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Title: Progress and History
Author: Marvin, Francis Sydney, 1863-1943 [Editor]
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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'Tanta patet rerum series et omne futurum
Nititur in lucem.'








This volume is a sequel to _The Unity of Western Civilization_ published
last year and arose in the same way, from a course of lectures given at
the Woodbrooke Settlement, Birmingham.

The former book attempted to describe some of the permanent unifying
factors which hold our Western civilization together in spite of such
catastrophic divisions as the present war. This book attempts to show
these forces in growth. The former aimed rather at a statical, the
present at a dynamical view of the same problem. Both are historical in

It is hoped that these courses may serve as an introduction to a series
of cognate studies, of which clearly both the supply and the scope are
infinite, for under the general conception of 'Progress in Unity' all
great human topics might be embraced. One subject has been suggested for
early treatment which would have especial interest at the present time,
viz. 'Recent Progress in European Thought'. We are by the war brought
more closely than before into contact with other nations of Europe who
are pursuing with inevitable differences the same main lines of
evolution. To indicate these in general, with stress on the factor of
betterment, is the aim of the present volume.




   I. THE IDEA OF PROGRESS                                           7

         By F. S. MARVIN.

  II. PROGRESS IN PREHISTORIC TIMES                                 27

        By R. R. MARETT, Reader in Social Anthropology,

 III. PROGRESS AND HELLENISM                                        48

        By F. MELIAN STAWELL, late Lecturer at
          Newnham College, Cambridge.

  IV. PROGRESS IN THE MIDDLE AGES                                   72

        By the Rev. A. J. CARLYLE, Tutor and
          Lecturer at University College, Oxford.

   V. PROGRESS IN RELIGION                                          96


  VI. MORAL PROGRESS                                               134

        By L. P. JACKS, Principal of Manchester
          New College, Oxford.

 VII. GOVERNMENT                                                   151

        By A. E. ZIMMERN, late Fellow of New
          College, Oxford.

VIII. INDUSTRY                                                     189

        By A. E. ZIMMERN.

  IX. ART                                                          224

        By A. CLUTTON BROCK.

   X. SCIENCE                                                      248

        By F. S. MARVIN.

  XI. PHILOSOPHY                                                   273

        By J. A. SMITH, Waynflete Professor of
          Mental and Moral Philosophy, Oxford.

 XII. PROGRESS AS AN IDEAL OF ACTION                               295

        By J. A. SMITH.




The editor of these essays was busy in the autumn of last year collating
the opinions attached by different people to the word 'progress'. One
Sunday afternoon he happened to be walking with two friends in Oxford,
one a professor of philosophy, the other a lady. The professor of
philosophy declared that to him human progress must always mean
primarily the increase of knowledge; the editor urged the increase of
power as its most characteristic feature, but the lady added at once
that to her progress had always meant, and could only mean, increase in
our appreciation of the humanity of others.

The first two thoughts, harmonized and directed by the third, may be
taken to cover the whole field, and this volume to be merely a
commentary upon them. What we have to consider is, when and how this
idea of progress, as a general thing affecting mankind as a whole, first
appeared in the world, how far it has been realized in history, and how
far it gives us any guidance and hope for the future. In the midst of a
catastrophe which appears at first sight to be a deadly blow to the
ideal, such an inquiry has a special interest and may have some
permanent value.

Words are the thought of ages crystallized, or rather embodied with a
constantly growing soul. The word 'Progress', like the word 'Humanity',
is one of the most significant. It is a Latin word, not used in its
current abstract sense until after the Roman incorporation of the
Mediterranean world. It contains Greek thought summed up and applied by
Roman minds. Many of the earlier Greek thinkers, Xenophanes and
Empedocles as well as Plato and Aristotle, had thought and spoken of a
steady process in things, including man himself, from lower to higher
forms; but the first writer who expounds the notion with sufficient
breadth of view and sufficiently accurate and concrete observation to
provide a preliminary sketch, was the great Roman poet who attributed
all the best that was in him to the Greeks and yet has given us a highly
original picture of the upward tendency of the world and of human
society upon it. He, too, so far as one can discover, was the first to
use the word 'progress' in the sense of our inquiry. The passage in
Lucretius at the end of his fifth book on the Nature of Things is so
true and brilliant and anticipates so many points in later thought that
it is worth quoting at some length, and the poet's close relation with
Cicero, the typical Greco-Roman thinker, gives his ideas the more weight
as an historical document.

He begins by describing a struggle for existence in which the less
well-adapted creatures died off, those who wanted either the power to
protect themselves or the means of adapting themselves to the purposes
of man. In this stage, however, man was a hardier creature than he
afterwards became. He lived like the beasts of the field and was
ignorant of tillage or fire or clothes or houses. He had no laws or
government or marriage, and though he did not fear the dark, he feared
the real danger of fiercer beasts. Men often died a miserable death, but
not in multitudes on a single day as they do now by battle or shipwreck.

The next stage sees huts and skins and fire which softened their
bodies, and marriage and the ties of family which softened their
tempers. And tribes began to make treaties of alliance with other

Speech arose from the need which all creatures feel to exercise their
natural powers, just as the calf will butt before his horns protrude.
Men began to apply different sounds to denote different things, just as
brute beasts will do to express different passions, as any one must have
noticed in the cases of dogs and horses and birds. No one man set out to
invent speech.

Fire was first learnt from lightning and the friction of trees, and
cooking from the softening and ripening of things by the sun.

Then men of genius invented improved methods of life, the building of
cities and private property in lands and cattle. But gold gave power to
the wealthy and destroyed the sense of contentment in simple happiness.
It must always be so whenever men allow themselves to become the slaves
of things which should be their dependants and instruments.

They began to believe in and worship gods, because they saw in dreams
shapes of preterhuman strength and beauty and deemed them immortal; and
as they noted the changes of the seasons and all the wonders of the
heavens, they placed their gods there and feared them when they spoke in
the thunder.

Metals were discovered through the burning of the woods, which caused
the ores to run. Copper and brass came first and were rated above gold
and silver. And then the metals took the place of hands, nails, teeth,
and clubs, which had been men's earliest arms and tools. Weaving
followed the discovery of the use of iron.

Sowing, planting, and grafting were learnt from nature herself, and
gradually the cultivation of the soil was carried farther and farther up
the hills.

Men learnt to sing from the birds, and to blow on pipes from the
whistling of the zephyr through the reeds: and those simple tunes gave
as much rustic jollity as our more elaborate tunes do now.

Then, in a summary passage at the end, Lucretius enumerates all the
chief discoveries which men have made in the age-long process--ships,
agriculture, walled cities, laws, roads, clothes, songs, pictures,
statues, and all the pleasures of life--and adds, 'these things practice
and the experience of the unresting mind have taught mankind gradually
as they have progressed from point to point'.[1]

It is the first definition and use of the word in literature. If we
accept it as a typical presentation of the Greco-Roman view, seen by a
man of exceptional genius and insight at the climax of the period, there
are two or three points which must arrest our attention. Lucretius is
thinking mainly of progress in the arts, and especially of the arts as
they affect man's happiness. There is no mention of increase in
knowledge or in love. As in the famous parallel passage in Sophocles'
_Antigone_, it is man's strength and skill which most impressed the
poet, and his skill especially as exhibited in the arts. Compared with
what we shall see as typical utterances of later times, it is an
external view of the subject. The absence of love as an element of
progress carries with it the absence of the idea of humanity. There is
no conception here, nor anywhere in classical thought before the Stoics,
of a world-wide Being which has contributed to the advance and should
share fully in its fruits. Still less do we find any hint of the
possibilities of an infinite progress. The moral, on the contrary, is
that we should limit our desires, banish disturbing thoughts, and settle
down to a quiet and sensible enjoyment of the good things that
advancing skill has provided for us. It is, of course, true that
thoughts can be found in individual writers, especially in Plato and
Aristotle, which would largely modify this view. Yet it can hardly be
questioned that Lucretius here represents the prevalent tone of
thoughtful men of his day. They had begun to realize the fact of human
progress, but envisaged it, as was natural in a first view, mainly on
the external side, and, above all, had no conception of its infinite

When we turn to typical utterances of the next great age in history the
contrast is striking. Catholic doctrine had absorbed much that was
congenial to it from the Stoics, from Plato and Aristotle, but it added
a thing that was new in the world, a passionate love and an overpowering
desire for personal moral improvement. This is so clear in the greatest
figures of the Middle Ages, men such as St. Bernard and St. Francis, and
it is so unlike anything that we know in the world before, that we are
justified in treating it as characteristic of the age. To some of us,
indeed, it will appear as the most important element in the general
notion of progress which we are tracing. It so appeared to Comte.[2] Of
numberless passages that might be quoted from fathers and doctors of the
Church, a few words from Nicholas of Cusa must suffice. He was a divine
of the early fifteenth century, true to the faith, but anxious to
improve the discipline of the Church. To him progress took an entirely
spiritual form. 'To be able to understand more and more without end is
the type of eternal wisdom.... Let a man desire to understand better
what he does understand and to love more what he does love and the whole
world will not satisfy him.'

Here is a point of view so different from the last that we find some
difficulty in fitting it into the same scheme of things. Yet both are
essential elements in Western civilization; both have been developed by
the operations of similar forces in the world civilized and incorporated
by Greece and Rome.

The Catholic divine looks entirely inward for his idea of progress, and
his conception contains elements of real and permanent validity, of
which our present notions are full. His eyes are turned towards the
future and there is no limit to his vision. And though the progress
contemplated is within the soul of the individual believer, it rests on
the two fundamental principles of knowledge and love which are both
essentially social. The believer may isolate himself from the world to
develop his higher nature, but the knowledge and the love which he
carries with him into his solitude are themselves fruits of that
intercourse with his fellows from which an exclusive religious ideal
temporarily cuts him off.

Nor must we forget that Catholic doctrine and discipline, though aiming
at this perfection of the individual rather than of the race, was
embodied in an organization which carried farther than the Roman Empire
the idea of a united civilization and furnished to many thinkers,
Bossuet as well as Dante, a first sketch of the progress of mankind.

But it is clear that this construction was provisional only, either on
the side of personal belief and practice, or of ecclesiastical
organization; provisional, that is, if we are looking for real unity in
the mind of mankind. For we need a doctrine, a scheme of knowledge, into
which all that we discover about the world and our own nature may find
its place; we need principles of action which will guide us in attaining
a state of society more congruent with our knowledge of the
possibilities of the world and human nature, more thoroughly inspired
by human love, love of man for man as a being living his span of life
here and now, under conditions which call for a concentration of skill
and effort to realize the best. The breaking of the old Catholic
synthesis, narrow but admirable within its limits, took place at what we
call the Renascence and Reformation; the linking up of a new one is the
task of our own and many later generations. Let it not be thought that
such a change involves the destruction of any vital element in the idea
of progress already achieved; if true and vital, every element must
survive. But it does involve an acceptance of the fact that progress, or
humanity, or the evolution of the divine within us--however we prefer to
phrase it--is a larger thing than any one organization or any one set of
carefully harmonized doctrines. The truth, and the organ in which we
enshrine it, must grow with the human minds who are collectively
producing it. The new unity is itself progress.

It must give us confidence in facing such a prospect to observe that at
each remove from the first appearance of the idea of progress in the
world man's use of the word has carried more meaning and, though
sometimes quieter in tone, as in recent times, is better grounded in the
facts of life and history. Such an advance in our conceptions took place
after the Renascence. At the beginning of the seventeenth century, when
the art and science of the ancient world had been recovered, the word
and the idea of progress started on a fresh course of unexampled vigour.
The lines were closer to those of the pre-Christian than of the Catholic
world, but it would be by no means true to call them pagan. When Bacon
and Descartes begin to sound the modern note of progress, they think
primarily of an advance in the arts and sciences, but there is a
spiritual and human side to their ideal which could not be really
paralleled in classical thought. The Spirit of Man is now invoked, and
this, not in the sense of an élite, the builders of the Greek State or
the rulers of the Roman Empire, but of mankind as a whole. This is
Christian, or perhaps we should say, Stoical-Christian. Thus Descartes
tells us that he looks to science to furnish us ultimately with an art
which will make us 'masters and possessors of nature ... and this not
solely for the pleasure of enjoying with ease the good things of the
world, but principally for the preservation and improvement of human
health which is both the foundation of all other goods and the means of
strengthening the spirit itself' ('Discours de la Méthode'). It is
significant that the two words Progress and Humanity come into use in
their modern sense side by side. The latter is the basis and the ideal
of the former.

But the new thing which had come into the world at this point, and gives
a fresh impulse and content to the idea of progress, is the development
of science. The Greeks had founded it and, as we shall see in a later
chapter, it was the recovery of the Greek thread which gave the moderns
their clue. But no one before the sixteenth century, before the marvels
revealed by Galileo's telescope and knit up by Newton's synthetic
genius, could have conceived the visions of human regeneration by
science which light up the pioneers of the seventeenth century and are
the gospel of the eighteenth.

We turn to the eighteenth century, and primarily to the school of
thinkers called 'philosophes' in France, for the fullest and most
enthusiastic statement of progress as a gospel. It is, of course,
European, as all the greatest advances of thought have been; and German
thinkers, as well as English, stand with the French in the vanguard.
Kant and Herder, from different points of view, thought it out perhaps
more thoroughly than any one else at that time; but the French believed
in it as a nation and were willing to stake their lives and souls on the
belief. Thus Turgot, before the Revolution, declared that 'the total
mass of the human race marches continually though sometimes slowly
towards an ever-increasing perfection'. And Condorcet, in the midst of
the Revolution, while himself under its ban, painted a picture 'of the
human race, freed from its chains, and marching with a firm tread on the
road of truth and virtue and happiness'.

Here is the gospel in its purest and simplest form, and when we are
inclined to think that the crimes and the partial failure of the
Revolution discredit its principles, it is well to remember that the man
who believed in them most systematically, expounded his belief with
perfect calmness and confidence as he lay under sentence of death from a
revolutionary tribunal.

If this enthusiasm is madness, we might all well wish to be possessed.
The true line of criticism is different. At the Revolution, as before at
the Renascence, the leaders of the new movement could not see all their
debt to the past. Like the Renascence, they idealized certain features
in classical antiquity, but they had not yet gained the notion of
historical continuity; above all, they did not realize the value of the
religious development of the Middle Ages. It was left for the nineteenth
century and for us, its successors, to attempt the supreme task of
seeing things steadily and seeing them whole.

For in spite of the capital contributions of the Renascence to progress
and the idea of progress, especially by its scientific constructions, it
is undeniable that a bias was then given to the course of Western
civilization from which it has suffered ever since, and which it is now
our urgent duty to correct. Two aspects of this may be specified. The
old international unity which Rome had achieved, at least superficially,
in the Mediterranean world, and which the Catholic Church had extended
and deepened, was broken up in favour of a system of sovereign and
independent states controlling religion and influencing education on
lines calculated to strengthen the national forces and the national
forces alone. They even believed that, at any rate in trade and
commerce, the interests of these independent states were rather rival
than co-operative. The Revolution struck the note of human association
clearly enough, but we have not yet learnt to set all our other tunes in
accord with it. Another, and perhaps even more fundamental, weakness of
the Renascence tradition was the stress it laid on the material,
mechanical, external side of progress. On the one hand, the spiritual
side of life tended to be identified with that system of thought and
discipline which had been so rudely disrupted. On the other hand, the
new advance in science brought quickly after it a corresponding growth
of wealth and mechanical inventions and material comforts. The spirit of
man was for the time impeded and half suffocated by its own productions.

The present war seems to many of us the supreme struggle of our better
nature to gain the mastery over these obstructions, and freedom for its
proper growth.

Now if this analysis be anywhere near the truth, it is clear that our
task for the future is one of synthesis on the lines of social progress.
Knowledge, power, wealth, increase of skill, increase of health, we have
them all in growing measure, and Mr. Clutton Brock will tell us in his
chapter in this volume that we may be able by an exercise of will to
achieve even a new renascence in art. But we certainly do not yet
possess these things fairly distributed or in harmony of mind.

The connexion therefore between progress as we now envisage it, and
unity, both in ourselves and in society at large, becomes apparent. At
each of the previous great moments in the history of the West
development has been secured by emphasis on one side of our nature at
the expense of the rest. Visions of mankind in common progress have
flashed on individual thinkers, a Roman Emperor, a Catholic Schoolman, a
Revolutionary prophet. But the thing achieved has been one-sided, and
the needed correction has been given by another movement more one-sided
still. The greatest hope of the present day lies in the fact that in all
branches of life, in government as well as in philosophy, in science as
in social reform, in religion and in international politics, men are now
striving with determination to bind the threads together.

There is no necessary opposition between the rival forces which have so
often led to conflict. In all our controversies harmony can be reached
and has often been reached by the application of patience, knowledge,
and goodwill. And goodwill implies here the readiness to submit the
particular issue to the arbitration of the general good. The
international question has been so fully canvassed in these days that it
would be superfluous to discuss it here. The moral is obvious, and
abundant cases throughout the world illustrate the truth that
well-organized nationalities contain in themselves nothing contrary to
the ideal of international peace.[3] Nor is the still more persistent
and universal opposition of capital and labour really less amenable to
reconciliation, because in this case also the two factors in the problem
are equally necessary to social progress, and we shall not enter on the
various practical solutions--co-operation, co-partnership, partial
state-socialism, &c.--which have been proposed for a problem which no
one believes to be insoluble. The conflict in our own souls between the
things of matter and sense and the life of the spirit, is more closely
germane to the present argument, because ultimately this has to be
resolved, if not in every mind yet in the dominant mind of Europe,
before the more practical questions can be generally settled. Harmony
here is at the root of a sound idea of progress.

When the concluding chapters of this volume are reached it will be seen
how fully the recent developments both in science and philosophy
corroborate the line which is here suggested for the reconciliation of
conflicts and the establishment of a stronger and more coherent notion
of what we may rightly pursue as progress. For both in science and still
more in philosophy attention is being more and more closely concentrated
on the meaning of life itself, which science approaches by way of its
physical concomitants, and philosophy from the point of view of
consciousness. And while science has been analysing the characteristics
of a living organism, philosophy finds in our consciousness just that
element of community with others which an organic conception of progress
demands. The only progress of which we can be certain, the philosopher
tells us, is progress in our own consciousness, which becomes constantly
fuller, more knowing, and more social, as time unfolds. This, he tells
us, must endure, though the storms of passion and nature may fall upon

On such a firm basis we would all gladly build our faith. No unity can
be perfect except that which we achieve in our own souls, and no
progress can be relied on except that which we can know within, and can
develop from, our own consciousness and our own powers. But we cannot
rest in this. We are bound to look outside our own consciousness for
some objective correspondence to that progress which our own nature
craves; and history supplies this evidence. It is from history that we
derive the first idea and the accumulating proofs of the reality of
progress. Lucretius's first sketch is really his summary of social
history up to that point. The Catholic thinker had a wider scope. He
was able to see that the whole course of Greco-Roman civilization was,
from his point of view, a preparation for the Church which had the care
of the spiritual life of man while on earth. And in the next stage, that
in which we now live, we see all the interests of life taken back again
into the completeness of human progress, and can trace that complete
being, labouring slowly but unmistakably to a higher state, outside us
in the world, as well as within our own consciousness, which is ready to
expand if we will give it range.

On such lines we may sketch the historical aspect of progress on which
the personal is based; and it is of the utmost importance to keep the
two aspects before us concurrently, because reliance on the growing
fullness of the individual life to the neglect of the social evolution
is likely to empty that life itself of its true content, to leave the
self-centred visionary absorbed in the contemplation of some ideal
perfection within himself, while the world outside him from which he
ultimately derives his notions, is toiling and suffering from the want
of those very elements which he is best able to supply.

The succeeding chapters of this book will, it is hoped, supply some
evidence of the concrete reality of progress, as well as of the tendency
to greater coherence and purity in the ideal itself. It would have been
easy to accumulate evidence; some sides of life are hardly touched on at
all. The collective and the intellectual sides are fully dealt with both
in this and in the volume on _The Unity of Western Civilization_. But if
we make our survey over a sufficient space, coming down especially to
our own days, our conclusion as to the advance made in the physical and
moral well-being of mankind, will be hardly less emphatic. Our average
lives are longer and continue to lengthen, and they are unquestionably
spent with far less physical suffering than was generally the case at
any previous period. We are bound to give full weight to this, however
much we rightly deplore the deadening effect of monotonous and
mechanical toil on so large a part of the population. And even for these
the opportunities for a free and improving life are amazingly enlarged.
We groan and chafe at what remains to be done because of the unexampled
size of the modern industrial populations with which we have to deal.
But we know in some points very definitely what we want, and we are now
all persuaded with John Stuart Mill that the remedy is in our own hands,
'that all the great sources of human suffering are in a great degree,
many of them entirely, conquerable by human care and effort.' This
conviction is perhaps the greatest step of all that we have gained. In
morality some pertinent and necessary questions are raised in Chap. VI,
but the general progress would be doubted by very few who have had the
opportunity of comparing the evidence as to any previous state of
morals, say in the Middle Ages or in the Elizabethan age--the crown of
the Renascence in England--with that of the present day. The capital
advance in morality, which by itself would be sufficient to justify our
thesis, is the increase in the consciousness and the obligation of the
'common weal', that conception of which Government, increasingly better
organized, is the most striking practical realization. It has its
drawback in the spread of what we feel as a debasing 'vulgarity', but
the general balance is overwhelmingly on the side of good. And in all
such discussions we are apt to allow far too little weight to the change
which the New World, and especially the United States, has brought
about. In matters of personal prosperity and a high general standard of
intellectual and moral competence, what has been achieved there would
outweigh a good deal of our Old World defects when we come to drawing
up a world's balance-sheet.

It will be seen therefore that we dismiss altogether any doctrine of an
'illusion of progress' as a necessary decoy to progressive action.
Progress is a fact as well as an ideal, and the ideal, though it springs
from an objective reality, will always be in advance of it. So it is
with all man's activities when he comes to man's estate. In science he
has always an ideal of a more perfect knowledge before him though he
becomes scientific by experience. In art he is always striving to
idealize fresh things, though he first becomes an artist from the pure
spontaneous pleasure of expressing what is in him. The deliberate
projection of the ideal into the future, seeing how far it will take us
and whether we are journeying in the right direction, is a late stage.
As to progress, the largest general ideal which can affect man's action,
it is only recently that mankind as a whole has been brought to grips
with the conception, also enlarged to the full. He was standing,
somewhat bewildered, somewhat dazzled, before it, when the war, like an
eclipse of the sun, came suddenly and darkened the view. But an eclipse
has been found an invaluable time for studying some of the problems of
the sun's nature and of light itself.

One of the most acute critics of the mid-Victorian prophets of progress,
Dr. John Grote, did very well in disentangling the ideal element which
is inherent in every sound doctrine of progress as a guide to conduct.
He took the theory of a continuous inevitable progress in human affairs,
and showed how this by itself might lead to a weakening of the will, on
which alone in his view progress in the proper sense depends. He took
the mechanical theory of utilitarianism and subjected it to a similar
analysis. We cannot evaluate progress as an increase in a sum-total of
happiness. This is incapable of calculation, and if we aim directly at
it, we are likely to lose the higher things on which it depends, and
which are capable of being made the objects of that direct striving
which is essential to progress. Dr. Grote's analysis has long since
passed into current philosophical teaching, but he will always be well
worth reading for his fresh and vigorous reasoning and for the way in
which he builds up his own position without denying the solid
contributions of those whom he criticizes. Complete truth in the matter
seems to us to involve a larger share for the historical element than
Dr. Grote explicitly allows. We grant fully the paramount necessity for
an ideal of progress and for constantly revising, purifying, and
strengthening it. But in its formation we should trace more than he does
to the collective forces of mankind as expressed in history. These have
given us the ideal and will carry us on towards it by a force which is
greater than, and in one sense independent of, any individual will. This
is the cardinal truth of sociology, and is obvious if we consider how in
matters of everyday experience we are all compelled by some social force
not ourselves, as for instance in actions tending to maintain the family
or in a national crisis such, as the war. This general will is not, of
course, independent of all the wills concerned, but it acts more or less
as an outside compelling force in the case of every one. Moreover our
selves are composite as well as wholes, and parts of us are active in
forming the general will, parts acquiesce and parts are overborne. Thus
it is clear that a general tendency to progress in the human race may be
well established--as we hold it to be--and yet go on in ways capable of
infinite variation and at very various speed. We are all, let us
suppose, being carried onward by one mighty and irresistible stream. We
may combine our strength and skill and make the best use of the
surrounding forces. This is working and steering to the chosen goal. Or
we may rest on our oars and let the stream take us where it will. This
is drifting, and we shall certainly be carried on somewhere; but we may
be badly bruised or even shipwrecked in the process, and in any case we
shall have contributed nothing to the advance. Some few may even waste
their strength in trying to work backwards against the stream. We seem
to have reached the point in history when for the first time we are
really conscious of our position, and the problem is now a possible and
an urgent one to mark the goal clearly and unitedly and bend our common
efforts to attaining it.

If this be so, the work of synthesis may be thought to have a higher
practical value for the moment than the analysis which has prevailed in
European thought for the last forty or fifty years. In the earlier part
of the nineteenth century the great formative ideas which had been
gathering volume and enthusiasm during the revolutionary period, took
shape in complete systems of religious and philosophic truth--Kant,
Hegel, Spencer, Comte. They have been followed by a period of criticism
which has left none of them whole, but on the other hand has produced a
mass of contradictions and specialisms highly confusing and even
hopeless to the public mind and veiling the more important and profound
agreements which have been growing all the time beneath. There are now
abundant signs of a reaction towards unity and construction of a broad
and solid kind. In no respect is such a knitting up more desirable than
in this idea of progress itself. Are we to say that there is no such
thing as all-round continuous progress, but only progress in definite
branches of thought and activity, progress in science or in particular
arts, social progress, physical progress, progress in popular education
and the like, but that any two or more branches only coincide
occasionally and by accident, and that when working at one we can and
should have no thought of working at them all? This is no doubt a
prevalent view and we may hope that some things said in this book may
modify it. Another school of critical thinkers, approaching the question
from the point of view of the ultimate object of action, asks what is
the one thing for which all others are to be pursued as means? Is
increase of knowledge the absolute good or increase of happiness? Or if
it is increase of love, is it quite indifferent what we love? A few
words on this may fitly conclude this chapter.

The task of mankind, and of every one of us so far as he is able to
enter into it, is to bring together these various aspects of human
excellence, to see them as parts of one ideal and labour to approach it.
This approach is progress, and if you say 'progress of what, and to what
end', the answer can only be, the progress of humanity, and the end
further progress. Some of the writers in this book will indicate the
point at which in their view this progress is in contact with the
infinite, with something not given in history; but, whatever our view of
the transcendental problem may be, it is of the utmost importance for
all of us to realize that we have given to us in the actual process of
time, in concrete history, a development of humanity, a growth from a
lower to a higher state of being, which may be most perfectly realized
in the individual consciousness, fully awake and fully socialized, but
is also clearly traceable in the doings of the human race as a whole.
Such is in fact the uniting thread of these essays, and when we proceed
to the converse of this truth and apply this ideal which we have shown
to be the course of realization, as a governing motive in our lives, it
is even more imperative to strive constantly to keep the whole
together, and not to regard either knowledge or power or beauty or even
love as an ultimate and supreme thing to which all other ends are merely
means. The end is a more perfect man, developed by the perfecting of all

Such a conception embraces all the separate aspects of our nature each
in its place, and each from its own angle supreme. Love and knowledge
inseparable and fundamental, freedom and happiness essential conditions
of healthy growth, personality developed with the development of the
greater personality in which we all live and grow. This greater
personality is at its highest immeasurably above us, and has no
assignable limits in time or in capacity to know, to love, or to enjoy.
We cannot fix its origin at any known point in the birth of planets, nor
does the cooling of our sun nor of all the suns seem to put any limit in
our imagination to the continuous unfolding of life like our own. While
thus practically infinite, the ideal of human nature is revealed to us
concretely in countless types of goodness and truth and beauty which we
may know and love and imitate. To all it is open to study the lineaments
of this ideal in the records and figures of the past; to most it is
revealed in some fellow beings known in life. From these, the human
spirits which embody the strivings, the hopes, the conquered failings of
the past, we may form our better selves and build the humanity of the

There is a famous and magnificent passage in Dante's _Purgatorio_ which
Catholic commentators interpret in sacramental terms but we may well
apply in a wider sense to the progress of the human spirit towards the
ideal. It occurs at that crucial point where the ascending poet leaves
the circles of sad repentance to reach the higher regions of growing

     'And when we came there, to the first step, it was of white
     marble, so polished that I could see myself just as I am.

     'And the second was coloured dark, a rugged stone, cracked
     lengthwise and across. And the third piled above it was
     flaming porphyry, red like the blood from a vein.

     'Above this one was the angel of God, sitting on the
     threshold, bright as a diamond.

     'Up the three steps my master led me with goodwill and then
     he said, "Beg humbly that he unlock the door."'[4]

Like this, the path man has to tread is not an easy progress. But he is
rising all the time and he rises on steps of his own past. He sees
reflected in them the image of himself, and he sees too the deep faults
in his nature, and the rough surface of his path through time. The last
step, tinged by his own blood, gives access to a higher dwelling, firm
and bright and leading higher still. But it is open only after a long
ascent, and to the human spirit that has worked faithfully, with love
for his comrades and leaders, and reverence for the laws which bind both
the world and him.


John Grote, _Examination of Utilitarian Philosophy_.

Kant, _Principles of Politics_ (translated by Hastie and published by
Clark) contains his smaller works on Universal History, Perpetual Peace,
and the Principle of Progress. See also the _Essay on Herder_.

Comte's _Positive Polity_, vols. i. and ii, passim.


[1] 'usus et impigrae simul experientia mentis
     paulatim docuit pedetemtim progredientes.'

[2] Comte, _Positive Polity_, ii 116.

[3] See Delisle Burns, _Morality of Nations_, and _The Unity of Western
Civilization_, passim.

[4] _Purgatorio_, ix. 94-108.




If I am unable to deliver this lecture in person, it will be because I
have to attend in Jersey to the excavation of a cave once occupied by
men of the Glacial Epoch. Now these men knew how to keep a good fire
burning within their primitive shelter; their skill in the chase
provided them with a well-assorted larder; their fine strong teeth were
such as to make short work of their meals; lastly, they were clever
artisans and one may even say artists in flint and greenstone, not only
having the intelligence to make an economic use of the material at their
disposal, but likewise having enough sense of form to endow their
implements with more than a touch of symmetry and beauty. All this we
know from what they have left behind them; and the rest is silence.

And now let us imagine ourselves possessed of one of those time-machines
of which Mr. H. G. Wells is the inventor. Transported by such means to
the Europe of that distant past, could we undertake to beat the record
of those cave-men?

Clearly, all will depend on how many of us, and how much of the
apparatus of civilization, our time-machine is able to accommodate. If
it were simply to drop a pair of us, naked and presumably ashamed, into
the midst of the rigours of the great Ice Age, the chances surely are
that the unfortunate immigrants must perish within a week. Adam could
hardly manage to kindle a fire without the help of matches. Eve would
be no less sorely troubled to make clothes without the help of a needle.
On the other hand, if the time-machine were as capacious as Noah's Ark,
the venture would undoubtedly succeed, presenting no greater difficulty
than, let us say, the planting of a settlement in Labrador or on the
Yukon. Given numbers, specialized labour, tools, weapons, books,
domesticated animals and plants, and so forth, the civilized community
would do more than hold its own with the prehistoric cave-man, devoid of
all such aids to life. Indeed, it is tolerably certain that, willingly
or unwillingly, our colonists would soon drive the ancient type of man
clean out of existence.

On the face of it, then, it would seem that we, as compared with men of
Glacial times, have decidedly 'progressed'. But it is not so easy to say
off-hand in what precisely such progress consists.

Are we happier? As well ask whether the wild wolf or the tame dog is the
happier animal. The truth would seem to be that wolf and dog alike can
be thoroughly happy each in its own way; whereas each would be as
thoroughly miserable, if forced to live the life of the other. In one of
his most brilliant passages Andrew Lang, after contrasting the mental
condition of one of our most distant ancestors with yours or mine, by no
means to our disadvantage, concludes with these words: 'And after all he
was probably as happy as we are; it is not saying much.'[5]

But, if not happier, are we nobler? If I may venture to speak as a
philosopher, I should reply, confidently, 'Yes.' It comes to this, that
we have and enjoy more soul. On the intellectual side, we see farther
afield. On the moral side, our sympathies are correspondingly wider.
Imaginatively, and even to no small extent practically, we are in touch
with myriads of men, present and past. We participate in a world-soul;
and by so doing are advanced in the scale of spiritual worth and dignity
as members of the human race. Yet this common soul of mankind we know
largely and even chiefly as something divided against itself. Not only
do human ideals contradict each other; but the ideal in any and all of
its forms is contradicted by the actual. So it is the discontent of the
human world-soul that is mainly borne in upon him who shares in it most
fully. A possibility of completed good may glimmer at the far end of the
quest; but the quest itself is experienced as a bitter striving. Bitter
though it may be, however, it is likewise ennobling. Here, then, I find
the philosophic, that is, the ultimate and truest, touchstone of human
progress, namely, in the capacity for that ennobling form of experience
whereby we become conscious co-workers and co-helpers in an age-long,
world-wide striving after the good.

But to-day I come before you, not primarily as a philosopher, but rather
as an anthropologist, a student of prehistoric man. I must therefore
define progress, not in the philosophic or ultimate way, but simply as
may serve the strictly limited aims of my special science. As an
anthropologist, I want a workable definition--one that will set me
working and keep me working on promising lines. I do not ask ultimate
truth of my anthropological definition. For my science deals with but a
single aspect of reality; and the other aspects of the real must
likewise be considered on their merits before a final account can be
rendered of it.

Now anthropology is just the scientific history of man; and I suppose
that there could be a history of man that did without the idea of human
progress altogether. Progress means, in some sense, change for the
better. But, strictly, history as such deals with fact; and is not
concerned with questions of better or worse--in a word, with value.
Hence, it must always be somewhat arbitrary on the part of an historian
to identify change in a given direction with a gain or increase in
value. Nevertheless, the anthropologist may do so, if he be prepared to
take the risk. He sees that human life has on the whole grown more
complex. He cannot be sure that it will continue to grow more complex.
Much less has he a right to lay it down for certain that it ought to
grow more complex. But so long as he realizes that he is thereby
committing himself by implication to a prophetic and purposive
interpretation of the facts, he need not hesitate to style this growth
of complexity progress so far as man is concerned. For if he is an
anthropologist, he is also a man, and cannot afford to take a wholly
external and impartial view of the process whereby the very growth of
his science is itself explained. Anthropologists though we be, we run
with the other runners in the race of life, and cannot be indifferent to
the prize to be won.

Progress, then, according to the anthropologist, is defined as increase
in complexity, with the tacit assumption that this somehow implies
betterment, though it is left with the philosopher to justify such an
assumption finally and fully. Whereas in most cases man would seem to
have succeeded in the struggle for existence by growing more complex,
though in some cases survival has been secured by way of simplification,
anthropology concentrates its attention on the former set of cases as
the more interesting and instructive even from a theoretical point of
view. Let biology by all means dispense with the notion of progress, and
consider man along with the other forms of life as subject to mere
process. But anthropology, though in a way it is a branch of biology,
has a right to a special point of view. For it employs special methods
involving the use of a self-knowledge that in respect to the other forms
of life is inevitably wanting. Anthropology, in short, like charity,
begins at home. Because we know in ourselves the will to progress, we go
on to seek for evidences of progress in the history of mankind. Nor need
we cease to think of progress as something to be willed, something that
concerns the inner man, even though for scientific purposes we undertake
to recognize it by some external sign, as, for instance, by the sign of
an increasing complexity, that is, such differentiation as likewise
involves greater cohesion. All history, and more especially the history
of early man, must deal primarily with externals. Thence it infers the
inner life; and thereby it controls the tendency known as 'the
psychologist's fallacy', namely, that of reading one's own mind into
that of another man without making due allowance for differences of
innate capacity and of acquired outlook. In what follows, then, let us,
as anthropologists, be content to judge human progress in prehistoric
times primarily by its external and objective manifestations; yet let us
at no point in our inquiries forget that these ancient men, some of whom
are our actual ancestors, were not only flesh of our flesh, but likewise
spirit of our spirit.

       *       *       *       *       *

A rapid sketch such as this must take for granted on the part of the
audience some general acquaintance with that succession of prehistoric
epochs which modern research has definitely established. Pre-history, as
distinguished from proto-history, may, in reference to Europe as a
whole, be made coextensive with the Stone Age. This divides into the Old
Stone Age and the New. The Old Stone Age, or Palaeolithic Period, yields
three well-marked subdivisions, termed Early, Middle, and Late. The New
Stone Age, or Neolithic Period, includes two sub-periods, the Earlier or
Transitional, and the Later or Typical. Thus our historical survey will
fall naturally into five chapters.

There are reasons, however, why it will be more convenient to move over
the whole ground twice. The material on which our judgements must be
founded is not all of one kind. Anthropology is the joint work of two
departments, which are known as Physical Anthropology and Cultural
Anthropology respectively. The former, we may say, deals with man as an
organism, the latter with him as an organizer. Here, then, are very
different standpoints. For, in a broad way of speaking, nature controls
man through his physical organization, whereas through his cultural
organization man controls nature. From each of these standpoints in
turn, then, let us inquire how far prehistoric man can be shown to have
progressed. First, did the breed improve during the long course of the
Stone Age in Europe? Secondly, did the arts of life advance, so that by
their aid man might establish himself more firmly in his kingdom?

Did the breed improve during prehistoric times? I have said that,
broadly speaking, nature controls man as regards his physical endowment.
Now in theory one must admit that it might be otherwise. If Eugenics
were to mature on its purely scientific side, there is no reason why the
legislator of the future should not try to make a practical application
of its principles; and the chances are that, of many experiments, some
would prove successful. But that conscious breeding was practised in
prehistoric times is out of the question. The men of those days were one
and all what we are ourselves--nature's mongrels, now broken up into
varieties by casual isolation, and now by no less casual intermixture
recompounded in a host of relatively unstable forms. Whatever progress,
therefore, may have occurred in this respect has been unconscious. Man
cannot take the credit for it, except in so far as it is indirectly due
to that increase and spread of the race which have been promoted by his
achievements in the way of culture.

The barest outline of the facts must suffice. For the Early Pleistocene,
apart from the Java fossil, _Pithecanthropus erectus_, a veritable
'missing link', whom we may here disregard as falling altogether outside
our world of Europe, there are only two individuals that can with
certainty be referred to this distant period. These are the Piltdown and
the Heidelberg specimens. The former consists of a fragmentary
brain-case, thick-boned and narrow-fronted, but typically human in its
general characters, and of the greater part of a lower jaw, which, as
regards both its own elongated and curiously flanged structure, and that
of the teeth it contained, including an enormous pointed canine, is
conversely more appropriate to an ape-like being than to a man. The
latter consists only of a lower jaw, of which the teeth, even the
canines, are altogether human, whereas the jaw itself is hardly less
simian than that of the Sussex skull. If we add the Java example to the
list of very primitive forms, it is remarkable to note how, though
differing widely from each other, all alike converge on the ape.
Nevertheless, even in Pithecanthropus, the brute is passing into the
man. We note the erect attitude, to be inferred from his thigh-bone, and
the considerably enlarged, though even so hardly human, brain. The
Piltdown individual, on the other hand, has crossed the Rubicon. He has
a brain-capacity entitling him to rank as a man and an Englishman. Such
a brain, too, implies a cunning hand, which doubtless helped him greatly
to procure his food, even if his massive jaw enabled him to dispose of
the food in question without recourse to the adventitious aids of knife
and fork. For the matter of that, if our knowledge made it possible to
correlate these rare finds of bones more exactly with the innumerable
flint implements ascribable to this period (and, indeed, not without
analogies among the spoil from the Piltdown gravels), it might turn out
that even the equivalent of knife and fork was not wanting to the Early
Pleistocene supper-party, or, at any rate, that the human hand was
already advanced from the status of labourer to the more dignified
position of superintendent of the tool.

The Middle Pleistocene Epoch belongs to the men of the Neanderthal type.
Some thirty specimens, a few of them more or less complete, have come
down to us, and we can form a pretty clear notion of the physical
appearance of the race. Speaking generally, we may say that it marks a
stage of progress as compared with the Piltdown type; though, if the
jaw, heavy and relatively chinless as it is, has become less simian, the
protruding brow-ridge lends a monstrous look to the face, while the
forehead is markedly receding--a feature which turns out, however, to be
not incompatible with a weight of brain closely approaching our own
average. Whether this type has disappeared altogether from the earth, or
survives in certain much modified descendants, is an open question. The
fact remains that during the last throes of the Glacial Epoch this
rough-hewn kind of man apparently had Northern Europe as his exclusive
province; and it is by no means evident what _Homo Sapiens_, the
supposed highly superior counterpart and rival of _Homo
Neanderthalensis_, was doing with himself in the meantime. Moreover, not
only in respect of space does the population of that frozen world show
remarkable homogeneity; but also in respect of time must we allow it an
undisputed sway extending over thousands of years, during which the race
bred true. The rate of progress, whether reckoned in physical terms or
otherwise, is so slow as to be almost imperceptible. A type suffices for
an age. Whereas in the life-history of an individual there is rapid
development during youth, and after maturity a steadying down, it is the
other way about in the life-history of the race. Man, so to speak, was
born old and accommodated to a jog-trot. We moderns are the juveniles,
and it is left for us to go the pace.

Yet Late Pleistocene Period introduces us to more diversity in the way
of human types. Only one race, however, that named after the
rock-shelter of Crô-Magnon in the Dordogne, is represented by a fair
number of specimens, namely, about a dozen. At this point we come
suddenly and without previous warning on as pretty a kind of man as
ever walked this earth. In his leading characters he is remarkably
uniform. Six feet high and long-legged, he likewise possessed a head
well stocked with brains and a face that, if rather broad and short,
was furnished by way of compensation with a long and narrow nose. If
the present world can show nothing quite like him, it at least cannot
produce anything more shapely in the way of the 'human form divine'.
Apart from the Crô-Magnons, the remains of an old woman and a youth
found at the lowest level of the Grotte des Enfants at Mentone are
usually held to belong to a distinct stock known as the Grimaldi. The
physical characters of the pair are regarded as negroid, verging on
the Pygmy; but if we could study an adult male of the same stock, it
might possibly turn out not to be so very divergent from the
Crô-Magnon. Again, a single specimen does duty for the so-called
Chancelade race. The skeleton is of comparatively low stature, and is
deemed to show close affinities to the type of the modern Eskimo.
Without being unduly sceptical, one may once more wonder if the
Crô-Magnon stock may not have produced this somewhat aberrant form.
Even on such a theory, however--and it is hardly orthodox--diversity
of physical structure would seem to be on the increase. On the other
hand, there are reasons of considerable cogency for referring to the
end of this period skeletons of what Huxley termed the 'River-bed
type', the peculiarity of which consists in the fact that they are
more or less indistinguishable from the later Neolithic men and indeed
from any of those slight-built, shortish, long-headed folk who form
the majority in the crowded cities of to-day. Some authorities would
ascribe a far greater antiquity to this type, but, I venture to think,
on the strength of doubtful evidence. The notorious Galley Hill
skeleton, for instance, found more or less intact in an Early
Pleistocene bed in which the truly contemporary animals are
represented by the merest battered remnants, to my mind reeks of
modernity. Be these things as they may, however, when we come to
Neolithic times a race of similar physical characters has Europe to
itself, though it would seem to display minor variations in a way that
suggests that the reign of the mongrel has at length begun. And here
we may close our enumeration of the earliest known branches of our
family tree, since the coming of the broad-heads pertains to the
history of the Bronze Age, and hence falls outside the scope of the
present survey.

Now what is the bearing of these somewhat scanty data on the question of
progress? It is not easy to extract from them more than the general
impression that, as time went on, the breed made persistent headway as
regards both the complexity of its organization and the profusion of its
forms. After all, we must not expect too much from this department of
the subject. For one thing, beyond the limits of North-western Europe
the record is almost blank; and yet we can scarcely hope to discover the
central breeding-place of man in what is, geographically, little more
than a blind alley. In the next place, Physical Anthropology, not only
in respect to human palaeontology, but in general, is as barren of
explanations as it is fertile in detailed observations. The systematic
study of heredity as it bears on the history of the human organism has
hardly begun. Hence, it would not befit one who is no expert in relation
to such matters to anticipate the verdict of a science that needs only
public encouragement in order to come into its own. Suffice it to
suggest here that nature as she presides over organic evolution, that
is, the unfolding of the germinal powers, may be conceived as a kindly
but slow-going and cautious liberator. One by one new powers, hitherto
latent, are set free as an appropriate field of exercise is afforded
them by the environment. At first divergency is rarely tolerated. A
given type is extremely uniform. On the other hand, when divergency is
permitted, it counts for a great deal. The wider variations occur
nearest the beginning, each for a long time breeding true to itself.
Later on, such uncompromising plurality gives way to a more diffused
multiplicity begotten of intermixture. Mongrelization has set in. Not
but what there may spring up many true-breeding varieties among the
mongrels; and these, given suitable conditions, will be allowed to
constitute lesser types possessed of fairly uniform characters. Such at
least is in barest outline the picture presented by the known facts
concerning the physical evolution of man, if one observe it from outside
without attempting to explore the hidden causes of the process. Some
day, when these causes are better understood, man may take a hand in the
game, and become, in regard to the infinite possibilities still sleeping
in the transmitted germ, a self-liberator. Nature is but a figurative
expression for the chances of life, and the wise man faces no more
chances than he needs must. Scientific breeding is no mere application
of the multiplication table to a system of items. We must make
resolutely for the types that seem healthy and capable, suppressing the
defectives in a no less thorough, if decidedly more considerate, way
than nature has been left to do in the past. Here, then, along physical
lines is one possible path of human progress, none the less real because
hitherto pursued, not by the aid of eyes that can look and choose, but
merely in response to painful proddings at the tail-end.

Our remaining task is to take stock of that improvement in the arts of
life whereby man has come gradually to master an environment that
formerly mastered him. For the Early Palaeolithic Period our evidence in
respect of its variety, if not of its gross quantity, is wofully
disappointing. Not to speak of man's first and rudest experiments in the
utilization of stone, which are doubtless scattered about the world in
goodly numbers if only we could recognize them clearly for what they
are, the Chellean industry by its wide distribution leads one to suppose
that mankind in those far-off days was only capable of one idea at a
time--a time, too, that lasted a whole age. Yet the succeeding Acheulean
style of workmanship in flint testifies to the occurrence of progress in
one of its typical forms, namely, in the form of what may be termed
'intensive' progress. The other typical form I might call 'intrusive'
progress, as happens when a stimulating influence is introduced from
without. Now it may be that the Acheulean culture came into being as a
result of contact between an immigrant stock and a previous population
practising the Chellean method of stone-work. We are at present far too
ill-informed to rule out such a guess. But, on the face of it, the
greater refinement of the Acheulean handiwork looks as if it had been
literally hammered out by steadfastly following up the Chellean pattern
into its further possibilities. Explain it as we will, this evolution of
the so-called _coup-de-poing_ affords almost the sole proof that the
human world of that remote epoch was moving at all. If we could see
their work in wood, we might discern a more diversified skill or we
might not. As it is, we can but conclude in the light of our very
imperfect knowledge that in mind no less than in body mankind of Early
Palaeolithic times displayed a fixity of type almost amounting to that
of one of the other animal species.

During Middle Palaeolithic times the Mousterian culture rules without a
rival. The cave-period has begun; and, thanks to the preservation of
sundry dwelling-places together with a goodly assortment of their less
perishable contents, we can frame a fairly adequate notion of the
home-life of Neanderthal man. I have already alluded to my excavations
in Jersey, and need not enter into fuller details here. But I should
like to put on record the opinion borne in upon me by such first-hand
experience as I have had that cultural advance in Mousterian days was
almost as portentously slow as ever it had been before. The human
deposits in the Jersey cave are in some places about ten feet thick, and
the fact that they fall into two strata separated by a sterile layer
that appears to consist of the dust of centuries points to a very long
process of accumulation. Yet though there is one kind of elephant
occurring amid the bone refuse at the bottom of the bed, and another
and, it would seem, later kind at the top, one and the same type of
flint instrument is found at every level alike; and the only development
one can detect is a certain gain in elegance as regards the Mousterian
'point', the reigning substitute for the former _coup-de-poing_. Once
more there is intensive progress only, so far at least as most of the
Jersey evidence goes. One _coup-de-poing_, however, and that hardly
Acheulean in conception but exactly what a hand accustomed to the
fashioning of the Mousterian 'point' would be likely to make by way of
an imitation of the once fashionable pattern, lay at lowest floor-level;
as if to remind one that during periods of transition the old is likely
to survive by the side of the new, and may even survive in it as a
modifying element. As a matter of fact, the _coup-de-poing_ is frequent
in the earliest Mousterian sites; so that we cannot but ask ourselves
how it came to be in the end superseded. Whether the Mousterians were of
a different race from the Acheuleans is not known. Certain it is, on the
other hand, that the industry that makes its first appearance in their
train represents a labour-saving device. The Mousterian had learned how
to break up his flint-nodule into flakes, which simply needed to be
trimmed on one face to yield a cutting edge. The Acheulean had been
content to attain this result more laboriously by pecking a pebble on
both faces until what remained was sharp enough for his purpose. Here,
then, we are confronted with that supreme condition of progress, the
inventor's happy thought. One of those big-brained Neanderthal men, we
may suppose, had genius; nature, the liberator, having released some
latent power in the racial constitution. Given such a culture-hero, the
common herd was capable of carrying on more or less mechanically for an
aeon or so. And so it must ever be. The world had better make the most
of its geniuses; for they amount to no more than perhaps a single one in
a million. Anyway, Neanderthal man never produced a second genius, so
far as we can tell; and that is why, perhaps, his peculiar type of
brow-ridge no longer adorns the children of men.

Before we leave the Mousterians, another side of their culture deserves
brief mention. Not only did they provide their dead with rude graves,
but they likewise furnished them with implements and food for use in a
future life. Herein surely we may perceive the dawn of what I do not
hesitate to term religion. A distinguished scholar and poet did indeed
once ask me whether the Mousterians, when they performed these rites,
did not merely show themselves unable to grasp the fact that the dead
are dead. But I presume that my friend was jesting. A sympathy stronger
than death, overriding its grisly terror, and converting it into the
vehicle of a larger hope--that is the work of soul; and to develop soul
is progress. A religious animal is no brute, but a real man with the
seed of genuine progress in him. If Neanderthal man belonged to another
species, as the experts mostly declare and I very humbly beg leave to
doubt, we must even so allow that God made him also after his own image,
brow-ridges and all.

The presence of soul in man is even more manifest when we pass on to the
Late Palaeolithic peoples. They are cave-dwellers; they live by the
chase; in a word, they are savages still. But they exhibit a taste and a
talent for the fine arts of drawing and carving that, as it were,
enlarge human existence by a new dimension. Again a fresh power has been
released, and one in which many would seem to have participated; for
good artists are as plentiful during this epoch as ever they were in
ancient Athens or mediaeval Florence. They must have married-in somewhat
closely, one would think, for this special aptitude to have blossomed
forth so luxuriantly. I cannot here dwell at length on the triumphs of
Aurignacian and Magdalenian artistry. Indeed, what I have seen with my
own eyes on the walls of certain French caves is almost too wonderful to
be described. The simplicity of the style does not in the least detract
from the fullness of the charm. On the contrary, one is tempted to doubt
whether the criterion of complexity applies here--whether, in fact,
progress has any meaning in relation to fine art--since, whether
attained by simple or by complex means, beauty is always beauty, and
cannot further be perfected. Shall we say, then, with Plato that beauty
was revealed to man from the first in its absolute nature, so that the
human soul might be encouraged to seek for the real in its complementary
forms of truth and goodness, such as are less immediately manifest? For
the rest, the soul of these transcendently endowed savages was in other
respects more imperfectly illuminated; as may be gathered from the fact
that they carved and drew partly from the love of their art, but partly
also, and, perhaps, even primarily, for luck. It seems that these
delineations of the animals on which they lived were intended to help
them towards good hunting. Such is certainly the object of a like custom
on the part of the Australian aborigines; there being this difference,
however, that the art of the latter considered as art is wholly
inferior. Now we know enough about the soul of the Australian native,
thanks largely to the penetrating interpretations of Sir Baldwin
Spencer, to greet and honour in him the potential lord of the universe,
the harbinger of the scientific control of nature. It is more than half
the battle to have willed the victory; and the picture-charm as a piece
of moral apparatus is therefore worthy of our deepest respect. The
chariot of progress, of which the will of man is the driver, is drawn by
two steeds, namely, Imagination and Reason harnessed together. Of the
pair, Reason is the more sluggish, though serviceable enough for the
heavy work. Imagination, full of fire as it is, must always set the
pace. So the soul of the Late Palaeolithic hunter, having already in
imagination controlled the useful portion of the animal world, was more
than half-way on the road to its domestication. But in so far as he
mistook the will for the accomplished deed, he was not getting the value
out of his second horse; or, to drop metaphor, the scientific reason as
yet lay dormant in his soul. But his dream was to come true presently.

The Neolithic Period marks the first appearance of the 'cibi-cultural'
peoples. The food-seekers have become food-raisers. But the change did
not come all at once. The earlier Neolithic culture is at best
transitional. There may even have been one of those set-backs in culture
which we are apt to ignore when we are narrating the proud tale of human
advance. Europe had now finally escaped from the last ravages of an
Arctic climate; but there was cruel demolition to make good, and in the
meantime there would seem, as regards man, to have been little doing.
Life among the kitchen-middens of Denmark was sordid; and the Azilians
who pushed up from Spain as far as Scotland did not exactly step into a
paradise ready-made. Somewhere, however, in the far south-east a higher
culture was brewing. By steps that have not yet been accurately traced
legions of herdsmen and farmer-folk overspread our world, either
absorbing or driving before them the roving hunters of the older
dispensation. We term this, the earliest of true civilizations,
'neolithic', as if it mattered in the least whether your stone implement
be chipped or polished to an edge. The real source of increased power
and prosperity lay in the domestication of food-animals and food-plants.
The man certainly had genius and pluck into the bargain who first
trusted himself to the back of an unbroken horse. It needed hardly less
genius to discover that it is no use singing charms over the
seed-bearing grass in order to make it grow, unless some of the seed is
saved to be sowed in due season. Society possibly brained the
inventor--such is the way of the crowd; but, as it duly pocketed the
invention, we have perhaps no special cause to complain.

By way of appreciating the conditions prevailing in the Later Neolithic
Age, let us consider in turn the Lake-dwellers of Switzerland and the
Dolmen-builders of our Western coast-lands. I was privileged to assist,
on the shore of the Lake of Neuchâtel, in the excavation of a site where
one Neolithic village of pile-dwellings had evidently been destroyed by
fire, and at some later date, just falling within the Stone Age, had
been replaced by another. Here we had lighted on a crucial instance of
the march of cultural progress. The very piles testified to it, those of
the older settlement being ill-assorted and slight, whereas the later
structure was regularly built and heavily timbered. It was clear, too,
that the first set of inhabitants had lived narrow lives. All their
worldly goods were derived from strictly local sources. On the other
hand, their successors wore shells from the Mediterranean and amber
beads from the Baltic among their numerous decorations; while for their
flint they actually went as far afield as Grand Pressigny in
West-Central France, the mines of which provided the butter-like nodules
that represented the _ne plus ultra_ of Neolithic luxury. Commerce must
have been decidedly flourishing in those days. No longer was it a case
of the so-called 'silent trade', which the furtive savage prosecutes
with fear and trembling, placing, let us say, a lump of venison on a
rock in the stream dividing his haunts from those of his dangerous
neighbours, and stealing back later on to see if the red ochre for which
he pines has been deposited in return on the primitive counter. The
Neolithic trader, on the other side, must have pushed the science of
barter to the uttermost limits short of the invention of a circulating
medium, if indeed some crude form of currency was not already in vogue.

When we turn to the Dolmen-builders, and contemplate their hoary
sanctuaries, we are back among the problems raised by the philosophic
conception of progress as an advance in soul-power. Is any religion
better than none? Does it make for soul-power to be preoccupied with the
cult of the dead? Does the imagination, which in alliance with the
scientific reason achieves such conquests over nature, give way at times
to morbid aberration, causing the chill and foggy loom of an after-life
to obscure the honest face of the day? I can only say for myself that
the deepening of the human consciousnesses due to the effort to close
with the mystery of evil and death, and to extort therefrom a message of
hope and comfort, seems to me to have been worth the achievement at
almost any cost of crimes and follies perpetrated by the way. I do not
think that progress in religion is progress towards its ultimate
abolition. Rather, religion, if regarded in the light of its earlier
history, must be treated as the parent source of all the more spiritual
activities of man; and on these his material activities must depend.
Else the machine will surely grind the man to death; and his body will
finally stop the wheels that his soul originally set in motion.

The panorama is over. It has not been easy, at the rate of about a
millennium to a minute, to present a coherent account of the prehistoric
record, which at best is like a jig-saw puzzle that has lost most of the
pieces needed to reconstitute the design. But, even on this hasty
showing, it looks as if the progressive nature of man were beyond
question. There is manifest gain in complexity of organization, both
physical and cultural; and only less manifest, in the sense that the
inwardness of the process cannot make appeal to the eye, is the
corresponding gain in realized power of soul. In short, the men of the
Stone Age assuredly bore their full share in the work of
race-improvement; and the only point on which there may seem to be doubt
is whether we of the age of metal are as ready and able to bear our
share. But let us be optimistic about ourselves. As long as we do not
allow our material achievements to blind us to the need of an education
that keeps the spiritual well to the fore, then progress is assured so
far as it depends on culture.

Yet if we could likewise breed for spirituality, humanity's chances, I
believe, would be bettered by as much again or more. But how is this to
be done? Science must somehow find out. To leave it to nature is treason
to the mind. Man may be an ass on the whole, but nature is even more of
an ass, especially when it stands for human nature minus its saving
grace of imaginative, will-directed intelligence. So let us hope that
one day people will marry intelligently, and that the best marriages
will be the richest in offspring. I believe that the spiritual is not
born of the sickly; and at any rate should be prepared to make trial of
such a working principle in my New Republic.

So much for the practical corollaries suggested by our flying visit to
Prehistoric Europe. But, even if any detailed lessons to be drawn from
such fragmentary facts have to be received with caution, you need not
hesitate to pursue this branch of study for its own sake as part of the
general training of the mind. Accustom yourselves to a long perspective.
Cultivate the eagle's faculty of spacious vision. It is only thus that
one can get the values right--see right and wrong, truth and error,
beauty and ugliness in their broad and cumulative effects. Analytic
studies, as they are termed, involving the exploration of the meaning of
received ideas, must come first in any scheme of genuine education. We
must learn to affirm before we can go on to learn how to criticize. But
historical studies are a necessary sequel. Other people's received ideas
turn out in the light of history to have sometimes worked well, and
sometimes not so well; and we are thereupon led to revise our own
opinions accordingly. Now the history of man has hitherto stood almost
exclusively for the history of European civilization. Being so limited,
it loses most of its value as an instrument of criticism. For how can a
single phase of culture criticize itself? How can it step out of the
scales and assess its own weight? Anthropology, however, will never
acquiesce in this parochial view of the province of history. History
worthy of the name must deal with man universal. So I would have you all
become anthropologists. Let your survey of human progress be age-long
and world-wide. You come of a large family and an ancient one. Learn to
be proud of it, and then you will seek likewise to be worthy of it.


W. J. Sollas, _Ancient Hunters and their Modern Representatives_, 2nd
edition, 1915.

E. A. Parkyn, _Introduction to the study of Prehistoric Art_.

R. R. Marett, _Anthropology_ (Home University Library).

J. L. Myres, _Dawn of History_ (Home University).


[5] Presidential Address to the International Folk-Lore Congress, 1891,
p. 9.




To speak the truth about national characteristics it is often necessary
to speak in paradoxes, for of all unities on earth nothing contains so
many contradictions as a nation. So it is here: it may be said quite
truly that the Greeks had at once the most profound conceptions about
Progress and no faith in it: that they were at once the most hopeful and
the most despairing of peoples. Let me try to explain. When we speak of
a faith in Progress, whatever else we mean, we must mean, I take it,
that there is a real advance in human welfare throughout time from the
Past to the Future, that 'the best is yet to be', and that the good wine
is kept to the last. But if we are to have a philosophy underlying that
faith we must be able to say something more. What, in the first place,
do we mean by 'a real advance'? Or by 'human welfare'? Progress, yes,
but progress towards what? What is the standard? And if we cannot
indicate a standard, what right have we to say that one life is any
better than another? The life of the scientific man any better than the
life of the South Sea Islander--content if only he has enough bananas to
eat? Or than the life of a triumphant conqueror, a Zenghis Khan or a
Tamberlaine--exultant if he has enough human heads before him? Or,
indeed, any of these rather than the blank of Nirvana or the life of a

Our first need, then, is the need of a standard for good over and above
the conflicting opinions of men, and some idea as to what that standard

And the next question is, why we should hold that any of this good is
going to be realized in human life at all? If it is, there must be some
connexion of cause and effect between goodness and human existence. What
is the nature of that connexion? Finally, why should we hope that this
goodness is realized more and more fully as time goes on?

The Greeks faced these questions, as they faced so many, with
extraordinary daring and penetration and with an intimate mixture of
sadness and hope.

They themselves, of all nations known to us in history, had made the
greatest progress in the shortest space of time. A long course of
preparation, it is true, underlay that marvellous growth. The classical
Greeks,--and when I speak of Hellenism I mean the flower of classical
Greek culture,--the classical Greeks entered into the labours of the
island peoples, who, whether kindred to them or not, had built up from
neolithic times a great civilization, the major part of which they
could, and did, assimilate. They found the soil already worked. None the
less it is to their own original genius that we owe those great
discoveries of the spirit which, to quote a recent writer, 'created a
new world of science and art, established an ideal of the sane mind in
the sane body and the perfect man in the perfect society, cut out a new
line of progress between anarchy and despotism, and made moral ends
supreme over national in the State.'[6]

But these practical achievements of theirs have been already summed up
by Professor J. A. Smith in his lecture[7] at this school last year, and
it is to that lecture that I would refer you. I will take it as a basis
and proceed for my own purposes to discuss the Greek conceptions about
progress. Those conceptions were complex, and, speaking roughly, we may
say this: if belief in real progress implies belief in three things,
namely, (1) an absolute standard apprehended, however dimly, by man, (2)
a causal connexion between existence and perfection, and (3) a
persistent advance through time, then the Greeks held to the first two
and doubted, or even denied, the third. Their two great thinkers, Plato
and Aristotle, worked out systems based on the conviction that there
really was an absolute standard of perfection, that man could really
apprehend something of this perfection, and that the effort towards it
was essential to the very existence of the world, part of the stuff, as
it were, that made the universe. These systems have had an effect not to
be exaggerated on the whole movement of thought since their day.
Moreover, many of their fundamental conceptions are being revived in
modern science and metaphysics. And the convictions that underlie them
are calculated, one would say, to lead at once to a buoyant faith in
progress. But with Plato, and Aristotle, and the Greeks generally, they
did not so lead. The Greeks could not feel sure that this effort towards
perfection, though it is part of existence, is strong enough to deliver
man in this world from the web of evil in which also he is involved, nor
even that he makes any approach on the whole towards the loosening of
the toils. The spectre of world-destruction, as Whitman says of Carlyle,
was always before them. And I wish to ask later on if we may not surmise
definite reasons in their own history for this recurring note of
discouragement. But let us first look at the positive side, and first in
Plato. Plato came to his system by several lines of thought, and to
understand it we ought to take account of all.

1. In the first place no thinker, I suppose, ever felt more keenly than
he felt the desire for an absolute standard of truth, especially in
matters of right and wrong, if only to decide between the disputes of
men. And, in Greece men disputed so boldly and so incessantly that there
was no possibility of forgetting the clash of opinion in any 'dogmatic
slumber'. Thus Plato is always asking, like Robert Browning in 'Rabbi
Ben Ezra',--

      Now, who shall arbitrate?
      Ten men love what I hate,
    Shun what I follow, slight what I receive;
      Ten who in ears and eyes
      Match me: we all surmise,
    They this thing, and I that; whom shall my soul believe?

In one of his very earliest dialogues, the 'Euthyphro', Plato puts the
question almost in so many words. What is it, he asks (7 A-E), that men
quarrel over most passionately when they dispute? Is it not over the
great questions of justice and injustice, of beauty, goodness, and the
like? They do not quarrel thus over a question of physical size, simply
because they can settle such a dispute by reference to an unquestioned
standard, a standard measure, let us say.

If there is no corresponding standard for right and wrong, if each man
is really the judge and the measure for himself, then there is no sense,
Plato feels, in claiming that one man is wiser than another in conduct,
or indeed any man wiser than a dog-faced baboon (_Theaet._ 161 C-E).

2. Again, Plato feels most poignantly the inadequacy of all the goodness
and beauty we have ever actually seen in this world of space and time,
compared with the ideal we have of them in their perfection. How can we
have this sense of deficiency, he asks, unless somehow we apprehend
something supreme, over and above all the approaches to it that have as
yet appeared? (_Phaedo_, 74 E).

This vision of an absolute perfection, as yet unrealized on earth, so
dominates all his thinking, and has such peculiar features of its own,
that even familiar quotations must be quoted here. You will find an
exquisite translation of a typical passage in our Poet Laureate's
Anthology, _The Spirit of Man_ (No. 37). Specially to be noted here is
the stress on the unchanging character of this eternal perfection and
the suggestion that it cannot be fully realized in the world. At the
same time, Plato is equally sure that it is only through the study of
this world that our apprehension of that perfection is awakened at

     'He who has thus been instructed in the science of Love, and
     has been led to see beautiful things in their due order and
     rank, when he comes toward the end of his discipline, will
     suddenly catch sight of a wondrous thing, beautiful with the
     absolute Beauty ... he will see a Beauty eternal, not
     growing or decaying, not waxing or waning, nor will it be
     fair here and foul there ... as if fair to some and foul to
     others ... but Beauty absolute, separate, simple, and
     everlasting; which lending of its virtue to all beautiful
     things that we see born to decay, itself suffers neither
     increase nor diminution, nor any other change' (_Symp._

All beautiful things remind man, Plato tells us in his mythological
fashion, of this perfect Beauty, because we had seen it once before in
another life, before our souls were born into this world, 'that blissful
sight and spectacle' (_Phaedrus_, 250 B) when we followed Zeus in his
winged car and all the company of the gods, and went out into the realm
beyond the sky, a realm 'of which no mortal poet has ever sung or ever
will sing worthily'.

3. But, beside this passion for the ideal, Plato was intensely
interested in our knowledge of the actual world of appearances around
us. And one of the prime questions with which he was then concerned was
the question, what we mean when we talk about the nature or character
of the things we see, a plant, say, or an animal, or a man. We must mean
something definite, otherwise we could not recognize, for example, that
a plant _is_ a plant through all its varieties and all the different
stages of its growth. Plato's answer was, that in all natural things
there is a definite principle that copies, as it were, a definite Type
or Form, and this Type he calls an Idea. Thus in some sense it is this
Type, this Idea, this Form, that brings the particular thing into being.

4. But it was not enough for Plato to say that every natural thing had
in some sense a certain type for its basis, unless he could believe that
this type was good, and that all the types were harmonious with each
other. He could only be satisfied with the world, in short, if he could
feel that it came about through a movement towards perfection. He makes
his Socrates say that in asking about 'the causes of things, what it is
that makes each thing come into being', it was not enough for him if he
could only see that the thing was there because something had put it
there: he also wanted to see that it was good for it to be there.
Socrates tells us that what he needed he thought he had found in a book
by Anaxagoras, which announced 'that Mind was the disposer and cause of
all' because, 'I said to myself, If this be so--if Mind is the orderer,
it will have all in order, and put every single thing in the place that
is best for it'.[8]

It is the same feeling as that which underlies the words of Genesis
about the Creation, 'And God saw that it was good'. And there is no
doubt that such a view of the world would be supremely satisfying if we
could count it true. There may be considerable intellectual
satisfaction, no doubt, in merely solving a puzzle as to how things come
about, but it is as nothing compared to the joy there would be in
contemplating their goodness.

5. But is it true? Can we possibly say so in view of the hideous
imperfection round us? The writers of Genesis spoke of a Fall. Plato, in
his own way, speaks of a Fall himself. He never gives up the belief in
an Absolute Perfection, a system of Perfect Types somehow--he does not
say exactly how--influencing the structure of things in this world. But
he holds that on earth this perfection is always thwarted by a medium
which prevents its full manifestation. This medium is the medium of
Space and Time, and therefore the medium of history--and therefore
history is always and inevitably a record of failure. 'While we are in
the body,' Plato writes, 'and while the soul is contaminated with its
evils, our desire will never be thoroughly satisfied.'[9] 'The body is a
tomb,' he writes elsewhere, quoting a current phrase.

This is sad enough: yet if we put against it Plato's vision of what Man
might be, we get as inspiring words as ever were written:

'We have spoken of Man', he says at the end of the _Republic_, 'as he
appears to us now, but now he looks as Glaucus looked after he had been
cast into the sea, and his original nature was scarcely to be discerned,
for his limbs were broken and crushed and defaced by the waters, and
strange things had grown round him, shells and seaweed and stones, so
that he was more like a beast than a man. That is how the soul looks to
us now encompassed by all her evils. It is elsewhere, my friend, that we
ought to look.' Where? asks Plato's friend, and Plato answers, 'We
should look to her love of wisdom and realize what she clings to, what
company she desires, for she is akin to the Divine and Immortal and
Eternal, and we should understand what she would become if she followed
after it, with all her strength, and were lifted by that effort out of
the sea where she now lies.... Then we should understand her real
nature.' (_Republic_, 611.)

Somewhere, Plato believes, this true nature of man may be realized. The
Principle of Good is something active, not a dead helpless thing, with
no effect on the rest of the universe (_Sophist_, 248, 249); it is a
living power, which desires that everything everywhere should be as
glorious as possible (_Tim._ 29 D). There is no envy, Plato says, in the
Divine, that grudging spirit has no part in the heavenly company. Only
it is not on earth that the glory can be realized. It is towards the
life after death that Plato's real hopes are directed.

None the less, and this is important, this world does not cease to be
significant for him. He does not turn aside,--as some souls, intoxicated
with the Divine, have done,--from this world altogether.

Because he holds that man can only advance by struggling to make this
world better. Man's ordinary life may be like the life in a cave, as he
says in his famous myth, but the true philosopher who has once risen out
of the cave must go back into it again and teach the prisoners there
what the universe really is (_Republic_, Book vi, _fin._; vii, _init._).
The very passage that I quoted about man's real nature comes at the end
of the _Republic_. Now the _Republic_ is a Utopia, and no one writes a
Utopia unless he believes that the effort to reach it is of prime
importance to man and helps him to advance.

Only, for Plato, the advance is not marked in the successive stages of
history, as the modern faith in progress asserts. The life on earth, for
Plato, is like a school through which men pass and in which they may
learn and grow, but the school itself does not go on growing. It is not
that he does not envisage change in history, but what he seems to hope
for at the best is nothing more hopeful than recurring cycles of better
and worse. He tells a fable, in his dialogue 'The Statesman', of how at
one time the world is set spinning in the right direction by God and
then all goes well, and again how God ceases to control it, and then it
gradually forgets the divine teaching and slips from good to bad and
from bad to worse, until at last God takes pity on it once more to save
it from utter destruction (_Polit._ 269 ff.). No doubt in this idea of
cycles Plato is influenced by the popular thought of his time: this
feeling that there had been a lost Golden Age in the past was deeply
rooted in Greek mythology. We get it long before Plato, in Hesiod, and
there are similar touches in Homer, and once men believe that they have
sunk from glory, there is always the dread that if ever they recover it
they will lose it again. And with Plato this dread is reinforced by his
sense of something incurable in the world, the thwarting influence of
spatial and temporal matter (_Theaet._ 176 A).

It is strange that, though he is always thinking of the individual soul
as learning through experience in its passage from one life to another,
Plato does not seem to have the idea of mankind learning by the lessons
of history, of knowledge being handed down from one age to another, and
growing in the process. That is one of the most inspiring ideas in
modern thought: a German writer has spoken of history as the long
Odyssey of the human spirit, the common mind of Man coming at last
through its wanderings to find out what it really wants, and where its
true home lies.

And here, significantly enough, we find we are brought back in our
modern way to something very like Plato's own conception of an eternal
unchanging Reality. There are endless problems in the whole conception
of the Eternal that I am quite unable even to attempt; but this much at
least seems clear to me, that the whole idea of mankind learning by the
experience of History, implies something of permanent value running
through that experience. The very thought of continued progress implies
that man can look back at the successive stages of the Past and say of
each: In that lay values which I, to-day and always, can recognize as
good, although I believe we have more good now. Seeley speaks in a noble
passage of how religion might conceive a progressive revelation which
was, in a sense, the same through all its stages, and yet was a growing
thing:--'each new revelation asserts its own superiority to those which
went before,' but the superiority is 'not of one thing to another
thing--but of the developed thing to the undeveloped'. 'It is thus', he
writes, 'that the ages should behave to one another.' This is the true
'understanding and concert with time'.[10] And though Plato does not
live in the thought of historic progress, yet such a conception of
progress which recognizes at different stages different expressions,
more or less adequate, of one eternal value, such a way of thinking is
entirely Platonic. When we look back at history in this mood we think
not only of grasping the right principles for the Future, but of
rejoicing in the definite achievements of the Past, and we feel this
most poignantly, I think, of the achievements won by the spirit of
Beauty. Great works of Art we are accustomed actually to call immortal,
and we mean by this not merely that we think they will always be famous,
but that there is something in them that makes it impossible for them
ever to be superseded. In themselves they are inexhaustible: if they
cease to interest us, it is our fault and not theirs. We may want more,
we do want more, where they came from, but we never want to lose them,
any more than we could bear to lose our old friends, though we may
desire to make new ones. Of all the divine Ideas, said Plato, Beauty is
the one that shows itself most plainly in the world of sense and speaks
to us most plainly of the eternal realities.

This, however, is perhaps trenching on the subject of Progress in Art,
and I should like to return to the general Greek conception of the
tendency in all nature towards the Good, the perfect realization of
perfect types.

Plato does not expressly insist that this tendency is of the nature of
effort, though I think that is involved in his view. But Aristotle does.
Following Plato in essentials, he makes bold to say outright that every
natural thing in its own way longs for the divine and desires to share
in the divine life, so far as it can.[11] Every such thing in this world
of space and time has to cope with difficulties and is imperfect, but
everything struggles towards the good. That good is in the life of God,
a thinking life, an activity of thought, existing in some sense beyond
this imperfect world; and this life is so supremely desirable that it
makes everything else struggle to reach it. It moves the whole world,
Aristotle says, in a famous passage, because it is loved. It is the
world's desire.[12]

Now this idea of effort--or of something analogous to
effort--constituting the inner nature of every natural thing reappears,
with pregnant consequences, in modern thought, though seldom with these
vast theological consequences. The idea of an upward effort through
nature lies at the base of our most hopeful theories of evolution, and
forms the true support of our modern faith in progress. Broadly
speaking, our evolutionists are now divided into two schools: the
adherents of the one believe that variations are purely accidental, and
may occur in any direction whatsoever, the useful ones being preserved
only because they happen to be useful for the life of the species, while
the adherents of the other--the school that I would call the school of
hope--believe that accident, even with natural selection to aid it, is
utterly inadequate to account for the ordered beauty and harmony that we
do see in natural things. They admit, as Plato and Aristotle admit,
imperfection and difficulty in the world, but they insist on a movement
towards value: in short, they conceive an order emerging that is brought
about, to quote a modern writer, both in nature and in society, by 'a
principle of movement and progress conflicting with a principle of

Aristotle, in words that are strikingly modern, raises the very question
at issue here.[14] He asks whether we can suppose that nature does not
aim at the good at all, but that variations arise by chance and are
preserved just because they are useful, and he scouts the idea that
chance could do more, as Zeller says, than 'bring about isolated and
abnormal results'. He chooses instead the conception of purpose and
effort, and this in spite of the difficulties in conceiving a purpose
and an effort that are not definitely conscious. The sort of thing that
is in Aristotle's mind when he speaks of nature aiming at the good,
comes out in a passage by Edward Carpenter in his little book _The Art
of Creation_. Carpenter plunges boldly and compares the principle that
makes a tree grow and propagate its kind with the impulse that makes a
man express himself. Man, he says,

     has a Will and Purpose, a Character, which, do what you
     will, tends to push outwards towards expression. You put
     George Fox in prison, you flog and persecute him, but the
     moment he has a chance he goes and preaches just the same as
     before.... But take a Tree and you notice exactly the same
     thing. A dominant Idea informs the life of the Tree;
     persisting, it forms the tree. You may snip the leaves as
     much as you like to a certain pattern, but they will only
     grow in their own shape. Finally, you may cut the tree down
     root and branch and burn it, but, if there is left a single
     seed, within that seed ... lurks the formative ideal, which
     under proper conditions will again spring into life and

Aristotle would have endorsed almost every word of this. In his pithy
way, speaking of the distinction between natural and artificial objects,
he says himself that if you planted a wooden bed and the wood could
still grow, it would grow up, not a bed, but a tree.[16]

He would not have gone so far as to talk about the _Will_ of a tree, but
he would have admitted that what made the tree grow was the same sort of
thing as Will. And in one respect he goes farther than Edward Carpenter
does. For he considers that not only growth but even the movement of
natural things through space is somehow an expression of a tendency
towards the good and the divine, a tendency which, when consciousness
supervenes, we can call effort, an activity, even though, at its best,
only an imperfect activity. He looks up at the splendour of the circling
stars and asks if it is possible that so glorious an order can be
anything but a manifestation of something akin to the divine. Here
indeed he is speaking of movements made by existences he reckoned among
the highest in the world, for he thought the stars were living beings
higher than man. But he recognized a rudimentary form of such activity
even in what we now call inanimate matter. Here we come to a leading
conception of Aristotle's, and one most important for our purpose: the
conception of a hierarchy of natural existences, all of them with some
value, less or more. When Aristotle is truest to himself, he will tell
us not to be afraid of studying the meanest forms of natural existence,
because in everything there is something marvellous and divine. He
quotes with much satisfaction the story of Heracleitus, who welcomed
his friends into the bakehouse with the saying that 'there were gods in
the bakehouse too'.[17]

Thus, at the lowest end of the scale, we have what we call inanimate
matter, which Aristotle thinks of much as we do, namely, as something
occupying space, the different parts of it being endowed with different
powers of movement, and with different properties, such as warmth or
coldness, wetness or dryness. A natural thing, he says, is a thing that
has a principle of activity in itself, something that makes it act in a
definite way, whenever it is not interfered with by anything else.[18]
Aristotle speaks, for example, of fire having a natural tendency to
mount up, much as we might speak of solids having a natural tendency to
gravitate towards one another. Go back as far as we like, and, Aristotle
thinks, we still find certain primitive differences which constitute
what we call the primitive elements. This, I imagine, is much the point
of view of modern science.

And these primitive elements in Aristotle's view influence each other,
unite with each other, or change into each other. As a rule, however,
they exhibit no new powers. But given a happy concurrence of qualities,
say a certain union of heat and cold, and a new power does become
manifest: the power of life. Thus, in a sense, Aristotle does envisage
the spontaneous generation of life; and he knows, roughly, what he means
by life. The living thing can go through far more changes than the
non-living, while yet remaining recognizably the same thing. For
example, it shows in itself a greater advance to richness and also a
decline, it uses other things to foster this advance, and it sends out
fresh things, like itself, but independent of itself: in short, it
grows, decays, feeds itself, and propagates its kind.[19]

As I understand Aristotle, for him there is not an entire and absolute
difference between ordinary matter and living things, and yet there is a
real difference, and one not to be explained away, for there is a new
manifestation of active energy. And if we consider life of more value
than mere motion, then we are right in saying there is a higher energy.
The quality of growth is a quality which could not be deduced from the
quality of warmth or from the quality of mere movement in space, and yet
all three qualities are alike in this, that they are all manifestations
of an energy which is somehow inherent in things, and not merely imposed
on them from without. The manifestations of life are started, in a
sense, by the different movements, 'mechanical', if you like to call
them so, in the rudimentary forms of matter, the elements meeting each
other in space. The process of life could not have begun without such
movements. But neither could it have begun if the elements, just as they
appear, had been all there was. There had to be latent, that is, the
possibility of a different and higher mode of action. This higher mode
of action Aristotle calls a higher Form, a higher Idea. And I think it
is true to him to say that he believes the lower Forms, the lower Ideas,
do their most perfect work when they bring about the conditions under
which the higher ones can operate. For when he speaks of that
concurrence of elements that conditions life he speaks of the 'warmth
and cold' as 'having mastered the matter'.[20]

In any case he conceives a whole series of higher and lower Forms, the
higher coming nearer and nearer to that full and glorious activity which
he conceives to be the life of God. Above the power of the thing to grow
as a plant grows appears the power of sensation as it is present in
animals, and above that again the power, first seen in man, of living
the life of thought, perceiving what is beautiful and true in the
'forms', the characters, of all the things around him, and with this
that further power of setting consciously before himself what he really
wants to be and to do, the power of moral action strictly so-called.

Throughout this series, in every higher stage the lower is present as a
kind of basis. In the man who thinks there is active not only the power
of thought, but also the power of sensation, the faculty of growth, and
the physical properties of the body. It would seem that Aristotle has
only to take one step, and he would be a thoroughgoing evolutionist. He
has only to say that the different stages are successive in time, the
lower regularly preceding the higher. But this step he hesitates to

He often comes very near it. He speaks of nature passing gradually from
inanimate things through living things to living animals. He speaks of
what is first in itself, first inherently, 'prior' in the logical sense
because it is the goal and the completion of the thing, as appearing
later in time. For instance, he believes that man can only find his real
happiness and develop his real nature in the State, but the State
appears later in time than the primitive associations of the household
and the family.[21] What came earlier in history were barbarous
communities such as those of the Cyclopes, where 'each man laid down the
law for his wife and children and obeyed no other law'.

But Aristotle does not go on from this belief to the belief in a
universal upward process throughout all history. The developed State, it
is true, may always have been preceded by a lower form, but that lower
form may itself have been preceded by a higher.

Aristotle, in short, is haunted, like Plato, by the idea of cycles,
alternations, decline and progress, progress and decline. He feels this
both in the life of States and in the whole life of the world. He speaks
of the same discoveries being made over and over again, an infinite
number of times, in the history of civilization. And his words recall
the sad passage in Plato's _Laws_ (676) referring to the numberless
nations and states, ten thousand times ten thousand, that had risen and
fallen all over the world, passing from worse to better and from better
to worse. Similarly Aristotle will speak of degraded animal forms, and
sometimes write as though the animal world could sink back into the
vegetable altogether.

Admitting, however, something like progress within the different cycles,
we must ask a little more about the kind of progress which Aristotle
would have desired. (I take Aristotle again as a typical Greek.) Man at
his best, he clearly holds, in trying to realize his true nature should
aim at a happiness which involves a harmony of all his faculties, a
harmony inspired and led by the highest faculty of all, the Reason which
rejoices in the contemplation of what is at once true and good and

Now in this aim, we must ask, does a man need other men and other
creatures, and in what sense does he need them? Here, I think, we come
on two inconsistent tendencies in Aristotle's thought, connected with
two different ways of regarding the hierarchy of existences. We say that
one existence is higher than another. Does this mean that what we call
the lower are only so many blundering attempts to reach the higher? That
every creature, for example, which is not a thinking man is, on the
whole, a mistake? Aristotle often does speak like that. Woman, he says
in one passage, is only a mutilated male.[22] The principle which ought
to develop into the active power of thought could not, he explains, in
women master the recalcitrant element which is always thwarting
perfection, and thus woman is man _manqué_. On these lines of thought it
is easy to slip into looking on all other forms of existence as merely
valuable in so far as they serve the direct purposes of men, and indeed
only of a few men, those namely who are able to think as philosophers.
This is the kind of view according to which, as the satirist suggests,
cork-trees only grow in order to make corks for champagne-bottles, and
the inferior races of mankind only exist to furnish slaves for the
higher. And Aristotle does, on occasion, lend himself to such a view: he
justifies a slavery in which, as he says, some men are to be treated
merely as living tools. And yet on his own principles every man ought to
aim at realizing his own end, and not merely the ends of others.

But there is a widely different view, also present in Aristotle, and
truer to the essence of his thought. It is a view instinct with that
reverence for all existence of which I spoke at first, and it holds that
all the different natural types, high or low, could all be united in one
harmony, like an ordered army, as Aristotle himself would say, in which
the divine spirit was present even as the spirit of a general is present
in his men. The greatest thing in man, Aristotle thinks, is the godlike
power of apprehending the different characters of all the things around
him, and this of itself suggests the belief that all these characters
have a value of their own, unique and indispensable, each aiming at a
distinct aspect of the Divine, each, if it fulfilled its inner nature,
finding, as Plato might have said, the place where it was best for it to
be. Again, it is clear from Aristotle's whole treatment of the State,
that when he wrote his famous phrase, 'Man is by nature a political
animal', he meant that man, as we should say, is essentially social. It
is part of man's goal to live with others; it is not merely a means to
the goal. His highest happiness lies in the contemplation of the good,
and the good, Aristotle says, can be contemplated far better in others
than in ourselves. This is a profound saying, and from this thought
springs the deep significance of friendship in Aristotle's system. The
crown of the civic life he takes to be the community of friends who
recognize the good in each other, and enjoy each other through this. The
wider this community, then, we must surely say, the better.

For Aristotle then, man's perfection ought to mean the perfection of
every individual, and progress, so far as he conceives it, involve
progress towards this end. This should lead on to belief in the supreme
importance of the individual soul, and to Kant's great principle that we
should always treat each man as an end in himself.

Thus, if we concentrate on the hopeful elements in Plato and Aristotle,
we may fairly say, I think, that we can see outlined in their
philosophies something like the following belief: every natural thing in
this world, and every natural creature, so far as it is good,--and all
are more or less good,--tends to express some distinct aspect of a
perfect harmony: we human beings are the first on earth to be definitely
conscious of such a tendency, the first to be able definitely to direct
it to its true goal, and our business in life is therefore threefold: to
make actual our own function in this harmony, to help other creatures to
actualize theirs, and to contemplate every such manifestation, in men or
in things, with reverence and rejoicing.

The harmony, if complete, would be a manifestation of a divine reality,
and thus the love of God, the love of our neighbour, the love of nature,
self-development, political life, scientific study, poetic
contemplation, and philosophic speculation, would all unite in one
comprehensive and glorious task.

This, surely, is hopeful enough. But the Greek hope faltered and sank.
Could this harmony ever be realized? Would not the thwarting element in
the world always drag it down again and again, and drag some men down
always, so that after all progress was impossible, and for some men
should not even be attempted? As a matter of fact, Plato and Aristotle
do limit their exhortations to a narrow circle of cultured Greeks, and
even with them they doubt of success.

Now this despondency came partly, I think, through the very
sensitiveness of the Hellenic nature. The spectacle of the ever-baffled
struggle in Nature and Man they felt at times almost intolerable.
Aristotle saw that this perpetual failure in the heart of glorious good
made the very essence of tragedy. The tragic hero is the man of innate
nobleness who yet has some one defect that lays him open to ruin. Man is
set in a world full of difficulties, a world much of which is dark and
strange to him: his action and those of others have results which he did
not, and in his ignorance could not, foresee; he is not strong enough
for his great task.

All the Greek poets have this deep sadness. Homer has it, in and through
his intense feeling for the beauty and energy of life. There has never
been such war-poetry as Homer's, and yet there has never been any which
felt more poignantly the senselessness in war. 'And I must come here',
Achilles says to his noble enemy at the close, 'to torture you and your

In the next place, the sadness of the world could not be lightened for
the Greeks by the vision that the modern theory of evolution has opened
up to us of the long advance in the history of life on the planet. Even
their knowledge of history in the strict sense was scanty, and it is
only a long view of history that is likely to be comforting. What
history they did know could bring them little comfort. In the first
place it showed them a series of great civilizations, rising and
falling, and those that had fallen seemed at least as good as those that
followed them. A Greek like Plato knew of the Homeric civilization,
simpler indeed, but fresher and purer than his own. And he believed,
what we now know to be the fact, that even before the Homeric there had
been a wonderful island-culture, what we call the Minoan, flourishing
before the Homeric. 'There had been kings before Agamemnon.'

And behind Minos and Agamemnon lay the great, and by that time the
ossifying, kingdom of Egypt, compared to which the Greeks were, and felt
themselves to be, but children. Plato had seen, finally, the
degeneration of the Persian Empire--once so magnificent and mighty.

This fact of recurrent decay is one of the heaviest that the human
spirit can shoulder. Any theory of progress must come to terms with it,
for Progress through history is certainly not an uninterrupted ascent; a
spiral is the better image. And the weight must lie most heavily on a
generation which feels its own self to be in peril of decay. Now Plato
and Aristotle lived at such a period. Greece had gone through the bitter
experiences of the Peloponnesian War, and the shadow of it lay on them,
as on its historian Thucydides. In that fratricidal conflict Greece tore
herself to pieces. It was a struggle between the two leaders of the then
civilized world, and it has a terrible likeness to the struggle that is
going on now. From its devastating influence Greece never recovered.
Historians still dispute, and always will, as to the exact proportion of
praise and blame between the two. But Thucydides himself, a true-hearted
Athenian, brings out the tyrannical side in the Athenian temper. Not
indeed towards her own people, but towards all who were not of her own
immediate stock. Because Athens thought herself the fairest city in the
world, as indeed she was, because she thought herself menaced by Sparta,
and menaced she was, she allowed herself to tyrannize and lightly took
up the burden of war between brethren. There are few passages in history
more stately than the Funeral Oration of Pericles in which he calls
Athens the School of Hellas, but even in it there is a certain deadly
coldness of heart. And few things are more terrible than the coarsening
of temper which Thucydides depicts as the war goes on and Pericles is
succeeded by his caricature Cleon, the man who means to prosecute the
war vigorously, and by vigour means ruthlessness. Nor was there ever a
sterner indictment of aggression than that given in the dialogue between
the spokesmen of Melos, the little island that desired to stand out of
the conflict, and the Athenian representatives who were determined to
force her into their policy. And after that dialogue comes, in
Thucydides' great drama, the fall of Athens.

The city recovered in some measure from her fall, but only to face
another disaster. If she sinned in the Peloponnesian War through the
spirit of aggression, she sinned in the struggle with Macedon through
slackness and cowardice. In the one struggle she lost comradeship; in
the other she lost liberty. And with the loss of the two she lost
buoyancy. In a deeper sense than Pericles used the phrase, 'the
springtime went out of her year'. Ultimately, perhaps, we cannot explain
why this should be so. Other nations have had as disheartening
experiences and yet risen above them. Some of the most inspired
prophecies in the Hebrew writings came after the tiny state of Judaea
had been torn in pieces by the insensate conflict between North and
South, and after the whole people had been swept into captivity. But
whatever the ultimate reason, Athens did not recover. We must not end,
however, on a note of despair. Far from it. The work of Aristotle and
Plato and of the Greeks generally, was cramped for lack of sympathy and
lack of hope, and, strangely enough, it was after they had passed and
their glory with them that sympathy grew in the world, and after
sympathy grew, hope returned.

For it is exactly in those failing years, when the Hellenic gave way to
the Hellenistic, that men first grasped, and grasped so firmly that it
could hardly be lost again, one of the fundamental principles on which
the whole fabric of our later civilization has rested, or ought to rest,
the great principle of personal equality, the claim of every individual
to transcendent value, irrespective of race and creed and endowment. The
conquering rule of Alexander, whatever else it did, broke down the
barriers of the little city-states and made men of different races feel
themselves members of mankind. There rose among the Stoics the
conviction that all men do belong together and are all made for each
other. And with the advent of Christianity came the belief that every
man, however mean and unworthy, can receive a power that will make him
all he ought to be. The highest is within his reach. There is no reason
now why the glorious life that Hellenism conceived for a few should not
lie open to all men.

Finally, we might say, and truly, that the vast political organization
built up by Rome gave us Europeans, once and for all, the vision of a
united Europe.

That dream has never left it. Even to-day, here and now, in spite of our
disasters, our blunders, and our crimes, let us not forget it, that
dream which is 'not all a dream', the dream of once again constructing a
system in which we might, all of us, all nations and all men and women,
make progress together in the common task.


G. L. Dickinson, _The Greek View of Life_.

Zeller, _Aristotle and the Earlier Peripatetics_.

Edited by Evelyn Abbott, _Hellenica_.

Bury, _History of Greece_.

Davies and Vaughan, _Plato's Republic_.

Welldon, _Aristotle's Politics_.

Peters, _Aristotle's Ethics_.

Bridges, _The Spirit of Man_.


[6] G. H. Perris, _History of War and Peace_, p. 54.

[7] 'The Unity of Western Civilization,' c. III.

[8] _The Spirit of Man_, 40; _Phaedo_, 96.

[9] _The Spirit of Man_, 16; _Phaedo_, 66.

[10] _Natural Religion_, part ii, c. 5.

[11] _De An._ ii. 4, 415, p. 35.

[12] _The Spirit of Man_, 39; Aristotle, _Met._ 10.

[13] T. W. Rolleston, _Parallel Paths_.

[14] _Phys._ ii. 8, 198 16-34.

[15] Pp. 28-9.

[16] _Phys._ ii, c. I.

[17] _De Part. An._, Bk. i, c. 5.

[18] _Phys._ ii. I, _init._

[19] _De Anima_, _init._

[20] _Meteor_, iv. 1. 378. See Zeller's _Aristotle_, vol. i, _fin._

[21] _Polit._ 1253 a; _Eth._ 1162 a.

[22] _Gen. An._ ii. 3. 737.




There still survives, not indeed among students of history, but among
some literary persons, the notion that the civilization of the Middle
Ages was fixed and unprogressive; that the conditions of these centuries
were wholly different from those of the ancient world and of modern
time; that there was little continuity with the ancient world, and
little connexion with the characteristic aspects of progress in the
modern world.

The truth is very different. It may be doubted whether at any other
time, except perhaps in those two marvellous centuries of the flower of
Greek civilization, there has been a more rapid development of the most
important elements of civilization than in the period from the end of
the tenth to the end of the thirteenth centuries. While it is true that
much was lost in the ruin of the ancient world, much also survived, and
there was a real continuity of civilization; indeed some of the greatest
conceptions of the later centuries of the ancient world are exactly
those upon which mediaeval civilization was built. And again, it was in
the Middle Ages that the foundations were laid upon which the most
characteristic institutions of the modern world have grown.

Indeed this notion that the civilization of the Middle Ages was fixed
and unprogressive is a mere literary superstition, and its origin is to
be found in the ignorance and perversity of the men of the Renaissance;
and hardly less, it must be added, in the foolishness of many of the
conceptions of the Romantic revival.

There are, indeed, excuses for these mistakes and confusions. The
Renaissance represents, among other things, a great and necessary
movement of revolt against a religious and intellectual civilization
which had once been living and moving, but had tended from the latter
years of the thirteenth century to grow stiff and rigid. It was probably
a real misfortune that the great thinkers and scholars of the thirteenth
century, like Alexander of Hales and Thomas Aquinas, had embarked upon
what was a premature attempt at the systematization of all knowledge;
they made the same mistake as the Encyclopaedists of the eighteenth
century or Herbert Spencer in the nineteenth, but with more disastrous
results. For this work unhappily encouraged the mediaeval Church in its
most fatal mistake, its tendency to suspect and oppose the apprehensions
of new aspects of truth.

The men of the Renaissance had to break the forms under which the
schoolmen had thought to express all truth, they had to carry forward
the great enterprise and adventure of the discovery of truth, and they
had to do this in the teeth of a violent resistance on the part of those
who thought themselves the representatives of the mediaeval
civilization. There are, therefore, excuses for them in their contempt
for the intellectual life of the past; but there is no real excuse for
them in their contempt for mediaeval art and literature. When they
turned their back upon the immediate past, and endeavoured pedantically
to reproduce the ancient world, they were guilty of an outrageous
ignorance and stupidity, a stupidity which is expressed in that unhappy
phrase of Pope, the 'Gothic night'. Happily neither the great artists of
the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries nor the great poets of England
and Spain were much affected by the classical pedantry of which
unhappily Petrarch was the begetter.

It is this foolishness of the Renaissance which is the best excuse for
the foolishness of the Romantic revival; the new classical movement had
in such a degree interrupted the continuity of European art that it was
very difficult for men in the eighteenth century to recover the past,
and we must make allowance for the often ludicrous terms and forms of
the new mediaevalism. Indeed it is a strange and often absurd art--the
half-serious, half-parodying imitations of Thomson and Walpole and
Wieland, this ludicrous caricature Gothic of Strawberry Hill and All
Souls, the notion of Gothic architecture as a mass of crockets,
battlements, crypts, and dungeons--and all in ruins. Indeed, the
Romantic conception of the Middle Ages was often as absurd as that of
the Renaissance, and if we are to get at the truth, if we are to make
any serious attempt to understand the Middle Ages, we must clear our
minds of two superstitions; the one, which we derive from the
Renaissance, that mediaeval civilization was sterile, ignorant, and
content to be ignorant; the other, which survives from the Romantic
movement, that it was essentially religious, chivalrous and adventurous,
that men spent their time in saying their prayers, making reverent love
to their ladies, or carving the heads of the infidel.

What I should desire to do is to persuade you that the more you study
the Middle Ages the more you will see that these men and women were
really very much like ourselves, ignorant, no doubt, of much which is to
us really or superficially important, gifted on the other hand with some
qualities which for the time we seem to have in a large measure lost,
but substantially very like ourselves, neither very much better nor very
much worse. Let me illustrate this by considering for a moment the
figure which to us is typical of the Middle Ages. What was the
mediaeval knight? We think of him as a courteous, chivalrous person of a
romantic and adventurous temper, whose business it was to fight for his
lady or in the service of religion against the infidel. In reality he
was usually a small landowner, who held his land on condition of
military service to some lord; the title 'knight' means in its Latin
form (_miles_), simply a soldier, in its Germanic form a servant, and
distinguishes him from the older type of landowner who held his land in
absolute ownership and free of all service except of a national kind. In
virtue of his holding a certain amount of land he had to present himself
for military service on those occasions and for those periods for which
he could be legally summoned. But even this description implies a wholly
wrong emphasis, for he was not primarily a soldier, but a small
landowner and cultivator, very much what we should call a squireen. He
was normally much more concerned about his crops, his cattle and pigs,
than about his lord's affairs and his lord's quarrels. He was ignorant,
often rather brutal, and turbulent, very ready for a quarrel with his
neighbour, but with no taste for national wars, and the prolonged
absence from his home which they might involve, unless indeed there was
a reasonable prospect of plunder. Indeed, he was a very matter-of-fact
person, with very little sense of romance, and little taste for
adventure unless there was something to be got out of it. We must
dismiss from our minds the pretty superstitions of romance from Chaucer
and Spenser to the time of the Romantic revival, and we must understand
that the people of the Middle Ages were very much like ourselves; the
times were rougher, more disorderly, there was much less security, but
on the whole the character of human life was not very different.

What was it, then, that happened with the end of the ancient world?
Well, the civilization of the Roman Empire was overthrown by our
barbarous ancestors, the old order, and tranquillity, and comfort
disappeared, and the world fell back into discomfort and turbulence, and
disorder; the roads fell into disrepair and were not mended, the drains
were neglected, and the towns dwindled and shrank. We must remember,
however, that this great civilization was dying out, was failing by some
internal weakness, and that the barbarians only hastened the process.

Much of the achievement of Greece and Rome was lost, much both material
and intellectual, but not all, and the new civilization which began
rapidly to grow up on the ruins of the old was in many respects
continuous with it. In order, however, that we may understand this we
must remember that the form of civilization with which the Middle Ages
were continuous was the Graeco-Roman civilization of the later Empire,
and not the great Hellenic civilization itself. What the Middle Ages
knew was primarily that which the Christian Fathers like St. Augustine
and St. Gregory the Great, St. Basil and St. Gregory of Nazianzus
learned at their schools and universities. Some of these Fathers were
educated at the great universities, like Athens, others at comparatively
humble provincial institutions; some of them were men of powerful
intellect, while others were more commonplace. What they learned was the
general intellectual system of the late Empire, and what they learned
they handed on to the Middle Ages; but it was not the great intellectual
culture of Greece. We have still too strong an inclination to think of
the ancient world as one and homogeneous; we have not yet sufficiently
apprehended the great changes both in the form and in the temper of that
world. And yet the varieties, the changes, are very diverse, the
outlook, the artistic methods of the Homeric poetry are very different
from the emotional and intellectual modernity of Euripides. The
philosophy of Plato and Aristotle is very different from that of the
Stoics and Neoplatonists. In that picturesque but perhaps not very
felicitous phrase which Mr. Murray has borrowed from Mr. Cornford, there
was a 'failure of nerve' which separates the earlier from the later
stages of the moral and intellectual culture of the ancient world.
However this may be, and we shall have more to say about this presently,
the civilization of the Middle Ages was made up on the one hand of
elements drawn from the later Empire, and on the other of
characteristics and principles which seem to have belonged to the
Barbarian races themselves.

With the end of the sixth century the ancient world had passed away and
the mediaeval world had begun, and we have to consider the nature and
movement of the new order, or rather we have to consider some of its
elements, and their development, especially during the period from the
end of the tenth century to the end of the thirteenth, during which it
reached its highest level. We have to pass over the great attempt of the
ninth century, for we can only deal with a small part of a large
subject, and we shall only deal with a few aspects of it, and chiefly
with the development of the spiritual conception of life which we call
religion, with the reconstruction of the political order of society,
with the beginning of a new intellectual life and the pursuit of truth,
and with the development under new forms of the passion for beauty.

       *       *       *       *       *

I have been compelled to warn you against the romantic superstition that
the Middle Ages were specifically religious, and yet it is quite true
that the first aspect of mediaeval life which compels our attention is
exactly the development of the sense of the significance of the
spiritual quality of life. This was the first great task of the men of
the Middle Ages, and this was in a real sense their achievement; but not
as contradicting the characteristic developments of the Hellenic
civilization, but rather as completing and fulfilling it. It is indeed a
singular superstition that the Hellenic world was lacking in spiritual
insight, but I need only refer you to Miss Stawell's lecture, as serving
to show you how great and how real this was. It really was not a mistake
when an honest but rather stupid man like Justin Martyr, and the more
acute and penetrating minds of the Alexandrian Fathers like Clement and
Origen, thought that they heard the authentic accents of the 'Word' of
God in the great philosophers of Greece, and especially in Plato.

The apprehension of the spiritual element in human experience was not
wanting in Hellenic civilization, but it needed a further development
and especially in relation to those new apprehensions of personality and
individuality, whose appearance we can trace both in the
post-Aristotelian philosophy, and in the later Hebrew prophets and
poets, which Christianity found in the world, and to which in its
conception of the human in the Divine, and the Divine in the human, it
gave a new force and breath. It is easy for us to smile at what may well
be the over-rhetorical phrases of Seneca when he speaks of the
self-sufficingness ([Greek: autarkeia]) of the wise man, or when he says
that the wise man is, but for his mortality, like God himself; and yet
these rhetorical phrases are, after all, the forms of an apprehension
which has changed and is changing the world. And, it must be remembered
that to understand the full significance of these phrases, we must bear
in mind that the men of the Graeco-Roman civilization had put aside once
and for all the 'natural' distinction between the 'Greek' and the
'Barbarian', had recognized that men were equal and alike, not different
and unequal, that all men were possessed of reason, and all were
capable of virtue,[23] or, in the Christian terms, all men are the
children of God and capable of communion with Him.

It is this new apprehension of life for which the Middle Ages found a
new form in the great organization of the Church, and it is this which
justifies our sense of the great and permanent significance of the
tremendous conflict of the Papacy and the Empire. It is true that at
times some of the representatives of the Church seem to have fallen into
the mistake of aiming at a tyranny of the Church over the State, which
would have been in the end as disastrous to the Church itself as to the
State. But the normal principle of the Church was that which was first
fully stated by Pope Gelasius I in the fifth century, that the two great
authorities, the spiritual and the temporal, are each divine, each draws
its authority ultimately from God himself, each is supreme and
independent in its own sphere, while each recognizes the authority of
the other within its proper sphere.

It is, indeed, the freedom of the spiritual life which the mediaeval
Church was endeavouring to defend; it was the apprehension that there
was some ultimate quality in human nature which stands and must stand
outside of the direct or coercive control of society, which lies behind
all the confused clamour of the conflicts of Church and State.

It is true that in this great and generous effort to secure the freedom
of the human soul men in some measure lost their way. They demanded and
in a measure they succeeded in asserting the freedom of the religious
organization, as against the temporal organization, but in doing this
they went perilously near to denying the freedom of the individual
spiritual experience. They went perilously near to denying it, but they
never wholly forgot it. The Church claimed and exercised an immense
authority in religion, so immense an authority that it might easily seem
as though there were no place left for the freedom of the individual
judgement and conscience. And yet that was not the case. The theory of
excommunication that is set out in the canonical literature of the
Middle Ages has generally been carelessly studied and imperfectly
understood. It was the greatest and most masterful of the Popes,
Innocent III, who laid down in memorable phrases which are embodied in
the great collection of the Decretals, that if a Christian man or woman
is convinced in his own mind and conscience that it would be a mortal
sin to do or to leave undone some action, he must follow his own
conscience even against the command of the authorities of the Church,
and must submit patiently to Church censures and even excommunication;
for it may well happen that the Church may condemn him whom God
approves, or approve him whom God condemns.[24] This is no isolated or
exceptional opinion, but is the doctrine which is constantly laid down
in the canonical literature.[25] It is, I think, profoundly true to say
that when men at last revolted against what seemed to them the
exaggerated claims of the Church, when they slowly fought their way
towards toleration and religious freedom, they were only asserting and
carrying out its one most vital principle, the principle of the
independence or autonomy of the spiritual life; the modern world is only
fulfilling the Middle Ages.

I do not continue to develop this aspect of the progress of western
civilization, not because it is unimportant, for indeed it is perhaps
the greatest and most significant aspect of mediaeval life, but because
it is well known to you, and indeed, it has generally been insisted on
to such a degree as to obscure the other aspects of progress in the
Middle Ages, with which we must deal.

       *       *       *       *       *

And first I would ask you to observe that it was in these centuries that
there were laid over again the foundations of the social and political
order of civilization, and that there were devised those forms of the
political order upon which the structure of modern society is founded.

We are familiar with the conception of the divine nature of political
authority, the normal and fundamental mediaeval view of the State. If we
translate this into more general terms we shall find that its meaning is
that the State has an ethical or moral purpose or function; the State
exists to secure and to maintain justice. You must not, indeed, confuse
this great conception with that foolish perversion of it which was
suggested, I think, by some characteristically reckless phrases of St.
Augustine, stated in set terms by St. Gregory the Great, almost
forgotten in the Middle Ages, and unhappily revived by the perversity of
some Anglicans and Gallicans in the seventeenth century. This foolish
perversion, which we know as the theory of the 'Divine Right of Kings',
is indeed the opposite of the great Pauline and mediaeval conception of
the divine nature of political authority, for to St. Paul, to the more
normal Fathers like St. Ambrose, and to the political theory of the
Middle Ages authority is divine just because, and only in so far as, its
aim and purpose is the attainment and maintenance of justice. Indeed, it
is not only the notion of the 'Divine Right' which was inconsistent with
the mediaeval conception of the State, but the notion of an absolute
sovereignty inherent in the State, that notion with which some eccentric
or ignorant modern political theorists, ignorant of Rousseau as well as
of Aristotle, have played, to the great danger of society; we have,
indeed, got beyond the theory of the sovereignty of the king, but we are
in some danger of being hag-ridden by the imposture of the sovereignty
of the majority. Whatever mistakes the people of the Middle Ages may
have made, they were, with rare exceptions, clear that there was no
legitimate authority which was not just, and which did not make for

It is here that we find the real meaning of the second great political
principle of the Middle Ages, that is the supremacy of law; that it is
the law which is the supreme authority in the State, the law which is
over every person in the State. When John of Salisbury, the secretary of
Thomas à Becket, wishes to distinguish between the prince and the
tyrant, he insists that the prince is one who rules according to law,
while the tyrant is one who ignores and violates the law.[26] And in a
memorable phrase, Bracton, the great English jurist of the latter part
of the thirteenth century, lays it down dogmatically that the king has
two superiors, God and the law.[27] There is an absurd notion still
current among more ignorant persons--I have even heard some theologians
fall into the mistake--that men in the Middle Ages thought of authority
as something arbitrary and unintelligible, while the truth is that such
a conception was wholly foreign to the temper of that time. It is quite
true that the political life of the Middle Ages seems constantly to
oscillate between anarchy and despotism, but this is not because the men
of those days did not understand the meaning of law and of freedom, but
because they were only slowly working out the organization through which
these can be secured. The supreme authority in the mediaeval state was
the law, and it was supreme because it was taken by them to be the
embodiment of justice.

It is again out of this principle that there arose another great
conception which is still often thought to be modern, but which is
really mediaeval, the conception that the authority of the ruler rests
upon and is conditioned by an agreement or contract between him and the
people. For this agreement was not an abstract conception, but was based
upon the mutual oaths of the mediaeval coronation ceremony, the oath of
the king to maintain the law, and to administer justice, and the oath of
the people to serve and obey the king whom they had recognized or
elected. The people do, indeed, owe the king honour and loyal service,
but only on the condition that he holds inviolable his oath. The ruler
who breaks this is a tyrant, and for him there was no place in mediaeval
political theory. This conception was expressed in very plain and even
crude terms by Manegold in the eleventh century when he said that the
king was in the same relation to the community as the man who is hired
to keep the pigs to his master. If the swineherd fails to do his work
the master turns him off and finds another. And if the king or prince
refuses to fulfil the conditions on which he holds his power he must be
deposed.[28] John of Salisbury in the twelfth century expressed this in
even stronger terms when he said that if the prince became a tyrant and
violated the laws, he had no rights, and should be removed, and if there
were no other way to do it, it was lawful for any citizen to slay

These are, no doubt, extreme forms of the mediaeval conception, but the
principle that the authority of the ruler was conditioned by his
faithful discharge of his obligations is the normal doctrine of the
Middle Ages, is maintained by the compilers of the feudal law-books of
the Kingdom of Jerusalem, by the great English jurist Bracton, by St.
Thomas Aquinas, and even by some of the most representative of the Roman
jurists of Bologna, like Azo.

These were the fundamental principles of the conception of the nature of
political authority whose development we can trace in the Middle Ages,
and it is out of these conceptions that there grew the system of the
control of the common affairs of the community by means of the
representation of the community. For it should be more clearly
understood than it is, that the representative system was the creation
of the mediaeval political genius, it was these men--to whom even yet
the more ignorant would deny the true political instinct--it was these
men who devised that method upon which the structure of modern civilized
government has been built up.

There is, however, yet another aspect of the development of political
civilization which deserves our attention if we are to understand the
nature of political progress in the Middle Ages. It was in these
centuries that there were created the elementary forms of the
administrative system of government. And indeed, there is perhaps no
clearer distinction between a barbarian and a civilized government than
this, that while the barbarian government hangs precariously on the life
of the capable king, the civilized government is carried on continuously
by an organized civil service. It would be impossible here to discuss
the earlier forms of this in the organization of government by Charles
the Great, or the very interesting developments of the royal or imperial
chapel as the nucleus of a civil service in Germany, it is enough here
to remind ourselves that it is the creation of this organized
administration by Henry I and Henry II of England which laid the
foundations of our national order. Enough has, I think, been said to
illustrate the reality and significance of the progressive
reconstruction of the political order of Western society in the Middle

       *       *       *       *       *

It may, however, be said that this may all be true, but that in all this
we have after all only an example of the preoccupation of the Middle
Ages with conduct and religion. I must, therefore, ask you to consider
the character and development of the intellectual movement of the Middle
Ages. And here, fortunately, we can find the best of guidance in Dr.
Rashdall's great work on _The Universities of Europe in the Middle
Ages_, and in Dr. R. L. Poole's _Illustrations of Mediaeval Thought_.
Indeed I could wish that a little more attention was given to the
history and character of the intellectual movement which the
Universities represent, and perhaps a little less to reading and
discussing the great scholastic works of the thirteenth century, which
are almost impossible to understand except in relation to the
intellectual movements of the twelfth century.

The new intellectual movement came very suddenly in the last years of
the eleventh century; why it should have come then is hard to determine,
but it seems reasonable to say that it represents the reawakening of the
desire for knowledge which had been in abeyance during the stormy
centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire in the West, when men had
little leisure for anything but the constant labour to secure a little
decent order and peace. For a few years, indeed, in the ninth century
the genius of Charlemagne had almost restored the order of civilization,
and even in those few years the human mind reasserted itself, and for a
moment the learning and culture which had been preserved mainly by the
Irish and their pupils in Britain, and in Central Europe, flowered and
bore fruit; but with his death Western Europe plunged again into anarchy
and misery, and it was only slowly that the genius of the great German
emperors in Central Europe, and of the Norman settlers in France and
England, rebuilt the commonwealth of European civilization. By the end
of the eleventh century the work was not indeed done, but was being
done, and men had again a little leisure, and the desire for knowledge
reawakened, but indeed it was no mere gentle desire, but a veritable
passion which possessed the men of the twelfth century, and it was this
spontaneous passion which produced the universities.

The first thing, indeed, which we must observe about the oldest
universities of Europe, especially Bologna, Paris, and Oxford, is just
this, that they were not made by any external authority, that they did
not derive their being from Church or State, from pope or king, but that
they were formed by the enthusiasm and passion which drew men from every
quarter of Europe to sit at the feet of some man or another who could
give them the knowledge which they desired, and, in their turn, to
become teachers. It is quite true that as time went on, and they found
that popes and kings were friendly and interested, these groups of
students procured for themselves bulls and charters of recognition and
protection, but while later universities may trace their foundation to
these respectable patrons, the older universities recognize them indeed
as benefactors and friends, but not as founders, but rather claim that
they grew out of men's desire for knowledge, and that they were
recognized by the general consent of the civilized world.

In the second place it is important, and especially I think in these
days, to understand that the men who thus created the universities in
their eagerness to learn, were of every class and condition, rich and
poor, noble and simple, and they lived as they could, in comfortable
quarters if they were wealthy men, or in the garrets and cellars of the
citizens if they were poor, and for the most part they were poor; but
neither poverty nor riches could destroy their noble thirst for
knowledge. The life of the universities was indeed turbulent and
disorderly, the students were always at war with the citizens, and, when
they were not breaking the heads of the citizens or having their heads
broken by them, they were at war with each other, the men of the north
with the southerners, the western with the eastern; for the universities
were not local or national institutions, but were made up of a
cosmopolitan crowd of men of every nation in Europe, intelligible to
each other, as unhappily we are not, by the universal knowledge and use
of that mediaeval Latin, which might distress the Ciceronian ears of a
pedant of the Renaissance, but was a good, useful, and adaptable
language. It was a turbulent, disorderly, brutal, profligate, and
drunken world, for the students were as hard drinkers as the citizens,
but it was animated, it was made alive by a true passion for knowledge,
by an unwearied and never satisfied intellectual curiosity.

But it will be asked, what did they learn? Well, the only answer that
one can give is that they learned whatever there was to learn. Our
literary friends have often still the impression that in the Middle Ages
men spent their whole time in learning theology, and were afraid of
other forms of knowledge, but this is a singular delusion. As the
universities developed a system, their studies were arranged in the main
under four heads, the general studies of what came to be called the
Faculty of Arts, and the professional studies of the three superior
Faculties of Law, Medicine, and Theology, but the student was not
normally allowed to study in the three superior Faculties until he had
spent some years in the studies of the Faculty of Arts. It is therefore
with this latter that we are primarily occupied. The studies in the
Faculty of Arts consisted, to use our modern terminology, of literature,
philosophy, and science, and the accomplished mediaeval student was
expected to know whatever there was to know.

And this means--what is strangely often forgotten--that the studies of
the mediaeval universities were primarily based upon the literature
which had survived from the ancient world. The Latin poets and orators
were their models of literary art, the surviving treatises of the
ancients their text-books in medicine, and the Greek philosophers in
Latin translations, or in Latin works founded on them, their masters in
thought. To understand the extent of the influence and the knowledge of
antiquity of a twelfth-century scholar we need only turn again to John
of Salisbury, and we shall find him as familiar as any Renaissance
scholar with Latin literature, and possessing a very considerable
acquaintance with Greek literature so far as it could be obtained
through the Latin.[30] Indeed, so much is he possessed by the literature
of antiquity that in works like the _Policraticus_ he can hardly write
two lines together without a quotation from some classical author. This
type of literary scholarship has been too much overlooked, and, as I
said before, too exclusive an attention has been given to the
thirteenth-century schoolmen, who are neither from a literary nor from a
philosophical point of view as representative of mediaeval scholars, and
philosophically they are often really unmediaeval, for the general
quality of mediaeval thought is its Platonism: the Aristotelian logic
was indeed known to the Middle Ages through Boethius, but the other
Aristotelian works were not known till towards the middle of the
thirteenth century.

It would be impossible here, even if I were competent, which I am not,
to discuss the character of mediaeval thought, but one thing we can
observe, one aspect of the intellectual method which may serve to clear
away some confusion. The great intellectual master of the Middle Ages
was Abelard, and the method which he elaborated in his _Sic et Non_ is
the method which imposed itself upon all aspects of mediaeval thought.

It has often been supposed that mediaeval thinkers were in such a sense
the creatures of authority that it was impossible for them to exercise
any independent judgement; how far this may have been true of the
decadent scholasticism of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries I do
not pretend to say, but such a judgement is a ludicrous caricature of
the living and active thought of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries,
and a little consideration of the critical method which Abelard
developed is sufficient to correct this. This is as follows: first some
general principle is enunciated for consideration, then all the
authorities which may seem to support it are cited, then all the
authorities against, and finally the writer delivers his own judgement,
criticizing and explaining the opinions which may seem contrary to it.
The method has its defects and its limitations, but its characteristic
is rather that of scepticism than of credulity. And it is on this method
that the most important systems of knowledge of the Middle Ages are
constructed. It was applied by Gratian in his _Decretum_, the first
great reasoned treatise on Church law, and leads there often to somewhat
unexpected conclusions, such as that even the legislative authority of
the Pope is limited by the consenting custom of the Christian
people;[31] and it is this method upon which the great systematic
treatises, like the _Suma Theologica_ of St. Thomas Aquinas, were
constructed in the thirteenth century. Whatever its defects may be the
method cannot fairly be accused of ignoring difficulties and of a
submission to authority which leaves no place for the critical reason.

I have, I hope, said enough to make it clear that there was a real and
living intellectual movement in the Middle Ages, and that even in those
days men had resumed the great adventure of the pursuit of truth.

       *       *       *       *       *

We can only for a moment consider the significance and the character of
mediaeval civilization as it expresses itself in Art, and we must begin
by noticing a distinction between mediaeval art and mediaeval learning,
which is of the first importance.

The intellectual movement of the Middle Ages was related to the ancient
world, both in virtue of that continuity which was mediated by the
Christian Fathers, whose education was that of the later Empire, and
also in virtue of the intense and eager care with which mediaeval
scholars studied all that they possessed of ancient literature. The
relation of the art of the Middle Ages to the ancient world was quite
different. There was no continuity between the vernacular poetry of the
Middle Ages and that of the ancient world, and while there was a certain
continuity in architecture and in mosaic painting, this amounted to
little more than that the mediaeval artists took the formal structure or
method as the starting-point of their own independent and original work.
For the western art of the third and fourth centuries was conventional
and decadent, and had apparently lost its power of recovery, while the
art of the centuries which followed was at first rude and imperfect, but
was full of new life, determined in its reality and dominated by some
intimate sense of beauty; it was in no sense imitative of ancient art,
but grew and changed under the terms of its own inherent life and power.

Mediaeval art, whatever else is to be said about it, was new and
independent, and it had all the variety, the audacious experiments,
characteristic of a living art. Nothing is so foolish as to imagine that
it was uniform and unchanging. Indeed, from the historical point of
view, the interest of the study of it is curiously contrasted with that
of the art of the ancient world. There we have only an imperfect and
fragmentary knowledge of the earlier and ruder form; its history, as we
know it, might almost be said to begin with the perfection of the sixth
and fifth centuries, and what we know after that is the history of a
long decadence, not indeed without new developments of importance, as
for instance in the architectural structure of Roman building, and
perhaps in the sculpture of the Early Empire on one side, and in certain
aspects of Latin literature on another. The history of mediaeval art is
the history of the long development from what are generally rude forms
to the highly developed art of the thirteenth century, a development
full of incidents and experiments and variety. I have called the early
form rude, but the phrase is not very happy, as those who know either
the early mosaic or the early epic will understand.

There are still some people, I suppose, who think that mediaeval poetry
was all of one kind, cast in one mould, but the truth is that it is of
every form and character. It ranges from the bold imaginative realism of
the Epic of England, Iceland, Germany, and France, to the exquisite and
gracious but somewhat artificial allegory of the _Romance of the Rose_.
It includes the first great emotional poetry of the modern world--the
sense of the greatness and tragedy of human passion has perhaps never
been expressed in more moving terms than in the _Tristan and Iseult_ of
Thomas or Beroul--but it also includes the mordant satire of the Renard
poetry and of Jean de Meun, and the gross realistic humour of the
Fabliaux. The mediaeval drama, in whose complex development we have to
trace many strands, probably represents in its oldest forms the coarse
farcical buffoonery which may be related to the last fashions of the
ancient world; it received a new impulse from the dramatization of
scripture history in the twelfth century; but in the thirteenth and
fourteenth centuries, at least in France, it had already become
substantially a drama of romantic or contemporary life, as we can see in
Jean Bodel's _Jeu de St. Nicholas_, in Adam de la Halle's _Jeu de la
Feuillée_ and _Robin et Marion_, and in dramas like the _Empress of
Rome_ or the _Otho_. Whatever criticism we might want to make on
mediaeval literature, at least we cannot say that it was of one type and
of one mood.

It is hardly necessary to point out the movement and changes in the
other forms of art in the Middle Ages; it is only necessary to remind
ourselves that, while we can see that the artists were often hampered by
inadequate technical knowledge, they were not conventional or merely

It would be impossible here to consider the history of mosaic painting,
and its development from the decadent Graeco-Roman work of Santa
Pudenziana in Rome, to the magnificent and living decorations of St.
Mark's in Venice, or of the cathedral of Monreale. It is enough to
remind ourselves of the immense interval which lies between the rude but
living sculpture of the ninth century, and the exquisite grace of
Chester or Wells, and of that development of architecture which
culminates in the majesty of Durham, and in the beauty of Chartres and
Westminster Abbey.

It is doubtful if we have yet at all fully or correctly appreciated the
nature of mediaeval art; there has been a good deal of foolish talk
about 'primitives', which usually goes with a singular ignorance of
mediaeval civilization; the one thing which is already clear, and which
grows clearer, is that the men of those ages had an instinct and a
passion for beauty which expressed itself in almost every thing that
they touched; and, whatever we have gained, we have in a large measure
lost this.

       *       *       *       *       *

The mediaeval world was then a living growing world, neither cut off
from the past, nor unrelated to the future. It was a rough and turbulent
world, our ancestors were dogged, quarrelsome, and self-assertive, and
the first task of civilization was to produce some sort of decent order.
The world was a long way off from the firm urbanity of the English
policeman. And yet the men of the Middle Ages never fell into that
delusion which, as it would seem, has ruined other civilizations; the
great effort for order was not in their mind to be fulfilled by any mere
mechanical discipline, by any system imposed from outside, the only
system of order which they were prepared to accept was one which should
express the character, the tradition, and finally the will of the whole
community. The great phrase of Edward I's summons to Parliament, 'Quod
omnes tangit, ab omnibus approbetur' (That which concerns all, must be
approved by all), was not a mere tag, as some foolish people have
thought, but expressed the character and the genius of a living
political civilization.

And this rough turbulent world was inspired by a great breath of
spiritual and intellectual and artistic life and freedom.

It might well seem as though the Church and religion were merely a new
bondage, and in part that is true, but it is not the whole truth. With
all its mistakes the religion of the Middle Ages meant the growing
apprehension of the reality of that 'love which moves the sun and other
stars', it meant the growth of reverence for that which is beyond and
above humanity and which is also within it. For it is the last truth of
the Christian faith that we know God only under the terms of human life
and nature. And with all the cruelty and brutality of the Middle Ages
they taught men love as well as obedience.

Again, it was in these ages, as soon as the confusion of the outer world
was a little reduced, that the passion for knowledge awoke again in
men's hearts. It is true that some were afraid lest the eager inquiry of
men's minds should destroy the foundations of that order which men were
slowly achieving, but still the passionate pursuit of knowledge has
rarely been more determined. And once again the world was rough, but
these men had an instinct, a passion for beauty which expressed itself
in almost everything which they touched. They had not, indeed, the
almost miraculous sense and mastery of the great artists of Greece, that
did not come again till the time of the great Italian artists of the
fifteenth century. But they were free from pedantry, from formalism,
they left the dying art of the ancient world and made their own way.
Their sense of colour was almost infallible, as those who have seen the
mosaics of the older Roman basilicas and of St. Mark's in Venice will
know; but, indeed, we have only to look at the illuminated manuscripts
which are to be found in all our libraries. And in that great art in
which, above all perhaps, they expressed themselves, in their great
architecture, we see the growth of a constructive genius which is only
overshadowed by the superb beauty of its form.

A rough, disorderly, turbulent, greedy, cruel world, but it knew the
human soul, and it knew the human heart. The ancient world had ended in
a great destruction, but the sadness and emptiness of its last days
compel us to feel that it was well that it should end. And the new world
was a world of life, of crude force and restless energy, and from it we
have received the principles and the forms of a great civilization, and
the temper which is never satisfied, for there is no end to life.


H. W. C. Davis, _Mediaeval Europe_ (Home University Library).

Lord Bryce, _History of Roman Empire_.

Rashdall, _Universities of Empire in the Middle Ages_.

R. L. Poole, _Illustrations of Mediaeval Thought_.

Gierke, _Political Theories of the Middle Ages_.

W. P. Ker, _Epic and Romance_.


[23] Cf. Cicero, _De Legibus_, i. 10-12; and Seneca, _De Beneficiis_,
iii. 18.

[24] Cf. Decretals, v. 39. 44, 28.

[25] Cf. Carlyle, _Mediaeval Political Theory_, vol. ii. pp. 244-9.

[26] Cf. John of Salisbury, _Policraticus_, iv. 1.

[27] Cf. Bracton, _De Legibus et Consuetudinibus_, i. 8, 5.

[28] Cf. Manegold, _Ad Gebehardum_, c. XXX.

[29] Cf. John of Salisbury, _Policraticus_, iii. 15, viii. 17, 18, 20.

[30] Cf. C. C. J. Webb's edition of John of Salisbury's _Policraticus_,

[31] Cf. Gratian, _Decretum_, D. iv. c. 3.




The difficulties are deep and delicate which confront any man at all
well acquainted with the fuller significance of Religion and of
Progress, who attempts clearly and shortly to describe or define the
ultimate relations between these two sets of fact and conviction. It is
plain that Religion is the deeper and richer of the two terms; and that
we have here, above all, to attempt to fathom the chief elements and
forces of Religion as such, and then to see whether Progress is really
traceable in Religion at all. And again it is clear that strongly
religious souls will, as such, hold that Religion answers to, and is
occasioned by, the action, within our human life and needs, of great,
abiding, living non-human Realities; and yet, if such souls are at all
experienced and sincere, they will also admit--as possibly the most
baffling of facts--that the human individuals, families, races, are
relatively rare in whom this sense and need of Religion is strongly,
sensitively active. Thus the religion of most men will either all but
completely wither or vanish before the invasion of other great facts and
interests of human life--Economics or Politics or Ethics, or again,
Science, Art, Philosophy; or it will, more frequently, become largely
assimilated, in its conception, valuation, and practice, to the quite
distinct, and often subtly different, conceptions, valuations, and
practices pertaining to such of these other ranges and levels of human
life as happen here to be vigorously active. And such assimilations
are, of course, effected with a particular Philosophy or Ethic, mostly
some passing fashion of the day, which does not reach the deepest laws
and standards even of its own domain, and which, if taken as Religion,
will gravely numb and mar the power and character of such religious
perception as may still remain in this particular soul.

I will, then, first attempt some discriminations in certain fundamental
questions concerning the functioning of our minds, feelings, wills. I
will next attempt short, vivid descriptions of the chief stages in the
Jewish and Christian Religions, with a view to tracing here what may
concern their progress; and will very shortly illustrate the main
results attained by the corresponding main peculiarities of
Confucianism, Buddhism, and Mohammedanism. And I will finally strive to
elucidate and to estimate, as clearly as possible, the main facts in
past and present Religion which concern the question of religious


I begin with insisting upon some seven discriminations which, even only
forty years ago, would have appeared largely preposterous to the then
fashionable philosophy.

First, then, our Knowledge is always wider and deeper than is our
Science. I know my mother, I know my dog, I know my favourite rose-tree;
and this, although I am quite ignorant of the anatomical differences
between woman and man; of the psychological limits between dog and human
being; or of the natural or artificial botanical order to which my
rose-plant belongs. Any kind or degree of consciousness on my part as to
these three realities is a knowledge of their content. 'Knowledge is not
simply the reduction of phenomena to law and their resolution into
abstract elements; since thus the unknowable would be found well within
the facts of experience itself, in so far as these possess a concrete
character which refuses translation into abstract relations.' So
Professor Aliotta urges with unanswerable truth.[32]

And next, this spontaneous awareness of other realities by myself, the
reality Man, contains always, from the first, both matter and form, and
sense, reason, feeling, volition, all more or less in action. Sir Henry
Jones insists finely: 'The difference between the primary and elementary
data of thought on the one hand, and the highest forms of systematized
knowledge on the other, is no difference in kind, analogous to a mere
particular and a mere universal; but it is a difference of

Thirdly, direct, unchallengeable Experience is always only experience of
a particular moment; only by means of Thought, and trust in Thought, can
such Experience be extended, communicated, utilized. The sceptic, to be
at all effective, practises this trust as really as does his opponent.
Thought, taken apart from Experience, is indeed artificial and arid; but
Experience without Thought, is largely an orderless flux. Philosophers
as different as the Neo-Positivist Mach and the Intuitionist Bergson, do
indeed attempt to construct systems composed solely of direct Experience
and pure Intuition; and, at the same time, almost ceaselessly insist
upon the sheer novelty, the utter unexpectedness of all direct
Experience, and the entire artificiality of the constructions of
Thought--constructions which alone adulterate our perceptions of reality
with the non-realities repetition, uniformity, foreseeableness. Yet the
amazing success of the application of such constructions to actual
Nature stares us all in the face. 'It is, indeed, strange,' if that
contention be right, 'that facts behave as if they too had a turn for
mathematics.' Assuredly 'if thought, with its durable and coherent
structure, were not the reflection of some order of stable relations in
the nature of things, it would be worthless as an organ of life'.[34]

Fourthly, both Space and Time are indeed essential constituents of all
our perceptions, thoughts, actions, at least in this life. Yet Time is
perhaps the more real, and assuredly the richer, constituent of the two.
But this rich reality applies only to Concrete or Filled Time, Duration,
in which our experiences, although always more or less successive,
interpenetrate each other in various degrees and ways, and are thus more
or less simultaneous. An absolutely even flow of equal, mutually
exclusive moments, on the contrary, exists only for our theoretical
thinking, in Abstract, Empty, or Clock time. Already, in 1886, Professor
James Ward wrote: 'In time, conceived as physical, there is no trace of
intensity; in time, as psychically experienced, duration is primarily an
intensive magnitude.'[35] And in 1889 Professor Bergson, in his _Essai
sur les Données Immédiates de la Conscience_, gave us exquisite
descriptions of time as we really experience it, of 'duration strictly
speaking', which 'does not possess moments that are identical or
exterior to each other'.[36] Thus all our real soul life, in proportion
to its depth, moves in Partial Simultaneity; and it apprehends, requires
and rests, at its deepest, in an overflowingly rich Pure Simultaneity.

Fifthly, Man is Body as well as Soul, and the two are closely
interrelated. The sensible perception of objects, however humble, is
always necessary for the beginning, and (in the long run) for the
persistence and growth, of the more spiritual apprehensions of man.
Hence Historical Persons and Happenings, Institutions, affording
Sensible Acts and Contacts, and Social Corporations, each different
according to the different ranges and levels of life, can hardly fail to
be of importance for man's full awakening--even ethical and spiritual.
Professor Ernst Troeltsch, so free from natural prejudice in favour of
such a Sense-and-Spirit position, has become perhaps the most adequate
exponent of this great fact of life, which is ever in such danger of
evaporation amidst the intellectual and leading minority of men.

Sixthly, the cultivated modern man is still largely arrested and stunted
by the spell of Descartes, with his insistence upon immediate unity of
outlook and perfect clearness of idea as the sole, universal tests,
indeed constituents, of truth. 'I judged that I could take for my
general rule that the things which we conceive very clearly and very
distinctly are all true'--these and these alone.[37] Thus thenceforth
Mathematics and Mechanics have generally been held to be the only full
and typical sciences, and human knowledge to be co-extensive with such
sciences alone. Yet Biology and Psychology now rightly claim to be
sciences, each with its own special methods and tests distinct from
those of Mathematics and Mechanics. Indeed, the wisest and most fruitful
philosophy is now coming to see that 'Reality generally eludes our
thought, when thought is reduced to mathematical formulas'.[38] Concrete
thought, contrariwise, finds full room also for History, Philosophy,
Religion, for each as furnishing rich subject-matters for Knowledge or
Science, of a special but true kind.

Seventhly. Already Mathematics and Mechanics absolutely depend, for the
success of their applications to actual Nature, upon a spontaneous
correspondence between the human reason and the Rationality of Nature.
The immensity of this success is an unanswerable proof that this
rationality is not imposed, but found there, by man. But Thought without
a Thinker is an absurd proposition. Thus faith in Science is faith in
God. Perhaps the most impressive declaration of this necessary connexion
between Knowledge and Theism stands at the end of that great work,
Christoph Sigwart's _Logik_. 'As soon as we raise the question as to the
real _right_', the adequate reason, 'of our demands for a
correspondence, within our several sciences, between the principles and
the objects of the researches special to each, there emerges the need
for the Last and Unconditional Reason. And the actual situation is not
that this Reason appears only on the horizon of our finite knowledge,'
as Kant would have it. 'Not in thus merely extending our knowledge lies
the significance of the situation, but in the fact that this
Unconditional Reason constitutes the presupposition without which no
desire for Knowledge (in the proper and strict sense of the word) is
truly thinkable.'[39]

And lastly, all this and more points to philosophical Agnosticism as an
artificial system, and one hopelessly inadequate to the depths of human
experience. Assuredly Bossuet is right: 'man knows not the whole of
anything'; and mystery, in this sense, is also of the essence of all
higher religion. But what man knows of anything is that thing
manifested, not essentially travestied, in that same thing's
appearances. We men are most assuredly realities forming part of a real
world-whole of various realities; those other realities continuously
affect our own reality; we cannot help thinking certain things about
these other realities; and these things, when accepted and pressed home
by us in action or in science, turn out, by our success in this their
utilization, to be rightly apprehended by us, as parts of
interconnected, objective Nature. Thus our knowledge of Reality is real
as far as it goes, and philosophical Agnosticism is a _doctrinaire_
position. We can say with Herbert Spencer, in spite of his predominant
Agnosticism, that 'the error' committed by philosophers intent upon
demonstrating the limits and conditions of consciousness 'consists in
assuming that consciousness contains _nothing but_ limits and
conditions, to the entire neglect of that which is limited and
conditioned'. In reality 'there is some thing which alike forms the raw
material of definite thought and remains after the definiteness, which
thinking gave to it, has been destroyed'.[40]


Let us next consider five of the most ancient and extensively developed
amongst the still living Religions: the Israelitish-Jewish and the
Christian religions shall, as by far the best known to us and as the
most fully articulated, form the great bulk of this short account; the
Confucian, Buddhist, and Mohammedan religions will be taken quite
briefly, only as contrasts to, or elucidations of, the characteristics
found in the Jewish and Christian faiths. All this in view of the
question concerning the relations between Religion and Progress.

1. We can roughly divide the Israelitish-Jewish religion into three long
periods; in each the points that specially concern us will greatly vary
in clearness, importance, and richness of content.

The first period, from the time of the founder Moses and the Jewish
exodus out of Egypt to the appearance of the first great prophet Elijah
(say 1300 B.C. to about 860 B.C.) is indeed but little known to us; yet
it gives us the great historical figure of the initial lawgiver, the
recipient and transmitter of deep ethical and religious experiences and
convictions. True, the code of King Hammurabi of Babylon (in 1958 to
1916 B.C.; or, according to others, in about 1650) anticipates many of
the laws of the _Book of the Covenant_ (Exod. xx, 22-xxiii. 33), the
oldest amongst the at all lengthy bodies of laws in the Pentateuch; and,
again, this covenant appears to presuppose the Jewish settlement in
Canaan (say in 1250 B.C.) as an accomplished fact. And, indeed, the Law
and the books of Moses generally have undoubtedly passed through a long,
deep, wide, and elaborate development, of which three chief stages, all
considerably subsequent to the Covenant-Book, have, by now, been
established with substantial certainty and precision. The record of
directly Mosaic sayings and writings is thus certainly very small. Yet
it is assuredly a gross excess to deny the historical reality of Moses,
as even distinguished scholars such as Edward Meyer and Bernhard Stade
have done. Far wiser here is Wellhausen, who finds, in the very
greatness and fixity of orientation of the development in the Law and in
the figure of the Lawgiver, a conclusive proof of the rich reality and
greatness of the Man of God, Moses. Yet it is Hermann Gunkel, I think,
who has reached the best balanced judgement in this matter. With Gunkel
we can securely hold that Moses called God Yahweh, and proclaimed Him as
the national God of Israel; that Moses invoked Him as 'Yahweh is my
banner'--the divine leader of the Israelites in battle (Exod. xvii. 15);
and that Yahweh is for Moses a God of righteousness--of the right and
the law which he, Moses, brought down from Mount Sinai and published at
its foot. Fierce as may now appear to us the figure of Yahweh, thus
proclaimed, yet the soul's attitude towards Him is already here, from
the first, a religion of the will: an absolute trust in God ('Yahweh
shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace,' Exod. xiv. 14), and
a terrible relentlessness in the execution of His commands--as when
Moses orders the sons of Levi to go to and fro in the camp, slaying all
who, as worshippers of the Golden Calf, had not been 'on Yahweh's side'
(Exod. xxxii. 25-29); and when the chiefs, who had joined in the worship
of Baal-Peor, are 'hung up unto Yahweh before the sun' (Num. xxv. 1-5).
Long after Moses the Jews still believed in the real existence of the
gods of the heathen; and the religion of Moses was presumably, in the
first instance, 'Monolatry' (the adoration of One God among many); but
already accompanied by the conviction that Yahweh was mightier than any
other god--certainly Micah, 'Who is like Yahweh?,' is a very ancient
Israelitish name. And if Yahweh is worshipped by Moses on a mountain
(Sinai) and His law is proclaimed at a spring, if Moses perhaps himself
really fashioned the brazen serpent as a sensible symbol of Yahweh,
Yahweh nevertheless remains without visible representation in or on the
Ark; He is never conceived as the sheer equivalent of natural forces;
and all mythology is absent here--the vehement rejection of the
calf-worship shows this strikingly. Michael Angelo, himself a soul of
fire, understood Moses well, Gunkel thinks.[41]

The second period, from Elijah's first public appearance (about 860
B.C.) to the Dedication of the Second Temple (516 B.C.), and on to the
public subscription to the Law of Moses, under Ezra (in 444 B.C.), is
surpassed, in spiritual richness and importance, only by the classical
times of Christianity itself. Its beginning, its middle, and its end
each possess distinctive characters.

The whole opens with Elijah, 'the grandest heroic figure in all the
Bible,' as it still breathes and burns in the First Book of Kings. 'For
Elijah there existed not, in different regions, forces possessed of
equal rights and equal claims to adoration, but everywhere only one Holy
Power that revealed Itself, not like Baal, in the life of Nature, but
like Yahweh, in the moral demands of the Spirit' (Wellhausen).

And then (in about 750 B.C.) appears Amos, the first of the noble
'storm-birds' who herald the coming national destructions and divine
survivals. 'Yahweh was for these prophets above all the god of justice,
and God of Israel only in so far as Israel satisfied His demands of
justice. And yet the special relation of Yahweh to Israel is still
recognized as real; the ethical truth, which now stood high above
Israel, had, after all, arisen within Israel and could still only be
found within it.' The two oldest lengthy narrative documents of the
Pentateuch--the Yahwist (J) and the Ephraemite (E)--appear to have been
composed, the first in Judah in the time of Elijah, the second in Israel
in the time of Amos. J gives us the immortal stories of Paradise and the
Fall, Cain and Abel, Noah and the Flood; E, Abraham's sacrifice of
Isaac; and the documents conjointly furnish the more naïve and
picturesque parts of the grand accounts of the Patriarchs generally--the
first great narrative stage of the Pentateuch. God here gives us some of
His most exquisite self-revelations through the Israelitish
peasant-soul. And Isaiah of Jerusalem, successful statesman as well as
deep seer, still vividly lives for us in some thirty-six chapters of
that great collection the 'Book of Isaiah' (i-xii, xv-xx, xxii-xxxix).
There is his majestic vocation in about 740 B.C., described by himself,
without ambiguity, as a precise, objective revelation (chap. vi); and
there is the divinely impressive close of his long and great activity,
when he nerves King Hezekiah to refuse the surrender of the Holy City to
the all-powerful Sennacherib, King of Assyria: that Yahweh would not
allow a single arrow to be shot against it, and would turn back the
Assyrian by the way by which he came--all which actually happens as thus
predicted (chap. xxxvii).

The middle of this rich second period is filled by a great
prophet-priest's figure, and a great prophetical priestly reform.
Jeremiah is called in 628 B.C., and dies obscurely in Egypt in about 585
B.C.; and the Deuteronomic Law and Book is found in the Temple, and is
solemnly proclaimed to, and accepted by, the people, under the
leadership of the High Priest Hilkiah and King Josiah, 'the Constantine
of the Jewish Church,' in 628 B.C. Jeremiah and Deuteronomy (D) are
strikingly cognate in style, temper, and injunctions; and especially D
contrasts remarkably in all this with the documents J and E. We thus
have here the second great development of the Mosaic Law. Both Jeremiah
and Deuteronomy possess a deeply interior, tenderly spiritual, kernel
and a fiercely polemical husk--they both are full of the contrast
between the one All-Holy God to be worshipped in the one Holy Place,
Jerusalem, and the many impure heathen gods worshipped in so many places
by the Jewish crowd. Thus in Jeremiah Yahweh declares: 'This shall be my
covenant that I will make with the house of Israel: I will write my law
in their hearts: and they shall all know me, from the least to the
greatest: for I will remember their sin no more' (xxxi. 33, 34). And
Yahweh exclaims: 'My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken
me, the fountain of living waters, and have hewn out cisterns that can
hold no water.' 'Lift up thine eyes unto the high places ... thou hast
polluted the land with thy wickedness.' 'Wilt thou not from this time
cry unto me: My Father, thou art the guide of my youth?' (ii. 13, iii.
2, 4). And Deuteronomy teaches magnificently: 'This commandment which I
command you this day, is not too hard for thee, neither is it far off.
It is not in heaven, neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest
say: Who shall go up for us to heaven or over the sea, and bring it unto
us? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart,
that thou mayest do it' (xxx. 11-14). And there are here exquisite
injunctions--to bring back stray cattle to their owners; to spare the
sitting bird, where eggs or fledglings are found; to leave over, at the
harvest, some of the grain, olives, grapes, for the stranger, the
orphan, the widow; and not to muzzle the ox when treading out the corn
(xxii. 1, 6, 7; xxiv. 19; xxv. 4). Yet the same Deuteronomy ordains: 'If
thine own brother, son, daughter, wife, or bosom friend entice thee
secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods, thine hand shall be
first upon him to put him to death.' Also 'There shall not be found with
thee any consulter with a familiar spirit ... or a necromancer. Yahweh
thy God doth drive them out before thee.' And, finally, amongst the laws
of war, 'of the cities of these people (Hittite, Amorite, Canaanite,
Perizzite, Hivite, Jebusite) thou shalt save alive nothing that
breatheth, as Yahweh thy God hath commanded thee' (xii. 2-5; xiii. 6, 9;
xviii. 10-13; xx. 16, 17). Here we must remember that the immorality of
these Canaanitish tribes and cults was of the grossest, indeed largely
unnatural, kind; that it had copiously proved its terrible fascination
for their kinsmen, the Jews; that these ancient Easterns, e.g. the
Assyrians, were ruthlessly cruel at the storming of enemy cities; and
especially that the morality and spirituality, thus saved for humanity
from out of a putrid flood, was (in very deed) immensely precious. One
point here is particularly far-sighted--the severe watchfulness against
all animism, spiritualism, worship of the dead, things in which the
environing world of the Jews' fellow Semites was steeped. The
Israelitish-Jewish prophetic movement did not first attain belief in a
Future Life, and then, through this, belief in God; but the belief in
God, strongly hostile to all those spiritualisms, only very slowly, and
not until the danger of any infusion of those naturalisms had become
remote, led on the Jews to a realization of the soul's survival with a
consciousness at least equal to its earthly aliveness. The Second Book
of Kings (chaps. xxii, xxiii) gives a graphic account of King Josiah's
rigorous execution of the Deuteronomic law.

The end of this most full second period is marked by the now rapid
predominance of a largely technical priestly legislation and a
corresponding conception of past history; by the inception of the
Synagogue and the religion of the Book; but also by writings the most
profound of any in the Old Testament, all presumably occasioned by the
probing experiences of the Exile. In 597 and 586 B.C. Jerusalem is
destroyed and the majority of the Jews are taken captives to Babylon;
and in between (in 593) occurs the vocation of the prophet-priest
Ezekiel, and his book is practically complete by 573 B.C. Here the
prophecies as to the restoration are strangely detailed and
schematic--already somewhat like the apocalyptic writers. Yet Ezekiel
reveals to us deathless truths--the responsibility of the individual
soul for its good and its evil, and God Himself as the Good Shepherd of
the lost and the sick (xviii. 20-32; xxxiv. 1-6); he gives us the grand
pictures of the resurrection unto life of the dead bones of Israel
(chap. xxxvii), and of the waters of healing and of life which flow
forth, ever deeper and wider, from beneath the Temple, and by their
sweetness transform all sour waters and arid lands that they touch
(xlvii. 1-12). A spirit and doctrine closely akin to those of Ezekiel
produced the third, last, and most extensive development of the
Pentateuchal legislation and doctrinal history--in about 560 B.C., the
Law of Holiness (Lev., chaps. xvii-xxvi); and in about 500 B.C., the
Priestly Code. As with Ezekiel's look forward, so here with these
Priests' look backward, we have to recognize much schematic precision of
dates, genealogies, and explanations instinct with technical interests.
The unity of sanctuary and the removal from the feasts and the worship
of all traces of naturalism, which in Jeremiah, Deuteronomy, and the
Second Book of Kings appear still as the subject-matters of intensest
effort and conflict, are here assumed as operative even back to
patriarchal times. Yet it can reasonably be pleaded that the life-work
of Moses truly involved all this development; and even that Monotheism
(at least, for the times and peoples here concerned) required some such
rules as are assumed by P throughout.

And P gives us the great six days' Creation Story with its splendid
sense of rational order pervasive of the Universe, the work of the
all-reasonable God--its single parts good, its totality very good; and
man and woman springing together from the Creator's will. But the writer
nowhere indicates that he means long periods by the 'days'; each
creation appears as effected in an instant, and these instants as
separated from each other by but twenty-four hours.

In between Deuteronomy and the Priestly Code, or a little later still,
lies probably the composition of three religious works full,
respectively, of exultant thanksgiving, of the noblest insight into the
fruitfulness of suffering, and of the deepest questionings issuing in
childlike trust in God. For an anonymous writer composes (say, in 550
B.C.) the great bulk of the magnificent chapters forty to fifty-five of
our Book of Isaiah--a paean of spiritual exultation over the Jews'
proximate deliverance from exile by the Persian King Cyrus. In 538 B.C.
Cyrus issues the edict for the restoration to Judaea, and in 516 the
Second Temple is dedicated. Within this great Consolation stand (xlii.
1-4; xlix. 1-6; l. 4-9; lii. 13-liii. 12) the four poems on the
Suffering Servant of Yahweh--the tenderest revelation of the Old
Testament--apparently written previously in the Exile, say in 570-560
B.C. The Old Law here reaches to the very feet of the New Law--to the
Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world. And the Book of Job,
in its chief constituents (chaps. i-xxxi, xxxviii-xlii), was probably
composed when Greek influences began--say in about 480 B.C., the year of
the battle of Thermopylae. The canonization of this daringly speculative
book indicates finely how sensitive even the deepest faith and holiness
can remain to the apparently unjust distribution of man's earthly lot.

Our second period ends in 444 B.C., when the priest and scribe Ezra
solemnly proclaims, and receives the public subscription to, the Book of
the Law of Moses--the Priestly Code, brought by him from Babylon.

The Jewish last period, from Ezra's Proclamation 444 B.C. to the
completion of the Fourth Book of Ezra, about A.D. 95, is (upon the
whole) derivative. Amos, Isaiah, Jeremiah were absorbed in the realities
of their own epoch-making times, and of God's universal governance of
the world past and future; Daniel now, with practically all the other
Apocalyptic writers in his train, is absorbed in those earlier
prophecies, and in ingenious speculations and precise computations as to
the how and the when of the world's ending. The Exile had given rise to
the Synagogue, and had favoured the final development and codifying of
the Mosaic law; the seventy years intermission of the Temple sacrifices
and symbolic acts had turned the worship, which had been so largely
visible, dramatic, social, into the praying, singing, reading, preaching
of extant texts, taken as direct and final rules for all thought and
action, and as incapable of additions or interpretations equal in value
to themselves. Yet thus priceless treasures of spiritual truth and light
were handed down to times again aglow with great--the greatest religious
gifts and growths; and indeed this literature itself introduced various
conceptions or images destined to form a largely fitting, and in the
circumstances attractive, garment for the profound further realities
brought by Christianity.

In the Book of Daniel (written somewhere between 163 and 165 B.C.) all
earthly events appear as already inscribed in the heavenly books (vii.
10), and the events which have still really to come consist in the
complete and speedy triumph of the Church-State Israel against King
Antiochus Epiphanes. But here we get the earliest clear proclamation of
a heightened life beyond death--though not yet for all (xii. 2). The
noble vision of the four great beasts that came up from the sea, and of
one like unto a Son of Man that came with the clouds of heaven (chap.
vii), doubtless here figures the earthly kingdoms, Babel, Media, Persia,
Greece (Alexander), and God's kingdom Israel. The Psalter appears to
have been closed as late as 140 B.C.; some Psalms doubtless date back to
701--a few perhaps to David himself, about 1000 B.C. The comminatory
Psalms, even if spoken as by representatives of God's Church and people,
we cannot now echo within our own spiritual life; any heightened
consciousness after death is frequently denied (e.g. vi. 5: 'in the
grave who shall give thee thanks?' and cxv. 17: 'the dead praise not the
Lord')--we have seen the impressive reason of this; and perhaps a
quarter of the Psalms are doubles, or pale imitations of others. But,
for the rest, the Psalter remains as magnificently fresh and powerful as
ever: culminating in the glorious self-commitment (Ps. lxxiii), 'I was
as a beast before Thee. Nevertheless I am continually with Thee. Whom
have I in heaven but Thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire
beside Thee.' The keen sense, present throughout this amazingly rich
collection, of the reality, prevenience, presence, protection--of the
central importance for man, of God, the All-Abiding, finds thus its
full, deathless articulation.

Religiously slighter, yet interesting as a preparation for Christian
theology, are the writings of Philo, a devout, Greek-trained Jew of
Alexandria, who in A.D. 40 appeared before the Emperor Caligula in Rome.
Philo does not feel his daringly allegorical sublimations as any
departures from the devoutest Biblical faith. Thus 'God never ceases
from action; as to burn is special to fire, so is action to God'--this
in spite of God's rest on the seventh day (Gen. ii. 2). 'There exist two
kinds of men: the heavenly man and the earthly man.'[42] The long Life
of Moses[43] represents him as the King, Lawgiver, High Priest, Prophet,
Mediator. The Word, the Logos (which here everywhere hovers near, but
never reaches, personality) is 'the firstborn son of God', 'the image of
God'[44]; its types are 'the Rock', the Manna, the High Priest's Coat;
it is 'the Wine Pourer and Master of the Drinking Feast of God'.[45] The
majority of the Jews, who did not accept Jesus as the Christ, soon felt
they had no need for so much allegory, and dropped it, with advantage
upon the whole, to the Jewish faith. But already St. Paul and the Fourth
Gospel find here noble mental raiment for the great new facts revealed
by Jesus Christ.

2. The Christian Religion we will take, as to our points, at four stages
of its development--Synoptic, Johannine, Augustinian, Thomistic.

The Synoptic material here specially concerned we shall find especially
in Mark i. 1 to xv. 47; but also in Matt. iii. 1 to xxvii. 56, and in
Luke iii. 1 to xxiii. 56. Within the material thus marked off, there is
no greater or lesser authenticity conferred by treble, or double, or
only single attestation; for this material springs from two original
sources--a collection primarily of doings and sufferings, which our Mark
incorporates with some expansions; and a collection primarily of
discourses, utilized especially by Matthew and Luke in addition to the
original Mark. Both these sources contain the records of eyewitnesses,
probably Saints Peter and Matthew.

The chronological order and the special occasions of the growths in our
Lord's self-manifestation, or in the self-consciousness of His human
soul, are most carefully given by Mark and next by Luke. Matthew largely
ignores the stages and occasions of both these growths, and assumes, as
fully explicit from the beginning of the Ministry, what was manifested
only later on or at the last; and he already introduces ecclesiastical
and Christological terms and discriminations which, however really
implicit as to their substance in Jesus's teaching, or inevitable (as to
their particular form) for the maintenance and propagation of
Christianity in the near future, are nevertheless still absent from the
accounts of Mark and Luke.

The chief rules for the understanding of the specific character of our
Lord's revelation appear to be the following. The life and teaching must
be taken entire; and, within this entirety, each stage must be
apprehended in its own special peculiarities. The thirty years in the
home, the school, the synagogue, the workshop at Nazareth, form a
profoundly important constituent of His life and teaching--impressively
contrasted, as they are, with the probably not full year of the Public
Ministry, even though we are almost completely bereft of all details for
those years of silent preparation.

The Public Ministry, again, consists of two strongly contrasted stages,
divided by the great scene of Jesus with the Apostles alone at Caesarea
Philippi (Mark viii. 27-33; Luke ix. 18-22; Matt. xvi. 13-23). The stage
before is predominantly expansive, hopeful, peacefully growing; the
stage after, is concentrated, sad, in conflict, and in storm. To the
first stage belong the plant parables, full of exquisite sympathy with
the unfolding of natural beauty and of slow fruitfulness; to the second
stage belong the parables of keen watchfulness and of the proximate,
sudden second coming. Both movements are essential to the physiognomy of
our Lord. And they are not simply differences in self-manifestation;
they represent a growth, a relatively new element, in His human soul's
experience and outlook.

The central doctrine in the teaching is throughout the Kingdom of God.
But in the first stage this central doctrine appears as especially
upheld by Jesus's fundamental experience--the Fatherhood of God. In the
second stage the central doctrine appears as especially coloured by
Jesus's other great experience--of Himself as the Son of Man. In the
earlier stage the Kingdom is presented more in the spirit of the ancient
prophets, as predominantly ethical, as already come in its beginnings,
and as subject to laws analogous to those obtaining in the natural
world. In the second stage the coming of the Kingdom is presented more
with the form of the apocalyptic writers, in a purely religious,
intensely transcendent, and dualistic outlook--especially this also in
the Parables of Immediate Expectation--as not present but future (Matt.
xix. 28); not distant but imminent (Matt. xvi. 28; xxiv. 33; xxvi. 64);
not gradual but sudden (Matt. xxiv. 27, 39, 43); not at all achieved by
man but purely given by God (so still in Rev. xxi. 10).

To the earlier stage belongs the great Rejoicing of Jesus (Matt. xi.
25-30; Luke x. 21, 22). The splendid opening, 'I thank Thee, Father--for
so it hath seemed good in Thy sight', and the exquisite close, special
to Matthew, 'Come unto Me--and my burthen is light', raise no grave
difficulty. But the intermediate majestic declaration, 'All things are
delivered unto Me by the Father--neither knoweth any man the Father save
the Son and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him', causes critical

I take this declaration to be modelled upon actual words of Jesus, which
genuinely implied rather than clearly proclaimed a unique relation
between the Father and Himself. Numerous other words and acts involve
such a relation and Jesus's full consciousness of it. His first public
act, His baptism, is clearly described by Mark as a personal experience,
'He saw the heavens opened' and heard a heavenly voice 'Thou art my
beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased' (i. 10, 11). Already in the
first stage Jesus declares the Baptist to be 'more than a prophet'
(Matt. xi. 9), yet claims superiority over him and over Solomon (xi. 11;
xii. 42). His doctrine is new wine requiring new bottles (Mark ii. 22);
indeed His whole attitude towards the law is that of a superior, who
most really exhorts all, 'Learn of Me'. And soon after Caesarea Philippi
He insists to the people: 'Whosoever shall be ashamed of Me in this
generation, of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when He cometh
in the glory of the Father' (Mark viii. 38). The most numerous cures,
physical, psychical, moral, certainly performed by Him, appear as the
spontaneous effect of a unique degree and kind of spiritual authority;
and the sinlessness attributed to Him throughout by the apostolic
community (2 Cor. v. 21; Heb. iv. 15; John viii. 46; 1 John ii. 29)
entirely corresponds to the absence, in the records of Him, of all
traits indicating troubles of conscience and the corresponding fear of
God. And this His unique Sonship is conjoined, in the earliest picture
of Him, with an endless variety and combination of all the joys,
admirations, affections, disappointments, desolations, temptations
possible to such a stainless human soul and will. We thus find here a
comprehensiveness unlike the attitude of the Baptist or St. Paul, and
like, although far exceeding, the joy in nature and the peace in
suffering of St. Francis of Assisi.

The Second Stage opens with the great scene at Caesarea Philippi and its
sequel (given with specially marked successiveness in Mark viii. 27-x.
45), when, for the first time in a manner beyond all dispute, Mark
represents Jesus as adopting the designation 'the Son of Man' in a
Messianic and eschatological sense. For our Lord here promptly corrects
Peter's conception of 'Messiah' by repeated insistence upon 'the Son of
Man'--His glory yet also His sufferings. Thus Jesus adopts the term of
Daniel vii. 13 (which already the Apocalypse of Enoch had understood of
a personal Messiah) as a succinct description of His specific
vocation--its heavenly origin and difference from all earthly
Messianism; its combination of the depths of human weakness,
dereliction, sufferings with the highest elevation in joy, power and
glory; and its connexion of that pain with this triumph as strictly
interrelated--only with and through the Cross, was there here the offer
and acceptance of the Crown.

As to the Passion and Death, and the Risen Life, four points appear to
be central and secured. Neither the Old Testament nor Jewish Theology
really knew of a Suffering Messiah. Jesus Himself clearly perceived,
accepted, and carried out this profound new revelation. This suffering
and death were conceived by Him as the final act and crown of His
service--so in Mark x. 44, 45 and Luke xxii. 24-7. (All this remains
previous to, and independent of, St. Paul's elaborated doctrine as to
the strictly vicarious and juridical character of the whole.) And the
Risen Life is an objectively real, profoundly operative life--the
visions of the Risen One were effects of the truly living Jesus, the

The Second Christian Stage, the Johannine writings, are fully
understandable only as posterior to St. Paul--the most enthusiastic and
influential, indeed, of all our Lord's early disciples, but a convert,
from the activity of a strict persecuting Pharisee, not to the earthly
Jesus, of soul and body, whom he never knew, but to the heavenly
Spirit-Christ, whom he had so suddenly experienced. Saul, the man of
violent passions and acute interior conflicts, thus abruptly changed in
a substantially _pneumatic_ manner, is henceforth absorbed, not in the
past Jewish Messiah, but in the present universal Christ; not in the
Kingdom of God, but in Pneuma, the Spirit. Christ, the second Adam, is
here a life-giving Spirit, an element that surrounds and penetrates the
human spirit; we are baptized, dipped, into Christ, Spirit; we can drink
Christ, the Spirit. And this Christ-Spirit effects and maintains the
universal brotherhood of mankind, and articulates in particular posts
and functions the several human spirits, as variously necessary members
of the one Christian society and Church.

Now the Johannine Gospel indeed utilizes considerable Synoptic
materials, and does not, as St. Paul, restrict itself to the Passion and
Resurrection. Yet it gives us, substantially, the Spirit-Christ, the
Heavenly Man; and the growth, prayer, temptation, appeal for sympathy,
dereliction, agony, which, in the Synoptists, are still so real for the
human soul of Jesus Himself, appear here as sheer condescensions, in
time and space, of Him who, as all things good, descends from the
Eternal Above, so that we men here below may ascend thither with Him.
On the other hand, the Church and the Sacraments, still predominantly
implicit in the Synoptists, and the subjects of costly conflict and
organization in the Pauline writings, here underlie, as already fully
operative facts, practically the entire profound work. The great
dialogue with Nicodemus concerns Baptism; the great discourse in the
synagogue at Capernaum, the Holy Eucharist--in both cases, the strict
need of these Sacraments. And from the side of the dead Jesus flow blood
and water, as those two great Sacraments flow from the everliving
Christ; whilst at the Cross's foot He leaves His seamless coat, symbol
of the Church's indivisible unity. The Universalism of this Gospel is
not merely apparent: 'God so loved the world' (iii. 16), 'the Saviour of
the world' (iv. 42)--this glorious teaching is traceable in many a
passage. Yet Christ here condemns the Jews--in the Synoptists only the
Pharisees; He is from above, they are from below; all those that came
before Him were thieves and robbers; He will not pray for the world--'ye
shall die in your sins' (xvii. 9; viii. 24); and the commandment,
designated here by Jesus as His own and as new, to 'love one another',
is for and within the community to which He gives His 'example' (xv. 12;
xiii. 34)--in contrast with the great double commandment of love
proclaimed by Him, in the Synoptists, as already formulated in the
Mosaic Law (Mark xii. 28-34), and as directly applicable to every
fellow-man--indeed, a schismatic Samaritan is given as the pattern of
such perfect love (Luke x. 25-37).

Deuteronomy gained its full articulation in conflict with Canaanite
impurity; the Johannine writings take shape during the earlier battles
of the long war with Gnosticism--the most terrible foe ever, so far,
encountered by the Catholic Church, and conquered by her in open and
fair fight. Also these writings lay much stress upon Knowing and the
Truth: 'this is life eternal, to know Thee, the only true God and Jesus
Christ whom Thou hast sent' (xvii. 3); symbolism and mysticism prevail
very largely; and, in so far as they are not absorbed in an Eternal
Present, the reception of truth and experience is not limited to
Christ's earthly sojourn--'the Father will give you another Helper, the
spirit of truth who will abide with you forever' (xiv. 16). Yet here the
knowing and the truth are also deeply ethical and social: 'he who doeth
the truth cometh to the light' (iii. 21); and Christ has a fold, and
other sheep not of this fold--them also He must bring, there will be one
fold, one Shepherd; indeed, ministerial gradations exist in this one
Church (so in xiii. 5-10; xx. 3-8; xxi. 7-19). And the Mysticism here is
but an emotional intuitive apprehension of the great historical figure
of Jesus, and of the most specifically religious of all facts--of the
already overflowing operative existence, previous to all our action, of
God, the Prevenient Love. 'Not we loved God (first), but He (first)
loved us,' 'let us love Him, because He first loved us,' 'no man can
come to Me, unless the Father draw him'--a drawing which awakens a
hunger and thirst for Christ and God (1 John iv. 10, 19; John vi. 44;
iv. 14; vi. 35).

The Third Stage we can find in St. Augustine, who, born a North African
Roman (A.D. 354) and a convert from an impure life and Manichaeism, with
its spatially extended God (A.D. 386), wrote his _Confessions_ in 397,
lived to experience the capture and sack of Rome by Alaric the Goth,
410, composed his great work, _The City of God_, amidst the clear
dissolution of a mighty past and the dim presage of a problematical
future, and died at Hippo, his episcopal city, in 430, whilst the
Vandals were besieging it. St. Augustine is more largely a convert and a
rigorist even than St. Paul when St. Paul is most incisive. But here he
shall testify only to the natures of Eternity and of real time, a matter
in which he remains unequalled in the delicate vividness and balance of
his psychological analysis and religious perception. 'Thou, O God,
precedest all past times by the height of Thine ever-present Eternity;
and Thou exceedest all future times, since they _are_ future, and, once
they have come, will be past times. All thy years abide together,
because they abide; but these our years will all be, only when they all
will have ceased to be. Thy years are but One Day--not every day, but
To-Day. This Thy To-Day is Eternity'.[46] The human soul, even in this
life, has moments of a vivid apprehension of Eternity, as in the great
scene of Augustine and Monica at the window in Ostia.[47] And this our
sense of Eternity, Beatitude, God, proceeds at bottom from Himself,
immediately present in our lives; the succession, duration of man is
sustained by the Simultaneity, the Eternity of God: 'this day of ours
_does_ pass within Thee, since all these things' of our deeper
experience 'have no means of passing unless, somehow, Thou dost contain
them all'. 'Behold, Thou wast within, and I was without ... Thou wast
with me, but I was not with Thee.' 'Is not the blessed life precisely
_that_ life which all men desire? Even those who only hope to be blessed
would not, unless they in some manner already possessed the blessed
life, desire to be blessed, as, in reality, it is most certain that they
desire to be.'[48] Especially satisfactory is the insistence upon the
futility of the question as to what God was doing in Time before He
created. Time is only a quality inherent in all creatures; it never
existed of itself.[49]

And our fourth, last Christian Stage shall be represented by St. Thomas
Aquinas (A.D. 1225-74), in the one great question where this
Norman-Italian Friar Noble, a soul apparently so largely derivative and
abstractive, is more complete and balanced, and penetrates to the
specific genius of Christianity more deeply, than Saints Paul and
Augustine with all their greater directness and intensity. We saw how
the deepest originality of our Lord's teaching and temper consisted in
His non-rigoristic earnestness, in His non-Gnostic detachment from
things temporal and spatial. The absorbing expectation of the Second
Coming, indeed the old, largely effete Graeco-Roman world, had first to
go, the great Germanic migrations had to be fully completed, the first
Crusades had to pass, before--some twelve centuries after Nazareth and
Calvary--Christianity attained in Aquinas a systematic and promptly
authoritative expression of this its root-peculiarity and power. No one
has put the point better than Professor E. Troeltsch: 'The decisive
point here is the conception, peculiar to the Middle Ages, of what is
Christian as Supernatural, or rather the full elaboration of the
consequences involved in the conception of the Supernatural. The
Supernatural is now recognized not only in the great complicated miracle
of man's redemption from out of the world corrupted by original sin. But
the Supernatural now unfolds itself as an autonomous principle of a
logical, religious and ethical kind. The creature, even the perfect
creature, is only Natural--is possessed of only natural laws and ends;
God alone is Supernatural. Hence the essence of Christian
Supernaturalism consists in the elevation of the creature, above this
creature's co-natural limitations, to God's own Supernature'. The
distinction is no longer, as in the Ancient Church, between two kinds
(respectively perfect and relative) of the one sole Natural Law; the
distinction here is between Natural Law in general and Supernature
generally. 'The Decalogue, in strictness, is not yet the Christian
Ethic. "Biblical" now means revealed, but not necessarily Christian; for
the Bible represents, according to Aquinas, a process of development
which moves through universal history and possesses various stages. The
Decalogue is indeed present in the legislation of Christ, but as a stage
preliminary to the specifically Christian Ethic. The formula, on the
contrary, for the specifically Christian Moral Law is here the
Augustinian definition of the love of God as the highest and absolute,
the entirely simple, Moral end--an end which contains the demand of the
love of God in the stricter sense (self-sanctification, self-denial,
contemplation) and the demand of the love of our neighbour (the active
relating of all to God, the active interrelating of all in God, and the
most penetrating, mutual self-sacrifice for God). This Ethic, a mystical
interpretation of the Evangelical Preaching, forms indeed a strong
contrast to the This-World Ethic of the Natural Law, Aristotle, the
Decalogue and Natural Prosperity; but then this cannot fail to be the
case, given the entire fundamental character of the Christian

Thus the widest and most primitive contrasts here are, not Sin and
Redemption (though these, of course, remain) but Nature (however good in
its kind) and Supernature. The State becomes the complex of that
essentially good thing, Nature; the Church the complex of that
different, higher good, Supernature; roughly speaking, where the State
leaves off, the Church begins.

It lasted not long, before the Canonists and certain ruling Churchmen
helped to break up, in the consciousness of men at large, this noble
perception of the two-step ladder from God to man and from man to God.
And the Protestant Reformers, as a whole, went even beyond Saints Paul
and Augustine in exclusive preoccupation with Sin and Redemption.
Henceforth the single-step character of man's call now more than ever
predominates. The Protestant Reformation, like the French Revolution,
marks the existence of grave abuses, the need of large reforms, and,
especially on this point, the all but inevitable excessiveness of man
once he is aroused to such 'reforming' action. Certainly, to this hour,
Protestantism as such has produced, within and for religion
specifically, nothing that can seriously compare, in massive, balanced
completeness, with the work of the short-lived golden Middle Ages of
Aquinas and Dante. Hence, for our precise present purpose, we can
conclude our Jewish and Christian survey here.

3. Only a few words about Confucianism, Buddhism, Mohammedanism, as
these, in some of their main outlines, illustrate the points especially
brought out by the Jewish Christian development.

Confucianism admittedly consists, at least as we have it, in a greatly
complicated system of the direct worship of Nature (Sun, Moon, Stars
especially) and of Ancestors, and of a finely simple system of ethical
rules for man's ordinary social intercourse. That Nature-worship closely
resembles what the Deuteronomic reform fought so fiercely in Israel; and
the immemorial antiquity and still vigorous life of such a worship in
China indicates impressively how little such Nature-worship tends, of
itself, to its own supersession by a definite Theism. And the Ethical
Rules, and their very large observance, illustrate well how real can be
the existence, and the goodness in its own kind, of Natural, This-World
morality, even where it stands all but entirely unpenetrated or
supplemented by any clear and strong supernatural attraction or

Buddhism, in its original form, consisted neither in the Wheel of
Reincarnation alone, nor in _Nirvana_ alone, but precisely in the
combination of the two; for that ceaseless flux of reincarnation was
there felt with such horror, that the _Nirvana_--the condition in which
that flux is abolished--was hailed as a blessed release. The judgement
as to the facts--that all human experience is of sheer, boundless
change--was doubtless excessive; but the value-judgement--that if life
be such pure shiftingness, then the cessation of life is the one end for
man to work and pray for--was assuredly the authentic cry of the human
soul when fully normal and awake. This position thus strikingly confirms
the whole Jewish and Christian persistent search for permanence in
change--for a Simultaneity, the support of our succession.

And Mohammedanism, both in its striking achievements and in its marked
limitations, indeed also in the presentations of it by its own
spokesmen, appears as a religion primarily not of a special pervasive
spirit and of large, variously applicable maxims, but as one of precise,
entirely immutable rules. Thus we find here something not all unlike,
but mostly still more rigid than, the post-Exilic Jewish
religion--something doubtless useful for certain times and races, but
which could not expand and adapt itself to indefinite varieties of
growths and peoples without losing that interior unity and self-identity
so essential to all living and powerful religion.


Let us now attempt, in a somewhat loose and elastic order, a short
allocation and estimate of the facts in past and present religion which
mainly concern the question of Religion and Progress.

We West Europeans have apparently again reached the fruitful stage when
man is not simply alive to this or that physical or psychic need, nor
even to the practical interest and advantage of this or that Art,
Science, Sociology, Politics, Ethics; but when he awakens further to the
question as to why and how these several activities, all so costly where
at all effectual, can deserve all this sacrifice--can be based in
anything sufficiently abiding and objective. The history of all the past
efforts, and indeed all really adequate richness of immediate outlook,
combine, I think, to answer that only the experience and the conviction
of an Objective Reality distinct from, and more than, man, or indeed
than the whole of the world apprehended by man as less than, or as equal
to, man himself, can furnish sufficiently deep and tenacious roots for
our sense and need of an objective supreme Beauty, Truth, and
Goodness--of a living Reality already overflowing that which, in lesser
degrees and ways, we small realities cannot altogether cease from
desiring to become. It is Religion which, from first to last, but with
increasing purity and power, brings with it this evidence and
conviction. Its sense of the Objective, Full Reality of God, and its
need of Adoration are quite essential to Religion, although considerable
systems, which are largely satisfactory in the more immediate questions
raised by Aesthetics and even by Ethics, and which are sincerely anxious
to do justice also to the religious sense, are fully at work to explain
away these essential characteristics of all wideawake Religion. Paul
Natorp, the distinguished Plato-scholar in Germany, the short-lived
pathetically eloquent M. Guyau in France, and, above all, Benedetto
Croce, the large encyclopaedic mind in Italy, have influenced or led
much of this movement, which, in questions of Religion, has assuredly
not reached the deepest and most tenacious teachings of life.

The intimations as to this deepest Reality certainly arise within my own
mind, emotion, will; and these my faculties cannot, upon the whole, be
constrained by my fellow mortals; indeed, as men grow more manysidedly
awake, all attempts at any such constraint only arrest or deflect the
growth of these intimations. Yet the dispositions necessary for the
sufficient apprehension of these religious intimations--sincerity,
conscientiousness, docility--are not, even collectively, already
Religion, any more than they are Science or Philosophy. With these
dispositions on our part, objective facts and living Reality can reach
us--and, even so, these facts reach us practically always, at first,
through human teachers already experienced in these things. The need of
such facts and such persons to teach them are, in the first years of
every man, and for long ages in the history of mankind, far more
pressing than any question of toleration. Even vigorous persecution or
keen exclusiveness of feeling have--_pace_ Lord Acton--saved for
mankind, at certain crises of its difficult development, convictions of
priceless worth--as in the Deuteronomic Reform and the Johannine
Writings. In proportion as men become more manysidedly awake, they
acquire at least the capacity for greater sensitiveness concerning the
laws and forces intrinsic to the various ranges and levels of life; and,
where such sensitiveness is really at work, it can advantageously
replace, by means of the spontaneous acceptance of such objective
realities, the constraints of past ages--constraints which now, in any
case, have become directly mischievous for such minds. None the less
will men, after this change as before, require the corporate experience
and manifestation of religion as, in varying degrees and ways, a
permanent necessity for the vigorous life of religion. Indeed, such
corporate tradition operates strongly even where men's spiritual sense
seems most individual, or where, with the retention of some ethical
nobility of outlook, they most keenly combat all and every religious
institution. So with George Fox's doctrine of the Divine Enlightenment
of every soul separately and without mediation of any kind, a doctrine
derived by him from that highly ecclesiastical document, the Gospel of
St. John; and with many a Jacobin's fierce proclamation of the rights of
Man, never far away from reminiscences of St. Paul.

This permanent necessity of Religious Institutions is primarily a need
for men to teach and exemplify, not simply Natural, This-World Morality,
but a Supernatural, Other-World Ethic; and not simply that abstraction,
Religion in General or a Religious Hypothesis, but that rich concretion,
this or that Historical Religion. In proportion as such an Historical
Religion is deep and delicate, it will doubtless contain affinities with
all that is wholesome and real within the other extant historical
religions. Nevertheless, all religions are effectual through their
special developments, where these developments remain true at all. As
well deprive a flower of its 'mere details' of pistil, stamen, pollen,
or an insect of its 'superfluous' antennae, as simplify any Historical
Religion down to the sorry stump labelled 'the religion of every honest
man'. We shall escape all bigotry, without lapsing into such most unjust
indifferentism, if we vigorously hold and unceasingly apply the doctrine
of such a Church theologian as Juan de Lugo. De Lugo (A.D. 1583-1660),
Spaniard, post-Reformation Roman Catholic, Jesuit, Theological
Professor, and a Cardinal writing in Rome under the eyes of Pope Urban
VIII, teaches that the members of the various Christian sects, of the
Jewish and Mohammedan communions, and of the heathen religions and
philosophical schools, who achieve their salvation, do so, ordinarily,
simply through the aid afforded by God's grace to their good faith in
its instinctive concentration upon, and in its practice of, those
elements in their respective community's worship and teaching, which are
true and good and originally revealed by God.[51] Thus we escape all
undue individualism and all unjust equalization of the (very variously
valuable) religious and philosophical bodies; and yet we clearly hold
the profound importance of the single soul's good faith and religious
instinct, and of the worship or school, be they ever so elementary and
imperfect, which environ such a soul.

A man's religion, in proportion to its depth, will move in a Concrete
Time which becomes more and more a Partial Simultaneity. And these his
depths then more and more testify to, and contrast with, the Fully
Simultaneous, God. Because man thus lives, not in an ever-equal chain of
mutually exclusive moments, in Clock Time, but in Duration, with its
variously close interpenetrations of the successive parts; and because
these interpenetrations are close in proportion to the richness and
fruitfulness of the durations he lives through; he can, indeed he must,
conceive absolutely perfect life as absolutely simultaneous. God is thus
not Unending, but Eternal; the very fullness of His life leaves no room
or reason for succession and our poor need of it. Dr. F. C. S. Schiller
has admirably drawn out this grand doctrine, with the aid of Aristotle's
Unmoving Action, in _Humanism_, 1903, pp. 204-27. We need only
persistently apprehend this Simultaneity as essential to God, and
Succession as varyingly essential to all creatures, and there remains no
difficulty--at least as regards the Time-element--in the doctrine of
Creation. For only with the existence of creatures does Time thus arise
at all--it exists only in and through them. And assuredly all finite
things, that we know at all, bear traces of a history involving a
beginning and an end. Professor Bernardino Varisco, in his great _Know
Thyself_, has noble pages on this large theme.[52] In any case we must
beware of all more or less Pantheistic conceptions of the simultaneous
life of God and the successive life of creatures as but essential and
necessary elements of one single Divine-Creaturely existence, in the
manner, e.g., of Professor Josiah Royce, in his powerful work _The World
and the Individual_, 2nd series, 1901. All such schemes break down under
an adequate realization of those dread facts error and evil. A certain
real independence must have been left by God to reasonable creatures.
And let it be noted carefully: the great difficulty against all Theism
lies in the terrible reality of Evil; and the deepest adequacy of this
same Theism, especially of Christianity, consists in its practical
attitude towards, and success against, this most real Evil. But
Pantheism increases, whilst seeming to surmount, the theoretical
difficulty, since the world as it stands, and not an Ultimate Reality
behind it, is held to be perfect; and it entirely fails really to
transmute Evil in practice. Theism, no more than any other outlook,
really explains Evil; but it alone, in its fullest, Jewish-Christian
forms, has done more, and better, than explain Evil: it has fully faced,
it has indeed greatly intensified, the problem, by its noble insistence
upon the reality and heinousness of Sin; and it has then overcome all
this Evil, not indeed in theory, but in practice, by actually producing
in the midst of deep suffering, through a still deeper faith and love,
souls the living expression of the deepest beatitude and peace.

The fully Simultaneous Reality awakens and satisfies man's deepest, most
nearly simultaneous life, by a certain adaptation of its own intrinsic
life to these human spirits. In such varyingly 'incarnational' acts or
action the non-successive God Himself condescends to a certain
successiveness; but this, in order to help His creatures to achieve as
much simultaneity as is compatible with their several ranks and calls.
We must not wonder if, in the religious literature, these condescensions
of God largely appear as though they themselves were more or less
non-successive; nor, again, if the deepest religious consciousness tends
usually to conceive God's outward action, if future, then as proximate,
and, if present, then as strictly instantaneous. For God in Himself is
indeed Simultaneous; and if we try to picture Simultaneity by means of
temporal images at all, then the instant, and not any period long or
short, is certainly nearest to the truth--as regards the form and
vehicle of the experience.

The greater acts of Divine Condescension and Self-Revelation, our
Religious _Accessions_, have mostly occurred at considerable intervals,
each from the other, in our human history. After they have actually
occurred, these several acts can be compared and arranged, according to
their chief characteristics, and even in a series of (upon the whole)
growing content and worth--hence the Science of Religion. Yet such
Science gives us no power to produce, or even to foresee, any further
acts. These great Accessions of Spiritual Knowledge and Experience are
not the simple result of the conditions obtaining previously in the
other levels of life, or even in that of religion itself; they often
much anticipate, they sometimes greatly lag behind, the rise or decline
of the other kinds of life. And where (as with the great Jewish
Prophets, and, in some degree, with John the Baptist and Our Lord) these
Accessions do occur at times of national stress, these several crises
are, at most, the occasion for the demand, not the cause of the supply.

The mostly long gaps between these Accessions have been more or less
filled up, amongst the peoples concerned, by varyingly vigorous and
valuable attempts to articulate and systematize, to apply in practice,
and rightly to place (within the other ranges of man's total life) these
great, closely-packed masses of spiritual fact; or to elude, to deflect,
or directly to combat them, or some of their interpretations or
applications. Now fairly steady improvement is possible, desirable, and
largely actual, in the critical sifting and appraisement, as to the
dates and the actual reality, of the historical documents and details of
these Accessions; in the philosophical articulation of their doctrinal
and evidential content; in the finer understanding and wider application
of their ethical demands; and in the greater adequacy (both as to
firmness and comprehensiveness) of the institutional organs and
incorporations special to these same Accessions. All this can and does
progress, but mostly slowly, intermittently, with short violent
paroxysms of excess and long sleepy reactions of defect, with
one-sidedness, travesties, and--worst of all--with worldly indifference
and self-seeking. The grace and aid of the Simultaneous Richness are
here also always necessary; nor can these things ever really progress
except through a deep religious sense--all mere scepticism and all
levelling down are simply so much waste. Still, we can speak of progress
in the Science of Religion more appropriately than we can of progress in
the Knowledge of Religion.

The Crusades, the Renaissance, the Revolution, no doubt exercised, in
the long run, so potent a secularizing influence, because men's minds
had become too largely other-worldly--had lost a sufficient interest in
this wonderful world; and hence all those new, apparently boundless
outlooks and problems were taken up largely as a revolt and escape from
what looked like a prison-house--religion. Yet through all these violent
oscillations there persisted, in human life, the supernatural need and
call. In this God is the great central interest, love and care of the
soul. We must look to it that both these interests and Ethics are kept
awake, strong and distinct within a costingly rich totality of life: the
Ethic of the honourable citizen, merchant, lawyer--of Confucius and
Socrates; and the Ethic of the Jewish Prophets at their deepest, of the
Suffering Servant, of our Lord's Beatitudes, of St. Paul's great eulogy
of love, of Augustine and Monica at the window in Ostia, of Father
Damian's voluntarily dying a leper amidst the lepers. The Church is the
born incorporation of this pole, as the State is of the other. The
Church indeed should, at its lower limit, also encourage the This-world
Stage; the State, at its higher limit, can, more or less consciously,
prepare us for the Other-World Stage. Both spring from the same God, at
two levels of His action; both concern the same men, at two stages of
their response and need. Yet the primary duty of the State is turned to
this life; the primary care of the Church, to that life--to life in its
deepest depths.

Will men, after this great war, more largely again apprehend, love, and
practise this double polarity of their lives? Only thus will the truest
progress be possible in the understanding, the application, and the
fruitfulness of Religion, with its great central origin and object, God,
the beginning and end of all our true progress, precisely because He
Himself already possesses immeasurably more than all He helps us to
become,--He Who, even now already, is our Peace in Action, our Joy even
in the Cross.


I.   1. Oswold Külpe, _The Philosophy of the Present in Germany_,
     English translation. London: George Allen, 1913, _3s. 6d._

     2. J. McKeller Stewart, _A Critical Exposition of Bergon's
     Philosophy_. London: Macmillan, 1913, _6s._ net.

II.  1. R. H. Charles, _A Critical History of the Doctrine of a Future
     Life_. London: A. & C. Black, 1899, _10s. 6d._ net.

     2. Ernest T. Scott, _The Fourth Gospel_. Edinburgh: T. & T.
     Clark, 1906, _6s._ net.

III. 1. Aliotta, _The Idealistic Reaction against Science_. English
     translation. Macmillan, 1914, _12s._ net.

     2. F. C. Schiller, _Humanism_, Macmillan, 1903, _7s. 6d._ net.

     3. C. C. J. Webb, _Group Theories of Religion and the Individual_,
     Allen and Unwin, 1916, _5s._ net.


[32] _The Idealistic Reaction against Science_, Engl. tr. 1914, pp. 6,

[33] _A Critical Account of the Philosophy of Lotze_, 1895, p. 104.

[34] Aliotta, op. cit., pp. 89, 187.

[35] _Encyl. Brit._, 'Psychology,' 11th ed., p. 577.

[36] Ed. 1898, p. 90.

[37] _Discours sur la Méthode_, 1637, IVe Partie.

[38] Aliotta, op. cit., p. 408.

[39] Ed. 1893, vol. ii, p. 759.

[40] _First Principles_, 6th ed., 1900, vol. i, p. 67.

[41] Article, 'Moses,' in _Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart_,

[42] Ed. Mangey, vol. i, pp. 44, 49.

[43] Ibid., pp. 80-179.

[44] Ibid., pp. 308, 427.

[45] Ibid., pp. 213, 121, 562, 691.

[46] _Conf._ x, 13, 2.

[47] Autumn, 387.

[48] _Conf._ 1, 6, 3; x, 27; x, 20.

[49] _Conf._ xi, 13.

[50] _Die Soziallehren der christlichen Kirchen und Gruppen_, 1912, pp.

[51] _De Fide_, Disp. xix, 7, 10; xx, 107, 194.

[52] _Cognosci Te Stesso_, 1912, pp. 144-7.




From the syllabus of all the lectures in this course I gather that every
lecturer on the programme is dealing with the question of moral
progress. This is inevitable. Each lecturer must show that the
particular sort of progress he is dealing with is real or genuine
progress, and this it cannot be unless it is moral. That is itself a
significant fact and throws a valuable light on our subject. It shows
that progress, as it is studied throughout the course, is not progress
in the abstract, whatever that may mean, but progress _for us_
constituted as we are; and since our constitution is essentially moral
all progress that we can recognize as such must be moral also. Science,
Industry, Government, might all claim progress on their own ground and
in their own nature, but this would not prove progress as we understand
the word, unless it could be shown further that these things contribute
to human betterment in the highest sense of the word. _Their_ progress
might conceivably involve _our_ regress.

To believe in moral progress as an historical fact, as a process that
has begun, and is going on, and will be continued--that is one thing,
and it is my own position. To believe that this progress is far advanced
is another thing, and is not my position. While believing in Moral
Progress as a fact, I also believe that we are much nearer to the
beginnings of it than the end. We should do well to accustom ourselves
to this thought. Many of our despairs, lamentations, and pessimisms are
disappointments which arise from our extravagant notions of the degree
of progress already attained. There has been a great deal of what I have
called philosophic pharisaism. Perhaps it would be better called aeonic
pharisaism. I mean the spirit in the present age which seems to say 'I
thank thee, O God, that I am not as former ages: ignorant, barbaric,
cruel, unsocial; I read books, ride in aeroplanes, eat my dinner with a
knife and fork, and cheerfully pay my taxes to the State; I study human
science, talk freely about humanity, and spend much of my time in making
speeches on social questions'. Now there is truth in all this, but not
the kind of truth which should lead us to self-flattery. A good rule for
optimists would be this: 'Believe in moral progress, but do not believe
in too much of it.' I think there would be more optimists in the world,
more cheerfulness, more belief in moral progress, if we candidly faced
the fact that morally considered we are still in a neolithic age, not
brutes indeed any longer, and yet not so far outgrown the brutish stage
as to justify these trumpetings. One of the beneficent lessons of the
present war has been to moderate our claims in this respect. It has
revealed us to ourselves as nothing else in history has ever done, and
it has revealed, among other things, that moral progress is not nearly
so advanced as we thought it was. It has been a terrible blow to the
pharisaism of which I have just spoken. It has not discredited science,
nor philosophy, nor government, nor anything else that we value, but it
has shown that these things have not brought us as far as we thought.
That very knowledge, when you come to think of it, is itself a very
distinct step in moral progress. Before the war we were growing morally
conceited; we thought ourselves much better, more advanced in morality,
than we really were, and this conceit was acting as a real barrier to
our farther advance. A sharp lesson was needed to take this conceit out
of us--to remind us that as yet we are only at the bare beginnings of
moral advance--and not, as some of us fondly imagined, next door to the
goal. This sudden awakening to the truth is full of promise for the

And now what is the cause of these exaggerated notions which so many of
us have entertained? I think they arise from our habit of letting
ourselves be guided by words rather than by realities, by what men are
_saying_ rather than by what they are _doing_, by what teachers are
teaching than by what learners are learning. If you take your stand in
the realm of words, of doctrines, of theories, of philosophies, of
books, preachings, and uttered ideals, you might make out a strong case
for a high degree of moral progress actually attained. But if you ask
how much of this has been learnt by mankind at large, and learnt in such
a way as to issue in practice, you get a different story. We have
attached too much importance to the first story and too little to the
second. There has been a great deal of false emphasis in consequence.
This false emphasis is especially prominent in the education controversy
which is now going on--and the question of moral progress, by the way,
is the question of education in the widest and highest sense of the
term. People seem quite content so long as they can get the right thing
taught. They don't always see that unless the right thing is taught by
the right people and in the right way it will not be _learnt_. Now
education is ultimately a question of what is being _learnt_, not of
what is being _taught_. The process of learning is a very curious and
complicated one, and it often happens that what goes in at the teacher's
end comes out at the pupil's end in a wholly different form and with a
wholly different value; and we have the highest authority for believing
that what really counts is not so much that which goeth into a man but
that which cometh out of him. That applies to all education--especially
moral education. So that if you argue from what has gone into the human
race in the way of moral teaching you may be greatly surprised and
perhaps disappointed when you compare it with what has come out of the
human race in the meantime. What has been taught is not what has been
learnt. It has suffered a sea change in the process. Nor is the question
wholly one of learning. There is the further question of remembering. I
believe that a candid examination of the facts would convince us that
the human race has proved itself a forgetful pupil. It has not always
retained what it has learnt. Emerson has said that no account of the
Holy Ghost has been lost. But how did Emerson find that out? The only
accents Emerson knew of were those which the world happened to have
remembered. If any had been lost in the meantime Emerson naturally would
not know of their existence. I have heard of a functionary, whose
precise office I am not able to define, called 'the Lord's
Remembrancer'. It would be a great help to Moral Progress if we had in
modern life a People's Remembrancer. His place is occupied to some
extent by the study of history, and for that reason one could wish for
the sake of Moral Progress that the study of history were universal. For
my own part I seldom open a book of history without recovering what for
me is a lost account of the Holy Ghost. Next to conceit I reckon
forgetfulness as the greatest enemy of Moral Progress. I suppose Rudyard
Kipling had something of this in mind when he wrote his poem--

    Lord God of Hosts be with us yet,
    Lest we forget, lest we forget.

Another cause of our over-estimate of Moral Progress is that we have
thought too much of the abstract State and too little of the actual
States now in being. Our devotion to 'the' State as an ideal has led us
to overlook the fact that many actual States represent a form of
morality so low that it is doubtful if it can be called morality at all.
In their relations _with one another_ they display qualities which would
disgrace the brutes. And the worst of it is that at times these States
drag down to their own low level the morality of the individuals
belonging to them. Thus at the present moment we see quite decent
Englishmen and quite decent Germans tearing one another to pieces like
mad dogs, a thing they would never dream of doing as between man and
man, and which they do only because they are in the grip of forces alien
to their own nature. We have overestimated Progress by thinking only of
what is happening inside each of the States. We have forgotten to
consider the bearing of the States to one another, which remains on a
level lower than that of individuals.

The impression has gone abroad that the nations of the world need to
take _only one step_ from the position where they now stand to
accomplish the final unity of all mankind. Taking any one of these
nations--our own for example--we can trace the steps by which the
warring elements within it have become reconciled, until finally there
has emerged that vast unitary corporation--the British Empire. So with
all the others. What more is required therefore than one step further in
the same direction, to join up all the States into a single world State.
But I am bound to think we are too hasty in treating the unity of
mankind as needing only one step more. It is not so easy as all that.
When you study the process by which unity has been brought about in the
various European communities you find that motives of conquest and
corresponding motives of defence have had a great deal to do with it.
Germany, for example, was built up and now holds together as a fighting
unit. Whether Germany and the other States would still maintain their
cohesion when they were no longer fighting units, and when the motives
of conquest and defence were no longer in operation, is a question on
which I should not like to dogmatize either way. Certainly we have no
right to assume offhand that the unifying process which has given the
nations the mass cohesion and efficiency they require for holding their
own against enemy States would still remain in full power when there
were no longer any enemy States to be considered.

But what do we mean by Progress?

Progress may be defined as that process by which a thing advances from a
less to a more complete state of itself. Now whether this process is a
desirable one or not obviously depends on the nature of the thing which
is progressing. Take the largest and most inclusive of all things--the
whole world. And now suppose philosophy to have proved that the world,
the whole world, is advancing from a less to a more complete state of
itself--which as a matter of fact is what the doctrine of evolution
claims to have proved. Ought I to rejoice in this discovery? Will it
give me satisfaction? That clearly depends on the nature of the world.
If I am antecedently assured that the world is good, I shall naturally
rejoice on hearing that it is advancing from a less to a more complete
state of itself. But if the nature of the world is evil, what reason can
I possibly have for rejoicing in its evolution? Assuming the world to be
evil in its essential nature, I for my part, if I were consulted in the
matter, would certainly give my vote against its being allowed to
advance from a less to a more complete state of itself. The less such a
world progresses the easier it will be for moral beings to live in it.
Our interest lies in its remaining as undeveloped as possible.

Obvious as this seems there are some evolutionists who take a rather
different view. They seem to think that any sort of world, no matter
what its nature might be, would ultimately become a good world if it
were allowed to develop its nature far enough. It is just the fact of
its continually becoming more of itself that makes it good. But this
would compel us to abandon our definition that progress is the advance
of a thing from a less to a more complete state of _itself_. For if
itself were a bad self to begin with all such advance of _itself_ would
only make it worse. It is possible that an essentially bad man like Iago
might be converted into a good one, but not by advancing from a less to
a more complete state of _himself_ as he originally was--unless indeed
we change the hypothesis and suppose that he was not essentially bad to
begin with. So with the world at large. Our nature being what it is,
namely moral, we must first be convinced that the world is in principle
good before we can derive the least satisfaction from knowing that it is
advancing from a less to a more complete state of _itself_. The
alternative doctrine makes a breach in the doctrine of progress which is
inconsistent with its original form. A thing develops by retaining its
essential nature--that is the original form. But a bad world which
develops into a good one doesn't retain its essential nature. There
comes a point somewhere when the next step of progress can be achieved
only by the thing dropping its original nature--a point at which the
thing is no longer becoming more of its former self, which was bad, but
is ceasing to be its former self altogether and becoming something else,
which is good.

Let us apply this to progress in three specific directions--Science, the
Mechanical Arts, and Government.

We find that the progress of science has enormously increased man's
power over the forces of nature. Is it a good thing that man's power
over the forces of nature should be increased? That surely depends on
the manner in which this power is used, and this depends again on the
moral nature of man. When we observe, as we may truly observe,
especially at the present time, that of all the single applications
which man has made of science, the most extensive and perhaps the most
efficient is that of devising implements for destroying his brother man,
it is at least permissible to raise the question whether the progress of
science has contributed on the whole to the progress of humanity. Had it
not been for the progress of science, which has enormously increased the
wealth of the world, it is doubtful if this war, which is mainly a war
about wealth, would have taken place at all. Or if a war had broken out,
it would not have involved the appalling destruction of human life and
property we are now witnessing--such that, within a space of two years,
about six million human beings have been killed, thirty-five millions
wounded, and wealth destroyed to the extent of about fifteen thousand
millions sterling--though some say it is very much more. Science taught
us to make this wealth: science has also taught us how to destroy it.
When one thinks of how much of this is attributable to the progress of
science, I say it is _permissible to raise the question_ whether man is
a being who can safely be entrusted with that control over the forces of
nature which science gives him. What if he uses this power, as he
plainly can do, for his own undoing? To ask this, as we can hardly help
asking, is to transfer the question of scientific progress into the
sphere of morality. It is conceivable that the progress of science might
involve for us no progress at all. It might be, and some have feared
that it may become, a step towards the self-destruction of the human

Take the mechanical arts. The chief effects of progress in the
mechanical arts have been an enormous increase in the material wealth
of mankind, and, partly consequent upon this, a parallel growth of
population in the industrial countries of the world. It is by no means
clear that either of these things constitutes a definite step in human
progress. Consider the growth of population--the immense increase in the
total bulk and volume of the human race. Whether this constitutes a
clear gain to humanity obviously cannot be answered without reference to
moral considerations. To increase the arithmetical quantity of life in
the world can be counted a gain only if the general tendencies of life
are in the right direction. If they are in the wrong direction, then the
more lives there are to yield to these tendencies the less reason has
the moralist to be satisfied with what is happening. No one, so far as I
know, has ever seriously maintained that the end and aim of progress is
to increase the number of human beings up to the limit which the planet
is able to support; though some doctrines if pressed to their conclusion
would lead to that, notably the doctrine that all morality rests
ultimately on the instinct for the preservation and the reproduction of
life. We have first to be convinced that the human race is not on the
wrong road before we can look with complacency on the increase of its
numbers. We may note in this connexion that mankind possesses no sort of
collective control over its own mass or volume. The mass or total number
of lives involved is determined by forces which are not subject to the
unitary direction of any existing human will either individual or
collective. This applies not only to the human race as a whole, but to
particular communities. Their growth is unregulated. They just come to
be what they are in point of size. This fact seems to me a very
important one to bear in mind when we talk of the progress of science
giving us control over the forces of nature. So far no state, no
government, no community has won any effective control over that group
of the forces of nature which determine the total size of the community
in question. It is an aspect of human destiny which appears to be left
to chance; and yet when we consider what it means, is there any aspect
of human destiny on which such tremendous consequences depend? And ought
we not to consider this before claiming, as we so often claim, that the
progress of science has given us control of the forces of nature? It is
strange that this point has not been more considered, especially by
thinkers who are fond of the word 'humanity'--'the good of humanity'--or
the 'greatest happiness of the greatest number'. Humanity has an
arithmetical or quantitative side, and the good of humanity surely
depends, to some extent, on how much humanity there is. I can imagine
many things which might be good for a Greek city state of 10,000 souls
which would not be good, or not good in the same sense, for a community
of 100,000,000 souls. Surely it needs no reasoning to prove that our
power to do our duty to others is affected by the number of others to
whom duty has to be done--it makes a difference where there are 10,000
of men or 100,000,000. Similarly with the greatest happiness of the
greatest number. What is the _greatest_ number? A great deal that has
been said about this would not have been said if we had considered that
the _greatest number_ itself is left at the disposal of forces outside
the present scope of our own will. Even the proposal to sell our goods
and give the proceeds to the poor would surely be affected, from the
moral point of view, by the number of the poor who were to receive the
distribution. Were this so small that the poor would get five pounds
apiece it would be one question; were it so large that they would
receive a halfpenny apiece it would be another question. Thus we may
conclude that the progress of the mechanical arts with the consequent
increase in the bulk of the human race has not solved the problem of
moral progress, but only placed that problem in a new and more
perplexing context. A similar conclusion would meet us if we were to
consider the parallel increase of the wealth of the world. The moral
question is not about the amount of wealth the world possesses, but
about the way men spend it and the use they make of it. Industrially
speaking, the human race has made its fortune during the last hundred
years. But has it made up its mind what to do with the fortune? And has
its mind been made up in the right way? To raise these questions is to
see that progress from the economic point of view may be the reverse of
progress from the moral. But I shall not further enlarge upon this--the
theme being too familiar.

The third question which relates itself to moral progress is that of
Government. Now Government, I need hardly say, is not an end in itself.
It is a device which man has set up to help him in attaining the true
end of his life. To make up our minds how we ought to be governed is
therefore impossible unless we have previously made up our minds how we
ought to live. What might be a good government for a people whose end is
industrial success might be a very bad one for a people who had some
other end in view. Well, then, are we well governed at the present time?
Are we better governed than we were? Has progress taken place in this
department? Plainly we cannot answer these questions unless we have
chosen our end in life and are morally satisfied with it. In the history
of modern states we discover a tendency, more strongly marked in some
quarters than in others, towards that form of democracy which is called
responsible self-government. Government of the people, for the people,
by the people. The people are going to govern themselves. But they may
do so in a thousand different ways--each of which has a different moral
value. A people may go wrong just as fatally in governing itself as in
being governed by some external authority. I confess that nothing I can
learn from the history of government entirely reassures me on this
point. I see everywhere progress towards organization, but then one is
bound to ask on what ulterior end is this organization directed? I see
everywhere a growing subordination of the individual to the State. This
may or may not be a very good thing. What _kind of State_ is it to which
the individual is becoming subordinated? There are great differences
among them--some seem to me, one in particular at the present time,
thoroughly bad, and I cannot see that the individual gains morally by
being subordinated to such a State--at least if he gains in one
direction he loses more in another.

Even the social unity which Governments are capable of achieving must
not be too hastily translated into moral progress. We are entitled to
ask several questions before the one can be equated with the other. To
begin with, do men know what they want to achieve by their unified life?
And if they do know what they want, have we not still the right to
criticize its moral value and say 'this is right' or this is wrong?
Should the time ever come when the common will of mankind should get
itself expressed by the decrees of a universal democracy, would moral
criticism be at an end so far as the said decrees were concerned? For my
part I cannot see that it would. Perhaps it were truer to say that only
then would moral criticism effectively begin. As things now are, we are
prevented from criticizing the common will because none of us knows what
exactly the common will demands. But if it could get itself expressed
and defined by the decrees of a perfect democracy we should know. Those
decrees would reveal the human community to itself, and it is possible
that the revelation would not be altogether agreeable to our moral
sense. We might then discover that the common will is capable of being
grossly immoral. So far it has been impossible for us to make this
discovery because no organ exists for expressing the common will on the
human scale, and even those which express it on the national scale are
not perfect. I am far from saying the discovery would be made; but I
know of no line of argument which rules it out as impossible. Meanwhile
we are scarcely justified in regarding the common will as necessarily
moral until we know more than we do of what precisely it is that the
common will aims at and intends to achieve. To back the common will
through thick and thin, as some of our philosophers seem disposed to do,
is a dangerous speculation--it might perhaps be described as putting
your money on a dark horse.

This leads me to say a word concerning a phrase which has been much in
use of late--the Collective Wisdom of Mankind, or the Collective Wisdom
of the State. Progress is sometimes defined as a gradual approach to a
state of things where this collective wisdom rules the course of events.
And collective wisdom is sometimes represented as vastly wiser than that
possessed by any individual, even the wisest.

Now if this really is so it seems pretty obvious that, when the
collective wisdom speaks, no individual can have the right of appeal.
What are you, what am I, that either of us should set up our private
intelligence against the intelligence of forty million of our fellow
citizens? That surely would be a preposterous claim. The collective
wisdom must know best: at least it knows much better than you or I.

But is the collective wisdom of the State so immensely superior to that
of the individual, and of necessity so? Have we any means of bringing
the matter to the test? It is extremely difficult to do so. Not until
we make the experiment do we find how rare are the occasions of which we
can say that then and there the collective wisdom of the community
fairly and fully expressed itself. Acts of Parliament are not good
examples. They usually represent not the collective wisdom of the whole
community, but the wisdom of the majority after it has been checked,
modified, and perhaps nullified by the opposing wisdom of an almost
equal minority. Take as an example the history of the Irish Question.
How difficult it is to put one's finger on any moment in that tangled
story and say that then and there the collective wisdom of the community
knew what it wanted to do and did it! So with almost everything else.

Now if there be such a thing as the collective wisdom of the State I
suppose that the moment when we are most likely to find it in action is
the moment when one State has dealings with another State. That surely
is a fair test. If States possess collective wisdom they ought to show
its existence and measure when they confront one another _as
States_--when State calls to State across the great deeps of
international policy. What should we say of any State which claimed
collective wisdom only when dealing with its own individual
members--with you and me--but dropped the claim when the question was
one of reasonable intercourse with another State similarly endowed? This
we should say is a very dubious claim.

Well, how stands the matter when this test is applied? The present war
provides the answer. The war arose out of a type of quarrel which, had
it occurred between half a dozen individuals of average intelligence,
would have been amicably settled, by reasonable human intercourse, in
twenty minutes. Does not this afford a rough measure of the collective
wisdom of such States as at present exist in this world? Does it not
suggest that they have little faculty of reasonable intercourse with
one another? And when you say _that_ of any being, or any collection of
beings, do you not put it pretty low down in the scale of intelligence?
It is literally true that these States do not understand one another.
Thus we are driven back upon a plain alternative; either the States do
not represent collective wisdom, or else this collective wisdom is one
of the lowest forms of wisdom now extant on this planet. In either case
we must be very cautious in our use of the phrase. We must not infer
moral progress from the reign of collective wisdom until we are assured
that collective wisdom is really as wise as some of its devotees assume
it to be.

About the idea of moral progress, which is only another name for the
idea of progress in its widest form, I need say little, the question
having been adequately treated by other lecturers. But I will add this.
Belief in moral progress is a belief which no man can live without, and,
at the same time, a belief which cannot be proved by any appeal to human
experience. We cannot live without it, because life is just the process
of reaching forward to a better form of itself. Were a man to say that
since the world began no moral progress has taken place he would thereby
show his latent belief in moral progress. For no man would take the
trouble to deny moral progress unless he believed that the world would
in some way be made better by his denial. He would not even trouble to
come to a private conclusion in the matter unless he believed that his
private conclusion was something to the good. In that sense perhaps we
may say that moral progress is proved, for the best proof of any belief
is that it remains indispensable to the life we have to live. But the
appeal to experience would not prove it--and for this reason. A
progressive world is a world which not only makes gains, but _keeps_ its
gains when they are made. If the Kingdom of Heaven were to become a
fact to-morrow, that of itself would not prove progress, if you admit
the possibility that the world might hereafter retreat from the position
it had won. That possibility you could never rule out--except by an
appeal to faith. A world which attained the goal and then lost it would
be a greater failure, from the point of view of moral progress, than one
which never attained the goal at all. The doctrine that the gains of
morality can never be lost is widely held; but it does not rest on a
philosophic or a scientific basis. As Hume taught long ago, you cannot
infer an infinite conclusion from finite data--and in this case the
conclusion is infinite and the data are finite. They are not only finite
but various: some pointing one way, some another.

Finally we cannot prove moral progress by appeal to any objective
standard, such as the amount of happiness existing in the world at
successive dates. Suppose you were able to show that, up to date, the
amount of happiness in the world has shown a steady increase until it
has reached the grand sum total now existing. Now suppose that you were
transferred to another planet where the conditions were the exact
opposite: where the inhabitants ages ago started with the happiness we
now possess, and gradually declined until, at the present moment, they
are no happier than the human race was at the first stage of its career.
Now add together the totals of happiness for both your worlds, the
ascending world which starts with the minimum and ends with the maximum,
the declining world which starts with the maximum and ends with the
minimum. The grand totals in both cases are exactly the same. So far as
the total result is concerned, the declining world has just as much to
show for itself as the ascending. Valued in terms of happiness, the one
world would be worth as much as the other.

And yet we know that the value of these two worlds is not the same. The
ascending is worth a lot more than the descending. Why? I leave you with
that conundrum. Answer it, and you have the key to the meaning of Moral


T. H. Green, _Prolegomena to Ethics_, Book III, ch. 3.

Lecky, _History of European Morals_, ch. 1.

Spencer, _Data of Ethics_, ch. 13 to 14.




When I was asked to speak to you on the subject of Progress in
Government I gladly accepted, for it is a subject on which I have
reflected a good deal. But when I came to think over what I should say,
I saw that you had asked me for the impossible. For what is Government?
I do not know whether there are any here for whom Government means no
more than a policeman, or a ballot-box, or a list of office-holders. The
days of such shallow views are surely over. Government is the work of
ordering the external affairs and relationships of men. It covers all
the activities of men as members of a community--social, industrial, and
religious as well as political in the narrower sense. It is concerned,
as the ancients had it, with 'that which is public or common', what the
Greeks called [Greek: to koinon] and the Romans _res publica_. The Old
English translation of these classical terms is 'The Commonwealth' or
Common Weal; and I do not see that we can do better than adopt that
word, with its richness of traditional meaning and its happy association
of the two conceptions, too often separated in modern minds, of Wealth
and Welfare.

Our subject then is the Progress of the Commonwealth or, in other words,
the record of the course of the common life of mankind in the world. It
is a theme which really underlies all the other subjects of discussion
at this week's meetings: for it is only the existence of the
Commonwealth and its organized efforts to preserve and sustain the life
of the individuals composing it, which have made possible the
achievements of mankind in the various separate fields of effort which
are claiming your attention. Lord Acton spent a lifetime collecting
material for a History of Liberty. He never wrote it: but, if he had, it
would have been a History of Mankind. A History of Government or of the
Commonwealth would be nothing less. Such is the nature of the invitation
so kindly given to me and so cheerfully accepted. If you could wait a
lifetime for the proper treatment of the subject I would gladly give the
time; for, in truth, it is worth it.

What is the nature of this common life of mankind and with what is it
concerned? The subjects of its concern are as wide as human nature
itself. We cannot define them in a formula: for human nature overleaps
all formulas. Whenever men have tried to rule regions of human activity
and aspiration out of the common life of mankind, and to hedge them
round as private or separate or sacred or by any other kind of taboo,
human nature has always ended by breaking through the hedges and
invading the retreat. Man is a social animal. If he retires to a
monastery he finds he has carried problems of organization with him, as
the promoters of this gathering would confess you have brought with you
here. If he shuts himself up in his home as a castle, or in a workshop
or factory as the domain of his own private power, social problems go
with him thither, and the long arm of the law will follow after. If he
crosses the seas like the Pilgrim Fathers, to worship God unmolested in
a new country, or, like the merchant-venturers, to fetch home treasure
from the Indies, he will find himself unwittingly the pioneer of
civilization and the founder of an Empire or a Republic. In the life of
our fellows, in the Common Weal, we live and move and have our being.
Let us recall some wise words on this subject from the Master of
Balliol's book on the Middle Ages. 'The words "Church" and "State"', he

     represent what ought to be an alliance, but is, in modern
     times, at best a dualism and often an open warfare.... The
     opposition of Church and State expresses an opposition
     between two sides of human nature which we must not too
     easily label as good and evil, the heavenly and the earthly,
     the sacred and the profane. For the State, too, is divine as
     well as the Church, and may have its own ideals and
     sacramental duties and its own prophets, even its own
     martyrs. The opposition of Church and State is to be
     regarded rather as the pursuit of one great aim, pursued by
     contrasted means. The ultimate aim of all true human
     activity must be in the noble words of Francis Bacon 'the
     glory of God and the relief of man's estate'.[53]

Bacon's words form a fitting starting-point for our reflections: for
they bring vividly before us both the idealism which should inspire all
who labour at the task of government and the vastness and variety of the
field with which they are concerned. Looked at in this broad light, the
history of man's common life in the world will, I think, show two great
streams of progress--the progress of man over Nature, or, as we say
to-day, in the control of his environment, and the progress of man in
what is essentially a moral task--the art of living together with his
fellows. These two aspects of human activity and effort are in constant
contact and interaction. Studied together, they reveal an advance which,
in spite of man's ever-present moral weakness, may be described as an
advance from Chaos to Cosmos in the organization of the world's common
life; yet they are so distinct in method and spirit that they can best
be described separately.

Let us first, then, consider the history of Government, as a record of
the progress of man's power over Nature.

Human history, in this sphere, is the story of man making himself at
home in the world. When human history begins we find men helpless,
superstitious, ignorant, the plaything of blind powers in the natural
and animal world. Superstitious because he was helpless, helpless
because he was ignorant, he eked out a bare existence rather by avoiding
than controlling the forces in the little world by which he found
himself surrounded. Human life in its earliest stages is, as Hobbes
described it, nasty, brutish, and short. Man was the slave of his
environment. He has risen to become its master. The world, as the
prophetic eye of Francis Bacon foretold, has become 'The Kingdom of

How complete this conquest is, can best be realized perhaps by
considering man's relation to the lower animals. When history opens, the
animals are in their element; it is man who is the interloper. Two
thousand years ago it was not the Society of Friends but wolves and wild
boars who felt themselves at home on the site of Bournville Garden
Village. To-day we are surprised when we read that in remote East Africa
lions and giraffes venture occasionally to interfere in the murderous
warfare between man and man. Man has imposed himself on the animals, by
dint of his gradual accumulation of knowledge and his consequent power
of organization and government. He has destroyed the conditions under
which the animals prospered. He has, as we might say, destroyed their
home life, exposing them to dangers of his own making against which they
are now as powerless as he was once against them. 'It is a remarkable
thing,' writes Sir E. Ray Lankester,

     which possibly may be less generally true than our present
     knowledge seems to suggest--that the adjustment of organisms
     to their surroundings is so severely complete in Nature
     apart from Man, that diseases are unknown as constant and
     normal phenomena under those conditions. It is no doubt
     difficult to investigate this matter, since the presence of
     Man as an observer itself implies human intervention. But it
     seems to be a legitimate view that every disease to which
     animals (and probably plants also) are liable, excepting as
     a transient and very exceptional occurrence, is due to Man's
     interference. The diseases of cattle, sheep, pigs, and
     horses are not known except in domesticated herds and those
     wild creatures to which Man's domesticated productions have
     communicated them. The trypanosome lives in the blood of
     wild game and of rats without producing mischief. The hosts
     have become tolerant of the parasite. It is only when man
     brings his unselected, humanly-nurtured races of cattle and
     horses into contact with the parasite, that it is found to
     have deadly properties. The various cattle-diseases which in
     Africa have done so much harm to native cattle, and have in
     some regions exterminated big game, have _per contra_ been
     introduced by man through his importation of diseased
     animals of his own breeding from Europe. Most, if not all,
     animals in extra-human conditions, including the minuter
     things such as insects, shellfish, and invisible aquatic
     organisms, have been brought into a condition of
     'adjustment' to their parasites as well as to the other
     conditions in which they live: it is this most difficult and
     efficient balance of Nature which Man everywhere upsets.[54]

And Sir E. Ray Lankester goes on to point out the moral to be drawn from
this development. He points out that

     civilized man has proceeded so far in his interference with
     extra-human nature, has produced for himself and the living
     organisms associated with him such a special state of things
     by his rebellion against natural selection and his defiance
     of Nature's pre-human dispositions, that he must either go
     on and acquire firmer control of the conditions, or perish
     miserably by the vengeance certain to fall on the
     half-hearted meddler in great affairs. We may indeed compare
     civilized man to a successful rebel against Nature, who, by
     every step forward, renders himself liable to greater and
     greater penalties, and so cannot afford to pause or fail in
     one single step. Or again we may think of him as the heir to
     a vast and magnificent kingdom, who has been finally
     educated so as to take possession of his property, and is at
     length left alone to do his best; he has wilfully abrogated,
     in many important respects, the laws of his mother Nature by
     which the kingdom was hitherto governed; he has gained some
     power and advantage by so doing, but is threatened on every
     hand by dangers and disasters hitherto restrained: no
     retreat is possible--his only hope is to control, as he
     knows that he can, the sources of these dangers and

The time will come, not too long hence, as I believe, when men have
realized, with the scientists, that the world is one kingdom not many,
and these problems of man's relation to his non-human environment will
be the first concern of statesmen and governors. In some of our tropical
colonies they have, perforce, become so already. If you live on the Gold
Coast, the war against malaria cannot help seeming more important to you
than the war against German trade: and in parts of Central Africa the
whole possibility of continued existence centres round the presence or
absence of the tsetse fly which is the carrier of sleeping sickness.
Some day, when means have been adopted for abating our fiercer
international controversies, we shall discover that in these and kindred
matters lies the real province of world-politics. When that day comes
the chosen representatives of the human race will see their
constituents, as only philosophers see them now, as the inheritors of a
great tradition of service and achievement, and as trustees for their
successors of the manifold sources of human happiness which the advance
of knowledge has laid open to us.

If the first and most important of these sources is the discovery of
the conditions of physical well-being, the second is the discovery of
means of communication between the widely separate portions of man's
kingdom. The record of the process of bringing the world under the
control of the organized government of man is largely the record of the
improvement of communications. Side by side with the unending struggle
of human reason against cold and hunger and disease we can watch the
contest against distance, against ocean and mountain and desert, against
storms and seasons. There can be few subjects more fascinating for a
historian to study than the record of the migrations of the tribes of
men. He might begin, if he wished, with the migrations of animals and
describe the westward progress of the many species whose course can be
traced by experts along the natural highways of Western Europe. Some of
them, so the books tell us, reached the end of their journey while
Britain was still joined to the continent. Others arrived too late and
were cut off by the straits of Dover. I like to form an imaginary
picture, which the austerity of the scientific conscience will, I know,
repudiate with horror, of the unhappy congregation, mournfully assembled
bag and baggage on the edge of the straits and gazing wistfully across
at the white cliffs of England, which they were not privileged to
reach--_tendentesque manus ripae ulterioris amore_, 'stretching out
their paws in longing for the further bank.'

Our historian would then go on to describe the early 'wanderings of
peoples' (_Völkerwanderungen_) how whole tribes would move off in the
spring-time in the search for fresh hunting-grounds or pasture. He would
trace the course of that westward push which, starting from somewhere in
Asia, brought its impact to bear on the northern provinces of the Roman
Empire and eventually loosened its whole fabric. He would show how
Europe, as we know it, was welded into unity by the attacks of
migratory warriors on three flanks--the Huns and the Tartars, a host of
horsemen riding light over the steppes of Russia and Hungary: the Arabs,
bearing Islam with them on their camels as they moved westward along
North Africa and then pushing across into Spain: and the Northmen of
Scandinavia, those carvers of kingdoms and earliest conquerors of the
open sea, who left their mark on England and northern France, on Sicily
and southern Italy, on the Balkan Peninsula, on Russia, on Greenland,
and as far as North America. Then, passing to Africa and Asia, he would
describe the life of the pack-saddle and the caravan, the long and
mysterious inland routes from the Mediterranean to Nubia and Nigeria, or
from Damascus with the pilgrims to Medina, and the still longer and more
mysterious passage through the ancient oases of Turkestan, now buried in
sand, along which, as recent discoveries have shown us, Greece and
China, Christianity and Buddhism, exchanged their arts and ideas and
products. Then he would tell of the great age of maritime discovery, of
the merchant-adventurers and buccaneers, of their gradual transformation
into trading companies, in the East and in the West, from companies to
settlements, from settlements to colonies. Then perhaps he would close
by casting a glimpse at the latest human migration of all, that which
takes place or took place up to 1914, at the rate of a million a year
from the Old World into the United States. He would take the reader to
Ellis Island in New York harbour, where the immigrants emerge from the
steerage to face the ordeal of the Immigration Officer. He would show
how the same causes, hunger, fear, persecution, restlessness, ambition,
love of liberty, which set the great westward procession in motion in
the early days of tribal migration, are still alive and at work to-day
among the populations of Eastern Europe. He would look into their minds
and read the story of the generations of their nameless fore-runners;
and he would ask himself whether rulers and statesmen have done all that
they might to make the world a home for all its children, for the poor
as for the rich, for the Jew as for the Gentile, for the yellow and
dark-skinned as for the white.

Let us dwell for a moment more closely on one phase of this record of
the conquest of distance. The crucial feature in that struggle was the
conquest of the sea. The sea-surface of the world is far greater than
its land-surface, and the sea, once subdued, is a far easier and more
natural means of transport and communication. For the sea, the
uncultivable sea, as Homer calls it, is itself a road, whereas on earth,
whether it be mountain or desert or field, roads have first painfully to
be made. Man's definitive conquest of the sea dates from the middle of
the fifteenth century when, by improvements in the art of sailing and by
the extended use of the mariner's compass, it first became possible to
undertake long voyages with assurance. These discoveries are associated
with the name of Prince Henry of Portugal, whose life-long ambition it
was, to quote the words engraved on his monument at the southern
extremity of Portugal, 'to lay open the regions of West Africa across
the sea, hitherto not traversed by man, that thence a passage might be
made round Africa to the most distant parts of the East.'

The opening of the high seas which resulted from Prince Henry's
activities is one of the most momentous events in human history. Its
effect was, sooner or later, to unite the scattered families of mankind,
to make the problems of all the concern of all: to make the world one
place. Prince Henry and his sailors were, in fact, the pioneers of
internationalism, with all the many and varied problems that
internationalism brings with it. 'In 1486,' says the most recent history
of this development,

     Bartholomew Dias was carried by storm beyond the sight of
     land, round the southern point of Africa, and reached the
     Great Fish River, north of Algoa Bay. On his return journey
     he saw the promontory which divides the oceans, as the
     narrow waters of the Bosphorus divide the continents, of the
     East and West. As in the crowded streets of Constantinople,
     so here, if anywhere, at this awful and solitary headland
     the elements of two hemispheres meet and contend. As Dias
     saw it, so he named it, 'The Cape of Storms'. But his
     master, John II, seeing in the discovery a promise that
     India, the goal of the national ambition, would be reached,
     named it with happier augury 'The Cape of Good Hope'. No
     fitter name could have been given to that turning-point in
     the history of mankind. Europe, in truth, was on the brink
     of achievements destined to breach barriers, which had
     enclosed and diversified the nations since the making of the
     World, and commit them to an intercourse never to be broken
     again so long as the World endures. That good rather than
     evil may spring therefrom is the greatest of all human

The contrast between Constantinople and the Cape, so finely drawn in
these lines, marks the end of the age when land-communications and
land-power were predominant over sea-power. The Roman Empire was, and
could only be, a land-power. It is no accident that the British
Commonwealth is, as the American Commonwealth is fast becoming,
predominantly a sea-power.

How was 'the greatest of all human responsibilities', arising from this
new intercourse of races, met? Knowledge, alas, is as much the devil's
heritage as the angels': it may be used for ill, as easily as for good.
The first explorers, and the traders who followed them, were not
idealists but rough adventurers. Breaking in, with the full tide of
western knowledge and adaptability, to the quiet backwaters of primitive
conservatism, they brought with them the worse rather than the better
elements of the civilization, the control of environment, of which they
were pioneers. To them Africa and the East represented storehouses of
treasure, not societies of men; and they treated the helpless natives

     England and Holland as well as the Latin monarchies treated
     the natives of Africa as chattels without rights and as
     instruments for their own ends, and revived slavery in a
     form and upon a scale more cruel than any practised by the
     ancients. The employment of slaves on her own soil has
     worked the permanent ruin of Portugal. The slave trade with
     America was an important source of English wealth, and the
     philosopher John Locke did not scruple to invest in it.
     There is no European race which can afford to remember its
     first contact with the subject peoples otherwise than with
     shame, and attempts to assess their relative degrees of
     guilt are as fruitless as they are invidious. The question
     of real importance is how far these various states were able
     to purge themselves of the poison, and rise to a higher
     realization of their duty towards their races whom they were
     called by the claims of their own superior civilization to
     protect. The fate of that civilization itself hung upon the

The process by which the Western peoples have risen to a sense of their
duty towards their weaker and more ignorant fellow citizens is indeed
one of the chief stages in that progress of the common life of mankind
with which we are concerned.

How is that duty to be exercised? The best way in which the strong can
help the weak is by making them strong enough to help themselves. The
white races are not strong because they are white, or virtuous because
they are strong. They are strong because they have acquired, through a
long course of thought and work, a mastery over Nature and hence over
their weaker fellow men. It is not virtue but knowledge to which they
owe their strength. No doubt much virtue has gone to the making of that
knowledge--virtues of patience, concentration, perseverance,
unselfishness, without which the great body of knowledge of which we are
the inheritors could never have been built up. But we late-born heirs of
the ages have it in our power to take the knowledge of our fathers and
cast away any goodness that went to its making. We have come into our
fortune: it is ours to use it as we think best. We cannot pass it on
wholesale, and at one step, to the more ignorant races, for they have
not the institutions, the traditions, the habits of mind and character,
to enable them to use it. Those too we must transmit or develop together
with the treasure of our knowledge. For the moment we stand in the
relation of trustees, teachers, guides, governors, but always in their
own interest and not ours, or rather, in the interest of the
commonwealth of which we and they, since the opening of the high seas,
form an inseparable part.

It has often been thought that the relation of the advanced and backward
races should be one purely of philanthropy and missionary enterprise
rather than of law and government. It is easy to criticize this by
pointing to the facts of the world as we know it--to the existing
colonial empires of the Great Powers and to the vast extension of the
powers of civilized governments which they represent. But it may still
be argued that the question is not Have the civilized powers annexed
large empires? but Ought they to have done so? Was such an extension of
governmental authority justifiable or inevitable? Englishmen in the
nineteenth century, like Americans in the twentieth, were slow to admit
that it was; just as the exponents of _laissez-faire_ were slow to
admit the necessity for State interference with private industry at
home. But in both cases they have been driven to accept it by the
inexorable logic of facts. What other solution of the problem, indeed,
is possible? 'Every alternative solution', as a recent writer

     breaks down in practice. To stand aside and do nothing under
     the plea that every people must be left free to manage its
     own affairs, and that intervention is wicked, is to repeat
     the tragic mistake of the Manchester School in the economic
     world which protested against any interference by the State
     to protect workmen ... from the oppression and rapacity of
     employers, on the ground that it was an unwarranted
     interference with the liberty of the subject and the freedom
     of trade and competition. To prevent adventurers from
     entering the territory is impossible, unless there is some
     civilized authority within it to stop them through its
     police. To shut off a backward people from all contact with
     the outside world by a kind of blockade is not only
     unpracticable, but is artificially to deny them the chances
     of education and progress. The establishment of a genuine
     government by a people strong enough and liberal enough to
     ensure freedom under the law and justice for all is the only
     solution.... They must undertake this duty, not from any
     pride of dominion, or because they wish to exploit their
     resources, but in order to protect them alike from
     oppression and corruption, by strict laws and strict
     administration, which shall bind the foreigner as well as
     the native, and then they must gradually develop, by
     education and example, the capacity in the natives to manage
     their own affairs.

Thus we see that the progress in knowledge and in the control of their
environment made by the civilized peoples has, in fact and inevitably,
led to their leadership in government also, and given them the
predominant voice in laying down the lines along which the common life
of mankind is to develop. If we are to look for the mainspring of the
world's activities, for the place where its new ideas are thought out,
its policies framed, its aspirations cast into practical shape, we must
not seek it in the forests of Africa or in the interior of China, but in
those busy regions of the earth's surface where the knowledge, the
industries, and all the various organizations of government and control
find their home. Because organization is embodied knowledge, and because
knowledge is power, it is the Great Powers, as we truly name them,[58]
who are predominantly responsible for the government of the world and
for the future of the common life of mankind.

In the exercise of this control the world has already, in many respects,
become a single organism. The conquest of distance in the fifteenth
century was the beginning of a process which led, slowly but inevitably,
to the widening of the boundaries of government. Two discoveries made
about the same time accentuated the same tendency. By the invention of
gunpowder the people of Europe were given an overwhelming military
superiority over the dwellers in other continents. By the invention of
printing, knowledge was internationalized for all who had the training
to use it. Books are the tools of the brain-worker all the world over;
but, unlike the file and the chisel, the needle and the hammer, books
not only create, but suggest. A new idea is like an electric current set
running throughout the world, and no man can say into what channels of
activity it may not be directed.

But neither travel nor conquest nor books and the spread of ideas caused
so immense a transformation in the common life of mankind as the process
beginning at the end of the eighteenth century which is known to
historians as the Industrial Revolution. As we have spoken of the
conquest of distance perhaps a better name for the Industrial
Revolution would be the Conquest of Organization. For it was not the
discovery of the steam-engine or the spinning-jenny which constituted
the revolution: it was the fact that men were now in a position to apply
these discoveries to the organization of industry. The ancient Greeks
played with the idea of the steam-engine: it was reserved for
eighteenth-century England to produce a generation of pioneers endowed
with the knowledge, the power, the foresight, and the imagination to
make use of the world-transforming potentialities of the idea. The
Industrial Revolution, with its railways and steamships, telegraphs and
telephones, and now its airships and submarines and wireless
communication, completed the conquest of distance. Production became
increasingly organized on international lines. Men became familiar with
the idea of an international market. Prices and prospects, booms and
depressions, banking and borrowing, became international phenomena. The
organization of production led to an immensely rapid increase of wealth
in Western Europe. The application of that wealth to the development of
the world's resources in and outside Europe led to a correspondingly
huge advance in trade and intercourse. The breakfast-table in an
ordinary English home to-day is a monument to the achievements of the
Industrial Revolution and to the solid reality of the economic
internationalism which resulted from it. There is still poverty in
Western Europe, but it is preventable poverty. Before the Industrial
Revolution, judged by a modern standard, there was nothing but poverty.
The satisfying physical and economic condition which we describe by the
name of comfort did not exist. The Italian historian Ferrero, in one of
his essays, recommends those who have romantic yearnings after the good
old times to spend one night on what our forefathers called a bed. Mr.
Coulton, in his books on the Middle Ages, has used some very plain
language on the same text. And Professor Smart, in his recently
published posthumous work, pointing a gentle finger of rebuke at certain
common Socialist fantasies, remarks:

     There never was a golden age of equality of wealth: there
     was rather a leaden one of inequality of poverty.... We
     should speak more guardedly of the riches of the old world.
     A careful examination of any old book would show that the
     most splendid processions of pomp and luxury in the Middle
     Ages were poor things compared to the parade of a modern
     circus on its opening day.[59]

Such prosperity as we enjoy to-day, such a scene as we can observe on
these smiling outskirts of Birmingham, is due to man's Conquest of
Organization and to the consequent development and linking-up, by mutual
intercourse and exchange, of the economic side of the world's life.

So far we have been watching the progress of man in his efforts to 'make
himself at home' in the world. We have seen him becoming more skilful
and more masterful century by century, till in these latter days the
whole world is, as it were, at his service. He has planted his flag at
the two poles: he has cut a pathway for his ships between Asia and
Africa, and between the twin continents of America: he has harnessed
torrents and cataracts to his service: he has conquered the air and the
depths of the sea: he has tamed the animals: he has rooted out
pestilence and laid bare its hidden causes: and he is penetrating
farther and ever farther in the discovery of the causes of physical and
mental disease. He has set his foot on the neck of Nature. But the last
and greatest conquest is yet before him. He has yet to conquer himself.
Victorious against Nature, men are still at war, nay, more than ever at
war, amongst themselves. How is it that the last century and a half,
which have witnessed so unparalleled an advance in the organization of
the common life of man on the material side, should have been an age of
wars and rumours of wars, culminating in the vastest and most
destructive conflict that this globe of ours has ever witnessed? What
explanation could we give of this to a visitor from the moon or to those
creatures of inferior species whom, as Sir E. Ray Lankester has told us,
it is our function, thanks to our natural superiority, to command and

This brings us to the second great branch of our subject--the progress
of mankind in the art of living together in the world.

Government, as we have seen, covers the whole social life of man: for
the principles that regulate human association are inherent in the
nature of man. But in what follows we shall perforce confine ourselves
mainly to the sphere of what is ordinarily called politics, that is to
the recognized and authoritative form of human association called the
State, as opposed to the innumerable subordinate or voluntary bodies and
relationships, which pervade every department of man's common life.

The progress of Government in this second sphere may be defined as the
deepening and extension of man's duty towards his neighbour. It is to be
reckoned, not in terms of knowledge and organization, but of character.
The ultimate goal of human government, in the narrower sense, as of all
social activity--let us never forget it--is liberty, to set free the
life of the spirit. 'Liberty,' said Lord Acton, who could survey the
ages with a wealth of knowledge to which no other man, perhaps, ever
attained, 'Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is
itself the highest political end. It is not for the sake of a good
public administration that it is required but for security in the
pursuit of the highest objects of civil society and of private
life.'[60] Government is needed in order to enable human life to become,
not efficient or well-informed or well-ordered, but simply good; and
Lord Acton believed, as the Greeks and generations of Englishmen
believed before him, that it is only in the soil of liberty that the
human spirit can grow to its full stature, and that a political system
based upon any other principle than that of responsible self-government
acts as a bar at the outset to the pursuit of what he called 'the
highest objects of civil society or of private life'. For though a
slave, or a man living under a servile political system, may develop
many fine qualities of character: yet such virtues will, in Milton's
words, be but 'fugitive and cloistered', 'unexercised and unbreathed'.
For liberty, and the responsibilities that it involves, are the school
of character and the appointed means by which men can best serve their
neighbours. A man deprived of such opportunities, cut off from the
quickening influence of responsibility, has, as Homer said long ago
'lost half his manhood'. He may be a loyal subject, a brave soldier, a
diligent and obedient workman: but he will not be a full-grown man.
Government will have starved and stunted him in that which it is the
supreme object of government to develop and set free.

It is idle, then, to talk in general terms about the extension of
government as a good thing, whether in relation to the individual
citizen or to the organization of the world into an international State.
We have always first to ask: What kind of Government? On what principles
will it be based? What ideal will it set forth? What kind of common life
will it provide or allow to its citizens? If the whole world were
organized into one single State, and that State, supreme in its control
over Nature, were armed with all the knowledge and organization that
the ablest and most farseeing brains in the world could supply, yet
mankind might be worse off under its sway, in the real essentials of
human life, than if they were painted savages. 'Though I have the gift
of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge: and though I
have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity,
I am nothing.' Government may be the organization of goodness, or the
organization of evil. It may provide the conditions by which the common
life of society can develop along the lines of man's spiritual nature:
or it may take away the very possibility of such a development. Till we
know what a Government stands for, do not let us judge it by its
imposing externals of organization. The Persian Empire was more imposing
than the Republics of Greece: Assyria and Babylon than the little tribal
divisions of Palestine: the Spanish Empire than the cities of the
Netherlands. There is some danger that, in our new-found sense of the
value of knowledge in promoting happiness, we should forget what a
tyrant knowledge, like wealth, can become. No doubt, just as we saw that
moral qualities, patience and the like, are needed for the advancement
of knowledge, so knowledge is needed, and greatly needed, in the task of
extending and deepening the moral and spiritual life of mankind. But we
cannot measure that progress in terms of knowledge or organization or
efficiency or culture. We need some other standard by which to judge
between Greece and Persia, between Israel and Babylon, between Spain and
the Netherlands, between Napoleon and his adversaries, and between
contending powers in the modern world. What shall that standard be?

It must be a similar standard--let us boldly say it--to that by which we
judge between individuals. It must be a standard based on our sense of
right and wrong. But right and wrong in themselves will not carry us
very far, any more than they will carry the magistrate on the bench or
the merchant in his counting-house. Politics, like business, is not the
whole of life--though some party politicians and some business men think
otherwise--but a department of life: both are means, not ends; and as
such they have developed special rules and codes of their own, based on
experience in their own special department. In so far as they are framed
in accordance with man's spiritual nature and ideals these rules may be
considered to hold good and to mark the stage of progress at which
Politics and Business have respectively arrived in promoting the common
weal in their own special sphere. With the rules of business, or what is
called Political Economy, we have at the moment no concern. It is the
rules of politics, or the working experience of rulers, crystallized in
what is called Political Science or Political Philosophy, to which we
must devote a few moments' attention.

We are all of us, of course, political philosophers. Whether we have
votes or not, whether we are aware of it or not, we all have views on
political philosophy and we are all constantly making free use of its
own peculiar principles and conceptions. Law, the State, Liberty,
Justice, Democracy are words that are constantly on our lips. Let us try
to form a clear idea of the place which these great historic ideals
occupy in the progress of mankind.

The great political thinkers of the world have always been clear in
their own minds as to the ultimate goal of their own particular study.
Political thought may be said to have originated with the Jewish
prophets, who were the first to rebuke kings to their faces and to set
forth the spiritual aims of politics--to preach Righteousness and Mercy
as against Power and Ambition and Self-interest. Their soaring
imagination, less systematic than the Greek intellect, was wider in its
sweep and more farseeing in its predictions. 'As the earth bringeth
forth her bud and as the garden causeth the things sown in it to spring
forth', says Isaiah, in magnificent anticipation of the doctrine of
Natural Law, 'so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to
spring forth before all the nations.' 'Peace, peace, to him that is far
off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord, and I will heal him: but
the wicked are like the troubled sea when it cannot rest, whose waters
cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, for the wicked.'
'Out of Zion shall go forth the Law and the word of the Lord from
Jerusalem. And he shall judge between the nations and shall reprove many
peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their
spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against
nation, neither shall they learn war any more.'[61]

It was, however, Plato and Aristotle who first made politics a branch of
separate study: and, unlike many of their modern successors, they
pursued it throughout in close connexion with the kindred studies of
ethics and psychology. Their scope was, of course, confined to the field
of their own experience, the small self-contained City-States of Greece,
and it did not fall within their province to foreshadow, like the Jewish
Prophets, the end of warfare, or to speculate on the ultimate unity of
mankind. Their task was to interpret the work of their own
fellow-countrymen on the narrow stage of Greek life. Their lasting
achievement is to have laid down for mankind what a State is, as
compared with other forms of human association, and to have proclaimed,
once and for all, in set terms, that its object is to promote the 'good
life' of its members. 'Every State', says Aristotle in the opening
words of his _Politics_, 'is a community of some kind.' That is to say,
States belong to the same _genus_, as it were, as political parties,
trade unions, cricket clubs, business houses, or such gatherings as
ours. What, then, is the difference between a State and a political
party? 'If all communities', he goes on, 'aim at some good, the State or
political community, which is the highest of all and which embraces all
the rest, aims, and in a greater degree than any other, at the highest

Why is the State the highest of all forms of association? Why should our
citizenship, for instance, take precedence of our trade unionism or our
business obligations? Aristotle replies, and in spite of recent critics
I think the reply still holds good: because, but for the existence of
the State and the reign of law maintained by it, none of these
associations could have been formed or be maintained. 'He who first
founded the State was the greatest of benefactors. For man, when
protected, is the best of animals, but when separated from law and
righteousness, he is the worst of all.' Or, to put it in the resounding
Elizabethan English of Hooker: 'The public power of all societies is
above every soul contained in the same societies. And the principal use
of that power is to give laws to all that are under it; which laws, in
such case, we must obey, unless there be reason showed which may
necessarily enforce that the law of Reason or of God doth enjoin the
contrary. Because except our own private and probable resolutions be by
the law of public determinations overruled, we take away all possibility
of social life in the world.'[62] The Greeks did not deny, as the
example of Socrates shows, the right of private judgement on the
question of obedience to law, or the duty of respect for what Hooker
calls the Law of Reason or of God. Against the authentic voice of
conscience no human authority can or should prevail. But Aristotle
held, with Hooker, that obedience to law and faithful citizenship are
themselves matters normally ordained by the law of Reason or of God and
that, as against those of any other association ([Greek: koinônia]), the
claims of the State are paramount. In other words, he would deny what is
sometimes loosely called the _right_ of rebellion, whilst not closing
the door to that _duty_ of rebellion which has so often advanced the
cause of liberty. When Aristotle speaks of the State, moreover, he does
not mean a sovereign authority exercising arbitrary power, as in Persia
or Babylon: he means an authority administering Law and Justice
according to recognized standards: and he is thinking of Law and
Justice, not simply as part of the apparatus of government but as based
upon moral principles. 'Righteousness', he says, 'is the bond of men in
States and the administration of Justice, which is the determination of
what is righteous, is the principle of order in political society.' 'Of
Law', says Hooker,[63] here as elsewhere echoing the ancients, 'there
can be no less acknowledged than that her seat is the bosom of God, her
voice the harmony of the world.' The State takes precedence of the party
or the trade union because, however idealistic in their policy these
latter may be, the State covers all, not merely a section of the
community, and is able not merely to proclaim but to enforce the rule of
law and justice. Put in modern language, one might define the Greek idea
of the State as the Organization of Mutual Aid.

The Greek States did not remain true to this high ideal. Faced with the
temptations of power they descended almost to the level of the oriental
monarchies with which they were contrasted. But even had they remained
faithful to their philosophers' ideal of public service they would not
have survived. Unable to transcend the limits of their own narrow
State-boundaries and to merge their ideals with those of their
neighbours, they were helpless in the face of the invader. First
Macedonia and then Rome swept over them, and political idealism
slumbered for many centuries. Rome gave the world, what it greatly
needed, centuries of peace and order and material prosperity: it built
up an enduring fabric of law on principles of Reason and Humanity: it
did much to give men, what is next to the political sense, the social
sense. It made men members of one another from Scotland to Syria and
from Portugal to Baghdad. But it did not give them 'the good life' in
its fullness: for it did not, perhaps it could not, give them liberty.
Faced with the choice between efficiency and the diffusion of
responsibility, the rulers of the Roman Empire unhesitatingly chose
efficiency. But the atrophy of responsibility proved the canker at the
heart of the Empire. Deprived of the stimulus that freedom and the habit
of responsibility alone can give, the Roman world sank gradually into
the morass of Routine. Life lost its savour and grew stale, flat and
unprofitable, as in an old-style Government office. 'The intolerable
sadness inseparable from such a life', says Renan, 'seemed worse than
death.' And when the barbarians came and overturned the whole fabric of
bureaucracy, though it seemed to educated men at the time the end of
civilization, it was in reality the beginning of a new life.

Amid the wreckage of the Roman Empire, one governing institution alone
remained upright--the Christian Church with its organization for
ministering to the spiritual needs of its members. With the conversion
of the barbarians to Christianity the governing functions and influence
of the Church became more and more important; and it was upon the basis
of Church government that political idealism, so long in abeyance, was
reawakened. The thinkers who took up the work of Plato and Aristotle on
the larger stage of the Holy Roman Empire boldly looked forward to the
time when mankind should be united under one government and that
government should embody the highest ideals of mankind. Such an ideal
seemed indeed to many one of the legacies of the Founder of
Christianity. The familiar petition in the Lord's Prayer: _thy kingdom
come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven_ sounded, in the ears
of Dante and Thomas Aquinas and innumerable theologians and canonists,
as a prayer and a pledge for the ultimate political unity of mankind on
the basis of Christian Law. Such a belief was indeed the bedrock of
mediaeval political thought. To devout Christians, brought up in the
oecumenical traditions of the Roman Empire,

     'every ordering of a human community must appear as a
     component part of that ordering of the world which exists
     because God exists, and every earthly group must appear as
     an organic member of that _Civitas Dei_, that God-State,
     which comprehends the heavens and the earth.[1] ... Thus the
     Theory of Human Society must accept the divinely created
     organization of the Universe as a prototype of the first
     principles which govern the construction of human
     communities.... Therefore, in all centuries of the Middle
     Age, Christendom, which in destiny is identical with
     Mankind, is set before us as a single, universal Community,
     founded and governed by God Himself. Mankind is one
     "mystical body"; it is one single and internally connected
     "people" or "folk"; it is an all-embracing corporation,
     which constitutes that Universal Realm, spiritual and
     temporal, which may be called the Universal Church, or, with
     equal propriety, the Commonwealth of the Human Race.
     Therefore, that it may attain its one purpose, it needs One
     Law and One Government.'[64]

But the mediaeval ideal, like the Greek, broke down in practice. 'Where
the Middle Ages failed', says the Master of Balliol, continuing a
passage already quoted, 'was in attempting ... to make politics the
handmaid of religion, to give the Church the organization and form of a
political State, that is, to turn religion from an indwelling spirit
into an ecclesiastical machinery.' In other words, the mediaeval attempt
broke down through neglecting the special conditions and problems of the
political department of life, through declining, as it were, to
specialize. While men were discussing the Theory of the Two Swords,
whether the Emperor derived his power directly from God or indirectly
through the Pope, or whether the sword should be used at all, the actual
work of government in laying the foundations of the good life was
neglected. Not only Liberty but Justice and Order were largely in
abeyance and the range of State action which we to-day describe as
'social legislation' was not even dreamed of. Absorbed in theory or
wrapped in ignorance, men forget the practical meaning of Statehood and
its responsibilities. Central Europe languished for centuries, under a
sham Empire, in the unprogressive anarchy of feudalism. 'The feudal
system', it has been said,[65] 'was nothing more nor less than the
attempt of a society which had failed to organize itself as a State, to
make contract do the work of patriotism.' It is the bitter experience
which Germany went through under the anarchy of feudalism and petty
governments, lasting to well within living memory, which by a natural
reaction has led the German people, under Prussian tutelage, to cling to
the conception of the State as Power and nothing more.

The study of politics had to become secular before it could once more
become practical, and, by being practical, ministering to practical
ideals and enlisting practical devotion, become, as it were, sacred
once more. Where the well-being of our fellow men is concerned it is not
enough to be well-meaning. Government is an art, not an aspiration: and
those who are concerned with it, whether as rulers or voters, should
have studied its problems, reflected on its possibilities and
limitations, and fitted themselves to profit by its accumulated

Since the close of the Middle Ages, when politics became secular, the
art of government has advanced by giant strides. Invention has followed
invention, and experiment experiment, till to-day skilled specialists in
the Old World and the New are at hand to watch and to record the latest
devices for dealing with a hundred difficult special problems--whether
it be the administration of justice or patronage, the organization of
political parties, the fixing of Cabinet responsibility, the
possibilities and limits of federalism, the prevention of war. There
has, indeed, been as great an advance in the political art in the last
four centuries and particularly in the last century, as in the very
kindred art of medicine. The wonderful concentration of energy which the
various belligerent powers have been able to throw into the present war
is at once the best and the most tragic illustration of this truth.
Man's common life in the State is more real, more charged with meaning
and responsibility, more potent for good or for ill than it has ever
been before--than our predecessors even in the time of Napoleon could
have dreamed of.

The greatest inventors and most skilful practitioners of the political
art in the modern world have been the English, for it is the English
who, of all nations, have held closest to the ideal of freedom in its
many and various manifestations. Superficially regarded, the English are
a stupid people, and so their continental neighbours have often
regarded them. But their racial heritage and their island situation seem
to have given them just that combination of experience and natural
endowment necessary to success in the task of government. Taken as a
whole, the English are not brilliant, but they are clear-headed: they
are not far-sighted, but they can see the fact before their eyes: they
are ill equipped with theoretical knowledge, but they understand the
working of institutions and have a good eye for judging character: they
have little constructive imagination of the more grandiose sort, but
they have an instinct for the 'next step' which has often set them on
paths which have led them far further than they dreamed; above all, they
have a relatively high standard of individual character and public duty,
without which no organization involving the free co-operation of man and
man can hope to be effective. It is this unique endowment of moral
qualities and practical gifts, coupled with unrivalled opportunities,
which has made the English the pioneers in modern times in the art of
human association. Englishmen, accustomed to what eighteenth-century
writers used to call 'the peculiar felicity of British freedom', do not
always remember how far their own experience has carried them on the
road of political progress. They do not realize how many problems they
have solved and abolished, as the art of medicine has abolished
diseases. When they hear speak of the eternal conflict between
Nationality and Nationality, they often forget that a war between
England and Scotland has long since become unthinkable and that the
platitudes of St. Andrew's Day are still paradoxes in Central and
Eastern Europe. When they are told of States where the spontaneous
manifestations of group-life, non-conforming sects, workmen's
associations, and ordinary social clubs, are driven underground and
classed as dangerous secret societies, they should realize how precious
a thing is that freedom of association which is one of the dearest
attributes of English liberty. So too when they read of monarchical and
military supremacy in a country like Germany, which is still politically
speaking in the stage of England under the Tudors, or of Russian
autocracy, or of the struggle over the King's prerogative which has been
taking place in Greece. If we believe, as we must, in the cause of
liberty, let us not be too modest to say that nations which have not yet
achieved responsible self-government, whether within or without the
British Commonwealth, are politically backward, and let us recall the
long stages of political invention by which our own self-government has
been achieved. Representation, trial by jury, an independent judiciary,
equality before the law, habeas corpus, a limited monarchy, the practice
of ministerial responsibility, religious toleration, the freedom of
printing and association, colonial autonomy--all these are distinctly
English inventions, but time has shown that most of them are definite
additions to the universal art of government. We can survey the Balkans,
for instance, and say with confidence that one thing, amongst others,
that those nations are in need of is toleration, both in the sphere of
nationality and of religion: or declare of the United States that their
industrial future will be menaced till they have freed Trade Unionism
from the threat of the so-called law of Conspiracy: or ask of our own
so-called self-governing Dominions whether they are content with a
system that concedes them no responsible control over the issues of
peace and war. This is not to say that our own governmental machinery is
perfect. Far from it. It was never in greater need of overhauling. It is
only to reaffirm the belief, which no temporary disillusionment can
shake, that it is founded on enduring principles which are not political
but moral. To compare a system which aims at freedom and seeks to
attain that aim through the working of responsible self-government with
systems, however logically perfect or temporarily effective, which set
no value on either, is, as it were, to compare black with white. It is
to go back on the lessons of centuries of experience and to deny the
cause, not of liberty alone, but of that progress of the spirit of man
which it is the highest object of liberty to promote.

We have no time here to discuss in detail the various English inventions
in the art of politics, but we must pause to consider two of the most
important, because they are typical of British methods. The first is the
invention called the Principle of Representation. Representation is a
device by which, and by which alone, the area of effective government
can be extended without the sacrifice of liberty. It is a device by
which the scattered many can make their will prevail over the few at the
centre. Under any non-representative system, whether in a State or a
Church or a Trade Union or any other association, men always find
themselves set before the inexorable dilemma between freedom and
weakness on the one hand and strength and tyranny on the other. Either
the State or the association has to be kept small, so that the members
themselves can meet and keep in touch with all that goes on. Or it is
allowed to expand and grow strong, in which case power becomes
concentrated at the centre and the great body of members loses all
effective control. The ancient world saw no way out of this dilemma. The
great Oriental monarchies never contemplated even the pretence of
popular control. The city-states of Greece, where democracy originated,
set such store in consequence by the personal liberty of the individual
citizen, that they preferred to remain small, and suffered the
inevitable penalty of their weakness. Rome, growing till she
overshadowed the world, sacrificed liberty in the process. Nor was the
Christian Church, when it became a large-scale organization, able to
overcome the dilemma. It was not till thirteenth-century England that a
way out was found. Edward I in summoning two burgesses from each borough
and two knights from each shire to his model Parliament in 1295, hit on
a method of doing business which was destined to revolutionize the art
of government. He stipulated that the men chosen by their fellows to
confer with him must come, to quote the exact words of the summons,
armed with 'full and sufficient power for themselves and for the
community of the aforesaid county, and the said citizens and burgesses
for themselves and the communities of the aforesaid cities and boroughs
separately, there and then, for doing what shall then be ordained
according to the Common Council in the premises, so that the aforesaid
business shall not remain unfinished in any way for defect of this
power'. In other words, the members were to come to confer with the king
not as individuals speaking for themselves alone, but as
representatives. Their words and acts were to bind those on whose behalf
they came, and those who chose them were to do so in the full knowledge
that they would be so bound. In choosing them the electors deliberately
surrendered their own share of initiative and sovereignty and combined
to bestow it on a fellow citizen whom they trusted. In this way, and in
this way alone, the people of Cornwall and of Northumberland could bring
their wishes to bear and play their part, together with the people at
the centre, in the government of a country many times the size of a
city-state of ancient Greece. There had been assemblies before in all
ages of history: but this was something different. It was a Parliament.

Representation seems to us such an obvious device that we often forget
how comparatively modern it is and what a degree of responsibility and
self-control it demands both in the representative and in those whom he
represents. It is very unpleasant to hear of things done or acquiesced
in by our representatives of which we disapprove, and to have to
remember that it is our own fault for not sending a wiser or braver man
to Westminster in his place. It is still more unpleasant for a
representative to feel, as he often must, that his own honest opinion
and conscience draw him one way on a matter of business and the opinions
of most of his constituents another. But these are difficulties inherent
in the system, and for which there is no remedy but sincerity and
patience. It is part of the bargain that a constituency should not be
able to disavow a representative: and that a representative should feel
bound to use his own best judgement on the issues put before him. To
turn the representative, as there is a tendency to do in some quarters,
into a mere mouthpiece with a mandate, is to ignore the very problem
which made representation necessary, and to presume that a local
mass-meeting can be as well informed or take as wide a view as those who
have all the facts before them at the centre. The ancient Greeks, who
had a strong sense of individuality, were loth to believe that any one
human being could make a decision on behalf of another. In the deepest
sense of course they were right. But government, as has been said, is at
best a rough business. Representation is no more than a practical
compromise: but it is a compromise which has been found to work. It has
made possible the extension of free government to areas undreamed of. It
has enabled the general sense of the inhabitants of the United States,
an area nearly as large as Europe, to be concentrated at Washington, and
it may yet make it possible to collect the sense of self-governing
Dominions in four continents in a Parliament at London. All this lay
implicit in the practical instructions sent by the English king to his
sheriffs; but its development would only have been possible in a
community where the general level of character was a high one and where
men were, therefore, in the habit of placing implicit trust in one
another. The relationship of confidence between a member of Parliament
and his constituents, or a Trade Union leader and his rank and file, is
a thing of which public men are rightly proud: for it reflects honour on
both parties and testifies to an underlying community of purpose which
no passing disagreement on details can break down.

Representation paved the way for the modern development of responsible
self-government. But it is important to recognize that the two are not
the same thing. Responsible self-government, in its modern form, is a
separate and more complex English invention in the art of government. A
community may be decked out with a complete apparatus of representative
institutions and yet remain little better than an autocracy. Modern
Germany is a case in point. The parliamentary suffrage for the German
Reichstag is more representative than that for the British House of
Commons. The German workman is better represented in his Parliament than
the British workman is in ours. But the German workman has far less
power to make his will effective in matters of policy than the British,
because the German constitution does not embody the principle of
responsible self-government. Sovereignty still rests with the Kaiser as
it rested in the thirteenth century with Edward I. The Imperial
Chancellor is not responsible to the Reichstag but to the Kaiser, by
whom he is appointed and whose personal servant he remains. The
Reichstag can discuss the actions of the Chancellor: it can advise him,
or protest to him, or even pass votes of censure against him; but it
cannot make its will effective. We can observe the working of similar
representative institutions in different parts of the British
Commonwealth. The provinces of India and many British Colonies have
variously composed representative assemblies, but in all cases without
the power to control their executives. The self-governing Dominions, on
the other hand, do enjoy responsible self-government, but in an
incomplete form, because the most vital of all issues of policy are
outside their control. On questions of foreign policy, and the issues of
war and peace, the Parliaments of the Dominions, and the citizens they
represent, are, constitutionally speaking, as helpless as the most
ignorant native in the humblest dependency. Representative institutions
in themselves thus no more ensure real self-government than the setting
up of a works committee of employees in a factory would ensure that the
workmen ran the factory. The distinction between representation and
effective responsibility is so simple that it seems a platitude to
mention it. Yet it is constantly ignored, both in this country by those
who speak of Colonial self-government as though the Dominions really
enjoyed the same self-government as the people of these islands, and by
the parties in Germany whose programme it is, not to make Germany a
truly constitutional country, but to assimilate the retrograde Prussian
franchise to the broader representation of the Reichstag.

Wherein does the transition from representation to full responsibility
consist? It came about in England when Parliament, instead of merely
being consulted by the sovereign, felt itself strong enough to give
orders to the sovereign. The sovereign naturally resisted, as the Kaiser
and the Tsar will resist in their turn; but in this country the battle
was fought and won in the seventeenth century. Since that time, with a
few vacillations, Parliament has been the sovereign power. But once this
transfer of sovereignty has taken place, a new problem arises. A
Parliament of several hundred members, even though it meets regularly,
is not competent to transact the multitudinous and complex and highly
specialized business of a modern State. The original function of
Parliament was to advise, to discuss, and to criticize. It is not an
instrument fit for the work of execution and administration. Having
become sovereign, its first business must be to create out of its own
members an instrument which should carry out its own policy and be
responsible to itself for its actions. Hence arose the Cabinet. The
Cabinet is, as it were, a distillation of Parliament, just as Parliament
itself is a distillation of the country. It consists of members of
Parliament and it is in constant touch with Parliament; but its methods
are not the methods of Parliament but of the older, more direct, organs
of government which Parliament superseded. It meets in secret: it holds
all the strings of policy: it has almost complete control of political
and legislative initiative: it decides what is to be done and when and
how: it has its own staff of agents and confidential advisers in the
Departments and elsewhere whose acts are largely withdrawn from the
knowledge and criticism of Parliament. A modern Cabinet in fact is open
to the charge of being autocracy in a new guise. Such a charge would, of
course, be a gross overstatement. But there is no doubt that the
increasing complexity in the tasks of government has led to a
corresponding growth of power and organization at the centre which has
strengthened the Cabinet immeasurably of recent years at the expense of
the direct representatives of the people. There are, however, powerful
influences at work in the opposite direction, towards decentralization
and new forms of representation, which there is no space to touch on
here. Suffice it to say that here, as elsewhere, the price of liberty is
eternal vigilance.

England, then, and all who enjoy the full privileges of British
citizenship have been placed by the progress of events in a position of
peculiar responsibility. The twentieth century finds us the centre of
the widest experiment of self-government which the world has ever seen;
for the principles of liberty, first tested in this island, have
approved themselves on the soil of North America, Australasia, and South
Africa. It finds us also responsible for the government and for the
training in responsibility of some 350,000,000 members of the more
politically inexperienced and backward races of mankind, or about
one-fifth of the human race. The growth of the British Commonwealth,
about which so astonishingly little is known either by ourselves or by
other peoples, is not a mere happy or unhappy accident. It is one of the
inevitable and decisive developments in the history of mankind. It is
the direct result of that widening of intercourse, that
internationalizing of the world, to which reference has already been
made. It represents the control of law and organized government over the
blind and selfish forces of exploitation. In the exercise of this
control we have often ourselves been blind and sometimes selfish. But
'the situation of man', as Burke finely said of our Indian Empire, 'is
the preceptor of his duty'. The perseverance of the British character,
its habit of concentration on the work that lies to hand, and the
influence of our traditional social and political ideals, have slowly
brought us to a deeper insight, till to-day the Commonwealth is becoming
alive to the real nature of its task--the extension and consolidation of
liberty. If it has thus taken up, in part, the work of the mediaeval
Empire and has had a measure of success where the other failed, it is
because of the character of its individual citizens, because despite
constant and heart-breaking failures in knowledge and imagination, we
are a people who, in the words of a stern, if friendly, critic, 'with
great self-assertion and a bull-dog kind of courage, have yet a
singular amount of gentleness and tenderness'.[66]

       *       *       *       *       *

We have come to the end of our long survey. Some of you may feel that I
have fetched too wide a compass and given too wide an extension to the
meaning of government. But if I have sinned I have sinned of set
purpose. I refuse to confine government within the limits of what is
ordinarily called politics, or to discuss the association called the
State in isolation from other sides of man's community life. To do so, I
feel, is to lay oneself open to one of two opposite errors: the error of
those for whom the State is the Almighty, and who invest it with a
superhuman morality and authority of its own; and the error of those who
draw in their skirts in horror from the touch of what Nietzsche called
this 'cold monster' and take refuge in monastic detachment from the
political responsibilities of their time. We must be able to see
politics as a part of life before we can see it steadily and see it
whole. We must be able to see it in relation to the general ordering of
the world and to connect it once more, as in the Middle Ages, with
religion and morality. No thinking man can live through such a time as
this and preserve his faith unless he is sustained by the belief that
the clash of States which is darkening our generation is not a mere
blind collision of forces, but has spiritual bearings which affect each
individual living soul born or to be born in the world. It is not for us
to anticipate the verdict of history. But what we can do is to bear
ourselves worthily, in thought and speech, like our soldiers in action,
of the times in which we live--to testify, as it were, in our own lives,
to that for which so many of our friends have laid down theirs. We are
met at a culminating moment of human fate--when, so far as human
judgement can discern, the political destinies of this planet are being
settled for many generations to come--perhaps for good. If the task of
leadership in the arts of government remains with us, let us face the
responsibility conscious of the vast spiritual issues which it involves,
and let us so plan and act that history, looking back on these years of
blood, may date from them a new birth of freedom and progress, not for
ourselves in this country alone but throughout that kingdom of Man which
must one day, as we believe, become in very truth the kingdom of God.


1. _Man's Control over Nature_:

   Ray Lankester, _The Kingdom of Man_, and other essays. 1912.

   Demolins, _Comment la route crée le type social_.

   Curtis (ed. by), _The Commonwealth of Nations_. Vol. i, 1916.

   Murphy, _The Basis of Ascendancy_. 1909.

   _Introduction to the Study of International Relations_ (Greenwood
   and others). 1916.

2. _Political Ideals_:

   _The Jews_: Todd, _Politics and Religion in Ancient Israel_. 1904.

   _Greece_: _Aristotle's Politics_, translated by B. Jowett. 1908.

   Dickinson, _The Greek View of Life_. 1909.

   Barker, _The Political thought of Plato and Aristotle_. 1908.

   _Rome_: H. Stuart Jones, _The Roman Empire_. (Story of the
   Nations.) 1908. Warde Fowler, _Rome_ (Home University

   _The Middle Ages_: A. L. Smith, _Church and State in the Middle
   Ages_. 1911.

   Gierke, _Political Theories of the Middle Ages_ (introduction by
   Maitland). 1900.

   _Miscellaneous_: Wallas, _Human Nature in Politics_. 1908.

   Acton, _The History of Freedom_, and other essays. 1909.

   Lowell, _The Government of England_.

   Bülow, _Imperial Germany_. 1916.


[53] A. L. Smith, _Church and State in the Middle Ages_, pp. 207-8.

[54] Lankester, _Nature and Man_, Romanes Lecture, 1905, pp. 27-9.

[55] _The Commonwealth of Nations_, edited by L. Curtis, Part I, p. 130.

[56] Ibid., p. 166.

[57] P. H. Kerr in _An Introduction to the Study of International
Relations_, 1915, p. 149.

[58] A still better name would be the Great Responsibilities.

[59] _Second Thoughts of an Economist_, 1916, pp. 17-18, 22.

[60] _Freedom and other Essays_, p. 22.

[61] Isaiah lxvi. 2; lvii. 19, 21; ii. 3, 4.

[62] _Ecclesiastical Polity_, Book I, ch. xvi. 5.

[63] End of Book I of the _Ecclesiastical Polity_.

[64] Gierke, _Political Theories of the Middle Age_, pp. 8 and 10.

[65] _The Commonwealth of Nations_, Part I, p. 73.

[66] _Memoirs and letters of Sir Robert Morier_, ii. 276.




In our study of Government we traced the upward course of the common
life of mankind in the world. We saw it in the increasing control of Man
over his physical environment, and we saw it also in his clearer
realization of the ultimate ideal of government--the ordering of the
world's affairs on the basis of liberty. We have now to turn aside from
this main stream of social development to watch one particular branch of
it--to survey man's record in the special department of economics. We
shall no longer be studying human history, or the history of human
society, as a whole, but what is known as economic or industrial

It is important to be clear at the outset that economic or industrial
history _is_ a tributary stream and not the main stream: for there are a
number of people who are of the contrary opinion. There has been an
increasing tendency of recent years to write human history in terms of
economic or industrial progress. 'Tell me what men ate or wore or
manufactured,' say historians of this school, 'and we will tell you what
stage of civilization he had reached. We will place him in his proper
pigeonhole in our arrangement of the record of human progress.' Did he
use flint implements or fight with nothing but a bow and arrow? Did he
use a canoe with a primitive pole which he had not even the sense to
flatten so as to make it into a serviceable paddle? Then our
sociologist will put him very low down on his list of the stages of
human progress. For the modern sociologist is a confirmed plutocrat. He
measures the character of men and races by their wealth. Just as
old-fashioned people still think of the society of our own country as a
hierarchy, in which the various classes are graded according to their
social prestige and the extent of their possessions: so students of
primitive civilization classify races according to their material
equipment, and can hardly help yielding to the temptation of reckoning
their stage of progress as a whole by the only available test. Thus it
is common, especially in Germany and the United States, to find
histories of what purports to be the progress of mankind which show man
first as a hunter and a fisherman, then as a shepherd, then as a tiller
of the soil, and then work upwards to the complicated industrial system
of to-day. We are asked to accept the life of Abraham or David among the
sheepfolds as the bottom of the ladder, and the life of a modern
wage-earner under the smoky sky of a manufacturing area as the top; and
when we complain and say, as men like William Morris and Stephen Graham
are always saying, that we would far prefer to live in David's world, in
spite of all its discomforts, we are told that we have no right to
quarrel with the sacred principle of Evolution.

To interpret human history in this way is, of course, to deny its
spiritual meaning, to deny that it is a record of the progress of the
human _spirit_ at all. It is to read it as a tale of the improvement, or
rather the increasing complication, of _things_, rather than of the
advance of man. It is to view the world as a Domain of Matter, not as
the Kingdom of Man--still less, as the Kingdom of God. It is to tie us
helplessly to the chariot wheels of an industrial Juggernaut which knows
nothing of moral values. Let the progress of industry make life noisy
and ugly and anxious and unhappy: let it engross the great mass of
mankind in tedious and uncongenial tasks and the remainder in the
foolish and unsatisfying activities of luxurious living; let it defile
the green earth with pits and factories and slag-heaps and the mean
streets of those who toil at them, and dim the daylight with exhalations
of monstrous vapour. It is not for us to complain or to resist: for we
are in the grip of a Power which is greater than ourselves, a Power to
which mankind in all five continents has learnt to yield--that Economic
Process which is, in truth, the God, or the Devil, of the modern world.

No thinking man dare acquiesce in such a conclusion or consent to bow
the head before such fancied necessities. The function of industry, he
will reply, is to serve human life not to master it: to beautify human
life not to degrade it: to set life free not to enslave it. Economics is
not the whole of life: and when it transgresses its bounds and exceeds
its functions it must be controlled and thrust back into its place by
the combined activities of men. The soul is higher than the body, and
life is more than housekeeping. Liberty is higher than Riches, and the
welfare of the community more important than its economic and material
progress. These great processes, which the increase of man's knowledge
has set in motion, are not impersonal inhuman forces: Men originated
them: men administer them: and men must control them. Against economic
necessity let us set political necessity: and let the watchword of that
political necessity, here as always, be the freedom and the well-being
of mankind.

With this caution in mind, then, let us approach our subject.

What is Economics? Economics is simply the Greek for 'house-keeping'. If
writers and thinkers on the subject had only kept this simple fact in
mind, or used the English word instead of the Greek, the world would
have been saved much misery and confusion. Political economy is not,
what Mill and other writers define it to be, 'the Science of Wealth'. It
is the art of community-housekeeping, and community-housekeeping, as
every woman knows, is a very important if subsidiary branch of the art
of community-management or government.

Housekeeping, of course, is not a selfish but a social function.
Housewives do not lay in bread and cheese simply to gratify their own
desire to be possessors of a large store, but for the sake of their
household. The true housekeeper or economic man is the man who is
consciously ministering to the real needs of the community. Like the
ruler or minister in the political sphere, he is a man who is performing
a public service.

This is equally true whether the housekeeper has a monopoly of the
purchase of bread and cheese for the household, or whether he or she has
to compete with others as to which is to be allowed to serve the public
in that particular transaction. Just as, under the party system, which
seems to be inseparable from the working of democratic institutions, men
stand for Parliament and compete for the honour of representing their
neighbours, so in most systems of industry men compete for the honour of
supplying the public. Competition in industry is practically as old as
industry. In the earliest picture that has come down to us of Greek
village life we read of the competition between potter and potter and
between minstrel and minstrel--a competition as keen and as fierce, we
may be sure, as that between rival shopkeepers to-day. For the opposite
of competition, as has been truly said, is not co-operation but monopoly
or bureaucracy: and there is no short and easy means of deciding between
the rival systems. Sometimes the community is better served by
entrusting one department wholly to one purveyor or one system of
management--as in the Postal Service, or the Army and Navy. Sometimes it
is clearly better to leave the matter open to competition. Nobody, for
instance, would propose to do with only one minstrel, and seal the lips
of all poets but the Poet Laureate. Sometimes, as in the case of the
organized professions and the liquor trade, a strictly regulated system
of competition has been considered best. No doubt the tendency at the
present time is setting strongly against competition and towards more
unified and more closely organized systems of doing business. But it is
important to make quite clear that there is nothing immoral or
anti-social about the fact of competition itself, and nothing
inconsistent with the idea of service and co-operation which should
underlie all social and economic activity. It is not competition itself,
as people often wrongly think, which is the evil, but the shallow and
selfish motives and the ruthless trampling down of the weak that are too
often associated with it. When we condemn the maxim 'the Devil take the
hindmost', it is not because we think we ought to treat the hindmost as
though he were the foremost--to buy cracked jars or patronize incapable
minstrels. It is because we feel that there is a wrong standard of
reward among those who have pushed to the front, and that the community
as a whole cannot ignore its responsibility towards its less fortunate
and capable members.

It is, indeed, quite impossible to abolish competition for the patronage
of the household without subjecting its members to tyranny or tying them
down to an intolerable uniformity--forcing them to suppress their own
temporary likes or dislikes and to go on taking in the same stuff in the
same quantities world without end. For the most serious and permanent
competition is not that between rival purveyors of the same goods,
between potter and potter and minstrel and minstrel, but between one
set of goods and another: between the potter and the blacksmith, the
minstrel and the painter. If we abolished competition permanently
between the British railways we could not make sure that the public
would always use them as it does now. People would still be at liberty
to walk or to drive or to bicycle or to fly, or, at the very worst, to
stay at home. Competition, as every business man knows, sometimes arises
from the most unexpected quarters. The picture-house and the bicycle
have damaged the brewer and the publican. Similarly the motor-car and
the golf links have spoilt the trade in the fine china ornaments such as
used to be common in expensively furnished drawing-rooms. People sit
less in their rooms, so spend less on decorating them. The members of
the household always retain ultimate control over their economic life,
if they care to exercise it. 'Whoso has sixpence,' as Carlyle said, 'is
sovereign (to the length of sixpence), over all men; commands Cooks to
feed him, Philosophers to teach him, Kings to mount guard over him,'--to
the length of sixpence. Passive resistance and the boycott are always
open to the public in the last resort against any of their servants who
has abused the powers of his position. A good instance of this occurred
in the events which led to the so-called Tobacco riots in Milan in 1848.
The Austrians thought they could force the Italians in their Lombard
provinces to pay for a government they hated by putting a heavy tax on
tobacco. But the Italians, with more self-control than we have shown in
the present war, with one accord gave up smoking. Here was a plain
competition between a monopoly and the consumer, between tobacco and
patriotism: between a united household and an unpopular servant: and the
household won, as it always can unless its members are incapable of
combined action or have been deprived by governmental tyranny of all
power to associate and to organize.

We are faced then with a community or household which has certain wants
that need to be supplied. The individual members of the community are
justified, within the limits of general well-being,[67] in deciding what
are their own wants and how to satisfy them. They claim the right to
_demand_, as the economists put it, the goods and services they require,
bread and cheese, poetry, tobacco, motor-bicycles, china ornaments. In
order to meet those demands, which are stable in essentials but subject
to constant modification in detail, there is ceaseless activity,
rivalry, competition, on the part of the purveyors--on the side of what
economists call _supply_. The business of housekeeping, or what is
called the economic process, is that of bringing this demand and this
supply into relation with one another. If the members of the household
said they wanted to eat the moon instead of sugar, their demand would
not be an economic demand: for no housekeeper could satisfy it.
Similarly on the supply side: if the baker insisted on bringing round
bad epics instead of bread and the grocer bad sonatas instead of sugar,
the supply, however good it might seem to the baker and the grocer, and
however much satisfaction they might personally have derived from their
work, would not be an economic supply: for the housekeeper, acting on
behalf of the household, would not take it in. But if the demand was for
something not yet available, but less impossibly remote than the moon,
the housekeeper might persuade the purveyors to cudgel their brains till
they had met the need. For, as we know, Necessity, which is another word
for Demand, is the mother of invention. Similarly, if a purveyor
supplied something undreamed of by the household, but otherwise good of
its kind, he might succeed in persuading the household to like it--in
other words, in creating a demand. The late Sir Alfred Jones, by putting
bananas cheap on the market, persuaded us that we liked them. Similarly
Mr. Marvin, who deals in something better than bananas, has persuaded us
all to come here, though most of us would never have thought of it
unless he had created the demand in us.

Economic Progress, then, is progress both on the side of demand and on
the side of supply. It is a progress in wants as well as in their means
of satisfaction: a progress in the aspirations of the household as well
as in the contrivances of its purveyors: a progress in the sense of what
life might be, as well as in the skill and genius and organizing powers
of those to whom the community looks for help in the realization of its
hopes. It is important that this double aspect of our subject should be
realized, for in what follows we shall have no opportunity to dwell
further upon it. Space compels us to leave the household and its wants
and aspirations out of account and to direct our attention solely to the
side of supply; although it must always be remembered that no real and
permanent progress in the organization of production is possible without
improvements in the quality and reduction in the number of the
requirements of what is called civilization.[68] What we have to watch,
in our study of progress in industry, is the history of man as a
purveyor of the household: in other words, as a producer of goods and
services: from the days of the primitive savage with his bark canoe to
the gigantic industrial enterprises of our own time.

We can best do so by dividing our subject into two on somewhat similar
lines to the division in our study of government. Let us consider
industry, first as an activity involving a relationship between man and
Nature; secondly, as involving what may be called a problem of
industrial government, a problem arising out of the co-operation between
man and man in industrial work. In the first of these aspects we shall
see man as a maker, an inventor, an artist; in the second as a subject
or a citizen, a slave or a free man, in the Industrial Commonwealth.

Man as a maker or producer carries us back to the dawn of history. Man
is a tool-using animal and the early stages of human history are a
record of the elaboration of tools. The flint axes in our museums are
the earliest monuments of the activity of the human spirit. We do not
know what the cave men of the Old Stone Age said or thought, or indeed
whether they did anything that we should call speaking or thinking at
all; but we know what they made. Centuries and millenniums elapsed
between them and the first peoples of whom we have any more intimate
record--centuries during which the foundations of our existing
industrial knowledge and practice were being steadily laid. 'One may say
in general,' says Mr. Marvin,[69]

     that most of the fruitful practical devices of mankind had
     their origin in prehistoric times, many of them existing
     then with little essential difference. Any one of them
     affords a lesson in the gradual elaboration of the simple. A
     step minute in itself leads on and on, and so all the
     practical arts are built up, a readier and more observant
     mind imitating and adapting the work of predecessors, as we
     imagined the first man making his first flint axe. The
     history of the plough goes back to the elongation of a bent
     stick. The wheel would arise from cutting out the middle of
     a trunk used as a roller. House architecture is the
     imitation with logs and mud of the natural shelters of the
     rocks, and begins its great development when men have learnt
     to make square corners instead of a rough circle. And so on
     with all the arts of life or pleasure, including clothing,
     cooking, tilling, sailing, and fighting.

How did this gradual progress come about? Mr. Marvin himself supplies
the answer. Through the action of the 'readier and more observant
minds'--in other words, through specialization and the division of
labour. As far back as we can go in history we find a recognition that
men are not all alike, that some have one gift and some another, and
that it is to the advantage of society to let each use his own gift in
the public service. Among primitive peoples there has indeed often been
a belief that men are compensated for physical weakness and disability
by peculiar excellence in some sphere of their own. Hephaestos among the
Greek gods was lame: so he becomes a blacksmith and uses his arms. Homer
is blind: so instead of fighting he sings of war. They would not go so
far as to maintain that all lame men must be good blacksmiths or all
blind men good poets: but at least they recognized that there was room
in the community for special types and that the blacksmith and the poet
were as useful as the ordinary run of cultivators and fighting men. The
Greek word for craftsman--[Greek: dêmiourgos]--'worker for the people,'
shows how the Greeks felt on this point. To them poetry and
craftsmanship were as much honourable occupations or, as we should say,
professional activities as fighting and tilling. Whether Homer took to
poetry because he could not fight or because he had an overwhelming
poetic gift, he had justified his place in the community.

Specialization is the foundation of all craftsmanship and therefore the
source of all industrial progress. We recognize this, of course, in
common speech. 'Practice makes perfect,' 'Genius is an infinite capacity
for taking pains,' are only different ways of saying that it is not
enough to be 'ready' and 'observant', but that continued activity and
concentration are necessary. A perfect industrial community would not be
a community where everybody was doing the same thing: nor would it be a
community where every one was doing just what he liked at the moment: it
would be a community where every one was putting all his strength into
the work which he was by nature best qualified to do--where, in the
words of Kipling:

    No one shall work for money, and no one shall work for fame,
    But each for the joy of the working, and each, in his separate star,
    Shall draw the thing as he sees it for the God of Things as They Are.

Progress in industry, then, on this side, consists in increasing
specialization and in the perfection of the relationship between the
workman and his work. Man in this world is destined to labour, and
labour is often described as the curse of Adam. But in reality, as every
one knows who has tried it, or observed the habits of those who have,
idleness is far more of a curse than labour. Few men--at any rate in the
temperate zone--can be consistently idle and remain happy. The born
idler is almost as rare as the born poet. Most men, and, it must be
added, most women, are happier working. If holidays were the rule and
work the exception the world would be a much less cheerful place than it
is even to-day. Purposeful activity is as natural to man as playing is
to a kitten. From a purely natural point of view, no one has ever given
a better definition of happiness than Aristotle when he defined it as
_an activity of the soul in the direction of excellence in an unhampered
life_. By excellence, of course, in this famous definition, Aristotle
does not mean simply virtue: he means excellence in work. It is
impossible, as we all know, to be good in the abstract. We must be good
in some particular directions, _at_ some particular thing. And the
particular thing that we are good at is _our_ work, our craft, our
art--or, to use our less aesthetic English word, for which there is no
equivalent in Greek, our duty. If happiness is to be found in doing
one's duty, it does not result from doing that duty badly, but from
doing it well--turning out, as we say, a thoroughly good piece of work,
whether a day's work or a life work. There is a lingering idea, still
held in some quarters, that the more unpleasant an activity is the more
virtuous it is. This is a mere barbarous survival from the days of what
Nietzsche called slave-morality. We are each of us born with special
individual gifts and capacities. There is, if we only knew it, some
particular kind or piece of work which we are pre-eminently fitted to
do--some particular activity or profession, be it held in high or in low
repute in the world of to-day, in which we can win the steady happiness
of purposeful labour. Shall we then say that it ministers to human
progress and to the glory of God deliberately to bury our talent out of
sight and to seek rather work which, because it is irksome and
unpleasant to us, we can never succeed in doing either easily or really
well? No one who knows anything of education or of the training of the
young, no one, indeed, who has any love for children, would dare to say
that we should. Our State educational system, miserably defective though
it is in this regard, is based upon the idea of ministering to the
special gifts of its pupils--of trying by scholarships, by Care
Committees, by the institution of schools with a special 'bias', to meet
the needs of different kinds of young people and to set them in the path
on which they are best fitted to travel.

In doing this the modern State is only trying to carry out the
principle laid down in the greatest book ever written on
education--Plato's _Republic_. Plato's object was to train every citizen
to fill the one position where he could lead the best life for the good
of the State. His aim was not to make his citizens happy but to promote
goodness; but he had enough faith in human nature--and who can be an
educational thinker without having faith in human nature?--to be
convinced that to enable men to 'do their bit', as we say to-day, was to
assure them of the truest happiness. We of this generation know how
abundantly that faith has been confirmed. And indeed we can appeal in
this matter not only to the common sense of Education Authorities or to
the philosophy of the ancients, but to the principles of the Christian
religion. The late Professor Smart, who was not only a good economist
but a good man; has some very pertinent words on this subject. 'If for
some reason that we know not of,' he remarks,[70]

     this present is merely the first stage in being; if we are
     all at school, and not merely pitched into the world by
     chance to pick up our living as best we can ... it seems to
     me that we have reason enough to complain of the existing
     economic system.... I imagine that many of our churchgoing
     people, if they ever get to the heaven they sing about, will
     find themselves most uncomfortable, if it be a place for
     which they have made no preparation but in the 'business' in
     which they have earned their living.... A man's daily work
     is a far greater thing towards the development of the God
     that is in him than his wealth. And, however revolutionary
     the idea is, I must say that all our accumulations of wealth
     are little to the purpose of life if they do not tend
     towards the giving to all men the opportunity of such work
     as will have its reward _in the doing_.

And of his own particular life-work, teaching, he remarks, in words that
testify to his own inner peace and happiness, that 'some of us have got
into occupations which almost seem to guarantee immortality'.

Let us, then, boldly lay it down that the best test of progress in
industry and the best measure of success in any industrial system is the
degree to which it enables men to 'do their bit' and so to find
happiness in their daily work, or if you prefer more distinctively
religious language, the degree to which it enables men to develop the
God that is in them. Let us have the courage to say that in the great
battle which Ruskin and William Morris fought almost single-handed
against all the Philistines of the nineteenth century, Ruskin and
Morris, however wrong they may have been on points of practical detail,
were right in principle. Let us make up our minds that a world in which
men have surrendered the best hours of the day to unsatisfying drudgery,
and banished happiness to their brief periods of tired leisure, is so
far from civilized that it has not even made clear to itself wherein
civilization consists. And when we read such a passage as the following
from a leading modern economist, let us not yield to the promptings of
our lower nature and acquiesce in its apparent common sense, but
remember that economists, like all workmen, are bounded by the limits of
their own particular craft or study. 'The greater part of the world's
work,' says Professor Taussig,[71] the leading exponent of Economics at

     is not in itself felt to be pleasurable. Some reformers have
     hoped to reach a social system under which all work would be
     in itself a source of satisfaction. It is probable that
     such persons are made optimistic by the nature of their own
     doings. They are writers, schemers, reformers; they are
     usually of strongly altruistic character, and the
     performance of any duty or set task brings to them the
     approval of an exacting conscience; and they believe that
     all mankind can be brought to labour in their own spirit.
     The world would be a much happier place if their state of
     mind could be made universal. But the great mass of men are
     of a humdrum sort, not born with any marked bent or any
     loftiness of character. Moreover, most of the world's work
     for the satisfaction of our primary wants must be of a
     humdrum sort, and often of a rough and coarse sort. There
     must be ditching and delving, sowing and reaping, hammering
     and sawing, and all the severe physical exertion which,
     however lightened by tools and machinery, yet can never be
     other than labour in the ordinary sense of the word.

When Professor Taussig assures us that 'the great mass of men are of a
humdrum sort, not born with any marked bent or loftiness of character'
he is simply denying the Christian religion. To argue the point with him
would carry us too far. We will do no more here than remind him that the
people to whom the Founder of Christianity preached, and even those who
were chosen to be its first disciples, were, like this audience,
distinctly humdrum, and that assuredly the American Professor would not
have discerned in them promising material for a world-transforming
religious movement. What people see in others is often a mirror of
themselves. Perhaps Professor Taussig, in spite of his excellent book,
is rather a humdrum person himself.

When, however, Professor Taussig declares that 'the greater part of the
world's work is not in itself felt to be pleasurable' he is saying what,
under existing conditions, we must all recognize to be true. A year or
two ago Mr. Graham Wallas made an investigation into this very question,
the results of which confirmed the general impression that modern
workmen find little happiness in their work.[72] But two of the
conclusions which he reached conflict in a rather curious way with the
statement of Professor Taussig. Mr. Wallas's evidence, which was largely
drawn from students of Ruskin College, led him to the conclusion 'that
there is less pleasantness or happiness in work the nearer it approaches
the fully organized Great Industry'. The only workman who spoke
enthusiastically of his work was an agricultural labourer who 'was very
emphatic with regard to the pleasure to be obtained from agricultural
work'. Professor Taussig, on the other hand, selects four agricultural
occupations, ditching, delving, sowing, and reaping, as
characteristically unpleasant and looks to machinery and the apparatus
of the Industrial Revolution to counteract this unpleasantness. But the
most interesting evidence gathered by Mr. Wallas was that relating to
women workers. He had an opportunity of collecting the views of girls
employed in the laundries and poorer kind of factories in Boston. 'The
answers', he says,[73] 'surprised me greatly. I expected to hear those
complaints about bad wages, hard conditions and arbitrary discipline
which a body of men working at the same grade of labour would certainly
have put forward. But it was obvious that the question "Are you happy?"
meant to the girls "Are you happier than you would have been if you had
stayed at home instead of going to work?" And almost every one of them
answered "Yes".' Why were they unhappy at home? Let Professor Taussig
reflect on the answer. Not because they had 'rough' or 'coarse' or
'humdrum' work to do, as in a factory or laundry, but because they had
nothing to do, and they had found idleness unbearable. 'One said that
work "took up her mind", she had been awfully discontented'. Another
that 'you were of some use'. Another thought 'it was because the hours
went so much faster. At home one could read, but only for a short time,
there was the awful lonesome afternoon ahead of you.' 'Asked a little
girl with dyed hair but a good little heart. She enjoyed her work. It
made her feel she was worth something.' And Mr. Wallas concludes that it
is just because 'everything that is interesting, even though it is
laborious, in the women's arts of the old village is gone': because
'clothes are bought ready-made, food is bought either ready-cooked, like
bread and jam and fish, or only requiring the simplest kind of cooking':
in fact just because physical exertion has been lightened by books and
machinery, that 'there results a mass of inarticulate unhappiness whose
existence has hardly been indicated by our present method of
sociological enquiry'.

It would seem then that the task of associating modern industrial work
with happiness is not impossible, if we would only set ourselves to the
task. And the task is a two-fold one. It is, first, to make it possible
for people to follow the employment for which they are by nature best
fitted; and secondly, to study much more closely than heretofore, from
the point of view of happiness, the conditions under which work is done.
The first task involves a very considerable reversal of current
educational and social values. It does not simply mean paving the way
for the son of an engine-driver to become a doctor or a lawyer or a
cavalryman. It means paving the way for the son of a duke to become,
without any sense of social failure, an engine-driver or a merchant
seaman or a worker on the land--and to do so not, as to-day, in the
decent seclusion of British Columbia or Australia, but in our own
country and without losing touch, if he desires it, with his own natural
circle of friends. The ladder is an old and outworn metaphor in this
connexion. Yet it is still worth remembering that the Angels whom Jacob
observed upon it were both ascending and descending. It is one of the
fallacies of our social system to believe that a ladder should only be
used in one direction--and that the direction which tends to remove men
from contact and sympathy with their fellows. But in truth we need to
discard the metaphor of the ladder altogether, with its implied
suggestion that some tasks of community-service are more honourable and
involve more of what the world calls 'success' than others. We do not
desire a system of education which picks out for promotion minds gifted
with certain kinds of capacity and stimulates them with the offer of
material rewards, while the so-called humdrum remainder are left, with
their latent talents undiscovered and undeveloped.

Recent educational experiments,[74] and not least that most testing of
all school examinations, the war, have shown us that we must revise all
our old notions as to cleverness and stupidity. We know now that, short
of real mental deficiency, there is or ought to be no such personage as
the dunce. Just as the criminal is generally a man of unusual energy and
mental power directed into wrong channels, so the dunce is a pupil whose
special powers and aptitudes have not revealed themselves in the routine
of school life. And just as the criminal points to serious defects in
our social system, so the dunce points to serious defects in our
educational system. The striking record of our industrial schools and
reformatories in the war shows what young criminals and dunces can do
when they are given a fair field for their special gifts. One of the
chief lessons to be drawn from the war is the need for a new spirit and
outlook in our national education from the elementary school to the
University. We need a system which treats every child, rich or poor, as
a living and developing personality, which enables every English boy and
girl to stay at school at least up to the time when his or her natural
bent begins to disclose itself, which provides for all classes of the
community skilled guidance in the choice of employment based upon
psychological study of individual gifts and aptitude,[75] which sets up
methods of training and apprenticeship in the different trades--or, as I
would prefer to call them the different professions--such as to
counteract the deadening influence of premature specialization, and
which ensures good conditions and a sense of self-respect and
community-service to all in their self-chosen line of life, whether
their bent be manual or mechanical or commercial or administrative, or
for working on the land or for going to sea, or towards the more special
vocations of teaching or scholarship or the law or medicine or the cure
of souls. No one can estimate how large a share of the unhappiness
associated with our existing social system is due to the fact that,
owing to defects in our education and our arrangements for the choice of
employment, there are myriads of square pegs in round holes. This
applies with especial force to women, to whom many of the square holes
are still inaccessible, not simply owing to the lack of opportunities
for individuals, but owing to the inhibitions of custom and, in some
cases, to narrow and retrograde professional enactments. The war has
brought women their chance, not only in the office and the workshop,
but in higher administrative and organizing positions, and not the least
of its results is the revelation of undreamt-of capacities in these

In the second task, that of perfecting the adaptation between men and
their tools, we have much to learn from the industrial history of the
past. It is natural for men to enjoy 'talking shop', and this esoteric
bond of union has existed between workmen in all ages. We may be sure
that there were discussions amongst connoisseurs in the Stone Age as to
the respective merits of their flint axes, just as there are to-day
between golfers about niblicks and putters, and between surgeons as to
the technique of the extraction of an appendix. A good workman loves his
tools. He is indeed inseparable from them, as our law acknowledges by
forbidding a bankrupt's tools to be sold up. Give a good workman, in
town or country, a sympathetic listener and he is only too ready to
expatiate on his daily work. This sense of kinship between men and their
tools and material is so little understood by some of our modern expert
organizers of industry that it is worth while illustrating it at some
length. I make no apology, therefore, for quoting a striking passage
from an essay by Mr. George Bourne, who is not a trade unionist or a
student of Labour politics but an observer of English village life, who
has taken the trouble to penetrate the mind of what is commonly regarded
as the stupidest and most backward--as it is certainly the least
articulate--class of workmen in this country, the agricultural labourer
in the southern counties. 'The men', he writes,

     are commonly too modest about their work, and too
     unconscious that it can interest an outsider, to dream of
     discussing it. What they have to say would not therefore by
     itself go far in demonstration of their acquirements in
     technique. Fortunately, for proof of that we are not
     dependent on talk. Besides talk there exists another kind of
     evidence open to every one's examination, and the technical
     skill exercised in country labours may be purely deduced
     from the aptness and singular beauty of sundry country

     The beauty of tools is not accidental, but inherent and
     essential. The contours of a ship's sail bellying in the
     wind are not more inevitable, nor more graceful, than the
     curves of an adze-head or of a plough-share. Cast in iron or
     steel, the gracefulness of a plough-share is more
     indestructible than the metal, yet pliant (in the limits of
     its type) as a line of English blank verse. It changes for
     different soils: it is widened out or narrowed; it is
     deep-grooved or shallow; not because of caprice at the
     foundry or to satisfy an artistic fad, but to meet the
     technical demands of the expert ploughman. The most familiar
     example of beauty indicating subtle technique is supplied by
     the admired shape of boats, which, however, is so variable
     (the statement is made on the authority of an old
     coast-guardsman) that the boat best adapted for one stretch
     of shore may be dangerous, if not entirely useless, at
     another stretch ten miles away. And as technique determines
     the design of a boat, or of a waggon, or of a plough-share,
     so it controls absolutely the fashioning of tools, and is
     responsible for any beauty of form they may possess. Of all
     tools none, of course, is more exquisite than a fiddle-bow.
     But the fiddle-bow never could have been perfected, because
     there would have been no call for its tapering delicacy, its
     calculated balance of lightness and strength, had not the
     violinist's technique reached such marvellous fineness of
     power. For it is the accomplished artist who is fastidious
     as to his tools; the bungling beginner can bungle with
     anything. The fiddle-bow, however, affords only one example
     of a rule which is equally well exemplified by many humbler
     tools. Quarryman's peck, coachman's whip, cricket-bat,
     fishing-rod, trowel, all have their intimate relation to the
     skill of those who use them; and like animals and plants,
     adapting themselves each to its own place in the universal
     order, they attain to beauty by force of being fit. That law
     of adaptation which shapes the wings of a swallow and
     prescribes the poise and elegance of the branches of trees
     is the same that demands symmetry in the corn-rick and
     convexity in the beer-barrel; the same that, exerting itself
     with matchless precision through the trained senses of
     haymakers and woodmen, gives the final curve to the handles
     of their scythes and the shafts of their axes. Hence the
     beauty of a tool is an unfailing sign that in the proper
     handling of it technique is present ...

'It is not the well-informed and those eager to teach', he says in
another passage,

     who know the primitive necessary lore of civilization; it is
     the illiterate. In California, Louis Stevenson found men
     studying the quality of vines grown on different pockets of
     earth, just as the peasants of Burgundy and the Rhine have
     done for ages. And even so the English generations have
     watched the produce of their varying soils. When or how was
     it learnt--was it at Oxford or at Cambridge?--that the
     apples of Devonshire are so specially fit for cider? Or how
     is it that hops are growing--some of them planted before
     living memory--all along the strip of green sand which
     encircles the Weald--that curious strip to which text-books
     at last point triumphantly as being singularly adapted for
     hops? Until it got into the books, this piece of knowledge
     was not thought of as learning; it had merely been acted
     upon during some centuries. But such knowledge exists,
     boundless, in whatever direction one follows it: the
     knowledge of fitting means to ends: excellent rule-of-thumb
     knowledge, as good as the chemist uses for analyzing water.
     When the peculiar values of a plot of land have been
     established--as, for instance, that it is a clay 'too
     strong' for bricks--then further forms of localized
     knowledge are brought to supplement this, until at last the
     bricks are made. Next, they must be removed from the field;
     and immediately new problems arise. The old farm-cart,
     designed for roots or manure, has not the most suitable
     shape for brick-carting. Probably, too, its wide wheels,
     which were intended for the softness of ploughed land, are
     needlessly clumsy for the hard road. Soon, therefore, the
     local wheelwright begins to lighten his spokes and felloes,
     and to make the wheels a trifle less 'dished'; while his
     blacksmith binds them in a narrower but thicker tyre, to
     which he gives a shade more tightness. For the wheelwright
     learns from the carter--that ignorant fellow--the answer to
     the new problems set by a load of bricks. A good carter, for
     his part, is able to adjust his labour to his locality. A
     part of his duty consists in knowing what constitutes a fair
     load for his horse in the district where he is working. So
     many hundred stock bricks, so many more fewer of the red or
     wire-cut, such and such a quantity of sand, or timber, or
     straw, or coal, or drain-pipes, or slates, according to
     their kinds and sizes, will make as much as an average horse
     can draw in this neighbourhood; but in London the loads are
     bigger and the vehicles heavier; while in more hilly parts
     (as you may see any day in the West Country) two horses are
     put before a cart and load which the London carter would
     deem hardly too much for a costermonger's donkey.

     So it goes throughout civilization: there is not an industry
     but produces its own special knowledge relating to
     unclassified details of adjustment.[76]

It is this craft-knowledge and common professional feeling which is at
the basis of all associations of workpeople, from the semi-religious
societies of ancient times, which met in secret to worship their
patron-god--Hephaestos, the god of the metal-workers, or Asclepios, the
god of the doctors--through the great guilds of the Middle Ages to the
trade unions and professional organizations of to-day. Trade unions do
not exist simply to raise wages or to fight the capitalist, any more
than the British Medical Association exists simply to raise fees and to
bargain with the Government. They exist to serve a professional need: to
unite men who are doing the same work and to promote the welfare and
dignity of that work. It is this which renders so difficult the problems
of adjustment which arise owing to the introduction of new and
unfamiliar processes. Professional associations are, and are bound to
be, conservative: their conservatism is honourable and to their credit:
for they are the transmitters of a great tradition. The problem in every
case is to ensure the progress necessary to the community without injury
to that sense of 'fellowship in the mystery' on which the social spirit
of the particular class of workmen depends. It is from this point of
view that recent American proposals in the direction of 'scientific
management' are most open to criticism: for they involve the break-up of
the craft-spirit without setting anything comparable in its place. In
fact, Mr. F. W. Taylor, one of the inventors of what is called the
'system' of scientific management, frankly ignores or despises the
craft-spirit and proposes to treat the workman as a being incapable of
understanding the principles underlying the practice of his art. He goes
so far as to lay it down as a general principle that 'in almost all the
mechanic arts the science which underlies each act of each workman is so
great and amounts to so much that the workman who is best suited to
actually doing the work is incapable of fully understanding this
science, without the guidance and help of those who are working with him
or over him, either through lack of education or through insufficient
mental capacity'.[77] Along the lines of this philosophy no permanent
industrial advance is possible. It may improve the product for a time,
but only at the cost of degrading the producer. If we are to make
happiness our test, and to stand by our definition of happiness as
involving free activity, such a system, destructive as it is of any real
or intense relationship between the workman and his work, stands
self-condemned. If we are looking for _real_ industrial progress it is
elsewhere that we must turn.

This leads us naturally on to the second great division of our subject:
progress in the methods of co-operation between man and man in doing
industrial work. For if man is a social animal his power to do his bit
and his consequent happiness must be derived, in part at least, from his
social environment. The lonely craftsman perfecting his art in the
solitude of a one-man workshop does not correspond with our industrial
ideal any more than the hermit or the monk corresponds with our general
religious ideal. It was the great apostle of craftsmanship, William
Morris, who best set forth the social ideal of industry in his immortal
sentence: 'Fellowship is Life and lack of Fellowship is Death.' Our
study of the workman, then, is not complete when we have seen him with
his tools: we must see him also among his workmates. We must see
industry not simply as a process of production but as a form of
association; and we must realize that the association of human beings
for the purpose of industrial work involves what is just as much a
problem of government as their association in the great political
community which we call the State.

It is difficult to see the record of the progress of industrial
government in clear perspective for the simple reason that the world is
still so backward as regards the organization of this side of its common
life. The theory and practice of industrial government is generations,
even centuries, behind the theory and practice of politics. We are still
accustomed in industry to attitudes of mind and methods of management
which the political thought of the Western World has long since
discarded as incompatible with its ideals. Two instances must suffice to
illustrate this. It is constantly being said, both by employers and by
politicians, and even by writers in sympathy with working-class
aspirations, that all that the workman needs in his life is security.
Give him work under decent conditions, runs the argument, with
reasonable security of tenure and adequate guarantees against sickness,
disablement and unemployment, and all will be well. This theory of what
constitutes industrial welfare is, of course, when one thinks it out,
some six centuries out of date. It embodies the ideal of the old feudal
system, but without the personal tie between master and man which
humanized the feudal relationship. Feudalism, as we saw in our study of
political government, was a system of contract between the lord and the
labourer by which the lord and master ran the risks, set on foot the
enterprises (chiefly military), and enjoyed the spoils, incidental to
mediaeval life, while the labourer stuck to his work and received
security and protection in exchange. Feudalism broke down because it
involved too irksome a dependence, because it was found to be
incompatible with the personal independence which is the birthright of a
modern man. So it is idle to expect that the ideal of security will
carry us very far by itself towards the perfect industrial commonwealth.

Take a second example of the wide gulf that still subsists between men's
ideas of politics and men's ideas of industry. It is quite common, even
in these latter days, and among those who have freely sacrificed their
nearest and dearest to the claims of the State, to hear manufacturers
and merchants say that they have a 'right to a good profit'. The
President of the Board of Trade remarked openly in the House of Commons
after many months of war that it was more than one could expect of human
nature for coal-owners not to get the highest price they could. Such a
standpoint is not merely indecent: it is hopelessly out-of-date. Looked
at from the political point of view it is a pure anachronism. There used
to be times when men made large fortunes out of the service of
government, as men still make them out of the service of the community
in trade and industry to-day. In the days of St. Matthew, when
tax-gathering was let out by contract, the apostle's partners would
probably have declared, as Mr. Runciman does to-day, that it was more
than one could expect of human nature that a publican who had a
government contract for the collection of the taxes should not get all
he could out of the tax-payer. It is, indeed, little more than a century
ago since it was a matter of course in this country to look upon oversea
colonies merely as plantations--that is, as business investments rather
than as communities of human beings. The existence of Chartered Company
government marks a survival of this habit of mind. The old colonial
system, which embodied this point of view, proved demoralizing not only
to the home government but to the colonists, as a similar view is to the
working class, and it led to the loss of the American colonies as surely
as a similar attitude on the part of employers leads to unrest and
rebellion among workpeople to-day.

We have thus a long way to travel before the ideals of politics have
been assimilated into the industrial life of the community and have
found fitting embodiment in its kindred and more complex problems. But
at least we have reached a point where we can see what the problem of
industrial government is. We can say with assurance that a system which
treats human beings purely as instruments or as passive servants, and
atrophies their self-determination and their sense of individual and
corporate responsibility, is as far from perfection in industry as the
Roman Empire was in politics. Renan's words about 'the intolerable
sadness' incidental to such a method of organization apply with
redoubled force to occupations which take up the best part of the day of
the mass of the working population. The bleak and loveless buildings,
with their belching chimneys, which arrest the eye of the thoughtful
traveller in the industrial districts of England are not prisons or
workhouses. But they often look as if they were, and they resemble them
in this--that they too often stand for similarly authoritarian ideas of
government and direction. Industry is still an autocracy, as politics
was in the days before the supremacy of Parliament. Power still descends
from above instead of springing from below. It is a power limited no
doubt by trade union action and parliamentary and administrative
control: but it is in essence as autocratic as the government of England
used to be before the transference of sovereignty from the monarch to
the representatives of his subjects. It was recently announced in the
press that Lord Rhondda had bought a group of Welsh collieries for 2
millions, and that as a result 'Lord Rhondda now controls over 3-1/2
millions of capital, pays 2-1/2 millions in wages every year, and is
virtually the dictator of the economic destiny of a quarter of a million
miners. Rumours are also current', the extract continues, 'that Lord
Rhondda is extending his control over the press of Wales'.[78] The
existence of such power in this twentieth century in the hands of single
individuals, not selected from the mass for their special wisdom or
humanity, is a stupendous fact which must give pause to any one who is
inclined to feel complacent about modern industrial progress. In days
gone by political power was as irresponsible as the economic power
wielded to-day by Lord Rhondda; and it descended from father to son by
hereditary right in the same way as the control over the lives of
countless American workers descends to-day as a matter of course from
John D. Rockefeller senior to John D. Rockefeller junior. If there is
any reality at all in our political faith we must believe that a similar
development towards self-government can and must take place in
industry. It may be that generations will elapse before the problems of
industrial government find a final and satisfactory constitutional
solution. But at least we can say that there is only one basis for that
solution which is compatible with a sound ideal of government, or indeed
with any reasoned view of morality or religion--the basis of individual
and corporate freedom with its corresponding obligations of
responsibility and self-respect. No nation, as Abraham Lincoln said, can
remain half-slave and half-free: and it was a greater than Lincoln who
warned us that we cannot serve both God and Mammon. It is this
underlying conflict of ideals in the organization of our existing
economic system which is the real cause of the 'Labour unrest' of which
we have heard so much in recent years.

With this warning in our minds as to the imperfections of our modern
industrial organization, let us briefly survey the record of the forms
of economic association which preceded it.

The earliest form of industrial grouping is, of course, the family; and
the family, as we all know, still retains its primitive character in
some occupations as a convenient form of productive association. This is
particularly the case in agriculture in communities where peasant
holdings prevail. But the family is so much more than an industrial
group that it hardly falls to us to consider it further here.

Outside the family proper, industrial work among primitive peoples is
often carried on by slaves. It was a step forward in human progress when
primitive man found that it was more advantageous to capture his enemies
than to kill or eat them; and it was a still greater step forward when
he found that there was more to be got out of slaves by kind treatment
than by compulsion. This is not the place in which to go into the vexed
questions connected with various forms of slavery. Suffice it to say
that it is a profound mistake to dismiss the whole system in one
undiscriminating condemnation. Slavery involves the denial of freedom,
and as such it can never be good. But other systems besides slavery
implicitly involve the denial of freedom. Some of the finest artistic
work in the world has been done by slaves--and by slaves not working
under compulsion but in the company of free men and on terms of
industrial equality with them. This should serve to remind us that, in
judging of systems of industry, we must look behind the letter of the
law to the spirit of the times and of social institutions. Slavery at
its best merges insensibly into wage-labour at its lower end. Many of
the skilled slaves of ancient Greece and Rome are hardly distinguishable
in status from a modern workman bound by an unusually long and strict
indenture and paid for his work not only in money but partly in truck.
In order to stimulate their productive capacity it was found necessary
in Greece and Rome to allow skilled slaves to earn and retain
money--although in the eye of the law they were not entitled to do so;
and they were thus frequently in a position to purchase their own
freedom and become independent craftsmen. Slavery in the household and
in small workshops is open to many and serious dangers, which need not
be particularized here; but the worst abuses of slavery have always
taken place where slaves have been easily recruited, as in the early
days of European contact with Africa, and when there were large openings
for their employment in gangs on work of a rough and unskilled
character. The problem of slavery in its worse forms is thus at bottom a
cheap-labour problem analogous to that which confronts North America and
South Africa to-day; and there is an essential difference which is often
ignored between the educated slave in a Roman Government office who did
the work of a First Division Civil Servant for his imperial master and
his compeer working in the fields of South Italy: and between the
household servants of a Virginian family and the plantation-slaves of
the farther South. Let us remember, in passing judgement on what is
admittedly an indefensible system, that during the war which resulted in
the freeing of the American slaves the slaveholders of the South trusted
their household slaves to protect the women and children during their
absence from home and that that trust was nowhere betrayed. There is
another side to _Uncle Tom's Cabin_ as surely as there is another side
to Mr. Carnegie's paean of modern industrialism in his _Triumphant

Systems of serfdom or caste which bind the workman to his work without
permitting him to be sold like a slave may be regarded as one step
higher than slavery proper. Such systems are common in stable and
custom-bound countries, and persisted throughout the European Middle
Ages. We need not describe how the rising tide of change gradually broke
up the system in this country and left the old-time villein a free but
often a landless and property less man. The transition from serfdom to
the system of wage-labour which succeeded it was a transition from legal
dependence to legal freedom, and as such it marked an advance. But it
was also a transition from a fixed and, as it were, a professional
position of service to the community to a blind and precarious
individualism. It was a transition, as Sir Henry Maine put it, from
status to contract. This famous nineteenth-century aphorism is eloquent
of the limitations of that too purely commercial age. Every thinking man
would admit to-day that status at its best is a better thing than
contract at its best--that the soldier is a nobler figure than the army
contractor, and that corporate feeling and professional honour are a
better stimulus to right action than business competition and a laudable
keenness to give satisfaction to a valuable customer. We have always
suffered from the temptation in this country of adapting business
methods and ideals to politics rather than political ideals and methods
to business. Our eighteenth-century thinkers explained citizenship
itself, not as a duty to our neighbours but as the fulfilment of an
unwritten contract. Our nineteenth-century legal writers elevated the
idea of free contract almost to an industrial ideal; while, in somewhat
the same spirit, the gutter journalists of to-day, when they are at a
loss for a popular watchword, call for a business government. Such
theories and battle-cries may serve for a 'nation of shopkeepers'; but
that opprobrious phrase has never been true of the great mass of the
English people, and it was never less true than to-day.

The idea of industrial work as the fulfilment of a contract, whether
freely or forcibly made, is thus essentially at variance with the ideal
of community service. It is difficult for a man who makes his livelihood
by hiring himself out as an individual for what he can get out of one
piece of work after another to feel the same sense of community service
or professional pride as the man who is serving a vocation and has
dedicated his talents to some continuous and recognized form of work. It
is this which makes the system of wage-labour so unsatisfactory in
principle compared with the guilds of the town workmen in the Middle
Ages and with the organized professions of to-day; and it is this which
explains why trade unions of recent years have come to concern
themselves more and more with questions of status rather than of wages
and to regard the occupation which they represent more and more as a
profession rather than a trade. No one has laid bare the deficiencies of
the wage-system more clearly than Adam Smith in the famous chapter in
which he foreshadows the principle of collective bargaining. 'What are
the common wages of labour', he there remarks,[79]

     'depends everywhere upon the contract usually made between
     those two parties, whose interests are by no means the same.
     The workmen desire to get as much, the masters to give as
     little, as possible. The former are disposed to combine in
     order to raise, the latter in order to lower, the wages of
     labour.... We rarely hear, it has been said, of the
     combinations of masters, though frequently of those of
     workmen. But whoever imagines, upon this account, that
     masters rarely combine is as ignorant of the world as of the
     subject. Masters are always and everywhere in a sort of
     tacit but constant and uniform combination not to raise the
     wages of labour above their actual rate. To violate this
     combination is everywhere a most unpopular action and a sort
     of reproach to a master among his neighbours and equals. We
     seldom, indeed, hear of this combination, because it is the
     usual, and one may say, the natural state of things which
     nobody ever hears of. Masters, too, sometimes enter into
     particular combinations to sink the wages of labour even
     below this rate. These are always conducted with the utmost
     secrecy till the moment of execution; and, when the workmen
     yield, as they sometimes do without resistance, though
     severely felt by them, they are never heard of by other
     people. Such combinations, however, are frequently resisted
     by a contrary defensive combination of the workmen, who
     sometimes, too, without any provocation of this kind,
     combine of their own accord to raise the price of labour.
     Their usual pretences are, sometimes the high price of
     provisions, sometimes the great profit which their masters
     make by their work.'

These words were written 140 years ago, but, as we all know, they are
still true of the working of the system to-day. Indeed the war has
served to emphasize their truth by showing us how deeply entrenched are
the habits of bargaining and of latent antagonism which the working of
the wage-system has engendered. It is the defect of the wage-system, as
Adam Smith makes clear to us, that it lays stress on just those points
in the industrial process where the interests of employers and
workpeople run contrary to one another, whilst obscuring those far more
important aspects in which they are partners and fellow-workers in the
service of the community. This defect cannot be overcome by
strengthening one party to the contract at the expense of the other, by
crushing trade unions or dissolving employers' combinations, or even by
establishing the principle of collective bargaining. It can only be
overcome by the recognition on both sides that industry is in essence
not a matter of contract and bargaining at all, but of mutual
interdependence and community service: and by the growth of a new ideal
of status, a new sense of professional pride and corporate duty and
self-respect among all who are engaged in the same function. No one can
say how long it may take to bring about such a fundamental change of
attitude, especially among those who have most to lose, in the material
sense, by an alteration in the existing distribution of economic power.
But the war has cleared away so much of prejudice and set so much of our
life in a new light that the dim ideals of to-day may well be the
realities of to-morrow. This at least we can say: that no country in the
world is in a better position than we are to redeem modern industry from
the reproach of materialism and to set it firmly upon a spiritual basis,
and that the country which shall first have had the wisdom and the
courage to do so will be the pioneer in a vast extension of human
liberty and happiness and will have shown that along this road and no
other lies the industrial progress of mankind.


1. _Economics_:

   H. Clay, _Economics for the General Reader_. 1916.

   Ruskin, _Unto this last_.

   Smart, _Second Thoughts of an Economist_. 1916.

2. _Man and his Tools_:

   Marvin, _The Living Past_. 1913.

   F. W. Taylor, _The Principles of Scientific Management_. 1911.

   Hoxie, _Scientific Management and Labour_. 1916.

3. _Industrial Government_:

   Aristotle, _Politics_ (Book I, chapters on Slavery).

   Zimmern, _The Greek Commonwealth_ (chapters on Slavery). 1911.

   Ashley, _The Economic Organization of England_. 1914.

   Unwin, _Industrial Organization in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth

   S. and B. Webb, _The History of Trade Unionism_.

   Macgregor, _The Evolution of Industry_ (Home University Library).

   Wallas, _The Great Society_. 1914.

   G. D. H. Cole, _The World of Labour_. 1915.

   _Round Table, June 1916 (Article on the Labour Movement and the
   Future of British Industry)._


[67] Including the well-being of the producers--a point which is too
often overlooked.

[68] On this point see _Poverty and Waste_, by Hartley Withers, 1914,
written before the war, which has driven its lessons home.

[69] _The Living Past_, pp. 20, 21.

[70] _Second Thoughts of an Economist_, p. 89.

[71] _Principles of Economics_, vol. i, p. 11. It is interesting to note
that in his latest book, _Inventors and Money-making, lectures on some
relations between Economics and Psychology_ (1915), Professor Taussig to
some extent goes back upon the point of view of the extract given above.

[72] A similar inquiry on a much larger scale was made by Adolf
Levinstein in his book _Die Arbeiterfrage_ (Munich, 1910). He examined
4,000 workpeople, consisting of coalminers, cotton operatives, and
engineers. With the exception of a few turners and fitters almost all
replied that they found little or no pleasure in their work.

[73] _The Great Society_, p. 363.

[74] Especially the wonderful results obtained from the young criminals
at the Little Commonwealth in Dorsetshire.

[75] See _Readings in Vocational Guidance_ by Meyer Bloomfield (Boston,

[76] _Lucy Bettesworth_, pp. 178-80, and 214-16.

[77] This sentence is practically an unconscious paraphrase of a passage
from Aristotle's defence of slavery.

[78] _The Welsh Outlook_, August 1916, p. 272.

[79] _Wealth of Nations_, Book I, ch. viii.




It is often said that there can be no such thing as progress in art. At
one time the arts flourish, at another they decay: but, as Whistler put
it, art happens as men of genius happen; and men cannot make it happen.
They cannot discover what circumstances favour art, and therefore they
cannot attempt to produce those circumstances. There are periods of
course in which the arts, or some one particular art, progress. One
generation may excel the last; through several generations an art may
seem to be rushing to its consummation. This happened with Greek
sculpture and the Greek drama in the sixth and fifth centuries; with
architecture and all kindred arts in western Europe in the twelfth and
thirteenth centuries, and at the same time with many arts in China. It
happened with painting and sculpture in Italy in the fourteenth and
fifteenth centuries, with literature in England in the sixteenth
century, with music in Germany in the eighteenth century and the
beginning of the nineteenth. But in all these cases there followed a
decline, often quite unconscious at the time and one of which we cannot
discover the causes. Attempts are made by historians of the arts to
state the causes; but they satisfy only those who make them, for they
are, in fact, only statements of the symptoms of decline. They tell us
what happened, not why it happened. And they all seem to point to two
conclusions about the course of the arts, both of which would make us
despair of any settled progress in them. The first is that the practice
of any art by any particular people always follows a certain natural
course of growth, culmination, and decay. At least it always follows
this course where an art is practised naturally and therefore with
success. Art in fact, in its actual manifestations, is like the life of
an individual human being and subject to inexorable natural laws. It is
born, as men are born, without the exercise of will; and in the same way
it passes through youth, maturity, and old age. The second conclusion
follows from this, and it is that one nation or age cannot take up an
art where another has left it. That is where art seems to differ from
science. The mass of knowledge acquired in one country can, if that
country loses energy to apply or increase it, be utilized by another.
But we cannot so make use of the art of the Greeks or of the Italian
Renaissance or of our own Middle Ages. In the Gothic revival we tried to
make use of the art of the Middle Ages and we failed disastrously. We
imitated without understanding, and we could not understand because we
were not ourselves living in the Middle Ages. Art, in fact, is always a
growth of its own time which cannot be transplanted, and no one can tell
why it grows in one time and among one people and not in another.

That is what we are always told, and yet we never quite believe all of
it. For, as art is a product of the human mind, it must also be a
product of the human will, unless it is altogether unconscious like a
dream. But that it is not; for men produce it in their waking hours and
with the conscious exercise of their faculties. If a man paints a
picture he does so because he wants to paint one. He exercises will and
choice in all his actions, and the man who buys a picture does the same.
We talk of inspiration in the arts as something that cannot be
commanded, but there is also inspiration in the sciences. No man can
make a scientific discovery by the pure exercise of his will. It jumps
into one mind and not into another just like an artistic inspiration.
And further we are taught and trained in the arts as in the sciences;
and success in both depends a great deal upon the nature of the
training. In both good training will not give genius or inspiration to
those who are without it; but it will enable those who possess it to
make the most of it; and, what is more, it will enable even the mediocre
to produce work of some value. What strikes us most about the Florentine
school of painting of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries is the fact
that its second-rate painters are so good, that we can enjoy their works
even when they are merely imitative. But the Florentine school excelled
all others of the time in its teaching; most painters of other schools
in Italy learnt from Florence; and the inspiration came to them from
Florence, they were quickened from Florence, however much their art kept
its own natural character. But this school which had the best teaching
also produced the most painters of genius. Its level was higher and its
heights were higher; and for this reason, that the whole Florentine
intellect went both into the teaching and into the practice of painting
and sculpture. The Florentine was able to put all his mind, the
scientific faculties as well as the aesthetic, into his art. He never
relied merely on his temperament or his mood. He was eager for
knowledge. It was not enough for him to paint things as he saw them; he
tried to discover how they were made, what were the laws of their growth
and construction; and his knowledge of these things changed the
character of his vision, made him see the human body, for instance, as
no mediaeval artist had ever seen it; made him see it as an engineer
sees a machine. Just as an engineer sees more in a machine than a man
who does not understand its working, so the Florentine saw more in the
human body than a mediaeval artist. He saw it with a scientific as well
as an aesthetic passion, and all this science of his enriched his art so
that there has never since been drawing like the Florentine, drawing at
once so logical and so expressive.

The Florentines in fact did exercise their will upon their art more than
any other modern artists, more, perhaps, than any other artists known to
us, and their painting and sculpture were the greatest of the modern
world. Yet the fact remains that Florentine art declined suddenly and
irresistibly, and that all the Florentine intellect, which still
remained remarkable and produced men of science like Galileo, could not
arrest that decline. Indeed the Florentines themselves seem not to have
been conscious of it. They thought that the dull imitators of
Michelangelo were greater than his great predecessors. As we say, their
taste became bad, their values were perverted; and with that perversion
all their natural genius for the arts was wasted. To this day Carlo
Dolci is the favourite painter of the ordinary Florentine. He was a man
of some ability, and he painted pictures at once feeble and revolting
because he himself and his public liked such pictures.

There is no accounting for tastes, we say, and in saying that we despair
of progress in the arts. For it is ultimately this unaccountable thing
called taste, and not the absence or presence of genius, which
determines whether the arts shall thrive or decay in any particular age
or country. People often say that they know nothing about art, but that
they do know what they like; and what they imply is that there is
nothing to be known about art except your own likes and dislikes, and
further that no man can control those. The Florentines of the
seventeenth century happened to like Carlo Dolci, where the Florentines
of the fifteenth had liked Botticelli. That is the only explanation we
can give of the decline of Florentine painting.

It is of course no explanation; and because no explanation beyond it has
been given, we are told that there can be no such thing as progress in
the arts. That is the lesson of history. We are far beyond the Egyptians
in science, but certainly not beyond them in art. Indeed one might say
that there has been a continual slow decline in all the arts of Europe,
except music, since the year 1500, and that music itself has been slowly
declining since the death of Beethoven. But with this slow inexorable
decline of the arts there has been a great advance in nearly everything
else, in knowledge, in power, even in morality. Upon everything man has
been able to exercise his will except upon the arts. Where he has really
wished for progress there he has got it, except in this one case.
Therefore it seems that upon the arts he cannot exercise his will, and
that they alone of all his activities are not capable of progress. What
do we mean by progress except the successful exercise of the human will
in a right direction? That is what distinguishes progress from natural
growth; that alone can preserve it from natural processes of decay.
There are people who say that it does not exist, that everything which
happens to man is a natural process of growth or decay. Whether that is
so or not, we do mean by progress something different from these natural
processes. When we speak of it we do imply the exercise of the human
will, man's command over circumstances; and those who deny progress
altogether deny that man has any will or any command over circumstances.
For them things happen to man and that is all, it is not man's will that
makes things happen. But if we use the word progress at all, we imply
that it is man's will that makes things happen. And since man is
evidently liable to decline as well as progress, it follows that if we
believe man to be capable of exercising his will in a right direction we
must also believe that he can and does exercise it in a wrong direction.
I assume that man has this power both for good and for evil. If I did
not, I should not be addressing you upon the question whether man is
capable of progress in the arts, but upon the question whether he is
capable of progress at all. And I should be trying to prove that he is

As it is, the question I have to discuss is whether he has the power of
exercising for good or evil his will upon the arts as upon other things;
and hitherto I have been giving you certain facts in the history of the
arts which seem to prove that he is not. They all amount to this--that
man has not hitherto succeeded in exercising his will upon the arts;
that he has not produced good art because he wished to produce it. We,
for instance, wish to excel in the arts; we have far more power than the
ancient Greeks or Egyptians; but we have not been able to apply that
power to the arts. In them we are conscious of a strange impotence. We
cannot build like our forefathers of the Middle Ages, we cannot make
furniture like our great-grandfathers of the eighteenth century. Go into
an old churchyard and look at the tombstones of the past and present.
You will see that the lettering is always fine up to the first
generation of the nineteenth century. In that generation there is a
rapid decline; and since about 1830 there has been no decent lettering
upon tombstones except what has been produced in the last ten years or
so by the conscious effort of a few individual artists of great natural
talent and high training. If I want good lettering on a tombstone I have
to employ one of these artists and to pay him a high price for his
talent and his training. But that is only one example of a universal
decline in all the arts of use, a decline which happened roughly between
the years 1800 and 1830. And the significant fact about it is that when
it happened no one was aware of it. So far as I know, this artistic
catastrophe, far the swiftest and most universal known to us in the
whole course of history, was never even mentioned in contemporary
literature. The poets, the lovers of beauty, did not speak of it. They
talked about nature, not about art. There is not a hint of it in the
letters of Shelley or Keats. There is just a hint of it in some sayings
of Blake; but that is all. One would suppose that such a catastrophe
would have filled the minds of all men who were not entirely occupied
with the struggle for life, that all would have seen that a glory was
passing away from the earth, and would have made some desperate struggle
to preserve it. But, as I say, they saw nothing of it. They were not
aware that a universal ugliness was taking the place of beauty in all
things made by man; and therefore the new ugliness must have pleased
them as much as the old beauty. So it appears once again that there is
no accounting for tastes, and no test that we can apply to them. When
science declines, men at least know that they have less power. They are
more subject to pestilence when they forget medicine and sanitation;
their machines become useless to them when they no longer know how to
work them; there is anarchy when they lose their political goodwill. But
when their taste decays they do not know that it has decayed. And with
it decays their artistic capacity, so that, quite complacently, they
lose the power of doing decently a thousand things that their fathers
did excellently.

But here suddenly I am brought to a stop by a new fact in human history.
The arts have declined, but our complacency over their decline has
ceased. The first man who disturbed it was Ruskin. It was he who saw
the catastrophe that had happened. Suddenly he was aware of it; suddenly
he escaped from the universal tyranny of the bad taste of his time. He
was the first to deny that there was no accounting for tastes; the first
to deny, indeed, that the ordinary man did know what he liked. And he
was followed with more knowledge and practical power, in fact with more
science, by William Morris. What both of these great men really said was
that taste is not unaccountable; that the mass of men do not know what
they like, that they do not apply their intellect and will to what they
suppose to be their likes and dislikes, and that they could apply their
intellect and will to these things if they chose.

When we say that there is no accounting for tastes we imply that tastes
are always real, that, whether good or bad, they happen to men without
any exercise of their will. But Ruskin and Morris implied that we must
exercise our will and our intelligence to discover what our tastes
really are; that this discovery is not at all easy, but that, if we do
not make it, we are at the mercy, not of our own real tastes, but of an
unreal thing which is called the public taste, or of equally unreal
reactions against it. We think that we like what we suppose other people
to like, and these other people too think that they like what no one
really likes. Or in mere blind reaction we think that we dislike what
the mob likes. But in either case our likes and dislikes are not ours at
all and, what is more, they are no one's. Taste in fact is bad because
it is not any one's taste, because no one's will is exercised in it or
upon it. When it is good, it is always real taste, that is to say some
real person's taste. In the work of art the artist does what he really
likes to do and expresses some real passion of his own, not some passion
which he believes that he, as an artist, ought to express. Art, said
Morris, is the expression of the workman's pleasure in his work. It
cannot be real art unless it is a real pleasure. And so the public will
not demand real art unless they too take a real pleasure in it. If they
do not know what they really like, they will not demand of the artist
what they really like or what he really likes. They will demand
something tiresome and insincere, and by the tyranny of their demand
will set him to produce it.

That was what happened at the beginning of the nineteenth century in
nearly all the arts and especially in the arts of use. It had happened
before in different ages and countries, especially in painting,
sculpture, architecture, and the arts of use as they were patronized by
the vulgar rich, such as the court of Louis XV. But now it happened
suddenly and universally to all arts. There were no longer vulgar rich
only but also vulgar poor and vulgar middle-classes. Everywhere there
spread a kind of aesthetic snobbery which obscured real tastes. Of this
I will give one simple and homely example. The beautiful flowers of the
cottage garden were no longer grown in the gardens of the well-to-do,
because they were the flowers of the poor. Instead were grown lobelias,
geraniums, and calceolarias, combined in a hideous mixture, not because
any one thought them more beautiful, but because, since they were grown
in green-houses, they implied the possession of green-houses and so of
wealth. They did not, of course, even do that, since they could be
bought very cheaply from nurserymen. They implied only the bad taste of
snobbery which is the absence of all real taste. For it is physically
impossible for any one to like such a combination of plants better than
larkspurs and lilies and roses. What they did enjoy was not the flowers
themselves but their association with gentility. But so strong was the
contagion of this association that cottagers themselves began to throw
away their beautiful cottage-garden flowers and to grow these plants, so
detestable in combination. And to this day one can see often in cottage
gardens pathetic imitations of a taste that never was real and which now
is discredited among the rich, so that a border of lobelias,
calceolarias, and geraniums has become a mark of social inferiority as
it was once one of social superiority. But what it never was and never
could be was an expression of a genuine liking.

Now I owe the very fact that I am able to give this account of a simple
perversion of taste to Ruskin and Morris. It was they who first made the
world aware that its taste was perverted and that most of its art was
therefore bad. It was they who filled us with the conviction of artistic
sin, and who also in a manner entirely scientific tried to discover what
was the nature of this sin and how it had come about. First Ruskin
tentatively, and afterwards Morris systematically and out of his own
vast artistic experience, connected this decay of the arts with certain
social conditions. It was not merely that taste had decayed or that the
arts had developed to a point beyond which there was nothing for them
but decline. Morris insisted that there were causes for the decay of
taste and the decline of the arts, causes as much subject to the will of
man as the causes of any kind of social decay or iniquity. He insisted
that a work of art is not an irrational mystery, not something that
happens and may happen well or ill; but that all art is intimately
connected with the whole of our social well-being. It is in fact an
expression of what we value, and if we value noble things it will be
noble, if we pretend to value base things it will be base.

Whistler said that this was not so. He insisted that genius is born, not
made, and that some peoples have artistic capacity, some have not. Now
it is true that nations vary very much in their artistic capacity and in
the strength of their desire to produce art. But even the nations which
have little artistic capacity and little desire to produce art have in
their more primitive state produced charming works of real art. Whistler
gave the case of the Swiss as an excellent people with little capacity
for art. But the old Swiss chalets are full of character and beauty, and
there are churches in Switzerland which have all the beauty of the
Middle Ages. The cuckoo clocks and other Swiss articles of commerce
which Whistler despised are contemptible, not because they are Swiss,
but because they are tourist trash produced by workmen who express no
pleasure of their own in them for visitors who buy them only because
they think they are characteristic of Switzerland. They are, in fact,
not the expression of any genuine taste or liking whatever, like the
tourist trash that is sold in the Rue de Rivoli. Probably the Swiss
would never be capable of producing works of art like Chartres Cathedral
or Don Giovanni, but they have in the past possessed a genuine and
delightful art of their own like nearly every European nation in the
Middle Ages.

So, though genius is born, it is also made, and though nations differ in
artistic capacity, they all have some artistic capacity so long as they
know what they like and express only their own liking in their art, so
long as they are not infected with artistic snobbism or commercialism.
This we know now, and we have developed a new and remarkable power of
seeing and enjoying all the genuine art of the past. This power is part
of the historical sense which is itself modern. In the past, until the
nineteenth century, very few people could see any beauty or meaning in
any art of the past that did not resemble the art of their own time and
country. The whole art of the Middle Ages, for instance, was thought to
be merely barbarous until the Gothic revival, and so was the art of all
the past so far as it was known, except the later art of Greece and
Rome. For our ancestors' taste did indeed happen as art happened, and
they could not escape from the taste which circumstances imposed on
them; any art that was not according to that taste was for them as it
were in an unknown tongue. But we have made this great progress in
taste, at least, if not in the production of art, that we can understand
nearly all artistic languages, and that what used to be called classical
art has lost its old superstitious prestige for us. Not only can we
enjoy the art of our own Middle Ages; but many of us can enjoy and
understand just as well the great art of Egypt and China, and can see as
clearly when that art is good or bad as if it were of our own time. We
have, in fact, in the matter of artistic appreciation gained the freedom
of all the ages, and this is a thing that has never, so far as we know,
happened before in the history of the human mind.

But still this freedom of all the ages has not enabled us to produce a
great art of our own. There are some, indeed, who think that it has
hindered us from doing so, that we are becoming merely universal
connoisseurs who can criticize anything and produce nothing. We have the
most wonderful museums that ever were, and the most wonderful power of
enjoying all that is in them, but, with all our riches from the past,
our present is barren; and it is barren because our rich men would
rather pay great prices for past treasures than encourage artists to
produce masterpieces now. If that is so, if that is all that is coming
to us from our freedom of all the ages, there is certainly not progress
in it. Better that we should produce and enjoy the humblest genuine art
of our own than that we should continue in this learned impotence.

But this power of enjoying the art of all ages, though it certainly has
had some unfortunate results, must be good in itself. It is sympathy,
and that is always better than indifference or antipathy. It is
knowledge, and that is always better than ignorance. And we have to
remember that it has existed only for a short time and is, therefore,
not yet to be judged by its fruits. We are still gasping at all the
artistic treasures of the past that have been revealed to us like a new
world; and still they are being revealed to our new perceptions. Only in
the last ten years, for instance, have we discovered that Chinese
painting is the rival of Italian, or that the golden age of Chinese
pottery was centuries before the time of that Chinese porcelain which we
have hitherto admired so much. The knowledge, the delight, is still
being gathered in with both hands. It is too soon to look for its
effects upon the mind of Europe.

But it is not the result of mere barren connoisseurship or
scholasticism. Rather it is a new renaissance, a new effort of the human
spirit, and an effort after what? An effort to exert the human will in
the matter of art far more consciously than it has exerted ever before.
It is to be noted that Morris himself, the man who first told us that we
must exert our wills in art, was also himself eager in the discovery and
enjoyment of all kinds of art in the past. He had his prejudices, the
prejudices of a very wilful man and a working artist. 'What can I see in
Rome,' he said, 'that I cannot see in Whitechapel?' But he enjoyed the
art of most ages and countries more than he enjoyed his prejudices. He
had the historical sense in art to a very high degree. He knew what the
artist long dead meant by his work as if it were a poem in his own
language, and from the art of the past which he loved he saw what was
wrong with the art of our time. So did Ruskin and so do many now.
Further we are not in the least content to admire the art of the past
without producing any of our own. There is incessant restless
experiment, incessant speculation about aesthetics, incessant effort to
apply them to the actual production of art, in fact to exert the
conscious human will upon art as it has never been exerted before.

So, if one wished in a sentence to state the peculiarity of the last
century in the history of art, one would say that it is the first age in
which men have rebelled against the process of decadence in art, in
which they have been completely conscious of that process and have tried
to arrest it by a common effort of will. We cannot yet say that that
effort has succeeded, but we cannot say either that it has failed. We
may be discontented with the art of our own time, but at least we must
allow that it is, with all its faults, extravagances, morbidities and
blind experiments, utterly unlike the art of any former age of decadence
known to us. There may be confusion and anarchy, but there is not mere
pedantry and stagnation. Artists perhaps are over-conscious, always
following some new prophet, but at least there is the conviction of sin
in them, which is exactly what all the decadent artists of the past have

The artistic decadence of the past which is most familiar to us is that
of the later Graeco-Roman art. It was a long process which began at
least as early as the age of Alexander and continued until the fall of
the Western Roman Empire and afterwards, until, indeed, the decadent
classical art was utterly supplanted by the art which we call Romanesque
and Byzantine, and which seems to us now at its best to be as great as
any art that has ever been.

But a hundred years ago this Romanesque and Byzantine art was thought to
be only a barbarous corruption of the classical art. For then the
classical art even in its last feebleness still kept its immense and
unique prestige. Shelley said that the effect of Christianity seemed to
have been to destroy the last remains of pure taste, and he said this
when he had been looking at the great masterpieces of Byzantine mosaic
at Ravenna. Now we know with an utter certainty that he was wrong. He
was himself a great artist, but to him there was only one rational and
beautiful and civilized art, and that was the decadent Graeco-Roman art.
To him works like the Apollo Belvedere were the masterpieces of the
world, and all other art was good as it resembled them. He and in fact
most people of his time were still overawed by the immense complacency
of that art. They had not the historical sense at all. They had no
notion of certain psychological facts about art which are now familiar
to every educated man. They did not know that art cannot be good unless
it expresses the character of the people who produce it; that
characterless art, however accomplished, is uninteresting; that there
may be more life and so more beauty in the idol of an African savage
than in the Laocoon.

This later Greek and Graeco-Roman art was doomed to inevitable decay
because of its immense complacency. The artists had discovered, as they
thought, the right way to produce works of art, and they went on
producing them in that way without asking themselves whether they meant
anything by them or whether they enjoyed them. They knew, in fact, what
was the proper thing to do just as conventional people now know what is
the proper thing to talk about at a tea party; and their art was as
uninteresting as the conversation of such people. In both the talk and
the art there is no expression of real values and so no expression of
real will. The past lies heavy upon both. So people have talked, so
artists have worked, and so evidently people must talk and artists must
work for evermore.

Now we have been threatened with just the same kind of artistic
decadence, and we are still threatened with it; so that it would be very
easy to argue that, when men reach a certain stage in that organization
of their lives which we call civilization, they must inevitably fall
into artistic decadence. The Roman Empire did attain to a high stage of
such organization, and all the life went out of its art. We have reached
perhaps a still higher or at least more elaborate stage of it, and the
life has gone or is going out of our art. It has become even more
mechanical than the Graeco-Roman. We, too, have lost the power of
expressing ourselves, our real values, our real will, in it; and we had
better submit to that impotence and not make a fuss about it. Indeed art
really is an activity proper to a more childish stage of the human mind,
and we shall do well not to waste our time and energy upon it. That is
the only way in which we can be superior to the Graeco-Roman world in
the matter of art. We can give it up altogether or rather put it all
into museums as a curiosity of the past to be studied for historical and
scientific purposes.

But I have only to say that to prove that we will not be contented with
such a counsel of despair. The Romans went on producing art, even if it
was bad art, and we shall certainly go on producing art whether it is
good or bad. We have produced an immense mass of bad art, worse perhaps
than any that the Roman world produced. But there is this difference
between us and the Romans, that we are not content with it. We have the
conviction of artistic sin and they had not. Therefore we do not think
that their example need make us despair. They were not exercising their
will on their art. It was to them what a purely conventional morality is
to a morally decadent people. It went from bad to worse, just as
conventional morals do, when no man arises and says: 'This is wrong,
although you think it right. I know what is right from my own sense of
values, and I will do it in spite of you.' So far as we know, there were
no rebels of that kind in the art of the Graeco-Roman world. But our
world of art is full of such rebels and has been ever since the artistic
debacle at the beginning of the nineteenth century. In fact the chief
and the unique characteristic of the art of the last hundred years has
been the constant succession of artistic rebels. All our greatest
artists have been men who were determined to exercise their own wills in
their art, whatever the mass of men might think of it. And what has
always happened is that they have been first bitterly abused and then
passionately praised. This, so far as I know, has never happened before.
There have been rebel artists like Rembrandt, but only a few of them.
Most great artists before the nineteenth century have been admired in
their own time. But in the nineteenth century, and more and more towards
the end of it, the great artists have had to conquer the world with
their rebellion, they have had to exercise their own individual wills
against the common convention. And it seems to us now the mark of the
great artist so to exercise his individual will, so to rebel and conquer
the world with his rebellion, even if he kills himself in the process.
Think of Constable and even Turner, of our pre-Raphaelites, and above
all of nearly all the great French artists, of Millet, of Manet, of
Cezanne, Gauguin, of Rodin himself, who has conquered the world now, but
only in his old age. Think of Beethoven, of Schubert, of Wagner, and of
all the rebel musicians of to-day. But in the past the great artists,
Michelangelo, Titian, even the great innovator Giorgione; Mozart, Bach,
Handel; none of these were thought of as rebels. They had not to conquer
the world against its will. They came into the world, and the world
knew them. So, we may be sure, the decadent artists of the Graeco-Roman
world were not rebels. There they were like Michelangelo and Raphael, if
they were like them in nothing else. If they had been rebels we might
not yawn at their works now.

Now, clearly, this rebellion is not so good a thing as the harmony
between the artist and his public which has prevailed in all great ages
of art. But it is better than the harmony of dull and complacent
convention which prevailed in the Graeco-Roman decadence. For it means
that our artists are not content with such complacence, that they will
not accept decadence as an inevitable process. And the fact that we do
passionately admire them for their rebellion as soon as we understand
what it means, that this rebellion seems to us a glorious and heroic
thing, is a proof that we, the public, also are not content to sink into
the Graeco-Roman complacency. We may stone our prophets at first, but
like the Hebrews, we produce prophets as well as priests, that is to say
academicians. And we treasure their works as the Hebrews treasured the
books of the prophets.

Art, in fact, is a human activity in which we try to exercise our wills.
We are aware that it is threatened with decadence by the mere process of
our civilization, that it is much more difficult for us to produce
living art than it was for our forefathers of the Middle Ages. But still
we are not content to produce dead art. Half unconsciously we are making
the effort to exercise our wills upon our art, as upon our science, our
morals, our politics, to avoid decadence in art as we try to avoid it in
other human activities; and this effort is the great experiment, the
peculiar feature, of the art of the last century.

It is an effort not merely aesthetic but also intellectual. There is a
great interest in aesthetics and a constant and growing effort to
charge them with actual experience and to put them to some practical
end. In the past they have been the most backward, the most futile and
barren, kind of philosophy because men wrote about them who had never
really experienced works of art and who saw no connexion between their
philosophy and the production of works of art. They talked about the
nature of the beautiful, as schoolmen talked about the nature of God.
And they knew no more about the nature of the beautiful from their own
experience of it than schoolmen knew about the nature of God. But now
men are interested in the beautiful because they miss it so much in the
present works of men and because they so passionately desire it; and
their speculation has the aim of recovering it. So aesthetics, whatever
some artists in their peculiar and pontifical narrowness may say, is of
great importance now; they are part of the effort which the modern world
is making to exercise its will in the production of works of art, and
they are bound, if that effort is successful, to have more and more
effect upon that production.

But is that effort going to be successful? That is a question which no
one can answer yet. But my object is to insist that in our age, because
of its effort, an effort which has never been made so consciously and
resolutely before, there is a possibility of a progress in art of the
same nature as progress in other human activities. If we can escape from
what has seemed to some men this inexorable process of decadence in art,
we shall have accomplished one of the greatest achievements of the human
will. We shall have redeemed art from the tyranny of mere fate.

What we have to do now is to understand what it is that causes decadence
in art, we have to apply a conscious science to the production of it. We
have to see what are the social causes that produce excellence and
decay in it. And we have made a great beginning in this. For we are all
aware that art is not an isolated thing, that it does not merely happen,
as Whistler said. We know that it is a symptom of something right or
wrong with the whole mind of man and with the circumstances that affect
that mind. We know at last that there is a connexion between the art of
man and his intellect and his conscience. It was because William Morris
saw that connexion that he, from being a pure artist, became a socialist
and spoke at street corners. Such a change, such a waste and perversion
as it seemed to many, would have been impossible in any former age. It
was possible and inevitable, it was a natural process for Morris in the
nineteenth century, because he was determined to exercise his will upon
art, just as men in the past had exercised their will upon religion or
politics; because he no longer believed that art happened as the weather
happens and that the artist is a charming but irresponsible child swayed
merely by the caprices of his own private subconsciousness. Was he right
or wrong? I myself firmly believe that he was right. That if man has a
will at all, if he is not a mere piece of matter moulded by
circumstances, he has a will in art as in all other things. And,
further, if he has a common will which can express itself in his other
activities, in religion or politics, that common will must also be able
to express itself in art. It has not hitherto done so consciously,
because man in all periods of artistic success has been content to
succeed without asking why he succeeded, and in all periods of artistic
failure he has been content to fail without asking why he has failed. We
have been for long living in a period of artistic failure, but we have
asked, we are asking always more insistently, why we fail. And that is
where our time differs from any former period of artistic decadence,
why, I believe, it is not a period of decadence but one of experiment,
and of experiment which will not be wasted, however much it may seem at
the moment to fail. But if out of all this conscious effort and
experiment we do arrest the process of decadence, if we do pass from
failure to success, then we shall have accomplished a progress in art
such as has never been accomplished before even in the greatest ages.
For whereas men have never been able to learn from the experience of
those ages, whereas the Greeks and the men of the thirteenth century
have not taught men how to avoid decadence in art, we and our children
will teach them how to avoid it. We shall then have given a security to
art such as it has never enjoyed before; and we shall do that by
applying science to it, by using the conscious intelligence upon it.

We may fail, of course, but even so our effort will not have been in
vain. And some future age in happier circumstances may profit by it, and
achieve that progress, that application of science to art, which we are
now attempting.

Many people, especially artists, tell us that the attempt is a mere
absurdity. But ignorance even about art need not be eternal. Ignorance
is eternal only when it is despairing or contented. Twenty years ago
many people said that men never would be able to fly, yet they are
flying now because they were resolved to fly. So we are more and more
resolved to have great art. Every year we feel the lack of it more and
more. Every year more people exercise their wills more and more
consciously in the effort to achieve it. This, I repeat, has never
happened before in the history of the world. And the consequence is that
our art, what real art we have, is unlike any that there has been in the
world before. It is so strange and so rebellious that we ourselves are
shocked and amazed by it. Much of it, no doubt, is merely strange and
rebellious, as much of early Christianity was merely strange and
rebellious and so provoked the resentment and persecution of
self-respecting pagans. Every great effort of the human mind attracts
those who merely desire their own salvation, and so it is with the
artistic effort now. There are cubists and futurists and
post-impressionists who are as silly as human beings can be, because
they hope to attain to artistic salvation by rushing to extremes. They
are religious egotists, in fact, and nothing can be more disagreeable
than a religious egotist. But there were no doubt many of them among the
early Christians. Yet Christianity was a great creative religious effort
which came because life and truth had died out of the religions of the
past, and men could not endure to live without life and truth in their
religion. So now they cannot endure to live without life and truth in
their art. They are determined to have an art which shall express all
that they have themselves experienced of the beauty of the universe,
which shall not merely utter platitudes of the past about that beauty.

So far perhaps there is little but the effort at expression, an effort
strange, contorted, self-conscious. You can say your worst about it and
laugh at all its failures. Yet they are failures different in kind from
the artistic failures of the past, for they are failures of the
conscious will, not of mere complacency. And it is such failures in all
human activities that prepare the way for successes.

Let us remember then, always, that art is a human activity, not a fairy
chance that happens to the mind of man now and again. And let us
remember, too, that it does not consist merely of pictures or statues or
of music performed in concert-rooms. It is, indeed, rather a quality of
all things made by man, a quality that may be good or bad but which is
always in them. That is one of the facts about art that was discovered
in the nineteenth century, when men began to miss the excellence of art
in all their works and to wish passionately that its excellence might
return to them. And this discovery which was then made about art was of
the greatest practical importance. For then men became aware that they
could not have good pictures or architecture or sculpture unless the
quality of art became good again in all their works. So much they learnt
about the science of art. They began, or some of them did, to think
about their furniture and cottages and pots and pans and spoons and
forks, and even about their tombstones, as well as about what had been
called their works of art. And in all these humbler things an advance, a
conscious resolute wilful advance, has been made. We begin to see when
and also why spoons and forks and pots and pans are good or bad. We are
less at the mercy of chance or blind fashion in such things than our
fathers were. We know our vulgarity and the naughtiness of our own
hearts. The advance, the self-knowledge, is not general yet, but it
grows more general every year and the conviction of sin spreads. No
doubt, like all conviction of sin, it often produces unpleasant results.
The consciously artistic person often has a more irritating house than
his innocently philistine grandfather had. So, no doubt, many simple
pagan people were much nicer than those early Christians who were out
for their own salvation. But there was progress in Christianity and
there was none in paganism.

The title of this book is _Progress and History_, and it may justly be
complained that the progress of which I have been talking is not
historic, but a progress that has not yet happened and may never happen
at all. But that I think is a defect of my particular branch of the
subject. Progress in art, if progress is anything more than a natural
process of growth to be followed inevitably by a natural process of
decay, has never yet happened in art; but there is now an effort to make
it happen, an effort to exercise the human will in art more completely
and consciously than it has ever been exercised before. Therefore I
could do nothing but attempt to describe that effort and to speculate
upon its success.




    'L'Esprit travaillant sur les données de l'expérience.'

The French phrase, neater as usual than our own, may be taken as the
starting-point in our discussion. We shall put aside such questions as
what an experience is, or how much the mind itself supplies in each
experience, or what, if anything, is the not-mind upon which the mind
works. We must leave something for the chapter on philosophy; and the
present chapter is primarily historical. Having defined what we mean by
science, we are to consider at what stage in history the working of the
mind on experience can be called scientific, in what great strides
science has leapt forward since its definite formation, and in what ways
this growth of science has affected general progress, both by its action
on the individual and on the welfare and unity of mankind.

Our French motto must be qualified in order to give us precision in our
definition and a starting-point in history for science in the strict
sense. In a general sense the action of the mind upon the given in
experience has been going on from the beginning of animal life. But
science, strictly so-called, does not appear till men have been
civilized and settled in large communities for a considerable time. We
cannot ascribe 'science' to the isolated savage gnawing bones in his
cave, though the germs are there, in every observation that he makes of
the world around him and every word that he utters to his mates. But we
may begin to speak of science when we reach those large and ordered
societies which are found in the great river-basins and sedentary
civilizations of East and West, especially in Egypt and Chaldea.

When we turn to the quality of the thing itself, we note in the first
place that while science may be said to begin with mere description, it
implies from the first a certain degree of order and accuracy, and this
order and accuracy increase steadily as science advances. It is thus a
type of progress, for it is a constant growth in the fullness, accuracy
and simplification of our experience. From the dawn of science,
therefore, man must have acquired standards and instruments of
measurement and means of handing on his observations to others. Thus
writing must have been invented. But in the second place, there is
always involved in this orderly description, so far as it is scientific,
the element of prediction. The particular description is not scientific.
'I saw a bird fly' is not a scientific description, however accurate;
but 'The bird flies by stretching out its wings' is. It contains that
causal connexion or element of generality which enables us to predict.

Before entering on a historical sketch of the most perfect example of
human progress, it is of the first importance to realize its social
foundation. This is the key-note, and it connects science throughout with
the other aspects of our subject. Knowledge depends upon the free
intercourse of mind with mind, and man advances with the increase and
better direction of his knowledge. But when we consider the implications
of any generalization which we can call 'a law of nature' the social
co-operation involved becomes still more apparent. Geometry and
astronomy--the measurement of the earth and the measurement of the
heavens--dispute the honour of the first place in the historical order.
Both, of course, involved the still more fundamental conception of number
and the acceptance of some unit for measurement. Now in each case and at
every step a long previous elaboration is implied of intellectual
conventions and agreements--conscious and unconscious--between many minds
stretching back to the beginnings of conscious life: the simplest element
of thought involves the co-operation of individual minds in a common
product. Language is such a common product of social life and it prepares
the ground for science. But science, as the exact formulation of general
truths, attains a higher degree of social value, because it rises above
the idioms of person or race and is universally acceptable in form and
essence. Such is the intrinsic nature of the process, and the historical
circumstances of its beginnings make it clear. It was the quick mind of
the Greek which acted as the spark to fire the trains of thought and
observation which had been accumulating for ages through the agency of the
priests in Egypt and Babylonia. The Greeks lived and travelled between the
two centres, and their earliest sages and philosophers were men of the
most varied intercourse and occupation. Their genius was fed by a wide
sympathy and an all-embracing curiosity. No other people could have
demonstrated so well the social nature of science from its inception, and
they were planting in a soil well prepared. In Egypt conspicuously and in
Chaldea also to a less extent there had been a social order which before
the convulsions of the last millennium B.C. had lasted substantially
unchanged for scores of centuries. This order was based upon a religious
discipline which connected the sovereigns on earth with the divine power
ruling men from the sky. Hence the supreme importance of the priesthood
and their study of the movements of the heavenly bodies. The calendar,
which they were the first to frame, was thus not only or even primarily a
work of practical utility but of religious meaning and obligation. The
priests had to fix in advance the feast days of gods and kings by
astronomical prediction. Their standards and their means of measurement
were rough approximations. Thus the 360 degrees into which the Babylonians
taught us to divide the circle are thought to have been the nearest round
number to the days of the year. The same men were also capable of the more
accurate discovery that the side of a hexagon inscribed in a circle was
equal to the radius and gave us our division of sixty minutes and sixty
seconds with all its advantages for calculation. In Egypt, if the
surveyors were unaware of the true relation between a triangle and the
rectangle on the same base, they had yet established the carpenter's rule
of 3, 4 and 5 for the sides of a right-angled triangle.

How much the Greeks drew from the ancient priesthoods we shall never
know, nor how far the priests had advanced in those theories of general
relations which we call scientific. But one or two general conclusions
as to this initial stage of scientific preparation may well be drawn.

One is that a certain degree of settlement and civilization was
necessary for the birth of science. This we find in these great
theocracies, where sufficient wealth enabled a class of leisured and
honoured men to devote themselves to joint labour in observing nature
and recording their observations. Another point is clear, namely, that
the results of these early observations, crude as they were, contributed
powerfully to give stability to the societies in which they arose. The
younger Pliny points out later the calming effect of Greek astronomy on
the minds of the Eastern peoples, and we are bound to carry back the
same idea into the ancient settled communities where astronomy began and
where so remarkable an order prevailed for so long during its

But however great the value we allow to the observations of the priests,
it is to the Ionian Greeks that we owe the definite foundation of
science in the proper sense; it was they who gave the raw material the
needed accuracy and generality of application, A comparison of the
societies in the nearer East to which we have referred, with the history
of China affords the strongest presumption of this. In the later
millenniums B.C. the Chinese were in many points ahead of the
Babylonians and Egyptians. They had made earlier predictions of eclipses
and more accurate observations of the distance of the sun from the
zenith at various places. They had, too, seen the advantages of a
decimal system both in weights and measures and in the calculations of
time. But no Greek genius came to build the house with the bricks that
they had fashioned, and in spite of the achievements of the Chinese they
remained until our own day the type in the world of a settled and
contented, although unprogressive, conservatism.

Science then among its other qualities contains a force of social
movement, and our age of rapid transformation has begun to do fuller
justice to the work of the Greeks, the greatest source of intellectual
life and change in the world. We are now fully conscious of the defects
in their methods, the guesses which pass for observations, the
metaphysical notions which often take the place of experimental
results.[80] But having witnessed the latest strides in the unification
of science on mathematical lines, we are more and more inclined to prize
the geometry and astronomy of the Greeks, who gave us the first
constructions on which the modern mechanical theories of the universe
are based. We shall quote from them here only sufficient illustrations
to explain and justify this statement.

The first shall be what is called Euclidean geometry, but which is in
the main the work of the Pythagorean school of thinkers and social
reformers who flourished from the seventh to the fifth centuries B.C.
This formed the greater part of the geometrical truth known to mankind
until Descartes and the mathematicians recommenced the work in the
seventeenth century. The second greatest contribution of the Greeks was
the statics and the conics of which Archimedes was the chief creator in
the third century B.C. In his work he gave the first sketch of an
infinitesimal calculus and in his own way performed an integration. The
third invaluable construction was the trigonometry by which Hipparchus
for the first time made a scientific astronomy possible. The fourth, the
optics of Ptolemy based on much true observation and containing an
approximation to the general law.

These are a few outstanding landmarks, peaks in the highlands of Greek
science, and nothing has been said of their zoology or medicine. In all
these cases it will be seen that the advance consisted in bringing
varying instances under the same rule, in seeing unity in difference, in
discovering the true link which held together the various elements in
the complex of phenomena. That the Greek mind was apt in doing this is
cognate to their idealizing turn in art. In their statues they show us
the universal elements in human beauty; in their science, the true
relations that are common to all triangles and all cones.

Ptolemy's work in optics is a good example of the scientific mind at
work.[81] The problem is the general relation which holds between the
angles of incidence and of refraction when a ray passes from air into
water or from air into glass. He groups a series of the angles with a
close approximation to the truth, but just misses the perception which
would have turned his excellent raw material into the finished product
of science. His brick does not quite fit its place in the building. His
formula _i_ (the angle of incidence) = _nr_ (the angle of refraction)
only fits the case of very small angles for which the sine is
negligible, though it had the deceptive advantage of including reflexion
as one case of refraction. He did not pursue the argument and make his
form completely general. Sin _i_ = _n_ sin _r_ escaped him, though he
had all the trigonometry of Hipparchus behind him, and it was left for
Snell and Descartes to take the simple but crucial step at the beginning
of the seventeenth century.

The case is interesting for more than one reason. It shows us what is a
general form, or law of nature in mathematical shape, and it also
illustrates the progress of science as it advances from the most
abstract conceptions of number and geometry, to more concrete phenomena
such as physics. The formula for refraction which Ptolemy helped to
shape, is geometrical in form. With him, as with the discoverer of the
right angle in a semicircle, the mind was working to find a general
ideal statement under which all similar occurrences might be grouped.
Observation, the collection of similar instances, measurement, are all
involved, and the general statement, law or form, when arrived at, is
found to link up other general truths and is then used as a
starting-point in dealing with similar cases in future. Progress in
science consists in extending this mental process to an ever-increasing
area of human experience. We shall see, as we go on, how in the concrete
sciences the growing complexity and change of detail make such
generalizations more and more difficult. The laws of pure geometry seem
to have more inherent necessity and the observations on which they were
originally founded have passed into the very texture of our minds. But
the work of building up, or, perhaps better, of organizing our
experience remains fundamentally the same. Man is throughout both
perceiving and making that structure of truth which is the framework of

Ptolemy's work brings us to the edge of the great break which occurred
in the growth of science between the Greek and the modern world. In the
interval, the period known as the Middle Ages, the leading minds in the
leading section of the human race were engaged in another part of the
great task of human improvement. For them the most incumbent task was
that of developing the spiritual consciousness of men for which the
Catholic Church provided an incomparable organization. But the interval
was not entirely blank on the scientific side. Our system of
arithmetical notation, including that invaluable item the cipher, took
shape during the Middle Ages at the hands of the Arabs, who appear to
have derived it in the main from India. Its value to science is an
excellent object-lesson on the importance of the details of form. Had
the Greeks possessed it, who can say how far they might have gone in
their applications of mathematics?

Yet in spite of this drawback the most permanent contribution of the
Greeks to science was in the very sphere of exact measurement where they
would have received the most assistance from a better system of
calculation had they possessed it. They founded and largely constructed
both plane and spherical geometry on the lines which best suit our
practical intelligence. They gave mankind the framework of astronomy by
determining the relative positions of the heavenly bodies, and they
perceived and correctly stated the elementary principles of equilibrium.
At all these points the immortal group of men who adopted the Copernican
theory at the Renascence, began again where the Greeks had left off. But
modern science starts with two capital improvements on the work of the
Greeks. Measurement there had been from the first, and the effort to
find the constant thing in the variable flux; and from the earliest days
of the Ionian sages the scientific mind had been endeavouring to frame
the simplest general hypothesis or form which would contain all the
facts. But the moderns advanced decisively, in method, by experimenting
and verifying their hypotheses, and in subject-matter, by applying their
method to phenomena of movement, which may theoretically include all
facts biological as well as physical. Galileo, the greatest founder of
modern science, perfectly exemplifies both these new departures.

It is, perhaps, the most instructive and encouraging thing in the whole
annals of progress to note how the men of the Renascence were able to
pick up the threads of the Greeks and continue their work. The texture
held good. Leonardo da Vinci, whose birth coincides with the invention
of the printing-press, is the most perfect reproduction in modern times
of the early Greek sophos, the man of universal interests and capacity.
He gave careful and admiring study to Archimedes, the greatest pure man
of science among the Greeks, the one man among them whose works,
including even his letters, have come down to us practically complete. A
little later, at the beginning of the sixteenth century, Copernicus
gained from the Pythagoreans the crude notion of the earth's movement
round a great central fire, and from it he elaborated the theory which
was to revolutionize thought. Another half-century later the works of
Archimedes were translated into Latin and for the first time printed.
They thus became well known before the time of Galileo, who also
carefully studied them. At the beginning of the seventeenth century
Galileo made the capital discoveries which established both the
Copernican theory and the science of dynamics. Galileo's death in 1642
coincides with the birth of Sir Isaac Newton.

Such is the sequence of the most influential names at the turning-point
of modern thought.

Galileo's work, his experiments with falling bodies and the revelations
of his telescope, carried the strategic lines of Greek science across
the frontiers of a New World, and Newton laid down the lines of
permanent occupation and organized the conquest. Organization, the
formation of a network of lines connected as a whole, and giving access
to different parts of the world of experience, is perhaps the best image
of the growth of science in the mind of mankind. It will be seen that it
does not imply any exhaustion of the field, nor any identification of
all knowledge with exact or systematic knowledge. The process is rather
one of gradual penetration, the linking up and extension of the area of
knowledge by well-defined and connected methods of thought. No
all-embracing plan thought out beforehand by the first founders of
science, or any of their successors, can be applied systematically to
the whole range of our experience. It has not been so in the past; still
less does it seem possible in the future. For the most part the
discoverer works on steadily in his own plot, occupying the nearest
places first, and observing here and there that one of his lines runs
into some one else's. Every now and then a greater and more
comprehensive mind appears, able to treat several systems as one whole,
to survey a larger area and extend that empire of the mind which, as
Bacon tells us, is nobler than any other.

Of such conquerors Newton was the greatest we have yet known, because he
brought together into one system more and further-reaching lines of
communication than any one else. He unified the forms of measurement
which had previously been treated as the separate subjects of geometry,
astronomy, and the newly-born science of dynamics. Celestial mechanics
embraces all three, and is a fresh and decisive proof of the commanding
influence of the heavenly bodies on human life and thought. Not by a
horoscope, but by continued and systematic thought, humanity was
unravelling its nature and destiny in the stars as well as in itself.
These are the two approaches to perfect knowledge which are converging
more and more closely in our own time. Newton's work was the longest
step yet taken on the mechanical side, and we must complete our notice
of it by the briefest possible reference to the later workers on the
same line, before turning to the sciences of life which began their more
systematic evolution with the discovery of Harvey, a contemporary of

The seventeenth century, with Descartes' application of algebra to
geometry, and Newton's and Leibnitz's invention of the differential and
integral calculus, improved our methods of calculation to such a point
that summary methods of vastly greater comprehensiveness and elasticity
can be applied to any problem of which the elements can be measured. The
mere improvement in the method of describing the same things (cf. e.g. a
geometrical problem as written down by Archimedes with any modern
treatise) was in itself a revolution. But the new calculus went much
farther. It enabled us to represent, in symbols which may be dealt with
arithmetically, any form of regular movement.

As movement is universal, and the most obvious external manifestation of
life itself, the hopes of a mathematical treatment of all phenomena are
indefinitely enlarged, for all fresh laws or forms might conceivably be
expressed as differential equations. So to the vision of a Poincaré the
human power of prediction appears to have no assignable theoretical

The seventeenth century which witnessed this momentous extension of
mathematical methods, also contains the cognate foundation of scientific
physics. Accurate measurement began to be applied to the phenomena of
light and heat, the expansion of gases, the various changes in the forms
of matter apart from life. The eighteenth century which continued this
work, is also and most notably marked by the establishment of a
scientific chemistry. In this again we see a further extension of
accurate measurement: another order of things different in quality began
to be treated by a quantitative analysis. Lavoisier's is the greatest
name. He gave a clear and logical classification of the chemical
elements then known, which served as useful a purpose in that science,
as classificatory systems in botany and zoology have done in those
cases. But the crucial step which established chemistry, a step also due
to Lavoisier, was making the test of weight decisive. 'The balance was
the _ultima ratio_ of his laboratory.' His first principle was that the
total weight of all the products of a chemical process must be exactly
equal to the total weight of the substances used. From this, and rightly
disregarding the supposed weight of heat, he could proceed to the
discovery of the accurate proportions of the elements in all the
compounds he was able to analyse.

Since then the process of mathematical synthesis in science has been
carried many stages further. The exponents of this aspect of scientific
progress, of whom we may take the late M. Henri Poincaré as the leading
representative in our generation, are perfectly justified in treating
this gradual mathematical unification of knowledge with pride and
confidence. They have solid achievement on their side. It is through
science of this kind that the idea of universal order has gained its
sway in man's mind. The occasional attacks on scientific method, the
talk one sometimes hears of 'breaking the fetters of Cartesian
mechanics', seem to suggest that the great structure which Galileo,
Newton, and Descartes founded is comparable to the false Aristotelianism
which they destroyed. The suggestion is absurd: its chief excuse is the
desire to defend the autonomy of the sciences of life, about which we
have a word to say later on. But we must first complete our brief
mention of the greatest stages on the mechanical side, of which a full
and vivid account may be found in such a book as M. Poincaré's _Science
et Hypothèse_.

Early in the nineteenth century a trio of discoverers, a Frenchman, a
German, and an Englishman, established the theory of the conservation of
energy. To the labours of Sadi Carnot, Mayer, and Joule is due our
knowledge of the fact that heat which, as a supposed entity, had
disturbed the physics and chemistry of the earlier centuries, was itself
another form of mechanical energy and could be measured like the rest.
Later in the century another capital step in synthesis was taken by the
foundation of astrophysics, which rests on the identity of the physics
and chemistry of the heavenly bodies with those of the earth.

The known universe thus becomes still more one. Later researches again,
especially those of Maxwell, tend to the identification of light and
heat with electricity, and in the last stage matter as a whole seems to
be swallowed up in motion. It is found that similar equations will
express all kinds of motion; that all are really various forms of the
motion of something which the mind postulates as the thing in motion; we
have in each case to deal with wave-movements of different length. The
broad change, therefore, which has taken place since the mechanics of
Newton is the advance from the consideration of masses to that of
molecules of smaller and smaller size, and the truth of the former is
not thereby invalidated. Newton, Descartes, Fresnel, Carnot, Joule,
Mayer, Faraday, Helmholtz, Maxwell appear as one great succession of
unifiers. All have been engaged in the same work of consolidating
thought at the same time that they extended it. Their conceptions of
force, mass, matter, ether, atom, molecule have provisional validity as
the imagined objective substratum of our experience, and the fact that
we analyse these conceptions still further and sometimes discard them,
does not in any way invalidate the law or general form in which they
have enabled us to sum up our experience and predict the future.

But now we turn to the other side. In spite of the continued progress
noted on the mechanical side, it is true that the predominant scientific
interest changed in the nineteenth century from mechanics to biology,
from matter to life, from Newton to Darwin. Darwin was born in 1809, the
year in which Lamarck, who invented the term biology, published his
_Philosophie Zoologique_. The _Origin of Species_ appeared in 1858 after
the conservation of energy had been established, and the range and
influence of evolutionary biology have grown ever since.

Before anything can be said of the conclusions in this branch of science
one preliminary remark has to be made. From the philosophical point of
view the science of life includes all other, for man is a living animal,
and science is the work of his co-operating mind, one of the functions
of his living activity. What this involves on the philosophical side
does not concern us here, but it is necessary to indicate here the
nature of the contact between the two great divisions of science, the
mechanical and the biological, considered purely as sciences. For,
though we know that our consciousness as a function of life must in some
form come into the science of life, and is, in a sense, above it all, we
are yet able to draw conclusions, apparently of infinite scope, about
the behaviour of all living things around us and including ourselves,
just as we do about a stone or a star. And we are interested in this
chapter in seeing how this drawing of general conclusions keeps growing
with regard to the phenomena of life, just as it has grown with regard
to all other phenomena, and we have to consider what sort of difference
there is between the one class of generalizations and the other.

For those of us who are content to rest their conclusions on the
positively known, who, while not setting any limits to the possible
extension of knowledge, are not prepared to dogmatize about it, it is
still necessary to draw a line. A dualism remains, name and fact alike
abhorrent to the completely logical philosophic mind. On the one hand
the ordinary laws of physical science are constantly extending their
sphere; on the other, the fact of life still remains unexplained by
them, and becomes in itself more and more marvellous as we investigate
it. The general position remains much as Johannes Müller expressed it
about the middle of the last century, himself sometimes described as the
central figure in the history of modern physiology. 'Though there
appears to be something in the phenomena of living beings which cannot
be explained by ordinary mechanical, physical, or chemical laws, much
may be so explained, and we may without fear push these explanations as
far as we can, so long as we keep to the solid ground of observation and
experiment.' Since this was written the double process has gone on
apace. The chemistry and physics of living matter are being sketched,
and biologists are more and more inclined to study the mechanical
expression of the facts of life. Mr. Bateson, for instance, tells us
that the greatest advance that we can foresee will be made 'when it is
possible to connect the geometrical phenomena of development with the
chemical'. The process of applying physical laws to life follows, it
would seem, the reverse order of their original development. First the
chemistry of organic matter was investigated, then the physical
attraction of their molecules, and now their geometry is in question.
So, says Professor Bateson, the 'geometrical symmetry of living things
is the key to a knowledge of their regularity and the forces which cause
it. In the symmetry of the dividing cell the basis of that resemblance
which we call Heredity is contained'.

But such work as this is still largely speculative and in the future. It
does not solve the secret of life. It does not affect the fact of
consciousness which we are free to conceive, if we will, as the other
side of what we call matter, evolving with it from the most rudimentary
forms into the highest known form in man, or still further into some
super-personal or universal form. This, however, is philosophy or
metaphysics. We are here concerned with the progress of science, in one
of its two great departments, i.e. knowledge about life and all its
known manifestations, which from Aristotle onwards have been subjected
to a scrutiny similar to that which has been given to the physical facts
of the universe and with results in many points similar also. But the
facts, although superficially more familiar, are infinitely more
complicated, and the scrutiny has only commenced in earnest some hundred
years ago. Considering the short space for this concentrated and
systematic study, the results are at least as wonderful as those
achieved by the physicists. Two or three points of suggestive analogy
between the courses of the two great branches of science may here be

We will put first the fundamental question on which, as we have seen, no
final answer has yet been reached: What is life, and is there any
evidence of life arising from the non-living? Now this baffling and
probably unanswerable question--unanswerable, that is, in terms which go
beyond the physical concomitants of life--has played the part in biology
which the alchemists' quest played in chemistry. It led by the way to a
host of positive discoveries. Aristotle, the father of biology, believed
in spontaneous generation. He was puzzled by the case of parasites,
especially in putrefying matter. Even Harvey, who made the first great
definite discovery about the mechanism of the body, agreed with
Aristotle in this error. It was left for the minute and careful
inquirers of the nineteenth century to dispose of the myth. It was only
after centuries of inquiry that the truth was established that life, as
we know it, only arises from life. But the whole course of the inquiry
had illuminated the nature of life and had brought together facts as to
living things of all kinds, plants and animals, great and small, which
show superficially the widest difference. Illumination by unification is
here the note, as clearly as in the mathematical-physical sciences. All
living things are found to be built up from cells and each cell to be an
organism, a being, that is, with certain qualities belonging to it as a
whole, which cannot be predicated of any collection of parts not an
organism. The cell is such an organism, just as the animal is an
organism, and among its qualities as an organism is the power of growth
by assimilating material different from itself. Yet, in spite of this
assimilation and constant change, it grows and decays as one whole and
reproduces its like.

Another point of analogy between the animate and the inanimate sphere is
that the process of study in both has been from the larger to the
smaller elements. The microscope has played at least as decisive a part
as the telescope, and it dates from about the same time, at the
beginning of the seventeenth century. Since then it has penetrated
farther and farther into the infinitesimal elements of life and matter,
and in each case there seems to be no assignable limit to our analysis.
The cell is broken up into physiological units to which almost every
investigator gives a new name. We are now confronted by the fascinating
theory of Arrhenius of an infinite universe filled with vital spores,
wafted about by radio-activity, and beginning their upward course of
evolution wherever they find a kindly soil on which to rest. To such a
vision the hopes and fears of mortal existence, catastrophes of nature
or of society, even the decay of man, seem transient and trivial, and
the infinities embrace.

A third point, perhaps the most important in the comparison, is the way
by which the order of science has entered into our notions of life,
through a great theory, the theory of evolution or the doctrine of
descent. In this we find a solid basis for the co-ordination of facts:
it was the rise of this theory in the hands of one thinker of
unconquerable patience and love of truth which has put the study of
biology in the pre-eminent position which it now holds. But it is
necessary to consider the evolution theory as something both older and
wider than Darwin's presentation of it. Darwin's work was to suggest a
_vera causa_ for a process which earlier philosophers had imagined
almost from the beginning of abstract thought. He observed and collected
a multitude of facts which made his explanations of the change of
species--within their limits--as convincing as they are plausible. But
the idea that species change, by slow and regular steps, was an old one,
and his particular explanations, natural and sexual selection, are seen
on further reflection to have only a limited scope.

This is no place, of course, to discuss the details of the greatest and
most vexed question in the whole science of life. But it belongs to our
argument to consider it from one or two general points of view. Its
analogies with, and its differences from, the great generalizations of
mathematical physics, are both highly instructive. The first crude
hypothesis of the gradual evolution of various vegetable and animal
forms from one another may be found in the earliest Greek thinkers, just
as Pythagoras and Aristarchus anticipated the Copernican theory.
Aristotle gave the idea a philosophic statement which only the fuller
knowledge of our own time enables us to appreciate. He traced the
gradual progression in nature from the inorganic to the organic, and
among living things from the simpler to the higher forms. But his
knowledge of the facts was insufficient: the Greeks had no microscope,
and the dissecting knife was forbidden on the human subject. Then, as
these things were gradually added to science from the seventeenth
century onwards, and the record of the rocks gave the confirmation of
palaeontology, the whole realm of living nature was gradually unfolded
before us, every form connected both in function and in history with
every other, every organ fulfilling a necessary part, either now or in
the past, and growing and changing to gain a more perfect accord with
its environment. Such is the supreme conception which now dominates
biological science much as the Newtonian theory has dominated physics
for two hundred years; and it is idle to debate whether this new idea is
different in kind or only in degree from the great law of physics. It is
a general notion or law which brings together and explains myriads of
hitherto unrelated particulars; it has been established by observation
and experiment working on a previous hypothesis; it involves
measurement, as all accurate observation must, and it gives us an
increasing power of prediction. So far, therefore, we must class it with
the great mathematical laws and dissent from M. Bergson. But seeing that
the multitudinous facts far surpass our powers of complete colligation,
that much in the vital process is still obscure, that we are conscious
in ourselves of a power of shaping circumstances which we are inclined
in various degrees to attribute to other living things, so far we
recognize a profound difference between the laws of life and the laws of
physics, and pay our respects to M. Bergson and his allies of the
neo-vitalist school. Not for the first time in history we have to seek
the truth in the reconciliation, or at least the cohabitation, of
apparent contradictories.

To us who are concerned in tracing the progress of mankind as a whole,
and constantly find the roots of progress in the growth of the social
spirit, the development, that is, of unity of spirit and of action on a
wider and deeper scale, there is one aspect of biological truth, as the
evolutionists have lately revealed it, which is of special interest. The
living thing is an organism of which the characteristic is the constant
effort to preserve its unity. This is in fact the definition of an
organism. It only dies or suffers diminution in order to reproduce
itself, and the new creature repeats by some sort of organic memory the
same preservative acts that its parents did. We recognize life by these
manifestations. A merely material, non-living thing, such as a crystal,
cannot thus make good its loss, nor can it assimilate unlike substance
and make it a part of itself. But these things are of the nature of
life. Now mankind, as a whole, has, if our argument is correct, this
characteristic of an organism: it is bound together by more than
mechanical or accidental links. It is _one_ by the nature of its being,
and the study of mankind, the highest branch of the science of life,
rests, or should rest, upon the basis of those common functions by which
humanity is held together and distinguished from the rest of the animate

Just as in passing from the mechanical sciences to that of life, we
noticed that the general laws of the lower sphere still held good, but
that new factors not analysable into those of the former had to be
reckoned with, so in passing from the animate realm, as a whole, to man
its highest member, we find that, while animal, and subject to the
general laws of animality, he adds features which distinguish him as
another order and cannot be found elsewhere. His unity as an organism
has a progressive quality possessed by no other species. Step by step
his mind advances into the recesses of time and space, and makes the
farthest objects that his mind can reach a part of his being. His unity
of organization, of which the humblest animalcule is a simple type, goes
far beyond the preservation or even the improvement of his species: it
touches the infinite though it cannot contain it. To trace this widening
process is the true key to progress, the _idée-mère_ of history. For
while man's evolution has its practical side, like that of other
species,--the needs of nutrition, of reproduction, of adapting himself
to his environment,--with man this is the basis and not the end. The end
is, first the organization of himself as a world-being, conscious of his
unity, and then the illimitable conquest of truth and goodness as far as
his ever-growing powers extend.

Man's reason is thus, as philosophers have always taught, his special
characteristic, and takes the place for him, on a higher plane, of the
law of organic growth common to all living things. In this we join
hands, across two thousand years, with Aristotle: he would have
understood us and used almost identical language. But the content of the
words as we use them and their applications are immeasurably greater.

The content is the mass of knowledge which man's reason has accumulated
and partly put in order since Aristotle taught. It is now so great that
thoroughly to master a single branch is arduous labour for a lifetime
of concentrated toil, and at the end of it new discoveries will crowd
upon the worker and he will die with all his earlier notions crying for
revision. No case so patent, so conclusive, of the reality of human
unity and the paramount need of organization. The individual here can
only thrive and only be of service as a small member of a great whole,
one atom in a planet, one cell in a body. The demand which Comte raised
more than fifty years ago for another class of specialists, the
specialists in generalities, is now being taken up by men of science
themselves. But the field has now so much extended and is so much fuller
in every part, that it would seem that nothing less than a committee of
Aristotles could survey the whole. And even this is but one aspect of
the matter. Just as the genesis of science was in the daily needs of
men--the cultivators whose fields must be re-measured after the
flooding, the priests who had to fix the right hour for sacrifice--so
all through its history science has grown and in the future will grow
still more by following the suggestions of practice. It gathers strength
by contact with the world and life, and it should use its strength in
making the world more fit to live in. Thus our committee of scientific
philosophers needs to have constantly in touch with it not one but many
boards of scientific practitioners.

The past which has given us this most wonderful of all the fruits of
time, does not satisfy us equally as to the use that has been made of
it. Our crowded slums do not proclaim the glory of Watt and Stephenson
as the heavens remind us of Kepler and Newton. Selfishness has grown fat
on ill-paid labour, and jealous nations have sharpened their weapons
with every device that science can suggest. But a sober judgement, as
well as the clearest evidence of history, dictates a more hopeful
conclusion. Industry, the twin brother of science, has vastly increased
our wealth, our comfort, and our capacity for enjoyment. Medicine, the
most human of her children, has lengthened our lives, fortified our
bodies, and alleviated our suffering. Every chapter in this volume gives
some evidence of the beneficent power of science. For religion,
government, morality, even art, are all profoundly influenced by the
knowledge that man has acquired of the world around him and his
practical conclusions from it. These do not, with the possible exception
of art, contradict the thesis of a general improvement of mankind, and
science must therefore claim a share--it would seem the decisive
share--in the result. We speak, of course, of science in the sense which
has been developed in this essay, of the bright well-ordered centre to
our knowledge which is always spreading and bringing more of the
surrounding fringe, which is also spreading, into the well-defined area.
In this sense religion, morality and government have all within historic
times come within the range of clear and well-ordered thought: and
mankind standing thus within the light, stands more firmly and with
better hope. He sees the dark spots and the weaknesses. He knows the
remedies, though his will is often unequal to applying them. And even
with this revelation of weakness and ignorance, he is on the whole
happier and readier to grapple with his fate.

If this appears a fair diagnosis of the Western mind in the midst of its
greatest external crisis, the reason for this amazing firmness of mind
and stability of society must be sought in the structure which science
and industry combined have built around us. The savage, untutored in
astronomy, may think that an eclipse betokens the end of the world.
Science convinces him that it will pass. Just so the modern world
trained to an order of thought and of society which rests on world-wide
activities elaborated through centuries of common effort, awaits the
issue of our darkened present calmly and unmoved. The things of the mind
on which all nations have co-operated in the past will re-assert their
sway. Fundamentally this is a triumph for the scientific spirit, the
order which man has now succeeded in establishing between himself and
his surroundings.

The country is demanding--and rightly--a stronger bias in our
educational system for teaching of a scientific kind; but teachers and
professors are not unnaturally perplexed. They see the immeasurable
scope of the new knowledge; they know the labour, often ineffective,
that has been expended in teaching the rudiments of the old
'humanities'. And now a task is propounded to them before which the old
one with all its faults seems definite, manageable and formative of
character. The classical world which has been the staple of our
education for 400 years is a finished thing and we can compass it in
thought. It lives indeed, but unconsciously, in our lives, as we go
about our business. This new world into which our youth has now to
enter, rests also on the past, but it is still more present; it grows
all round us faster than we can keep pace with its earlier stages. How
then can such a thing be used as an instrument of education where above
all something is needed of clear and definite purpose, stimulating in
itself and tending to mental growth and activity in after life? We could
not, even if we would, offer any satisfactory answer here to one of the
most troubled questions of the day. Decades of experiments will be
needed before even a tolerable solution can be reached. But the argument
pursued in this and other essays may suggest a line of approach. This
must lie in a reconciliation between science and history, or rather in
the recognition that science rightly understood is the key to history,
and that the history best worth study is the record of man's collective
thought in face of the infinite complexities, the barriers and byways,
the lights and shadows of life and nature. From the study of man's
approach to knowledge and unity in history each new-coming student may
shape his own. He sees a unity of thought not wholly unattainable, a
foundation laid beneath the storms of time. To a mind thus trained
should come an eagerness to carry on the conquests of the past and to
apply the lessons gained to the amelioration of the present.

This we may hope from the well-disposed. But for all, the contemplation
of a universe where man's mind has worked for ages in unravelling its
secrets and describing its wonders, must bring a sense of reverence as
well as trust. It is no dry category of abstract truths to which we turn
and would have others turn, but a world as bright and splendid as the
rainbow to the savage or the forest to the poet or the heavens to the
lonely watcher on the Babylonian plain. The glories and the depths
remain, deeper and more glorious, with all the added marvels of man's
exploring thought. The seeing eye which a true education will one day
give us, may read man's history in the world we live in, and read the
world with the full illumination of a united human vision--the eyes of
us all.


Alcan, _De la méthode dans les Sciences_.

Mach, _History of Mechanics_, Kegan Paul.

Thomson, _Science of Life_, Blackie.

Thomson, _Science in the Nineteenth Century_, Chambers.

_New Calendar of Great Men_, Macmillan.

_The Darwin Centenary Volume._

Bergson, _Creative Evolution_.


[80] See Lewes, 'Aristotle, a chapter in the History of Science'.

[81] H. Bouasse, _La Méthode dans les Sciences_, Alcan.




To contend that there has been progress in Philosophy may seem but a
desperate endeavour. For the reproach against it of unprogressiveness is
of long standing: where other forms of human knowledge have undoubtedly
advanced, Philosophy, in modern times at any rate, has (so it is said)
remained stationary, propounding its outworn problems, its vain and
empty solutions. Because of this failure it has by common consent been
deposed from its once proud position at the head of the sciences and
obliged to confess, in the words of the Trojan queen:

                  modo maxima rerum
    Nunc trahor exul inops.

The charge of unprogressiveness is not made against it by its foes
alone; the truth of it is admitted by some of its best friends. If
Voltaire exclaims 'O métaphysique, métaphysique, nous sommes aussi
avancés qu'aux temps des Druides', Kant sadly admits the fact, sets
himself to diagnose its cause, and if possible to discover or devise a
remedy. Yet we must remember that it was philosophers who first descried
those currents in the world of events which the non-philosophic,
borrowing the name from them, call Progress, who first attempted to
determine their direction and the possible goal of their convergence,
and laboured to clear their own and others' minds in regard to the
meaning, to capture which the name was thrown out as a net into the
ocean of experience. Nor must we forget that it was in their own chosen
field--the world of human thoughts and actions--that they from the
beginning seemed to themselves to find the surest evidence of the
reality of Progress. While the world that surrounded and hemmed them and
their fellows in might or must be regarded as unchanging and
unchangeable, doomed for ever to reproduce and monotonously reiterate
whatsoever it had once done and been, the mind or spirit of Man in its
own realm seemed capable of going beyond all its past achievements and
rising to new heights, not merely here and there or in isolated
instances but in such numbers or masses as to raise for long periods of
history the general level of human efficiency and welfare. It is true
that many of those who noted these advances or profited by them did not
always admit that they took place in, or were due to the agency of,
Philosophy. The advances were most often credited to other powers and
the new territory claimed by their representatives. The contributions
made by Philosophy to the general improvement of human life were and are
obscure, difficult to trace, easily missed or forgotten. It came about
that the philosopher was misconceived as one indifferent to ordinary
human interests and disdainful of the more obvious advantages secured by
others, pressing and urging forward and upward into a cloudland where
the light was too dim for the eyes of man and the paths too uncertain
for his feet. Unsatisfied with the region where Man had learned by the
slow and painful lessons of experience to build himself a habitable city
he dreamed of something higher, aspiring to explore beyond and above
where the light of that experience shone and illuminated. Perhaps the
main idea that the name of Philosophy now to most suggests is that of a
Utopian ideal of knowledge so wide and so high that it must be by sane
and sober minds pronounced for ever set beyond the reach of human
faculty, an ideal which perhaps we cannot help forming and which
constantly tempts us forward like a mirage, but which like a mirage
leads us into waste and barren places, so much so that it is no small
part of human wisdom to resist its subtle seductions and to confine our
efforts to the pursuit of such ends as we may reasonably regard as well
within the compass of our powers of thought and action. It is folly, we
are told, to adventure ourselves upon the uncharted seas into which
philosophers invite us, to waste our lives and perhaps break our hearts
in the vain search for a knowledge that is for ever denied us. After
all, there is much that we can know, and in the knowledge of which we
can better the estate of Man, relieving him from many of his most
pressing terrors and distresses. To cherish other hopes is to deceive
ourselves to our own and our fellows' undoing, to refuse them our help
and fail to play our part in the common business of mankind. There is
surely in the world enough suffering and sorrow and sin to engage all
our energies in dealing with them, nor are our endeavours to do so so
plainly fruitless as to discourage from perseverance in them. Where in
this task our hearts do faint and fail, are there not other means than
the discredited nostrum of Philosophy to revive our hopes and recruit
our forces? It was only, we are sometimes reminded, in the darkest days
of human history that men turned desperately to Philosophy for comfort
and consolation--how surely and demonstrably, we are told, in vain! When
other duties are so urgent and immediate, have we even the right to
consume our energies otherwise than in their direct discharge? And is it
not presumption to ask for any further light than that which is
vouchsafed to us in the ordinary course of experience or, if that is
insufficient, in and by Religion?

Much in this plea for a final relinquishment of aid from Philosophy in
the furtherance of human progress is plausible and more than plausible.
Yet the hope or, if you will, the dream of attaining some form or kind
or degree of knowledge which the sciences do not and cannot supply and
perhaps deny to be possible, some steadiness and firmness of assurance
other and beyond the confidence of religious faith, is not yet extinct,
is perhaps inextinguishable, and though it often takes extravagant and
even morbid and repulsive forms, still haunts and tantalizes many, nor
these the least wise or sane of our kind, so that they count all the
labour they spend upon its search worth all the pains. Not for
themselves alone do they seek it; they view themselves as not alone in
the quest, but engaged in a matter of universally human moment. In the
measure in which they count themselves to have attained any result they
do not hoard it or grudge it to others. The notion of philosophic truth
as something to be shared and enjoyed only by a few--as what is called
'esoteric'--is no longer in vogue and is indeed felt to involve an
essential self-contradiction; rather it is conceived as something the
value of which is assured and enhanced by being imparted. Those who
believe themselves to be by nature or (it may be) accident appointed to
the office of its quest, by no means feel that they are thereby divided
from their fellows as a peculiar people or a privileged and exclusive
priesthood, but much rather as fellow servants enlisted and engaged in
the public service of mankind. Least of all do they believe that their
efforts are foredoomed to inevitable failure, that progress therein is
not to be looked for, or that they and their predecessors have hitherto
made no advance towards what they and, as they also believe, all men
sought and still seek. To them the history of Philosophy for say the
last two thousand years is not the dreary and dispiriting narrative of
repeated error and defeat, but the record of a slow but secure and
steady advance in which, as nowhere else, the mind of Man celebrates and
enjoys triumphs over the mightiest obstacles, kindling itself to an
ever-brightening flame. Reviewing its own past in history the spirit of
Philosophy sees its own inner light, which is its act and its essence,
constantly increasing, spreading ever wider into the circumambient dark,
and touching far-off and hitherto undiscovered peaks with the fire of a
coming dawn. In place of the starlight of Science or the moonlight of
Religion it sees a sun arise flooding the world with light and warmth
and life. High hopes, high claims; but can they be made good, or even
rationally entertained? Suffice it here that they be openly avowed and
proclaimed to be laid up in the heart of the philosophic spirit,
'dreaming', and yet with waking eyes, 'of things to come'. Or rather
shall we not say, seeing that its eyes are unsealed and the vision
therefore no dream, beholding a present--an ever-present--Reality?

It was Philosophy, or philosophers, as I have said, that first discerned
the fact of Progress, named it, and divined its lineaments. To
Philosophy the name and notion of Progress belongs as of right--the
right of first occupation. Merely to have invented a name for the fact
is no small service, for thus the fact was fixed for further study and
examination. But with the name Philosophy gave us the idea, the notion,
and therewith the fact began to be understood and to become amenable to
further and further explanation. To this further explanation Philosophy
gave notable assistance. To 'elaborate our concepts' has been said to be
the whole business of Philosophy, that is, to arrest the vague and
shifting meanings that float before our minds loosely attached to the
words of ordinary careless speech, to fix their outlines,
distinguishing, defining, ordering and organizing until each mass of
meaning is improved and refined into a thought worthy to be called a
notion, a fit member of the world of mind, a seat and source of
intellectual light. In this work Philosophy proceeds and succeeds simply
by reflecting on whatever meaning it has in whatever manner already
acquired; it employs no strange apparatus or recondite methods, only
continues more thoughtfully and conscientiously to use the familiar
means by which the earlier simpler meanings were appropriated and
developed, following the beaten tracks of the mind's native and
spontaneous movement. Much more rarely than the sciences has it recourse
to a technical vocabulary, being content to express itself in ordinary
words though using them and their collocations with a careful delicacy
and painstaking adroitness. To follow it in these uses demands an
effort, for nothing is perhaps more difficult than to force our thoughts
to run counter to our customary heedless use of words and to learn to
employ them even for a short time with a steady precision of
significance. Yet unless this effort is resolutely made we must remain
the easy prey of manifold confusions and errors which trip us in the
dark. Our words degrade into tokens which experience will not
cash--tangles of symbols which we cannot retranslate.

But Philosophy is more than the attempt to refine and subtilize our
ordinary words so as to fit them for the higher service of
interpretative thought, more even than the endeavour to improve the
stock of ideas no matter how come by, by which we interpret to ourselves
whatever it imports us to understand. All this it is and does, or
strives to do, but only as subsidiary to its true business and real aim.
All this it might do and do successfully, and yet make or bring about no
substantial progress in itself or elsewhere. And when progress in
Philosophy is spoken of, it is not either such improvement in language
nor such improvement in ideas that alone or mainly is meant.

What is claimed for (or denied to it) under the name of Progress is an
advance in knowledge, knowledge clear-sighted, grounded, and assured,
knowledge of some authentic and indubitable reality. It is by the
attainment of such knowledge, by progress in and towards it, that the
claim of Philosophy to be progressive must stand or fall. To the
question whether it can make good its claim to the possession and
increase of this knowledge we must give special attention, for if
Philosophy fails in this it fails in all.

The oldest name for the knowledge in question was simply Wisdom and, in
some ways, in spite of its apparent arrogance this is the best name for
what is sought--or missed. Yet from the beginning the name was felt not
sufficiently to distinguish what was meant from the high skill of the
cunning craftsman and the worldly wisdom of the man of affairs, the
statesman or soldier or trader. In the case of all these it was
difficult to disengage the knowledge involved from natural or trained
practical dexterity. What was desired and required was knowledge
distinguished but not divorced from practice and application--'pure
knowledge' as it was sometimes called; not divorced, I repeat, for it
was not conceived as without bearing upon the conduct of life, but still
distinguished, as furnishing light rather than profit. For good or evil
Philosophy began by considering what it sought and hoped to reach as
pre-eminently knowledge in some distinctive sense, and having so begun
it turned to reflect once more upon what it meant by so conceiving it
and to make this meaning more precise and clear. So it came to present
to itself as its aim or goal a special kind or degree of knowledge, to
be inspired and guided by the hope of that. Practical as in many ways
was the concern of ancient philosophy--its whole bent was towards the
bettering of human life--it sought to achieve this by the extension and
deepening of knowledge, and not either through the cultivation or
refinement of emotion or the organization of practical, civil or social
or philanthropic activities. It laboured--and laboured not in vain--to
further the increase of knowledge by defining to itself in advance the
kind or degree of knowledge which would accomplish the ultimate aim of
its endeavour or subserve its accomplishment. Hence we must learn to
view with a sympathetic eye its repeated essays to give precision and
detail to the conception or ideal of knowledge.

In form the answer rendered to its request to itself for a definition,
was determined by the principle that the knowledge which was sought and
alone, if found, could satisfy, was knowledge of the real, or as it was
at first more simply expressed, of what is, or what really and veritably
is. Refusing the name of knowledge except to what had this as its
object, men turned to consider the nature of the object which stood or
could stand in this relation. With this they contrasted what we, after
them, call the phenomena, the appearances, the manifold aspects,
constantly shifting with the shifting points of view of the observer or
many observers of it, inconstant, unsteady, superficial, mirrored
through the senses and imagination, multiplied and distorted in
divergent and changing opinions, or misrepresented and even caricatured
in the turbid medium of ordinary speech, like a clouded image on the
broken waters of a rushing stream. 'It'--so at first they spoke of the
object of true or 'philosophic' knowledge--was one and single, eternal
and unchangeable, a universe or world-order of parts fixed for ever in
their external relations and inward structure. In each and all of us
there was, as it were, a tiny mirror that could be cleared so as to
reflect all this, and in so far as such reflection took place an inner
light was kindled in each which was a lamp to his path. Knowing--for to
know was so to reflect the world as it really was--knowing, man came to
self-possession and self-satisfaction--to peace and joy--and was even
'on this bank and shoal of time' raised beyond the reach of all
accidents and evils of mortal existence--looking around and down upon
all that could harm or hurt him and seeing it to be in its law-abiding
orderliness and eternal changelessness the embodiment of good. So
viewing it, man learned to feel the Universe his true home, and was
inspired not only with awe but with a high loyalty and public spirit.
'The poet says "Dear City of Cecrops", and shall I not say "Dear City of

The knowledge thus reached or believed to be attainable was more and
more discriminated from what was offered or supplied by Art or Science
or Religion, though it was still often confused with each and all of
them. As opposed to that of Art, it was not direct or immediate vision
flashed as it were upon the inner eye in moments of inspiration or
excitement; as opposed to that of Science, it was a knowledge that
pierced below the surface and the seeming of Nature and History; as
opposed to that of Religion (which was rather faith than knowledge), it
was sober, unimaginative, cleansed of emotional accompaniment and
admixture, the 'dry light' of the wise soul. True to the principle which
I have stated, ancient Philosophy proclaimed that the only knowledge in
the end worth having was knowledge of Fact--of what lay behind all
seeming however fair--Fact unmodified and unmodifiable by human wish or
will; it bade us know the world in which we live and move and have our
being, know it as it is truly and in itself, and knowing it love it,
loyally acquiescing in its purposes and subserving its ends. In all this
there was progress (was there not?) to a view, to a truth (how else
shall we speak of it?) which has always, when apprehended, begotten a
high temper in heroic hearts. Surely in having reached in thought so
high and so far the mind of man had progressed in knowledge and in

But now a change took place, from which we must date the rise or birth
of modern philosophy. Hitherto on the whole the mind of man had looked
outward and sought knowledge of what lay or seemed to lie outside
itself. So looking and gazing ever deeper it had encountered a spectacle
of admirable and awe-compelling order, yet one which for that very
reason seemed appallingly remote from, if not alien to, all human
businesses and concerns. Now it turned inward and found within itself
not only matter of more immediate or pressing interest, but a world that
compelled attention, excited curiosity, rewarded study. Slowly and
gradually the knowledge of this, the inner world--the world of the
thinker's self--became the central object of philosophic reflection. The
knowledge that was most required--that was all-important and
indispensable (so man began explicitly to realize)--was knowledge of the
Self, not of the outer world that at best could never be more than
known, but of the self that knew or could know it, that could both know
and be known. Henceforward what is studied is not knowledge of
reality--of any and every reality--or of external reality, but knowledge
of the Self which can know as well as be known. And the process by which
it is sought is reflection, for the self-knowledge is not the knowledge
of other selves, but the knowledge of just that Self which knows itself
and no other. Thus the knowledge sought is once more and now finally
distinguished from the knowledge offered or supplied by Art or Science
or Religion: not by Art, for the Self cannot appear and has no seeming
nor can it any way be pictured or described or imagined; not by
Science, for it lies beyond and beneath and behind all observation, nor
can it be counted or measured or weighed; not by Religion, for knowledge
of it comes from within and the disclosure of its nature is by the
self-witness of the Self to its self, not by revelation of any other to
it. Thus there is disclosed the slowly-won and slowly-revealed secret of
modern Philosophy, that the knowledge which is indispensable, which is
necessary as the consummation and key-stone of all other knowledge, is
knowledge of the knowing-self, self-knowledge, or, as it is sometimes
more technically called, self-consciousness, with the corollary that
this knowledge cannot be won by any methods known to or specially
characteristic of Science or Art or Religion. To become self-conscious,
to progress in self-consciousness is the end, and the way or means to it
is by reflection--the special method of Philosophy.

This is the step in advance made by the modern spirit beyond all
discoveries of the ancients; it is the truth by the apprehension of
which the modern spirit and its world is made what it is. Not outside us
lies Truth or the Truth: Truth dwelleth in the inner man--_in interiore
hominis habitat veritas_. Is this not progress, progress in wisdom, and
to what else can we ascribe the advance save to Philosophy?

It was one of the earliest utterances of modern Philosophy, and one
which it has never found reason to retract, that the Self which knows
can and does know itself better than aught else whatsoever, and in that
knowledge can without end make confident and sure-footed advance. To
itself the Self is the most certain and the most knowable of all
realities--with this it is most acquainted, this it has light in itself
to explore, of this it can confidently foresee and foretell the method
of advance to further and further knowledge. It knows not only its
existence but its essence, its nature, and it knows by what procedure,
by what ordered effort or exercise of will it can progress to height
beyond height of its self-knowledge. I say, it knows it, but it also
knows that that knowledge cannot be attained all at once or taken
complete and ready-made, for it _is_ itself a progress, a self-created
and self-determined progress, and on that condition progress alone is or
is real. For it to be is not to be at the beginning or at the end of
this process, but to be always coming to be, coming to be what it is not
and yet also what it has in it to be. Of nothing else is Progress so
intimately the essence and very being; if we ask 'What progresses or
evolves?', the most certain answer is 'The spirit which is in man, and
what it progresses in, is knowledge of itself, which is wisdom'.
Speaking of and for Philosophy I venture to maintain that nothing is
more certain than that that spirit which has created it has grown, is
growing, and will ever grow in wisdom, and that by reflection upon
itself and its history--nor can the gates of darkness and error prevail
against the irresistible march of its triumphant progress.

As we look back the history of Philosophy seems strewn with the debris
of outworn or outlived errors, but out of them all emerges this clear
and assured truth, that in self-knowledge lies the master-light of all
our seeing, inexhaustibly casting its rays into the retreating shadow
world that now surrounds us, melting all mists and dispelling all
clouds, and that the way to it is unveiled, mapped and charted in
advance so that henceforward we can walk sure-footedly therein. Yet that
does not mean that the work of Philosophy is done, that it can fold its
hands and sit down, for only in the seeking is its prize found and there
is no goal or end other than the process itself. For this too is its
discovery, that not by, but in, endless reflection is the Truth
concerning it known, the Truth that each generation must ever anew win
and earn it for itself. The result is not without the process, nor the
end without the means: the fact _is_ the process and other fact there is
none. In other forms of so-called 'knowledge' we can sever the
conclusion from its premisses, and the result can be given without the
process, but with self-knowledge it is not so and no generation, or
individual, can communicate it ready-made to another, but can only point
the way and bid others help themselves. And if this, so put, seems hard
doctrine, I can only remind you that to philosophize has always meant
'to think by and for oneself'.

It is perhaps more necessary to formulate the warning that what is here
called self-knowledge and pronounced to constitute the very essence of
the spirit that is in man, is far removed from what sometimes bears its
name, the extended and minute acquaintance by the individual mind with
its individual peculiarities or idiosyncrasies, its weaknesses and
vanities, its whims and eccentricities; nor is it to be confused with
the still wider acquaintance with those that make up our common human
nature in all its folly and frailty which is sometimes called 'knowledge
of human nature'; no, nor with such knowledge as psychological science,
with its methods of observation and induction and experiment, offers or
supplies. It is knowledge of something that lies far deeper within
us--'the inward man', which is not merely alike or akin but is the same
in all of us; beneath all our differences, strong against all our
weaknesses, wise against all our follies, what each of us rightly calls
his true self and yet what is not his alone, but all men's also. As we
reflect upon it duly, what discloses or reveals itself to us is a self
which is both our very own and yet common or universal, the self of each
and yet the self of all. The more we get to apprehend and understand it,
the more we become and know ourselves, not so much as being but as
becoming one with one another; the differences that sunder us in
feeling and thought and action melting away like mist. The removal of
these differences is just the unveiling of it, in which it at once comes
to be and to be known. In coming to know it we create it. The unity of
the spirit thus becomes and is known as indubitable fact, or rather (I
must repeat) not as fact, as if it were or were anything before being
known, but as something which is ever more and more coming to be, in the
measure in which it is coming to be known--known to itself. For this is
the hard lesson of modern philosophy, that our inmost nature and most
genuine self is not aught ready-made or given, but something which is
created in and by the process of our coming to know it, which progresses
in existence and substantiality and value as our knowledge of it
progresses in width and depth and self-assurance. The process is one of
creative--self-creative--evolution, in which each advance deposits a
result which prescribes the next step and supplies all the conditions
for it, and so constantly furnishes all that is required for an endless
progress in reality and worth. This is the process in which the spirit
of man capitalizes and substantiates its activities, committing its
gains to secure custody, amassing and using them for its
self-enrichment--in which it depends on no other than itself and is
sovereign master of its future and its fate. This is the way in which
selves are made, or rather, make themselves.

This is the discovery of modern Philosophy, the now patent secret which
it offers for the interpretation of all mysteries and the solving of all
problems--and it offers it with unquestioning assurance, for it has
explored the ground and has awakened to the true method of progress
within it. And as I have said or implied, to the reflective mind regress
is impossible, it cannot go back upon itself, and with due tenderness
and gratitude it has set behind it the things of its unreflective
childhood. It stands on the stable foundation of the witness of the
spirit within us to itself, to its own nature, its own powers and its
own rights; it knows itself as the knower, the interpreter, the teacher,
and therefore the master and maker of itself. Yet we must not identify
or confuse this our deeper or deepest self which we thus create with the
separate selves or souls which each of us is; it is not any one of them
nor all of them together, unless we give to the word 'together' a new
and more pregnant sense than it has yet come to bear. It is not the
'tribal' or 'collective' or 'social' self, for it is not made by
congregation or collection or association, but by some far more intimate
unification than is signified by any of these terms, namely by coming
together in and by knowledge. It is the spirit which is in us all and in
which we all are, which is more yet not other than we, without which we
are nothing and do nothing and yet which is veritably the spirit of man,
the immortal hero of all the tragedy and comedy--the whole drama--of
human history; it is of this spirit as it is by it, that Philosophy has
in repeated and resolute reflection come to know the nature and the
method of its progress. Such knowledge has come into the world and
prevails more widely and more potently than ever before; possessed in
fullness by but a few, it is open and available to all and radiates as
from a beacon light over the whole field of human experience; at that
fire every man can light his candle. This is the light in which alone
the record of man's thoughts and achievements can be construed and which
exhibits them as steps and stages on that triumphant march to higher and
higher levels such as alone we can rightly name Progress. Where else
than in History, and, above all, in the History of Knowledge, is
Progress manifested, and in that where more certainly than in the
unretreating and unrevoked advance towards a deeper, a truer, a wiser
knowledge of itself by the spirit that is in and is, Man?

Yes, such knowledge, truth and wisdom now exists and is securely ours,
though to inherit it each generation and each individual must win it
afresh and having won it must develop and promote it, or it ceases not
only to work but to be. For it exists only as it is made or rather only
in the act and fact of its progress, and so for it not to progress is at
once to return to impotence and nothingness. And it is we who maintain
it in being, maintaining it by endless reiterated efforts of reflection,
and so maintaining it we maintain ourselves, resting or relying upon it
and using it as a source of strength and a fulcrum or a platform for
further effort. Upon self-knowledge in this sense all other 'knowledge'
reposes; upon it and the knowledge of other selves and the world, which
flows from it, depends the possibility of all practical advance. In the
dark all progress is impossible.

But since this discovery was made and made good, the spirit of
Philosophy has not stood still; it has gone on, and is still going on,
to extend and deepen and secure its conquests. Once more it has turned
from its fruitful and enlightening concentration on the inner self and
its life to review what lies or seems to lie around and outside it. It
finds that those who have stayed, or fallen, behind its audacious but
justified advance in self-knowledge, still cherish a view of what is
external to this (the true or real self so now made patent), thoughts or
fancies which misconceive and misrepresent it--thoughts persisted in
against the feebler protesting voices of Art and Religion and so held
precariously and unstably though apparently grounded upon the authority
of Science. To the unphilosophic or not yet philosophic mind the spirit
of man, already in imagination multiplied and segregated into individual
'souls', appears to be surrounded with an environment of alien
character, often harsh to man's emotions, often rebellious or
untractable to his purposes, often impenetrable to his understanding,
and in a word indifferent or hostile to his ideals and aspirations after
progress and good. Nay, the individual souls seem to act towards one
another separately and collectively as such hindrances, and again, each
individual soul seems to be encrusted with insuperable impediments. Even
the light within is enclosed in an opaque screen which prevents or
counteracts its outflow, so that the spirit within is as it were
entombed or imprisoned. 'Wall upon wall, the gross flesh hems us in,' we
cannot communicate with one another or join with one another in thought
or deed; and the hope of progress seems defeated by the recalcitrant
matter that shell upon shell encases us. The world of our bodies, of the
bodies and spirits of others, and all the vast _compages_ of things and
forces which we call 'Nature' blinds and baffles us, mocks our hopes and
breaks our hearts. How idle to dream that amidst and against all this
neutrality or hostility any substantial or secure advance can be made!

In answer to all these thoughts, these doubts and fears, Philosophy is
beginning with increasing boldness to speak a word, not of mere comfort
and consolation, but of secure and confident wisdom. All this so-called
'external' nature and environment is not hostile or alien to the self or
spirit which is in man, it is akin and allied to it as we now know it to
be. Whatever is real and not merely apparent in History or Nature is
rational, is of the same stuff and character as that which is within us.
It too is spiritual, the appearance and embodiment of what is one in
nature and mode of being with what lies deepest and is most potent in
us. So far as it is not that, it is appearance and not reality, woven
like a dream by imagination or endowed with an unstable and shifting
quasi-reality by our thoughts and suppositions and fancies about we
know not what. Not that it is an illusion, still less a delusion, rather
what it is is the outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual
reality, a symbol beautiful, orderly, awe-inspiring yet mutilated,
partial, confused, of something deeper and more real, the expression,
the face and gesture, of a spirit that, as ours does, knows itself, its
own profound being and meaning, and does what it does in the light of
such knowledge, a spirit which above all progresses endlessly towards
and in a richer and fuller knowledge of itself. What we call
Fact--historical or natural--is essentially such an expression, on the
one hand a finished expression, set in the past and therefore for ever
beyond the possibility of change and so of progress, an exhausted or
dead expression, on the other hand a passing into the light of what was
before unknown even to the expresser's self, an act by which was made
and secured a self-discovery or self-revelation, a creative act of
self-knowledge and so significant and interpretable. This double
character of events in History and Nature is dimly descried in what we
specially call 'nature', but comes more fully into view in the sphere of
human history, where each step is at once a deed and a discovery, a
contribution to the constitution of the world of fact and a fulguration
of the light within illuminating facts as the condition of its own
inexhaustible continuance. The world of Fact, artistic or aesthetic,
scientific, moral, political, economic, is what the spirit builds round
itself, creating it out of its own substance, while it itself in
creating it grows within, evolving out of itself into itself and
advancing in knowledge or wisdom and power. And out of its now securely
won self-knowledge it declares that it--itself--is the source and spring
of all real fact whatsoever, which is its self-created expression, made
by it in its own interests, and for its own good, the better and better
to know itself. Nothing is or can be alien, still less hostile to it,
for 'in wisdom has it made them all'. Looking back and around it
re-reads in all fact the results of its own power of self-expression.
Nothing is but what it has made.

All this might perhaps have been put very simply by saying that ever
since man has set himself to know his own mind in the right way, he has
succeeded better and better, and that in knowing his own mind he has
come to know and is still coming to know all else beside, including all
that at first sight seems other than, or even counter to, his own mind.
He has learned what manner of being he is, how that being has been made
and how it continues to be made and developed, and again, how in the
course of its self-creation and self-advance it deposits itself in
'fact' and reflecting on that fact rises beyond and above itself in
knowledge and power. He is mind or spirit, and what lies behind and
around him is spiritual. As he reflects upon this the meaning of it
becomes ever more clear and distinct, ordered and organized, and at the
same time more substantial, more real, more lively and potent. In
becoming known what was before dead and dark and threatening or
obstructive or hostile is made transparent, alive, utilisable,
contributing to the constantly growing self that knows and is known.
Here is the growing point of reality, the _fons emanationis_ of truth
and worth and being, evidencing its power not as it were in increase of
bulk, but in the enhancing of value. And surely here is Progress, which
consists not in mere enlargement or expansion but in the heightening of
forces to a new power--in a word, in their elevation to a more
spiritual, a more intelligent and therefore more potent, level.

To the artistic eye the universe presents itself as a vast and moving
spectacle, to the scientific mind as the theatre of forces which repeat
their work with a mechanical uniformity or perhaps fatally run down to
a predestined and predictable final arrest, to the devout or religious
soul as the constant efflux of a beneficent will, unweariedly kind,
caring for the humblest of its creatures, august, worshipful, deserving
of endless adoration and love, while to the philosophic mind it is known
and ever more to be known as the self-expression of a mind in essence
one with all minds that know it in knowing themselves, know it as the
work or product of a mind engaged or absorbed in knowing itself, and so
creating itself and all that is requisite that it may learn more and
more what is hidden or stored from all eternity within its plenitude. At
least we may say that the conception of a Mind which in order to know
itself creates the conditions of such knowledge, which wills to learn
whatever can be learned of itself from whatever it does, supplies the
best pattern or original after which to model our vaguer and more
blurred conceptions of progressive existence and being elsewhere. It
furnishes to us an ideal of a progress which realizes or maintains and
advances itself, for it is independent upon external conditions. The
Progress of Philosophy or of Wisdom is a palmary instance of progress
achieved out of the internal resources of that which progresses. And
after this pattern we least untruly and least unworthily conceive the
mode of that eternal and universal Progress which is the life of the
Whole within and as part of which we live.

The aim of Philosophy is not edification but the possession and
enjoyment of Truth, and the Truth may wear an aspect which, while it
enlightens, also blinds or even at first appals and paralyses. And
certainly Reality or Philosophy as has come to know it and proclaims it
to be, is not such as either directly to warm our hearts or stimulate
our energies. Not to do either has Philosophy come into the world, nor
so does it help to bring Progress about; nor does it offer prizes to
those who pursue either moral improvement or business success, nor
again does it increase that information concerning 'nature' and men
which is the condition of the one and the other, yet to those who love
Truth and who will buy no good at the sacrifice of it, what it offers is
enough, and to progress towards and in it is for them worth all the
world beside; it is, if not the only real progress, that in the absence
of which all other progress is without worth or substance or reality. In
the end, if any advance anywhere is claimed or asserted, must we not
ask: Is the claim founded on truth, is the good or profit seemingly
attained a (or the) true good? To whom or to what is it good? Can we
stop short of the endeavour to assure ourselves beyond question or doubt
that we are right in what answers we render? And where or by what means
can we reach this save by turning inward on meditation or reflection,
that is by philosophizing? [Greek: Ei philosophêteon philosophêteon, ei
de mê, philosophêteon; pantôs ara philosophêteon]. Thither the mind of
man has always turned when the burden of the mystery of its nature and
fate has weighed all but intolerably upon it, and turning has never
found itself betrayed, but from knowledge of itself has drawn fresh hope
and strength to resume the uninterrupted march of Progress which is its
life and its history, its being, its self-formation, in courage moving
forwards in and towards the light. It is as if such light were not
merely the condition of its welfare, but the food on which it lived, the
stuff which it transmuted into substance and energy, out of it making,
maintaining and building its very self. So under whatever name, whether
we call what we are doing Philosophy or something else, the search for
more and more light upon ourselves and our world is the most
indispensable activity to which the leagued and co-operative powers of
Man can be devoted. Fortunately it is also that in which success or
failure depends most certainly upon ourselves and in which Progress can
with most confidence be looked for. In it we cannot fail if we will to
take sufficient trouble; the means to it are open and available; it is
our fault if we do not employ them and profit by them. If we have less
wisdom than we might have, it is never any one's fault but our own. The
door of the treasure-house of Wisdom stands ever open.


C. C. J. Webb, _History of Philosophy_ (Home University Library).

Burnet, _History of Greek Philosophy_.

E. J. Bevan, _Stoics and Sceptics_.

Höffding, _History of Modern Philosophy_ (translated).

Royce, _The Spirit of Philosophy_.

Merz, _History of European Thought in the Nineteenth Century_.




Throughout this course of lectures, now come to its close, we have
together been engaged in a theoretical inquiry. We have been looking
mainly towards the past, to something therefore for ever and in its very
nature set beyond the possibility of alteration by us or indeed at all.
'What is done not even God can make to be undone.' Were it otherwise it
could not be fact or reality and so not capable of being theorized or
studied. In the words of our programme we have analysed what is involved
in the conception of Progress, shown when it became prominent in the
consciousness of mankind and how far the idea has been realized--that is
has become fact--in the different departments of life. We have taken
Progress as a fact, something accomplished, and have attempted so taking
it to explain or understand it. We have not indeed assumed that it is
confined to the past, but have at times enlarged our consideration so as
to recognize its continuance in the present and to justify the hope of
its persistence in the future. Some of us would perhaps go further and
hold that it has, by these and similar reflections, come to be part of
our assured knowledge that it must so continue and persist. But however
we have widened our purview, what we call Progress has remained to us a
course or movement which still presents the appearance of a fact which
is largely, if not wholly, independent of us--a fact because independent
of us--to which we can occupy no other attitude than that of interested
spectators, interested and concerned, moved or conditioned by it but not
active or co-operative in it. So far as it is in process of realization
in the vast theatre of nature, inorganic or organic, dead or living,
that surrounds us, it pursues its course in virtue of powers not ours
and unamenable to our control. And even when we view it within the
closer environment of human history its current seems to carry us
irresistibly with it. Its existence is indeed of very practical concern
to us, but apparently all we can do is to come to know it, and knowing
it to allow for it as or among the set conditions of our self-originated
or self-governed actions if such actions there be.

The clearer we have become as to the nature of Progress, the more it
would appear that it must be for us, because it is in itself, a fact to
be recognized in theory, taken into account and reckoned with. It is or
it is not, comes to be or does not come to be, and what we have first
and foremost to seek, is light upon its existence and character as it is
or occurs. Light, we hope, has been cast upon it. We have learned that
in its inmost essence and to its utmost bounds Reality--what lies
outside and around us--is not fixed, rigid, immobile, was not and is not
and cannot be as the ancient or mediaeval mind feigned or fabled,
something beyond the reach of time and change--static or stationary--but
is itself a process of ceaseless alteration. We have learned also to be
dissatisfied with the compromise which, while acknowledging such
alteration, all but withdraws it in effect by asserting it to be either
in gross or in detail a process of mere repetition. The system of laws
which science had taught us to consider as the truth of nature is itself
now known to be caught in the evolutionary process, and to be undergoing
a constant modification. As in the modern state, so in Nature, the
legislative power is not exhausted but incessantly embodies itself in
novel forms. Nature itself--_natura naturans_--is now conceived, and
rightly conceived, as a power not bound to laws other than those which
it makes for or imposes on itself, and as in its operations at least
analogous to a will self-determined, self-governing, creative of the
ways and means by which its purpose or purposes are achieved. What that
purpose is we have begun to apprehend, and to see its various processes
as converging or co-operating towards its fulfilment. In the
mythological language which even Science is still obliged to use, we now
speak of Nature as 'selecting' or 'devising', and we ascribe to it a
large freedom of choice wisely used. We can already at least define the
process as guided towards a greater variety and fullness and harmony of
life, or (with a larger courage) as pointed towards a heightening or
potentiation of life. So defining its goal we can sympathize with and
welcome the successful efforts made toward it, and so feel ourselves at
heart one with the power that carries on the process in its aspirations
and its efforts. But still, we cannot help feeling, it and all its ways
lie outside us, and to us it remains an alien or foreign power. I
venture to repeat my contention that this is so just because, however
much we come to learn of its ways, we do not feel that we are coming to
understand it any better, getting inside it, as we do get inside and
understand human nature. Its progress is a change, perhaps a betterment,
in our environment--in externals--and takes place very largely whether
we will and act or no. The larger our acquaintance with it, the more
does its action seem to encroach upon the domain within which our
volitions and acts can make any difference. Even in social life we seem
in the grip and grasp of forces which carry us towards evil or good
whether we will or no. _Ducunt volentem fata, nolentem trahunt._ The
whole known universe outside and around us presents to us the spectacle
of what has been called a _de facto_ teleology, and just because it is
so, and so widely and deeply so, it leaves little or no room for us to
set up our ideals within it and to work for their realization. The fact
that the laws which prevail in it are modifiable and modified makes no
difference; they modify themselves, and in their different forms still
constrain us. And no matter how increasingly beneficent they may in
their action appear, they are still despotic and we unfree. The rule of
laws which Science discovers encroaches upon our liberties and
privacies. What we had hitherto thought our very own, the movement of
our impulses and desires and imaginations, are reported by science to be
subject to 'laws of association', and we are borne onwards even if also
at times upwards on an irresistible flood. We remain bound by the iron
necessity of a fate that invades our inmost being--which will not let us
anywhere securely alone. I repeat that it matters not how certainly the
trend of the tide, which sets everywhere around and outside us, is
towards what is good or best for us, it still is the case that it
presents itself as neither asking for from us nor permitting to us the
formation of any ideals of ours nor any prospect of securing them by our
efforts. Were the fact of Progress established and conclusively shown to
be all-pervasive and eternal, it still would bear to us the aspect of a
paternal government which did good to and for us, but all the more left
less and less to ourselves.

This will doubtless be pronounced an exaggeration, and we may weakly
refuse to face the impression naturally consequent upon the progress we
have made in the ascertainment of the facts concerning the world in
which we live. But does not the impression exist? The hateful and
desolating impression made on us earlier by the thought of a 'block'
universe, once for all and rigidly fixed in unalterable and uniform
subjection to eternal and omnipresent law, has dissolved like the
baseless fabric of a vision. And why? Just because being found
intolerable it was faced and put to the question. Now that there has
been substituted for it the spectacle of a universe necessarily or
fatally evolving--or, as we have said, progressing--does it not, while
still evoking the old awe or reverence, do anything but still daunt and
dishearten us? What is our part, we ask, our very own part within all
this? What can we within it do? And the answer, that it is ours, if we
will, to enter into and live in the contemplation of all this no longer
appeals to us. In such a progressive universe we can no longer feel
ourselves 'at home'. In it our active nature would seem to exist only to
be disappointed and rebuffed.

The only progress which we can care for is the progress which we
ourselves bring about, or can believe that we bring about, in ourselves
or our fellows or in the world immediately around us. So long as what is
so named is something devised and executed by a power not our own--not
the same as our own--it may call out from us gratitude and reverence,
but the spectacle of the reality of such Progress cannot exercise the
attractive force nor, so far as it is realized, beget that creative joy
which accompanies even humble acts in which we set an ideal of our own
before ourselves, and see it through our efforts emerge into actual
existence. A practical ideal must be through and through of our own
making. It must be devised by us and set to ourselves for our pursuit,
and its coming to be, or be real, must be our doing. The very idea of it
must be our own, not given or prescribed, still less imposed, and the
process towards it must be our doing too. That there should, on their
view of it, ever be protest and rebellion against its tyrannous demands
appears to me reasonable and right, and those who make it to be guarding
the immediate jewel of man's nature. We should, we might say, if this
were the whole truth about the universe, acknowledge ourselves as its
sons bound to gratitude and obedience because of the fatherly care for
us, but it would be an essential complement to our family loyalty that
we should insist upon and make good our claims to be grown-up sons and
fellow citizens, declining to pronounce it wholly good, if those claims
were denied to us. Now all these conditions seem to make straight
against the possibility of regarding Progress, in the view of it we have
hitherto taken, as an ideal of our action.

In view of this character of the known fact of Progress, so discouraging
and disabling to our active or practical nature, certain suggestions
have been made which are thought to relieve us from these effects. It is
said sometimes that this fatal--if beneficent or beneficial, still
fatal--progress leaves as it were certain interstices in the universe
within which it loses its constraining force, petty provinces but
sufficient, where man is master and determines all events, from which
even, it is sometimes conceded, some obscure but important influences
are permitted to flow, modifying his immediate surroundings, little
sanctuaries where the spirit that is in him and is his devises and
realizes ideals of its own. But the notion of such sacrosanct and
inviolable autonomies is being steadily undermined, and they are felt,
as science becomes more dominant over our imaginations and emotions, to
be no more than eddies in the universal stream, only apparently distinct
and self-maintained, means made and broken for its purpose, really
products and instruments of the world-progress. At any rate, it has been
denied that they can rightfully be thought to stand outside it or
themselves to exercise any effect upon their fortunes and their fate,
still less upon their environment. Another suggestion fully and frankly
acknowledges this, but though denying to us any power to affect either
the form or the direction of the currents on which we are borne along,
declares still open to us the possibility of affecting their speed, and
bids us find satisfaction in the thought that by taking thought or
resolve we can hasten or delay their and the universal movement. Still
another view, abandoning even that hope, proclaims one last choice open
to us, namely, that of sullen submission to, or glad and loyal
acquiescence in, its irresistible sway. But surely all these suggestions
are idle, and but for a moment conceal or postpone the inevitable
conclusion that if Progress was, is and must or will be, that is, is
necessary, what we think or do makes no difference, and can make no
difference to or in it. Whether or no we convert the fact into an ideal,
whether or no we set it before as our aim and exert ourselves to work
for it, it goes on its way all the same. Either then it is not a fact,
never was, and never will be a fact, or it is no possible ideal for
which we can act. To be or become a fact, it must be independent of our
action or our consent or our liking; if it is not all these it is not an
ideal of action, or at any rate not so for us. I must repeat that what
is or can be an ideal of action for us must be wholly and solely of our
making, the very thought of it self-begotten in our mind, every step to
its actual existence the self-created deed of our will. Not that either
idea or act comes into being in a void or without suggestion and
assistance from without us, but still so that the initiative lies in
what we think or do, and so that without us it is unreal and impossible.
It is enough, indeed, that we should be contributory, but the ideal must
be such that without our irreplaceable co-operation it must fail. The
only Progress in which we can take an active interest or make an ideal
of action, is one which we conceive and execute, and that the fact we
call Progress is not.

So far we have found much argument to show that what we have hitherto
called Progress is not and cannot be an ideal of action, or at least of
our action. And now we must face another argument more plain and
apparently fatal, indeed, specially or peculiarly fatal. For the very
notion of Progress is of a process which continues without end, or we
have the dilemma that it is either endless or runs to an end in which
there is no longer Progress but something else. In either case it is not
itself an end or the end, and whatever an ideal of action is, it must be
an end--something beyond which there is nothing, which has no Beyond at
all. To set before oneself as an ideal of action what one certainly
knows to be incapable of attainment or accomplishment, incapable of
coming to an end--that is surely futile and vain. Without a best, better
or better-and-better has no meaning, and when the best is reached
Progress is no more.

The objection may be put in various ways, as thus. What we seek or want
or work for, is to be satisfied, and satisfaction is a state, not a
process or a progress. Or again, acting is a process of seeking, seeking
and striving for something, and surely the seeking cannot itself be the
object of the search. Or once more, what we act for is, as we must
conceive it, something complete, finished, perfect, but Progress is
essentially something incomplete, unfinished, imperfect. We all feel
this, and at times at least the thought that what we seek flies ever
before, affrights and paralyses: recoiling from such a prospect, we set
before our imaginations as the reward or result of our labours, not
movement but rest, not creation or production but consumption and
fruition. We dream of one day coming to participate in a life or
experience so good that there is no change from less good to more good
possible within it, and which, if it can be said to progress at all,
only, in Milton's magnificent words, 'progresses the dateless and
irrevoluble circle of its own perfections, joining inseparable hands
with joy and bliss in over-measure for ever'. Once this ideal has
presented itself to our hopes or desires, it degrades by comparison with
it to a second-best, the former ideal of endless development from lower
to higher. What we want and seek is to be there, to have done with
getting there. 'Here is the house of fulfilment of craving, this is the
cup with the roses around it.' Compared with this, how disconsolate a
prospect is that 'of the sea that hath no shore beyond it, set in all
the sea'--the endless voyage or quest. Not Progress is or can be the
end, but achievement and the enjoyment of it. The progress is towards
and for the end; the end is the supreme good and the progress is only
good because of it, because it is on the way that leads to it, the way
we are content to travel only because it leads there. Once more, and on
still surer grounds, we must pronounce what we have come to know as
Progress to be no possible ideal of action. What draws us on is the hope
of something to be attained in and by the progress. To take Progress,
which on the one hand is a fact and on the other is an incomplete fact,
to be the end of our striving and our doing is to acquiesce in a

Yet the counter-ideal of a state in which we shall simply rest from our
labours and sit down to enjoy the fruits of them does not promise
satisfaction either, and so cannot be the end or ideal. Our desire and
our endeavour is not for a moveless, changeless, undeveloping
perfection. In fact, so often as the dream of such a state attained has
presented itself, it has to thoughtful minds appeared anything but
attractive or desirable. Our desire is to go on, and for that we are
willing to pay a price--nay, it is for more than merely to go on, it is
to advance and increase in perfection, so much so that the ideal itself
once more slews round into its opposite and the search appears worth
more than the attainment. It seems that we were not on the other view so
wholly wrong, but must try so to frame our ideal of action as to unite
both characters and satisfy both demands at once, so that it shall be at
once a state and a movement or process, an achievement and a progress, a
rest or quiet and a striving after it, a perfection and a perfecting.
The combination at first sight appears impossible. Yet both characters
it must combine. Here again, I must confess that the idea of mere
Progress, even as achieved by our own efforts, seems to me to omit
something essential to an ideal of action--of what is worth while our
acting for. What is to be an ideal of action must have the character of
a fulfilment--something to be consumed, not merely eternally added to.
For this character of the (or any) ideal of action the best name is
fruition or enjoyment. And the defect in the conception of it as
Progress is that it seems to postpone this without a date.

Let us put this truth which we have discovered concerning Progress in a
nutshell, hiding or disregarding the internal contradiction. What is the
nature, what is the kind of reality, which we have learned to ascribe to
Progress (for we did pronounce it real and essentially capable of being
realized)? It is that it is fact, yet fact not made but in the making;
it is just the name for what is real only through and in the process of
becoming real or being realized. Now I have already elsewhere pointed
out that while a realization which is also a reality, or a reality which
is also a realization, is in nature or what is external to us a mystery
and a puzzle, it is just when we look inwards the open secret of our
being; in our life or action regarded from within, it appears as
something which is only dark because it is so close and familiar to us
that inspection of it is difficult, not because it is in itself opaque
or unintelligible. To its exemplification or illustration there we must
turn for light upon our problem.

Let us for the time disregard the pressure exercised upon us by the
suggestions of physical science, or even, I may add, popular and
imaginative or opinionative--which is Latin for 'dogmatic'--Religion,
and examine how Progress takes place, or is realized and real, within
our spirits, or that spirit which is within us. The inward process is
one by which that spirit is or is real only in the act or fact of being
or coming to be realized, or rather of realizing itself, and the way in
which it so becomes or makes itself real is by acknowledging its own
past, treating it as fact, recognizing its failures or imperfections
therein, projecting on the future an idea or ideal of itself, suggested
by those apprehended wants or defects, of what it might be, and using
that to supply itself with both energy and guidance, drawing from its
own past both strength and light. In all this it acts autonomously, out
of itself, and creates both the requisite light and the indispensable
force, making its very limitations into new sources and reservoirs of

We do not sufficiently note and hold and use the indubitable truth that,
in contradistinction to what we call Nature, the forces of the spirit
reinforce and re-create themselves in their use, are in their use not
consumed but reinvigorated, not dissipated or degraded but recollected
and elevated, not expended but enhanced. There is in the realm of spirit
which is our nature and our world no law of either the conservation or
the degradation of energy. We must not allow ourselves to be brow-beaten
by arguments drawn from the obscurer region of physical and external
nature. We know ourselves to be energies or energizing powers which
increase and do not waste by exercise. That is what we ought to mean by
saying that we are wills and not forces, spiritual not physical or
natural beings. If need be to confirm ourselves in this knowledge, let
us think of what takes place, has taken place in the advance of
knowledge, and particularly of the most important kind of knowledge,
viz. self-knowledge, how we make it by our reflection upon what we have
already in respect of it achieved, recognize how it or we have fallen
short or over-shot our mark, define what is required to make good its
deficiencies, and find ourselves thereby already in actual possession of
the preconceived supplement. The real, the fact, what is attained or
accomplished in and by us, prescribes and facilitates, or rather
supplies, its own missing complement of perfection. The process carries
itself on, the progress realizes itself, the ideal translates itself
into the fact or actuality: it accomplishes itself and yet it is the
doing of our very self, of the spirit within us. All this is not merely
our doing, it is our being, it is the process by which we make our
minds, our souls, our very selves or self.

That man is essentially an, or rather the, ideal-forming animal (or
rather spirit) has long been noted, and also that the formation of
ideals is an indispensable factor in his progress, which is his life and
very being. But all the same, this is sometimes put in such a way as to
make action, or at least human action, a dispensable accident in the
universe, an ineffective and unsubstantial unreality, while at the same
time those who put it thus, profess to see through the illusion and to
enjoy moments of insight which recognize its nullity. This way of
putting it in my judgement intolerably misconceives and misrepresents
the truth.

Our ideals of action must be self-made or self-begotten, but yet they
must be congruent with known fact; but the manner of such congruence is
hard to see, hard to express. Ideals cannot be themselves facts, and
therefore cannot be known, but on the other hand they cannot be mere
imaginations or suppositions or beliefs, still less, of course,
illusions or delusions. They are not visionary, and the apprehension of
them is a sort or degree of perception. They point beyond themselves to
some higher fact which is not cognizable by our senses or perhaps our
understanding, but which is yet genuinely cognizable and so in some high
sense fact. Yet they are not, as we envisage them, the fact to which
they point, but a substitute for or representative of that--an
anticipation of or prevision of it, a symbol of a fact. Their own kind
or degree of reality is sometimes called 'validity'--a term I do not
like: it might be more simply named 'rightness' with the connotation of
a certain incumbency and imperativeness as well as of an appeal or
adjustment to our nature as we know it; or perhaps all we can say is
that their reality--it seems a paradox that an ideal should possess
'reality'--consists in their suggestiveness of modes of action and their
applicability to it, all this being supported by the conception of a
state of affairs beyond and around us which makes it 'right'.

If all this is so, Progress as an ideal of action cannot be precisely
identical with Progress as a fact or object of actual or possible
knowledge. We can never know what we are aiming at. But though
different, the two are and must be congruent, and this may be enough to
justify us in using the one name for the two. Unless there were Progress
as fact everywhere and always in the universe--outside us--in Nature and
History, and unless we took ourselves genuinely to apprehend this, we
could not form the practical ideal of Progress, or at least the ideal
could not be right. But the difference remains, and we must be prepared
for and allow for it; though we can use the knowledge we obtain of the
fact of Progress to control and guide our formulation of the practical
ideal, we cannot identify the one with the other. Our imagining and our
supposing of what is best for or obligatory upon us to do or work for,
must go on under conditions--the conditions of what we know as to the
nature of ourselves and our surroundings--and yet under these conditions
has a very large liberty or autonomy.

The Progress which is to serve as a practical ideal is not and cannot be
the Progress that we know, but must be the result of imagination or
supposition, and it is high and necessary wisdom to trust our
imaginations and aspirations. The forms which it rightly takes cannot be
determined by what we have learned in or from the past; it cometh not
with observation, and the sources of experience cannot of themselves
supply us with it, and though it comes in and with experience, it does
not come from or out of it. Yet it is due to an impression made upon us
by the Universe as we by our faculties apprehend it, and is not merely
subjective or of subjective origin. Begotten of the imagination, it is
appearance, not ultimate reality, and it cannot be thought out or wholly
evacuated of mystery and perplexity. Is this not involved in the
language we use of it, proclaiming it practical and therefore not

Nevertheless, while I must acknowledge this insuperable difference
between the Progress we can make our end or ideal and the Progress we
believe that in ourselves and around us we apprehend, I still would lay
renewed stress upon the congruence and affinity of the two, and urge
that the perception of the one--the Progress without us--and the pursuit
of the other--the Progress within us--support and fertilize each the
other. The more we know or can learn of the one the more effectively do
we pursue the other, and conversely. The light and the fruits are bound
together: the theory and the practice of Progress cannot be dissevered
without the ruin of both.

The ideal of Progress which we present to ourselves is and must be one
which is partly determined or limited by past achievement and partly
enlarged by the study of what powers higher than our own have
accomplished and are accomplishing. The formation of it must move
constantly between a respect for what has been achieved and a worship,
so to speak, for what is far better than anything that yet has been or
become fact, and therefore incumbent or imperative upon us.

The mode and manner of the Progress which is achieved in the Universe
has become in various ways clearer to us and opens out undreamt-of
possibilities, and our assurance of its reality is ever more and more
confirmed, while on the other hand its actual or past results at the
lower level of nature have grown and are growing more familiar. We see
that Progress is the essential and therefore eternal form of life and
spiritual being, which endows it everywhere with worth and substance.
With this comes the conviction that the source of all this lies inward,
in that inwardness where our true selves lie and springs from the very
nature of that. The spirit which is within us is not other than the
spirit which upholds and maintains the whole Universe and works after
the same fashion. And with regard to this its manner of working, we have
learned that it proceeds by taking account of its own past achievements,
imagining or conceiving for itself tasks relevant to these but not
limited by them, and finds in that the conditions and stimulus to their
actualization. It is our business to imitate this procedure and so to
contribute to the advance of the whole. No work so done is or can be
lost. We are justified in supposing that in so doing we are leagued
together in effective co-operation with one another and with all other
forces at work in the whole. In and through us, though not in and
through us only, Progress goes on, drawing us along with it. Inner and
outer Progress, free allegiance and loyal subjection concur and do not
clash, and the world in which we live and act appears to us as it is--a
city of God which is also a self-governed and self-administered city of
free men.

But above all, what it prescribes to us is the duty--another name for
'the ideal of action'--to seek first light as to the true nature of our
world and ourselves, dismissing and disregarding all appearance, however
charming or seductive. Unless we learn to see Progress as universal and
omnipresent and omnipotent, we shall set before ourselves ideals of
action which are false and treacherous. We must exert ourselves not
merely to apprehend, but to dwell in the apprehension and vision of it.

And if there were no other reason, we should know it for the right
ideal--this command first to seek light--because it is the hardest thing
that can be asked of us or that we can ask of ourselves. But what is
thus asked is not mere Faith and Hope, but a loyal adherence to the
knowledge which is within us.

Is this not the hardest? To-day, when over there in France and Flanders,
and indeed almost all over Europe, as in a sort of Devil's smithy, men
are busied in the most horrid self-destruction. The accumulated stores
of age-long and patient industry are being consumed and annihilated; the
works and monuments of civilized life are laid low: all physical and
intellectual energies are bent to the service of destruction. The very
surface of the kindly and fertile earth is seamed and scarred and
wasted. And the human beings who live and move in this inferno, are
jerked like puppets hither and thither by the operation of passions to
which we dare not venture to give names, lest we be found either not
condemning what defiles and imbrutes our nature or denying our meed of
praise and gratitude to what ennobles it. All this portentous activity
and business flows from no other fount and is fed by no other spring
than the spirit which is within us, that spirit which has created that
wealth, material, artistic, spiritual, which it is so busily engaged in
wrecking and undoing. It is still as of old, making History, making it
in the old fashion with the old ends in view and by the exercise of its
old familiar powers. And if in this tragic scene or episode we cannot
still read the features of Progress, our theory is a baseless dream, and
we can frame no valid or 'right' ideal of action. For except to an
environment known to be still, because always, the work and
self-expression of a spirit akin to, and indeed identical with our own,
and except as knowing ourselves to be still, because always, in all our
ways of working its vehicles and instruments, we can neither define nor
realize any ideals of action at all. This war is not an accident, nor an
outburst of subterranean natural forces, but the act and deed of human
will, and being so it cannot be merely evil.

What, then, can we read not into, but out of, the tragic spectacle now
being enacted, not merely before but in, through, and by us? Unless we
have all along been mistaken, the victims of mere delusion and error,
here, too, there has been and still is Progress. Primarily and
principally what is taking place, is a tremendous revelation of the
potencies which in our nature--in that which makes us men--have escaped
our notice and therefore, because unseen or ignored, working in the
dark, have not yet been drawn upon and utilized. There has been and
still is going on, an enormous increase of self-knowledge. At first
sight this seems wholly an opening up of undreamt-of evil. Side by side
there has come to us a parallel revelation of undreamt-of good. I must
bear witness to my conviction that we are beholding a tremendous inrush
or uprush of good into man and his world. But what I wish to dwell upon
is the growing and ever-confirmed revelation of an intimate relation or
connexion between the two which is the very spring of Progress, viz.
that the supply of good is not only adequate and more than adequate to
the utmost demand made upon it, in the combating of the evil, and that
for this reason, that while on the one hand the evil that impedes or
counter-works the good is itself of spiritual origin, its existence and
power is conditioned by the law that it must evoke and stimulate the
very power which it attempts to crush and defeat. This is, as I have
said, the now discovered and known spring of Progress both within and
without us, that whatsoever is evil, evil just because it is enacted and
does not merely occur, passes within the reach of knowledge and
understanding, and in the measure that it passes into the light, not
merely loses its sting and its force, but is convertible and converted
into a strengthening condition of that which in its first appearance it
seemed merely to thwart. Even regress is seen to be a necessary incident
in progress, and the seasons which we call periods of decadence to be
occasions in which the spirit progresses in secret, recruiting itself
not by idleness or rest, but genuinely refreshing and recreating itself.

The view here suggested is no sentimental optimism. The drama of the
universe is no comedy or even melodrama, but a tragedy or epic of
heroism, and more especially is this the character of the history of the
spirit which is in Man and is Man. The evil we enact is real evil, the
only real evil, the checks which our disobedience or disloyalty imposes
upon the course of good, are genuine retardations or frustrations;
nevertheless they are not wholly evil, for nothing is such, but are the
means which the spirit that has begotten them, utilizes in its eternal
Progress and wins out of them a richness, a complex and varied harmony
to which they are compelled to contribute. Our ideal of action must
therefore in principle acknowledge as essential, what I have called the
'tragic' character suggested by the spectacle of the war, the fear and
agony which we imagine in Nature and comprehendingly discern in human
history. The Progress which we can achieve or contribute to--which we
can make our ideal of action--is one which cannot rightly be conceived
otherwise than in its essence a victory over evil, and that it may be
evil, it must come and be done in the dark. For the spirit in
progressing deposits what, being abandoned by it, corrupts into venomous
evil, but except in meeting and combating that, it cannot progress. And
it can only combat it by getting to know it, for in darkness and
ignorance it can make no secure advance.

It has been profoundly said that to know all is to forgive all. Let us
rather say that in coming to know its own past, the Spirit which is in
Man can without undoing it--that it cannot--make it contributory to its
own wealth of being, can, as I have said, utilize it for its own
purposes, which are summed up in the knowing of itself. There is and can
be nothing in its deeds which it cannot know, and so digest and
assimilate and absorb into its own substance.

In this interpretation of the meaning--the veiled but not hidden meaning
of what has taken place and is taking place in the world--or rather in
us and enacted by us, I seem to myself not to be expressing any private
imagination or supposition which may or may not be so, but a certainty
that it must be so. Either it is so or 'the pillared firmament is
rottenness and earth's base built on stubble'. And this means that
everywhere and always, but most specially and centrally and potently in
man's spirit, there is Progress, in spite of checks and hindrances which
come from within it, a constant if chequered advance in true worth or
value. And that knowledge I build on grounded and reasoned hope that it
will and must continue--how, I do not know, but can only surmise and
conjecture and imagine.

To the question, What, then, ought we to do? I can only reply first and
foremost, Labour to retain this truth, fostering and developing it,
verifying it as we have been doing in all the varied departments of
human experience, exercising our imaginations while at the same time
sobering and controlling them by the light that comes from it. If we are
true to it and do not through slackness forget and lose it, we shall
find arising spontaneously out of the depths of our self worthy and
feasible ideals of action, the pursuit of which will not betray us or
leave us without an ever-growing assurance that in bending and directing
all our powers to their realization we are the agents of that Progress
which is the source of all being and all worth whatsoever. If we will to
learn from our own past, we can convert anything that is evil in it into
an occasion, an opportunity, a means to good which without it were not
possible. Thus we can even do what seems utterly impossible, for we can
without forgetting or ignoring or denying, forgive ourselves even the
evil which we have done. Yes, even the darkest and worst evil, the
disloyalty to ourselves, to the best and deepest within us, which all
but achieved the impossibility of finally defeating the march of
Progress. For the basis and ground of our belief in the reality, and
therefore the eternity, of Progress lies in this, that the now known
nature of the Spirit which is in Man and not in Man alone, is that it
can heal any wounds that it can inflict upon itself, can find in its own
errors and failures, in its own mistakes and misdeeds, if it only will,
the materials of richer and fuller and worthier life.

  | Transcriber's Notes                                          |
  |                                                              |
  | Page 26: Opening and closing quotes added to "Beg humbly     |
  | that he unlock the door."                                    |
  | Page 89: _Suma Theologica_ _sic_                             |
  | Page 92: course amended to coarse                            |
  | Page 165: preventible amended to preventable                 |
  | Page 299: missing word "is" added ("so far as it is          |
  | realized")                                                   |
  |                                                              |
  | The footnote number is for footnote 81 is missing in the     |
  | original text. The location of the number that has been      |
  | added is only an assumption.                                 |
  |                                                              |
  | Discrepancies between the Table of Contents and chapter      |
  | headings ("Government"/"Progress in Government";             |
  | "Industry"/"Progress in Industry"; "Art"/"Progress in Art";  |
  | "Science"/"Progress in Science" and "Philosophy"/"Progress   |
  | in Philosophy") have been retained.                          |

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