centred and autonomous than the existing states around them. Modern
Idealism, just because it glorifies the state as the necessary upholder
of moral relations, has often found it hard to regard the state as in
its turn a member of a moral world.

Again, the Greek city state, just because it was small, could take up
into itself all the various social activities of its members. The state,
in the sense of the Community in its political organization, directed
and inspired Society, and the distinction between society and the state
was not of great importance. In the modern world the boundaries of
political organization are not nearly as definite boundaries in society
as are the boundaries of the Greek city state. There are all manner of
associations whose members are of different states and whose purposes
are but to a small degree inspired or controlled by political
organizations. Modern states are not all or completely nation states,
and the nation is not as pervading and dominating an entity as was the
Greek _polis_. This is not to say that the non-political associations
could do without the state, as some recent writers have contended.
Churches, e.g., could not exist were there not law and government. Yet
it is impossible to maintain that in any real sense they are upheld by
the state. They clearly get their inspiration from other sources. The
difficulty is not evaded if we go behind both political and
non-political organization to the community in which both exist and
which upholds them both. For what in this reference is 'the community'?
In regard to the political association it is the special solidarity of
people living in a certain area; in regard to the non-political
organization it is the solidarity of a section of the world-wide
society, marked off from the rest on a non-territorial basis. The
community in the two cases is not the same. Hence there arises in the
modern state, as there arose in the mediaeval, a conflict of loyalties
between the state and non-political associations. If we divide the world
into states whose lines of division follow the divisions of the
organization of force, we are faced with a host of problems concerning
the proper place in society of these force-bearing organizations, and
their relation to other associations.

In considering both sets of problems, international and internal, we may
either begin with the division of the world into states, each of which
will be an approximation of _the_ State which we are studying, or we may
regard the whole world as in some sort one society, covered with a
network of overlapping associations of all kinds. On the former view the
world is thought of as consisting of a number of independent
communities, each shaping and controlling the various forms of social
life within its own borders, upholding their moral world, and each being
as a whole single entity a member of the community of states. On the
latter we start with the solidarity and will to co-operate which
pervades in all manner of degrees the whole world society, and regard
the organization of force which marks the state as being the mark of a
settled and determined form of that will to co-operate which is
characteristic of all forms of human association. How dominant and
determinant over other forms of association is that special form which
controls organized force--that is the problem before us. We are
concerned in technical language with the problem of sovereignty.

Let us consider first the problem of international relations. The
doctrine of sovereignty, formulated in the seventeenth century and
crystallized by Austin at the beginning of the nineteenth, made
sovereignty the hallmark of the state. The person or persons, to whom
the bulk of a given society render habitual obedience, either do or do
not render habitual obedience in turn to some other person or persons.
If they do not, the society constitutes a sovereign state; if they do,
it is only part of a sovereign state. The world therefore was regarded
as containing a number of sovereign independent states. As sovereignty
and law necessarily went hand in hand, there could be no law between
sovereign states. There could only be world-wide law if there were one
world-wide state. So long as there are more states than one, there are
communities between whom there is no law. The doctrine of sovereignty
was in its inception individualist, but in so far as concerns the
implications, though not the basis of sovereignty, it was taken over by
Hegel and by the English idealist school with the exception of T.H.
Green. Idealism, indeed, always insisted that will, not force, was the
basis of the state, but whereas in Green the state is constituted by the
moral willing of individuals for a general good, in Hegel and in
Bosanquet the conflicting willings of individuals are reconciled by
their being taken up into the supra-personal will of the state. With the
former therefore the morality of individuals is the primary fact, the
existence of the state the secondary; with the latter on the whole the
existence of the state is the primary moral fact, the moral willing of
individuals secondary. Just because the wills of individuals are
reconciled, not by each recognizing certain abstract principles of duty,
but by being taken up into the supra-personal will of the state, where
there is no such supra-personal will there is no reconciliation of
conflicting wills and no morality beyond and outside the boundaries of
communities. Hence arises a conception of the state which fits into the
absolutist doctrine of sovereignty which we have described.

The first thing to be said about this doctrine of the independent
sovereign state is that political facts have obviously outrun it. It was
derived from a study of the unitary state and will hardly fit any
federal state. It is manifestly absurd when applied to the British
Empire. If we disregard, as we must, the superficial legal facts and
look at the real nature of the British Empire, we must admit that the
Dominions are neither separate sovereign states nor parts of one
sovereign state, and that the unity of the Empire is a unity of will--a
willingness to co-operate which has not yet clothed itself in legal
forms, and which is not, for geographical and other reasons, as intense
as that will to co-operate which must be at the basis of a unitary
sovereign state. This must suggest to us that the willingness to
co-operate admits of degrees, and the relations of communities to one
another to have stability must reflect these degrees. The importance of
these considerations is obvious if we think of the problems with which
we are confronted at the present moment, when we are attempting to form
an international organization. The problems which have confronted the
Peace Conference have brought two things clearly to light. The first,
that the nation state is far too simple a solution of modern
difficulties. Self-determination will not carry us very far. There are
many cases where the boundaries dictated by nationality on the one hand
and by the need for common organization on the other do not coincide,
and where the only solution is one which impairs sovereignty in the old
sense. The second is that the League of Nations, if it is to mean
anything at all, will have to impair the sovereignty of the states which
join it without thereby constituting in itself a world state. Much of
the opposition to the League of Nations is concerned with this implied
impairment of sovereignty. Whether this opposition will weigh with us
will depend on whether we regard the independent sovereign state as the
be-all and end-all of political theory, or see that the fundamental fact
to be taken into account is man's readiness to co-operate for common
purposes. If we take the latter view, we shall still be holding to what
was the fundamental contribution of the idealist school, the teaching
that the basis of all political questions is moral. The essence of the
matter is how we are prepared to treat other people, for what purposes
we are prepared to act with them, how far we are prepared to recognize
and give settled organized recognition to our mutual obligations. The
political organization is the vehicle and not the creator of these moral
facts. As the facts vary, so will its forces. We may learn from the
Hegelian school to recognize the enormous importance of the state, the
great achievement of the human spirit which its organization represents,
and the folly of light-heartedly endangering its existence, without
making one form which it has taken in the nation state sacrosanct and

Let us turn now to the second of our problems, the relation of the state
to associations, such as churches and trade unions, within its borders.
Here again we find a principle, originating in earlier individualist
theory, taken up into idealism. In the beginnings of modern political
theory in the seventeenth century, the absolutist doctrine of the state
was the outcome of the need of the times for strong government. A state
that was not master in its own house was felt to be incapable of the
hard task these troublous times set before it. The French Revolution
made no change in the attitude of the state to associations. New-born
democracy was not inclined to look favourably on the independence of
religious non-democratic associations, and the fact that Leviathan had
become democratic was thought to have transformed him into a monster
within whose capacious maw any number of Jonahs might live at ease or
liberty. Association against a tyrant might be a sacred duty; against
the people it could only be a suspicious superfluity. In a very
different way the Prussian state, centralized, efficient, and Erastian,
organizing the whole resources of the community under the guidance of
the state, enforced the same principle. The state is a moral
institution, it cannot surrender the inculcation and upholding of
morality to an alien or independent body. From all the sources of modern
idealistic political theory, Plato, Rousseau, Hegel, comes the same
principle of state absolutism over associations within the state. The
principle was put in idealistic form in the doctrine that the state is a
supra-personal will, absorbing in itself the activities of its members.

Of late years dissatisfaction with this doctrine has been making itself
more and more loudly expressed. Along with an increasing belief in the
extension of the state's administrative capacities has gone an
increasing disinclination to leave men's moral and cultural activities
to the political organization. The ideal of the _Kulturstaat_ is now
sufficiently discredited. Men are coming more and more to recognize the
part played in life by non-political organizations and to insist on the
importance of preserving the independence and freedom from state control
of such associations as churches. The loyalty of individuals to their
associations, churches or trade unions, has been conflicting with their
loyalty to the state, and men are not prepared to admit that in all such
cases of conflict loyalty to the state ought to be paramount.

Curiously enough, the central doctrine of the later idealistic school,
the personality of the state, lent a force to the criticism of the
doctrine of state absolutism. If the state can be described as a person,
may not also a church and a trade union? We have begun to learn from
Gierke, interpreted and reinforced to us by Maitland, that what is sauce
for the state goose is also sauce for the corporation gander, and that
associations within the state may claim from the state a greater
independence and a recognition of their intrinsic worth because they, as
it, embody in some sense a real will over and above the wills of their
members. This doctrine of corporate personality is of great interest and
complexity, and has not yet been satisfactorily worked out. But I shall
not discuss it now because it will not help us far towards a solution of
the problem of what are the proper relations between associations and
the state, be they personalities or not.

Recent writers have mainly attempted to solve the problem by the
principle of differentiation of function. This will certainly help us in
considering the relation of church and state. For we can say that the
task of the political organization is to maintain the conditions of the
good life, leaving the work of developing the meaning of the good life,
the fostering and inculcation of ideals, to voluntary associations. The
state will then maintain a certain minimum of moral behaviour, while the
more delicate and freer work of inspiration is left to individuals and
voluntary associations. This will not always provide a clean-cut and
sufficient differentiation. The state must make up its own mind what is
essential to the maintenance of the good life, the voluntary
associations may hold that what the state ordains is flatly evil, as the
state may hold that what a voluntary association teaches is subversive
of all that makes a common ordered life possible, and both must be true
to the facts as they see them. When such conflict arises, as it has
arisen lately, if the only answer we can give at present is the old
answer given by Dr. Johnson, 'The state had a right to martyr the Early
Christians, and they had a right to be martyred,' yet at least we are
farther on if each side honestly recognizes the importance of the work
that the other has to do.

When we come to the problem raised by the present position and claims of
Trade Unions, differentiation of functions is less satisfactory. Let us
first look at the problem as it confronts us to-day. There was a time
when the state was doubtful whether it should allow trade unions to
exist. The Political Economy prevalent in the earlier part of the
nineteenth century taught that trade unions were either unnecessary or
useless--unnecessary in so far as economic relations, if unhindered by
regulations from the state or from combinations, were regarded by
economic optimism as themselves producing satisfactory social
conditions; useless where Political Economy had substituted for optimism
a belief in 'iron laws' whose results no combination or government
regulation could affect. We now see that economic relations, just
because they are possible between men who have no common purpose, need
regulation inspired by a common purpose, and can be affected by such
regulation. The growth of governmental interference with industry and of
trade unionism are part of the same movement to control the working of
economic relations with a view to maintaining the conditions of the good
life. Trade unions have grown and are still steadily growing in size and
importance. For a large portion of the nation loyalty to a trade union
has become the most obvious form of collective loyalty or general will.
This has been accompanied by an inevitable decrease in what we may call
territorial loyalty. The result of the increase in means of
communication and the growth of large towns has been that men's common
interests as members of the same trade or as employees in the same
workshop are coming to mean more and to constitute a greater common bond
between men than their common interests as dwellers in the same
locality. The trade union has often a more live and real general will
than the Parliamentary constituency. Men's aspirations and ideals for
their common life are being expressed more truly through trade union
organizations than through Parliament. The growth in the prestige of
organized labour is therefore coincident with a decay in the prestige of
Parliament. Parliament, however, based on a local sub-division of the
nation, is at present the only political organization of the nation.
Trade union organization, as a political organization, has no
constitutional authority, and all the general will which it represents
can find no regular national expression. The result is that it either
uses the territorial organization by getting men who really represent
their Trade Union elected as members for Parliamentary local
constituencies, to the detriment of both the territorial and the trade
union organization, or acts as an _imperium in imperio_ by making
demands on and issuing ultimata to Parliament. We seem to be approaching
a crisis where the trade unions are asking whether they will allow the
state to exist.

This is obviously an unsatisfactory state of affairs. What is the cure
for it? Differentiation of functions, as I have said, will not help us
here. Some writers have maintained that vocational organization should
concern itself with industrial or economic matters, the state, as we
know it, with political matters. But can we possibly distinguish between
industrial and political matters? If the aim of politics is to regulate
men's actions in the light of men's common interests, the action of a
trade union is in its essence political. Its differentiation from
government is that it is concerned with the common interests of a few
rather than the common interests of all. The difference between a trade
union and a parliamentary constituency is that the sub-division of the
general common interest which each represents rests on a different basis
of division. The whole community might as well be organized by vocations
as it now is by localities. There would seem to be certain advantages in
both principles of differentiation, and one obvious practical solution
of our present difficulties is that the supreme organ of government
should in its two chambers represent the nation as organized on both
principles, vocational and territorial.

We seem to have come now to the discussion of political machinery, but,
as in our discussion of the League of Nations, we can see that our
attitude to such questions of machinery will vary as we regard the
force-bearing organization with its national and territorial basis as
the primary fact in the community, to be distinguished sharply from all
other organizations, or regard the possession of organized force as the
expression of men's settled and permanent will to maintain their common
interests and safeguard the conditions of the good life. If we
consistently follow out Green's dictum that will, not force, is the
basis of the state, we shall be anxious that the political organization
to which we render obedience shall follow the actual ramifications of
common interests and of men's willingness to co-operate, and shall
recognize that the national state with its territorial basis represents
only one form of such ramification.

The view that political action is not confined to constitutional and
governmental channels will not imply that we must give up the
distinction between society and the state. For, on the one hand, trade
unions have only arisen because of the special need for a _common_
safeguarding of common interests produced by economic relations.
Economic relations need to be controlled by, but cannot be superseded
by, politics. On the other hand, as we have seen, the work of such
associations as churches is different in kind from the work done by
political organizations. The inculcation and development of moral ideals
and the safeguarding of the conditions of the good life are
complementary functions. Each is impossible without the other. But that
does not make them identical, however closely interfused they may be.

If, then, we accept the political theory of idealism as a theory of
society, we must recognize in social life the distinction between
ethical, economic, and political relations, and the task before
Political Theory is to define the relations between politics and
economic activities on the one side and ethical activities on the other,
and that in a society which is not confined within the bounds of a
single nation state. The intricate ramifications of vast economic
undertakings and the common aspirations and ideals of humanity are but
signs of a solidarity of mankind that political philosophy must
recognize in all the problems it has to face.


Green, _Principles of Political Obligation_.

Bosanquet, _Philosophical Theory of the State_.

Barker, _Political Thought in England from Spencer to to-day_.

Hobhouse, _The Metaphysical Theory of the State_.

Figgis, _Churches in the Modern State_.

Cole, _Labour in the Commonwealth_.

Cole, _Self Government in Industry_.

Delisle Burns, _The Morality of Nations_.





1. Let us hover in fancy over the industrial scene in 1842, and
photograph a stage of the economic conflict which the people of England
were waging then with the forces which held them in thrall.

Our photograph shows us great white lines, continuous or destined to
become continuous; they are numerous in Durham and Lancashire, and the
newest lead up to and away from London. These white lines are the new
railroads of England, and the myriad ant-heaps along them are the
navvies. In the year 1848 their numbers had risen to 188,000.[21]

What is a navvy and how does he live? The navvy is an inland navigator
who used to dig dykes and canals and now constructs railroads. In the
forties the navvies are getting 5_s._ a day, and for tunnelling and
blasting even more, but they are a rowdy crowd, and many of them are
Irish. Said the Sheriff substitute of Renfrewshire in 1827: 'If an
extensive drain, or canal, or road were to make that could be done by
piecework, I should not feel in the least surprised to find that of 100
men employed at it, 90 were Irish.'[22] In 1842 they are building
railroads, and when they and the Highlanders are on the same job, it is
necessary to segregate them in order to avoid a breach of the peace. The
Irish sleep in huts and get higher pay than the natives who are lodged
in the neighbouring cottages. The English navvy too keeps out the
Irishman if he can. On a track in Northamptonshire, 'There is only one
Irishman on the work, for they would not allow any other Irishman.'[23]

In the South of England wages are lower and the navvies are less expert.
In South Devon 'very few North countrymen; they are men who have worked
down the line of the Great Western; that have followed it from one
portion to another'.[24] The riff-raff from the villages cannot work
stroke for stroke with the navvy. 'In tilting the waggons they could,
but in the barrow runs it requires practice and experience.'[25]

The high wages of the navvy are offset by the disadvantages of his
employment. He is lucky if he gets the whole of his earnings in cash. In
the Trent Valley they are paid once a month, 'but every fortnight they
receive what is called "sub" that is subsistence money, and between the
times of subsistence money and times of the monthly payment, they may
have tickets by applying to the time-keeper, or whoever is the person to
give them out, for goods; and those tickets are directed to a certain
person; they cannot go to any other shop.'[26]

The huts in which they live are little better than pigsties, and
especially bad for regular navvies, who take their families about with
them. In South Devon, 'man, woman, and child all sleep exposed to one
another.'[27] On a section of the London and Birmingham Railway fever
and small-pox broke out. 'I have seen', says an eye-witness, 'the men
walking about with the small-pox upon them as thick as possible and no
hospitals to go to.'[28] The country people, the witness continues, make
money by letting rooms double. When one lot came out, another lot went

Such is the navvy's life at work and at rest.

2. If we can suppose that our camera is capable of distinguishing
centres of industrial activity, then our picture will give us 'vital'
patches, which stand out against a background of deadness. This deadness
is rural England.

What is the condition of the rural counties of Wessex? 'Everywhere the
cottages are old, and frequently in a state of decay.' 'Ignorance of the
commonest things, needle-work, cooking, and other matters of domestic
economy, is ... nearly universally prevalent.'[29] To make both ends
meet the wife has abandoned her now useless spinning-wheel and hired
herself out to hoe turnips or pick stones.

On the little farms inside the factory districts of Lancashire and
Yorkshire, on which the country hand-loom weavers eke out a miserable
livelihood by cultivating patches of grass land, there is distress more
acute than ever was known in a Dorset village. But in Northumberland, by
exception, there is a decent country life. 'What I saw of the northern
peasantry impressed me very strongly in their favour; they are very
intelligent, sober, and courteous in their manners.... The education in
Northumberland is very good; the people are intelligent and cute, alive
to the advantages of knowledge, and eager to acquire it; it is a rare
thing to find a grown-up labourer who cannot read and write and who is
not capable of keeping his own accounts.'[30] The same sort of thing was
said of Northumberland in 1869: 'If all England had been like
Northumberland, this commission ought never to have been issued.' The
Commissioner found that though the labourers worked harder and longer
than in the South they were not working against starvation. They were
enjoying a rough plenty, which included fresh milk. The rest of the
family earned sufficient to leave the married woman in her home and no
children under twelve were employed in field labour.[31]

Here then in Northumberland there is a decent country life, but
elsewhere there is an atmosphere of deadness; and it is this deadness of
the countryside which explains the horror that new comers to industrial
regions frequently expressed at the prospect of a forcible return to the
parish of their origin.

'I was told,' says a visitor to Lancashire in 1842, 'that there had been
several instances of death by sheer starvation. On asking why
application had not been made to the commissioner of the parish for
relief, I was informed that they were persons from agricultural
districts who, having committed an act of vagrancy, would be sent to
their parishes, and that they had rather endure anything in the hope of
some manufacturing revival, than return to the condition of farm
labourers from which they had emerged. This was a fact perfectly new to
me, and at the first blush, truly incredible, but I asked the neighbours
in two of the instances quoted ... and they not only confirmed the
story, but seemed to consider any appearance of scepticism a mark of
prejudice or ignorance.'[32]

3. Though there is little peasant life in England, there is life of a
feverish desperate order for many who live in country places. These
people are not farm workers nor yet are they craftsmen who supply the
industrial needs of the village. They are feeders to the towns, engaged
in what is misnamed 'domestic industry'. The life they lead is a sordid
replica of an all too sordid original.

Cobbett in a tirade against the Lords of the Loom[33] idealized the
old-time union of agriculture and manufacture. The men should work in
the fields, while the women and children stayed at home at their
spinning wheels, making homespun for the family garments. But the
picture was a vanishing one even in his day. Domestic industry does not
mean this. The rural distress revealed in the Hand-loom Weavers
Commission is the distress of specialized hand-workers, male and female,
who are clinging desperately to the worst-paid branch of a dying trade.
The worsted industry of East Anglia is perishing, defeated by the
resources of Yorkshire, of which the power-loom is only one. The cloth
trade in the Valley of Stroud (Gloucester) is a shadow of its former
self. It has lost the power of recovering from a depression. The next
period of slackness that comes along may bankrupt the business and rob a
village of specialized hand-workers of their main employment.

In Devonshire, the serge trade, which used to give employment to looms
in almost every town and village, has become so unremunerative that it
has passed into the hands of the wives and daughters of mechanics and
agricultural labourers. In Oxfordshire in 1834, we are told by the Poor
Law Commissions of that year, glove and lace making were vanishing
occupations. In the neighbourhood of Banbury 'some make lace and gloves
in the villages. Formerly spinning was the work for women in the
villages, now there is scarcely any done.'[34]

Since 1834 the process of disintegration had proceeded apace.

We must not, however, convey the impression that domestic industry in
1842 had all but vanished from the countryside. In its ancient
strongholds it still endures, but it is in an unhealthy condition, and
the towns are sucking its life-blood away.

To illustrate this, let us describe the course of a boom in domestic
industry and study how the trade boom of 1833-7 reached through to the
country silk weavers in Essex and other places all around London. The
terms which we usually apply to the cultivation of land are apposite.
The town workers represent the intensive margin of cultivation, the
country workers the extensive margin. First of all the Spitalfield
weavers, who have been short of work, have more work given to them. The
weavers' wives also get work, and their boys and girls who never were on
a loom before are now put to the trade. Fresh hands are introduced. From
the Metropolis the demand for labour pushes outwards over the country.
Recourse is had to 'inferior soils'. Old weavers in the villages get
work, together with their wives and families. Even farm labourers are
impressed. Blemishes for which at other times deductions would be
claimed are now over-looked. Carts are sent round to the villages and
hamlets with work for the weavers, so that time may not be lost in going
to the warehouses to take back or carry home work. Then comes the ebb:
'the immediate effect is that all the less skilful workmen, the
dissolute and disorderly, are denied work; the third and fourth looms,
those worked by the sons and daughters of the weavers, are all thrown
out of use'. The intensiveness of cultivation has been reduced in the
towns, the least remunerative no longer pays.

The ebb of the tide, which reduces the quantity of employment in the
towns, leaves the country districts high and dry. 'At such times the
country towns and villages to which work is liberally sent, when there
is a demand for goods, suffer still more. A staff or skeleton only is
kept in pay, and that chiefly with a view to operations when a demand
returns.'[35] A skeleton--well said.

Occasional cultivation is bad for land, and worse for human beings. The
ribbon-weaving villages north of Coventry are a disorderly eruption from
the town. Coventry itself has the better-paid 'engine weaving'; the
rural districts have the 'single hand trade'. The country workers, say
the Commissioners, 'retain most of their original barbarism with an
accession of vice'. The yokels who went out to the French wars innocent
boys returned confirmed rogues. Bastardy is greater than ever, despite
the new Poor Law. 'It may surprise the denouncers of the factory system
to find all the vices and miseries which they attribute to it,
flourishing so rankly in the midst of a population not only without the
walls of a factory, but also beyond the contamination of a large
town.'[36] It may have surprised such people, but it does not surprise
us who are surveying the industrial scene and beginning to apprehend the
rottenness of that worm-eaten structure which under the misnomer of
domestic industry marks the half-way house to full capitalism.

4. Let us now journey to the factory districts of Lancashire and the
West Riding of Yorkshire where town lies close upon town, and the tall
chimneys envelop in smoke the cottages in which hand-loom weavers work
and the children of hand-loom weavers sleep. Let us suppose that we have
found our position by Leeds. We should like to follow the track of the
new railroads, for we have in our pocket a small green book:

  'Bradshaw's Railway Time Tables and Assistant to
                  Railway Travelling'.

  '10th Mo. 19th, 1839.         Price Sixpence.'

Bradshaw tells us that we can get from Littleborough to Manchester in 11
hours--via Rochdale, Heywood, and Millshill--but it is not clear how we
are to get to Littleborough. So we follow an alternative route, the
canal. It is a fashionable method of transit for mineral traffic and
paupers. Mr. Muggeridge, the emigration agent, tells us how he
transported the southern paupers in 1836. 'The journey from London to
Manchester was made by boat or waggon, the agents assisting the
emigrants on their journey.'[37] When we got up our geography for the
tour out of Thomas Dugdale's 'England and Wales' this is what we read at
every turn: 'Keighley: in the deep valley of the Aire, its prosperity
had been much increased by the Leeds and Liverpool Canal which passes
within two miles.' 'Skipton: in a rough mountainous district. The trade
has been greatly facilitated by the proximity of the town to the Leeds
and Liverpool Canal.' So the Leeds and Liverpool canal shall be our

We leave Bradford, Halifax, and the worsted districts to the left of us,
and passing by Shipley, approach the cotton district near the Lancashire
border. 'The township of Shipley is the western-most locality of the
Leeds clothing districts; it runs like a tongue into the worsted
district. In like manner the worsted district blends with the cotton
district at Steeton, Silsden, and Addingham.' We are passing, the
Commissioner tells us, from high wages to low. 'The cloth weavers of
Shipley work for wages little, if any, higher than those of the worsted
weavers; while the worsted weavers north-west of Keighley are reduced
down to the cotton standard.'[38]

At Keighley we bend sharply south and soon reach Colne in Lancashire.
Dr. Cook Taylor describes the conditions there in the early part of

     'I visited eighty-eight dwellings, selected at hazard. They were
     destitute of furniture save old boxes for tables or stalls, or
     even large stones for chairs; the beds are composed of straw and
     shavings. The food was oatmeal and water for breakfast, flour and
     water, with a little skimmed milk for dinner, oatmeal and water
     again for a second supply.' He actually saw children in the
     markets grubbing for the rubbish of roots. And yet, 'all the
     places and persons I visited were scrupulously clean. Children
     were in rags, but they were not in filth. In no single instance
     was I asked for relief.... I never before saw poverty which
     inspired respect, and misery which demanded involuntary homage.'

From Colne we journey to Accrington. Of its 9,000 inhabitants not more
than 100 were fully employed. Numbers kept themselves alive by
collecting nettles and boiling them. Some were entirely without food
every alternate day, and many had but one meal in the day and that a
poor one.[39]

Our last stage is Burnley, where the weavers--to quote again from Dr.
Cook Taylor--'were haggard with famine, their eyes rolling with that
fierce and uneasy expression common to maniacs. "We do not want
charity," they said, "but employment." I found them all Chartists, but
with this difference, that the block-printers and hand-loom weavers
united to their Chartism a hatred of machinery which was far from being
shared by the factory operatives.'

What a comment on England's industrial supremacy--England with her
virtual monopoly of large-scale manufacture in Europe! It must have been
a puzzle, too, for the Poor Law Commissioners, who were then building
workhouses in these parts for the purpose of depauperizing hand-loom
weavers on the less eligibility principle.

But how was it, with such a Poor Law, that the hand-loom weavers did not
die of starvation by the thousand? If we enter a cotton mill we shall
see why. Within these gaunt walls, which are illumined at night by
sputtering gas-light, the factory children work, earning twice as much
as their parents, who were too old and too respectable to become factory

By this time, perhaps, it is evening, but this matters nothing to the
'melancholy mad engines', which feed on water or burning coals. The
young people will still be there, with eight hours work to their credit
and more to do--'kept to work by being spoken to or by a little

'I have seen them fall asleep,' said an over-looker in 1833, 'and they
have been performing their work with their hands while they were asleep,
after the Billy had stopped. Put to bed with supper in their hands, they
were clasping it next morning, when their parents dragged them out of
bed. Half asleep they stumbled or were carried to the mill, to begin
again the ceaseless round.'

'It keeps them out of mischief', said the opponents of shorter hours.
Besides, the conditions were no worse than any other industries! Factory
work, however, as the doctors show, was different from work in the
mines. The heat and confinement of the mill caused precocious sexual
development, whilst in the mines the result of exaggerated muscular
development was to delay maturity.

In 1842 conditions are better than they were in 1833--thanks to the
factory inspectors. There is little positive cruelty, and the sight of
deformity--enlarged ankle bones, bow legs, and knock knees, caused by
excessive standing as a child--is rare. The problem now is one of
industrial fatigue. The children are 'sick-tired'.

5. The Midlands of Leicestershire, Notts, and Derbyshire are a region of
red bricks and pantiles, dotted over valleys of exquisite green. So let
us leave the smoke of Lancashire and hover here for a while. Here dwell
the stocking workers or frame-work knitters--the people who knit on
frames stockings, gloves, and other articles of hosiery. It does not
look like a region of industry. There are only a few towns, such as
Nottingham, Leicester, and Loughborough; and except for a few lace
factories in Nottingham, large buildings are rare. The town knitters
either work in their own homes or in shops with standings for perhaps as
many as fifty frames. In the villages the knitting is nearly all done in
the cottages, opposite long low windows, or in a small out-house which
might well be a fowl-house.

But in the streets of Leicester we can see 'life' of a sort. We can
watch the procession to the pawnbrokers. Some of the knitters pawn their
blankets for the day, and most lodge their Sunday clothing during the
week. Says a Leicester pawnbroker:

     'We regularly pay away from £40 to £50 (to some 300 persons)
     every Monday morning or on the Tuesday. They will, perhaps, wash
     on the Monday and get their linen clean preparatory to the next
     Sunday, and in the course of the week they bring all the linen
     things they can spare. Friday is the worst; they will then bring
     their small trifling articles, such as are scarcely worth a
     penny, and we lend on them, to enable them to buy a bit of meat
     or a few trifles for dinner.'[41]

They are too poor to indulge in church-going or alcohol. They have no
clothes to go to church in. Their publican is the druggist, where they
buy opium for themselves and Godfrey's cordial, a preparation from
laudanum, for their children. In the whole of Leicester, with its
population of 50,000, there are but nine gin-houses. And only on Sundays
do they get a bit of schooling. 'We have only one bit of a cover lid to
cover the five of us in winter ... we are all obliged to sleep in one

A frame smith, making his usual inspection of hosiers' frames at
workmen's dwellings in Nottingham, after thus spending a fortnight,
found his health had begun to suffer from the squalid wretchedness of
their abodes. Thinking to improve it, he went on the same errand into
the country, but found the frame-work knitters there in a still more
deplorable state. From the bad air and other distressing influences in
their condition and that of their dwellings, in another fortnight he
returned, too ill to attend to his business for some weeks afterwards.
This occurred in 1843.[43]

Nottingham, however, with its up-to-date lace trade was usually better
off than this. The lace factories, like the cotton mills in Lancashire,
eased the position of the hand-workers. In Leicestershire the knitters
had no such alternative. The more their earnings were reduced, the more
helplessly they were bound to their only trade.

6. 1842 is a long while ago! Let us go to sleep for thirty years and
wake up in 1871, when the Truck Commissioners are publishing their

West of Birmingham lies the black country, an area of some twenty square
miles. Here, if we have read the evidence of the Truck Commissioners, we
can interpret a dumb-show in Dudley, where the nail-makers dwell.

On Monday mornings the nail-maker emerges from a small hovel containing
a smithy and walks into Dudley to call on a gentleman known as a fogger,
a petty-fogger if he is a middleman, a market-fogger if he is a master.
The nailer comes out with a bundle of metal which he takes to a second
house and changes for a second bundle of metal, and with this he walks
away. (The next nailer, not so lucky, hangs about till Wednesday
morning, waiting for his metal.) On Saturday the nailer comes back with
his nails, enters the fogger's shop, and emerges with 12_s._ in his
hand. But he does not go home. He slips into a shop close by and parts
company with the shillings. In return he gets a parcel, the contents of
which are obviously displeasing to him. What has happened?

The nailer is a Government servant. But the Government only employs him
indirectly. It puts out contracts for rivets and nails to contractors
who sublet their contract, so that the work reaches the nailer at third
or fourth hand. The Government, in the interest of public economy
(Victorian England is famous for retrenchment), gives its contract to
the lowest tenderer; and the policy of the lowest tender is responsible
for the dumb-show we have watched.

To begin with, the nailer gets metal which does not suit him, so he has
to change it, and this he does at the price of 2_d._ per 10_d._ bundle,
at a metal changers, a relative of the fogger. (His friend who has to
wait till Wednesday for his bundle is kept idling about in order that
he may drink what is left of last week's earnings at a 'wobble shop'
which is owned by yet another branch of the family of fogger.)

When the nailer and his family have worked fourteen hours a day
throughout the week, the nailer returns on Saturday with the nails, and
receives 12_s._ for them. These shillings he takes to the fogger's store
and exchanges for tea and other articles. The shillings are 'nimble'; we
commend the rapidity of their circulation to Mr. Irving Fisher. A fogger
who pays out the shillings from his warehouse receives them back again
in a few minutes over the counter of his store. 'He will perhaps reckon
with seven or eight at one time, and when he has reckoned with them, and
perhaps paid them six, seven, or eight pounds, he will wait until they
have gone to the shop and taken the money there as they leave the
warehouse. Then he goes into the shop himself for it, as he cannot go on
paying without it.'[44]

But surely this is truck! Certainly not. There may be 'fearful cheating'
with tea, but the nailer is not bound to go there. He is perfectly free.
The only trouble is this: it is a case of tea or no work the week
following. This is why, despite the Truck Act of 1831 and despite the
known existence of the abuse, these practices are rife among the nailers
as late as 1871, the year in which the Truck Commissioners issued the
Report from which this scene is compiled. The plight of the nailers is
not the plight of factory operatives or miners; it is the plight of the
frame-work knitters, of men who are bound by the intangible fetters of
economic need to the uncontrollable devil of 'semi-capitalism'.


1. Coal was king of the nineteenth century. The first steam-engine was
built to pump water out of coal mines, the first canal was cut to carry
the Duke of Bridgwater's coal from Worsley to Manchester. The first
railroads were laid around Newcastle to convey the coals from the pit
mouth to the river. George Stephenson, the inventor of the locomotive,
began life as a trapper on a Tyneside colliery.

Where would English industry have been without its king? In 1780 (in
round figures) 5,000,000 tons of coal were raised in the United Kingdom:
in 1800, 10,000,000; in 1865, 100,000,000; and in 1897, 200,000,000.
Coal enticed the cotton factories from the dales of the Pennines to the
moist lowlands of West Lancashire. At every stage of their work the
iron-makers depended on coal; and the great inventions in the iron and
steel industry are land-marks in the expansion of the demand for
coal--Cort's puddling process 1783, Watt's steam-engine 1785, Neilson's
hot blast 1824, Naysmith's steam-hammer 1835, Bessemer's steel-converter
1855, Siemen's open hearth 1870, Thomas' basic process for the treatment
of highly phosphoric ores 1878. The steamship, a novelty in 1820, ruled
the seas in 1870; and ironclads followed steamships. The smokeless
steam-coal of South Wales guarded the heritage of Trafalgar. By the end
of the nineteenth century, coaling stations were an important item in
international politics.

Meanwhile, the people of England, heedless of Malthusian forebodings,
multiplied exceedingly. They lighted their streets and buildings with
coal-gas, and burnt coal in their grates. With coal they paid for the
food and raw materials from other lands. Imports of food and raw
materials were offset by exports of coal and of textiles and hardware
produced by coal. The spirit of invention has pushed on to electricity
and oil, but coal is still the pivot of English industry and commerce.
And therefore, seeing that coal has meant all this to England, let us
look at the men who raised the coal. How did they live, what did they
think about, what did they count for then, what do they count for now?

2. In 1800 the miners stood for nothing in the nation's life. In
Scotland they had just been emancipated from the status of villeinage.
In Northumberland and Durham they were tied by yearly bonds. Elsewhere
they were weak and isolated. In 1825 a 'Voice from the coal mines of the
Tyne and Wear' cried: 'While working men in general are making 20_s._ to
30_s._ per week (_sic_) the pitmen here are only making 13_s._ 6_d._ and
from this miserable pittance deductions are made.'[45]

In 1839, during the Chartist disturbances, a Welsh M.P. wrote to the
Home Secretary begging for barracks and troops: 'A more lawless set of
men than the colliers and miners do not exist ... it requires some
courage to live among such a set of savages.'[46] When the miners came
out in 1844, there were thousands of cottages tenantless in
Northumberland and Durham. For the colliery proprietors owned the
cottages, and when the miners struck evicted them. So the miners set up
house in the streets. 'In one lane ... a complete new village was built,
chests-of-drawers, deck beds, etc., formed the walls of the new dwelling;
and the top covered with canvas or bedclothes as the case might be.'[47]
Yet, for all their griminess, they had human hearts and voices. During
the strike they obtained permission to hold a meeting at Newcastle; and
the wealthy citizens who made their fortunes out of the coal trade
trembled before the invasion of black barbarians. But the meeting passed
off in rain and peace. Thirty thousand miners marched in procession,
'for near a mile flags in breeze, men walking in perfect order'; and as
they marched, they sang, as only miners sing, songs and hymns and
topical ditties:

    'Stand fast to your Union
      Brave sons of the mine,
    And we'll conquer the tyrants
      Of Tees, Wear, and Tyne!'

Up and down the Durham coalfields tramped a misguided agitator (in after
life the veteran servant of the Durham Miners' Association), by name
Tommy Ramsey. With bills under his arm and crake in hand, he went from
house-row to house-row calling the miners out. He had only one message:

    'Lads, unite and better your condition.
    When eggs are scarce, eggs are dear;
    When men are scarce, men are dear.'[48]

Such blasphemy appalled the Government's Commissioners. But the miners
had a zest for religion as well as for strikes. During the strike of
1844, 'frequent meetings were held in their chapels (in general those of
the Primitive Methodists or Ranters as they are commonly called in that
part of the country), where prayers were publicly offered up for the
successful result of the strike.' They attended their prayer meeting 'to
get their faith strengthened'.[49]

Such ignorance could only be cured by education. Some worthy members of
society had already recognized the fact. In 1830 a Cardiff 'Society for
the improvement of the working population in the county of Glamorgan'
issued improving pamphlets:

No. 9. Population, or Patty's Marriage.

No. 10. The Poor's Rate, or the Treacherous Friend.

No. 11. Foreign Trade, or the Wedding Gown.[50]

But the northern miners were perverse people. In Scotland, according to
one Wesleyan minister,[51] the miners read Adam Smith. In
Northumberland, with still greater perversity, they preferred Plato. 'A
translation of Plato's _Ideal Republic_ is much read among those
classes, principally for the socialism and unionism it contains; in pure
ignorance, of course, that Plato himself subsequently modified his
principles and that Aristotle showed their fallacy.'[52]

3. The Royal Commission of 1842 on the Employment and Condition of
Children and Young Persons in Mines disclosed facts which made Cobdenite
England gasp. The worst evidence came from Lancashire, Cheshire, the
West Riding of Yorkshire, East Scotland, and South Wales. In these
districts juvenile labour was cheap and plentiful; and this was an
irresistible argument for its employment, though the miners themselves
disliked it. The meddlesome restrictions on the factories were a
contributory cause. Parents, it was said in Lancashire, were pushing
their children into colliery employment at an earlier age because of the
legal restrictions upon sending them to the neighbouring factories.

A Lancashire woman said in evidence:

     'I have a belt round my waist and a chain passing between my
     legs, and I go on my hands and feet.... The pit is very wet where
     I work and the water comes over our clog tops always, and I have
     seen it up to my thighs.... I have drawn till I have had the skin
     off me; the belt and chain is worse when we are in the family

The children's office was a lonesome one. Children hate the dark, but
being little they fitted into a niche, and so they were used to open and
close the trap-doors. A trapper lad from the county of Monmouth, William
Richards, aged seven-and-a-half, said in evidence:

     'I been down about three years. When I first went down, I could
     not keep my eyes open; I don't fall asleep now; I smokes my pipe,
     smokes half a quartern a week.'[54]

Except in the northern mining districts, where there were good day and
Sunday schools and Methodism was powerful, a pagan darkness prevailed.
As a Derbyshire witness put it:

     'When the boys have been beaten, knocked about, and covered with
     sludge all the week, they want to be in bed all day to rest on

In the hope of startling a religiously-minded England, the Commissioners
reproduced examples of working-class ignorance. James Taylor, aged

     'Has heard of hell in the pit, when the men swore; has never
     heard of Jesus Christ; has never heard of God; he has heard the
     men in the pit say, "God damn thee ".'

A Yorkshire girl, aged eighteen, said:

     'I do not know who Jesus Christ was; I never saw him, but I have
     seen Foster, who prays about him.'[56]

4. Just as in the East Midlands the frame-work knitters worked for
middlemen or master middlemen, and just as the Dudley nailers worked for
petty-foggers and market-foggers, so too the Staffordshire miners worked
for 'butties'. Here again the workers were exposed to the petty
tyrannies of semi-capitalism; and here again the middlemen, in this case
the butties, incurred the odium of a system for which their superiors,
the coal-owners and coal-masters, were responsible.

Why the butty system prevailed in the Midlands--and in a modified form
it prevails to-day--is not clear. In some places it seems to be
connected with the smallness of the mining concerns or of the metal
trades which they supplied. In South Staffordshire a contributing factor
was the ancient and allied industry of nail-making.

The conditions in South Staffordshire in 1843 are fully described in the
Midland Mining Commission of that year.

The butty was a contractor who engaged with the proprietor or lessee of
the mine to deliver the coal or iron-stone at so much per ton, himself
hiring the labourers, using his own horses, and supplying the tools
requisite for the working of the mine. The contract price was known as
the 'charter price' or 'charter'. Thus by a freak of language the
Staffordshire miner knew by the same word the 'butty's charter' which
was the symbol of his oppression, and the 'people's charter' which was
the goal of his desire.

'The butties', said the miners and their wives, 'are the devil: they are
negro drivers: they play the vengeance With the men.'[57] The men
kicked when, after working a couple of hours, they were fetched up,
without pay, on the excuse that there were no waggons to take away the
coal. But the butty comforted them with a bottle of pit drink, and all
was smooth again.

A collier related a case where 'a pike man had worked only one half-day
in the week and got 2_s._ for it, and because he did not spend 6_d._ of
this at the butty's shop, the latter told the doggy (the under man) to
let the man play for it.'[58]

The miners recognized that often the butty was not to blame. In the
district north and east of Dudley, the butties got their 'charter price'
from the coal-owners in the form of tickets on the coal-owners'
truck-shop. What else could they do but hand them on to the men? 'He
used to be a very good butty,' said one miner's wife, 'till they haggled
him and dropped his "charter", so that he cannot pay his men.'[59]

West and south of Dudley the butties, though they did not truck their
men, kept public-houses; and being employer and publican in one, they
had a tight hold on the men.

Was the compulsion to drink an oppression? To our minds, yes; as also to
the minds of the teetotal Chartists whom the Government imprisoned, and
of the strike leaders whom the Government's Commissioners denounced. But
to the majority of the miners the abundance of beer was a delight. They
objected to the butty's bullying, but they loved his beer, especially
the feckless ones, for when wives were importunate the drunkards pleaded

However, all the beer-drinking could not be charged to the butties. The
miners themselves, in their own fellowships, were devoted to it; and
the compulsion of friends was as severe as the compulsion of butties.
Every approach to recreation, every act of mutual providence against
accident or disease, began and ended in beer. The day a man entered the
pit's company, he paid 1_s._ for footing-ale, and the doggy saw that no
churl escaped. When a lad was old enough to have a sweetheart he was
toasted with the 'nasty' shilling. The sins of the married men were
washed away in half-a-crown's worth of ale. The beer-shop was the
head-quarters of the Burial and Savings Clubs. The first charge on a
Burial Club was a good oak coffin, the second charge drinks for the
pall-bearers, and then a glass or two for the rest of the company.

They had lotteries to which each man contributed 20 fortnightly
shillings. Each week a name was drawn, and the lucky man stood a feast;
while every member, in addition to a shilling for the box, produced
6_d._ for drinks.

In all these festivities the butty was in the offing. When they would
have him he presided; and so at his worst an obnoxious bully, at his
best he was an accommodating landlord.

Direct employment, such as prevailed in the north of England, would have
averted much of this evil. There were no structural difficulties in the
way of change. Direct employment would not have meant a change to
another class of work (this is what direct employment meant for knitters
and hand-loom weavers). The butty system existed and persisted through
slackness and irresponsibility. The owners paid compensation for
accidents, when they might have diminished the number of accidents. They
paid commissions to middlemen with whom they might have dispensed. The
system made temperance impossible for the individual; and the masters,
with the full approval of the Government, did their best to destroy the
'pernicious combinations' by which alone a standard of sober decency
could be promoted.

5. The Report of the Truck Commissioners (1871-2) enables us to complete
the picture. It also enables us to understand why, at this late day,
truck was still rife in certain districts.

Truck and Tommy, truck-shop and Tommy-shop, are convertible terms. Truck
is from the French 'troc' = barter. Cobbett tells us how the word
'Tommy' was used. In his soldiering days the rations of brown bread,
'for what reason God knows', went by the name of Tommy. 'When the
soldiers came to have bread served out to them in the several towns in
England, the name of Tommy went down by tradition, and, doubtless, it
was taken up and adapted to the truck-system in Staffordshire and
elsewhere.'[60] From the textile districts it had all but disappeared in
1871. When the cotton manufactures went to outlying dales for water
power, they were almost compelled to open stores for their workpeople.
Owen's store at New Lanark was, in effect, a well-managed truck-shop;
and the Truck Commissioners of 1871 reported that the New Lanark Company
of that day was breaking the law. But when the cotton industry was
gathered in the towns, the need for company stores ceased. Consequently,
after the passing of the Act of 1831, which prohibited truck altogether,
the masters very generally abolished the stores of their own accord; and
survivals were jealously watched.

A collection of Factory Scraps, preserved at the Goldsmiths' Library in
London, contains a copy of the Factory Bill of 1833, with some pencil
notes in Ostler's handwriting which run:

     _Cragg Dale Facts_

     _Truck System_: Little altered: men knew they were imposed. They
     pay in money now--but compel them to buy at their own shops....
     Wholesale warehouses at Rochdale say, 'Oh! put it sideways: it
     will do for Cragg Dale masters to sell among their people.'

     _Song_: 'Lousy butter and burnt bread.'

About 1842 a curious perversion of truck was prevalent in parts of
Yorkshire. The trade depression in the Bradford district tempted
disreputable woollen manufacturers to force on their operatives the
products of the factory as part payment of wages. Combers were given
pieces of cloth, workers in shoddy mills bundles of rags. But this
utterly inexcusable fraud, no less than its more specious complement,
the employer's store, was rooted out by inspectors and factory
reformers. Therefore in 1854 the Government's Commissioner was able to
say that in a factory district like Lancashire truck was not only
non-existent but 'impossible'.[61]

He was right as to the factory districts, but not quite right as to
Lancashire. In Prescot, a small Lancashire town on the fringe of the
factory district, the watchmakers in 1871 were being paid in watches.
The masters alleged that they only gave watches to the workers when the
latter had orders for them, but the evidence showed that these orders
only came to hand when the men were asking for fresh work. The
pawnbrokers explained what happened. 'Watches', said a pawnbroker's
clerk, 'pass from hand to hand as a circulating medium until they get
very low in the market and are pawned.'[62] The pawnshop in question
had 700 watches on pledge, most of them belonging to workmen in the

In railway contracting truck was prevalent in the forties. In roving
employment of this type it is difficult to see how some form of
contractor's shop could have been avoided. The navvy needed canteens or
Y.M.C.A. huts, but such things had not been thought of then. However,
when the big period of railway construction came to an end, the question
lost its importance.

South Staffordshire and the Black Country were the ancient strongholds
of truck. The campaigns against truck originated here. The nailers, the
cash-paying masters, and the respectable ratepayers joined together to
promote the Truck Act of 1820. Lord Hatherton, a Staffordshire nobleman,
after three years hammering at the House of Commons, obtained the Truck
Act of 1831. But in 1843, the year of the Midland Mining Commission,
truck was still rife in the coalfields. The well-known Tommy-shop scene
in Disraeli's novel _Sybil_, which was published in 1845, is taken
direct from the Commissioners' Report. Diggs, the butty of the novel, is
Banks, the coal proprietor of the Report. In the novel the people say of
Master Joseph Diggs, the son: 'He do swear at the women, when they rush
in for the first turn, most fearful; they do say he's a shocking little
dog.' In the Report, page 93, the miner's wife says: 'He swears at the
women when the women are trying to crush in. He is a shocking little
dog.' One touch is Disraeli's own. He makes the miners keen to purchase
'the young Queen's picture'. 'If the Queen would do something for us
poor men, it would be a blessed job.' In the Report there is nothing
about this, but there is a section dealing with Chartism.

However, the truck-shop was gradually disappearing. Every year it
became easier to expose evasions, and in good times the workers used
their prosperity to slip away from the Company store. In 1850 a final
campaign was initiated by five local Anti-Truck Associations, backed by
the National Miners' Association under Alexander MacDonald.
Truck-masters were prosecuted and truck was steadily dislodged from the
coalfields and adjacent ironworks. Only in the nail trade did it
survive, for the reason that the complete subjection of the nailers made
it possible to practise the essentials of truck without a formal
violation of the law.

In the remaining colliery districts in 1871 truck was prevalent only in
West Scotland and South Wales.

In West Scotland it was yielding ground before the pressure of the
unions. The companies only maintained it by active coercion. If a miner
held out for money, they had to yield; and if they were malicious, they
marked him as a sloper and dismissed him the first when a depression
came. 'Black lists', said the Truck Commissioners, 'are often kept of
slopers; threats of dismissal were repeatedly proved; and cases of
actual dismissal for not dealing at the store are not rare.'[63]
However, the masters themselves were getting tired of it, since it led
so frequently to strikes.

Truck in South Staffordshire was bound up with the butty system; in
railway construction with the system of contracting and sub-contracting,
and similarly in South Wales, as also in the west of Scotland, it was
bound up with and dependent on the system of long pays. In order to
carry on from one pay day to the next, the men got advances on the
company's store. In this way many lived permanently ahead of their
wages. The thriftless and drunkards were always 'advance men, but the
provident miners hated it and only dealt there on compulsion'.

The Commissioners drew a vivid picture of Turn Book morning in South
Wales at the close of the pay month.

At 1 or 2 a.m. the women and children begin to arrive with their Advance
Books. Perhaps one hundred would be there, wet or fine, sleeping on the
doorsteps or singing ballads until morning.

At 5.30 a.m. the doors opened, and the waiters made a rush for the
counter. Advance Books were produced, and goods handed over up to the
amount of wages which would shortly fall due. Women took their pick of
the articles, groceries, tobacco, occasionally a few shillings.

     'It is quite usual', say the Commissioners, 'for shoemakers and
     other small tradesmen in the neighbourhood of Abersychan to be
     paid by the workmen in goods.... Tobacco in several districts of
     South Wales has become nothing less than a circulating medium. It
     is bought by the men and resold by them for drink, and finds its
     way back again to some of the Company's shops. Packets of tobacco
     pass unopened from hand to hand. An Ebbw Vale grocer who took the
     Company's tobacco at a discount declared: "For years, when they
     were selling it for 1_s._ 4_d._ a lb. I used to give 1_s._; but I
     was so much over-flooded with it that I was obliged to reduce the
     price to 11_d._ That would not do still, and I had to reduce it
     to 10_d._ I told the men to take it to some other shop if they
     could get 11_d._ or 1_s._ for it. I was obliged to do that many a
     time, in order to get rid of the large stocks I held in hand.
     Tobacco will not keep for many months without getting worse."'

Weekly pays, therefore, were the constant demand of the miners' unions.
In Northumberland and Durham, whence truck had disappeared long ago,
pays were fortnightly, and the only objection advanced by the owners
against weekly pays was the practical inconvenience of the pressure on
the pay staff. In the North of England Iron Trade, weekly pays, the
Commissioners found, had just been introduced. In West Scotland some of
the coal-owners were trying to recoup themselves for the loss of their
truck-shop by charging poundage on the men's wages. But this dodge, like
the bigger grievance of truck, was stoutly resisted by the local union.
Indeed, in one coalfield after another the disappearance of truck and
kindred evils coincides with the appearance of strong County Unions.

6. We are given to understand that the miners of South Wales insist on
economics written by sound labour men. We therefore offer them a few
suggestions for a history of the currency in the nineteenth century from
the worker's point of view.

     i. In 1800 London relied for small coin on private enterprise.
     Every week the Jews' boys collected from the shopkeepers their
     bad shillings, buying them at a heavy discount, with serviceable
     copper coin forged in Birmingham (_vide_ Patrick Colquhoun, _A
     Treatise on the Police of the Metropolis_, 1800, Chapter VII).
     The resumption of cash payments in 1819 was injurious; for owing
     to the shortage of small coin, the wage-earners were paid in bulk
     with large notes, which they had to split at the nearest
     public-house. The Truck Act of 1831 prohibited wage-payments in
     notes on Banks more than 15 miles distant, but said nothing about
     cheques--an oversight which the capitalists repeated in their
     Bank Act of 1844.

     ii. The general dissatisfaction with the state of the currency
     led to attempts to dispense with coin. About 1830 Labour
     Exchanges were opened in London for the exchange of goods against
     time notes, representing one or more hours of labour. The
     originator was Robert Owen, and the failure of the Exchanges was
     probably due to the fact that Owen was at heart a capitalist.
     The National Equitable Labour Exchange at one time was doing a
     business of over 20,000 hours per week, but very shortly after
     this, the President (Owen) had to report a serious deficiency of
     hours, many thousands having been mislaid or stolen. The Exchange
     in consequence had to close its doors.

     iii. In the 'forties the centre of interest is the Midlands, and
     the period may be termed the Staffordshire or beer period. The
     currency was very popular and highly liquid, but it was issued to
     excess and difficult to store. More solid surrogates were
     therefore tried. A Bilston pawnbroker[64] said that he had in
     pawn numerous batches of flour, which the men's wives had brought
     from the Truck Shops and turned into money, in order to pay their
     house-rents. Flour, however, was not so hard as a Prescot watch.

     iv. We come next to the Welsh or Tobacco period, when the
     currency was easily transferable, but liable to deterioration.

     v. Finally, in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the
     world of labour attained to a cash basis, and there was no
     Cobbett to denounce the resumption.

We shall not be guilty of serious exaggeration if we preface our history
with the motto:

'_In the nineteenth century the Trade Unions and the Trade Unions alone
made the nominal earnings of the working man a cash reality_.'


1. The student of Dicey's Law and Opinion in England is invited to
distinguish three periods:

     i. The period of old Toryism or legislative quiescence (1800-38).

     ii. The period of Benthamism or individualism (1825-70).

     iii. The period of collectivism (1865-1900).

Bentham lived during the first period and his name is rightly given to
the second period.

The student, therefore, comes to wonder if there is anything which is
not Benthamism. Benthamism, he says to himself, stands for
individualism. How then can the period of Benthamism include the
humanitarian legislation which begins with the first Factory Act of 1802
and broadens out during the middle of the century into the elaborate
code regulating from then onwards the conditions of employment in
workshops, factories, and mines? How can a monster beget an angel?

We may perhaps throw light on this difficulty by suggesting that the
_social_ trend from 1825-70 cannot be compressed into a single word.
Individualism may suffice to define the dominant _legal_ trend, but it
conceals the influence exerted on the legislature from without and from
below by the action of voluntary associations. The period of voluntary
association coincides with and overlaps the period of individualism.

2. What Bentham was to individualism, Robert Owen was to voluntary
association. Bentham himself was an admirer of Owen and supported his
philanthropy, but, as expressions of a social attitude, Benthamism and
Owenism were poles asunder. The contrast between the two is admirably
displayed in the evidence given before the Factory Committee of 1816 by
two representatives of the employing class, Josiah Wedgwood of pottery
fame and Robert Owen himself.

'In the state of society,' said Wedgwood, 'in which there is evidently a
progressive movement, it is much better to leave things as they are than
to attempt to amend the general state of things in detail. The only
safe way of securing the comfort of any people is to leave them at
liberty to make the best use of their time, and to allow them to
appropriate their earnings in such way as they think fit.'[65]

Robert Owen thought otherwise. In a couple of answers he exposed the
fallacy of enlightened self-interest. They seem obvious enough to-day,
but in 1816 they were the voice of one crying in the wilderness. He was
asked whether he believed that 'there is that want of affection and
feeling on the part of parents, that would induce them to exact from
their children more labour than they could perform without injury to
their health;' and he replied:

'I do not imagine that there is the smallest difference between the
general affection of the lower order of the people, except with regard
to that which may be produced by the different circumstances in which
they are placed.'[66]

Another question was: 'Do you conceive that it is not injurious to the
manufacturer to hazard, by overwork, the health of the people so
employed?' He replied:

'If those persons were purchased by the manufacturers I should say
decisively, yes; but as they are not purchased by the manufacturer and
the country must bear all the loss of their strength and their energy{;}
it does not appear, at first sight, to be the interest of the
manufacturer to do so.'[67]

Owen had grasped the meaning of social responsibility, and he devoted
his life to social service. But he was too wayward to observe the
conventions of society, and passed beyond the social pale. The factory
reformer became the Socialist. Whether his disciples comprehended his
philosophy we may doubt, but he understood better than any one else
their instinct for association, and he gratified it.

It is not contended that Owen was responsible for all the associative
effort of his generation; for with political and religious associations
he had no sympathy. But the spirit which infected him infected others
after him, rousing them to associate now for this, and now for that
social or religious or political purpose.

3. We may divide associations for social purposes into two classes.

To the first class belong associations formed to secure the abolition of
some abuse. These naturally disappear when their object is attained.

For example, there was the Anti-slavery Campaign in which Joseph Sturge
and other Quakers played so prominent a part. By an organized crusade of
political education the Abolitionists induced an originally hostile
Parliament to emancipate the West Indian negroes in 1833, and to shorten
the period of semi-servile apprenticeship in 1838. Yorkshire was the
home of the Short Time Committees, which organized the campaign against
White Slavery at home. The Ten Hours Movement caused the Ten Hours Bill
to become the law of the land. From Lancashire came the Anti-Corn Law
League, whose story is told in another chapter.

The second class of association was the association for economic
betterment--the Friendly Society, the Co-operative Society, the Trade
Union. Conceived in enthusiasm and self-inspired, these associations
asked only of the State a legal framework in which to develop, but they
did not win it without struggle and delay.

The Government was anxious to encourage thrift, but the development of
the Friendly Societies was impeded for a time by legislation aimed at
political conspiracy. The Corresponding Societies Act of 1799 prevented
the Friendly Societies from forming a central organization with
branches, and the Dorchester Labourers of 1834 discovered the peril into
which the ritual of oaths might lead innocent men.

These deterrents were removed by enabling legislation. In 1829 a central
authority, the Registrar of Friendly Societies, was appointed to
supervise Friendly Societies, and between 1829 and 1875 further
privileges and safeguards were conferred. But the Friendly Society
Movement throughout the nineteenth century was wholly voluntary. In 1911
the situation was suddenly reversed by the passing of the National
Insurance Act.

The Co-operative Societies were more suspect. They crept into legal
recognition as the children of the Friendly Society, under the 'frugal
investments' clause of the Act of 1846, being compelled by the legal
prejudice against association in restraint of trade to adopt this
unnatural mother. Their real nature was recognized in 1852, when they
were brought under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act, and in
1862, when they were granted the boon of limited liability. But the
accident of their legal origin still survives; for they are regulated
to-day by the Industrial and Provident Societies Act of 1893. The
Co-operative Movement is now drawing closer to politics, following the
lead of most of the continental countries, notably Belgium and Germany.
Though we cannot say that there is any indication of the State taking
over the movement, we may note that the growth of municipal trading in
the 'nineties was, in principle, an application of the consumers'
association to monopolies of distribution such as tramways, water,
electricity, and gas.

The State was altogether hostile to the growth of the Trade Union. The
Charter of Emancipation, won by the guile of Francis Place in 1824, was
severely curtailed in 1825. Huskisson[68] depicted in lurid terms the
tyranny of a military trades unionism, 'representing a systematic union
of the workers of many different trades'. It was a 'kind of federal
republic', whose mischievous operations, if not checked, would keep the
commercial classes 'in constant anxiety and fear about their interests
and property'. Arnold, of Rugby, a decade later wrote of them in the
same strain: 'you have heard, I doubt not, of the trades unions; a
fearful engine of mischief, ready to riot or assassinate; and I see no
counteracting power.'[69]

The counteracting power was their own weakness. The early militancy
burnt itself out, and was succeeded at the turn of the century by a 'New
Spirit and a New Model'. The new spirit was anti-militant, and the new
model was a trade union representing the _élite_ of the skilled trades.
The Amalgamated Society of Engineers was founded in 1850 and served as a
model to the Carpenters, Tailors, Compositors, Iron-founders,
Brick-layers, and others. The Trades Unions were now respectable, and in
1867 the State recognized the fact.

The period of collectivism is denoted by the growth of the Labour Party
in Parliament, and the increasing part played by the State in industrial
disputes and the regulation of wages. The nationalization of railways
and the nationalization of mines are burning questions.

4. In all the movements we have described, the spiritual stimulus, the
initial drive, and the solid successes have been provided by voluntary
association. The State has not been the pioneer of social reform. Such a
notion is the mirage of politicians. It has merely registered the
insistent demands of organized voluntary effort or given legal
recognition to accomplished facts. This is the distinctive note of
English social development in the nineteenth century.


Dicey, _Law and Opinion_.

Robinson, _The Spirit of Association_.

Hovell, _The Chartist Movement_.

Sombart (tr. Epstein), _Socialism and the Socialist Movement_.

[Cd. 9236], _Report of Committee on Trusts_.


[Footnote 20: From the writer's forthcoming book _Life and Labour in the
Nineteenth Century_, to be published by the Cambridge University Press.]

[Footnote 21: Tooke and Newmarch, _History of Prices_, v. 356.]

[Footnote 22: _Commons Committee on Emigration_, 1827, Q. 1761.]

[Footnote 23: _Commons Committee on the Condition of Labourers employed
in the Construction of Railways_, 1846, Q. 866.]

[Footnote 24: Ibid., Q. 217.]

[Footnote 25: Ibid., Q. 897.]

[Footnote 26: Ibid., Q. 733.]

[Footnote 27: Ibid., Q. 193.]

[Footnote 28: Ibid., Qs. 869-78.]

[Footnote 29: _Report of Poor Law Commissioners on the Employment of
Women and Children in Agriculture_ (1843), pp. 20, 25.]

[Footnote 30: Ibid., pp. 299-300.]

[Footnote 31: _Report of Commissioners on the Employment of Young
Persons in Agriculture_, p. 64.]

[Footnote 32: Dr. Cook Taylor, Letter to the _Morning Chronicle_, dated
from Rossendale Forest (Lancashire), June 20, 1842.]

[Footnote 33: _Rural Rides_, i. 219.]

[Footnote 34: _Poor Law Commission of 1834_, Appendix.]

[Footnote 35: _Hand-loom Weavers' Commission, Final Report, 1841_, p.

[Footnote 36: _Hand-loom Weavers' Commission, Assistant-Commissioner's
Report, 1840_, Part IV, pp. 76-81.]

[Footnote 37: _Second Annual Report of the Poor Law Commissioners_,

[Footnote 38: _Hand-loom Weavers' Commission, Assistant-Commissioner's
Report_, Part III, p. 551.]

[Footnote 39: _Anti-bread Tax Circular_, No. 91, June 16, 1842.]

[Footnote 40: _First Report of the Factory Commissioners_, 1833, p. 27.]

[Footnote 41: _Report of Commissioner on the Condition of the Framework
Knitters_ (1845), p. 109.]

[Footnote 42: Ibid., p. 115.]

[Footnote 43: William Felkin, _History of the Machine-wrought Hosiery
and Lace Manufactures_ (1867), p. 458.]

[Footnote 44: _Evidence before the Truck Commissioners_ (1871), Q.

[Footnote 45: Pamphlet of 1825, p. 14.]

[Footnote 46: _Home Office Papers_, 40, Letter from R.J. Blewitt, Esq.,
M.P., November 6, 1839.]

[Footnote 47: Richard Fynes, _Miners of Northumberland and Durham_, p.

[Footnote 48: John Wilson, _History of the Durham Miners' Association_
(1870-1904), p. 40.]

[Footnote 49: _Report of Commissioner on the State of the Mining
Population_ (1846).]

[Footnote 50: These pamphlets are in the British Museum.]

[Footnote 51: _Report of Commissioner on the State of the Mining
Population_ (1850).]

[Footnote 52: Ibid. (1852).]

[Footnote 53: _Royal Commission, First Report_ (_Mines_), p. 27.]

[Footnote 54: Ibid., p. 21.]

[Footnote 55: _Royal Commission, Second Report_ (_Trades and
Manufactures_), p. 147.]

[Footnote 56: Ibid., pp. 155-6.]

[Footnote 57: _Midland Mining Commission, First Report_, p. 34.]

[Footnote 58: Ibid., p. 91.]

[Footnote 59: Ibid., p. 44.]

[Footnote 60: _Rural Rides_, ii. 353.]

[Footnote 61: _Commons Committee, Stoppage of Wages_ (_Hosiery, 1854_).
Evidence of Mr. Tremenheere.]

[Footnote 62: _Evidence before the Truck Commissioners_, Q. 33,670.]

[Footnote 63: _Truck Commission, 1871. Report_, p. 16.]

[Footnote 64: _Commons Committee, Stoppage of Wages in the Hosiery
Manufacture_ (1854), Q. 80.]

[Footnote 65: _Commons Committee of_ 1816, pp. 64 and 73.]

[Footnote 66: Ibid., p. 38.]

[Footnote 67: Ibid., p. 28.]

[Footnote 68: Speech, March 29, 1825.]

[Footnote 69: Letter to the Chevalier Bunsen, 1834, quoted in Strachey,
_Eminent Victorians_, p. 197.]




When a lecture on the progress of Science is given before a conference
concerned largely with historical subjects, it is not inappropriate to
point out that Science has a history of its own and that its progress
makes a connected story. The discovery of new facts is not made in an
isolated fashion, nor is it a matter of pure chance, unaffected by what
has gone before. On the contrary, scientific progress is made step by
step, each new point that is reached forming a basis for further
advances. Even the direction of discovery is not entirely in the
explorer's control; there is always a next step to be taken and a
limited number of possible steps forward from which a choice can be
made. The scientific discoverer has to go in the direction in which his
discoveries lead him. When discoveries have been made it is possible to
think of uses to which they may be put, but in the first instance all
discoveries are made without any knowledge whatever of what use may
afterwards be made of them.

Consequently scientific progress is a quite orderly advance, not a
spasmodic collection of facts, and in the truest sense of the word it
has a history. In order that opportunities for this steady progress may
be provided it is very important that this point should be fully
appreciated. Every one, for example, is vaguely conscious that science
played a great part in the War. As a consequence the number of students
of science has greatly increased; manufacturing firms are awakening to
the fact that they must pay more attention to scientific development
and are founding research laboratories. It is very important that this
awakened attention should be well informed, and for that reason it
cannot be pointed out too often that the scientific work which has been
the basis of all material progress can only be turned to definite
material ends in the last stages of its development. Fundamentally
everything rests on the pure attempt to gain knowledge without any idea
of the use to which it may subsequently be put. Without pure science
there is no applied science at all. It is quite right in my opinion that
the researcher in pure science should have with him the hope that what
he does may one day be of direct benefit to others. But it is probable
that he does not in his own mind confine the idea of possible uses to
such material matters as I have mentioned above and as are so prominent
at present. He believes that his work has a less material side whose
value need not be explained to the present audience.

In the general line of progress it is natural to find that there are
certain broad roads along which the main advance has been directed.
Students of physics and chemistry and the subjects which are allied to
them find that they are in general considering either matter, or
electricity, or energy. I make this classification, not from any
philosophical point of view, but simply for present convenience. The
first important principle to which I would like to draw your attention
is that each of these things can be measured quantitatively. If we
accept the weight of a substance as an indirect measure of the amount of
matter present, then we all know we can express the amount of matter in
any given body in terms of a fundamental unit, like a pound or a gramme;
and the idea has been put to immemorial use. In later years we have
learnt that electricity itself is also a quantity and that the amount of
electricity which stands on an electrified body, or flows past a given
point in an electric conductor, as for example the wire connected to an
electric light, can be expressed arithmetically in terms of some unit.
Instruments are made for the purpose of measuring quantities of
electricity in terms of the legal standard. It is one of the functions
of a Government Institution, like the National Physical Laboratory, to
test such instruments and report on their accuracy. International
conferences have been held for the purpose of reducing these units to as
small a number as possible so that people may be able to trade less
wastefully and more conveniently, so that also the barriers between
peoples may be broken down and the interchange of ideas as well as of
materials may be made more easily. Without an arrangement of this kind
it would be impossible to carry on industrial life in which use is made
of electricity. It would be as difficult as to hold a market without the
use of weights and scales, more difficult, in fact, since anyone can
estimate the size of a piece of cloth or the amount of corn in a sack,
but no one has a natural sense by which he can estimate an amount of

In just the same way energy can be measured as a quantity in terms of a
fundamental unit. The discovery that this was so was made by Joule and
others towards the middle of the nineteenth century, and lit the road
for further advance as a dark street is lit by the sudden turning-up of
the lamps. All modern industry rests on this principle. We are now so
accustomed to the idea that energy is a quantity that we can hardly
realize a time when it was merely a vague term. If we want an
illustration of how thoroughly we have grasped this idea let us remember
that when we pay our electric-light bill we pay so much money for so
many units of energy supplied; for so much energy, let us note, not for
so much electricity, since we take into account not only the actual
amount of electricity driven through our house wires, but also the
magnitude of the force which is there to drive it. Energy exists in many
forms: energy of motion, heat, gravitational energy, chemical energy,
radiation, and so on. In the transformations of energy which are
continually occurring in all natural processes, there is never any
change in the total amount of energy. This is the famous principle of
the Conservation of Energy. Sometimes it is stated in the form
'Perpetual motion is impossible'.

One of the most important forms of energy is radiation. The constant
outpouring by the sun of energy in this form is vital to us. The fact
was obvious long ago and that is one of the reasons why light and heat
have interested students of science in all ages.

There exist then three main subjects of study--matter, electricity, and
energy. These themselves and their mutual relations have been, and are,
the principal objects of interest to the scientific student, and from
our strivings to understand them we have learnt most of what we know.
All three are quantities and all are expressible in terms of units.

Now there is one point which I have thought would especially interest
you. A very remarkable tendency of modern discovery shows more and more
clearly that not only are these things quantities which we can express
in units of our own choosing, but that Nature herself has already chosen
units for them. The natural unit does not, of course, bear any exact
connexion with our own. This being so, it must be of the utmost
importance that we should know what these natural units are and so be
able to understand what Nature is ready to tell us. Nature has chosen to
speak in a certain language; we must get to know that language.

In the first place we know surely that there are natural units of
matter. This was the great discovery made by Dalton in the beginning of
the nineteenth century. When he found that each of the known elements,
such as copper or oxygen or carbon, consisted ultimately of atoms, all
the atoms of any one element being alike, he laid the foundation on
which the huge structure of modern chemistry has been raised. The
chemist takes one or more atoms of one element, one or more of another,
and may be of a third or fourth, and he puts them together into a
compound which we call a molecule. The molecule for example of ordinary
salt contains always one atom of chlorine and one of sodium. Chlorine
and sodium are elements, salt is a compound. Six atoms of carbon and six
of hydrogen put together in a certain way make benzene. In the same way
every substance that we meet is capable of analysis, showing ultimately
the molecules as made up, according to a definite plan, of so many atoms
of the various elements. In analytical chemistry molecules are dissected
in order to discover the mode of their building; in synthetic chemistry
the atoms are put together to make a molecule which is already known to
have, or even may be anticipated to have, certain properties. This is
the work of the chemist. Sometimes enormous forces are concerned in this
pulling apart and putting together, witness the terrific power of modern
explosives. But the same kind of handling by the chemist may be devoted
to the delicate construction of a molecule which gives a certain colour
to the dyer's vat and so pleases the eye that the great cloth industries
feel the consequence, and nations themselves are affected by the flow of
trade. After all, since the processes of the physical world operate
ultimately through the power and properties of molecules, it is not
surprising that the chemist's work in these and numberless other ways
has such tremendous influence in the world.

Here then by the recognition of the units of matter which Nature has
chosen for herself it has been possible to do great things.

It should be observed that the atom, in spite of its name, is not
something which is incapable of all further division; it is only
incapable of retaining its properties on division. When an atom of
radium breaks down in the unique operation during which its singular
properties are manifested, it dies as radium and becomes two atoms, one
of helium, the other of a different and rare substance. It will interest
you to know that the airships of the future are expected to be filled
with this non-inflammable helium.

The discovery of the atomic nature of electricity came later. Faraday
established the fact that in certain processes there was more than a
hint that electricity was always present in multiples of a definite
unit. In the process called electrolysis the electric current is driven
across a cell full of liquid containing molecules of some substance.
When the electricity passes there is a loosening of the bonds that bind
together the atoms of the molecule, and a separation; atoms of one kind
travel with the electricity across the cell and are deposited where the
current leaves the cell; the other kind travel the opposite way. In this
way for example we deposit silver on metal objects in electro-plating
processes, or separate out the purest copper for certain electrical
purposes. The striking thing which Faraday discovered was that the
number of atoms deposited always bore a very simple relation to the
quantity of electricity that passes. The same current passing in
succession through cells containing different kinds of molecules broke
up the same number of molecules in each cell. It was as if in each
electrolytic cell atoms of matter and atoms of electricity travelled
together. The movement of an atom meant the simultaneous movement of a
definite quantity of electricity. Electricity was, so to speak, done up
in little equal parcels, and an atom of matter on the move, which was
termed an ion, or wanderer, carried, not a vaguely defined amount of
electricity, but one of these definite parcels.

It was not, however, until the later years of the nineteenth century
that the natural unit of electricity was manifested by itself and
without a carrier. At a famous address to the British Association at
York in 1881 Sir William Crookes described the first marvellous
experiments in which this feat had been accomplished, though there was
still to come a long controversy before the interpretation was clearly
accepted. It is now definitely established that there is a fundamental
atom of electricity which we now call the electron. As we all know
electrification is of two kinds--a positive and a negative. The electron
is of the negative kind. There does not appear to be a corresponding
positive atom of electricity, or at least not one that is so singular in
its properties as the electron. Electrons go to the making of all atoms,
just as atoms go to the making of molecules. The atom which is neutral,
that is, shows neither positive nor negative electrification, must
contain positive electricity in some form to balance the electrons which
we know it contains. When we strip an atom, as we know how to do, of one
or more of these electrons, the remainder is positively charged. The
positive ion is any sort of an atom or molecule which has become
positively electrified in this way. An atom which has become positive by
the loss of one or more of its electrons exercises a force on any spare
electrons in its neighbourhood or on any atom carrying a spare electron.
When there are large numbers of atoms seeking in this way to become
neutral once more, as occurs often in Nature, the forces generated may
be tremendous. They are shown, for example, in the lightning-stroke. But
indeed it would seem that all the chemical forces of which we have
already spoken depend ultimately upon the electric state of the atom

It is because the force which a positively-charged atom exerts on an
electron is so great and because the electron is so light and easily
moved compared to an atom that the electron has not been isolated at
will until recent years. The isolation in fact depends upon the electron
being endowed with a sufficient speed to carry it through or past the
action of an atom which is seeking to absorb it into its system. A lump
of matter flying in space might enter our solar system with such speed
as to be able to pass through and go on its way almost undeflected. Or
again, it might have a much lower speed and go so much nearer the sun
that it was seriously deflected in its course, as we see in the case of
comet visitors. But if for some reason or other the lump of matter found
itself inside the solar system without the endowment of high velocity it
would certainly be absorbed. Just so an electron can pass through an
atom with or without serious deviation from its line of motion, provided
that motion is rapid enough. Only recently have we been able to exert
electric forces of sufficient strength to set an electron in motion with
the speed it must have if it is to maintain an individual existence Now
we can gather electrons at will, dragging them from the interior of
solid bodies, and hurl them with tremendous speed like a stream of
projectiles. Since in the open air the speed is soon lost by innumerable
collisions with the air-molecules, the effect can only be studied
satisfactorily in a glass bulb from which the air has been evacuated.
Crookes made great improvements in air-pumps during an investigation on
thallium, and consequently was able to obtain the high vacuum required
for the experiment with the electron streams. It was afterwards found by
Röntgen that when an electron stream in an evacuated bulb was directed
upon a target placed within the bulb, a remarkable radiation issued
from the target. Thus arose the so-called X or Röntgen rays. As you all
know they have for many years played a most important part in surgery
and medicine. You may have heard that during the war they were also used
to examine the interior of aeroplane constructions and to look for flaws
invisible from without. Although X-Rays are of the same nature as light
rays they can penetrate where light rays cannot, passing in greater or
less degree through materials which are opaque to visible light and
allowing us to examine the interior which is hidden from the eye.

Every electric discharge is essentially a hurried rush of electrons.
When we rub two bodies together and they become electrified we have in
some way or other torn electrons from one of the bodies and piled them
on the other. The former becomes the positively charged body and the
latter the negative. A film of moisture stops this action. When wool is
spun in factories it tends to become in certain stages of the process
too dry and too free from grease; the yarn then becomes electrified as
it passes over the leather rollers, and when the machine tries to spin
the threads together they fly apart and refuse to join up the minute
hooks with which the wool fibres are furnished. The spinning operation
would come to an end were there not means provided by which the air can
be so filled with moisture that the fibres become damp and the action
ceases. So in some cases a stream of air filled with positive and
negative ions is made to play upon the fibres; the fibres select what
ions they want, and so neutralizing themselves, spinning can proceed

When a current of electricity runs along a wire there is in fact nothing
more than a procession of electrons. The stream of electrons that runs
through the filaments in the lamps that light this room, raising the
filaments to a white heat, are set in motion by the dynamos in the city.
There is a complete wire circuit, including the dynamo, the conductors,
and the lamps. When the dynamos are not working the electrons do not as
a whole move either way, though they are always there. When the dynamo
begins to turn, the electrons set out on their continuous journey.

Electrons are involved in the emission of wireless signals, and in their
receipt. The so-called 'valve', which multiplies minute electric signals
and was so greatly improved during the war, depends entirely on the
action of electrons, and the brilliant experimental work was based on
the newly-acquired knowledge of their properties.

I have told you that under certain circumstances a stream of electrons
may generate X-Rays, in reality a form of light rays. This action is a
very common one, and it is curious that the faster the electron goes the
shorter is the wave-length of the radiation. A very fast electron
generates an X-Ray of so short a wave-length that the penetrating power
of the ray, which goes with the shortness of the wave, is excessive, and
in this way we may have rays which go right through the human body or
even through inches of steel. As the speed of the exciting electron
becomes less, the X-Rays are less penetrating. With still slower
electrons we may generate ordinary light, and it will take a slower
electron to generate red than to generate blue. The slowest electrons we
use in this way have a speed of many hundred miles per second; the
fastest have a speed which nearly approaches that of light, or 186,000
miles a second.

And conversely radiation can set electrons in motion. When X-Rays are
driven into a patient's body electrons are set in motion within, and
moving over certain minute distances, initiate chemical actions which
are necessary to some cure. Or they may go right through the body and
fall on a photographic plate, setting in operation chemical action which
forms a picture on the plate.

There is another occasion of an entirely different kind when the
electron is greatly in evidence and displays effects which are most
astonishing and significant. Every atom of radium or other radio-active
substances sooner or later meets with the catastrophe in which its life
as radium ends and atoms of other substances are formed. At that moment
occurs the emission which is the characteristic property of the
substance. One of the radiations emitted consists of high-velocity
electrons, moving, some of them, nearly as fast as light.

Now it is found that when the speed approaches that of light, 186,000
miles or 3 x 10^{10} centimetres per second, the energy is higher than
it should be if it followed the usual rule, viz. energy is equal to half
the mass multiplied by the square of the velocity. It would seem that an
electron moving with the velocity of light would have infinite energy;
or, to put the matter in another way, the experimenter in his laboratory
can never hope to observe an electron moving so fast; it would be the
end of his laboratory and of himself if ever it turned up.

Linked up with this result is the very strange fact that no one has ever
been able to find any direct evidence of the existence of the ether,
which is postulated in order to carry light-waves. It has been pictured
as a medium through which the heavenly bodies move, and to which their
motions may be referred. But when light is launched into the ether, its
apparent velocity must depend on whether it travels with or against the
drift of the ether through the laboratory where the measurement is made.
The experiment has been performed without the discovery of any such
difference, although the method was amply accurate enough to detect the
effect that might be expected. It was afterwards shown that the negative
result might be explained by supposing that a measure of length varied
in length according to whether it was travelling with or against the
ether. But the continual failure of all such experiments has led to a
remarkable hypothetical development with which the name of Einstein is
firmly connected. It is supposed that some flaw must exist in our
fundamental hypotheses, and that if this were corrected we should then
find that we ought to get the same value for the velocity of light
however and whenever we measured it, and at the same time we should find
that no measurement of the velocity of a body moving relative to the
observer would ever equal the velocity of light. The hypothesis denies
the existence of an absolute standard to which motions can be referred,
and insists that they must all be considered relatively to the observer.
It is called the principle of relativity. Calculations of its
consequences begin with the necessary changes in the fundamentals, such
as Einstein has introduced.[70]

Time does not allow me to say more of the innumerable ways in which
electrons play an essential part in all the processes in the world. We
have long believed that this is so, but the picture has never been so
clear to us as it is now; and with our understanding our power is
increased. Yet once more the illumination of our understanding comes
from our recognition that Nature has preferred the discrete to the
continuous and that electricity is not infinitely divisible but is, like
matter, and even more simply than matter, of an atomic structure. And we
have found the unit and learnt how to handle it.

It is even more strange that it may now be said of energy that there are
signs of atomicity. It may seem absurd to think that the energy which is
transformed in any operation is transformed in multiples of a universal
unit or units, so that the operation cannot be arrested at any desired
stage but only at definite intervals. Indeed we have no right to assert
that this is always true. But undoubtedly there are cases in which the
atomicity of energy is clear enough, as for example in the interchange
of energy between electrons in motion and radiation. It is remarkable
that when radiation sets an electron in motion, the electron acquires a
perfectly definite speed depending only on the wave-length of the
radiation and not on its intensity, and has apparently absorbed from the
radiation a definite unit of energy. Radiation of a particular
wave-length cannot spend its energy in this way except in multiples of a
certain unit, because each of the electrons which it sets in motion has
the same initial energy, which it must have got from the radiation. In
other words, energy of radiation of the particular wave-length can only
be transformed into energy of movement of electrons in multiples of a
certain 'quantum' peculiar to that wave-length. The intensity of the
radiation, that is to say, the amount of energy moving along the beam,
can only affect the number of electrons set in motion and not the speed
of any one of them. During the last few years a very extraordinary
theory has been developed on the basis of these and similar facts. I
doubt if it would be more profitable to give further instances at
present, but I have mentioned it because it seems to show looming on the
horizon of our knowledge another tendency of Nature to make use of the
atomic principle.

I will only add that the whole position of physics is indeed at this
time of extraordinary interest, and at any moment there may be some
great discovery or illuminating thought which will explain the present
startling difficulties and open up new worlds of thought.


Bragg, _Rays and Crystals_ (Ball & Sons).


[Footnote 70: Since this address was given, the results of the Eclipse
Expedition to Brazil are considered to have confirmed in a satisfactory
manner one of the most remarkable deductions made by Einstein from the
principles which he maintains. The matter has roused so much interest
that some of the leading exponents of the relativity principle have
published careful accounts intended for students not familiar with it:
it would therefore be superfluous to discuss the matter here.]




On November 24, 1859, _The Origin of Species_ was published, and this
date marks the beginning of an epoch in every branch of biology. Before
it, Biology had been almost entirely a descriptive science, but within a
few years after the publication of the _Origin_ its effects began to
colour all aspects of biological research. A co-ordinating and unifying
principle had been found, and the leading idea of biologists ceased to
be to describe living things as they are, and became transformed into
the attempt to discover how they are related to one another. The first
effect of this change of attitude was chiefly to turn biologists towards
the task of tracing phylogenetic or evolutionary relationships between
different groups of animals--the drawing up of probable or possible
genealogical trees and the explanation of natural classification on an
evolutionary basis. When once, however, the notion of cause and effect,
or more correctly of relationship, between the phenomena seen in living
beings had become familiar to biologists, it spread far beyond the
limits of tracing genealogical connexions between different animals and
plants. It made possible the conception of a true Science of Life, in
which every phenomenon seen in a living organism should fall into its
true place in relation to the rest, and in which also the phenomena of
life should be correlated with those discovered in the inorganic
sciences of Chemistry and Physics.

The history of the various branches of biological science in the past
sixty years reflects the general course of these tendencies. Until
shortly after 1859, the study of morphology, or the comparative
structure of animals (and of plants) was intimately related with that of
physiology, that is, with the study of function. In the years following
the appearance of the _Origin_, however, anatomists and morphologists
were seized with a new interest. For the time at least, the chief aim in
studying structure was no longer to explain function, but rather to
explain how that structure had come into being in the course of
evolution, and how it was related with homologous but different
structures in other forms. The result was a tendency to a divorce
between morphology and physiology, or at least between morphologists and
physiologists, which led to the division into two more or less distinct
sciences of what had hitherto been regarded as closely inter-related
branches of one. The greater men of the early part of the period, such
as Huxley, remained both morphologists and physiologists, but most of
their followers fell inevitably into one or the other group, and in
discussing the later phases of biological progress it will be necessary
to keep them separate.

Apart from its effect on the systematic and anatomical side of Biology,
the idea of Evolution, and especially of Darwin's theory of Natural
Selection, had important consequences on that side of the science which
may be described as Natural History. Before the appearance of Darwin's
work, Natural History consisted chiefly in the observation and
collection of facts about the habits and life-history of animals and
plants, which as a rule had no unifying principle unless they were used,
as in the Bridgewater Treatises, to illustrate 'the power, wisdom, and
goodness of God'. Now, however, a new motive was provided--that of
discovering the uses to the organism of its various colours,
structures, and habits, and the application of the principle of natural
selection to show how these characters conduced to the preservation and
further evolution of the species. And out of this interest in the theory
of natural selection grew in the last twenty years of the nineteenth
century the greatly increased attention to the facts and theories of
heredity, which was stimulated by Darwin's hypothesis of Pangenesis and
especially by Weismann's speculations about the nature and behaviour of
the 'germ-plasm'. Before the appearance of Weismann's work, the
germ-cells, which bear somehow or other the hereditary characters that
appear in the offspring, were supposed to be produced directly from the
body of the parent. Darwin provisionally suggested that every cell of
every organism gives off minute particles which become congregated in
the germ-cells, and that these cells thus contain representative
portions of all parts of the parent's body. Weismann, on the basis of
his work on the origin of the germ-cells in Medusae and Insects,
maintained that these cells are not derived from the body, but only from
pre-existing germ-cells stored within it--that, in fact, although an egg
gives rise to a hen, a hen does not give rise to an egg, but only keeps
inside her a store of embryonic eggs which mature and are laid as the
time comes round. The theory had to be modified to suit the facts of
regeneration and vegetative reproduction, but in essence it was accepted
by the biological world and is the orthodox opinion (if such a word may
be used in Science) at the present day. The difference between the two
views is not only of theoretical interest, for it involves the whole
question of whether characteristics acquired by an individual during its
life in response to external conditions can or cannot be transmitted to
offspring. If the germ-cells contain representatives of all parts of the
body, modifications impressed on the body during its life may at least
possibly be transmitted to offspring born after the modifications have
taken place. If, however, the germ-cells are independent of the rest of
the body, and only stored within it for safe-keeping like a deed-box in
the vaults of a bank, it would seem impossible for any environmental
influence, whether for good or ill, to take effect on the offspring.
This controversy on the heritability of 'acquired characters' was one of
the most important towards the end of last century, and although the
majority of biologists now follow Weismann in so far as they deny that
'acquired' characters are transmissible, the question is not yet
completely settled; all that can be said is that, in spite of many
attempts to prove the contrary, there is no satisfactory evidence of the
transmission to offspring of effects impressed on the body of the
parent, unless the germ-cells themselves have been affected by the same
cause--as for example in some cases of long-continued poisoning by
alcohol or similar drugs.

While the problem of the transmission of acquired characters, and of the
cause of variation and its relation to evolution, was occupying much of
the attention of biologists, the whole problem entered upon a new phase
in the year 1900 with the re-discovery of Mendel's work on heredity.
Mendel worked with plants, and published his results in 1865, but at
that time the biological world was too much occupied with the fierce
controversy which raged over _The Origin of Species_ to take much notice
of a paper the bearing of which upon it was not appreciated. Mendel's
discovery never came to the notice of Darwin, was buried in an obscure
periodical, and remained unknown until many years after the death of its
author. In 1900 it was unearthed, and, largely owing to the work of
Bateson, it rapidly became known as one of the most important
contributions to Biology made during the period under review.

This is not the place to describe in detail the nature of Mendel's
theory. Its essence is, firstly, that the various characteristics of an
organism are in general inherited quite independently of one another;
and, secondly, that the germ-cells of a hybrid are pure in respect of
any one character, that is to say, that any one germ-cell can only
transmit any unit character as it was received from one parent or the
other, and not a combination of the two. This leads to a conception of
the organism as something like a mosaic, in which each piece of the
pattern is transmitted in inheritance independently of the rest, and in
which any piece cannot be modified by association with a different but
corresponding piece derived from another ancestor. It is impossible to
say as yet whether this conception at all completely represents the
nature of the living organism, but it is one which is exercising
considerable influence in biological thought, and if established it will
mark a revolution in Biology hardly inferior to that brought about in
Physics and Chemistry by the discovery of radio-activity.

An important consequence of the advance in our knowledge of heredity
associated with the work of Mendel and his successors is a tendency to
doubt whether natural selection is of such fundamental importance in
shaping the course of evolution as was supposed in the years of the
first enthusiasm which followed the publication of the _Origin_.

Darwin based his theory of Natural Selection on the belief which he
derived from breeders of plants and animals, that the kind of variation
used by them to produce new breeds was the small and apparently
unimportant differences which distinguish a 'fine' from a 'poor'
specimen. He supposed that the skilled breeder picked out as parents of
his stock those individuals which were slightly superior in one feature
or another, and that by the accumulative effect of these successive
selections not only was the breed steadily improved, but also, by
divergent selection, new breeds were produced. Experience shows,
however, that although this method is used to keep breeds up to the
required standard, it is rarely, if ever, the means by which new breeds
arise. New breeds commonly come into existence either by a 'sport' or
mutation, or by crossing two already distinct races, and by selecting
from among the heterogeneous descendants of the cross those individuals
which show the required combination of characters. And it is further
found that most of the distinguishing features of various breeds of
domestic animals and plants are inherited according to Mendel's Law,
suggesting that each of these characters is a unit, like one piece of a
mosaic, independent of the rest. Now it is easy to see how the selection
of small, continuously varying characters could take place in Nature by
the destruction of all those individuals which failed to reach a certain
standard, but it is much more difficult to understand how natural
selection could act on comparatively large, sporadic, unco-ordinated
'sports'. There is thus a distinct tendency at present to regard natural
selection as less omnipotent in directing the course of evolution than
was formerly supposed, but it must be admitted that no very satisfactory
alternative hypothesis has been suggested. Some have supposed that there
is a kind of organic momentum which causes evolution to continue in
those directions in which it has already proceeded, while others have
postulated, like Bergson, an _élan vital_ as a kind of directive agency.
Others again have reverted towards the older belief in the inherited
effects of environment--a belief which, in spite of the arguments of
Weismann and his followers, has never been without its supporters. The
present condition of this part of biology, as of many others, is one of
open-mindedness approaching agnosticism. There is dissatisfaction with
the beliefs which satisfied the preceding generation, and which were
held up almost as dogmas, but there is no clear vision of the direction
in which a truer view may be sought.

Before leaving this side of the subject, reference must be made to one
important aspect of modern work on heredity--that of the inheritance of
'mental and moral' characteristics. As a result of the work of the
biometric school founded by Galton and Pearson, it has been shown that
the so-called mental and moral characteristics of man are inherited in
the same manner and to the same extent as his physical features. Of the
theoretical importance of this demonstration this is not the place to
speak; its practical value is unquestionable, and may in the future have
important effects on sociological problems.

Another notable line of advance, entirely belonging to the period under
review, and chiefly the product of the present century, is seen in the
science of Cytology--the investigation of the microscopic structure of
the cells of which the body is composed. The marvellous phenomena of
cell and nuclear division have revealed much of the formerly unsuspected
complexity of living things, while the universality of the processes
shows how fundamentally alike is life in all its forms. In recent years
great progress has been made in correlating the phenomena of heredity
and of the determination of sex with the visible structural features of
the germ-cells. Weismann attempted a beginning of this over thirty years
ago, but the detailed knowledge of the facts was then insufficient.
Since the discovery of Mendel's Law, a great amount of work has been
done, chiefly in America, by E.B. Wilson and T.H. Morgan and their
pupils, on tracing the actual physical basis of hereditary transmission.
Although the matter is far from being completely known, the results
obtained make it almost indubitable that inherited characters are in
some way borne by the _chromosomes_ in the nuclei of the germ-cells.
The work of Morgan and his school has shown that the actual order in
which these inherited 'factors' are arranged in the chromosomes can
almost certainly be demonstrated, and his results go far to support the
conception of the organism, referred to above, as a combination or
mosaic of independently inherited features.

It was said at the beginning of this sketch that most of the more
notable lines of advance in Biology could be traced back to the impetus
given by the acceptance of the theory of Evolution, and the desire to
test and prove that theory in every biological field. It is most
convenient, therefore, to take this root-idea as a starting-point, and
to see how the various branches of study have diverged from it and have
themselves branched out in various ways, and how these branches have
often again become intertwined and united in the later development of
the science.

Perhaps the most obvious method of testing the theory of evolution is by
the study of fossil forms, and our knowledge of these has progressed
enormously during the period under review. Not only have a number of new
and strange types of ancient life come to light, but in some cases, e.g.
in that of the horse and elephant, a very complete series of
evolutionary stages has been discovered. In this branch, however, as in
almost all others, the results have not exactly fulfilled the
expectations of the early enthusiasts. On the one hand, evolution has
been shown to be a much more complex thing than at first seemed
probable; and on the other, many of the gaps which it was most hoped to
fill still remain. A number of most remarkable 'missing links' have been
discovered, such as, for example, _Archaeopteryx_, the stepping-stone
between the Reptiles and the Birds, and the faith of the palaeontologist
in the truth of evolution is everywhere confirmed. But the hope of
finding all the stages, especially in the ancestry of Man, has not been
realized, and it has been found that what at one time were regarded as
direct ancestors are collaterals, and that the problem of human
evolution is much less simple than was once supposed.

A second important piece of evidence in favour of evolution is provided
by the study of the geographical distribution of animals, on which much
work was done in the earlier part of the period under review. And in
this connexion mention must be made of the science of Oceanography, for
our whole knowledge of life in the abysses of the ocean, and almost all
that we know of the conditions of life in the sea in general, has been
gained in the last fifty years.

Another of the chief lines of evidence for the truth of the evolution
theory is based on the study of embryology, and this also was followed
with great vigour by the zoologists of the last thirty years of the
nineteenth century. It is found that in many instances animals
recapitulate in their early development the stages through which their
ancestors passed in the course of evolution. Land Vertebrates, including
man, have in their early embryonic life gill-clefts, heart and
circulation, and in some respects skeleton and other organs of the type
found in fishes, and this can only be explained on the assumption that
they are descended from aquatic fish-like ancestors. On the basis of
such facts as these, the theory was formulated that every animal
recapitulates in ontogeny (development) the stages passed through in its
phylogeny (evolution), and great hopes were founded upon this principle
of discovering the systematic position and evolutionary history of
isolated and aberrant forms. In many cases the search has led to
brilliant results, but, as in the case of palaeontology, in many others
the light that was hoped for has not been forthcoming. For it soon
became evident that the majority of animals show adaptation to their
environment not only in their adult stages but also in their larval or
embryonic period, and these adaptations have led to modifications of the
course of development which are often so great as to mask, or obscure
altogether, the ancestral structure which may once have existed.
Although, therefore, the results of embryological research have provided
most convincing proof of the truth of the theory of evolution in
general, they have not completely justified the hopes of the early
embryologists that by this method all the outstanding phylogenetic
problems might be solved.

The detailed study of embryology, however, has led to most important
results apart from the particular purpose for which most of the earlier
investigations in this field were originally undertaken. For the study
of embryology, at first purely descriptive and comparative, was soon
found to involve fundamental problems concerning the factors which
control development. An egg consists of a single cell, and it develops
by the division of this cell into two, then into four, eight, and so
forth, until a mass of cells is produced. In some cases all these cells
are to all appearance alike, or nearly alike; in others the included
yolk is from the first segregated more or less completely into some
cells, leaving the other cells without it. But in any case, after this
process of cell-division has proceeded for a certain time,
differentiation begins to set in--some cells become modified in one way,
others in another, and from what was a relatively homogeneous mass an
organized embryo, with highly differentiated parts, appears. The problem
immediately propounds itself--what are the factors which control this
differentiation? This problem is essentially a physiological one, and
yet, since it arises most conspicuously in a field which has been worked
by professed zoologists rather than physiologists, it has been studied
more by those trained in zoology and botany than by those who have
specialized in physiology. In this way, as in many other directions,
such as in the study of heredity, of sex, and of the effects of the
environment on the colours and structure of animals, the trend of
zoology in recent years has returned towards the physiological side, and
the old division which separated the sciences (but which has never so
seriously affected students of plant life) is being obliterated.

Hence we are led back to consider the progress of Physiology as a
whole--a subject with which the present writer hesitates to deal except
in a very superficial manner. Physiology as an organized science has
inevitably been deeply influenced by its close relation with medicine,
with the result that through a large portion of the period under review
it has concerned itself chiefly with the functions of the human body in
particular, or at least chiefly with Vertebrates from which, by analogy,
the human functions may be inferred. In this field it has made enormous
progress, and a vast amount of knowledge has been gained with regard to
the function and mechanism of all the parts and organs of the body. It
may perhaps be suggested, however, that in the pursuit of this detailed
(and in practice absolutely necessary) knowledge, physiologists have to
some extent lost sight of the wood in their preoccupation with the
trees. That is to say, while they have advanced an immense distance in
their knowledge of organs, they have not yet got as far as might be
hoped in the understanding of the organism--which is to say no more than
that the great and fundamental problem of Biology, the nature and
meaning of Life, is apparently almost as far from solution as ever. To
this further reference will be made below.

The progress of Physiology has been so great in all its branches that it
is difficult to decide which most deserve mention; perhaps the most
important advances are those connected with the nervous system and with
internal secretions. Little or nothing was known fifty years ago of the
minute structure of the nervous system, nor of the special functions of
its different parts. Now the main functions of the various parts of the
brain, and the relation of these parts to the activities of the other
organs of the body, are well known, although much remains to be
discovered with regard to the more detailed localization of function.
The study of the microscopic structure of brain and nerve, and
experiment on the conduction of nervous impulse, have given us some
insight into the mechanism of the nervous system, but the fundamental
nature of nervous action still remains unsolved.

The nervous system is the chief co-ordinating link between the various
organs of the body, but in recent years it has been discovered that the
relations of the different parts to one another are greatly influenced
by substances known as internal secretions or 'hormones'. These
substances are produced by ductless glands (the thyroid, suprarenals,
&c.), from which they diffuse into the blood-stream and exercise a
remarkable influence either on particular organs or systems, or on the
body as a whole. Some of these secretions act specifically on the
involuntary muscles of the body, others control growth, others the
development of the secondary sexual characters, such as the distinctive
plumage of male birds, and also greatly influence the sexual instinct.
Much still remains to be discovered with regard to them, but it seems
clear that they are of immense importance in the economy of the body. It
has been suggested, without much experimental support, however, that if
a part of the body becomes modified by use or environment, it may
produce a modified hormone, and that so, by the action of this on the
germ-cells, the modification may be transmitted to subsequent

Before leaving the subject of physiology in the more special or
technical application of the term, reference must be made to another
science the growth of which has been largely under the influence of
medicine. This is bacteriology, one of the newest branches of biology,
and yet one which both from its practical importance and from the
theoretical interest of its discoveries is rapidly taking a foremost
place. Of its practical achievements in connexion with disease, and with
the part played by bacteria and other minute organisms in the life and
affairs of man, it is not necessary to speak. Every one knows the great
advances that have been made in recent years in identifying (and to a
less extent in controlling) disease-producing organisms, whether
bacteria, protozoa (such as the organisms causing malaria, dysentery,
etc.), or more highly organized parasites. The attempt, however, to
combat these pathogenic bacteria has led to discoveries of the highest
importance with regard to the production of immunity, not only against
specific germs, but against many organic poisons such as snake venom and
various vegetable toxins. That an attack of certain diseases leaves the
patient immune to that disease for a longer or shorter time has of
course been known for centuries, but it is a modern discovery that a
specific poison induces the body to produce a specific antidote which
neutralizes it, and the detailed working out of this principle and the
study of the means by which the immunity is brought about promise to
lead us a long way towards the central problem of the nature and
activities of life itself.

We have seen how zoology has been led back into physiological channels
of research, and how the study of bacteria is opening up some of the
deepest problems of the reaction of living things to environmental
stimuli, and just as the various branches of these sciences interlace
and influence one another, so all of them, in recent years, have been
coming into contact with the inorganic sciences of chemistry and
physics. One of the noteworthy features of science in all its branches
in recent years has been the tendency of subjects which were at one time
regarded as distinct to come together again and to find that the
problems of each can only be successfully attacked by the co-operation
of the others. In their earlier days the biological sciences were in
most respects far removed from chemistry and physics; it was recognized,
of course, that organisms were in one sense at least physico-chemical
mechanisms, consisting of chemical elements and subject to the
fundamental laws of matter and energy. With the advent of the theory of
evolution this conception of the organism as a mechanism took more
definite shape, and among many biologists the belief was held that in no
very long time all the phenomena of life would be explicable by known
physico-chemical laws. Hence arose the scientific materialism which was
so widespread in the years following the general acceptance of Darwin's
theory. It was recognized, of course, that our knowledge of organic
chemistry was at the time entirely inadequate to place this belief upon
a proved scientific basis, but the expectation of proving it gave a
great impetus to the study of the physical and chemical phenomena of
life. This attempt was still further stimulated by the investigation of
the factors controlling development referred to in a preceding
paragraph, for it is evident that to a great extent at least these
factors are chemical and physical in nature. And concurrently, the great
advances in organic chemistry, resulting in the analysis and in many
cases in the artificial synthesis of substances previously regarded as
capable of production only in the tissues of living organisms, made
possible a much more thorough investigation of the chemical and physical
basis of vital phenomena. The result of this has been that to a quite
considerable extent the factors, hitherto mysterious, which control the
fertilization, division, and differentiation of the egg, the digestion
and absorption of food, the conduction of nervous impulses, and many of
the changes undergone in the normal or pathological functioning of the
organs and tissues, can be ascribed to chemical and physical causes
which are well known in the inorganic world.

As in other instances, however, some of which have been mentioned above,
the elucidation of the organism from this point of view has turned out
to be a much less simple process than the more sanguine of the early
investigators supposed. The more knowledge has progressed, the more
complex and intricate has even the simplest organism shown itself to be,
and although the mechanism of the parts is gradually becoming
understood, the fundamental mystery of life remains as elusive as ever.

The chief reason for this failure to penetrate appreciably nearer to the
central mystery of life appears to be the fact that an organism is
something more than the sum of its various parts and functions. In
tracing the behaviour of any one part or function, whether it be the
conduction of a nervous impulse, the supply of oxygen to the tissues by
the blood, or the transmission of inherited characters by the
germ-cells, we may be able to give a more or less complete
physico-chemical or mechanical account of the process. But we seem to
get little or no nearer to an explanation of the fact that although
every one of these processes may be explicable by laws familiar in the
non-living, in the living organism they are co-ordinated in such a way
that none of them is complete in itself; they are parts of a whole, but
the whole is not simply a sum of its parts, but is in itself a unity, in
which all the parts are subject to the controlling influence of the
whole. An organism, alone among the material bodies which we know, is
constantly and necessarily in a state of unstable equilibrium, and yet
has a condition of _normality_ which is maintained by the harmonious
interaction of all its parts. Every function of the body, if not thus
co-ordinated with the rest, would very quickly destroy this condition of
normality, but in consequence of the co-ordination each is subject to
the needs of the whole, and normality is maintained. When the normality
is artificially disturbed, all the functions of the body adapt
themselves to the change, and, if the disturbance be not too great,
co-operate in the restoration of the normal condition. It is in these
phenomena of adaptation and organic unity and co-ordination that up to
the present time the efforts to reduce the phenomena of living things to
the operation of physico-chemical laws have most conspicuously failed.

From what has been said it will be evident that, fundamentally, all
biological research, whether its authors are conscious of it or not, is
directed towards the solution of one central problem--the problem of the
real and ultimate nature of life. And the main outcome of the work of
sixty years has been that this problem has begun clearly to emerge as
the central aim of the science. The theory of evolution made the problem
a reality, for without evolution the mystery of life must for ever be
insoluble, but whatever direction biological investigation has taken, it
has led, often by devious paths, to the borderland between the living
and the inorganic, and in that borderland the central problem inevitably
faces us.

Many suggestions for its solution have been made. On the one hand there
is still, as there always has been, a considerable body of opinion that
the solution will be a mechanical one--using the word mechanical in the
widest sense--and that the living differs from the non-living not in
kind, but only in degree of complexity. The upholders of the mechanistic
or materialist theory, however, are perhaps less confident than their
predecessors of the last century, for the solution in this direction
has to face not only the problem of organic co-ordination already
referred to, but also that of consciousness and mind. For although the
study of psychology on physiological lines has made similar progress to
that of other branches of physiology, it seems to approach little nearer
to a discovery of the nature of the relation between consciousness in
its various aspects and the material body with which it is associated.
So long as this gulf remains unbridged, the possibility of a
satisfactory mechanistic explanation of life seems far away.

On the other hand, there has been a revival of the ancient tendency
towards what is called a vitalistic solution. A certain number of
biologists, impressed by the apparent similarity between the control and
co-ordination exercised by the organism over its functions and the
conscious control of voluntary activity with which we are familiar in
ourselves, have supposed that these things are not merely superficially
similar but have a real and fundamental affinity. This does not mean
that organic control is always conscious, but that there is a
controlling entity, non-material in nature, which is similar in kind to
the 'ego' of a self-conscious human being. They suppose that the
organism is not simply material, but is a material mechanism controlled
by a non-material entity the nature of which is more akin to what we
mean by the word spirit than anything else of which we are accustomed to
think. They are in fact dualists, and divide reality into the material
and spatial on the one hand, and non-material principle or entity which
may fairly be called spiritual on the other.

And, in the third place, there are those who seek a solution which
denies the truth of both the preceding, and which is metaphysically
idealist or monist in character. To them, if the present writer
understands their attitude, matter and spirit are different aspects of
one reality. In the inorganic and non-living, phenomena appear which are
generalized under the laws of physics and chemistry, but the phenomena
of life fall into a different category which includes the conception of
co-ordination or individuality, while a still higher category is
required to include the phenomena of consciousness and mind.

It is evident from this brief review that Biology in the period
considered has passed through three main stages. The first of these was
the acceptance of a new illuminating and unifying idea, which led to
enthusiastic research in many directions for the purpose of proving and
amplifying it. Very rapidly new facts, or new interpretations of facts
already known, were shown to fall into line, and the evolution theory
became converted from a hypothesis into something approaching a dogma.
Not only the idea of organic evolution itself, but all the current
beliefs about the method of evolution, and the larger speculations to
which it gave rise, were widely regarded as almost indisputable, and
where difficulties and inconsistencies appeared, these were supposed to
be due solely to the insufficiency of our knowledge, which would soon be
remedied. Then, however, as detailed knowledge increased, the voice of
criticism and doubt was more frequently heard. The various branches of
Biology began once more to overlap, and to join hands with chemistry and
physics, and it became clear that the interpretation of life was very
far from being a simple problem. And so, as with the Atomic Theory in
chemistry, the present position is one of dissolution of the older ideas
and of hesitation to express a fixed belief, for while Biology has a
clearer vision of the problem before it than ever it had, its wider
knowledge reveals the fact that the problem is far from being solved.
Perhaps one of the chief results of the great increase of knowledge
during the past sixty years has been to show us the immensity of the
field still remaining to be explored.


Centenary volume on Darwin (Cambridge University Press).




My subject is art and thought about art. I deal with aesthetics only so
far as they concern art, that is to say I shall not attempt any purely
philosophic speculations about the nature of art and I shall speak of
the speculations of others, such as Croce and Tolstoy, only so far as
they seem to me likely to have a practical effect upon art. My subject
is the art of to-day and our ideas about it. We are beginning at last to
connect aesthetics with our own experience of art and to see that our
beliefs about the nature and value of art will affect the art we
produce. Hence a new aesthetic is very slowly appearing; but I have to
confess it has not yet appeared.

Indeed there are at present two conflicting theories of art, one or
other of which is held consciously or unconsciously by most people who
are interested in art at all, and both of which I think are not only
imperfect but to some extent false. They are theories about the relation
of the artist to the public, and because of the conflict between them
and the falsity of each, we are confused in our ideas about art, and the
artists are often confused in their practice of it.

The first theory has been expressed, not philosophically but with great
liveliness, by Whistler in his _Ten O'clock_, and has had great
influence both upon the thought of many people who care about art and
upon the practice of artists. It is, put shortly, that the artist has no
concern with the public whatever, nor the public with the artist. There
is no kind of necessary relation between them, but only an accidental
one; and the less of that the better for the artist and his art.

Whistler states it in the form of a New Testament of his own.

     'Listen,' he says. 'There never was an artistic period.

     'There never was an art-loving nation.

     'In the beginning man went forth each day--some to do battle,
     some to the chase; others again to dig and to delve in the
     field--all that they might gain and live or lose and die. Until
     there was found among them one differing from the rest, whose
     pursuits attracted him not, and so he stayed by the tents with
     the women, and traced strange devices with a burnt stick upon a

     'This man, who took no joy in the ways of his brethren--who cared
     not for conquest and fretted in the field--this designer of
     quaint patterns--this deviser of the beautiful--who perceived in
     nature about him curious curvings--as faces are seen in the
     fire--this dreamer apart, was the first artist.'

     'And when from the field and from afar, there came back the
     people, they took the gourd--and drank from it.'

Whistler means that they did not notice the patterns the artist had
traced on it.

     'They drank at the cup,' he says, 'not from choice, not from a
     consciousness that it was beautiful, but because forsooth there
     was none other.'

So gradually there came the great ages of art.

     'Then', he says, 'the people lived in marvels of art--and ate and
     drank out of masterpieces for there was nothing else to eat and
     drink out of, and no bad building to live in.'

And, he says, the people questioned not, and had nothing to do or say in
the matter.

But then a strange thing happened. There arose a new class

     'who discovered the cheap, and foresaw fortune in the facture of
     the sham. Then sprang into existence the tawdry, the common, the
     gewgaw, and what was born of the million went back to them and
     charmed them, for it was after their own heart.... And Birmingham
     and Manchester arose in their might--and Art was relegated to the
     curiosity shop.'

I do not think this can be a true account of the matter; for, if the
people were not aware of the existence of art and did not value it at
all, how came they to imitate it? One imitates only that which one
values. Imitation, as we know, is the sincerest form of flattery; and
you cannot flatter that which you do not know to exist.

But Whistler's account of the primitive artist is also wrong, so far as
we can check it. We may be sure that, if the other primitive men had
seen no value in his pursuits, they would have killed him or let him
starve. And the artist, as he exists at present among primitive peoples,
is not a dreamer apart. The separation between the artist and other men
is modern and a result of modern specialization. In many primitive
societies most men practise some art in their leisure, and for that
reason are interested in each other's art. In fact they notice the cups
they drink out of much more than we do. If we did notice the cups we
drink out of, we should not be able to endure them. In primitive
societies there are not star pianists or singers or dancers; they all
dance and make music. Homer himself was a popular entertainer; he would
have been very much surprised to hear that he was a dreamer apart. In
fact Whistler made up this pretty story about the primitive artist
because he assumed that all artists must be like himself. He read
himself back into the past and saw himself painting primitive nocturnes
in a primitive Chelsea, happily undisturbed by primitive critics. He is
wrong in his facts, and I believe he is wrong in his theory. There is a
relation, and a necessary relation, between the artist and his public;
but what is the nature of it? That is a difficult question for us to
answer because the relation now between the artist and the public is, in
fact, usually wrong; and Tolstoy in his _What is Art?_ tried to put it

_What is Art?_ is a most interesting book, full of incidental truth; but
I believe that the main contention in it is false. I will give this
contention as shortly as I can in his own words.

     'Art', he says, 'is a human activity, consisting in this--that
     one man consciously, by means of certain external signs, hands on
     to others feelings he has lived through, and that other people
     are infected by these feelings and also experience them.'

Now this is well enough as far as it goes, but it is not enough, and
just because it is not enough it leads Tolstoy into error. Clearly, if
art is nothing but the infection of the public with the feelings of the
artist, it follows that a work of art is to be judged by the number of
people who are infected. And Tolstoy with his usual sincerity accepts
these conclusions; indeed, he wrote his book to insist upon them. He
judges art entirely as a thing of use, moral use, and he says it can be
of no use unless a large audience is infected by it. A work of art that
few can enjoy fails as art, just as a railway from nowhere to nowhere
fails as a railway. A railway exists to be travelled by and a work of
art exists to be experienced by as many people as possible. Here are the
actual words of Tolstoy:

     'For a work to be esteemed good and to be approved of and
     diffused, it will have to satisfy the demands, not of a few
     people living in identical and often unnatural conditions, but it
     will have to satisfy the demands of all those great masses of
     people who are situated in the natural conditions of laborious

Now this sounds plausible; but consider the effect of it upon yourself.
You listen to a symphony by Beethoven; and before you esteem it good,
you must ask yourself, not whether it is good to you, but whether it
will satisfy the demands of those great masses of people who are
situated in the natural conditions of laborious life. Tolstoy does
proceed to ask himself this question about Beethoven's Choral symphony
and about King Lear, and condemns them both because, he says, a Russian
peasant would not understand them. But if we all obeyed him and asked
this question about all works of art, we should none of us ever
experience any work of art at all; for, while we listened to a piece of
music, we should be wondering whether other people understood it; that
is to say we should not listen to it at all. And what is this Jury of
people situated in the natural conditions of laborious life who are to
decide not individually but as a Jury? Who can say whether he himself
belongs to them? Who is to choose them? Tolstoy chose them as consisting
of Russian peasants; he, like Whistler, believed in the primitive, but
for him it was the primitive man, not the primitive artist, who was
blessed. In his view there would be no Jury in all western Europe worthy
of deciding upon a work of art, because we none of us are situated in
the natural conditions of laborious life. So we must change all our way
of life or despair of art altogether. Not one of the great ages of art
would satisfy his conditions. Certainly not the Greeks of the age of
Pericles, or the Chinese of the Sung dynasty, or the thirteenth century
in France, or the Renaissance in Italy; and as a matter of fact he
condemns most of the great art of the world, including his own.

We can escape from the tyranny of Tolstoy's doctrine, as from the
tyranny of Whistler's, only by considering the facts of our own
experience of art. The fact that we _can_ enjoy and experience a work
of art frees us from Whistler's doctrine, because, if we can enjoy and
experience it, we are concerned with it. Because of our enjoyment, art
is for us a social activity and not a game played by the artist for his
own amusement. We know also that the artist likes us to enjoy his art,
in fact complains loudly if we do not; and we do not believe that the
primitive artist or man was different in this respect. There is now, and
always has been, some kind of relation between the artist and the
public, but not the relation which Tolstoy affirms.

According to him the proper aim of art is to do good.

     'The assertion that art may be good art and at the same time
     unintelligible to a great number of people is extremely unjust,
     and its consequences are ruinous to art itself.'

The word _unjust_ implies that the aim of art is to do good. The artist
sins if he does not try to do good to as many people as possible, and I
sin if I am ready to enjoy and encourage a work of art which most people
do not enjoy.

But as a matter of fact a work of art is good to me, not morally good
but good as a work of art, if I enjoy it. In my estimate of the work of
art I can ask only if it is a work of art to me, not if it is one to
other people. I may wish and try to make them enjoy it, but if I do that
is as a result of my own enjoyment of it. I can't begin by asking
whether other people enjoy it; I must begin with my own experience of
it, for I have nothing else to go by.

And so it is with the artist; he cannot begin by asking himself whether
the mass of men will understand what he proposes to produce; he must
produce it, and then trust in man, and God, for its effect. Art is
produced by the individual artist and experienced by the individual man.
Tolstoy holds that it is to be experienced by mankind in the mass, not
by individuals; his audience is an abstraction. Whistler holds that it
is produced by the individual, but for himself, and not experienced by
mankind either in the mass or as individuals. Both are heretics. What is
the truth?

I will now turn for a moment to the high aesthetic doctrine of Benedetto
Croce. He in his _Aesthetic_ tells us that all art is expression. True
enough, as far as it goes; but what do we mean by expression? Croce's
doctrine of expression is incomplete, he does not explain clearly what
he means by expression, because he also avoids the question of the
necessary relation between the artist and his audience; and this is the
question which our thought about art has to deal with, just as we have
to solve it in our practice of art and in our actual relation with the
artist. Croce does not see that the question--What is expression?
depends upon the question--What is the relation between the artist and
his audience? He does see that the audience exists, which Whistler
denies; he insists that the audience have the same faculties as the
artist, though to a less degree--that the artist is not a dreamer apart.
He says indeed that to experience a work of art we also must exercise
our aesthetic faculty; our very experience of it is itself expression;
and this is a most important point. But for Croce, as for Whistler, the
artist, when he expresses himself, is concerned only with what he
expresses, not with the people to whom he expresses himself. Croce does
not see this obvious fact, that a work of art is a work of art _because
it is addressed to some one_ and is not a private activity of the
artist. That is why he fails to give a satisfying account of the nature
of expression. Croce cannot distinguish between expression, or art, and
day-dreaming; but the distinction is this, that as soon as I pass from
day-dreaming to expression, I am speaking no longer to myself but to
others. So the form of every work of art is conditioned by the fact that
it is addressed to others. A story, for instance, is a story, it has a
plot, because it is told. A play is a play, and also has a plot, because
it is made to be acted before an audience. A piece of music has musical
form, with its repetitions and developments, because it is made to be
heard. A picture has composition, emphasis, because it is painted to be
seen. The very process of pictorial art is a process of pointing out.
When a man draws he makes a gesture of emphasis; he says--This is what I
have seen and what I want you to see. And in each case the work of art
is a work of art, expression is expression, because it implies an
audience or spectators. Without that implication, without the effort of
address, there could be no art, no expression, at all.

In fact, art in its nature is a social activity, because man in his
nature is a social being. Art does not exist in isolation because man
does not exist in isolation. His very faculties are in their nature
social always and whether for good or for evil. The individual in
isolation is a figment of man's mind, and so is art in isolation.

But although art is a social activity, it is not, as Tolstoy thinks, a
moral activity. The artist does not address mankind with the object of
doing them good. It is useless to say that he ought to have that object;
if he had he would not be an artist. The aim of doing good is itself
incompatible with the artistic aim. But that is not to say that art does
not do good. It may do good all the more because the artist is not
trying to do good.

But what is it that really happens when the artist addresses us, and why
does he wish to address us? To answer this, we must consider our own
experience, not merely as an audience but also as artists, for we are,
as Croce insists, all of us to some extent artists. You have all no
doubt been aware of some failure and dissatisfaction in those of your
experiences which seem to you the highest. Suppose, for instance, you
see some extreme beauty, as of a sunset. It leaves you sad with a
feeling of your own inadequacy. You have not been equal to it, and why?
You will say in speaking of it to others--I wish I could tell you what I
felt or what I saw, but I can't. That wish is itself natural and
instantly stirred in you by the experience of extreme beauty. The
experience seems incomplete, because you cannot tell anyone else what
you felt and saw; and you are hurt by your effort and failure to do so.

It is a fact of human nature that the experience of any beauty does
arouse in us the desire to communicate our experience; and this desire
is instinctive. It is not that we wish to do good to others by
communicating it. It is simply that we wish to communicate it. The
experience itself is incomplete for us until we communicate it. The
happiness which it gives us is frustrated by our failure to communicate
it. We should be utterly happy if we could make others see what we see
and feel what we feel, but we fail of happiness because we cannot.

Why? One can only conjecture and express conjectures in dull language.
This beauty is itself a universal quality or virtue which makes
particular things more real when they have it. It speaks to the
universal in us, to the everyman in us, and, speaking so, it makes us
aware of the universal in all men. We too wish to speak to that
universal, we wish to find it and the more intense reality which is to
be seen only where it is seen, we wish ourselves to be a part of it; and
we can do that only when all other men also are a part of it. Beauty
seems to speak not merely to us but to the whole listening earth, and we
would be assured that all the earth is listening to it, not to us.

But we ourselves have to play our part in the realizing of this
universal; the sense of it comes and goes; for the most part we
ourselves are not aware of it. We are merely particulars, like other
men, and separated from them by the fact that we are all particulars.
Only, when for a moment we are aware of it, then we are filled with a
passion to make it real and permanent; and it is this passion which
causes art and the blind instinctive effort at art, at communication, at
expression, which we have all experienced.

But it follows from this that the audience to which the artist addresses
himself is not any particular men and women: it is mankind. The moment
he addresses himself to any particular men and women and considers their
particular wants and desires, he is giving up that very sense of the
universal that impelled him to expression; he is ceasing to be an artist
and becoming something else, a tradesman, a philanthropist, a
politician. The artist as artist speaks to mankind, not to any
particular set of men; and he speaks not of himself but of that
universal which he has experienced. His effort is to establish that
universal relation which he has seen, a universal relation of feeling.
And to him, in his effort, there is neither time nor space. Mankind are
not here or there or of this moment or of that; they are everywhere and
for ever. The voice in Mozart's music is itself a universal voice
speaking to the universe of universal things. And all art is an acting
of the beauty that has been experienced, a perpetuation of it so that
all men may share it for ever. The artist's effort is to be the sunset
he has seen, to eternalize it in his art, but always so that he and all
men may be part of this universal by their common experience of it.

So, as I say, the artist must not speak to any particular audience with
the aim of pleasing them--there is that amount of truth in Whistler's
doctrine; and he does fail if he does not communicate, since his aim is
communication--there is that amount of truth in Tolstoy's doctrine.

But the next question that arises is the attitude of ourselves to the

We have to remember that he is speaking not to us in particular, but to
all mankind, and that he speaks, not to please us or to satisfy any
particular demand of ours, but to communicate to us that universal he
has experienced so that we with him may become part of it.

It follows then that we must not make any particular demands upon him.
We must not come with our own ideas of what he ought to give us. If we
do, we shall be an obstruction between him and that ideal universal
audience to which he would address himself. We shall be tempting him,
with our egotistical demands, to comply with them. But these demands we
are always making; and that is why the relation between the artist and
any actual public is usually nowadays wrong. I was once looking at
Tintoret's 'Crucifixion' in the Scuola di San Rocco with a lady, and she
said to me--'That isn't my idea of a horse.' 'No'--I answered--'it's
Tintoret's. If it were your idea of a horse, why should you look at it?
You look at a picture to get the artist's idea.' But that isn't the
truth about art either. The artist doesn't try to substitute his own
particular for yours. He tries to communicate to you that universal
which he has experienced, because it is to him a universal, not his own,
but all men's, and he wishes to realize it by sharing it with all men.
His faith, though he may never have consciously expressed it to himself,
is in this universal which, because it is a universal, can be
communicated to all men. His effort is based on that faith. He speaks
because he believes all men can hear, if they will.

So the effort of the audience must be to hear and not to distract him
with their particular demands. They must not, for instance, demand that
he shall remind them of what they have found pleasant in actual life.
They must not complain of him that he does not paint pretty women for
them, or compose bright cheerful tunes. They are not to him particular
persons to be tickled according to their particular tastes, but mankind
to whom he wishes to communicate the universal he has experienced.

So, if there is an actual audience listening for that universal and
clearing their minds of their own egotistical demands, then art will
flourish and the artist will be encouraged to communicate that universal
which he has experienced. But if particular audiences demand this or
that and are not happy until they get it, if they say to him--Tickle my
senses--Persuade me that all is for the best in the world as I like it;
that prosperous people like myself have a right to be prosperous; that I
am a fine fellow because I once fell in love; that all who disagree with
me are wicked and absurd--then you will have the kind of art you have
now, in the theatre, in the picture gallery, in the cinema, in the
novel; yes, and in your buildings, your cups and saucers, your pots and
pans even. For in the very arts of use you demand that the craftsman
shall provide you with what you demand, and as cheap as possible;
because you do not understand that he should express himself, you do not
understand also that his expression is worth having and that he ought to
be paid for it. In the very pattern on a tea-cup, if it is worth having
at all, there is the communication of that universal which the artist
has experienced. It is there to remind you of itself whenever you drink
tea, to bring the sacrament of the universal into everything as if it
were music accompanying and heightening all our common actions; but if
you want a fashionable tea-cup cheap, you will get that, and you will
not get anything expressed or communicated with it. You will be shut up
in yourself and your own particularity and ugliness. If we want art we
must know how we should think and feel and act so as to encourage the
artist to produce it.

But why should we want art at all? I hope I have answered that question
incidentally. It is so that we may have life more abundantly; for we can
have life more abundantly only when we are in communication with each
other, mind flowing into mind, the universal expressing itself in and
through all of us. We all more or less blindly desire this
communication, but we seldom know why we desire it or even what exactly
it is we desire. We make the strangest, clumsiest efforts to communicate
with each other--I am making one now--and we are constantly inhibited by
false shame from real communication. We are afraid to be serious with
each other, afraid of beauty, of the universal, when we see it. On this
point I will tell a little story from Mr. Kirk's _Study of Silent
Minds_. At a concert behind the front, an audience of soldiers had
listened to the ordinary items, a performance, as Mr. Kirk says, 'clean,
bright, and amusing', which means of course silly and ugly. Then the
orchestra played the introduction to the _Keys of Heaven_, and a gunner
remarked--'Sounds like a bloody hymn.' That was his fear of beauty, his
false shame. But when the _Keys of Heaven_ was ended, the whole
audience, including the gunner, gave a sigh of content; and after that
they went to hear it time after time. Well, the beauty of that song, and
of all art, is the 'Key of Heaven' itself. For Heaven is a state of
being of which we all dream, however dully, in which all have the power
of communication with each other; in which all are aware of the
universal, possessed by it and a part of it, all members of one body,
all notes in one tune, and therefore all the more intensely themselves,
for a note is itself, finds itself, only in a tune; otherwise it is mere

Of course if you are to believe this, you must believe in the existence
of a universal, independent of yourself, yet also in you and in all men.
You must believe that beauty exists as a virtue, a quality, a relation
of things, and that it is possible for you also to produce that virtue,
to live in that relation. But no one can prove that to you. The only way
to believe it is to see beauty with intensity and to make the effort of
communication in some form or other.

Tolstoy believes that the very word beauty is a useless one because, he
says, all efforts to define beauty are vain. But that is true of the
word life, yet we have to use the word because life exists. And all
explanations of art which refuse to believe in beauty as a reality
independent of us, yet one of which we may become a part, do fall into
incredible nonsense. We are told that art is play; the only answer to
which is that it isn't. Others say that it is an expression of the
sexual instinct, which has forgotten itself. They discover that in some
savage tribe the male beats a tom-tom to attract the female; and they
conclude that Beethoven's Choral Symphony is only a more elaborate
tom-tom beaten to attract a more sophisticated female. But again the
only answer is that it isn't; and that if all our ancestors were, not
Whistler's dreamers apart, but beaters of tom-toms to attract females,
then there was something in the sound of the tom-tom that made them
forget the female. The reality of art is to be found not in its origins
but in what it is trying to be; and what it is trying to be is always a
communication between mind and mind; what we aim at in art is a
fellowship not for purposes of use but for its own sake, the fellowship
we feel when we are all together singing a great tune.

But now, since we have a hundred foolish ideas about art, its nature and
value, it is of the greatest importance that we should attain to a right
idea of it, not only as a matter of theory to be discussed, but as a
religion to be practised. And, if we can grasp this right idea of it, we
shall not think of art as consisting merely of the fine arts, painting,
poetry, music, sculpture. We shall see that it is possible for men to be
artists, to exercise this great activity of communication, in the work
by which they earn their living, and that a happy society is one in
which all men do so exercise it. We are very far from that happiness
now, and that is why Ruskin and Morris became almost desperate rebels
against our present society. What they said about art and its nature is
still the best that has been said about it, far nearer to philosophic
truth than all that the professed philosophers have said, and of the
utmost moment to us now. For if we could believe them we should change
most of our values; we should see that the ordinary man, now being
deprived of all the joy of art in his work, is living a mutilated life;
we should place art among the rights of man. Whereas Rousseau said--All
men are born free and everywhere they are in chains--we should say--All
men are born artists and everywhere they are drudges. With our curious
English originality, which hits on so many momentous truths and then
makes no use of them, it is we who have found the greatest truth about
art, but neither we nor any other people is at present making much use
of it. Because we lack art, lack the power of communication, we lack
fellowship; and as Morris said--Fellowship is life and the lack of it is


W. Morris, _Hopes and Fears for Art_.




The general subject of this course is European Thought; and, to some,
music may perhaps seem in this connexion rather like an intruder.
Indeed, if the musician is, in William Morris's phrase, 'the idle singer
of an empty day', if his business is to administer alternate stimulants
and soporifics to the nerves or, at best, the surface emotions, or to
serve in Cinderella-like fashion any passing, shallow needs of either
the individual or the crowd, then, obviously, he has no place worth
self-respecting mention in the world as it exists for philosophy. But
widespread as some such conception of the function of music is, I hope
you will agree with me in throwing it aside as, at any rate for our
present purpose, no more worth the trouble of even approximately patient
argument than that other less general but more objurgated conception of
musical composition as something like a mechanically calculated spinning
of bloodless formulae. By the conditions of its being, music has to
express itself through non-intellectual channels, but may we not say
that its essence is intellectual, that it is, in Combarieu's phrase, the
art of thinking in sound--thinking in as precise a sense as the word can
bear? It does not express itself verbally: it is self-dependent, with a
language available only for the expression of its own ideas and not even
indirectly translatable by nature into a verbal medium. Yet it is
thought none the less; perhaps all the more. Words, we have often been
told, serve for the concealment of thought; but the language of music is
more subtle, more comprehensive. It has been said that where words end,
music begins; and anyhow, for musicians, there stands on record the
serenely proud claim of one of themselves. 'Only art and knowledge',
said Beethoven, 'raise man to the divine; and music is a higher
revelation than all wisdom and all philosophy.'

But I must not allow this little preliminary apology to stray into the
field of abstract aesthetics. The subject proposed to me, the
correlation of the progress of specifically musical thought during the
last generation with the progress of European thought in general, is so
extensive that I cannot within the necessary limits attempt to deal with
more than some of the most salient features, and even those I shall have
to treat in very broad outlines, with a certain disregard of detail and
nicely balancing qualifications. I shall only attempt to put before you
what seem to me the most prominent considerations, and to throw out
suggestions which I hope you may perhaps, if sufficiently interested,
develop at leisure for yourselves.

In several ways the correlation of the musician with the non-musical
world is now more intimate and conscious than ever before. Forty or
fifty years ago--in spite of brilliant individual exceptions--musicians
were, in the main, self-centred craftsmen; they were inclined to drift
into a backwater, away from the chief currents of the intellectual, or
often indeed of the general artistic life of their day, and they seem on
the whole to have been content to have it so. In England we were
somewhat behindhand, no doubt, in our participation in the gradual but
steady change. But men like Parry and Stanford brought their profession
into close touch with the general culture of their contemporaries, and
made the universities and music understand each other; Grove, the first
director of the Royal College, himself a man whose professional career
(not to mention his amateur interests) had ended in music after ranging
through civil engineering, business organization, biblical archaeology,
and the editorship of a great literary magazine, preached with
infectious enthusiasm the new doctrine of the larger outlook; and for
the last thirty years, even if our practice may have occasionally seemed
somewhat to lag behind, at any rate our theory has not looked back.
Musicians have been granted their claim to be judged by the same
intellectual and moral standards as other reasonable people; it is a
modest claim, but, especially in England, it has had to be fought for.

And the entry on this wider heritage, which English musicians, apart
from an exception or two such as Pierson and Bennett, won for the first
time a generation ago, has had in every country a definite influence on
composition, especially (as is only natural) on the composer's attitude
towards the musical setting of literature. I should be far from saying
that any modern is a greater song-writer than Schubert; but it is
obvious that the followers of Wolf and Duparc and Moussorgsky are aiming
at something different. They may not express the general mood of the
poem more faithfully, but they certainly attach more importance to its
lyrical structure and to flexibly expressive diction: they accept the
poet as an equal colleague. The serious song-writer can hardly any
longer, like Schumann in his setting of Heine's 'Das ist ein Flöten und
Geigen', afford to stultify great poetry by quoting from memory and
getting the adjectives deplorably wrong. Nor can he, like Beethoven in
'Adelaide' and the 'Entfernte Geliebte' cycle, let himself weave musical
structures many sizes too large for the proper structure of the words,
which have consequently to be repeated over and over again with very
little regard for poetical or even common sense. Schumann and Beethoven,
especially the former, were culturally very far from narrow-minded men;
but there was not in their days any general cultural pressure
sufficiently strong to influence them as composers. Now, the pressure is
so strong that few can resist. Most composers have now fully learned
their lesson of a fitting politeness towards their
poet-colleagues--learned it in the main, so far as not intuitively, from
the high examples set by Wolf and the modern French school--and have,
moreover, come to recognize the duty of setting such words as may be fit
not only to be sung but to be read, a duty shockingly neglected by many
of the greatest geniuses in musical history.

And the cultural pressure has gone farther than this. Not only has the
increasing complexity of life broadened the musician's personal outlook,
professional or unprofessional: it has also modified, whether for better
or for worse, the outlook of the music itself. We may conveniently
divide all music into two great classes: 'absolute' music, in which the
composer appeals to the listener through the direct medium of the pure
sound and that alone; and 'applied' music, in which the appeal is more
or less conditioned by words, either explicit or implicit by
association, or by bodily movement of some kind, dramatic or not, or by
any other non-musical factor that affects the nature of the composer's
thought and the method of its presentation. Up to the present
generation, instrumental music, unconnected with the stage, has been
virtually identifiable with absolute music; there are a handful of
exceptions--sporadic pieces, usually though not invariably thrown off in
composers' relatively easy-going moods, and an isolated figure or two of
serious revolt, like Berlioz and Liszt--but they only serve to prove
the rule. Now, this identification is far from holding good. More
consciously than ever before, instrumental music is straining beyond its
own special domain and asking for external spurs to creative activity.
And it asks in various quarters. It may ask merely the hint of
particular emotional moods conditioned by special circumstances; or it
may vie with the poet and the novelist in analysis of character. The
psychology, again, may pass into the illustration of incident, whether
partially realistic or purely imaginative, or into the illustration of
philosophical tenets, as in Strauss's version of Nietzsche's doctrines
in his _Also sprach Zarathustra_ or Scriabin's of theosophy in his
_Prometheus_. Or the composer may go directly to painting, whether
actual as in Rachmaninoff's symphonic poem on Böcklin's picture of 'The
island of the dead', or visionary as in Debussy's 'La cathédrale
engloutie'. There is indeed no end to such instances.

All this development of instrumental music into territories more or less
adjacent makes a very imposing show; and it is so markedly a product of
the last generation that we easily over-estimate the novelty of its
essential results. As I have said, instrumental music is more and more
asking for external spurs to creative activity; but this does not mean
that music as a whole is, so to speak, breaking loose from its moorings
and adventurously voyaging on to uncharted seas. What it means is,
simply, that, under the stress of modern culture, the barriers between
vocal and instrumental, dramatic and non-dramatic, music have been to a
great extent abolished.

We may consider music as normally involving three persons: the composer,
the performer, and the listener. Until the present generation, the role
of the listener was normally quite passive. All that he had to do was to
keep his ears open to the music, and further, when required, his ears
open to words and his eyes to dramatic presentation. The composer and
the performers did everything for him. But now they do not. The modern
composer urges that, just as vocal music demands from the listener a
separate knowledge of the words, so instrumental music may demand, as a
condition of full understanding, a separate knowledge of some verbally
expressible signification. The parallel no doubt holds well enough even
if we answer, as we certainly may, that in much vocal music the words
are so unimportant that it really does not musically matter if they are
unintelligible or inaudible. But this latter-day demand on the listener
is considerable. The listener to Strauss's _Don Quixote_, for example,
must, in order to appreciate in full measure any section of this long
work, have a fairly close acquaintance with Cervantes' book--whether
derived from an analytical programme or from personal reading: there are
neither words nor acting to give a clue, nor does the printed music
itself give the slightest assistance, except in so far that a couple of
themes are labelled with the names of the 'Knight of the sorrowful
countenance' himself and Sancho Panza. Sometimes, no doubt, a composer
helps at any rate the purchaser of his music more; but to the listener
he gives nothing, and leaves his thought, as embodied in the mere title,
to be reached as best it may. The modern composer makes these demands on
the listener continually; and he does so simply because the sphere of
the music-lover's imaginativeness and general culture has become so
greatly enlarged that he thinks he can fairly afford to take the risk.

But we may well ask whether the music of suggestion has not, in its
restless anxiety to correlate itself with non-musical culture, reached
or perhaps even overstepped the limits of musical possibility. It is no
question of a composer's rights: he has a right to do anything he can,
provided that he preserves a due proportion between essentials and
unessentials. And judicious criticism will turn, if not a blind, at any
rate a short-sighted eye towards a great composer's occasional realistic
escapades, which, however irritating they may perhaps be to others, are
to him only a part of the general background of his texture; after all,
in their different media, Bach and most of the other giants have
occasionally allowed themselves similar little flings. It is a question
not of rights, but of powers. The poet and the painter and the novelist,
not to mention all the non-human agents in the universe, are bound to do
a good many things much better than the composer can; and even if he may
personally aspire to be a kind of spectator of all time and existence,
he has no means of making his listeners see eye to eye with himself. The
risk he runs may be too great. Realizing as we must that all this
ferment of suggestion-seeking has undoubtedly vivified and enriched
musical development in not a few aspects, we may nevertheless feel, and
feel profoundly, that there is a cardinal weakness inherent in it. A
composer may so easily be tempted to forget that it is after all by his
music, and by his music alone, that he stands or falls. If he asks too
much extra-musical sympathy from the listener, he defeats his own end.
The listener will inevitably concentrate on the unessentials, and will
as likely as not get them quite wrong; he may indeed indulge the habit
of realistic suspicion to such an extent as to make him become
thoughtlessly unfair and credit the composer with sins of taste, whether
babyish or pathological, of which the objurgated culprit may be
altogether innocent. If a composer plays with fire, he is fairly sure to
burn some one's fingers, even if he successfully avoids burning his own.
And anyhow it is waste of time, and worse, for us to cudgel our brains
to fits of entirely unnecessary inventiveness when the composer has
left his music unlabelled. We sometimes hear of children being
encouraged to give verbal or dramatic expression of their own to
instrumental music; that is not education--very much the reverse. It is
merely the expense of spirit in a waste of fancifulness, the wilful
murder of all feeling for music as such.

The feeling for music as such, that is still the one thing needful. And
by this canon, so it seems to me, we must judge all these alarums and
excursions of modern composers. If we hold firmly by it, we shall not be
unduly worried when we learn that the music which seems so perfectly to
realize the composer's expressed meaning has been originally designed by
him quite otherwise--as has happened oftener than is generally known;
though this fact does not excuse wilful contradictions of a composer's
definite intentions, as in the vulgar perversion of Rimsky-Korsakoff's
_Scheherezade_ popularized by the latest fashionable toy, the Russian
Ballet, which would do more musically unexceptionable service were it to
confine itself to works specially designed for it, such as the
fascinating and finely-wrought scores of Stravinsky, or concert works
like Balakireff's _Thamar_, based on programmes that can be mimetically
reproduced without unfaithfulness. And anyhow, in the midst of all these
appeals to the eye or the literary memory or what not, we may call to
mind the simple truth that music is something to be heard with either
the inward or the outward ear, and if we are too much distracted
otherwise, our hearing sense suffers. We shall pay too high a price for
our latter-day correlation of music with literature and the other arts
if the music itself has to play the part of Cinderella. 'We do it wrong,
being so majestical.'

Again, we may endeavour to correlate recent musical development with
the development of the conceptions of nationality and race. With
nationality in the strictly political sense music has, indeed, nothing
to do: there is no inborn musical expression common to all the
inhabitants of Switzerland, or the United States, or the British Empire
(or indeed the British Islands). And if we abandon political nationality
entirely and think of national music solely in terms of race, we still
have to make very large deductions. Heredity counts, it would seem, for
far less than environment in musical development--especially so in these
days of free intercourse. Nevertheless, we may to some extent isolate
the racial element; and within the last generation increasingly vigorous
efforts have been made to do so--though they have perhaps neglected
sufficiently to observe that racial ancestry is often an extremely mixed

To the musician, this insistence on race is in the main a quite modern
thing. It is true that, as the successive waves of Italian influence
flowed northward in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth
centuries, they met in England, France, and Germany, and, at the end, in
Russia, native cross-currents; and there was plenty of controversy
between the opposing parties. But this controversy was mainly concerned
with matters of technique; whereas the whole force of the modern
movement consists in its reliance on the simple folk-music which is
supposed to be characteristic of the race as a whole, and about which
hardly any composers of the past consciously troubled themselves at all.
Haydn and Beethoven, no doubt, used folk-tunes in their own works to
some extent, but the former's adaptations from the uncultivated tunes of
his own Croatian people are polished nearly out of recognition, and when
the latter commandeers from Ireland or Russia or elsewhere, nothing but
pure Beethovenishness remains after his masterful hand has done its
will. We may say, indeed, that nationality, as such, was never in their
time a conscious factor in musical composition.

The modern movement seems to owe its origin to several non-musical
causes. For example, the spread of political democracy had no little
influence in arousing interest in the music specifically characteristic
of at any rate the non-urban sections of the newly enfranchised classes.
But, in the main, it was caused by the modern rise into something like
political prominence of the smaller nations, smaller either in size or
in historical importance. The events of 1848, for example, brought
Hungarian folk-music before the world; Bohemian claims against Austria
produced the work of Smetana and Dvo[vr]ák, largely based on the general
style of their own native melodies; the Irish Question made us know the
Irish songs; and the dominating races followed those leads, at any rate
in so far as to take interest in their own traditional music, and try to
evaluate its differentiating factors. Conscious connexion between
artistic composition and folk-music has varied very much: very strong in
Russia and other Slavonic countries, it has been very weak in Italy and
France; in Germany we find all stages between the work of Brahms, where
the folk-element is very notable, and of Wolf, where it is non-existent;
in our own islands it has been very weak, but is now becoming very
strong. But, whether this connexion has been conscious or not, still,
sooner or later, all the insisters on the importance of the element of
nationality have joined hands with the enthusiasts for the folk-music of
the people. In the work of preserving the knowledge of this folk-music
England has been one of the last of all countries: even the last edition
of Grove's _Dictionary_, our standard authority, gives many pages to
Scotland and Ireland and Wales, and smuggles English folk-music into an
appendix. Only indeed in the twentieth century has anything like an
adequate study of the varied treasures of English folk-music become
possible, and we have learned enough to realize that great folk-music is
no monopoly of the races that have been either politically or socially

This advance of the conception of racialism has widened and intensified
music in not a few ways. It has brought to our knowledge many splendid
melodies, infinitely varied in design and emotional range, and, at their
best, inspirations that the greatest composers would have been proud to
sign. And, mixed as are the feelings with which we must contemplate the
general course of our own musical history, we can anyhow boast of some
of the finest folk-tunes in existence in these relics of the old world
on its last western fringes, in Ireland and the Hebrides. We have come
to see that this great mass of traditional music--only in part, of
course, the outpouring of sheer genius, but at its worst sincere--is,
with its appeal alike to the child and the adult, either in years or in
musical culture, the most perfect educational weapon yet devised with
which to combat all the forces that make for musical degradation. And,
apart from all this half-unconsciously wrought music, we have been shown
the value of the bypaths in art, of the work of the great men of the
younger races like the Scandinavians and the Czechs and most of all the
Russians, who do not speak the older classical tongues but have, all the
same, abundance to say that is well worth the whole world's hearing. It
is to our immense gain that we have now come, far more than ever before,
to realize that in the house of music there are many mansions. And, once
again, we have been taught the duty of being fair to the men of our own
blood, past and present. Particularly in our own artistic history there
has been visible a strongly marked tendency, such as no other nation
has shown in equal measure, to neglect and depreciate native work in
comparison with foreign, even when the latter might perhaps be worse.
But I think we may say, without self-laudation, that British composition
is now worth some considerable attention from ourselves and others; it
was, not unnaturally, wellnigh forgotten during its sleep from the death
of Purcell till the rise of Parry--a fairly sound sleep, during which it
occasionally half-opened its eyes for a moment or two--but it is wide
awake now. We are still slow to learn the lesson; but we have come to
realize, at any rate theoretically, the duty of doing what we can, in
the spirit not of favouritism but of justice and knowledge, to disprove
the proverb that a prophet (and an artist also) has no honour in his own
country and in his father's house.

So much to the good. But to-day, more than ever before, many voices are
urging us to go farther--and, I think, to fare worse. Artistic racialism
has always been spontaneous, so far as the art is great. No composer who
is worth anything can be dragooned into being patriotic: he will go his
own way. Some are attracted more than others by the general types of
phrase or the general emotional moods exemplified in the folk-music of
their own race; but that is a matter for neither credit nor discredit.
Individuality includes race as the greater includes the less. The only
vital consideration is the value of the output in the general terms of
all races; and indeed all great folk-music, like any other kind, speaks,
for those who have ears to hear, a world-language and not a dialect. And
there is still more at stake in this issue. Those who, as I do, hold
that the best chance for the political future of the world lies in the
weakening of national and racial as well as class consciousness, must
needs regard very suspiciously any of these modern attempts to force
music into channels which are deliberately designed for it by
non-musical considerations: the fettering, by set purpose, of art is a
very considerable step towards the fettering of life itself. England may
sometimes have failed in kindness to her own artistic children, living
and dead; but at any rate we have been free from the curse of a narrow
jealousy and have steadfastly held to the proud faith of the open door
and the open mind. The ideal--so violently dinned into our ears
nowadays--of a national school of composers may very easily mean a
wilful narrowing of our artistic heritage. If an English composer with
nothing to say for himself imitates Brahms or Debussy, it is obviously
regrettable; but he will not mend matters by imitating Purcell. And,
after all, the musician who (save occasionally when seeking texts for
his own individual discourses) borrows his material from his native
folk-music stamps himself, just as much as if he borrowed from any other
quarter, as a common plagiarist incapable of inventing material of his
own. If we may adapt for the purpose Johnson's famous aphorism about
patriotism and scoundrels, we may say that racial parochialism is the
last refuge of composers who cannot compose. Let us assert once more the
supreme beauty of folk-music at its best; but it is often childish, and,
anyhow, childish or not, it is after all the work of children. And any
of the world's activities would come to a strange pass if children--or
any races or classes which, through lost opportunities or the oppression
of others, are still virtually children--were to dictate principles of
intolerance to those who, by no merit of their own but as a plain matter
of fact, can possess the wider vision. Let a composer steep himself as
much as he can in his native folk-music, as in all other great music,
and then write in sincerity whatever is in his own marrow; but anything
approximately like a chauvinistic attitude towards music, as towards
any other of the things of the spirit, means either insensibility to
spiritual ideals or unfaithfulness to them. Let me take an analogy. I
have always felt that a philosophical and historical study of the idea
of honour would throw more light than anything else on many great
problems, notably the problem of war, and that in this investigation the
conception of the duel would have a very prominent place. May we not say
that, just as the individual honour of each of us, unless we are members
of the self-styled upper classes of a few countries, is now supposed to
be able to take care of itself, so the blood in a composer's veins will,
if his music is worth anything, be able to take care of itself also?
Neither honour nor artistic personality is affectable by external
considerations which are on a different plane of value. And music indeed
is the most specifically international, or supernational, of all the
arts; it has not, like literature, any barriers of language, nor, like
painting or sculpture or architecture, any local habitation. Musical
separatism is not a natural quality; it needs careful and continuous
fostering. And I know from personal experience that, all through the
war, there was no difficulty at all in carrying on concerts in the
programmes of which works by living German composers, and songs in the
German language, were included in their due proportions just as before.

Another great factor in modern European thought with which I would
attempt to correlate music is the factor of religion. No one will deny
that the last generation has seen profoundly important changes in
religious thought: whatever may have been the eddies and backwaters, the
main stream has run, and still runs, like a cataract. These changes may
be very differently judged by different types of men, all of them
equally firm believers in the supremacy of spiritual ideals: some may
definitely regret, some may, with the help of such conceptions as that
of progressive revelation, steer a middle course, some (among whom I
would number myself) may definitely welcome. But in whatever light we
may regard these radical refusals of the old allegiances, we shall
naturally expect to find their influence in music, which has had in many
ways so intimate a connexion with religion. Indeed, the conception of
music as in some special way the handmaid of religion dies very hard. It
is still possible, in April 1919, for distinguished musicians, when
appealing for funds for the foundation of a professorship of
ecclesiastical music, to put their names to the statement that 'the
church will always be the chief home and school of music for the
people'[71]: and this when the facts about attendances at places of
worship have long been familiar. We must rate the influence of church
music more modestly; it has a great influence in its own sphere, but its
sphere is only one among many.

We may, I think, envisage this religious development on its practical
side as a process of differentiation by which the sincere standers in
the old and the middle and the new paths have little by little drawn
apart intellectually--but not, in societies that are happily able to
take broad views of human nature, otherwise than intellectually--not
only from each other but still more from those who, whatever their
ostensible labels, are in reality followers of Gallio and routine. And
something like the same process is observable in the religious music of
the past generation. Many of its old conventions have silently dropped
away, unregarded and unregretted: whatever the outlooks, and they are
many and various, they are more clear-sighted, more sincere. Here in
England we have somewhat lagged behind: we have had, not perhaps
altogether fairly but indubitably, a reputation for national hypocrisy
to sustain, and our religious music has only with difficulty shaken
itself loose. Not very long ago, Saint-Saëns's _Samson and Delilah_, now
one of the most popular of operas, could only be performed as an
oratorio: it dealt with biblical incidents and characters, therefore it
was religious music, therefore it could not be given stage presentation.
Of course this kind of attitude is never logical: for a long time we
closed Covent Garden to Strauss's _Salome_ for the same reason, but no
one, so far as I know, ever proposed to endow it with a religious halo.
Now, when Sunday secular music is everywhere, its origins seem lost in
antiquity; but the chamber-music concerts at South Place in London and
Balliol College in Oxford, which are, I think I am right in saying, the
twin pioneers, are both little over thirty years old. In most other
countries, however, music has suffered far fewer checks of this kind;
and it is of more importance to correlate musical and religious
development on more general lines. Particularly interesting, I think, is
the history of the decline of the oratorio, which I should myself be
inclined to date from the production of the German Requiem of Brahms
about half a century ago, though the real impetus has become apparent
only during the last generation.

Brahms's Requiem was indeed something of a portent: it was a definite
herald of revolt. The mere title, 'A German Requiem', involving the
commandeering of the name hitherto associated exclusively with the
ritual of the Roman Church and the practice of prayers for the dead, and
its adaptation to entirely different words, was in itself of the utmost
significance; and the significance was enhanced by the character of the
words themselves. In the first place, they were self-selected on purely
personal lines; in the second place, they were, theologically, hardly so
much as Unitarian. Brahms claimed the right to express his own
individual view of the problem, and at a length which involved the
corollary that the problem was regarded in its completeness. The 'German
Requiem' cannot be considered, as an anthem might be, as an expression
of a mere portion of a complete conception of the particular religious
problem: in an organic work of this length, what it does not assert it
implicitly denies or at any rate disregards. And this was at once
recognized, both by Brahms's opponents and by himself: he categorically
refused to add any dogmatically Christian element to his scheme.
Similarly with his _Ernste Gesänge_, written some thirty years later, at
the end of his life: he balances the reflections on death taken from
Ecclesiastes and similar sources with the Pauline chapter on faith,
hope, and charity--not with any more definite consolation. And again,
with the choral works, the settings of Hölderlin's _Schicksalslied_,
Schiller's _Nänie_, Goethe's _Gesang der Parzen_ (the first-fruits of
the essentially modern spirit which has impelled so many composers to
choral settings of great poetry)--they deal with the ultimate things,
but the expression is never, so to speak, orthodox: it is imaginative,
sometimes perhaps ironical, but never anything but intensely

Brahms's Requiem represents, as I have said, the beginning of the change
in the conception of concert-room religious music, of the abandonment of
the old type of oratorio in favour of something much more conscious and
individual; and in refusing to take things for granted, religious music
has been altogether in line with general religious development. The
change can perhaps be observed in English music more markedly than
elsewhere. Oratorio, in the sense in which we ordinarily use the term,
is to all intents and purposes an invention of the genius of Handel
reacting on his English environment: the form was of course older, but
he gave it a specific shape that set the fashion for future times. It
had its birth in a business speculation; it was a novelty designed to
occupy the Lenten season when the theatres were not available for opera.
Like the opera, it supplied narrative and incident and characterization
though without scenery or action, and it dealt with biblical history.
The history of the oratorio is the history of this loose compromise; it
has afforded an attractive flavour of the theatre even to those to whom
drama may in itself have seemed disreputable, and it has had the
advantage of possessing subjects which combined unquestioningly accepted
literal truth with unlimited possibilities for wholesale edification,
and at the same time made no intimately personal claims. The libretto of
Mendelssohn's _Elijah_ is perhaps at once the most familiar and the most
skilfully compiled example of the type; but it is now, so far as great
music is concerned, extinct. Here in England--where, for something like
a century and a half, the demand was so large that composers, when tired
of writing oratorios themselves, still went on producing them out of the
mangled fragments of other music--Parry's _Judith_ of 1888 is the last
of the old type from the pen of a great composer; and his subsequent
works show, in striking fashion, the direction of the newer paths. There
is no longer the assumption that everything in the Bible or the
Apocrypha is at one and the same time literally true and somehow or
other edifying. _Job_ and _King Saul_ are great literature and vivid
drama; they stand on their own merits. And the long succession of
smaller choral works, in which Parry mingled in curious but intensely
personal fusion his own earnest but somewhat pedestrian poetry with
fragments of the Old Testament prophets, represent a still further
abandonment of the old routine; they form a connected exposition of his
philosophy of life, on the whole theistic rather than specifically
Christian, and always transparently individual. Individual--that is the
real issue. According to their differing temperaments, different
composers may swing towards either the right or the left wing of thought
in these non-ecclesiastical expressions of ultimate things: Stanford may
join with Whitman or Robert Bridges, Vaughan-Williams with Whitman or
George Herbert, Frank Bridge with Thomas à Kempis, Walford Davies with a
mediaeval morality-play, Gustav Hoist with the Rig-Veda, Bantock with
Omar Khayyam. But the essentials, for any composer worth the name, are
that his theme shall have its birth in personal vision and shall appeal
to personal intelligence. The routine oratorio fulfilled neither of
these conditions; and it is dead beyond recall. It was a curious
illustration of foreign ignorance of British musical life that
Saint-Saëns, when asked to write a choral work for the Gloucester
Festival of 1913, should have imagined that he was meeting our national
tastes with an oratorio on the most prehistoric lines. However, the
unanimous chilliness with which _The Promised Land_ was received must
have effectually disillusioned him.

But the liberalisers, though the more numerous force, have no monopoly
of sincerity: among the genuine conservatives also we can find, I think,
signs of the correlation of musical with religious development. We have
had, during the last generation, many works that are in the legitimate
line of descent from the great classical settings of ritual words or (as
with the Passions and Cantatas of Bach) words that are intended anyhow
to appeal not as literature but as dogma. When Elgar prints on the
title-pages of his oratorios the letters A.M.D.G.--_ad majorem Dei
gloriam_--the personal note is, in these days, obvious. His own libretti
to _The Apostles_ and its sequel _The Kingdom_ (and to the further
sequels which had been sketched out twelve years ago, though none has as
yet seen the light) resemble those of the older type of oratorio in so
far as they include narrative and dramatic incident and religious
moralizing; but there is not a trace of the old lethargic taking things
for granted, it is all a ringing sacramental challenge to the individual
soul. Elgar's work is indeed the typical musical expression of recent
Roman Catholic developments; but there are others also. There was
Perosi, the Benedictine priest, whose oratorios, tentative, childishly
sincere mixtures of Palestrina and Wagner, were forced upon Europe in
the late 'nineties with the full driving power of his Church, and who,
when his musical insufficiency became palpable, was dropped in favour of
Elgar himself, whose sudden rise into deserved fame coincides in time.
There was again the allocution of Pius X, known as the _Motu proprio_,
which sought to reform ecclesiastical music and has, however fruitless
it may have been elsewhere, made the services in Westminster Cathedral,
under Dr. Terry's direction, a Mecca for musicians of all faiths who are
interested in the great sixteenth-century masterpieces. There are also
the aristocratically Catholic composers of latter-day France, centring
round Vincent d'Indy and the _Schola Cantorum_ and looking back for
inspiration to César Franck. And again, in the English communion, there
is the marked High-Church movement for the encouragement of dignified
music, a movement that has had great influence in the purification of
popular taste. And the pivot round which all this turns is the dogmatic
faith that definitely Christian expression in music is the property,
the exclusive property, of those who by temperament and conviction are
Christians. The attitude, like the conditions which have brought it
about, is, I think, new: but some of its adherents go surely too far
when they urge that those whose minds work otherwise cannot really
appreciate this music at its due worth. César Franck, that simple-minded
childlike genius, once pronounced Kant's _Kritik der reinen Vernunft_
'very amusing'--a surely unique criticism--simply, it would seem,
because it was eccentric enough not to take Catholicism as a primary
postulate: I do not myself happen to have any information about Kant's
musicianship--perhaps, like too many great thinkers, he knew little
about music and cared less--but I think we may venture to say, in the
abstract, that his philosophy would have made him fairer to Franck than
Franck was to him.

And thus perhaps we may conclude that recent musical development has
kept pace with religious development in concentrating more and more on
individual sincerity, whether on the one side or the other, and
abandoning the old easy-going haphazard routine. But, in reaction from
the extreme right and the extreme left of the movement, we have also the
sincere dislikers of stark thinking, whom their opponents call by
dignified names of abuse, such as pragmatists or undenominationalists:
and here again music keeps pace with religion. It is not the old routine
again (though perhaps in practice it may at times come rather perilously
near it); it is the more or less conscious adoption of a compromise. We
can see its musical working best of all in the recent history of church
music in England; it is true that the great mass of the younger
musicians, here as in all other countries, stand outside these
developments, and look both for ideals and practice elsewhere, but the
developments have none the less been very significant. There have been
three stages. A couple of generations ago there was no conflict and no
call for compromise. The ecclesiastical musician of the time was
expected, whether as composer, as organist, or as administrator, to do
his best according to his lights: it was his accepted business, as
presumably knowing more about the matter than the artistic laity, to
lead their taste, not to follow. Then came the reign of men like Dykes
and Stainer and Gounod, whose normal attitude involved the sacrifice by
the musician of some of his musicianship in the supposed interests of
religion. The supposed interests, I say; for the whole point of the
third stage of development, the conflict in which English church music
is now involved, is the denial by one of the opposing parties that the
interests of religion are in any way served by such a sacrifice. It is a
very keen conflict, in which the sympathies of the musician _qua_
musician naturally lean towards those who uphold the inalienable dignity
of his art: and even if he feels that ecclesiastical music, _qua_
ecclesiastical, is outside his personal concern, influences from it are
bound to radiate into the secular departments. But what I would more
especially point out is that the religious and the musical developments
proceed side by side. Just as the stricter purists in the one field are,
in the other, generally inclined, even if themselves unmusical, to
uphold plain-song and the Elizabethans and only such modern work as is
inspired by something like a similar spirit, aloof and strong, so those
whose religious mentality is of a more pliable type are, if musically
indifferent, generally inclined to uphold the practical accommodation
afforded by the inclusion of at any rate a certain quantity of music
that is consciously adapted to the more immediately obvious emotions of
the average worshipper.

And, even if there is no question of a lowered artistic standard, we
see, I think, the same spirit of compromise, of ready acceptance of the
more immediately obvious as the average and proper norm for all people,
elsewhere on the boundaries of musical and religious life. It is so easy
to turn a blind eye to logic and minorities, or even to majorities if
they have little pressure, social or other, to back them up. To
illustrate from one or two English examples, the transformations of
cathedrals into secular concert-rooms are as open to blame from the one
side as are, from the other, such assumptions as that of the 'Union of
Graduates in Music' to take rank as a definitely ecclesiastical, indeed
an Anglican society. Again, it so happens that a somewhat exceptional
proportion of English musicians hold, or have held, as conditions of
livelihood, posts to which not all of them would have aspired had other
channels, open to their foreign fellow-artists, been open to them also;
and, as a necessary consequence, there is more probability here than
elsewhere of the musical profession presenting practical problems for
the intellectual conscience to solve. So far as the musician is a
personal non-conformer and also a teacher (even if not a church
organist), he is often compelled into a tacit agreement with the
Cowper-Temple clause, at the least: and so far as he is a convinced
conformer, he is often compelled to strain, far beyond the meaning of
the parable, the principle of letting the wheat and the tares grow
together. This is called a practical age: and the compromisers, in
religion and in religious music, are a powerful force. But I would
venture to think that the future lies, in the long run, in other hands
than theirs.

To the mediaeval musician, religion and science were the twin
foundations of his art. But while the influence of religious development
can without difficulty be traced in musical history, the influence of
scientific development is much more contestable. It may indeed, I
think, be said that post-mediaeval music has gone its own way without
considering science at all. Theorists of course there have been, and
still are, who try to discover scientific foundations for the art of
music as we moderns know it: they do their best to correlate
mathematical physics with practical composition. But during the past
generation these attempts, never very hopeful, have become much less so.
It is only too easy to play scientific havoc with the foundations of
modern music: but, arbitrary and scientifically indefensible though they
may be, they are our inheritance. Music has come to be what it is by
methods that will not bear accurate investigation: our tonal systems are
mere makeshifts, and no composer can completely express his thoughts in
our clumsy notation. I doubt if, throughout all this last generation
that has seen such overwhelming scientific advance, music has really
been scientifically affected (in the strict sense of the word) in the
slightest degree, if we exclude some interesting experiments in
sympathetic resonances, primary and secondary, at which some recent
composers for the piano have, at present rather tentatively, tried their
hands. And whole-tone and duodecuple scales and modern harmony in
general are taking us farther and farther away from those natural laws
of the vibrating string upon which arm-chair theorists have sought to
build a very top-heavy edifice. Of course, the vibrating string
ultimately gives--mostly out of tune--all the notes of the chromatic
scale, but composers employ them on principles the reverse of

The growth of music has not been scientific; but growth of some kind is
evident enough, though it is none too easy to define it at all
adequately. Some might say, with Romain Rolland in his _Musiciens
d'autrefois_, that 'the efforts of the centuries have not advanced us a
step nearer beauty since the days of St. Gregory and Palestrina'; but
this is surely a narrow outlook. Beauty combines the many with the one:
and plain-song and the _Missa Papae Marcelli_ show us only a few, a very
few, of its manifestations. But artistic progress is, anyhow, very
subtle and evasive; and musical progress, in particular, is hardly
correctable with any other. Above all, we must recollect that, to us
Europeans, music--which, in the only sense worth our present
consideration, is an exclusively European product--is incalculably the
youngest of the great arts; if we exclude some monophonic conceptions
that have still their value for us, it is barely five hundred years old
at the most.

During the last generation an advance in material complexity is obvious,
even though the complexity may often enough be one of accidentals rather
than essentials. An orchestral score of Wagner is relatively simple in
comparison with one of Delius or Ravel or Scriabin or Stravinsky or
Schönberg; and the demands on performers' technique and also on their
intelligence have steadily increased to heights altogether unknown
before. The composer has at his present disposal a vastly enlarged
medium; the possibilities of sound have developed incalculably more than
those of paint or stone or marble. Pheidias could, we may imagine, have
appreciated Rodin across a gulf of over two thousand years; but it is
difficult to see the points of contact, after little over three hundred
years, between Palestrina and any twentieth-century work that would
claim to be 'in the movement'. And it is not only in complexity that we
have advanced. We have extended the limits of musical style. We have
adopted in sober earnest methods forecasted at rare intervals in the
past by adventurous explorers, and employ musical notes not as elements
in any harmonic scheme but purely as points of colour, exactly as if
the definite notes were mere clangs of indefinite instruments like
cymbals or triangles. Wordless vocal tone, moreover, of several
different types, is pressed into the same service. Varied tonal and
harmonic colour, and structural freedom: those are the two battle-cries
of the young generation. Little by little the old tonalities, based as
they were on fixed centres, are slipping away; all the notes of the
chromatic scale are acquiring even status; the principles of structure
are newborn with every new work. And advance of this kind has been
extraordinarily accelerated during the last twenty years. At no time in
musical history have there been such express-speed modifications of
manner as those which divide, let us say, the latest piano pieces of
Brahms (1893) and the latest of Scriabin (1914). It is possible, indeed,
that our standard system of keyboard tuning may require modification in
the not very distant future. Once again, as three hundred years ago,
music seems to be in the throes of a new birth. On the former occasion,
the process of convalescence lasted rather more than a century, from
Monteverde through Carissimi and Schütz and Purcell to Bach; and it may
perhaps take as long now.

But it is plain enough that mere novelty does not involve progress; if
it were so, the music of the casually strumming baby would demand high
recognition. Nor is progress to be found in merely quantitative,
Brobdingnagian expansion. And when we have taken our stand on what seems
a sufficiently sound definition of musical progress in its material
aspect--the combination of novelty with expansion, the new thought with
its appropriately enlarged medium--we have yet to remember that many
very fine composers still can, and do, express their natural and full
selves in older idioms, and that progress of this kind, however
widespread it may become, is not necessarily advance in the scale of
values. There is, somewhere or other, a limit to the cubic capacity of
things: they cannot increase indefinitely in depth and breadth at once.
We may confidently hope that we have not yet musically come within
hailing distance of the limit: but nevertheless it is becoming more and
more difficult to see music steadily and see it whole, and it is useful
to take stock of our position. Our musical minds are very much broader
than they were: in that sense we can well, like the heroes of Homer,
boast that we are much better than our fathers. But are they also
deeper? We have gained access to many new rooms in the house of art,
rooms full of strange and beautiful things, for the knowledge of which
we must needs be profoundly and lastingly grateful; but some of the
rooms seem rather small and their windows do not seem to have been
opened very often, while others seem liable to be swept by hurricanes
which upset the furniture right and left. Veterans there are, musicians
not to be named except with high honour, who fall back for nutriment on
the great classics and pessimism; but our notions of beauty cannot stand
still, and in all ages of music one of the most vital tasks of criticism
has been to distinguish between the relatively non-beautiful which has
character and truth and its superficial imitation which has neither. All
musicians very well recollect their first bewilderment at what has
afterwards become as clear as daylight. But we must retain our standards
of judgement. We have no right to criticize without familiarity, but we
must remember that over-familiarity, mere dulled habitual acceptance,
means equal incapacity for criticism. If, after trying our utmost, we
still cannot see any sense in some of these modernist pages, there is no
reason why we should not say so; it is quite possible that there really
is no sense in them, and that the composer is perfectly aware of the
fact. Odd stories float about the artistic world. And if the anarchists
call us philistines and the philistines call us anarchists, it is fairly
likely that we are seeing things pretty much as they are.

Moreover, it is worth remembering that a good deal of what is loosely
called modernism is in reality very much the reverse. There is nothing
progressive in the confusion of processes with principles, in the
breathless disregard of the larger issues. Take the ideal of 'direct
expression of emotion', the attempt to give, as Pater said half a
century ago, 'the highest quality to our moments as they pass and simply
for those moments' sake'. Musically, it is a return to the childhood of
our race, to the natural savage. If a musical composition is to consist
of anything more than one isolated noise, it must inevitably have a form
of some kind, its component parts must look backward and forward. The
latter-day composers who speak of Form as a kind of bogey that they have
at last exorcized remind us of those latter-day thinkers who boast that
they have abolished metaphysics. We cannot leap off our shadows; if we
try, we shall only find that we are left with a residuum of bad
metaphysics or bad musical form--as thoroughly bad as the metaphysics
and the musical form that have resulted from the confusion of the one
with empty word-spinning and of the other with hide-bound pedantry.
Again, much of the modern rhythmical complexity strongly resembles, in
essence, the machine-made experiments of mediaeval times; and the
peculiarly fashionable trick of shifting identical chords up and down
the scale--the clothes'-peg conception of harmony, so to speak--is a
mere throw-back still farther, to Hucbald and the diaphony of a thousand
years ago. And the insistence, now so common, on the decorative side of
music, the conscious preference of the sensuous to the intellectual or
emotional elements, brings us back to our own infancy, with its
unreflecting delight in things that sparkle prettily or are soft to the
touch or sweet to the taste. It is a reaction from sentimentality, no
doubt, but is a reaction to an equal extreme, a perversion of the truth
that great art never wholly gives itself away. As Vincent d'Indy has
justly pointed out, the 'sensualist formula'--'all for and by
harmony'--is as much an aberration of good sense as the parallel formula
of the ultra-melodic schools of Rossini and Donizetti: in either case it
means the sacrifice of spaciousness to immediate effect, the supremacy
of sensation over the equilibrium of the heart and the intelligence. Not
of course that any music lacks the sensuous element; but it is a matter
of proportion. And very distinguished as are many of the modern
exponents of this side of things, history tells us, I think, that they
are working in a blind alley. They have their supporters, no doubt. M.
Jean-Aubry, in his very suggestive and valuable book on modern French
musicians, has used a phrase that seems to me worth remembering; he
speaks of the 'obsession of intellectual chastity' which, to his mind,
disfigures the work of César Franck and other great composers whom he
therefore rejects from his latter-day Pantheon. I am glad to think that
Franck would have gloried in this shame. He, and a very goodly company
with him, knew that music was, at its highest, something better than an
entertainment, however thrilling or however refined.

But, whatever critics and composers may feel about musical progress, it
is, as Wagner said, in the home of the amateur that music is really kept
alive, and the amateur's music depends very largely on the schools. A
generation ago music was certainly sociologically selfish. Musicians had
not realized that all classes of the community were open to the
influences of fine music, if only they had the opportunities for
knowing it. But since then there have been very great advances, both
quantitative and qualitative, in musical education. We have spread it
broadcast, in the increasing faith that appreciation depends, not on
technical knowledge or executive skill, but on the responsive
temperament and the will to understand. Familiarity, familiarity at home
if possible, is the key to this understanding; and in this connexion
there is, I believe, an enormous educational future before pianolas and
gramophones, if only the preparation of their records can be taken in
hand on artistic rather than narrowly commercial lines. And our
standards of judgement have risen: we do not worship quite so blindly
mere names, whether of the past or of the present, nor exalt the
performer quite so dizzily above what is performed. Nor do we quite so
glibly disguise our indifference to vital distinctions by talking about
differences of taste: we know that, however catholic we may rightly be
within the limits of the good, whether grave or gay, there comes sooner
or later, in our judgement of musical as of all other spiritual values,
a point where we must put our foot down. We are going on, and our
theories are sound enough: but the path of a democratically widened, and
rightly so widened, art is by no means easy. The principle of levelling
up slides so readily into the practice of levelling down: and the book
of music is closed once for all if we are to accept the plenary
inspiration of majorities.

But here in England the greatest danger to musical progress is, I
venture to think, the self-styled practical Englishman--fortified as he
is by the consciousness that, for at any rate a couple of centuries or
more, we have as a nation taken a low view of the arts and have been
rather proud of it than otherwise. It is so obvious that no profession
is economically more unsound than that of the serious composer: it is
not so obvious that we owe all the great things of the spirit by which
we chiefly live to those whom the world calls dreamers, among whom the
great musicians have had, and, I hope and believe, will always have, no
mean place. Against the 'practical Englishman', and all that his
attitude to music involves, we can all of us fight in our respective
spheres: and I would commend to you for useful weapons three very
different books by very different men--Sir Hubert Parry's great book on
_Style in Musical Art_, Mr. C.T. Smith's account of his artistic work in
an elementary school in the East End of London which he calls _The Music
of Life_, and a pamphlet _Starved Arts mean Low Pleasures_ recently
written by Mr. Bernard Shaw for the British Music Society. And one
particular line of indirect attack, easily open to all of us, is, I am
inclined to think, specially promising. In the third and fourth verses
of the thirty-fifth chapter of the book of Ecclesiasticus we shall find
these injunctions, which I translate as literally as Greek epigrams can
be translated: 'Do not hinder music: do not pour out chatter during any
artistic performance: and do not argue unseasonably.' In other words,
conversation, however valuable, prevents complete listening to music;
and music that is not meant to be listened to in its completeness is not
worth calling music, and had much better not be there at all. Musical
progress will be spiritually well on its way when we all realize this
axiomatic truth as firmly as this Hebrew sage of two thousand years and
more ago.


[Footnote 71: _The Times_, April 17, 1919.]




To understand in any degree the modern outlook on life it seems
necessary to go back to the time of the French Revolution. For at that
stirring epoch there flamed up in the minds of enthusiasts an ideal of
man's life larger than had ever yet been known, and one that has
dominated us all ever since. If we give, as I think we should give, a
wide sense to the word 'Liberty' and make it mean all that stands for
self-development, then one may say that this ideal was fairly well
summed-up in the famous Revolutionary watchword, 'Liberty, Equality,
Fraternity'. It is impossible at any rate to read the idealists of that
time and its sequel--say from 1793 to 1848--whether in France, Germany,
England, or Italy, whether inside or outside the Revolutionary ranks,
without feeling their buoyant hope that a fresh era was opening in which
man, casting aside old shackles and prejudices, could advance at once
towards knowledge, joy, splendour, both for himself and all his fellows.
Shelley, perhaps, is most typical of what I mean. Hogg laughed at him
for his belief in the 'perfectibility' of the race, but Hogg knew the
belief was vital to the poet. To Shelley it was a damnable doctrine that
the many should ever be sacrificed to the few: yet neither was the
ultimate vision that inspired him the vision of the few being sacrificed
for the many. He was anything but an ascetic seeking martyrdom. The
martyrdom of his Prometheus is a prelude to the Unbinding when
happiness shall flood the world:--

    'The joy, the triumph, the delight, the madness!
     The boundless, overflowing, bursting gladness,
       The vaporous exultation not to be confined!'

And not only happiness and love, but knowledge also: the Earth calls to
the Sky: 'Heaven, hast thou secrets? Man unveils me; I have none.'
Soberer spirits shared this poet's ecstasy. Wordsworth sang

    'Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
     But to be young was very heaven.'

And that heaven was exactly this foretaste of the Spirit of Man entering
undisturbed into his full inheritance at last: Science welcomed as a
dear and honoured guest, Poetry known as 'the breath and finer spirit
that is in the countenance of all knowledge'.

It is scarcely necessary even to mention the high hopes of the French
themselves, the confident anticipation of an Age of Reason when all men
should be brothers and the earth bring forth all her treasures, but it
is well worth noting the attitude of Goethe, an attitude the more
significant because, in a sense, Goethe always stood outside the French
Revolution. But he, like the best of its votaries--and this is less
known than it should be--desired the development of all men every whit
as much as he desired the high culture of a few. It was for the double
goal that he worked. 'Only through all men,' he writes in a notable
passage, 'only through all men, can mankind be made.'[72] All good lies
in Man, he tells us again, and must be developed, 'only not in one man,
but in many'. Goethe, the so-called aristocrat, has given us here as
true a formula for the democratic faith as could well be found. And to
him, as to Shelley and to Wordsworth, Poetry and Science were not
enemies but friends dearer than sisters. Those three, Shelley,
Wordsworth, and Goethe, foreshadowed a new poetry of science that has
never yet been achieved, though fine work has been done by Tennyson,
Whitman, Sully Prudhomme, and Meredith.

Goethe, moreover, again like Shelley and the French, broke with all
ideals of mere self-abnegation. In his poem, 'General Confession', he
makes his disciples repent of ever having missed an opportunity for
enjoyment and resolve never so to offend again. Here, as often, Goethe
comes into the closest touch with our modern feeling. We, too, can never
return to the Franciscan ideal of poverty, celibacy, and obedience as
the highest life for man on earth. We have done with self-denial except
as the means to a human end. We are still in the tide of what I would
call the Modern Renascence; we claim the whole garden of the world for
our own, the tree with the knowledge of good and evil included, reacting
even from Christian ideals if they can make no room for that. But, after
all, the characteristic of the belief dominant a century ago was exactly
that such room could be made, that Hellenism could be combined with
Christianity, and self-development with self-denial.

And this belief is, I think, reflected in the music of the time.
Schubert, that sweetest soul of tears and laughter, understands every
shade of wistfulness, and yet again and again in his music it seems as
though the universe had become, to quote a lover of his, one immense and
glorious blackbird. Mozart, in 'The Magic Flute', as Goethe seems to
have recognized, sings the very song of union between the unreflecting
joy of the natural man and the strenuous self-devotion of the awakened
spirit. Beethoven, greatest of them all, plumbs the lowest depths of
suffering and then astounds and comforts us by ineffable vistas of
happiness. After years of personal misery he crowns the glorious series
of his symphonies by the one that ends in a hymn of joy, freedom, and
faith, embracing the whole world--'Diese Kuss der ganzen Welt'--that
majestic open melody, clear as the morning, fresh as though it came from
far oversea, greater even than any of the great harmonies that have gone
before, larger than the tortured human heart, steadier than the sudden
ecstasy of the spirits set free, stronger than the swansong of the
dying, a melody content with earth because it is conscious of heaven. I
offer no apology for weaving my own fairy-tales round such music: I see
no harm in the practice, but only good, so long as we understand what we
are about. Music, it is true, is something other than, in a sense more
than, either thought or feeling or even poetry, and cannot be reduced to
any of them (nor any of them to it). The universe would be poor indeed
if it could be so. But none the less the truth may be, as Spinoza
thought, that the universe is at once a unity and a unity with many
facets, so that any one facet, while for ever unique, can bring to our
minds all the mysteries of the rest.

In any case, the high confidence that breathes in the music of a hundred
years ago meets us again in the philosophers.

Hegel, born in the same year as Beethoven and Wordsworth (1770), is sure
that nothing can resist the onslaught of man's spirit. 'Stronger than
the gates of Hell are the gates of Thought.' Fichte is convinced that
there waits in man, only to be developed, a power that will unite him
with all other men and at the same time develop his own personality to
the full. In a sense, the deepest, each man _is_ his fellow-men, and
they are he.

How much this conception has affected modern thought can be seen in a
recent and very remarkable book, _The New State_,[73] where the very
basis of democracy is shown to be the faith in this essential unity, a
unity to be worked out, not yet realized, but capable of realization, a
faith stirring all through the modern world, in ways expected and
unexpected, from Syndicalism to the League of Nations.

Later than Hegel and Fichte, the great Positivist conception of life
preached by Comte is instinct with this belief that man united with his
fellows, and only as so united, can attain heights undreamt-of and

The flood-tide of this faith flowed far into the nineteenth century. The
Italian Mazzini, leader of revolt in 1848, was filled with it. Prophet
of the most generous political gospel ever preached, he lived on the
hope that, if freedom were given to the nations and duty set before
them, they would prove worthy of their double mission, and peace would
come to pass between all peoples.

But even Mazzini had his moments of agonizing doubt. And others beside
him, men of lesser intellect as well as greater, were soon to raise, or
had already raised, voices, stern or fretful, of protest and criticism.
It became clear at last that this joyous confidence rested on a very
definite view of life and one that might easily be challenged, the view,
namely, that at bottom the universe meant well to man, that his greatest
aspirations were compatible with each other and nowise beyond
attainment. Almost from the first there were men of the modern world who
did challenge this. Byron and Schopenhauer are significant figures, both
born in the same year, only eighteen years later than the great Three of
1770, Wordsworth, Hegel, and Beethoven. Byron is full of moody
questionings, Schopenhauer of much more than questionings. Against the
dauntless optimism of Hegel, he flatly denies that the universe is good,
or happiness possible for man. On the contrary, at the heart of it and
of him there lies an infinite unrest, never to be quieted until man
himself gives up the Will to Live and sinks back into the Unconscious
from which he came.

Now after Schopenhauer came Nietzsche, and though Nietzsche's influence
may have been exaggerated, yet undeniably it has been of immense
importance both for Germany and Europe. He is typical of the change that
begins to appear about the middle of the century. Reacting from the
optimism of the idealists (which seemed to him both smug and false),
Nietzsche welcomed Schopenhauer's more Spartan view with a kind of
fierce delight. But his criticism of Schopenhauer was fierce too, and he
gave a strangely different turn to such parts of the doctrine as he did
accept. To Schopenhauer, since it was folly to hope for real happiness
in this life or any other, the wise course would be to kill outright, so
far as possible, the Will to Live itself. To Nietzsche the wise course
was to assert life, to claim it more and more abundantly, to face this
tragic show with a courage so high that it could be gay, a courage that
could do without happiness, and yet that turned aside from none of
life's joys simply because they were fleeting, that was more than
content to 'live dangerously', picking flowers, as it were, clear-eyed,
on the edge of the precipice. And this not merely in the temper of 'Let
us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die.' For him the motto would have
run, 'Let us be up and doing, for to-morrow we die', sustained by the
belief that the heroic struggle now would lead inevitably to the
production of a nobler type of man, a man who would be something more
than man--the Super-man, to give him the name that every reader knows,
if he knows nothing else about Nietzsche.

Even this short statement shows how Nietzsche shared the admiration for
life and power characteristic of what I have called the Modern
Renascence, and how deeply he was influenced by the doctrine of
Evolution, and that in a not unhopeful form, the hope for an advance in
the race at least, if not in the individuals now living. And it shows
too how mistaken those are who see in him nothing but a preacher of
brutal egotism. If he had been only that, he would never have won the
influence he possessed and possesses. Yet there is important truth in
the cursory popular judgement. If his teaching has its heroic side, a
side that has enabled him to give succour to many when other and sweeter
gospels are spurned as flattering unctions, he has also a most ruthless
element. And this partly because of his very sincerity. Accept the
doctrine that men and women perish like candles blown out in the night,
accept it really and fully, with intellect, imagination, and feeling,
and then see how much light-heartedness can be got out of life, if we
still allow ourselves to pity men. Nietzsche had intellect, imagination,
and feeling, and he saw plainly enough that, while even in such a
universe there could be a grim happiness for the lives of heroes, there
could be nothing but infinite sadness for the countless failures who
have never been either happy or heroic. There was no immortality; these
wretched beings would never have another chance. If joy was to be kept
(and Nietzsche was avid for joy), if the universe was to be accepted
(and Nietzsche desired above all to say Yes! to the universe), then he
must root out pity from his heart as an unmanly weakness. In this way
was sharpened the ruthlessness and savage arrogance latent in the man, a
ruthlessness and an arrogance that have done so much harm both to his
country and the world.

In fairness, we must add that Nietzsche could not succeed in his own
attempt; the struggle tore him to pieces and he died in madness.

But it is above all instructive to contrast him here with several of
his contemporaries and successors. Browning in England, Walt Whitman in
America, facing the same problems of joy and struggle, of life and
death, of the few great and the many commonplace, of Man himself and the
Nature that seems at once his mother and his enemy, refused to give up
the hope of a solution, nay, they were sure they had found a solution,
and for them it was bound up with the hope of immortality. They go even
beyond the earlier men in their insistence on the double ideal of
Paganism and Christianity, but they have an insistence of their own on
the belief in unending life as alone giving man elbow-room, so to speak,
for working out his destiny. Browning claims eternity as the due of
every man, however mean; and if Whitman feels his foothold 'tenon'd and
mortised in granite', it is because he can 'laugh at dissolution' and
knows 'the amplitude of time'.

But in such insistence and such conviction they have not been followed,
speaking broadly, by our leading writers since. On the other hand, they
have been so followed, again speaking broadly, in their loyalty to the
twofold ideal. Here and there, no doubt, as I have said, writers like
Nietzsche, on the one hand, have tried to be satisfied with the splendid
development of a Few, or, on the other hand, like Tolstoy, have flung
back in a kind of despair to the old ideal of abnegation, of sheer
brotherly love and nothing else, turning their backs on all splendours
of art, knowledge, or delight, that do not directly minister to the one
thing they hold needful. But the earlier and wider ideal, the ideal of
our Renascence, once envisaged by man, that has not been lost, and I
believe never can be lost. Its own greatness will keep the foremost men
true to it. Meredith is one of the men I mean. He is full of pity, but
he does not only pity men and women--he wants them to grow, and to grow
for themselves. His whole attitude towards Woman shows this: for the
women's movement is nothing more and nothing less, as Ibsen also felt,
than one big stream of the general movement towards liberty and
self-determination. So far Meredith marches with Browning and Whitman.
But he will never commit himself about immortality. It seems enough for
him to take part in the struggle for a finer life, at once heroic and
tender, not caring overmuch whether we reach it or no. 'Spirit raves not
for a goal' is one of his hard and characteristic sayings, and here he
seems to me typical both of modern thought in general and especially of
English thought, and that both for good and ill. We see in him the want
of precision, the lack of logical coherence, that have prevented us from
ever producing a philosopher of the first rank. At the same time there
is something true and profound in his instinct that the moment has not
yet come in which to formulate our faith. We all feel that we are on the
brink of tremendous, perhaps terrifying, discoveries; we resent any
cut-and-dried solution, however pleasant, perhaps all the more if it is
pleasant, and we resent it because we feel that at bottom our hopes
would be travestied by any conception we, with our little intellect and
minute knowledge, could at present frame. It was once said to me by a
far-seeing friend[74] that the modern dislike of church-going, the
modern incapacity to write a long coherent poem, the modern passion for
music and for realism, even for sordid realism, all sprang from the same
roots, from the thirst for an infinite harmony, the belief that
everything was somehow involved in that harmony, and the conviction that
all systems, as yet made or makeable, were entirely inadequate.

And to the list we may add, I think, the modern passion for history and
for science. We study history not merely to be warned by failures or
inspired by shining examples: at bottom we have a belief that somehow
the lives and struggles of those men in the distant past are still quite
as important as our own. We follow the discoveries of science not only
for their commercial value or because we share the excitement of the
chase, but because, deeper than all, we suspect that the universe is a
glorious thing.

And there is another matter, perhaps the most important of all, on which
I would dwell as I draw to a close, where Meredith leads directly to the
dominant thought of the present day. I mean his feeling that, if the
universe is to be proved acceptable to man's conscience, it will be
through the effort of man himself struggling towards his own ideal. It
is as though the world itself had to be redeemed by man. This hope is
the real hope of our time. So far as the modern world believes the
doctrine of the Incarnation, it is in this sense that it believes.

And this belief we find everywhere in all hopeful writers, great or
small. It gives dignity to the latest writings of H.G. Wells, this faith
in a spirit moving in man greater than man himself, worthy to fight and
fit to overcome all that is wrong in the universe. Bernard Shaw's creed
is just the same, sometimes thinly disguised under respect for 'the
Life-Force', sometimes coming boldly forward in audacious, profound
assertions that God needs Man to accomplish His own will and is helpless
without him. 'There is something I want to do,' Shaw imagines his God as
saying, 'and I don't know what it is; I must make a brain, the human
brain, to find it out.' Rodin modelled a mighty hand, the Hand of God,
holding within it Man and Woman. Shaw, it is reported, asked the
sculptor: 'I suppose you meant your own hand after all?' 'Yes,' said
Rodin, 'as the tool.'

The same idea is at the base of what is most stimulating in Bergson,
the idea of what he calls Creative Evolution, an undefined splendour not
yet fully existing, but, as it were, crying out to be born, and only to
be born through the struggle of man's spirit with matter. This is one
function of matter, perhaps the supreme function, to be the material
through which alone man's vague ideal can become definite and actual,
just as an artist can only get close to his own conception through the
effort to embody it in visible form or audible sound.

From this point of view, the world is conceived as anything but
ready-made, rather it is in the process of making, and we ourselves are
among the makers. Or, to take a metaphor that perhaps appeals more to
the modern world, it is a fight, and an unfinished fight. To quote
William James, 'It _feels_ like a real fight--as if there were something
really wild in the universe which we, with all our idealities and
faithfulnesses, are needed to redeem; and first of all to redeem our own
hearts from atheisms and fears.' He goes on to confess that he himself
does not know, and certainly cannot prove scientifically, that the
redemption will surely be accomplished. Such proof, he admits, 'may not
be clear before the day of judgement (or some stage of being which that
expression may serve to symbolize)'. 'But the faithful fighters of this
hour, or the beings that then and there will represent them, may turn to
the faint-hearted, who here decline to go on, with words like those with
which Henry IV greeted the tardy Crillon after a great battle had been

      "Hang yourself, brave Crillon! We fought at Arques,
    and you were not there!"'[75]

Thus, if the idea of the splendour and perfection of the universe has
sunk into the background, if the sense of worship and the feeling of
ecstasy have been dimmed (and I think they have), at least the reverence
for heroism and for tenderness has not been impaired, and there after
all lies the root of human majesty. There is deep pathos in the change,
but maybe, paradoxical as it sounds, deep hope as well. The world may
grow the stronger for having to live now by what Carlyle called
'desperate hope' as distinct from 'hoping hope'. The triumphant harmony
that seemed attained a century ago by certain poets and thinkers may
have been, after all, too cheap and easy, if not for their own large
spirits, at least for us, their lesser readers. Mystics have spoken of
'The Dark Night of the Soul' as the stage inevitable before the crowning
glory, and to-day some of those who call to us out of great darkness are
among our greatest leaders.

Of such certainly is a living writer, now beginning to be acclaimed as
he deserves, the writer Conrad. In some ways this noble novelist might
stand as the special representative of modern feeling. A Pole by birth
and more than half an Englishman by sympathy, his view of life is as
wide as it is profound and grave. It has all the sternness of temper of
which I have spoken, the determination to look facts in the face
whatever the consequences. Conrad would echo Sartor's noble cry for
Truth--'Truth! though the Heavens crush me for following her;--no
Falsehood! though a whole celestial Lubberland were the price of
Apostasy!' This determination is fierce enough to be taken for cynicism,
but Conrad is far too tender ever to be a cynic. So also does his
pitifulness prevent him from ever falling into the errors of a
Nietzsche, but none the less he has all Nietzsche's ardour for heroism.
That to him is the core of life:--'to face it.' 'Keep on facing it,' so
the old skipper tells the young mate in _Typhoon_. And facing the
mysterious universe, peering into the Darkness with steady alert eyes,
Conrad has at once an endless wistfulness and, or so it seems to me, a
secret unquenchable hope. Doubt certainly he has in plenty. The sea of
which he is always dreaming is terrible and cruel in his eyes as well as
august and ennobling.

But he is sure of one thing: it is through the struggle with it and such
as it that man alone can become Man. It is through facing the horrors of
a dead calm, with a sick crew on board and no medicine, that the young
master of the sailing-vessel in the Pacific crosses successfully the
Shadow Line that divides youth from manhood. And it is through facing
the unleashed fury of the tornado that the old captain of the
'full-powered steam-ship' in _Typhoon_ shows what he has in him,
compassion and kindness as well as shrewd knowledge of men, expert
seamanship, and indomitable heroism. The whole thing is driven home with
a power, an incisiveness, and a delicate irradiating humour which I
should despair of conveying by mere criticism. The book must be read for
itself, and read again and again. It is told, in one way, simply as a
sailor's yarn, but it awakes in us the feeling that the struggle is a
symbol of man's life.

Threatened by the advancing cyclone, Captain MacWhirr, 'the stupid man'
of no imagination, decides, almost instinctively, that the only thing to
be done is to keep up steam and face the wind. By sheer force of
personality he holds the crew together and carries the ship through. And
in the desperate struggle, every nerve on the strain for hours that seem
unending, MacWhirr finds time to care for the miserable pack of
terrified coolies on board, who have given way to panic and are fighting
madly in the hold. MacWhirr stops this, brings about order and a chance
for the Chinese, when the rest of his men, fine men as most of them
are, can think of nothing but the safety of the ship. 'Had to do what's
fair for all,' he mumbles stolidly to his clever grumbling mate, Jukes,
during a dead lull in the storm--'they are only Chinamen. Give them the
same chance with ourselves' ... 'Couldn't let that go on in my ship, if
I knew she hadn't five minutes to live. Couldn't bear it, Mr. Jukes.' He
does not know whether the ship will be lost or not--(and we do not know
whether mankind will be lost or not)--what he does know is how he must
act. But also he never loses hope. 'She may come out of it yet': that is
the kind of answer the taciturn man gives when driven to speech. The
chief mate, locked in his captain's arms to brace himself against the
hurricane, scarcely able to make the other hear in the terrific gale
though he shouts close to his head, gets back such answers, and with
them the power to endure. He tells him the boats are gone: the captain
yells back sensibly, 'Can't be helped.'

And so noble is the power with which Conrad uses our tongue, the tongue
he has made his own by adoption and genius, that I must let him speak
for himself, and can find no better close for my own lame words. Jukes
has been shouting to his captain again:

     'And again he heard that voice, forced and ringing feebly, but
     with a penetrating effect of quietness in the enormous discord of
     noises, as if sent out from some remote spot of peace beyond the
     black wastes of the gale; again he heard a man's voice--the frail
     and indomitable sound that can be made to carry an infinity of
     thought, resolution, and purpose, that shall be pronouncing
     confident words on the last day, when heavens fall and justice is
     done--again he heard it, and it was crying to him, as if from
     very, very far--"All right."'


[Footnote 72: _Wilhelm Meister's Lehrjahre_, Bk. 8, c. 5.]

[Footnote 73: By M.P. Follett (Longmans).]

[Footnote 74: Professor A.C. Bradley, to whom also is due the passage
about Schubert and the parallel drawn between Beethoven, Hegel, and

[Footnote 75: From _The Will to Believe_, quoted in Bridges' _The Spirit
of Man_, No. 425.]

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Recent Developments in European Thought" ***

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

We also ask that you:

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

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

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

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