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Title: The Contemporary Review, Volume 36, November 1879
Author: Various
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Contemporary Review, Volume 36, November 1879" ***

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[Transcriber's Notes:

The first part of this volume (September 1879) was produced as Project
been extracted from that document, and a brief title page added.

_Italic words_ have been enclosed in underscores. *Gesperrt* (spaced)
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  NOVEMBER, 1879.
  On Freedom. By Professor Max Müller                                369

  Mr. Gladstone: Two Studies suggested by his "Gleanings of Past
    Years." I. By a Liberal.--II. By a Conservative                  398

  The Ancien Régime and the Revolution in France. By Professor
    von Sybel                                                        432

  What is the Actual Condition of Ireland? By Edward Stanley
    Robertson                                                        451

  The Deluge: Its Traditions in Ancient Nations. By François
    Lenormant                                                        465

  Suspended Animation. By Richard A. Proctor                         501

  John Stuart Mill's Philosophy Tested. IV.--Utilitarianism.
    By Professor W. Stanley Jevons                                   521


Not more than twenty years have passed since John Stuart Mill sent forth
his plea for Liberty.[2]

If there is one among the leaders of thought in England who, by the
elevation of his character and the calm composure of his mind, deserved
the so often misplaced title of Serene Highness, it was, I think, John
Stuart Mill.

But in his Essay "On Liberty," Mill for once becomes passionate. In
presenting his Bill of Rights, in stepping forward as the champion of
individual liberty, a new spirit seems to have taken possession of him.
He speaks like a martyr, or the defender of martyrs. The individual
human soul, with its unfathomable endowments, and its capacity of
growing to something undreamt of in our philosophy, becomes in his eyes
a sacred thing, and every encroachment on its world-wide domain is
treated as sacrilege. Society, the arch-enemy of the rights of
individuality, is represented like an evil spirit, whom it behoves every
true man to resist with might and main, and whose demands, as they
cannot be altogether ignored, must be reduced at all hazards to the
lowest level.

I doubt whether any of the principles for which Mill pleaded so warmly
and strenuously in his Essay "On Liberty" would at the present day be
challenged or resisted, even by the most illiberal of philosophers, or
the most conservative of politicians. Mill's demands sound very humble
to _our_ ears. They amount to no more than this, "that the individual is
not accountable to society for his actions so far as they concern the
interests of no person but himself, and that he may be subjected to
social or legal punishments for such actions only as are prejudicial to
the interests of others."

Is there any one here present who doubts the justice of that principle,
or who would wish to reduce the freedom of the individual to a smaller
measure? Whatever social tyranny may have existed twenty years ago, when
it wrung that fiery protest from the lips of John Stuart Mill, can we
imagine a state of society, not totally Utopian, in which the individual
man need be less ashamed of his social fetters, in which he could more
freely utter all his honest convictions, more boldly propound all his
theories, more fearlessly agitate for their speedy realization; in
which, in fact, each man can be so entirely himself as the society of
England, such as it now is, such as generations of hard-thinking and
hard-working Englishmen have made it, and left it as the most sacred
inheritance to their sons and daughters?

Look through the whole of history, not excepting the brightest days of
republican freedom at Athens and Rome, and I know you will not find one
single period in which the measure of Liberty accorded to each
individual was larger than it is at present, at least in England. And if
you wish to realize the full blessings of the time in which we live,
compare Mill's plea for Liberty with another written not much more than
two hundred years ago, and by a thinker not inferior either in power or
boldness to Mill himself. According to Hobbes, the only freedom which an
individual in his ideal state has a right to claim is what he calls
"freedom of thought," and that freedom of thought consists in our being
able to think what we like--so long as we keep it to ourselves. Surely,
such freedom of thought existed even in the days of the Inquisition, and
we should never call thought free, if it had to be kept a prisoner in
solitary and silent confinement. By freedom of thought we mean freedom
of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of action, whether individual
or associated, and of that freedom the present generation, as compared
with all former generations, the English nation, as compared with all
other nations, enjoys, there can be no doubt, a good measure, pressed
down, and shaken together, and sometimes running over.

It may be said that some dogmas still remain in politics, in religion,
and in morality; but those who defend them claim no longer any
infallibility, and those who attack them, however small their minority,
need fear no violence, nay, may reckon on an impartial and even
sympathetic hearing, as soon as people discover in their pleadings the
true ring of honest conviction and the warmth inspired by an unselfish
love of truth.

It has seemed strange therefore to many readers of Mill, particularly on
the Continent, that this cry for Liberty, this demand for freedom for
every individual to be what he is, and to develop all the germs of his
nature, should have come from what is known as the freest of all
countries, England. We might well understand such a cry of indignation
if it had reached us from Russia; but why should English philosophers,
of all others, have to protest against the tyranny of society? It is
true, nevertheless, that in countries governed despotically, the
individual, unless he is obnoxious to the Government, enjoys far greater
freedom, or rather licence, than in a country like England, which
governs itself. Russian society, for instance, is extremely indulgent.
It tolerates in its rulers and statesmen a haughty defiance of the
simplest rules of social propriety, and it seems amused rather than
astonished or indignant at the vagaries, the frenzies, and outrages, of
those who in brilliant drawing-rooms or lecture-rooms preach the
doctrines of what is called Nihilism or Individualism,[3]--viz., "that
society must be regenerated by a struggle for existence and the survival
of the strongest, processes which Nature has sanctioned, and which have
proved successful among wild animals." If there is danger in these
doctrines the Government is expected to see to it. It may place watchmen
at the doors of every house and at the corner of every street, but it
must not count on the better classes coming forward to enrol themselves
as special constables, or even on the co-operation of public opinion
which in England would annihilate that kind of Nihilism with one glance
of scorn and pity.

In a self-governed country like England, the resistance which society,
if it likes, can oppose to the individual in the assertion of his
rights, is far more compact and powerful than in Russia, or even in
Germany. Even where it does not employ the arm of the law, society knows
how to use that softer, but more crushing pressure, that calm, but
Gorgon-like look which only the bravest and stoutest hearts know how to

It is rather against that indirect repression which a well-organized
society exercises, both through its male and female representatives,
that Mill's demand for Liberty seems directed. He does not stand up for
unlimited licence; on the contrary, he would have been the most
strenuous defender of that balance of power between the weak and the
strong on which all social life depends. But he resents those smaller
penalties which society will always inflict on those who disturb its
dignified peace and comfort:--avoidance, exclusion, a cold look, a
stinging remark. Had Mill any right to complain of these social
penalties? Would it not rather amount to an interference with individual
liberty to wish to deprive any individual or any number of individuals
of those weapons of self-defence? Those who themselves think and speak
freely, have hardly a right to complain, if others claim the same
privilege. Mill himself called the Conservative party the stupid party
_par excellence_, and he took great pains to explain that it was so, not
by accident, but by necessity. Need he wonder if those whom he whipped
and scourged used their own whips and scourges against so merciless a

Freethinkers, and I use that name as a title of honour for all who, like
Mill, claim for every individual the fullest freedom in thought, word,
or deed, compatible with the freedom of others, are apt to make one
mistake. Conscious of their own honest intentions, they cannot bear to
be mistrusted or slighted. They expect society to submit to their often
very painful operations as a patient submits to the knife of the
surgeon. That is not in human nature. The enemy of abuses is always
abused by his enemies. Society will never yield one inch without
resistance, and few reformers live long enough to receive the thanks of
those whom they have reformed. Mill's unsolicited election to Parliament
was a triumph not often shared by social reformers; it was as
exceptional as Bright's admission to a seat in the Cabinet, or Stanley's
appointment as Dean of Westminster. Such anomalies will happen in a
country fortunately so full of anomalies as England; but, as a rule, a
political reformer must not be angry if he passes through life without
the title of Right Honourable; nor should a man, if he will always speak
the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, be disappointed
if he dies a martyr rather than a Bishop.

But granting even that in Mill's time there existed some traces of
social tyranny, where are they now? Look at the newspapers and the
journals. Is there any theory too wild, any reform too violent, to be
openly defended? Look at the drawing-rooms or the meetings of learned
societies. Are not the most eccentric talkers the spoiled children of
the fashionable world? When young lords begin to discuss the propriety
of limiting the rights of inheritance, and young tutors are not afraid
to propose curtailing the long vacation, surely we need not complain of
the intolerance of English society.

Whenever I state these facts to my German and French and Italian
friends, who from reading Mill's Essay "On Liberty" have derived the
impression that, however large an amount of political liberty England
may enjoy, it enjoys but little of intellectual freedom, they are
generally willing to be converted so far as London, or other great
cities, are concerned. But look at your Universities, they say, the
nurseries of English thought! Can you compare their mediæval spirit,
their monastic institutions, their scholastic philosophy, with the
freshness and freedom of the Continental Universities? Strong as these
prejudices about Oxford and Cambridge have always been, they have become
still more intense since Professor Helmholtz, in an inaugural address
which he delivered at his installation as Rector of the University of
Berlin, lent the authority of his great name to these misconceptions.
"The tutors," he says,[4] "in the English Universities cannot deviate
by a hair's-breadth from the dogmatic system of the English Church,
without exposing themselves to the censure of their Archbishops and
losing their pupils." In German Universities, on the contrary, we are
told that the extreme conclusions of materialistic metaphysics, the
boldest speculations within the sphere of Darwin's theory of evolution,
may be propounded without let or hindrance, quite as much as the highest
apotheosis of Papal infallibility.

Here the facts on which Professor Helmholtz relies are entirely wrong,
and the writings of some of our most eminent tutors supply a more than
sufficient refutation of his statements. Archbishops have no official
position whatsoever in English Universities, and their censure of an
Oxford tutor would be resented as impertinent by the whole University.
Nor does the University, as such, exercise any very strict control over
the tutors, even when they lecture not to their own College only. Each
Master of Arts at Oxford claims now the right to lecture (_venia
docendi_), and I doubt whether they would ever submit to those
restrictions which, in Germany, the Faculty imposes on every
_Privat-docent_. _Privat-docents_ in German Universities have been
rejected by the Faculty for incompetence, and silenced for
insubordination. I know of no such cases at Oxford during my residence
of more than thirty years, nor can I think it likely that they should
ever occur.

As to the extreme conclusions of materialistic metaphysics, there are
Oxford tutors who have grappled with the systems of such giants as
Hobbes, Locke, or Hume, and who are not likely to be frightened by
Büchner and Vogt.

I know comparisons are odious, and I am the last man who would wish to
draw comparisons between English and German Universities unfavourable to
the latter. But with regard to freedom of thought, of speech, and
action, Professor Helmholtz, if he would spend but a few weeks at
Oxford, would find that we enjoy a fuller measure of freedom here than
the Professors and _Privat-docents_ in any Continental University. The
publications of some of our professors and tutors ought at least to have
convinced him that if there is less of brave words and turbulent talk in
their writings, they display throughout a determination to speak the
truth, which may be matched, but could not easily be excelled, by the
leaders of thought in France, Germany, or Italy.

The real difference between English and Continental Universities is that
the former govern themselves, the latter are governed. Self-government
entails responsibilities, sometimes restraints and reticences. I may
here be allowed to quote the words of another eminent Professor of the
University of Berlin, Du Bois Reymond, who, in addressing his
colleagues, ventured to tell them,[5] "We have still to learn from the
English how the greatest independence of the individual is compatible
with willing submission to salutary, though irksome, statutes." That is
particularly true when the statutes are self-imposed. In Germany, as
Professor Helmholtz tells us himself, the last decision in almost all
the more important affairs of the Universities rests with the
Government, and he does not deny that in times of political and
ecclesiastical tension, a most inconsiderate use has been made of that
power. There are, besides, the less important matters, such as raising
of salaries, leave of absence, scientific missions, even titles and
decorations, all of which enable a clever Minister of Instruction to
assert his personal influence among the less independent members of the
University. In Oxford the University does not know the Ministry, nor the
Ministry the University. The acts of the Government, be it Liberal or
Conservative, are freely discussed, and often powerfully resisted by the
academic constituencies, and the personal dislike of a Minister or
Ministerial Councillor could as little injure a professor or tutor as
his favour could add one penny to his salary.

But these are minor matters. What gives their own peculiar character to
the English Universities is a sense of power and responsibility: power,
because they are the most respected among the numerous corporations in
the country; responsibility, because the higher education of the whole
country has been committed to their charge. Their only master is public
opinion as represented in Parliament, their only incentive their own
sense of duty. There is no country in Europe where Universities hold so
exalted a position, and where those who have the honour to belong to
them may say with greater truth, _Noblesse oblige_.

I know the dangers of self-government, particularly where higher and
more ideal interests are concerned, and there are probably few who wish
for a real reform in schools and Universities who have not occasionally
yielded to the desire for a Dictator, of a Bismarck or a Falk. But such
a desire springs only from a momentary weakness and despondency; and no
one who knows the difference between being governed and governing
oneself, would ever wish to descend from that higher though dangerous
position to a lower one, however safe and comfortable it might seem. No
one who has tasted freedom would ever wish to exchange it for anything
else. Public opinion is sometimes a hard task-master, and majorities can
be great tyrants to those who want to be honest to their own
convictions. But in the struggle of all against all, each individual
feels that he has his rightful place, and that he may exercise his
rightful influence. If he is beaten, he is beaten in fair fight; if he
conquers, he has no one else to thank. No doubt despotic Governments
have often exercised the most beneficial patronage in encouraging and
rewarding poets, artists, and men of science. But men of genius who have
conquered the love and admiration of a whole nation are greater than
those who have gained the favour of the most brilliant Courts; and we
know how some of the fairest reputations have been wrecked on the
patronage which they had to accept at the hands of powerful Ministers or
ambitious Sovereigns.

But to return to Mill and his plea for Liberty. Though I can hardly
believe that, were he still among us, he would claim a larger measure of
freedom for the individual than is now accorded to every one of us in
the society in which we move, yet the chief cause on which he founded
his plea for Liberty, the chief evil which he thought could be remedied
only if society would allow more elbow-room to individual genius, exists
in the same degree as in his time--aye, even in a higher degree. The
principle of Individuality has suffered more at present than perhaps at
any former period of history. The world is becoming more and more
gregarious, and what the French call our _nature moutonnière_, "our
mutton-like nature," our tendency to leap where any bell-wether has
leapt before, becomes more and more prevalent in politics, in religion,
in art, and even in science. M. de Tocqueville expressed his surprise
how much more Frenchmen of the present day resemble one another than did
those of the last generation. The same remark, adds John Stuart Mill,
might be made of England in a greater degree. "The modern _régime_ of
public opinion," he writes, "is in an unorganized form what the Chinese
educational and political systems are in an organized; and unless
individuality shall be able successfully to assert itself against this
yoke, Europe, notwithstanding its noble antecedents and its professed
Christianity, will tend to become another China."

I fully agree with Mill in recognizing the dangers of uniformity, but I
doubt whether what he calls the _régime_ of public opinion is alone, or
even chiefly, answerable for it. No doubt there are some people in whose
eyes uniformity seems an advantage rather than a disadvantage. If all
were equally strong, equally educated, equally honest, equally rich,
equally tall, or equally small, society would seem to them to have
reached the highest ideal. The same people admire an old French garden,
with its clipped yew-trees, forming artificial walls and towers and
pyramids, far more than the giant yews which, like large serpents, clasp
the soil with their coiling roots, and overshadow with their dark green
branches the white chalk cliffs of the Thames. But those French gardens,
unless they are constantly clipped and prevented from growing, soon fall
into decay. As in nature, so in society, uniformity means but too often
stagnation, while variety is the surest sign of health and vigour. The
deepest secret of nature is its love of continued novelty. Its tendency,
if unrestrained, is towards constantly creating new varieties, which, if
they fulfil their purpose, become fixed for a time, or, it may be, for
ever; while others, after they have fulfilled their purpose, vanish to
make room for new and stronger types.

The same is the secret of human society. It consists and lives in
individuals, each being meant to be different from all the others, and
to contribute his own peculiar share to the common wealth. As no tree is
like any other tree, and no leaf on the same tree like any other leaf,
no human being is exactly like any other human being, nor is it meant to
be. It is in this endless, and to us inconceivable, variety of human
souls that the deepest purpose of human life is to be realized; and the
more society fulfils that purpose, the more it allows free scope for the
development of every individual germ, the richer will be the harvest in
no distant future. Such is the mystery of individuality that I do not
wonder if even those philosophers who, like Mill, reduce the meaning of
the word _sacred_ to the very smallest compass, see in each individual
soul something sacred, something to be revered, even where we cannot
understand it, something to be protected against all vulgar violence.

Where I differ from Mill and his school is on the question as to the
quarter from whence the epidemic of uniformity springs which threatens
the free development of modern society. Mill points to the society in
which we move; to those who are in front of us, to our contemporaries. I
feel convinced that our real enemies are at our back, and that the
heaviest chains which are fastened on us are those made, not by the
present, but by past generations--by our ancestors, not by our

It is on this point, on the trammels of individual freedom with which we
may almost be said to be born into the world, and on the means by which
we may shake off these old chains, or at all events carry them more
lightly and gracefully, that I wish to speak to you this evening.

You need not be afraid that I am going to enter upon the much discussed
subject of heredity, whether in its physiological or psychological
aspects. It is a favourite subject just now, and the most curious facts
have been brought together of late to illustrate the working of what is
called heredity. But the more we know of these facts, the less we seem
able to comprehend the underlying principle. Inheritance is one of those
numerous words which by their very simplicity and clearness are so apt
to darken our counsel. If a father has blue eyes and the son has blue
eyes, what can be clearer than that he inherited them? If the father
stammers and the son stammers, who can doubt but that it came by
inheritance? If the father is a musician and the son a musician, we say
very glibly that the talent was inherited. But what does _inherited_
mean? In no case does it mean what _inherited_ usually means--something
external, like money, collected by a father, and, after his death,
secured by law to his son. Whatever else inherited may mean, it does not
mean that. But unfortunately the word is there, it seems almost pedantic
to challenge its meaning, and people are always grateful if an easy word
saves them the trouble of hard thought.

Another apparent advantage of the theory of heredity is that it never
fails. If the son has blue, and the father black, eyes, all is right
again, for either the mother, or the grandmother, or some historic or
prehistoric ancestor, may have had blue eyes, and atavism, we know, will
assert itself after hundreds and thousands of years.

Do not suppose that I deny the broad facts of what is called by the name
of heredity. What I deny is that the name of heredity offers any
scientific solution of a most difficult problem. It is a name, a
metaphor, quite as bad as the old metaphor of _innate ideas_; for there
is hardly a single point of similarity between the process by which a
son may share the black eyes, the stammering, or the musical talent of
his father, and that by which, after his father's death, the law secures
to the son the possession of the pounds, shillings, and pence which his
father held in the Funds.

But whatever the true meaning of heredity may be, certain it is that
every individual comes into the world heavy-laden. Nowhere has the
consciousness of the burden which rests on each generation as it enters
on its journey through life found stronger expression than among the
Buddhists. What other people call by various names, "fate or
providence," "tradition or inheritance," "circumstances or environment,"
they call _Karman_, deed--what has been done, whether by ourselves or by
others, the accumulated work of all who have come before us, the
consequences of which we have to bear, both for good and for evil.
Originally this _Karman_ seems to have been conceived as personal, as
the work which we ourselves have done in former existences. But, as
personally we are not conscious of having done such work in former ages,
that kind of _Karman_, too, might be said to be impersonal. To the
question how _Karman_ began, the accumulation of what forms the
condition of all that exists at present, Buddhism has no answer to give,
any more than any other system of religion or philosophy. The Buddhists
say it began with _avidyâ_, and _avidyâ_ means ignorance.[6] They are
much more deeply interested in the question how _Karman_ may be
annihilated, how each man may free himself from the influence of
_Karman_, and Nirvâna, the highest object of all their dreams, is often
defined by Buddhist philosophers as "freedom from _Karman_."[7]

What the Buddhists call by the general name of _Karman_, comprehends all
influences which the past exercises on the present, both physically and
mentally.[8] It is not my object to examine or even to name all these
influences, though I confess nothing is more interesting than to look
upon the surface of our modern life as we look on a geological map, and
to see the most ancient formations cropping out everywhere under our
feet. Difficult as it is to colour a geological map of England, it would
be still more difficult to find a sufficient variety of colours to mark
the different ingredients of the intellectual surface of this island.

That all of us, whether we speak English or German, or French or
Russian, are really speaking an ancient Oriental tongue, incredible as
it would have sounded a hundred years ago, is now admitted by everybody.
Though the various dialects now spoken in Europe have been separated
many thousands of years from the Sanskrit, the ancient classical
language of India, yet so unbroken is the bond that holds the West and
East together that in many cases an intelligent Englishman might still
guess the meaning of a Sanskrit word. How little difference is there
between Sanskrit _sûnu_ and English _son_, between Sanskrit _duhitar_
and English _daughter_, between Sanskrit _vid_, to know, and English _to
wit_, between Sanskrit _vaksh_, to grow, and English _to wax_! Think how
we value a Saxon urn, or a Roman coin, or a Celtic weapon! how we dig
for them, clean them, label them, and carefully deposit them in our
museums! Yet what is their antiquity compared with the antiquity of such
words as _son_ or _daughter_, _father_ and _mother_? There are no
monuments older than those collected in the handy volumes which we call
Dictionaries, and those who know how to interpret those English
antiquities--as you may see them interpreted, for instance, in Grimm's
Dictionary of the German, in Littré's Dictionary of the French, or in
Professor Skeats' Etymological Dictionary of the English Language--will
learn more of the real growth of the human mind than by studying many
volumes on logic and psychology.

And as by our language we belong to the Aryan stratum, we belong through
our letters to the Hamitic. We still write English in hieroglyphics; and
in spite of all the vicissitudes through which the ancient hieroglyphics
have passed in their journey from Egypt to Phœnicia, from Phœnicia to
Greece, from Greece to Italy, and from Italy to England, when we write a
capital F {script F}, when we draw the top line and the smaller line
through the middle of the letter, we really draw the two horns of the
cerastes, the horned serpent which the ancient Egyptians used for
representing the sound of f. They write the name of the king whom the
Greeks called _Cheops_, and they themselves _Chu-fu_, like this:[9]

    | sieve   |   chu
    | serpent |   fu
    | bird    |   u
    +---------+       }

Here the first sign, the sieve, is to be pronounced _chu_; the second,
the horned serpent, _fu_, and the little bird, again, _u_. In the more
cursive or Hieratic writing the horned serpent appears as {symbol}; in
the later Demotic as {symbol} and {symbol}. The Phœnicians, who borrowed
their letters from the Hieratic Egyptian, wrote {symbol} and {symbol}.
The Greeks, who took their letters from the Phœnicians, wrote {symbol}.
When the Greeks, instead of writing like the Phœnicians from right to
left, began to write from left to right, they turned each letter, and as
{symbol} became K, our k, so {symbol}, vau, became F, the Greek
so-called Digamma, the Latin F.

The first letter in _Chu-fu_, too, still exists in our alphabet, and in
the transverse line of our H we must recognize the last remnant of the
lines which divide the sieve. The sieve appears in Hieratic as {symbol},
in Phœnician as {symbol}, in ancient Greek as {symbol}, which occurs on
an inscription found at Mycenæ and elsewhere as the sign of the spiritus
asper, while in Latin it is known to us as the letter H.[10] In the same
manner the undulating line of our capital {script L} still recalls very
strikingly the bent back of the crouching lion, which in the later
hieroglyphic inscriptions represents the sound of L.

If thus in our language we are Aryan, in our letters Egyptian, we have
only to look at our watches to see that we are Babylonian. Why is our
hour divided into sixty minutes, our minutes into sixty seconds? Would
not a division of the hour into ten, or fifty, or a hundred minutes have
been more natural? We have sixty divisions on the dials of our watches
simply because the Greek astronomer Hipparchus, who lived in the second
century B.C., accepted the Babylonian system of reckoning time, that
system being sexagesimal. The Babylonians knew the decimal system, but
for practical purposes they counted by _sossi_ and _sari_, the _sossos_
representing 60, the _saros_ 60 × 60, or 3600. From Hipparchus that
system found its way into the works of Ptolemy, about 150 A.D., and
thence it was carried down the stream of civilization, finding its last
resting-place on the dial-plates of our clocks.

And why are there twenty shillings to our sovereign? Again the real
reason lies in Babylon. The Greeks learnt from the Babylonians the art
of dividing gold and silver for the purpose of trade. It has been proved
that the current gold piece of Western Asia was exactly the sixtieth
part of a Babylonian _mnâ_, or _mina_. It was nearly equal to our
sovereign. The difficult problem of the relative value of gold and
silver in a bi-monetary currency had been solved to a certain extent in
the ancient Mesopotamian kingdom, the proportion between gold and silver
being fixed at 1 to 13⅓. The silver shekel current in Babylon was
heavier than the gold shekel in the proportion of 13⅓ to 10, and had
therefore the value of one-tenth of a gold shekel; and the half silver
shekel, called by the Greeks a drachma, was worth one-twentieth of a
gold shekel. The drachma, or half silver shekel, may therefore be looked
upon as the most ancient type of our own silver shilling in its relation
of one-twentieth of our gold sovereign.[11]

I shall mention only one more of the most essential tools of our mental
life--namely, our _figures_, which we call Arabic, because we received
them from the Arabs, but which the Arabs called Indian, because they
received them from the Indians--in order to show you how this nineteenth
century of ours is under the sway of centuries long past and forgotten;
how we are what we are, not by ourselves, but by those who came before
us, and how the intellectual ground on which we stand is made up of the
detritus of thoughts which were first thought, not on these isles nor in
Europe, but on the shores of the Oxus, the Nile, the Euphrates, and the

Now you may well ask _Quorsum hæc omnia?_--What has all this to do with
freedom and with the free development of individuality? Because a man is
born the heir of all the ages, can it be said that he is not free to
grow and to expand, and to develop all the faculties of his mind? Are
those who came before him, and who left him this goodly inheritance, to
be called his enemies? Is that chain of tradition which connects him
with the past really a galling fetter, and not rather the
leading-strings without which he would never learn to walk straight?

Let us look at the matter more closely. No one would venture to say that
every individual should begin life as a young savage, and be left to
form his own language, and invent his own letters, numerals, and coins.
On the contrary, if we comprehend all this and a great deal more, such
as religion, morality, and secular knowledge, under the general name of
_education_, even the most advanced defenders of individualism would
hold that no child should enter society without submitting, or rather
without being submitted, to education. Most of us would even go further,
and make it criminal for parents or even for communities to allow
children to grow up uneducated. The excuse of worthless parents that
they are at liberty to do with their children as they like, has at last
been blown to the winds. I still remember the time when pseudo-Liberals
were not ashamed to say that, whatever other nations, such as the
Germans, might do, England would never submit to compulsory education.
That wicked sophistry, too, has at last been silenced, and among the
principal advocates of compulsory education, and of the necessity of
curtailing the freedom of savage parents of savage children, have been
Mill and his friends, the apostles of liberty and individualism.[12] A
new era may be said to date in the history of every nation from the day
on which "compulsory education" becomes part of their statute-book; and
I may congratulate the most Liberal town in England on having proved
itself the most inexorable tyrant in carrying out the principle of
compulsory education.

But do not let us imagine that compulsory education is without its
dangers. Like a powerful engine, it must be carefully watched, if it is
not to produce, what all compulsion will produce, a slavish receptivity,
and, what all machines do produce, monotonous uniformity.

We know that all education must in the beginning be purely dogmatic.
Children are taught language, religion, morality, patriotism, and
afterwards at school, history, literature, mathematics, and all the
rest, long before they are able to question, to judge, or choose for
themselves, and there is hardly anything that a child will not believe
if it comes from those in whom the child believes.

Reading, writing, and arithmetic, no doubt, must be taught dogmatically,
and they take up an enormous amount of time, particularly in English
schools. English spelling is a national misfortune, and in the keen
international race between all the countries of Europe, it handicaps the
English child to a degree that seems incredible till we look at
statistics. I know the difficulties of a Spelling Reform, I know what
people mean when they call it impossible; but I also know that personal
and national virtue consists in doing so-called impossible things, and
that no nation has done, and has still to do, so many impossible things
as the English.

But, granted that reading, writing, and arithmetic occupy nearly the
whole school-time and absorb the best powers of the pupils, cannot
something be done in play-hours? Is there not some work that can be
turned into play, and some play that can be turned into work? Cannot the
powers of observation be called out in a child while collecting flowers,
or stones, or butterflies? Cannot his judgment be strengthened either in
gymnastic exercises, or in measuring the area of a field or the height
of a tower? Might not all this be done without a view to examinations or
payment by results, simply for the sake of filling the little dull minds
with one sunbeam of joy, such sunbeams being more likely hereafter to
call hidden precious germs into life than the deadening weight of such
lessons as, for instance, that _th-ough_ is though, _thr-ough_ is
through, _en-ough_ is enough. A child who believes that will hereafter
believe anything. Those who wish to see Natural Science introduced into
elementary schools frighten schoolmasters by the very name of Natural
Science. But surely every schoolmaster who is worth his salt should be
able to teach children a love of Nature, a wondering at Nature, a
curiosity to pry into the secrets of Nature, an acquisitiveness for some
of the treasures of Nature, and all this acquired in the fresh air of
the field and the forest, where, better than in frouzy lecture-rooms,
the edge of the senses can be sharpened, the chest be widened, and that
freedom of thought fostered which made England what it was even before
the days of compulsory education.

But in addressing you here to-night it was my intention to speak of the
higher rather than of elementary education.

All education, as it now exists in most countries of Europe, may be
divided into three stages--_elementary_, _scholastic_, and _academical_;
or call it _primary_, _secondary_, and _tertiary_.

Elementary education has at last been made compulsory in most civilized
countries. Unfortunately, however, it seems impossible to include under
compulsory education anything beyond the very elements of knowledge--at
least for the present; though, with proper management, I know from
experience that a well-conducted elementary school can afford to provide
instruction in extra subjects--such as natural science, modern
languages, and political economy--and yet, with the present system of
Government grants, be self-supporting.[13]

The next stage above the elementary is _scholastic_ education, as it is
supplied in grammar schools, whether public or private. According as
the pupils are intended either to go on to a university, or to enter at
once on leaving school on the practical work of life, these schools are
divided into two classes. In the one class, which in Germany are called
_Real-schulen_, less Latin is taught, and no Greek, but more of
mathematics, modern languages, and physical science; in the other,
called _Gymnasia_ on the Continent, classics form the chief staple of

It is during this stage that education, whether at private or public
schools, exercises its strongest levelling influence. Little attention
can be paid at large schools to individual tastes or talents. In
Germany, even more perhaps than in England, it is the chief object of a
good and conscientious master to have his class as uniform as possible
at the end of the year; and he receives far more credit from the
official examiner if his whole class marches well and keeps pace
together, than if he can parade a few brilliant and forward boys,
followed by a number of straggling laggards.

And as to the character of the teaching at school, how can it be
otherwise than authoritative or dogmatic? The Socratic method is very
good if we can find the _viri Socratici_ and leisure for discussion. But
at school, which now may seem to be called almost in mockery σχολή, or
leisure, the true method is, after all, that patronized by the great
educators of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Boys at school
must turn their mind into a row of pigeon-holes, filling as many as they
can with useful notes, and never forgetting how many are empty. There is
an immense amount of positive knowledge to be acquired between the ages
of ten and eighteen--rules of grammar, strings of vocables, dates, names
of towns, rivers, and mountains, mathematical formulas, &c. All depends
here on the receptive and retentive powers of the mind. The memory has
to be strengthened, without being overtaxed, till it acts almost
mechanically. Learning by heart, I believe, cannot be too strongly
recommended during the years spent at school. There may have been too
much of it when, as the Rev. H. C. Adams informs us in his "Wykehamica"
(p. 357), boys used to say by heart 13,000 and 14,000 lines, when one
repeated the whole of Virgil, nay, when another was able to say the
whole of the English Bible by rote:--"Put him on where you would, he
would go fluently on, as long as any one would listen."

No intellectual investment, I feel certain, bears such ample and such
regular interest as gems of English, Latin, or Greek literature
deposited in our memory during our childhood and youth, and taken up
from time to time in the happy hours of our solitude.

One fault I have to find with most schools, both in England and on the
Continent. Boys do not read enough of the Greek and Roman classics. The
majority of our masters are scholars by profession, and they are apt to
lay undue stress on what they call accurate and minute scholarship, and
to neglect wide and cursory reading. I know the arguments for minute
accuracy, but I also know the mischief that is done by an exclusive
devotion to critical scholarship before we have acquired a real
familiarity with the principal works of classical literature. The time
spent in our schools in learning the rules of grammar and syntax,
writing exercises, and composing verses, is too large. Look only at our
Greek and Latin grammars, with all their rules and exceptions, and
exceptions on exceptions! It is too heavy a weight for any boy to carry;
and no wonder that when one of the thousand small rules which they have
learnt by heart is really wanted, it is seldom forthcoming. The end of
classical teaching at school should be to make our boys acquainted not
only with the language, but with the literature and history, the ancient
thought of the ancient world. Rules of grammar, syntax, or metre, are
but means towards that end; they must never be mistaken for the end
itself. A young man of eighteen, who has probably spent on an average
ten years in learning Greek and Latin, ought to be able to read any of
the ordinary Greek or Latin classics without much difficulty; nay, with
a certain amount of pleasure. He might have to consult his dictionary
now and then, or guess the meaning of certain words; he might also feel
doubtful sometimes whether certain forms came from ἵημι, I send, or
εἶμι, I go, or εἰμί, I am, particularly if preceded by prepositions. In
these matters the best scholars are least inclined to be pharisaical;
and whenever I meet in the controversies of classical scholars the
favourite phrase, "Every schoolboy knows, or ought to know, this," I
generally say to myself, "No, he ought not." Anyhow, those who wish to
see the study of Greek and Latin retained in our public schools ought to
feel convinced that it will certainly not be retained much longer, if it
can be said with any truth that young men who leave school at eighteen
are in many cases unable to read or to enjoy a classical text, unless
they have seen it before.

Classical teaching, and all purely scholastic teaching, ought to be
finished at school. When a young man goes to University, unless he means
to make scholarship his profession, he ought to be free to enter upon a
new career. If he has not learnt by that time so much of Greek and Latin
as is absolutely necessary in after-life for a lawyer, or a student of
physical science, or even a clergyman, either he or his school is to
blame. I do not mean to say that it would not be most desirable for
every one during his University career to attend some lectures on
classical literature, on ancient history, philosophy, or art. What is to
be deprecated is, that the University should have to do the work which
belongs properly to the school.

The best colleges at Oxford and Cambridge have shown by their
matriculation examinations what the standard of classical knowledge
ought to be at eighteen or nineteen. That standard can be reached by
boys while still at school, as has been proved both by the so-called
local examinations, and by the examinations of schools held under the
Delegates appointed by the Universities. If, therefore, the University
would reassert her old right, and make the first examination, called at
Oxford Responsions, a general matriculation examination for admission to
the University, not only would the public schools be stimulated to
greater efforts, but the teaching of the University might assume, from
the very beginning, that academic character which ought to distinguish
it from mere schoolboy work.

Academic teaching ought to be not merely a continuation, but in one
sense a correction of scholastic teaching. While at school instruction
must be chiefly dogmatic, at University it is to be Socratic, for I find
no better name for that method which is to set a man free from the
burden of purely traditional knowledge; to make him feel that the words
which he uses are often empty, that the concepts he employs are, for the
most part, mere bundles picked up at random; that even where he knows
facts, he does not know their evidence; and where he expresses opinions,
they are mostly mere dogmas, adopted by him without examination.

But for the Universities, I should indeed fear that Mill's prophecies
might come true, and that the intellect of Europe might drift into
dreary monotony. The Universities always have been, and, unless they are
diverted from their original purpose, always will be, the guardians of
the freedom of thought, the protectors of individual spontaneity; and it
was owing, I believe, to Mill's ignorance of true academic teaching that
he took so desponding a view of the generation growing up under his

When we leave school, our heads are naturally brimful of dogma, that is,
of knowledge and opinions at second-hand. Such dead knowledge is
extremely dangerous, unless it is sooner or later revived by the spirit
of free inquiry. It does not matter whether our scholastic dogmas be
true or false. The danger is the same. And why? Because to place either
truth or error above the reach of argument is certain to weaken truth
and to strengthen error. Secondly, because to hold as true on the
authority of others anything which concerns us deeply, and which we
could prove ourselves, produces feebleness, if not dishonesty. And,
thirdly, because to feel unwilling or unable to meet objections by
argument is generally the first step towards violence and persecution.

I do not think of religious dogmas only. They are generally the first to
rouse inquiry, even during our schoolboy days, and they are by no means
the most difficult to deal with. Dogma often rages where we least expect
it. Among scientific men the theory of evolution is at present becoming,
or has become, a dogma. What is the result? No objections are listened
to, no difficulties recognized, and a man like Virchow, himself the
strongest supporter of evolution, who has the moral courage to say that
the descent of man from any ape whatsoever is, as yet, before the
tribunal of scientific zoology, "not proven," is howled down in Germany
in a manner worthy of Ephesians and Galatians. But at present I am
thinking not so much of any special dogmas, but rather of that dogmatic
state of mind which is the almost inevitable result of the teaching at
school. I think of the whole intellect, what has been called the
_intellectus sibi permissus_, and I maintain that it is the object of
academic teaching to rouse that intellect out of its slumber by
questions not less startling than when Galileo asked the world whether
the sun was really moving and the earth stood still; or when Kant asked
whether time and space were objects, or necessary forms of our sensuous
intuition. Till our opinions have thus been tested and stood the test,
we can hardly call them our own.

How true this is with regard to religion has been boldly expressed by
Bishop Beveridge.

    "Being conscious to myself," he writes in his "Private Thoughts on
    Religion," "how great an ascendant Christianity holds over me beyond
    the rest, as being that religion whereinto I was born and baptized;
    that which the supreme authority has enjoined and my parents
    educated me in; that which every one I meet withal highly approves
    of, and which I myself have, by a long-continued profession, made
    almost natural to me: I am resolved to be more jealous and
    suspicious of this religion than of the rest, and be sure not to
    entertain it any longer without being convinced, by solid and
    substantial arguments, of the truth and certainty of it."

This is bold and manly language from a Bishop nearly two hundred years
ago, and I certainly think that the time has come when some of the
divinity lecturers at Oxford and Cambridge might well be employed in
placing a knowledge of the sacred books of other religions within the
reach of undergraduates. Many of the difficulties--most of them of our
own making--with regard to the origin, the handing down, the later
corruptions and misinterpretations of sacred texts, would find their
natural solution, if it was shown how exactly the same difficulties
arose and had to be dealt with by theologians of other creeds. If
some--ay, if many--of the doctrines of Christianity were met with in
other religions also, surely that would not affect their value, or
diminish their truth; while nothing, I feel certain, would more
effectually secure to the pure and simple teaching of Christ its true
place in the historical development of the human mind than to place it
side by side with the other religions of the world. In the series of
translations of the "Sacred Books of the East," of which the first three
volumes have just appeared,[14] I wished myself to include a new
translation of the Old and New Testaments; and when that series is
finished it will, I believe, be admitted that nowhere would these two
books have had a grander setting, or have shone with a brighter light,
than surrounded by the Veda, the Zendavesta, the Buddhist Tripi_t_aka,
and the Qur'än.

But as I said before, I was not thinking of religious dogmas only, or
even chiefly, when I maintained that the character of academic teaching
must be Socratic, not dogmatic. The evil of dogmatic teaching lies much
deeper, and spreads much further.

Think only of language, the work of other people, not of ourselves,
which we pick up at random in our race through life. Does not every word
we use require careful examination and revision? It is not enough to say
that language assists our thoughts or colours them, or possibly obscures
them. No, we know now that language and thought are indivisible. It was
not from poverty of expression that the Greek called reason and language
by the same word, λόγος. It was because they knew that, though we may
distinguish between thought and speech, as we distinguish between body
and soul, it is as impossible to tear the one by violence away from the
other as it is to separate the concave side of a lens from its convex
side. This is something to learn and to understand, for, if properly
understood, it will supply the key to most of our intellectual puzzles,
and serve as the safest thread through the whole labyrinth of

"It is evident," as Hobbes remarks,[15] "that truth and falsity have no
place but amongst such living creatures as use speech. For though some
brute creatures, looking upon the image of a man in a glass, may be
affected with it, as if it were the man himself, and for this reason
fear it or fawn upon it in vain; yet they do not apprehend it as true or
false, but only as like; and in this they are not deceived. Wherefore,
as men owe all their true ratiocination to the right understanding of
speech, so also they owe their errors to the misunderstanding of the
same; and as all the ornaments of philosophy proceed only from man, so
from man also is derived the ugly absurdity of false opinion. For speech
has something in it like to a spider's web (as it was said of old of
Solon's laws), for by contexture of words tender and delicate wits are
ensnared or stopped, but strong wits break easily through them."

Let me illustrate my meaning by at least one instance.

Among the words which have proved spider's webs, ensnaring even the
greatest intellects of the world from Aristotle down to Leibniz, the
terms _genus_, _species_, and _individual_ occupy a very prominent
place. The opposition of Aristotle to Plato, of the Nominalists to the
Realists, of Leibniz to Locke, of Herbart to Hegel, turns on the true
meaning of these words. At school, of course, all we can do is to teach
the received meaning of _genus_ and _species_; and if a boy can trace
these terms back to Aristotle's γένος and εἶδος, and show in what sense
that philosopher used them, every examiner would be satisfied.

But the time comes when we have to act as our own examiners, and when we
have to give an account to ourselves of such words as _genus_ and
_species_. Some people write, indeed, as if they had seen a _species_
and a _genus_ walking about in broad daylight; but a little
consideration will show us that these words express subjective concepts,
and that, if the whole world were silent, there would never have been a
thought of a _genus_ or a _species_. There are languages in which we
look in vain for corresponding words; and if we had been born in such a
language, these terms and thoughts would not exist for us. They came to
us, directly or indirectly, from Aristotle. But Aristotle did not invent
them, he only defined them in his own way, so that, for instance,
according to him, all living beings would constitute a _genus_, men a
_species_, and Socrates an _individual_.

No one would say that Aristotle had not a perfect right to define these
terms, if those who use them in his sense would only always remember
that they are thinking the thoughts of Aristotle, and not their own. The
true way to shake off the fetters of old words, and to learn to think
our own thoughts, is to follow them up from century to century, to watch
their development, and in the end to bring ourselves face to face with
those who first found and framed both words and thoughts. If we do this
with _genus_ and _species_, we shall find that the words which Aristotle
defined--viz., γένος and εἶδος--had originally a very different and far
more useful application than that which he gave to them. Γένος, _genus_,
meant generation, and comprehended such living beings only as were known
to have a common origin, however they might differ in outward
appearance, as, for instance, the spaniel and the bloodhound, or,
according to Darwin, the ape and the man. Εἶδος or species, on the
contrary, meant appearance, and comprehended all such things as had the
same form or appearance, whether they had a common origin or not, as if
we were to speak of a species of four-footed, two-footed, horned,
winged, or blue animals.

That two such concepts, as we have here explained, had a natural
justification we may best learn from the fact that exactly the same
thoughts found expression in Sanskrit. There, too, we find *_g_âti*,
generation, used in the sense of _genus_, and opposed to *âk_ri_ti*,
appearance, used in the sense of _species_.

So long as these two words or thoughts were used independently (much as
we now speak of a genealogical as independent of a morphological
classification) no harm could accrue. A family, for instance, might be
called a γένος, the _gens_ or clan was a γένος, the nation (gnatio) was
a γένος, the whole human kith and kin was a γένος; in fact, all that was
descended from common ancestors was a true γένος. There is no obscurity
of thought in this.

On the other side, taking εἶδος or species in its original sense, one
man might be said to be like another in his εἶδος or appearance. An ape,
too, might quite truly be said to have the same εἶδος or species or
appearance as a man, without any prejudice as to their common origin.
People might also speak of different εἴδη or forms or classes of things,
such as different kinds of metals, or tools, or armour, without
committing themselves in the least to any opinion as to their common

Often it would happen that things belonging to the same γένος, such as
the white man and the negro, differed in their εἶδος or appearance;
often also that things belonging to the same εἶδος, such as eatables,
differed in their γένος, as, for instance, meat and vegetables.

All this is clear and simple. The confusion began when these two terms,
instead of being co-ordinate, were subordinated to each other by the
philosophers of Greece, so that what from one point of view was called a
_genus_, might from another be called a species, and _vice versâ_. Human
beings, for instance, were now called a _species_, all living beings a
_genus_, which may be true in logic, but is utterly false in what is
older than logic--viz., language, thought, or fact. According to
language, according to reason, and according to Nature, all human beings
constitute a γένος, or generation, so long as they are supposed to have
common ancestors; but with regard to all living beings we can only say
that they form an εἶδος--that is, agree in certain appearances, until it
has been proved that even Mr. Darwin was too modest in admitting at
least four or five different ancestors for the whole animal world.[16]

In tracing the history of these two words, γένος and εἶδος, you may see
passing before your eyes almost the whole panorama of philosophy, from
Plato's ideas down to Hegel's _Idee_. The question of _genera_, their
origin and subdivision, occupied chiefly the attention of natural
philosophers, who, after long controversies about the origin and
classification of _genera_ and _species_, seem at last, thanks to the
clear sight of Darwin, to have arrived at the old truth which was
prefigured in language--namely, that Nature knows nothing but _genera_,
or generations, to be traced back to a limited number of ancestors, and
that the so-called _species_ are only _genera_, whose genealogical
descent is _as yet_ more or less obscure.

But the question as to the nature of the εἶδος became a vital question
in every system of philosophy. Granting, for instance, that women in
every clime and country formed one species, it was soon asked what
constituted a species? If all women shared a common form, what was that
form? Where was it? So long as it was supposed that all women descended
from Eve, the difficulty might be slurred over by the name of heredity.
But the more thoughtful would ask even then how it was that, while all
individual women came and went and vanished, the form in which they were
cast remained the same?

Here you see how philosophical mythology springs up. The very question
what εἶδος or species or form was, and where these things were kept,
changed those words from predicates into subjects. Εἶδος was conceived
as something independent and substantial, something within or above the
individuals participating in it, something unchangeable and eternal.
Soon there arose as many εἴδη or forms or types as there were general
concepts. They were considered the only true realities of which the
phenomenal world is only as a shadow that soon passeth away. Here we
have, in fact, the origin of Plato's ideas, and of the various systems
of idealism which followed his lead, while the opposite opinions that
ideas have no independent existence, and that the one is nowhere found
except in the many (τὸ ἕν παρὰ τὰ πολλά), was strenuously defended by
Aristotle and his followers.[17]

The same red thread runs through the whole philosophy of the Middle
Ages. Men were cited before councils and condemned as heretics because
they declared that _animal_, _man_, or _woman_ were mere names, and that
they could not bring themselves to believe in an ideal animal, an ideal
man, an ideal woman as the invisible, supernatural, or metaphysical
types of the ordinary animal, the individual man, the single woman.
Those philosophers, called _Nominalists_, in opposition to the
_Realists_, declared that all general terms were _names only_, and that
nothing could claim reality but the individual.

We cannot follow this controversy further, as it turns up again between
Locke and Leibniz, between Herbart and Hegel. Suffice it to say that the
knot, as it was tied by language, can be untied by the science of
language alone, which teaches us that there is and can be no such thing
as "a name only." That phrase ought to be banished from all works on
philosophy. A name is and always has been the subjective side of our
knowledge, but that subjective side is as impossible without an
objective side as a key is without a lock. It is useless to ask which of
the two is the more real, for they are real only by being, not two, but
one. Realism is as one-sided as Nominalism. But there is a higher
Nominalism, which might better be called the Science of Language, and
which teaches us that, apart from sensuous perception, all human
knowledge is by names and by names only, and that the object of names is
always the general.

This is but one out of hundreds and thousands of cases to show how names
and concepts which come to us by tradition must be submitted to very
careful snuffing before they will yield a pure light. What I mean by
academic teaching and academic study is exactly this process of
snuffing, this changing of traditional words into living words, this
tracing of modern thought back to ancient primitive thought, this
living, as it were, once more, so far as it concerns us, the whole
history of human thought ourselves, till we are as little afraid to
differ from Plato or Aristotle as from Comte or Darwin.

Plato and Aristotle are, no doubt, great names; every schoolboy is awed
by them, even though he may have read very little of their writings.
This, too, is a kind of dogmatism that requires correction. Now, at
University, a young student might hear the following, by no means
respectful, remarks about Aristotle, which I copy from one of the
greatest English scholars and philosophers:--"There is nothing so absurd
that the old philosophers, as Cicero saith, who was one of them, have
not some of them maintained; and I believe that scarce anything can be
more absurdly said in natural philosophy than that which now is called
Aristotle's Metaphysics; or more repugnant to government than much of
that he hath said in his Politics; nor more ignorantly than a great part
of his Ethics." I am far from approving this judgment, but I think that
the shock which a young scholar receives on seeing his idols so
mercilessly broken is salutary. It throws him back on his own resources;
it makes him honest to himself. If he thinks the criticism thus passed
on Aristotle unfair, he will begin to read his works with new eyes. He
will not only construe his words, but try to reconstruct in his own mind
the thoughts so carefully elaborated by that ancient philosopher. He
will judge of their truth without being swayed by the authority of a
great name, and probably in the end value what is valuable in Aristotle,
or Plato, or any other great philosopher far more highly and honestly
than if he had never seen them trodden under foot.

But do not suppose that I look upon the Universities as purely
iconoclastic, as chiefly intended to teach us how to break the idols of
the schools. Far from it! But I do look upon them as meant to freshen
the atmosphere which we breathe at school, and to shake our mind to its
very roots, as a storm shakes the young oaks, not to throw them down,
but to make them grasp all the more firmly the hard soil of fact and
truth! "_Stand upright on thy feet_" ought to be written over the gate
of every college, if the epidemic of uniformity and sequacity which Mill
saw approaching from China, and which since his time has made such rapid
progress Westward, is ever to be stayed.

Academic freedom is not without its dangers; but there are dangers which
it is safer to face than to avoid. In Germany--so far as my own
experience goes--students are often left too much to themselves, and it
is only the cleverest among them, or those who are personally
recommended, who receive from the professors that personal guidance and
encouragement which should and could be easily extended to all.

There is too much time given in the German Universities to mere
lecturing, and often in simply retailing to a class what each student
might read in books often in a far more perfect form. Lectures are
useful if they teach us how to teach ourselves; if they stimulate; if
they excite sympathy and curiosity; if they give advice that springs
from personal experience; if they warn against wrong roads; if, in fact,
they have less the character of a show-window than of a workshop. Half
an hour's conversation with a tutor or a professor often does more than
a whole course of lectures in giving the right direction and the right
spirit to a young man's studies. Here I may quote the words of Professor
Helmholtz, in full agreement with him. "When I recall the memory of my
own University life," he writes, "and the impression which a man like
Johannes Müller, the professor of physiology, made on us, I must set the
highest value on the personal intercourse with teachers from whom one
learns how thought works on independent heads. Whoever has come in
contact but once with one or several first-class men will find his
intellectual standard changed for life."

In English Universities, on the contrary, there is too little of
academic freedom. There is not only guidance, but far too much of
constant personal control. It is often thought that English
undergraduates could not be trusted with that amount of academic freedom
which is granted to German students, and that most of them, if left to
choose their own work, their own time, their own books, and their own
teachers, would simply do nothing. This seems to me unfair and untrue.
Most horses, if you take them to the water, will drink; and the best way
to make them drink is to leave them alone. I have lived long enough in
English and in German Universities to know that the intellectual fibre
is as strong and sound in the English as in the German youth. But if you
supply a man, who wishes to learn swimming, with bladders--nay, if you
insist on his using them--he will use them, but he will probably never
learn to swim. Take them away, on the contrary, and depend on it, after
a few aimless strokes and a few painful gulps, he will use his arms and
his legs, and he will swim. If young men do not learn to use their arms,
their legs, their muscles, their senses, their brain, and their heart
too, during the bright years of their University life, when are they to
learn it? True, there are thousands who never learn it, and who float
happily on through life buoyed up on mere bladders. The worst that can
happen to them is that some day the bladders may burst, and they may be
left stranded or drowned. But these are not the men whom England wants
to fight her battles. It has often been pointed out of late that many of
those who, during this century, have borne the brunt of the battle in
the intellectual warfare in England, have not been trained at our
Universities, while others who have been at Oxford and Cambridge, and
have distinguished themselves in after-life, have openly declared that
they attended hardly any lectures in college, or that they derived no
benefit from them. What can be the ground of that? Not that there is
less work done at Oxford than at Leipzig, but that the work is done in a
different spirit. It is free in Germany; it has now become almost
compulsory in England. Though an old professor myself, I like to attend,
when I can, some of the professorial lectures in Germany; for it is a
real pleasure to see hundreds of young faces listening to a teacher on
the history of art, on modern history, on the science of language, or on
philosophy, without any view to examinations, simply from love of the
subject or of the teacher. No one who knows what the real joy of
learning is, how it lightens all drudgery and draws away the mind from
mean pursuits, can see without indignation that what ought to be the
freest and happiest years in a man's life should often be spent between
cramming and examinations.

And here I have at last mentioned the word, which to many friends of
academic freedom, to many who dread the baneful increase of uniformity,
may seem the cause of all mischief, the most powerful engine for
intellectual levelling--_Examination_.

There is a strong feeling springing up everywhere against the tyranny of
examinations, against the cramping and withering influence which they
are supposed to exercise on the youth of England. I cannot join in that
outcry. I well remember that the first letters which I ventured to
address to the _Times_, in very imperfect English, were in favour of
examinations. They were signed _La Carrière ouverte_, and were written
long before the days of the Civil Service Commission! I well remember,
too, that the first time I ventured to speak, or rather to stammer, in
public, was in favour of examinations. That was in 1857, at Exeter, when
the first experiment was made, under the auspices of Sir T. Acland, in
establishing the Oxford and Cambridge Local Examinations. I have been an
examiner myself for many years, I have watched the growth of that system
in England from year to year, and in spite of all that has been said and
written of late against examinations, I confess I do not see how it
would be possible to abolish them, and return to the old system of
appointment by patronage.

But though I have not lost my faith in examinations, I cannot conceal
the fact that I am frightened by the manner in which they are conducted,
and by the results which they produce. As you are interested yourselves
at this Midland Institute, in the successful working of examinations,
you will perhaps allow me in conclusion to add a few remarks on the
safeguards necessary for the efficient working of examinations.

All examinations are a means to ascertain how pupils have been taught;
they ought never to be allowed to become the end for which pupils are

Teaching with a view to examinations lowers the teacher in the eyes of
his pupils; learning with a view to examinations is apt to produce
shallowness and dishonesty.

Whatever attractions learning possesses in itself, and whatever efforts
were formerly made by boys at school from a sense of duty, all this is
lost if they once imagine that the highest object of all learning is
gaining marks in examinations.

In order to maintain the proper relation between teacher and pupil, all
pupils should be made to look to their teachers as their natural
examiners and fairest judges, and therefore in every examination the
report of the teacher ought to carry the greatest weight. This is the
principle followed abroad in all examinations of candidates at public
schools; and even in their examination on leaving school, which gives
them the right to enter the University, they know that their success
depends far more on the work which they have done during the years at
school, than on the work done on the few days of their examination.
There are outside examiners appointed by Government to check the work
done at schools and during the examinations; but the cases in which they
have to modify or reverse the award of the master are extremely rare,
and they are felt to reflect seriously on the competency or impartiality
of the school authorities.

To leave examinations entirely to strangers reduces them to the level of
lotteries, and fosters a cleverness in teachers and taught often akin to
dishonesty. An examiner may find out what a candidate knows _not_, he
can hardly ever find out all he knows; and even if he succeeds in
finding out _how much_ a candidate knows, he can never find out _how_ he
knows it. On these points the opinion of the masters who have watched
their pupils for years is indispensable for the sake of the examiner,
for the sake of the pupils, and for the sake of their teachers.

I know I shall be told that it would be impossible to trust the masters,
and to be guided by their opinion, because they are interested parties.
Now, first of all, there are far more honest men in the world than
dishonest, and it does not answer to legislate as if all schoolmasters
were rogues. It is enough that they should know that their reports would
be scrutinized, to keep even the most reprobate of teachers from bearing
false witness in favour of their pupils.

Secondly, I believe that unnecessary temptation is now being placed
before all parties concerned in examinations. The proper reward for a
good examination should be honour, not pounds, shillings, and pence. The
mischief done by pecuniary rewards offered in the shape of scholarships
and exhibitions at school and University, begins to be recognized very
widely. To train a boy of twelve for a race against all England is
generally to overstrain his faculties, and often to impair his
usefulness in later life; but to make him feel that by his failure he
will entail on his father the loss of a hundred a year, and on his
teacher the loss of pupils, is simply cruel at that early age.

It is always said that these scholarships and exhibitions enable the
sons of poor parents to enjoy the privilege of the best education in
England, from which they would otherwise be debarred by the excessive
costliness of our public schools. But even this argument, strong as it
seems, can hardly stand, for I believe it could be shown that the
majority of those who are successful in obtaining scholarships and
exhibitions at school or at University are boys whose parents have been
able to pay the highest price for their children's previous education.
If all these prizes were abolished, and the funds thus set free used to
lessen the price of education at school and in college, I believe that
the sons of poor parents would be far more benefited than by the present
system. It might also be desirable to lower the school-fees in the case
of the sons of poor parents, who were doing well at school from year to
year; and, in order to guard against favouritism, an examination,
particularly _vivâ voce_, before all the masters of a school, possibly
even with some outside examiner, might be useful. But the present system
bids fair to degenerate into mere horse-racing, and I shall not wonder
if, sooner or later, the two-year olds entered for the race have to be
watched by their trainer that they may not be overfed or drugged against
the day of the race. It has come to this, that schools are bidding for
clever boys in order to run them in the races, and in France, I read,
that parents actually extort money from schools by threatening to take
away the young racers that are likely to win the Derby.[18]

If we turn from the schools to the Universities we find here, too, the
same complaints against over-examination. Now it seems to me that every
University, in order to maintain its position, has a perfect right to
demand two examinations, but no more: one for admission, the other for a
degree. Various attempts have been made in Germany, in Russia, in
France, and in England to change and improve the old academic tradition,
but in the end the original, and, as it would seem, the natural system,
has generally proved its wisdom and reasserted its right.

If a University surrenders the right of examining those who wish to be
admitted, the tutors will often have to do the work of schoolmasters,
and the professors can never know how high or how low they should aim in
their public lectures. Besides this, it is almost inevitable, if the
Universities surrender the right of a matriculation-examination, that
they should lower, not only their own standard, but likewise the
standard of public schools. Some Universities, on the contrary, like
over-anxious mothers, have multiplied examinations so as to make quite
sure, at the end of each term or each year that the pupils confided to
them have done at least some work. This kind of forced labour may do
some good to the incorrigibly idle, but it does the greatest harm to all
the rest. If there is an examination at the end of each year, there can
be no freedom left for any independent work. Both teachers and taught
will be guided by the same pole-star--examinations; no deviation from
the beaten track will be considered safe, and all the pleasure derived
from work done for its own sake, and all the just pride and joy, which
those only know who have ever ventured out by themselves on the open sea
of knowledge, must be lost.

We must not allow ourselves to be deceived by the brilliant show of
examination papers.

It is certainly marvellous what an amount of knowledge candidates will
produce before their examiners; but those who have been both examined
and examiners know best how fleeting that knowledge is, and how
different from that other knowledge which has been acquired slowly and
quietly, for its own sake, for our own sake, without a thought as to
whether it would ever pay at examinations or not. A candidate, after
giving most glibly the dates and the titles of the principal works of
Cobbett, Gibbon, Burke, Adam Smith, and David Hume, was asked whether he
had ever seen any of their writings, and he had to answer, No. Another,
who was asked which of the works of Pheidias he had seen, replied that
he had only read the first two books. That is the kind of dishonest
knowledge which is fostered by too frequent examinations. There are two
kinds of knowledge, the one that enters into our very blood, the other
which we carry about in our pockets. Those who read for examinations
have generally their pockets cram full; those who work on quietly and
have their whole heart in their work are often discouraged at the small
amount of their knowledge, at the little life-blood they have made. But
what they have learnt has really become their own, has invigorated their
whole frame, and in the end they have often proved the strongest and
happiest men in the battle of life.

Omniscience is at present the bane of all our knowledge. From the day he
leaves school and enters the University a man ought to make up his mind
that in many things he must remain either altogether ignorant, or be
satisfied with knowledge at second-hand. Thus only can he clear the deck
for action. And the sooner he finds out what his own work is to be, the
more useful and delightful will be his life at University and later.
There are few men who have a passion for all knowledge, there is hardly
one who has not a hobby of his own. Those so-called hobbies ought to be
utilized, and not, as they are now, discouraged, if we wish our
Universities to produce more men like Faraday, Carlyle, Grote, or
Darwin. I do not say that in an examination for a University degree a
minimum of what is now called general culture should not be insisted on;
but in addition to that, far more freedom ought to be given to the
examiner to let each candidate produce his own individual work. This is
done to a far greater extent in Continental than in English
Universities, and the examinations are therefore mostly confided to the
members of the _Senatus Academicus_, consisting of the most experienced
teachers, and the most eminent representatives of the different branches
of knowledge in the University. Their object is not to find out how many
marks each candidate may gain by answering a larger or smaller number of
questions, and then to place them in order before the world like so many
organ pipes. They want to find out whether a man, by the work he has
done during his three or four years at University, has acquired that
vigour of thought, that maturity of judgment, and that special
knowledge, which fairly entitle him to an academic status, to a degree,
with or without special honours. Such a degree confers no material
advantages;[19] it does not entitle its holder to any employment in
Church or State; it does not vouch even for his being a fit person to be
made an Archbishop or Prime Minister. All this is left to the later
struggle for life; and in that struggle it seems as if those who, after
having surveyed the vast field of human knowledge, have settled on a few
acres of their own and cultivated them as they were never cultivated
before, who have worked hard and have tasted the true joy and happiness
of hard work, who have gladly listened to others, but always depended on
themselves, were, after all, the men whom great nations delighted to
follow as their royal leaders in their onward march towards greater
enlightenment, greater happiness, and greater freedom.

To sum up. No one can read Mill's Essay "On Liberty" at the present
moment without feeling that even during the short period of the last
twenty years the cause which he advocated so strongly and passionately,
the cause of individual freedom, has made rapid progress, aye, has
carried the day. In no country _may_ a man be so entirely himself, so
true to himself and yet loyal to society, as in England.

But, although the enemy whose encroachments Mill feared most and
resented most has been driven back and forced to keep within his own
bounds,--though such names as Dissent and Nonconformity, which were
formerly used in society as fatal darts, seem to have lost all the
poison which they once contained,--Mill's principal fears have
nevertheless not been belied, and the blight of uniformity which he saw
approaching with its attendant evils of feebleness, indifference, and
sequacity, has been spreading more widely than ever in his days.

It has even been maintained that the very freedom which every individual
now enjoys has been detrimental to the growth of individuality; that you
must have an Inquisition if you want to see martyrs; that you must have
despotism and tyranny to call forth heroes. The very measures which Mill
and his friends advocated so warmly, compulsory education and
competitive examinations, are pointed out as having chiefly contributed
to produce that large array of pass-men, that dead level of
uninteresting excellence, which is the _beau idéal_ of a Chinese
Mandarin, while it frightened and disheartened such men as Humboldt,
Tocqueville, and John Stuart Mill.

There may be some truth in all this, but it is certainly not the whole
truth. Education, as it has to be carried on, whether in elementary or
in public schools, is no doubt a heavy weight which might well press
down the most independent spirit; it is, in fact, neither more nor less
than placing, in a systematized form, on the shoulders of every
generation the ever-increasing mass of knowledge, experience, custom,
and tradition that has been accumulated by former generations. We need
not wonder, therefore, if in some schools all spring, all vigour, all
joyousness of work is crushed out under that load of names and dates, of
anomalous verbs and syntactic rules, of mathematical formulas and
geometrical axioms, which boys are expected to bring up for competitive

But a remedy has been provided, and we are ourselves to blame if we do
not avail ourselves of it to the fullest extent. Europe erected its
Universities, and called them the homes of the Liberal Arts, and
determined that between the slavery of the school and the routine of
practical life every man should have at least three years of freedom.
What Socrates and his great pupil Plato had done for the youth of
Greece,[20] these new academies were to do for the youth of Italy,
France, England, Spain, and Germany; and, though with varying success,
they have done it. The mediæval and modern Universities have been from
century to century the homes of free thought. Here the most eminent men
have spent their lives, not merely in retailing traditional knowledge,
as at school, but in extending the frontiers of science in all
directions. Here, in close intercourse with their teachers, or under
their immediate guidance, generation after generation of boys, fresh
from school, have grown up into men during the three years of their
academic life. Here, for the first time, each man has been encouraged to
dare to be himself, to follow his own tastes, to depend on his own
judgment, to try the wings of his mind, and, lo, like young eagles
thrown out of their nest, they could fly. Here the old knowledge
accumulated at school was tested, and new knowledge acquired straight
from the fountain-head. Here knowledge ceased to be a mere burden, and
became a power invigorating the whole mind, like snow which during
winter lies cold and heavy on the meadows, but when it is touched by the
sun of spring melts away, and fructifies the ground for a rich harvest.

That was the original purpose of the Universities; and the more they
continue to fulfil that purpose the more will they secure to us that
real freedom from tradition, from custom, from mere opinion and
superstition, which can be gained by independent study only; the more
will they foster that "human development in its richest diversity" which
Mill, like Humboldt, considered as the highest object of all society.

Such academic teaching need not be confined to the old Universities.
There is many a great University that sprang from smaller beginnings
than your Midland Institute. Nor is it necessary, in order to secure the
real benefits of academic teaching, to have all the paraphernalia of a
University, its colleges and fellowships, its caps and gowns. What is
really wanted are men who have done good work in their life, and who are
willing to teach others how to work for themselves, how to think for
themselves, how to judge for themselves. That is the true academic stage
in every man's life, when he learns to work, not to please others, be
they schoolmasters or examiners, but to please himself, when he works
from sheer love of work, and for the highest of all purposes, the
conquest of truth. Those only who have passed through that stage know
the real blessings of work. To the world at large they may seem mere
drudges--but the world does not know the triumphant joy with which the
true mountaineer, high above clouds and mountain walls that once seemed
unsurpassable, drinks in the fresh air of the High Alps, and away from
the fumes, the dust, and the noises of the city, revels alone, in
freedom of thought, in freedom of feeling, and in the freedom of the
highest faith.



[1] An Address delivered on the 20th October, before the Birmingham and
Midland Institute.

[2] Mill tells us that his Essay "On Liberty" was planned and written
down in 1854. It was in mounting the steps of the Capitol in January,
1855, that the thought first arose of converting it into a volume, and
it was not published till 1859. The author, who in his Autobiography
speaks with exquisite modesty of all his literary performances, allows
himself one single exception when speaking of his Essay "On Liberty."
"None of my writings," he says, "have been either so carefully composed
or so sedulously corrected as this." Its final revision was to have been
the work of the winter of 1858 to 1859 which he and his wife had
arranged to pass in the South of Europe, a hope which was frustrated by
his wife's death. "The 'Liberty,'" he writes, "is likely to survive
longer than anything else that I have written (with the possible
exception of the 'Logic'), because the conjunction of her mind with mine
has rendered it a kind of philosophic textbook of a single truth, which
the changes progressively taking place in modern society tend to bring
out into stronger relief: the importance, to man and society, of a large
variety of character, and of giving full freedom to human nature to
expand itself in innumerable and conflicting directions."

[3] Herzen defined Nihilism as "the most perfect freedom from all
settled concepts, from all inherited restraints and impediments which
hamper the progress of the Occidental intellect with the historical drag
tied to its foot."

[4] Ueber die Akademische Freiheit der Deutschen Universitäten, Rede
beim Antritt des Rectorats an der Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität in
Berlin, am 15 October 1877, gehalten von Dr. H. Helmholtz.

[5] Ueber eine Akademie der Deutschen Sprache, p. 34. Another keen
observer of English life, Dr. K. Hillebrand, in an article in the
October number of the _Nineteenth Century_, remarks: "Nowhere is there
greater individual liberty than in England, and nowhere do people
renounce it more readily of their own accord."

[6] Spencer Hardy, "Manual of Buddhism," p. 391.

[7] _Ibid._, p. 39.

[8] "As one generation dies and gives way to another, the heir of the
consequences of all its virtues and all its vices, the exact result of
pre-existent causes, so each individual, in the long chain of life,
inherits all, of good or evil, which all its predecessors have done or
been; and takes up the struggle towards enlightenment precisely there
where they left it."--Rhys Davids, _Buddhism_, p. 104.

[9] Bunsen, "Egypt," ii., pp. 77, 150.

[10] Mémoire sur l'Origine Egyptienne de l'Alphabet Phénicien, par E. de
Rougé, Paris, 1874.

[11] See Brandis, "Das Münzwesen."

[12] "Is it not almost a self-evident axiom, that the State should
require and compel the education, up to a certain standard, of every
human being who is born its citizen? Yet who is there that is not afraid
to recognize and assert this truth?"--_On Liberty_, p. 188.

[13] _Times_, January 25, 1879.

[14] "Sacred Books of the East," edited by M. M., vols. i., ii., iii.;
Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1879.

[15] "Computation or Logic," t. iii., viii., p. 36.

[16] Lectures on Mr. Darwin's "Philosophy of Language," _Fraser's
Magazine_, June, 1873, p. 26.

[17] Prantl, "Geschichte der Logik," vol. i. p. 121.

[18] L. Noiré, "Pädagogisches Skizzenbuch," p. 157; "Todtes Wissen."

[19] Mill, "On Liberty," p. 193.

[20] Zeller, "Ueber den wissenschaftlichen Unterricht bei den Griechen,"
1878, p. 9.



    _Gleanings of Past Years: 1843-1878._ By the Right Hon. W. E.
    GLADSTONE, M.P. Seven vols. London: John Murray.


Lord Beaconsfield and his party are still holding on. All the
over-praised Disraelian craft has dwindled somehow to this merely
muscular operation. An attempt is, indeed, made to disguise the attitude
by keeping strict silence, and arranging the facial expression of the
Cabinet, if not of the Party, in a way not agreeing with the strain; but
the country is fast finding out that the real posture of the
Conservatives at this moment is that of clutching at office, and nothing
more. However, no amount of not talking about the elections will put
them off finally. In his most efficient days Lord Beaconsfield was
hardly clever enough to operate upon the almanack, and a certain
terrible date is approaching upon him with increasing swiftness. It will
be rather humiliating at last for a Premier to be brought up by the day
of the month, and to be reminded by the great officials of Parliament
what year of Our Lord it is. But these latter personages are partly paid
for watching the efflux of time, and no doubt they will do their duty.
It may be unpleasant for them to have to tell Lord Beaconsfield that
dates make it impossible for him to go on any longer, but they must get
what consolation they can from the remembrance that it is the first time
they ever had to say this to a Minister. Several Parliaments in our
history have been nicknamed rather uglily, but it is likely that the
Beaconsfield House of Commons will be known under a description more
humiliating than any, because so inescapeably accurate. It will
literally be the run-to-the-last-dregs Parliament, and when, on there
not being another moment left, the dissolution has necessarily to be
ordered, the not-any-longer-to-be-put-off elections will take place.

When that unpostponeable day comes, it is very well known beforehand
whose will be the most towering figure on the hustings, whose the form
towards which all eyes must turn. It will be that of him whose name is
written at the head of this paper--Mr. Gladstone. Most Englishmen will
at first feel a crick in the neck in having to look behind them so far
north as Midlothian. But Liberals and Conservatives alike understand
that wherever Mr. Gladstone chooses to take up his position that becomes
the centre of the fight. If he stood for the Orkneys, he would still be
too near for his opponents; and, as for his friends, they remember that
with Ulysses' bow it did not greatly signify whether the hero was a few
yards further off or nearer. The bolts will reach. It is, indeed, not
unlikely that Mr. Gladstone may force on the conflict, and, after the
speech at Chester, the other side cannot say that they were left without
warning. The Conservative leaders have, in fact, a nearer date to
calculate than the final one of the Parliamentary calendar--that,
namely, of Mr. Gladstone's appearance in Midlothian. It may be supposed
that they are already anxiously counting the days of the dwindling
interval. Whenever he gives instructions for his hustings to be put up,
the Conservatives will have to send for their own carpenters, and order

The present moment, while he is temporarily absent, and just before he
again necessarily reappears in the very front of the public stage, may
not be an ill time for taking a hasty review of him and his career. It
is, in fact, a favourable chance. Mr. Gladstone, by stress of glorious
hard work and sheer public efficiency, has so unceasingly filled the
passing hour, always being fully occupied himself in dealing with a
special matter, and enforcing the attention of the nation to it, that he
has left people very little at leisure to take in a retrospect of him.
The result is, that there is great inadequacy in the public appreciation
of the dimensions of his career; it stretches back further, expands
wider, rises higher than most of us commonly keep in our minds. Lately,
it is true, Mr. Gladstone has taken great pains to remind the country of
his years; he has rather ostentatiously postured as an old man. But
without meaning to impugn his veracity, or to dispute the register, we
may say that he has scarcely got anybody to believe it. He has gone on
felling trees, writing letters and articles, and publishing volumes,
with utterances of more and better speeches between than anybody else
can make, in a way which has led not a few to congratulate themselves
that he was not any younger. In particular, his opponents, so soon as
they found out that his announcement of retirement into ease meant that
he was going to take the truest rest of all, to work a little harder in
another kind of way, positively made an outcry as if he had pledged
himself to gratify them by doing nothing. They seem rather to complain
that he has retired into greater publicity; but there is something to be
said about that matter. The implied bargain on Mr. Gladstone's side at
the time obviously was that the Conservatives were themselves not to do
anything in particular. It was to be a time of stagnation, and they have
not kept to that understanding; no sooner had he turned his back than
they began to swagger up and down the world as Imperialists. They have
risked the highest interests of the empire and have made England figure
on the wrong side, arrayed against the oppressed and blustering for war.
Mr. Gladstone could only keep quiet by foregoing all patriotism. It was
too much to ask from an old-fashioned English statesman, who had always
himself stood on the side of freedom and peace, and had grown accustomed
to seeing his country ranged there too. However, we will speak again a
little later on this point of his announced retirement.

It is nearly superfluous to remind any one that there is no statesman
now before the public with an official record which can in any way be
set beside Mr. Gladstone's even in the mere matters of length of time
and diversity of parts. There are a number of men in the House of
Commons older than Mr. Gladstone; there are some, though not many, who
have had a seat in it longer than he has; but there is no one whose
Ministerial life goes back nearly so far. He held office forty-five
years ago. Nearly a score of years had to pass after his first
appointment to a post before Mr. Disraeli joined a Ministry, and then he
stepped into the place which had been refused by Mr. Gladstone. The
latter's range of official experience excels others in breadth even more
than in length. Before he became Prime Minister he had been
Under-Secretary for the Colonies, Vice-President of the Board of Trade
and Master of the Mint, President of the Board of Trade, full Secretary
for the Colonies, and Chancellor of the Exchequer more than once. There
is no other journeyman politician with a stroke of work left in him who
has anything like this list of credentials of apprenticeship to show.
Mr. Gladstone learnt his craft under Peel, Aberdeen, Palmerston,
Russell; and then himself became the selecter and instructor of a group
of younger men for whom renewed office is only biding a not very distant
date. It is an honour alike to name the men he served under and those
whom he commanded; including in the association with him some whom he
attracted, and to whom the latter phrase might scarcely fully apply; for
Mr. Cobden worked with him without an office, and Mr. Bright in one.
These latter were achievements of personal influence which may fairly
rank a trifle higher than merely taking precedence of a Duke in a
Cabinet. If we go on to consider what has happened in his time in the
way of legislation and social reform, and his connection with it, it may
be said, speaking generally, that he has witnessed the political and
economical remoulding of this kingdom; and, taking all things together,
has helped it forward in more ways than anybody else who still survives.
If while Mr. Bright lives his name must always have the honour of first
mention when the Repeal of the Corn Laws is spoken of, it was Mr.
Gladstone who wrought out all the details of Peel's fiscal reforms. He
too it was who, much later, gave effect to Cobden's negotiation of the
French Commercial Treaty; and also, again, made the best bargain that
could be made when that first international arrangement lapsed. Every
amelioration bearing on taxation and trade in our time has been
naturally fated in some way to touch the hands of Mr. Gladstone. So,
too, it was his conversion, or rather his progress, on the question of
the Franchise--proved by his bringing in of the Russell measure--which
made the immediate granting of the vote certain, and challenged the Tory
trick of the last Reform Bill. The Ballot Act, without which the vote
was but a sinister gift, came from his Ministry. But let us turn from
England to the sister country. If Ireland is ever pacified, it will be
then seen that it was Mr. Gladstone who, by the Disestablishment of the
Irish Church and by his Land Act, laid the foundations of the peace. If
the Roman Catholics get a University now, they will only get what he
offered them years ago. The prosperity of Ireland is, indeed, sure some
day to give to Mr. Gladstone's memory a splendid revenge for the
ingratitude she showed to the man who brought legislating for Ireland
into vogue. If we shift our regard to diplomacy, the future is still
clearly with him in several of the chiefest international arrangements
this generation has witnessed. When the Berlin Treaty is cobwebbed, and
forgotten by everybody but historians and bookworms, the Treaty of
Washington will be a living, ruling precedent between the mighty
English-speaking nations on both sides of the Atlantic; and on the day
that the Turks are thrust out of Europe, and the peoples of those
regions are settling the Eastern Question finally for themselves, the
then British Government, in begging somebody to take Cyprus off our
hands, will hear a larger Greece gratefully couple Mr. Gladstone's name
with the cession of the Ionian Islands.

In every one of these matters Mr. Gladstone gets his good fortune with
posterity, as we believe, from having acted on Liberal principles. It is
the merit of those principles that, to borrow a phrase of his own, they
put Time on a man's side. He has trusted himself to the popular
impulses, which are the breezes blowing towards the future, giving
auspicious omens by the very working out of the world's events. But if,
apart from Liberalism, he would have had not much more significance for
the coming generations than Lord Beaconsfield will have when his foreign
policy has once been undone and set aside, Mr. Gladstone must not be
defrauded of a tittle of his due credit. He who has done all this was
once a Conservative, and, to make it still more wonderful, a Peelite. Of
that pale group of a Parliamentary section, which never could be a
party, he is the only one who escaped from the vain middle region of
ineffectiveness. For a man who was once a Peelite and has never ceased
to be a High Churchman to have gained supreme power in this country is a
political miracle. It was worked by sheer mental force. Mr. Gladstone's
greatest feat, making all the rest possible, was the slowly but
ever-ripeningly turning himself into a good, sound, robust Liberal; but
he not only had the wit to appreciate the inevitableness of popular
progress, he made himself a shaper and a helper of it in ways which
showed a willing adoption of its cause. For we may scrutinize his career
more closely than in the above rapid sketch, may look down lower than
these great pictorial incidents we have been recapitulating; and, if we
do so, we shall see a set of administrative reforms, less showy, but
very hard to carry, and which exhibit genuine Liberalism in the grain of
every one of them. It was under his auspices that the Civil Service was
thrown open to unlimited competition; he, in spite of the Lords, with
Earl Derby at their head, took the duty off paper, giving us cheap
newspapers; he consolidated the Law Courts, doing away a whole web of
legal artificialities; it was as his colleague that Mr. Forster gave to
the country its first national educational scheme; but for him Mr.
Cardwell would never have succeeded in altering the principle of our
military organization from long-period enlistments to the short-term
service; while Mr. Gladstone's opponents are willing to thrust upon him
the whole honour of abolishing purchase in the army, because they think
the issue of the Royal Warrant which, thanks to their resistance of the
reform, was the only means of effecting it, lends itself to a taunt. Add
to this list, the fact that although he, at first, for easily seen
reasons of mere habit of mind, going back to the earlier days when he
was Conservative, did not favour University Reform, yet he finally lent
himself fully to it, and it is not difficult to understand the
successive outcries raised against him in the higher social quarters. He
gave all the "interests" splendidly sufficient reasons for their
dislike, since wherever there was an abuse Mr. Gladstone was as certain
in the end to confront it as he is to appear, axe on his shoulder,
before any tree in Hawarden woods which has lived past its time.

But there is another way, more compendious still, of summing up his
political chronicle. His opponents at times exult over the fact of his
having often changed his constituencies. It is true, but it was always
for his growing Liberalism. Certainly, there are those who once
ensconced in a shire--say, in Buckinghamshire--remain there as long as
they need a seat. They never offend any one by progress of view. Mr.
Gladstone has not acted by that rule; he has got himself turned out of
constituency after constituency; but, we repeat, it was always for the
same reason--he became too big for them. Among his highest distinctions
are these,--he is the resigner of Newark, the rejected of Oxford, the
loser of South Lancashire. The thing has occurred too often to admit of
a casual explanation. It was not for Liberalism, as it is now
understood, that he, when still in his youth, offended the mighty Duke
of Newcastle and had to give up Newark, but it was for reasoned-out
consistency which gave hope of Liberalism. He would not stultify his
intellect by voting for Peel's proposed increase of the Maynooth Grant
in contradiction of his own book on Church and State. But all the world
knows that it was for Liberalism somewhat developed that he quitted
Oxford; and the cause of his defeat in Lancashire was that he had for
years been too busy in pushing forward reforms on all hands. It was a
noble vanquishment for him, whatever it was for his party, for
Lancashire, or for the country. Test his career how we will, the result
still comes out to his honour. He, for conscience' sake, offended the
great patron on whom his whole prospects then depended, remaining out of
Parliament for a time; later, he went over with Peel, knowing that it
meant an ineffective hanging between two parties for an indefinite time,
sharing the hopes and chances of neither; when Lord Derby came into
power, he refused office on its being offered. In a word, he has
evidenced his sincerity and proved his patriotism in every way for which
it is allowed to other men to claim honour. When a man has risked
personal prospects, refused place, held office in all its kinds, left
one lagging constituency after another behind him, and finally, by sheer
insisting on rapid progress, temporarily wearied the weak and lazy of
his countrymen throughout the whole nation, as the last general election
showed that he had, what more is there left for him to do for his
country? Only one thing remained: the sacrificing his retirement after
the formal announcement of the close of his career, and, afresh taking
up his old post in the front of the battle as if he were still young and
had place and public life to secure, striving his hardest a last time
for the sake of his principles and his party. It is this final
possibility of sacrificing ease and renewing labour which Mr. Gladstone
undertakes in the Midlothian campaign now so very soon to be opened by

The above is the merest bird's-eye glance at his career, but it seemed
to us a retrospect which all Liberals should have in their minds more
completely than is common when he again draws to him the national gaze,
as he of necessity will do.

But on reading back, how inadequate does the above record seem for Mr.
Gladstone! It is simply the background of the picture; a field of
industry and achievements, on which the portraiture of the man himself
needs yet making to stand out. We have been speaking of the ex-Premier,
for instance, just as we might talk of any politician, and Mr.
Gladstone, though our chiefest politician, has throughout been so much
more than that. It is perfectly true that there is no public man among
us who has projected less of a special atmosphere of personality than he
has through which his doings are to be beheld. He has been too busy with
his work to think of any attitudinizing or trick in doing it. Mr.
Gladstone's only mannerism has been that of superior excellence of
thinking, speaking, and doing. Anybody else might have done and said
what he has uttered and effected, if only they had had the same ability
and industry. His one comprehensive distinction, summing up all the
others, lies in his having developed more of these two simple,
old-fashioned things than his best contemporaries. He has invented no
mysteries, traded in no artificialities, given us no pyrotechnics; only
a plain common air lies along his track, in which, if we perhaps except
two or three points where a little mist hangs, everything can be clearly
seen in white light, without exaggeration or distortion. His whole style
has been the old traditionary English one, accentuated only by Scotch
earnestness and seriousness of religious feeling. If Mr. Gladstone,
however, has not made any eccentric or theatrical impression on the
public mind, he has done something larger and better. He has kept all
the three kingdoms continuously aware of him as an element in our
general thinking, as well as being a power in our practical affairs. If
we put aside Mr. Carlyle, Mr. Mill, and Mr. Ruskin, scarcely any one has
had so much to do with the general mental activity of the last two
generations as Mr. Gladstone. The result is what we have just pointed
out,--that if we sketch him as a statesman only, everybody sees that the
canvas is not big enough. It is a sufficiently full description of most
men who have been politicians to ascribe to them statesmanship; but in
Mr. Gladstone's case we want a yet larger phrase; his business has not
been politics merely, it has been patriotism; and he has made time,
nobody quite knows how, to do nearly as much work outside Parliament as
within it. We may cut a scholar able to adorn a university out of Mr.
Gladstone, and then carve from him a fine student and reverencer of Art;
next mark off a reviewer and general _littérateur_ whom professed
authors will respectfully make room for in their ranks; and not only is
there still left, solid and firm, the great Parliamentary Minister, but
of the scattered fragments a couple of Bishops might easily be made,
with, if nothing at all is to be wasted, several preachers for the
denominations. The latter would be derived from a morsel or two of
material which Mr. Gladstone himself is not fully aware of as being in
his composition. It is not very easy to give a complete impression
offhand of such a multiform personage as this. We must take him a little
simpler. The general effect of it all has been, as we said above, that
the mental activity of the community in all matters relating to politics
and practical affairs has had to take its rate and much of its scale
largely from him, and he has been thinking with the speed, not of the
old jog-trot political life, but with the rapidity of ethical and
religious cogitation, and has insisted on giving thought to everything.
In fact, the ultimate impression which Mr. Gladstone has made upon the
community has been that of an intellect weaponed with a perfectly fluent
tongue, and a hand holding the quickest of pens, occupying the very
highest national posts, ceaselessly going on reasoning, insisting upon
doing it, whether the reasoning might occasionally go wrong or not, just
as if thinking, speaking, and writing were man's right employment. His
chief opponents would, perhaps, hesitate in flatly saying that they were
not; but, at any rate, they have continually been wanting him to stop.
Nearly all the complaint that was ever made of Mr. Gladstone resolves
itself into a charge that he has thought and spoken and written too
much. The accusation is one which it would task a great many men to lay
themselves open to; it is never thought of in the case of the bulk of
us. Above all, he has kept on thinking; he would use his mind. Possibly
the other side might have forgiven it, if only he had not done it so
well; if only this promptest, quickest ratiocination on the part of a
practical politician in our times had not, as it progressed, brought him
ever nearer to the conclusions of Liberalism. He has, we are, however,
rather ashamed to admit, had to suffer from his own party for this
unusualness of mental activity. Our practical politics for generations
past had been carried on upon such shallow reasoning, on such a
hand-to-mouth principle of mere party expediency, that even some
Liberals were surprised when he brought a little subtlety of intellect
into public life. It was enough to make a smaller man despair of his
countrymen's sanity when he found that for years many of them could not
distinguish between an Anglican High Churchman and an admirer of Rome.

To speak plainly, there was never such a humiliating spectacle of public
stolidity as that which for so long a time was witnessed in the popular
mystification as to Mr. Gladstone's religious position. It went for
nothing that his first critical Parliamentary step was to give up his
seat rather than vote more money to Maynooth; nobody seemed to bear in
mind that as far back as 1852 he both predicted and publicly hoped for
the downfall of the temporal power of the Papacy, and that ten years
later Sir George Bowyer openly attacked him on that very point in
Parliament; it did not avail that he it was who paved the way for the
unification of Italy by dragging into the light before all Europe the
prison secrets of Neapolitan tyranny. Because he had the good sense to
oppose the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill, and the loyalty to remain on
terms of friendship with the companions of his youth after they became
Puseyites, and avowed that he held the same views as to Church doctrine
which some of the greatest Church of England divines taught, he was
called on to explain, every month or so, that he was not a Jesuit. Not
until he published his pamphlet on the Vatican Decrees, and by so doing
threw all the Roman Catholics in England and elsewhere into a white heat
of rage, was the silliness quite exploded. It is true that the dull
public might plead that a real profession of religiousness on the part
of a leading politician was such a novelty that it might be excused
being a little puzzled, and believing the worst in its perplexity. Worst
or best, Mr. Gladstone has gone on speaking and writing about his
religion just as if a man's ethics and faith ought to have some
connection with his politics, and, as time has passed, people appear to
think it less strange. This non-reticence on the score of religion has
made more serious the impression Mr. Gladstone has produced upon the
public mind; but in reality it is no specialty in his mode of public
thinking, but only a necessary part of it. He tracks his commonest
politics to their fundamental principles, and makes of them a system. He
has always in his reasoning to go back to history, and this has delayed
his advance in comparison with men who dispense with that; but there
never yet was a public man who explained so fully as Mr. Gladstone the
reasons of his changes. All the progress of his mind is to be traced in
speeches, articles, pamphlets, volumes. He has given too much
explanation, not too little, for his mind has an insatiability for
reasons. Most people are content when they get hold of a good one; but
he wants three or four--in fact, all that can be got by searching for;
and if it be true, as it certainly is, that he likes the last to have a
little subtlety about it, long-sustained thinking cannot take people too
deep in politics, whatever it may do now and then in religion. For
instance, on the question of Reform Mr. Gladstone has certainly
exhausted the process, having at last got at the final ideal argument.
It turns out, as he stated it to Mr. Lowe, to be this,--that, apart
from, or rather in addition to, all the hard reasons of justice and
safety that Mr. Bright can urge for extending the franchise, the vote
ought to be given because it has an educative power, and will make our
humbler fellow-countrymen better citizens. It is open to any one, who is
stupid enough, to call that argument subtle, but no one can deny that it
is truly Liberal. There is not a man among us to-day who keeps the main
Liberal issues so broad and clear as Mr. Gladstone does, and this simply
because he will get to a principle. He adds a tremendous multiplicity of
ideas in the way of side issues, but, as we above put it, they are all
reasons in addition. There is a very simple test of it,--he has never
recanted a single article of his Liberal progress, never gone back a
single step. This hardly can be said of either Mr. Lowe or a few others
who might be named. It could not even be said of so thorough a Liberal
as Earl Russell. Mr. Gladstone's alleged over-refining has ended in
placing and keeping him in the practical lead of his party, at a time of
life when many born in the faith grow faint-hearted. Even the one bit of
mysticism which his political feeling has developed--namely, the belief
that the popular judgment is truest of all in very large matters--is
only the full flowering of the popular trust which every Liberal
professes to have. The bulk of the nation will forgive him that excess
of political belief, if it be an excess, for it is the last compliment a
statesman can pay them, and they have but to merit it, and it then turns
to Mr. Gladstone's praise as well as theirs. But, at any rate, it will
not do for Liberals to set out to argue the point with Mr. Gladstone, or
they will quickly find themselves tripped up by a principle; for it is
no sentimentality in him which underlies the view, but completed logic
and wide recollection of historical instances.

Indeed, although it was necessary in trying to reproduce the general
impression Mr. Gladstone has made upon his contemporaries to speak of
this alleged over-refining, what is meant by it has been after all a
kind of superfluity of mental operation. His intricacy of thinking has
never hindered his activity; least of all living men has Mr. Gladstone
been a dreamer. He stands in history as a reviser of fiscal policies; an
introducer of new administrative modes; a widener of the boundaries of
political rights; a ceaseless overthrower of public abuses. From first
to last he has been, as the hatred of his opponents has too well
witnessed, a man of practice. You may add to this that he reasons too
minutely, if you like; but it was not by a transcendental casuistry of
politics that he wearied the country: it was by his enormous energy in
ceaselessly proposing wide sweeping measures. The casuistry was all in
addition. The over-refining of Mr. Gladstone has, in fact, been of a
wholly different kind from what is common among men; it has consisted in
finding justifications afterwards for very prompt vigorous doing.
Examine, if any one thinks it worth while at this time of day, the
Ewelme Rectory case, or the issue of the Royal Warrant on Purchase, or
the Collier appointment, and it will appear that it was for bold
decision in taking a practical step that he was arraigned as much as for
subsequently finding too many reasons for it. For ourselves, as we have
not set out to apologize for Mr. Gladstone (men of his dimensions must
be taken as they are), but simply to put down hints recalling more fully
than is usual the great features of his career, there is no need for our
not saying that we wish he had in some cases dispensed with these
arguments in excess of the conclusion. In some instances it is as wise
after all, though not so clever, to be satisfied with urging one good
reason, and not to confuse ordinary people by adding five or six more
not so good, the risk being that there will be a bad one among them. But
the fact remains that Mr. Gladstone has not busied himself in tying
mental knots for the purpose of entanglement; he has indulged in no such
waste of time. The mental puzzle has always referred to some practical
doing. Owing to this, his opponents have had to admit his mental
sincerity, while accusing him of over-subtlety. It nearly all turned, in
fact, into the psychological question of whether Mr. Gladstone's mind
had not at one part of its machinery a twist, and in the meantime while
this point was being discussed he went on carrying his measures. If
there were Liberals who did not quite follow him in his defence of the
issue of the Royal Warrant, when he drew distinctions between
prerogative and statutory power, they had not the least doubt that in
abolishing purchase he had effected a capital Liberal reform, and they
might hope that his reasoning as well as his practice was right. Is Mr.
Gladstone to be the only one to whose idiosyncrasy nothing is to be
allowed? The hullabaloo which was raised when somebody could say that he
had broken through a technicality seemed very like, after all, as though
from this one politician perfection was expected, which was not an ill
compliment at bottom; and any admirers who may admit that perfection was
not always got, do not, in granting that, depreciate him much as this
world goes, and may still think him the most upright of our public men.
His mental machinery is complicated, whilst there is no apparatus like
it for rapidity, and once set going he himself cannot always stop it;
his mind, as we have said, riots in ratiocination, and will multiply
arguments to the last shred of the material which any case in hand
affords. But, to return to the main point,--it never leaves go of the
real business. Even what has seemed to some persons his off-work, his
voluminous writing, has, with the one exception of his classical
studies, been no mere leisurely literature, but persistent advocacy of
special objects. These productions have been meant to frame public
opinion, and to give him openings for legislation, if that became
possible. He has used the press because it had become the hugest
instrument of the time he lived in; but it was not for the purpose of
multiplying books that Mr. Gladstone wrote, but with a view to
practically influencing men.

This relentless subordination of everything to practical ends--this iron
determination to keep doing, even while ready frankly to depend upon his
power of speaking and writing to produce conviction and popular
persuasion as the means for effecting his objects, gives as the final
imprint of Mr. Gladstone on one's mind that he was always meant for a
Liberal. A man of this kind might be born a Conservative; it might take
him time to break fully with old ties; but for him to stay finally in
the ranks where thought was allowed to remain muddled, where abuses were
looked on with toleration, and ease was enjoyed at the cost of others,
was an impossibility. Mr. Gladstone, if only from the fact that he was a
born financier and an inveterate thinker, and a man with a passion for
publicly talking, belonged to the Liberals from the first. His whole
life, too, has consistently lent itself to that style. If it has had in
it a touch of austerity, that excellently befitted the social condition
of the masses of our people. His gaze has been fixed too much upon them
to be attracted by the glitter of the narrow upper circle, which so
foolishly persists, amidst its gaudy splendour, in believing itself the
nation. That silliness was not for Mr. Gladstone. He has been subjected
to some tests. If his family was not highly placed, his father was a
baronet, and he himself was educated at Eton and Oxford. Nobles have
been among his friends at all periods of his life, as well as his
official subordinates more than once in it. But he has passed the whole
of his long career without a sparkle of the glitter of adventitious
display: that proudest title of all, which it is not in the power of the
Crown to bestow but only to take away--"the Great Commoner"--has
descended upon him, and is still his. Then he has fenced himself off
with no stiffness of manner; the only dignity he has assumed has been
the natural seriousness of ardent sincerity, warning off triflers only.
To everybody else he has been accessible; any person could impose on him
the trouble of a written reply. His post-cards were known to be public
property. But putting aside that joke, which is now worn bare, scarcely
has any one so fully and ungrudgingly accepted the responsibilities of
his position. He has been the public's faithful, ready servant in every
particular. Nor has it been mere complaisance, or a drudging of
mechanical industry; he has exhibited a real faculty of interesting
himself in all that anybody has been doing actively and well. To say
that he is the only statesman who, while clinging to the Church of
England, has commanded the sympathies of the Dissenters, might provoke
an enemy, embittered by the fact, to reply that he had tactical reasons
for trying to do that; but it could have been nothing else than real
width of mind and a robust versatility which enabled this High Churchman
largely to divide impartial admiration between the Evangelical party and
the Romanists, pointing out fully and exactly what is to be praised in
each. Any one who wishes it can find the estimates set out in detail in
the third and seventh volumes of "The Gleanings." This wide range of
intellectual appreciation is really as much a characteristic of Mr.
Gladstone as has been his unyielding tenacity and doctrinal hold within
the limits of his personal confession of belief. He, a firm acceptor of
the tenets of sacramental efficacy, apostolical succession, and the
authority of the Church in her own sphere, could take up the
semi-rationalistic book "Ecce Homo," and turn it round-and-round
admiringly as a most curious and valuable mental production. Nothing in
which thought was really shown has escaped his notice, or failed to
arouse his interest. He has bent his look on Secularism, as a scientific
inquirer might scrutinize a new species, and he has stooped to quote Mr.
Bradlaugh. In one place you will find him, very likely on the page after
giving a passage from Isaiah or the Psalms, citing the old poet Dunbar,
or speaking of Rowe or Swift, or alluding to Rousseau; while long before
it became a fashion he had words of sympathizing praise for Shelley,
selecting, of all other places, _The Quarterly Review_ to print them in.
But, perhaps, the clearest proof of all, alike of his power to bear
testimony in spite of personal disliking, and his standing hard and fast
upon a principle when he has reached it, is that he, whom Macaulay
nearly half a century ago described as "a young man of unblemished
character," and whom his Lordship, if he were now alive, would speak of
as "the old man with personal fame unspotted," could step aside in one
of his articles to recognize the public debt due to Jack Wilkes as a
helper forward of our freedom. Wherever a national service has been
done, Mr. Gladstone's eulogy always has been ready.

Down to this point we have not spared so much as a hint to his
magnificent oratory, his unsurpassed debating skill, his not infrequent
successes in literary style. These were not the things that anybody
needed reminding of, and that necessity was the prescribed limit of our
self-imposed task. Who has forgotten when the expounding of the Budget
was the greatest intellectual treat of the Session, when sugar and
railway duties and tea became natural themes for eloquence, and the
unfolding of the surplus was breathlessly waited for like the
_dénouement_ of a novelist's plot? Those scenes are long past, it is
true, but the echoes of them can still be heard, for each year since has
brought a disappointing reminder to awaken them. But the matchless
vigour and splendour of his debating fence has never slackened, never
weakened; the only privilege of the older generation in respect of it,
is that they can boast to have witnessed more of it, not to have seen
better displays. As to his writings, there least of all is any reminder
wanted, for he presents the public with an improving specimen each
month. If any one laid themselves out to find fault with Mr. Gladstone's
literature, the very worst thing they could discover to say of it, would
be that it still was oratory, only written down.

This is the man who, after a few weeks of leisure, reappears next month
in Midlothian; first in the field, as if that appearance was his by
right of custom. How well he compares with the rest of our older party
leaders! Mr. Bright, grown a little pursy, though also stricken by
domestic misfortune, rests rather inertly on his laurels, which
certainly are plentiful enough to invite repose; Mr. Forster has never
succeeded in quite finding his way out of the clauses of his own
Education Act, where he sees himself confronted with the Church of
England at the end of so many vistas, that he is lost in admiration of
its architecture; Mr. Goschen, by some strange weakness (which, let us
hope, is only temporary) has got a scare from meeting the County
Franchise wearing Joseph Arch's coat and hat; while Mr. Lowe is riding
hobbies, bicycle-wise, in and out before the very select constituency of
the London University, with readers of _The Fortnightly Review_ for
outside spectators, just by way of showing off his little feats of
mental gymnastic. In the meanwhile, Mr. Gladstone, the veteran of them
all, is putting on his harness for a fresh contest, a riper, better
Liberal to-day than on any previous day of fight. It is for the younger
men to rally round him.

But, before taking our leave of Mr. Gladstone, we have finally to
enlarge our view of him. Early in these remarks it seemed well to give a
very hasty summary of his whole career; but there remains to be
attempted an exact sketch of his actual position in respect of opinions
and practical relations at the moment when he ceased to be Minister. Let
us, first of all, at this moment when a Brummagem Imperialism is only
yet half-faded, recall what was Mr. Gladstone's opinion of the historic
position and natural function of England among the nations; for it has
been craftily made to appear that he was willing, and indeed anxious,
for this country to efface itself. In 1870, when he was still at the
height of power, he published in _The Edinburgh Review_ his article on
"Germany, France, and England," and the following was the view he then
put forward of the international obligations and duties of his country,
in spite of the sea dividing us from other lands:--

"Yet we are not isolated.... With vast multitudes of persons in each of
the Continental countries we have constant relations, both of personal
and commercial intercourse, which grow from year to year; and as,
happily, we have no conflict of interests, real or supposed, nor scope
for evil passions afforded by our peaceful rivalry, there is nothing to
hinder the self-acting growth of concord.... So far from this implying
either a condition or a policy of isolation, it marks out England as the
appropriate object of the general confidence.... All that is wanted is
that she should discharge the functions, which are likely more and more
to accrue to her, modestly, kindly, impartially.... But in order that
she may act fully up to a part of such high distinction, the kingdom of
Queen Victoria must be in all things worthy of it. The world-wide cares
and responsibilities with which the British people have charged
themselves are really beyond the ordinary measure of human strength; and
until a recent period it seemed the opinion of our rulers that we could
not do better than extend them yet further, wherever an opening could
easily, or even decently, be found. With this avidity for material
extension was joined a preternatural and morbid sensibility. Russia at
the Amoor, America at the Fee-jee or the Sandwich Islands, France in New
Caledonia or Cochin China--all these, and the like, were held to be good
reasons for a feverish excitement lest other nations should do for
themselves but the fiftieth part of what we have done for ourselves....
The secret of strength lies in keeping some proportion between the
burden and the back."

Is it necessary to ask whether this is a policy combining dignified
patriotism and prudently-restrained common sense? Compare it for a
moment with the gewgaw skimble-skamble diplomatic sensationalism with
which we have been presented since. But let us go a little more into
detail as to Mr. Gladstone's standing with reference to international
relations. This present Government has perhaps forgotten that there is
such a nation in the world as the United States of America; but Mr.
Gladstone kept it well in mind, and we suppose every one will admit that
he, of all statesmen, stands well with that people of our own blood, who
very shortly will be the most powerful community upon the earth, and the
one with whom we shall, for all time, have most to do. However, we will
keep within the bounds of Europe. It is the fashion now to give
precedence to Germany. Well, Mr. Gladstone was among the first to
predict the success of Prussia, and she is not likely to forget who it
was who preserved neutrality at a moment most critical to her. Is it
France that he is not on good relations with? Why this Minister, who
invited her wine trade, and strove unceasingly to increase commerce to
and fro across the Channel, and who is for giving further and further
political rights to his countrymen, is the only English statesman whom
the bulk of Frenchmen can understand. To them our Tories must be as
antiquated as their own Royalists. Italy is a growing Power in the
European comity, and who is there among our statesmen who can in her
fair cities arouse half the enthusiasm he can? He is, literally, the
only English politician they familiarly know. With Austria, it is true,
he during the recent war lost patience for a moment, but her conduct
since has told that her rulers must at the time have known that he had
good reasons for it; and no one has more fully appreciated the
difficulties of Austria's position than he has done, or was more early
in giving her, years ago, the very counsel which she has since proved
was the wisest for her. There remains one other great Power to be
named--Russia; the State with whom we shall have directly of necessity
to stand face to face in the far East, and with whom terms will in the
end have somehow to be made. It is urged against Mr. Gladstone that he
has not rendered himself obnoxious enough to this remaining Power--that
is, that he did not incapacitate himself for negotiating with her, and,
having postponed defiance of her, might make some peaceful arrangement.
Can any friend of peace think this a very grievous accusation? Mr.
Gladstone has gained this position of goodwill all round at what
cost?--that of having fallen into disfavour with the Turks. That is his
one terrible disqualification for affairs; or, if you wish to be
precisely exhaustive, and at the same time to elicit the absurdity
fully, you may add to it that he has irritated the Bourbons. It is quite
true, and we, indeed, wish to put it clearly forward, that he was for
abating a little of our national swagger, and was prepared to see, and
to welcome, advancement in other nations. But every well-grounded
Liberal knows that it is only on those two conditions that England can
permanently pursue her own paths of industrial development, and the
world make progress. Mr. Gladstone's single sin in reference to our
external relations was his readiness to favour those two results.

But how does he show when a last view is taken of him from within our
politics? Here, again, first look to the circumference. In dealing with
the colonies, he was for all being put in possession of a free autonomy,
and then urging them to self-reliance--in those ways welding them into
the integrity of the empire; and as to India, he insisted that we should
strive more and more to realize what he termed the generous conception
of a moral trusteeship, to be administered for the benefit of those over
whom we rule. Here, once more, we get the true ring of a sound
Liberalism, for those are the only principles, we venture to affirm, on
which such an empire as this of ours can ever be made permanent.
Treating the colonies as babies and biting the thumb at Russia, even
from the most scientific frontier India can furnish, though you shout
"Empress" from it as loudly as you will, has nothing truly English about
it. Empire is not kept in such a mawkish, artificial manner.

But now narrow the gaze within our own home limits. The chief domestic
questions for the British public are these,--extension of the County
Franchise, the Redistribution of Seats, the Disestablishment of the
Church, and Retrenchment of Expenditure. The Land Question will yet have
to grow, and may not ripen in his time. But on three of the above
pending matters Mr. Gladstone stands at the very front. He is for making
our field cultivators citizens no less than our artizans; he is for
re-allotting members in a manner which will give us a Parliament truly
representative; and it is hardly necessary to speak of economical
benefits in connection with the Minister who used the nation to
reduction of taxation and surpluses arriving together, and whose last
promise under that head was the total abolition of the Income Tax. On
the other of these great domestic matters, that which stands third in
the above list, the Disestablishment of the Church, it has seemed to
advanced Liberals that Mr. Gladstone has lagged. But the lively fear of
his opponents on this very matter is full of hope. Since he last
dissented from Mr. Miall's motion, he has written a very significant
phrase in an article in this Review. In treating of "The Courses of
Religious Thought," when reviewing the churches of the United States and
of the British Colonies he spoke of their vigorous growth, "far from the
possibly chilling shadow of National Establishments of Religion." In
that phrase, for a man so practical as is Mr. Gladstone,
Disestablishment seems to cast its shadow before, and not a few persons
on the other side of the question shivered from the chilliness it made.
But these topics of the first class do not depend upon any one
statesman; the biggest of men have these capital problems thrust upon
them; all that you can do is to take note how a leader stands in
reference to them. And the above is Mr. Gladstone's standing. But there
was another class of legislative reforms which he was the man to have
gone in search of. In one of his most recent articles he has given us a
hint of a dream of this kind which was in his mind. He stated it
thus:--"Our currency, our local government, our liquor laws, portions
even of our taxation, remain in a state either positively disgraceful,
or at the least inviting and demanding improvement." That programme of
the further benefits which we should have owed to Mr. Gladstone was put
aside by the giddiness of twenty-five or thirty constituencies at the
last elections, but it will fittingly serve to give the finishing touch
to our presentation of him in this paper. Liberals have, in fact, to
thank him for offering more of reform and of benefit than the country
would let him give it. Splendid as his achievements have been, he really
had others in reserve.

Is it too late? is the question that naturally arises. Certainly there
is no hope of having the five years of administration by him which we
have lost since 1874. That is irretrievable; and if Mr. Gladstone felt
then his growing years, and had a wish to finish other tasks apart from
politics, he is no younger now; while the aims of his purposed leisure
must have been greatly interfered with by his partial recall to affairs
owing to the dangers to which freedom in Bulgaria and our own national
credit were exposed. It is wholly a matter for Mr. Gladstone to decide.
If the next elections go in favour of the Liberals, all the world knows
that office is there for him to take or to leave. Earl Granville, the
Duke of Argyll, Lord Hartington would, we need not say, be among the
first even to urge it as far as it was right to do so, and the whole
party would welcome him back to power with a shout of joy. Who knows?
Mr. Gladstone's patriotism is great, and our financial muddle will,
also, be very great about that time. Between the two he might be
tempted; he may yet do us the final service of putting the national
finances right again. It is, we repeat, wholly for him to say. Earlier
in this paper a further word was promised on the subject of his
retirement; but, upon second thoughts, it scarcely seems necessary. Mr.
Gladstone was too experienced in Parliamentary doings not to know that
the Conservatives would take care to keep enough of their majority until
time itself forced them back to the unwished-for hustings. He did his
party not an atom of practical injury by retiring; rather, it was a good
opportunity for giving a younger leader practice. It would be quite
idle, on the other hand, to argue with his opponents for complaining
that he did not retire enough. He has made speeches, they say; he has
written articles in every organ there is; he has even republished
previous writings. As we before said, they have themselves to blame for
it in great measure: if they wanted Mr. Gladstone to stay in retirement,
they should have carefully kept quiet. Instead of that they made a noise
before his door, disturbing him in his studies. What more natural than
that he should come out? He did so, and found that, disguised like
harlequins in the flimsy bedizenment which they call Imperialism, they
were playing high jinks with Britain's reputation and the chances of
freedom for the oppressed in the East. It was too much for him; but if
they complain of the number of the weapons he attacked them with, we
know that it would have been impossible for him to please them there.
They never have been satisfied on that score. What they really find
fault with are the blows they got.

And there are more to come. Directly we shall have them complaining that
he has chosen a constituency so far away as Scotland; the real fact
being that they wish he had gone much farther still. They never are
sincere with Mr. Gladstone; he cannot please them. We leave them
anxiously listening for his approach again unto these shores, knowing
very well that to their thinking they will hear his voice all too soon.



Description is said to be only possible by comparing, and when one is
asked to sketch Mr. Gladstone, how is it to be set about? His admirers
will have it that he has been a very great Minister, so that if we adopt
the comparative method, we ought to look high for standards. Shall we
match him alongside Bismarck or Cavour? The latter, to give him
precedence, stands renowned for building up his country in evil days,
when every omen was against her. But Mr. Gladstone, succeeding to power
when England was in the full tide of prosperity and at the height of
fame, gave up her prospects, and would have acquiesced in her decadence.
There is no likeness whatever between him and Cavour. Then take
Bismarck. The great German Chancellor shares with the Italian Minister
the glory of having widened the bounds and raised the position of his
land, and he stands now head and shoulders above all in the midst of the
diplomatic world a very Colossus. But Mr. Gladstone is and has always
been outside that world altogether. Prince Bismarck has his hand on all
the springs of action, and will let pass no chance of exalting his
country. Mr. Gladstone, we repeat, never made the slightest impression
in the regions of diplomacy; Courts did not know him, foreign statesmen
left him out of their reckoning of the men that had to be dealt with.
The great international achievements for which he has alone been talked
of have been the surrender of British territory and the paying down of
English money lavishly to another State for preposterous claims. But it
will be said that it is not fair to Mr. Gladstone to compare him to
Prince Bismarck and Count Cavour, for they were men who found their
country in unusual circumstances. Look, then, to names in our own
history. Pitt must not be spoken of for the reasons just allowed in the
other cases; but there are Canning and Palmerston. How does Mr.
Gladstone look alongside them? He has himself more than once alluded to
Canning, as if not unwilling to be thought to have received his mantle.
It was, however, always only in connection with Greece that he spoke of
Canning; but that Minister looked much farther than the Mediterranean.
One would have thought that so fine a rhetorician as Mr. Gladstone would
not have forgotten the famous phrase in which Canning claimed to have
called the New World into existence to redress the balance of the Old.
Lord Palmerston was without any such fine phrases, but in foreign
affairs he acted boldly, though he had to fall back on a musty Latin
quotation to describe it. Every Englishman, however, understood Latin
when their Minister said, _Civis Romanus sum_. Yet neither of these
Ministers at any part of their career lived in times more stirring than
Mr. Gladstone has done, nor when the interests of England were more
endangered. He has still later had magnificent opportunities, but he did
worse than lose them.

From all this, it would seem that, whether we look abroad or at home,
there is no possibility of describing Mr. Gladstone by hints of
comparison with these historical personages. What is said in that way
appears, in fact, to turn into contrast; which is, also, itself a mode
of delineation, though not usually of the kind the chief object of it
wishes. We can find no Minister to couple along with him as having
deliberately despaired of his country. However, Mr. Gladstone is
certainly great in some way, for although other nations while we were
under his sway were gradually losing sight of England herself as well as
of him, he was making plenty of noise all the time at home. If it should
turn out, as we go on, that he was not a great Minister but a great
orator, that would seem to account for both the things. If Bismarck and
Cavour have made affairs, Mr. Gladstone has made speeches, beating them
as much in that as they did him in the other respect. But it is not
exactly the same thing to the countries the men represent.

It is, therefore, under a humbler, more domestic aspect than that of
this high supreme style of Minister which we have first tried that we
must begin Mr. Gladstone's portraiture. The task may be divided into two
portions. There is the opinion which we Conservatives hold of the
general influence and effect he has had upon our national interests, in
which we may be credited with at least trying to estimate his acts and
measures on their merits; and, besides that, there is a judgment of him
from a narrower party view, arising out of his historic relation to
ourselves. We will take the latter first.

To hear Liberals talk, one might suppose that Conservatives had always
cherished a special hatred against Mr. Gladstone simply for ceasing to
be a Tory and becoming a Radical. That the Conservatives rather late in
his career came to show much irritation against Mr. Gladstone is
perfectly correct; but it was, as I hope to show as I go on, for very
different reasons than simply because he had made one Conservative less
and one Liberal more. A great political party has no such immortal
animosities as that supposes: party feeling is not based on merely
sentimental grounds. Both sides are used to losing men. It is the common
fate of Parliamentary warfare. Now and then, some rather idle person who
has time to waste in going back a long way in his recollections bethinks
himself that Lord Beaconsfield was not always a Conservative; but we
never yet heard of any one among the party challenging sympathy for him
on the score that he had been hunted by the Liberals through half a
century or so for having deserted them. Yet it will be admitted that
Lord Beaconsfield has injured the Liberals more than ever Mr. Gladstone
has done the Conservatives. What is the reason, then, of this difference
of alleged treatment in the two cases? The answer may be given in half a
sentence,--Lord Beaconsfield, alike when he was Mr. Disraeli and since,
has always fought fair. That is enough in politics to make your
opponents acquiesce in your being such; but Mr. Gladstone as his career
developed surprised and puzzled everybody, his own friends included; and
those who blame the Conservatives for, in the end, losing temper and
showing exasperation, should bear in mind that he finally produced the
very same effect upon the country at large.

It is worth while following this point a little further, for it would
not be of much use attempting to sketch Mr. Gladstone if we are supposed
to dislike him from some mere party instinct. Will anybody be good
enough to tell us when this inscrutable emotion of hatred of Mr.
Gladstone arose? Liberals are not supposed to be strong in history, but
they have very short memories indeed if they have forgotten both their
own career and his. Why, in 1852--that is, in the twentieth year of Mr.
Gladstone's Parliamentary life--the Conservatives were offering him
office, which was not refused by him with over-much promptness. For
nearly fourteen years after that he was retained as the representative
of the University of Oxford. It is, in fact, not yet very much more
than a dozen years since this victim of political persecution, and
present champion of the Radicals, was quietly ensconced in a seat for
what is sometimes spoken of as the head-quarters of Toryism. He has
roved a good deal among the constituencies since, but he was then
willing to have gone on remaining at Oxford, if his constituents had
also been willing to have been made laughing-stocks by letting him
remain. Surely a man who represented Tory electors until he was getting
fast on for sixty could scarcely up to that point have been much hunted
and worried for Liberal principles. To speak plainly, there never was so
late a conversion made of so much histrionic use as this of Mr.
Gladstone's. But though it has suited both his and his present party's
ends, it rather puzzles plain people who have kept their recollections a
little trim to think that if he lives on into senatorial decrepitude, he
will never have sat for Radical constituencies anything like so long a
time as he did for Conservative ones. For between thirty and forty years
this Liberal ex-Premier was a Tory member.

In fact, a glance at the right honourable gentleman's wonderfully
prosperous career will show that in the list of our public men he has of
all others made the fewest, the briefest, the least sacrifices either
for principle or party. There are very simple ways of testing it; Mr.
Gladstone has not been out of office long enough for a man who was
innocent of business prudence in his career. He has, in fact, reaped the
official spoils of two parties, if not of three. The dates and
appointments are on record for anybody to trace out. On the very face of
it, a man who has served under Peel, Aberdeen, Palmerston, and Russell,
and then come out as a full-blown Liberal Prime Minister himself, must
of necessity be said to offer rather a miscellaneous career. His warmest
admirer must admit that he has been either the most fortunate or else
the most prudent of men; and, as we do not wish to be stingy in our
recognition of his skill, we prefer to compliment him by attributing his
great prosperity throughout so many years and under so many different
chiefs to his prudence.

If this very hasty review of Mr. Gladstone's chronicle does not agree
with the impression of him which is the prevailing one on the Liberal
side, it is the one which the bare facts of his career would produce on
every side if they could be seen without the misleading effect of his
very fine words and exceedingly solemn attitudes. Very fortunately for
him it is only the Conservatives who have a full and accurate
recollection of Mr. Gladstone. They have necessarily observed him
continuously from their own unshifting party position, and so have been
able to perceive in a way that hardly was practicable to the Liberals,
who were always shifting and struggling among themselves, how invariably
and consistently his announcements of change of view have hit with the
opportunities for improvement of his Parliamentary position. On every
occasion, to the very moment, so soon as a Liberal question had fully
ripened, Mr. Gladstone presented himself to pluck it. It was so with
Reform, it was so with Church Rates, it was so with University Reform,
it was so with the Ballot, it was so with the spoliation of the Irish
Church and the unsettling of the Irish landowners, and it is so with the
County Franchise, and it will be so once more, if the Liberals ever get
into power again, with the English Church and the English Land Laws. Mr.
Bright, Mr. Miall, and all the Radicals have drudged for many a year for
Mr. Gladstone, who, when all the outdoor work has been done, has always
allowed himself to be persuaded to bring in the Measure just in the nick
of time, and, by expounding it in a very fine speech, has robbed its
actual originators of two-thirds of the credit of making it possible.

Luckily for the Conservatives, though he never had the courage to attack
a question of the very first class himself in the way of initiative, he
had an insatiable ambition for meddling with smaller ones, and by making
vents in these ways for his restlessness and his ambition, he finally
ruined all that his skilful prudence in the larger affairs had gained
him, disgusting the country till it determined to get him off its hands
at any price. Still, that is not just now the point in question.

Mr. Gladstone's so slowly passing through all the stages from
Conservatism to Radicalism has had this effect,--that while all other
public men of his standing have grown more or less antiquated in steady
loyal service to their party, and by presenting a fixed if monotonous
aspect to the public, this one Parliamentary personage kept a perennial
freshness, simply by skilfully dividing his prolonged career into
distinct periods and going on changing. Some political section has been
always welcoming Mr. Gladstone newly into its ranks and to its spoils,
for, as we have said, the two things unfailingly went together; and the
shouts with which he was received were always strengthened by fainter
murmurs of applause from other sections more advanced along the line,
who hoped to receive him themselves later on. They did so. Really to
each one of them he was a recruit from the last party. To the
Palmerstonians he ought at the most to have been only a Peelite; to the
Liberals at worst only a Palmerstonian. But by a surprising adroitness,
it was always made to appear that in all his migrations from party to
party, he joined each successive group as a new retreater from the
Tories. It certainly was true in one sense; he was always going further
away from them. But for all party purposes and reckoning, he had as much
left them when he joined Palmerston as when he shook hands with Mr.
Bright and took his place in front of the Radicals.

These are only a first handful of specimens of a certain unfairness in
Mr. Gladstone's position and career from first to last, from which he
has largely profited, and which very naturally irked his opponents, who
have had to suffer its inconveniences. He has posed as a sort of
political orphan left lonely in the Parliamentary world at the death of
Peel, who has been persecuted by wicked Tories from one Chancellorship
of the Exchequer to another, until they finally drove him into the
Premiership, but all this time he was successfully seceding from them,
though they continued in pursuit. It must have been Mr. Gladstone's
portentous earnestness of demeanour which has covered up from the
general public a joke so huge and prolonged as this, preventing
everybody from seeing that such a tale did not agree with his
unprecedented prosperity. But if in these ways he has kept himself
interesting to the country, and fresh and surprising for every group he
has in rotation joined, both he and his changes have long been stale to
the Conservatives. They are able to look along his whole track, and
seeing him from behind, know him as a Peelite, a follower of Aberdeen, a
Palmerstonian, a Russellite, and a Radical. They are debarred from
applying his own name to the last stage, and calling him a Gladstonian.
Strangely enough, and indeed very significantly, that term has never
taken root in our politics. There really have never been any
Gladstonians: no one ever was or ever will be called by that title. Mr.
Gladstone will end his days and depart without founding any school; he
will stand recorded only as the acceptor of office from those who did
so, and the passer of other people's measures. But in political life a
man who attains the first rank of conspicuousness without founding a
line may fairly be suspected. It will be found that he has been too busy
in a narrower way,--looking after not questions but himself. To that
very small party, numerically reckoned, consisting of only one member,
Mr. Gladstone has been consistently and untiringly faithful. He has
challenged for it sympathy in all the ways to which his very fine
oratory has lent itself, and he has not neglected the humbler art of
perpetual advertisement, keeping it by means of the press and the
platform ever before the public eye. But when he finally leaves us it is
certain to vanish entirely.

Very likely some ardent Radical, whose mind is so full of having got Mr.
Gladstone at last that he forgets, or perhaps never knew, how many
grades and shades of politicians have in succession enjoyed him before,
will say that in all this we are only railing at Mr. Gladstone's
success. His success! In order to describe Mr. Gladstone, we had first
to write retrospectively, take in his earlier phases, and to look
generally at his whole history. In that retrospect, down to a late point
in it, he was exceedingly prosperous; but we never meant to say that he
had been very successful since the beginning of 1874. There is not the
slightest need for any Conservative to feel bitter against Mr. Gladstone
now on any grounds of personal envy. He has done them the greatest
service of any public man for three generations; and at any time he
might have individually prospered as much as he liked for them, if it
had been possible for him to do it without injuring his country. It is
to this more serious examination of his career that we now go.

Not that we propose to entangle ourselves in the minute details of it,
for that is in no way necessary. We have already in part explained why
we may, in such a sketch as this, drop out many years of his political
life. For a great length of time Mr. Gladstone was only a Budget-maker.
It is true he made them for Governments that were not Conservative, but
he still was considered nearly a Conservative outside his financial
handicraft. And here, again, part of the explanation we earlier gave
applies. There is not the slightest reason why any Conservative should
pause long to consider Mr. Gladstone as the passer of the Ballot, or
even as the disestablisher of the Irish Church and the interferer with
the rights of landed property in Ireland. The only thing special to be
said about him in connection with these things as distinguishing him
from the ruck of Liberals would be, that he was a very late ex-Tory, and
at the time a professed High Churchman. He somehow got the Liberals to
let him write his name across every one of those measures so soon as it
was seen that they would pass, and he has made the legislation in that
way seem to be his; but the Conservatives know with whom they had really
to deal in the inception and the pushing forward of those movements, and
it was not Mr. Gladstone. The real men were Mr. Bright, Mr. Dillwyn, Mr.
Miall, and those who for many a year worked with them while Mr.
Gladstone was never heard of, never thought of, in connection with the
matters they had always matured before he had anything to do with them.

Nor was it on account of these affairs that Mr. Gladstone's fall
occurred when it came, which is another reason why it would be waste of
time to discuss them in connection with him. Who is proposing to alter
these things now that they have been fought out between the great
parties of the State and decided? As a supplement to his Irish Land
Bill, we now have the Irish peasants refusing to pay any rent at all:
but in these days when a thing is done in our Parliament it is done. The
Conservatives, in spite of the majority at their back, have never put
forward a finger to touch those settlements, nor do they mean to do so;
and yet not only our own country, but all Europe, and indeed realms
farther away still, have been keenly aware that the Beaconsfield
Ministry has been very busy for years undoing something that Mr.
Gladstone had done.

What was this gigantic task, which was not the repealing of legislation,
or the passing of statutes of any kind, but which required courage and
effort more arduous than those things? There must have been some cause
for the bursts of applause which have again and again echoed on our
shores from all parts of the civilized globe at something that was going
on. It was, we hasten to answer, the rehabilitation of England in the
eyes of the world,--the restoration of her ancient power as a factor in
the enforcement and administration of public right among the nations.
Somehow, coincidently with Mr. Gladstone's prosperity as a Minister,
England, his country, had sunk, and in exactly answering ratio, and was
sinking lower and lower still daily. He was very famous, or at least
very notorious, at home, but the renown of Britain abroad was clouding;
and our people never will bear that, as history had shown before. This
man, who at heart was but a financier, and who ought in the fitness of
things never to have risen higher in office than a Chancellor of the
Exchequer, whose function it should have been to find funds for some one
else as a Prime Minister capable of a policy in the higher international
politics befitting an Empire, was conducting our foreign affairs in the
spirit of a commercial traveller; willing to effect a little saving by
giving up a group of islands in one part or a bit of territory in
another, and to effect an economy at another time by backing out of a
treaty. Though, at the same time, if anybody insisted, and there loomed,
however distantly, a possibility of war, he would pay the money down in
a hurry by millions, as he did in the Alabama case. We should have had
all the world insisting very soon, making peace more costly than war
itself, besides the shame of unjustifiable surrender.

But we were spared all this; though the undoing of the humiliation, as
far as it had gone, has fully occupied Mr. Gladstone's successors ever

This is the great accusation which the Conservatives have to bring
against Mr. Gladstone--that of having degraded the position of his
country; and an arraignment more fatal than this cannot be made in the
case of a chief Minister. It is not alone the Conservatives who make it.
Did not Earl Russell, Liberal though he was, find enough English blood
in his aged veins when writing his last book, to say that Mr. Gladstone
had dragged the name of England through the mire? But it would not be
quite accurate to put this forward as the full explanation of Mr.
Gladstone's sudden tumble from office; for it was not until after that
occurred that the bulk of people quite knew the whole extent of the
injury he had worked in this respect. The Conservative leaders guessed
it, but they knew more about foreign affairs than the rank and file of
the nation. Everybody, of course, high and low, was aware that he had
unasked given up the Ionian Islands because of some literary reasons
which he had come upon in writing books about Homer, that he had
surrendered territory in the San Juan Boundary Question, and that he had
quietly gone to Geneva and paid America, not indeed all she asked,--for
even with Britain's wealth the whole of the first modest request would
only have been found with difficulty,--but he had counted down a sum
that made Brother Jonathan's shrewd eyes twinkle with joy. The country,
from these events following one another, had come to have a very uneasy
feeling that somehow under his auspices everything was going against us
abroad. Still it was only later that it was made fully apparent how
completely England was effaced; not until the three Emperors had begun
to settle the rearrangement of Eastern Europe, without so much as saying
to Great Britain, "By your leave." There is difficulty when looking back
now to prevent oneself from suffering some illusion in this respect; but
it is a fact, and we may be glad of it, that Englishmen did not until it
was roughly forced upon them suppose beforehand that their position had
dwindled to quite so low an ebb.

At the elections of 1874, there was no distinct foreign policy before
the public, for though there were many on the Conservative side who
sympathized with France in her adversity, and saw clearly that Germany's
mutilation of her territory meant trouble in time to come, not a voice
was raised in deprecation of our neutrality. But, for the matter of
that, it may be just as correctly said that there was no matured
domestic question before the country, for it will not be supposed that
there was a single Tory any more than a Liberal who wished the Income
Tax to be retained on his shoulders. It was hardly for proposing to do
away with that impost that everybody voted so unanimously against Mr.
Gladstone; they only did so at the polling-booths in spite of his
proposing it, which somehow seems rather mysterious. If his opponents
were not proposing to recall any of the recent legislation, and if there
was no special question of foreign affairs pending, and if nobody had
any desire not to be lightened of taxation, how was it, pray, that Mr.
Gladstone was so ignominiously hurled from power? In reality, there is
not the slightest difficulty about it--Mr. Gladstone was decisively
rejected by his countrymen, not on any question of policy, either home
or foreign, but because of the _personal impression_ he had slowly but
surely imprinted on their minds. The real issue before the country was
whether it would have any more of Mr. Gladstone, and it said No.

It is a common artifice on the part of his apologisers to insinuate that
he had wearied the nation by offering it too many things for its good.
But neither individuals nor communities are much in the habit of
refusing gifts; it is the one thing, and nearly the only thing, in this
world for which there is an excellent reason whenever so strange a
proceeding happens. There is another way of representing the matter, one
much less complimentary but far more true--the country was sick of Mr.
Gladstone. Even the sight of Mr. Lowe standing at his side with four
millions of surplus in his hands was not enough to tempt them. The
promise to abolish the Income Tax was the most tremendous bribe ever
offered to the constituencies, but, to their credit, it did not corrupt
them. They would not accept Mr. Gladstone any longer at any price
whatever. The believers in democracy, and Mr. Gladstone in particular,
according to some of his very latest reasonings, ought to have accepted
this universal disgust as being a popular inspiration. However, they
have done nothing of the kind, but avow that it was a public delusion,
which they at first hinted would be temporary; but if the public is
liable to delusions, and to fits of them which continue for seven or
eight years at a stretch, for that is now the duration of this one, what
becomes of these very radical gentlemen's democracy? For it is not
really open to them to plead, though they will go on doing it, that the
people's eyes were dazzled by a glitter of diplomatic success, and their
blood infuriated by a skilfully aroused anti-Russian feeling. It is not
open to them for a simple reason, but a very conclusive one: the
elections came before anything of this could have happened; and the
elections themselves arrived with the suddenness they did owing to
something which had preceded them--namely, a steady run of Ministerial
defeats in the by-contests, wherever a vacancy occurred in a
constituency. Mr. Gladstone avowed all this in the address with which he
startled the Greenwich electors and the whole country, though he and his
friends have never mentioned the fact since. It was for the purpose of
putting all things right that the elections which put them all more
wrong still were so unexpectedly ordered. It was not because of being
intoxicated by the diplomatic triumph of Lord Beaconsfield and Lord
Salisbury at Berlin--which did not occur till years after--that the
constituencies rejected Mr. Gladstone. We have no wish to be
unnecessarily impolite, but the true reason for it was that which we
have named already--they had come not to like Mr. Gladstone. If we trace
that fact backwards in a natural way, we shall find that one cause of it
was that they felt the honour and the interest of England were not safe
in his hands; but this was only one among other causes. It swelled
afterwards into the biggest reason of all, and now practically includes
all the others; but, at the moment, it was not actually known that the
safety of England was about to be imperilled.

The voters were affected by other reasons. What were those other
reasons? The public must have known them pretty clearly at the time,
since it acted so promptly and decidedly upon them, and it, therefore,
ought not to need very much recalling of them now, for the time, after
all, is not so very long ago. But it may be as well to go into them a
little, since it was through the incidents furnishing them that the
general public was led to form the very same estimate of Mr. Gladstone
which the Conservatives had held for about a score of years before. At
last the popular judgment coincided with that of his Parliamentary
opponents, and he fell from power. But any one who will give a moment's
consideration to the cases of the Collier appointment, the Ewelme
Rectory affair, and the issue of the Royal Warrant on purchase in the
army, will see that we are right in affirming that Mr. Gladstone's
ignominious expulsion from office was owing to moral rather than
political causes. It stands recorded that this Minister, who had put
religious professions in the front of his politics in a way novel to
public life, had to defend his conduct over and over again in the House
of Commons by quoting the mere letter of the law. Parliament became not
unlike the Old Bailey when a legal wrangle is going on over the
technicalities of an indictment; and the unwonted spectacle of Lord
Chief Justices accusing a theological Premier of having somehow evaded a
statute was not made any less unedifying by Mr. Gladstone showing great
skill in being his own attorney. Everybody must admit that he certainly
did that.

It is possible to recall each of the cases in very few words. An Act of
Parliament had been passed with a view to strengthening the Judicial
Committee of the Privy Council, and, as this Court was one of Appeal, it
stood to reason that those appointed to it to revise other Judges'
decisions should have had judicial experience themselves. It was
expressly provided in the Act that those to be raised to this Court
should be already Judges. To the surprise of the whole country, Sir
Robert Collier, well known as Mr. Gladstone's Attorney-General, and,
therefore, conspicuously only a waiter for a judgeship, not a judge
already, was announced as the filler of one of these vacancies, before
half the readers of the newspapers knew that he had ceased to be
Attorney-General. It turned out, however, that he was in reality a judge
at the moment, and that he had been one for some few moments previously,
having, in fact, sat on the bench of the Common Pleas for just two days.
There is not space to follow Mr. Gladstone's wonderful reasoning, but it
chiefly turned on a point so fine as this, that what the Act meant to
stipulate was not experience, but _status_. In other words, that a man
should be made a judge of one kind for five minutes, in order to be
turned into one of another kind, just for the say of the thing. Amazed
members of the Legislature which had passed the enactment protested that
they were not so foolishly subtle as this, and that they had never,
before Mr. Gladstone mentioned it, thought of any such distinction as
that between _status_ and experience.

But this was not the only instance in which he has told people what they
had intended better than they knew, and all differently. In the Ewelme
Rectory business he would have it that when a statute said Oxford it
meant Cambridge, or at least that its specifying Oxford did not signify,
or that it included Cambridge, or, in fact, might be construed to
prescribe anything else which it did not say and which was contrary to
what everybody had thought of it before. However, here, again, as the
lawyers would otherwise have been troublesome, the technicality was
found to have been formally complied with. The words of the enactment
did really require that the man who was to be made rector of Ewelme
parish should be a member of Oxford Convocation, and Mr. Harvey, Mr.
Gladstone's friend, who had been educated at Cambridge, and who, until
that living became vacant, had never dreamed of connection with Oxford,
was made a member of the Convocation, in order to receive the living. Of
course, Mr. Gladstone argued that Mr. Harvey's being a Master of Arts
was enough, though the statute said nothing of that, and everybody else
had thought it expressly stated a certain University where the Master of
Arts was to come from.

But let us go on to the third case, that of the issue of the Royal
Warrant abolishing purchase. Not a few of the Liberals who exulted at
the success of the party measure had a misgiving at the way in which it
was secured. It was felt to be a victory which could not be repeated,
and one of a style which, if they who snatched it had been
Conservatives, would have thrown the country into a convulsion. The most
violent act in the name of the Crown which the oldest man living in
England has witnessed, was counselled by Mr. Gladstone. Because the
Lords, in the exercise of the power which the Constitution gives them,
were not willing instantly to pass his Bill for giving an entirely new
social aspect to the army, he caused the Queen to do nothing short of
superseding them entirely, and practically reduced the Constitution at a
stroke to the Commons and the Crown. It is just now part of the tactics
of the Liberals to protest against some imagined wish to bring in
"personal rule." If any such preposterous design existed, it would be
Mr. Gladstone's own act which would be fallen back upon for the
precedent. The feeling which has best enabled the most thoughtful among
Englishmen to understand the kind of shock which foreigners experience
on the occurrence of one of the political earthquakes which they call on
the Continent by the name _coup d'état_, was that which ran through the
country when Mr. Gladstone announced that there was nothing for the
Lords to discuss, that he had advised the Queen to issue a Royal
Warrant. We had lost all recollection of the particular sensation, but
he brought back just a twinge of it. Mr. Gladstone, however, can do
Radical acts and then explain them historically. Once more we found
ourselves all inextricably entangled in his casuistry. He now argued
that the Royal Warrant had not been issued by exercise of prerogative,
but in strict pursuance of statutory power, there being some Act of the
Georges to that effect, which ordinary people had forgotten. It is not
necessary to follow the thing further. In the end, Mr. Gladstone became
too clever for the country. Even the dullest began to perceive that Mr.
Gladstone could conscientiously do whatever he liked. The more subtly he
argued, the more plain John Bull got puzzled.

It may, at first sight, seem tasking the public memory too much to ask
people if they remember the tension there was in the political
atmosphere towards the end of Mr. Gladstone's career. But a very great
many will not have forgotten it. The political weather is so far like
the other sort that it is only borne in mind for its badness; that,
however, was a terrible season. At the last, Mr. Gladstone seemed to
have got into the air, and he did not improve the climate. He may urge,
certainly, that Mr. Lowe had made himself very obnoxious, that Mr.
Ayrton had been found to be intolerable, and that the great trade of the
publicans, with all its supporters, was in arms against Mr. Bruce. That
is all true; the country disliked each one of these his chief
colleagues. But neither Mr. Lowe's hard cynicism, nor Mr. Ayrton's
dogmatic inæstheticism, nor Mr. Bruce's stolid mechanical interference,
stirred the large keen dissatisfaction which Mr. Gladstone's own
incomprehensibility in the end did. He gave men's consciences a shock,
and none of the others affected to feel so deeply as that: it was only
he who had stood forward as a political moralist, and then set everybody
by the ears discussing his conduct. It was the same outside Parliament
and within it. Everybody was arguing Mr. Gladstone; nobody could make
him out, nobody felt safe, or could imagine what was coming next. If the
atmosphere had but been charged a little more with him, England would
not have been worth living in. Luckily the elections came, and the air
was cleared.

But if in the more exaggerated instances we have above spoken of, the
general public became aware of a certain obliquity, an unreliability, a
dissatisfied restlessness, an imperiousness in Mr. Gladstone, the
Conservatives had been more or less continuously aware of those
qualities for many years. They, as we said earlier, have had to observe
the right hon. gentleman closer, more continuously, and it would be easy
for any one of them who is of middle age to give from his own memory a
string of instances, just the same in kind as those above, though not so
broadly striking, beginning much earlier in his career, and coming down
much later. Very recently, Lord Salisbury at Manchester recalled Mr.
Gladstone's dealings with his Oxford constituents in reference to the
disestablishment of the Irish Church. But his lordship courteously
spared his opponent the details. Has the world forgotten the famous
letter to Dr. Hannah, bearing the date of June, 1865, written, as Mr.
Gladstone himself with unlooked-for _naïveté_ admits in his "Chapter of
Autobiography," for the appeasing of doubts? He in it asserted, first of
all, that the question was "remote and apparently out of all bearing on
the practical politics of the day;" second, he avowed that he was
probably going "to be silent" on the topic; third, he said that "he
scarcely expected ever to be called on to share in such a measure;" and,
as his finishing words, spoke of it as "a question lying at a distance
he could not measure." These were far too many causes for not doing a
thing, and the Conservatives accordingly began to look out. In 1869, Mr.
Gladstone disestablished the Irish Church. The "remoteness" and the
"distance which was not measurable" somehow came to be packed within
these two dates,--1865-9. What had so hurried matters? Well, one can
only recall what had happened in the interim, and among the events there
had been these two occurrences--he had been expelled from Oxford and
rejected by South Lancashire. The like suddenness attended his
conversion on the subject of the Ballot. After half a lifetime of
opposition, he one fine morning announced that it must pass, hardly a
hint of warning having been given beforehand.

But his whole career has shown this suddenness of advance, at distinct
periods, which, as we have said, always coincided with the brightening
of the prospects of the respective agitations. It is true, as is earlier
pointed out, that he took something like a quarter of a century to
travel the ground between the Conservative starting-point and the
Radical position, but the length of time was not owing to his creeping
between the bounds; he has traversed it at successive leaps, standing
still between, and, at the places where he remained stationary, there
was always the warm shelter of office. This style of progress has
characterized him down to the present moment. As late as 1874 he told a
deputation that he did not consider the question of the County Franchise
ripe. There has been a good deal of very indifferent weather since then;
but whether or not the field crops have matured, it seems now that the
agricultural labourer has been growing fast. Mr. Joseph Arch has been
the sun that has shone upon him, and Mr. Gladstone, as usual, is quite
ready to reap the harvest. Examples might be multiplied manifold. Take
the boasted case of the Liberal surplus, of which we have never ceased
to hear--just as if Mr. Lowe and Mr. Gladstone had between them coined
the money. Its history, stated in three words, was this: Mr. Lowe had
mulcted the public in an unnecessary twopence of Income Tax, and,
instead of shamefully confessing the incompetency it showed in a
Chancellor of the Exchequer, presented himself before the
constituencies, on the eve of the elections, with his hands full of
gold, and with the air of presenting it to them.

Mr. Gladstone, great financier as he is, was not above profiting by his
subordinate's miscalculation. Instead of administering a rebuke, as a
good journeyman might have been expected to do to a bad apprentice, he
patted Mr. Lowe on the back. Indeed, in the Greenwich address, when he
so magniloquently spoke of the money being given back in the shape of
abolishing the Income Tax, he seemed to take some credit to himself.

It will be beginning, perforce, to dawn upon the reader that this was a
Minister very difficult to be dealt with by an Opposition. If we had
space in this paper, a part of the task of sketching Mr. Gladstone would
be to point out how injuriously he has confused the demarcation of
parties; how unscrupulous he has been in seeking allies which on no
principle of fair classification belonged to him. It may be nothing that
he can half apologize for Irish Obstructionists--the Liberals have
always exploited Irish members. But this very high Churchman, who clings
to a tenet so ridiculous in the eyes of Dissenters as apostolical
succession, can figure in Dr. Joseph Parker's chapel, and betray a close
and not uncomplimentary knowledge of the trust-deed of the Rev. Newman
Hall's congregation. This austere gentleman, who, when inquiring into
the "Theses of Erastus" (see his article), finds out that moral offences
are at the root and source of all heresy, has a kindly word for such
free-thinkers as happen to be also political leaders of the working
men--Mr. Bradlaugh, for example. This objector to divorce, on such
stupendously elevated grounds as that we are all members of a mystical
body, and who cannot bring himself to allow more than a civil marriage
to a deceased wife's sister, mingles in the ruck of Radicals. But if he
has what they must think ecclesiastical crotchets, he always manages
them with most skilful prudence. If he has to satisfy his most private
feelings by bringing in no fewer than six resolutions in more or less
opposition to the Public Worship Bill, he can withdraw them again. But
was this the gentleman to champion Radicals and Dissenters? An
Opposition which had to keep its own consistent lines, and which was
closely restricted as to its allies, was at a perpetual disadvantage
with one whose own opinions, subtle and complicated as they might be,
cut him off from nobody who could be of aid.

Fortunately the country itself, at a certain rather tardy point, rallied
its patriotism in that spontaneous way which always practically
reinforces the Conservative party. The "Alabama" claims gave those who
did not meddle much in politics their first shock, while for more
thoughtful persons it brought back a reminiscence of the surrender of
the Ionian Islands; and when, later, the public saw him stand tamely by
while Russia tore up the Black Sea clauses of the Treaty of Paris, every
student of our history knew that Mr. Gladstone's fate was sealed. The
nation, stirred by arousings of the deeper instincts of the English
character, at last reckoned with him on general grounds--dislike of his
personal demeanour, and dread of what he was bringing on the country. It
refused to be won either by the finest oratory or the prospect of
reduced taxation.

The Conservatives came into power on the highest tide of popular feeling
which living Englishmen have witnessed. But the change was too late to
prevent mischief; Russia, encouraged by England's effacement during Mr.
Gladstone's sway, had matured her further plans, and had already put her
secret intrigues into motion. The Treaty of San Stefano showed plainly
what her plan was, and just as clearly does everybody not blinded by
party feeling now know that to Russia's amazement, and amidst the
surprised and grateful admiration of the whole civilized globe, the
present Ministry have thwarted that plan and made England again safe and
famous. It would be a waste of time to retrace the details: a summary of
them is to be found in Lord Salisbury's Manchester speech. What alone
further concerns us here is the manner in which Mr. Gladstone has borne
himself in Opposition. We have already seen how he did so as a Minister.
It was understood, indeed, that he had retired, with something which was
meant to pass for dignity, though to the eyes of the nation there was
never anything which was not sulk which had so much the look of it.
However, on the plea that something had happened in the world, he was
quickly back again in front, elbowing Lord Hartington aside. Speeches,
in Parliament and out, articles in every magazine, republication in
pamphlet and volume, letters to everybody, which, practically, meant to
all the newspapers: there never was such an active resuscitation of one
who had so publicly become politically defunct. It is, however, not for
coming to life again that we find fault with Mr. Gladstone, for, in
truth, we always expected it.

Our complaint is simply this, that if such a style of opposition as he
has resorted to became habitual, the government of the country would be
made impossible. No means were left untried to make Russia hope, and
other nations fear, that Lord Beaconsfield had not the nation at his
back, and, when owing to this encouragement, Russia showed obstinacy,
and it was necessary to risk something by exhibiting boldness, that very
necessity was sought to be turned into a reproach. Mr. Gladstone's own
tactics made it imperative that in the matter of Cyprus, and some other
negotiations, secrecy should be observed, and the Government was charged
with acting unconstitutionally, as if constitutional usage imposed no
limits on the Opposition, or as if those limits had not been
transgressed. Just so, again, in the Afghan war. If Lord Northbrook had
acted with spirit years before, that war would never have been
necessary; but that trifling fact Mr. Gladstone overlooked, he and the
Duke of Argyll making it appear that Lord Lytton had been at great pains
to get himself and his Government into a difficulty. Why Mr. Gladstone
has had so little to say about the Cape war is a mystery, which may be
explained some day; all that can now be said of it is that it shows a
striking inconsistency. Luckily his efforts, though his industry was
gigantic, have failed, and even he must be now aware that his renewal of
them, though we suppose it must go on, having been arranged so long and
announced so pompously, is a trifle late, with the Cape war ended, our
troops in Cabul, those of Austria at Novi Bazar, and checkmated,
scolding Russia gnashing her teeth at Germany. However, no doubt we
shall have some very fine speeches, proving that nothing of this ought
to have happened, or that it won't last long, or that the Beaconsfield
Administration did not bring it about, or any thing else, just as
reasonable, for fine words can be arranged in many different ways by a
practised orator.

What, then, we may finally ask, was the secret of Mr. Gladstone's
success so long as he was prosperous, and what was the explanation of
his fall when it so suddenly arrived? The thrifty skill of calculation
in estimating the growth of questions which his whole career so
irresistibly points to was spoken of early in this sketch; but a man, no
matter how judicious in the management of his own approaches to a party,
cannot impose himself upon it. The Liberals, on the successive
occasions, welcomed Mr. Gladstone, and did so gladly, never making his
very late conversions a reproach. Its leaders were more vociferous in
hailing him at each renewed arrival one stage farther on than were the
rank and file, though some of them, as the thing was repeated, must have
been struck with the unfailing punctuality of his approach. Not that we
are professing to sympathize with these gentlemen. If it satisfied them
that whenever they had upset a Government, be it that of Aberdeen or of
Palmerston, the inevitable Mr. Gladstone always emerged out of the
wreck, just a little more Liberal than the day before, ready to take the
first pick of places in the new Cabinet, all well and good. But the fact
was that his arrival always was a convenience, for, no matter how the
sections differed among themselves, the rallying round Mr. Gladstone as
a further seceder from Toryism was a proceeding in which they could all
join, and it gave them, again and again, an appearance of unanimity and
cohesion. This was, in fact, his great function, and in it he has been
very valuable to the party. Besides, though so late and seemingly slow
in politics, he had from the first been great, and at the outset even
precocious, in finance; and, further, he was a wonderful orator, even
quicker in debating than Mr. Bright. Such a personage, so largely
prudent and so highly gifted, was sure to succeed, and to do so for a
long time; but he was also certain to fail in the end, and that

His temperament made that nearly certain. He was always too busy making
speeches, or writing for the press, or answering letters, to be any
power in social life. A strange kind of semi-recluse, but combining with
bookworm habits a passion for speechifying and for using the penny post,
was not likely to conciliate London, and he never did. By-and-by he was
railing at the Clubs, because they did not agree with him; and then he
had next to appeal from the metropolitan journals to the superior
politicians and brighter wits who preside over the provincial
newspapers. All this prognosticated failure. Even his special gifts and
the kind of successes which fell to him turned into the means of helping
it. His turn for figures not unnaturally made immediate economy his
great object, forgetful of the larger connection in such a land as ours
between an imperial position in the world and the preservation of our
commerce, and overlooking also the costliness of reasserting our
position when a crisis came; while his ready eloquence, having no longer
open to it the old patriotic themes, had to expend itself in the
adornment of British abnegation, and the excited applause given to his
rhetoric was mistaken by him for assent to his views, till he was amazed
to find himself suddenly quite out of accord with the nation, and
falling, he knew not why, headlong from power.

Even to this hour he seems never to have had the least misgiving that
the man who could speak with such complacency of the trading supremacy
of the world passing to America (see his article on "Kin Beyond the
Sea"), and who could urge as a reason for our not caring to interfere in
Egypt that it would be the egg of a North African empire (see his
article on "Aggression on Egypt and Freedom in the East"), was not the
man to be England's Minister. But the country had found it out even
before he wrote those articles; his threatening his countrymen with the
calamity of finding another empire on their hands, in the only part of
the world yet remaining to be explored and civilized, has only proved
that they were right, and will not terrify Englishmen.

But a fluent orator has always left to him a kind of gambler's hope of
retrieving everything by talking. Mr. Gladstone is going to alter
everything by making a dozen or two of speeches in Scotland. Are these
Midlothian harangues to be longer than that made at Greenwich, or more
numerous than those uttered in Lancashire? They may be as fine as they
will for anything it signifies to Conservatives, if the result is only
again the same as on the other occasions, and it is hardly likely that
he will persuade Englishmen now amidst their returning renown to despair
of the future of England.



    _Histoire de l'Ancien Régime_, par HENRI TAINE. Paris.
    _Histoire de la Revolution française_, par HENRI TAINE. Paris.

When De Tocqueville,in his celebrated work upon the Ancien Régime and
the Revolution, had described the downfall of the Bourbon monarchy, he
ended with these words:--"I have now reached the threshold of the great
Revolution; on this occasion I shall not cross it, but perhaps I may
soon be in a position to do so, and then I shall no longer consider its
causes, but its nature, and shall finally venture to pass judgment on
the society that has proceeded from it."

Death prevented this admirable inquirer from accomplishing his purpose,
a loss to the historical literature of Europe for ever to be regretted,
and certainly not least by the author who has now undertaken to fill up
the blank, and complete De Tocqueville's projected task--the
description, namely, of modern France as the outcome of the immense
transformation which the Revolution brought upon the Old French State.
The fundamental principles which appear so clearly and sharply in
Tocqueville's development are prominent in Taine's; the activity of the
earlier author prepared the ground for the later to build on. But we
must admit that Taine's work is pre-eminently independent, and his
descriptions more striking, broad, and richly coloured than those of his
precursor, while the material contents of his work are often different.
But what, in spite of this, constitutes the resemblance between the two
men is, their having for basis a common conception both of the State and
what it presupposes, and of the historian and his task. It is the very
opposite of the manner of thinking entertained in the eighteenth century
which, without any heed to the peculiar character of the necessities of
a given people, was bent on constructing, according to simple rules of
reason and natural law, the best State for all time. Taine, in a very
striking manner, declares himself free from such an error. "In 1849," he
observes, "I was an elector, and had to take part in the naming of a
large number of Deputies. Therefore it was necessary not only to decide
as to persons, but as to theories as well; I was required to be Royalist
or Republican, Democrat or Conservative, Socialist or Bonapartist, and I
was nothing of the kind--nay, I was nothing at all, and envied those who
had the luck to be something. These worthy men built a constitution as
they would a house, on the most ornamental, most new, or most simple
plan; a row of models stood ready for choice, a baronial castle, a
burgher's house, a workshop, a barrack, a phalanstery, a cottage, and
each said of his favourite model: 'That is the only proper dwelling, the
only one a rational man would inhabit.' To me this seemed an utter
mistake. A people, as I thought, may indeed be able to say what house
they admire, but some experience is needed to teach them what house they
need, whether it be commodious and lasting, stands the weather well, and
harmonizes with the customs, occupations, and fancy of its occupant. We
here in France have never been content with our political erections; in
the course of eighty years we have pulled them down and rebuilt them
thirteen times. Other nations have acted differently, and found their
advantage in so doing. They have preserved an old, substantial building,
enlarged, built around, and beautified it according to their needs, but
never attempted to build an ideal house at one stroke, according to the
rules of pure reason. It would therefore appear that the sudden
invention of an entirely new, and at the same time suitable and durable
constitution is an undertaking that transcends human capacity. The
political and social form which a people permanently assumes is no
matter of choice, but fixed by its character and its past. It must be
suited to its idiosyncrasy, even in the minutest points, or it will
crack and fall. Therefore we must know ourselves before we can discover
what the proper constitution for us is. We must invert the accustomed
method, and first form to ourselves a picture of the nation before we
sketch a constitution. At the same time this is a far harder and wider
task than the one hitherto in favour. What inquiries into past and
present, what labour in all domains of thought and action, are needed to
understand with precision and completeness the nature and growth of a
great people through centuries! But it is the only way to avoid putting
out first empty discussions and then incoherent constructions; and, as
regards myself, I shall not think of a political opinion until I have
learnt to know France."

From this rejection of the rationalistic State theory, it follows, of
course, that the author declines the style of historical writing that
corresponds with it. We all know how parties who contended in the course
of the Revolution have gone on attempting to justify their historical
representation of it--Emigrants and Feuillans, Girondists and
Montagnards, Bonapartists and Communists. They all knew exactly at the
beginning of their historical labours what the conclusions arrived at
would be. Their own party had the ideal of the only healthy State cut
and dry, and hence the sentence upon companions, allies, and enemies was
pronounced beforehand. The desirable aspects of the Revolution were
owing to the activity of that party, the undesirable to the
worthlessness of its adversaries. The study of isolated facts only awoke
real interest in so far as it sharpened the perception of the main
point--our party is right, all others are wrong. To this disposition of
mind more than to any other hindrances we may attribute the small
advance made, up to the middle of our century, in the knowledge of
facts, in the history of the Revolution; this is what explains the else
inexplicable phenomenon that, spite of the large interest felt in the
period, no history of Louis XVI. drawn from authentic documents has as
yet been written. For that even the books of De Tocqueville and Taine,
spite of the strength of their authors' intellect and the wealth of
their material, have not afforded us this, we shall soon convincingly

Both these works, however, are invaluable preparations for the writing
of such a history. With firm and decided political principles of their
own, both authors have determined to serve no party, but knowledge only.
Both desire to know men and circumstances before they judge of the
political experiments made. Both are full of the spirit of the old
saying: "Human affairs are neither to be wept over nor laughed at, but
to be understood." It is only when we know the soil and the seed from
which the Revolution sprang that we can understand its nature and
working, and only from the understanding of the whole can we pronounce
upon the details with which factions have hitherto concerned themselves
in endless and unprofitable debate. We will illustrate our meaning by a
contrary procedure. I have not unfrequently heard the question: "How can
Taine, whose first volume reveals more fully than any previous work the
utter corruption of the Ancien Régime, place the Revolution in his
second in an equally unfavourable light? If the old state were so
completely good for nothing, the French were perfectly right in utterly
destroying it." Accordingly, there has been no want of critics who,
after the appearance of the first volume, declared the author to be a
thorough Liberal, and, after the second, in deep disappointment,
proclaimed him a thoroughly reactionary politician. There are, indeed,
certain passages that might lead to such a conclusion, certain
inconsistencies do appear, but on the whole it is self-evident, from an
historical standpoint, that out of so evil a condition as the first
volume paints the dark pictures of the second must needs grow. Rather
should we have had cause to wonder if from a diseased root there had
sprung a healthy tree. The men of the Revolution had grown up on no
other soil and in no other atmosphere than that of the Ancien Régime; it
was under it that their notions had arisen, their passions been
fostered, and their ideal formed; it was there that their nature had
received its stamp and their strivings their direction; and if all
relations were dislocated, political feeling perverted, all portions of
the people filled with bitter hatred against the State and each other,
how should pupils in such a school amidst the final shock of
catastrophes show themselves men of ripe experience, practical wisdom,
and determined energy? He who has once taken in this simple truth will
be much inclined to a mild judgment of individual men and parties; at
all events, he will not be able abruptly to take sides either for or
against the Ancien Régime or the Revolution. For one thing will have
grown clear to him, that the Revolution was not the destroyer alone, but
the undeniable offspring, of the old condition of things.

That a work of Henri Taine's displays literary ability of the first
order there is no need to say. His representation of events is grounded
on most industrious study; unpublished documents of all kinds are cited,
as well as printed works, and among the latter we have not only French,
but foreign authorities--English more especially--while German are
hardly so much as noticed. At all events, the mass of thoroughly
explored material is enormous, and our historical knowledge is
frequently extended, rectified, and cleared thereby. We shall attempt to
follow the general line of thought running through the book, and now and
then to controvert it on certain points.

It will be remembered to what pregnant results Tocqueville's inquiries
led. The centralized government of France is by no means a creation of
our century, but a production of the Ancien Régime. Since the days of
Richelieu, ministers of finance and their intendants and delegates had
taken the exclusive charge of police of every kind, public works and
plans, the economic and spiritual welfare of the people. The elementary
principles of political liberty and parliamentary constitution, of
independent local administration and commercial freedom, were destroyed
thereby. Spiritual and temporal magnates had been almost sovereigns in
the districts in which they fulfilled the duties of government,
preserved internal and external peace, protected local interests, and
consequently imposed taxes and corvées upon their dependents, while
often successfully resisting royal aggression--all these magnates were
now as unconditionally as the mass of the people subjected to the royal
bureaucracy and forced out of all political activity--thenceforth, as
hated parasites, they had to live at the cost of the working people. The
King, therefore, assembled them at his Court, where, in compensation for
their loss of liberty and honour, pensions and presents--always at the
cost of the people--were heaped upon them. Thus the popular hatred went
on intensifying with every generation, and was at length the source and
essential element of the great Revolution.

It is on this thesis that Taine bases his representation of the subject.
Privileges were once the reward of political service done by the heads
and leaders of the people in their own territories. Then, the landlord
lived in the midst of his dependents--his own interest was identical
with their welfare, he was linked with them by natural and traditional
ties, and appeared as their powerful advocate whenever the State
attempted any arbitrary and oppressive measure. Now bureaucratic
government divided the landowners from the people, and by the
unjustified continuance of their privileges set the two henceforth in
opposition. For because the nobleman paid no taxes, the burgher and
farmer had to make up the deficit. Because he retained the right of
chase, his game had to be fed on the crops of his tenants. If a not
inconsiderable number of the higher middle classes gained the special
privileges of nobility, the burthens of the rest of the people were only
increased thereby. The author has rendered us praiseworthy service by
exposing the extent of privileges and feudal rights on one hand, and of
the increase of taxes and duties on the other, more fully and precisely
than any other writer has done. Thorough investigation has brought out a
still more appalling condition than had been imagined. After the State,
the Church, and the landlord had received their rates, the share of the
farmer in the proceeds of his land never amounted to more than a half,
and often his taxes rose to eighty per cent. of his income. On the other
hand, the privileged classes paid at least a fifth less than the just
proportion, and knew how to obtain on a yearly average at least a
hundred millions in the shape of presents, pensions, &c. With
increasingly few exceptions, there was no more thought of any care to be
taken of the lower classes by the higher. Prelates and magnates streamed
towards Versailles; all that the peasants knew of them was from their
unmerciful agents coming for rent and taxes. Thus France fell asunder
into two worlds without, unfortunately, any reciprocal knowledge or
common interest, divided by contempt and hatred--worlds that lived on
side by side, the smaller in wealth, enjoyment, elegance, and luxury,
and, above all, brilliant idleness; the larger in poverty, wretchedness,
ignorance, savagery, and, above all, in ever-growing and devouring
bitterness of heart--a condition such as no other nation of Christian
Europe had ever before come to.

Now all this is perfectly correct, and Taine proves it by a mass of
authentic testimony: nevertheless it may be observed that it is only a
part of the truth, and by this one-sidedness the author has been led
into error.

I am now alluding to the first part of this exposition, that which
treats of the centralization of the government in the hands of royal
officials as the deepest root of all this mischief. The worst side of
this centralization had been incontrovertibly exposed by De Tocqueville,
but none the less his representation was unfair and unjust, because it
made no mention of the brighter side. No one can contest that the
political inactivity of men of all positions in a system that referred
the general interests of France to a bureaucracy, demoralized the higher
classes and left the lower ignorant and inexperienced. Still the
historian should not forget the actual achievements of this great
bureaucracy. Under Colbert's guidance it created the civic order and
economical beginnings of modern France. It, for the first time in
France, rendered throughout a century a burghers' war an impossible
thing, and it stimulated internal traffic by roads and canals, which
gave rise to countless industrial and commercial undertakings. Later,
under Turgot and Necker, it waged, on behalf of the people, war against
the pressure of privileges, thought primarily of reform and progress,
and saw with bitter regret the defeat of its popular efforts by the
opposition of the nobles. Tocqueville himself tells how the Liberal
parties before the Revolution thought more of reforms than
liberties--that is to say, they expected the improvement of their
condition from a further strengthening of the Monarchy. It came to a
Revolution first, however. The Monarchy, wielded by the feeble hand of
Louis XVI., was unequal to the task; then privileges fell for ever, but
after ten years monarchical centralization arose anew in order a second
time to satisfy the needs and inclinations of the French people
throughout three generations. It seems therefore a mistake to paint this
institution so out and out black. We may lament that it has not merely
done nothing to educate the French in political liberty, but has as much
as possible stifled liberty and the very sense of it among them. But how
without it, under the circumstances that succeeded to the religious wars
and the Fronde, anything like a positive constitution ever could have
arisen in France, De Tocqueville does not say. We are indeed amazed when
Taine, in his enumeration of the privileged classes as those luxurious
idlers, those once political servants who had now renounced all
political influence, numbers, as third with the clergy and nobility, the
King--the head of that Government, which was only too zealous in
working, and thereby drew all the power of the State to itself and
excluded all others from care for the common weal. Here there is an
evident contradiction, nor is it any way cleared up by the circumstance
that personally Louis XV. vied in indolence and debauchery with the
worst of his courtiers, or that his unfortunate successor spent much of
his time and energy in Court etiquette and the chase. For the reign of
Louis XVI. was from first to last spent in efforts, by the setting aside
of feudal privileges, alike to strengthen the Crown and promote the good
of the people, and in no case can it be more incorrect to look upon the
Crown as a devouring parasitical growth upon the body of the State. This
brings me back to my former remark: had Taine instead of or by the side
of his picture of society under the Ancien Régime written the history of
its last monarch, most assuredly he would have avoided this

But he admirably describes how the brilliant and empty position of the
higher class led step by step to ruin. These distinguished personages
had no earnest and strenuous activity; to be civil officials appeared to
the majority of them below their dignity. They adopted the army as a
mere sphere of chivalrous adventure, for even there, there was no
question for them of rigid discipline; they left the drilling and care
of their troops to subalterns and sergeants. Bishops and abbots drew
immense revenues, and gallantly offered their devotion to fair dames,
but as to divine services and cure of souls, they were the affair of
needy priests and hungry vicars. The only field for their ambition and
interest was the Court, the salon, good society. To shine there was the
object of their distinguished lives. And as the French people have ever
been largely endowed with grace and _esprit_, these efforts resulted in
a perfection of personal appearance, a virtuoso-ship of social
intercourse, a fixed and yet highly elastic code of _bon ton_, such as
the world never saw before or since. Until then the first class of a
great nation had never been known to make the formation of an exquisite
society its highest, nay, its only life-purpose, to subordinate and
sacrifice mental activity, moral strength, and individuality of
character to the promotion and claims of this cultus. Here the final end
of existence was enjoyment in all imaginable degrees, and thought and
action were rigidly directed to it. That the greatest part of life
should be spent in society was the most pressing requirement of
politeness, the reciprocal recognition without which all society becomes
unendurable. The conventional forms in which this recognition clothed
itself became the law of this great world, and the consequences were
felt on all sides. Any appearance of individual peculiarity or opinion
came to be held unfitting; to be other or better than the rest was an
offence against manners. Equally forbidden was the manifestation of any
strong passion, a thing by its very nature opposed to the sway of
conventionality. Vice therefore was excused if it presented itself
gracefully, and almost honoured if it brought a startling and exciting
variety into the monotony of daily life. Mental enjoyments were as
welcome as sensual, provided they could be had without trouble or
labour, for the aim was not to be informed, but amused, and so any kind
of knowledge was good, with the exception of the tedious. Hence it
followed that all mental acquirement was estimated not by the worth of
its content but the excellence of its form: abstract intelligence in the
service of enjoyment, such was the motto of this society. Genial
originality, unconscious creative power, native vigour, were thoroughly
antipathetic there, or only tolerated in so far as they made themselves
subservient to the ruling mood.

A further consideration of how essentially these characteristics of good
society tended to strengthen and sharpen the revolutionary theories of
its deadly foes, here becomes instructive. The development of this
process may indeed be looked upon as the salient point in Taine's work,
for often as the French literature and philosophy of the eighteenth
century have been treated of, I know of no earlier author who with such
extensive material and penetrating insight has clearly brought out the
continuous reciprocal action of circumstances and theories, and thus
gained an unalterable scale for the measurement of both by history.
Taine begins, as is just, with the mighty impetus given to natural
science since the middle of the seventeenth century throughout Europe,
by which a way was opened for an utterly new view of the world and of
men, in opposition to the speculative and theological conceptions of the
Middle Ages.

Next comes under consideration the prevalence of the inductive method,
the rejection of all dogmatic assumption, the repugnance to all
intuitive ideas, the proclamation of observation and experiment as the
only sources of verifiable knowledge. These principles having been at
once unconditionally acknowledged in the sphere of natural science, the
next step was to apply the tone of thought they had engendered to the
phenomena of spiritual and social life, and here also to demand thorough
investigation by the one true authority--criticism. Whatever the
consequence of this investigation might in particular cases be, the very
fact that it had been demanded, that the right of the existing, _as
such_, was denied, that the authority of tradition was subjected to that
of critical reason--this betokened a new epoch in the world's history,
and opened out possibilities of hitherto undreamed-of progress in
politics and religion, State and Church, material and spiritual culture.
It is now plain that if the inductive method can lead to such positive
results, its application should be thorough and universal. No naturalist
delivers a general law as to the life of an organism before he has
considered its origin, existence, and decay in all their stages,
compared it with its like, separated it from its unlike; for it is just
through the discovery and recognition of the eminently special that
analysis leads him to the comprehension of universal truth. And
according to this same rule, in order to arrive at a just and
practicable idea of reform for any State, a great mass of special
observations by technically practised and prepared eyes would have been
required; legal, economical, and historical inquiries made; the
peculiarities of individuals and peoples, of the epoch and stage of
culture, must have been known; the not merely personal but collective
functions of human nature in their bases and action investigated: for
only when all this had been accomplished could it be asserted that the
organism of the State and its laws had been dealt with after the manner
of a genuine naturalist, and that we were now in a condition to judge of
single actualities according to these laws.

How came it that in the France of the eighteenth century the very
opposite occurred--that politicians, stimulated by young natural
science, should from the very first turn their backs upon the inductive
method, and evolve the future State rationalistically, according to a
few abstract principles?

Taine convincingly shows the reason of this: it was chiefly the
influence of fashionable society upon literature which led to this fatal

The highest circles in Paris and Versailles, in their brilliant but idle
existence, were, as we have seen, as intent upon mental as sensual
excitement, and therefore prepared to open their doors to every
littérateur who could satisfy this demand. Now, owing to the actual
structure of society in France, the writer who did not choose merely to
devote himself to a few professional subjects had no other public than
this distinguished class. They and they alone were in a position to
secure him praise, honours, and a certain income, therefore it was most
natural that the writer should conform to requirements upon the
satisfaction of which his literary career was so absolutely dependent.
We have now to inquire what were the characteristics of the prevalent
tone of thought among the highest class. First a horror of all
thoroughness, all enduring and laborious perseverance, all deep
earnestness and spiritual recollection. For all this was the very
opposite of enjoyment and diversion, it was a falling into the deadly
sin of tediousness. It was desirable, indeed, to have much and varied
knowledge, but rapidly and lightly, by vivid and pungent discussion, to
reach the quintessence of the most interesting points and conclusions.
Consequently the author's productions became restless, many-sided, and
superficial. The mass of information in every department of knowledge
which Voltaire, for instance, had at his disposal was immense; but the
working out and application of it were strongly hasty, aphoristic, and
frivolous. To this was added the dislike the public of the time had to
any individual peculiarity, its tendency to force all personalities into
one conventional form--an effort equally fatal to poetic creation and to
the historical sense. For such men as these the world was comprehended
in what they called the great world; they had lost the power of
imagining that there was or ever had been an existence outside of it and
absolutely unlike it; or if in any particular case the astounding fact
could not be entirely concealed, it was understood that among cultivated
persons it could never be given any importance. Even on the stage it was
no longer considered becoming that peasants or labourers, a Peruvian or
Iroquois, should speak in their own natural manner; they were all alike
rendered polite, sententious, and fluent as their distinguished
audience. Each local and individual tone was rubbed away, every person
of the drama was but a mouthpiece for the eighteenth-century eloquence
of the author. As with the drama, so with other literature. Taine
correctly observes that if we read an English romance of the period, we
have before our eyes a section of the English people; but a French one,
though widely varying in garb, contains invariably a picture of a French
salon, and that only. In presence of so universal a mood as this, how
could any one come to the study of the State by means of difficult and
distant researches on historical ground? Montesquieu did it, but he
remained solitary among his contemporaries, won much celebrity, but
exercised very little influence. The other reformers used quickly to
turn over the pages of histories in order to find piquant quotations for
some ready-made theory; as, for instance, the ambition of priests, the
falsehood of diplomatists, the insatiability of princely greed. As to
the complicated task of judging any individual State and its
constitution according to its climatic and geographic conditions and its
historical antecedents, with the exception of Montesquieu, no man dreamt
of that. The public, with whom the decision lay, did not require
anything of the kind, nay, would have repaid the severe toil with
disapproval. It placed, as we have before said, far more stress on a
pleasant form than an instructive purpose, cared but little for any
subject in itself, but only as affording material for the most
intelligent, yet at the same time most comprehensible and exciting
conversation. In debate no trace of previous knowledge won by personal
effort was pre-supposed; all that was needed was never to be
commonplace, and in every case to bring forward new and amazing truths.
Accordingly speech and style strove neither for fulness nor depth, but
so much the more for clearness and conclusiveness. In exposition, the
progress was regular from syllogism to syllogism, great care being taken
never to skip over a middle term. In order to be impressive the speaker
became rhetorical, in order to convince he endeavoured to reduce every
subject to one universal and easily inculcated proposition. Good society
was delighted to be thus agreeably put in possession of the most
advanced views of the world; but literature thus allowed itself to
deviate from real knowledge into the way of empty abstraction.

That the literature thus fostered and guided should from the beginning
of the eighteenth century have been in opposition, that since the middle
of it it should have undermined with savage impetuosity all the
foundations of existing conditions, this gave not the least shock to
distinguished society. Disgust at their own impotence and the
omnipotence of royal officials, dislike to an intolerant orthodoxy,
vexation at some personal neglect at Court,--altogether there was cause
enough for malicious satisfaction when philosophers, by biting
criticisms, made clear the standpoint of burdensome potentates. And when
an ever-growing and strengthening Materialism taught the doctrine of
physical enjoyment and judicious selfishness as the guiding principle of
human conduct, it only spoke out what had half-unconsciously been the
sum of all the motives and activities of high society. But above all,
theories were but theories, merely conversation, excitement, pastime.
The nobles declaimed against obsolete abuses, but naturally each meant
to keep his own rightful possessions, and among these were privileges
and feudal rights. They felt conscious of a fresh superiority to the
ignorant masses, because they professed humanitarianism and liberalism,
and spoke against superstition and subordination. That these
much-admired theories might by-and-by become common to the whole
community, and then bring about horrible explosions--of this they had
not the remotest suspicion. Any one who had in 1780 prophesied such a
thing to the ladies of Versailles, would have been looked upon as we
should look upon a prophet nowadays, who told us that in the next
century cats and dogs, instead of men, were to be lords of creation.

This, then, was the public in whose atmosphere and with whose
co-operation the philosophy of revolutionary enlightenment sprung up. It
was here that it learned its rapid and superficial mode of study, its
rejection of an historical spirit in favour of multitudinous present
actualities, its taste for rhetorically adorned formulæ and
commonplaces. When the construction of the best State was to be set
about, common characteristics were collected from the natural history
of mankind, such as the dislike to pain, the impulse towards pleasure,
the capacity of forming, from sensations, representations and
conclusions. These characteristics were merely put together as the
concept man, and from this abstract man were deduced, as in a
mathematical formula, the laws of politics, morals, and rights. Since
all men had the same natural impulse towards happiness, the State must
render it possible for them all to reach that aim. Since all had a
natural capacity to form concepts and conclusions, they would be sure to
employ the right means to that end so soon as their hands were left
free, or in case of a momentary mistake these right means logically
pointed out to them. That passion is, in point of fact, in the great
majority of men, stronger than reason, and desire more impetuous than
thought, was disregarded by these admirers of abstract reason; the fact
that each man had the faculty of drawing a logical conclusion appeared
to them to insure his conforming his conduct to the requirements of that
conclusion. If a logically formulated proof of the excellence of one of
the Constitutions they had sketched could be arrived at, they fancied
that the security and durability of its construction was perfectly
guaranteed. On the other hand, that the preservation of constitutional
order required other forces besides logical discussions, this was
altogether outside their range of thought.

But logic knows no limits beyond the evolution of its own conceptions.
The existing condition of things lent itself to being ground to powder.
Before the critical assault of the new teaching no defence of the hoary
unrighteousness of the Old Régime could make a stand; the pity was that,
according to its own principles, the former found it impossible to
attain to a firm and enduring constitution of any sort or colour.

But, if possible, the theories afloat set in against the existing
ecclesiastical system even more strongly than against the political
constitution. The natural science of the day afforded far more material
for battle on that ground than the other. Astronomy, physiology, and
anthropology joined with the efforts of philosophy to demonstrate that
miracle was a delusion, revelation unthinkable, and an extra-mundane God
unverifiable. Soon numerous voices exalted negation into the positive
statement that every idea of God should be rejected, and that the
so-called soul in man was only the highest function of organized matter.
True, Voltaire remained through life a Deist, and Rousseau declared his
faith in God and in the immortality of the soul; but the one all the
more resolutely contended against the divine institution of the Church,
and the other against the fundamental Christian doctrines of Sin and
Justification. However different each may have been from the other, they
waged in common a war for life and death against the Church, the war of
utterly opposed principles. Tocqueville was wrong in saying that the
Revolution was only inimical to the Church as a feudal and aristocratic
institution; that after it had lost its wealth and privileges,
democratic society recognized how strong a democratic momentum the
Church itself contained, and accordingly gave itself up with increased
warmth to religious feelings. Here there is no doubt Taine's record is
the more correct one. The Revolution knew well that it desired not the
wealth only, but the fall of the Church; and not the partisans of the
Revolution, but its adversaries, whose numbers were largely swelled by
the cruelties of the Terror, have brought about the elevation of the
Church in our own century.

If we now contemplate somewhat more narrowly the Constitutional theory
of the illumination, we shall discern two characteristic and prominent
features, which, on the one hand, show its descent from the innermost
core of the Ancien Régime, and, on the other, very energetically
determined the whole course of the Revolution. The ideal state deduced
from the universal characteristics of mankind was as cosmopolitan as
levelling. Just as on the stage of the period, Frenchman and savage,
ancient Greek and modern Parisian, spoke the same language,--that of the
salons of Versailles,--so political theories recognized neither
Frenchman nor Englishman, Catholic nor Protestant, educated nor
uneducated, only Man in general. They never considered what institutions
would be adequate, in France, to the needs and capacities of the
educated ranks and uneducated masses, or how far the habits and opinions
of their nation would render the adoption of a foreign institution
practicable or injurious; rather they formulated the rights of men, of
abstract instead of actually existing men, and were convinced that a
constitution based thereupon was for all men, and consequently for all
peoples, the only good, and therefore the only lawful one. And just as
clear as the equality of nations under the new political law, appeared
the equality of all men in the new State, by which was meant not merely
a claim to equal protection by law, or equal facility in obtaining one's
rights, but a demand for the realization of an inborn and material
equality of rights. This, as is well known, was the point on which
Rousseau took his stand, and gave the last and decisive direction to the
impending democratic revolution. Taine justly observes how frequently,
in spite of their common principles, Rousseau's character and way of
life led him to take different views from those of Voltaire and the
Encyclopædists. The deepest and most unqualified indignation of these
last was inspired by what they called superstition, stupidity, and
priestcraft, the transformation of the old State being with them more an
affair of the intellect than the feelings, a conclusion drawn from their
universal theory and an ideal requirement of philanthropy. It was
generosity that led them to appear as the advocates of the poor and
their woes, while they themselves were high in the approval and favour
of the best society. Rousseau, on the other hand, had himself led the
life of the proletaire; in the nervous excitability and measureless
vanity which made him almost prouder of his weaknesses and vices than of
the greatness and strength of his talents he--poor, often hungry, not
seldom degraded and reviled--had filled himself with burning wrath
against the favoured of earthly fortune, the noble and the rich, the
revellers in idleness and luxury. This growing hatred he transferred to
the State and the laws which had produced so unrighteous a contrast
between man and man. Men, he maintained, were in their original
condition good, because equal. It was the State, culture, society, that
first introduced inequality, and vice and crime thereby. The existing
order was not merely incompetent, as the Encyclopædists asserted, but
hurtful, poisonous, deadly. And, in contrast to it, he sketches a
picture of the true human State.

Equal and good men assemble in their natural condition to think on the
basis of their future State. Each endows the new community with all
liberty and property, in order to receive back an equal share of the
management and the possessions of the whole. But this whole is
omnipotent. No laws bind its will, for its will is the source of all
law. No king, no official, no superior rules over it; each individual is
only empowered to act, so far and so long as he upholds the plenipotence
of the sovereign mass. It is not the upper classes who command the
people, but the people which require obedience from its officers and
throws them away when they no longer please it. For individual liberty
there is here no place; but owing to the equality of all, the free will
of the masses joyously and harmoniously prevails.

For a season these doctrines only served to afford a welcome mental
stimulant to the minds, if not of the nobility, of the cultivated and
property-possessing classes. The higher, and soon the lower, bourgeoisie
inflated themselves with these views. At this period they shared certain
of the privileges of the nobles, filled numerous and prominent offices
in the State, gave to the nation its largest number of famous thinkers
and poets, promoted industry and commerce, and daily increased in
wealth, while the nobles, by their extravagance, ruined themselves
financially. The former were, therefore, full of the consciousness of
their own dignity, and found the continued precedence claimed by the
nobles to be unendurable. They believed with inward satisfaction in this
doctrine of the equality of all men and the sovereignty of the whole.
For, instead of the privileged, it seemed to them self-evident that
owing to their culture they, the hitherto unprivileged, ought to stand
out prominently among the people as leaders of that governing whole.
Thus the state of freedom and equality would be the state of pure reason
as well, and, therefore, the leading position could not fail to fall to
them, the masters of reasonable discussion. Meanwhile the mass of the
poor, wholly cut off from the sources of culture and the mental
movements of their country, for long years knew nothing of this absolute
governing power which, according to the new discoveries, inalienably
belonged to it, and was so surprisingly soon to fall into its lap. The
only change in their condition, and thus the only preparation for their
future sovereignty, was an increase of outward distress and of inward
confusion and embitterment; and then came the time when the small circle
to which education and enjoyment were limited, and the State power they
wielded, fell into internal demoralization, strife of factions, and
financial embarrassments, till the very Crown itself was obliged to
summon popular forces to war against the privileged. All the springs of
State machinery refused to work, coffers were empty, authorities and
classes at bitter internecine strife, the army unreliable and
undisciplined. It was under circumstances like these that the mass of
the people in towns and villages heard from their candidates, advocates,
and demagogues, what in truth their rights were. In their ignorance and
want, their rudeness and embitterment, they suddenly learnt that for
them--as sovereign--limits, obligations, authority no longer existed,
that the old corruption and slavish condition was to be thoroughly got
rid of, and that then everything would belong to them. They listened
with greedy ears, and rushed forward to trample under foot whatever
sought to contest these rights of theirs.

The highest and noblest aims lured the century on, and animated the
hearts of countless worthy men: liberty, well-being, and culture for
all, no difference between man and man but that of talent and virtue,
fraternity among all citizens in the State and all nations on the earth;
these were the ideals that 1780 proclaimed to the world and the future,
and therefore the French still love to speak of the deathless principles
and fair days of this first epoch of the Revolution. All this, Thiers
tells us, would have been admirably realized had not evil-hearted
emigrants and foreign Powers by their malignant attacks, driven the most
humane of all Revolutions into desperation, a fight for existence, and
bloodshed. All would have gone well, says Louis Blanc, had not the
wicked Thermidorians, on the occasion of Robespierre's fall, brought in
a policy of vice and self-seeking instead of one of virtue and brotherly
love. Probably, on the other side the Vosges, eighty men out of every
hundred adopt one or other of these views, and so it is easily
intelligible that the merciless facts by which Taine shatters these fair
pictures should be received with repugnance and surprise by his
countrymen. The contrast between such a reality and such an ideal is
indeed enormous; fair days, or so much even as one fair day in the
course of the Revolution, can no longer be spoken of; in the very hour
when absolute monarchy collapsed, a wild, rude, and cruel anarchy
covered the land, filling France with violence and crime of every kind
for a decade, and lastly causing an unparalleled despotism to appear to
the French people salvation and deliverance. The conclusion is
unavoidable, either the ideal was good for nothing, and the Coblentz
emigrants had right on their side against the nation, or the French
people had set about their high task in a quite impracticable way, and
their historical fame has this time to be limited to the motto, _In
magnis voluisse sat est_. Neither of these alternatives will have a
pleasing sound in the ears of a Liberal Frenchman.

But, pleasing or not, the facts are indisputable, and up to the present
time each new investigation of authentic documents has only served to
give them a wider range and a more assured basis. We have seen the end
of the Ancien Régime. The nobles of the former State were unnerved by
idleness, debilitated by enjoyment, degraded by immorality; never had
the aristocracy of a great nation fallen and been brushed away from the
soil of their country, making so feeble a resistance. The leaders of the
movement followed a political teaching based on a most one-sided and
therefore radically false conception of human nature, and had no idea of
the real nature of their fellow-citizens, or of the principles and needs
of genuine political life. Finally the masses were unmoved by any
political thought whatever, but were darkly conscious of their own
wretched state up to the present time, and their hatred of those who
had, or were supposed to have, occasioned it, were credulous and
impressionable, and penetrated with the rightfulness of their wildest
passions and desires. With such materials as these it is possible indeed
to blow up an old and half-useless house, but not to construct on its
ruins a well-planned and lasting new one.

Thus Taine shows by details from documents contemporaneous with the
events, how, even before the opening of the National Assembly, the
condition of things was out of joint at a hundred points. Tumults and
plunder, disobedience to authorities, and maltreatment of obnoxious
persons, were the order of the day; public officials were spiritless,
and dared not command the already murmuring troops to restore order. The
first weeks of the Assembly brought hot discussions as to the union of
the three orders, attempts at reactionary State measures, and the taking
of the Bastille. Excitement grew from day to day; the suspense
throughout the country was tremendous. With the Parisian catastrophes
the whole Ancien Régime rocked and gave way from side to side; and not
merely privileges and feudal rights, but all State authorities vanished
at one blow, or at the first threat from an armed mob resigned their
functions. The French nation had positively no government, no laws, no
police, no taxation. In place of these they had journals, clubs,
societies, popular songs, and Lynch law; security for person and
property no longer existed; every one did according to his heart's
desire till a stronger than he preferred the opposite and knocked him
down. This state of anarchy actually went on thus till the culmination
of the Reign of Terror; every now and then it quieted down here or
there, to burst out the following day at some other point with redoubled
fury. In the midst of the omnipresent turmoil and confusion, the King, a
powerless prisoner, sat in the Tuileries. The only quarter which
afforded a possibility of the restoration of the State was the National
Assembly, which was sufficiently respected and popular both with the
people and the National Guard, to have enforced obedience had it set
about it the right way. But there were two reasons which forbade the
adoption of that way. One was that the Assembly was deprived of free
action by the ruling theory of the Rights of Man, Liberty and Equality.
This included the rights of resistance against oppression, and
accordingly every citizen might at any moment consider himself oppressed
and authorized in resisting. It had been borne in upon these sovereign
citizens that the will of the sovereign people stood higher than that of
its representatives, and that the people was at any time capable of
re-entering upon the direct exercise of its sovereignty. It is plain
that under the influence of theories such as these any control over
street-riots and local deeds of violence was a difficult, if not
hopeless task. And, on the same ground, it was impracticable to attempt
any control or regulation of press or clubs, which looked upon their
boundless activity as the highest expression and most precious jewel of
revolutionary liberty. As, according to theory, State officials were to
be, not the lords, but the servants of the sovereign people, it became
expedient that they should not be named by the Central Government, but
chosen, and that only for a short time, by the citizens. In the same
spirit the affairs of Government were entrusted not to individual
officials, but to deliberating colleagues; while, as to the passing of
laws, the principle of equality rendered impossible the formation of an
Upper House, or any finally decisive action on the part of the King.
Thus the Government remained powerless, legislation was hasty and
uncertain, the lower classes unmanageable, and on very many occasions it
was plain that club orators and journalists who knew how to flatter the
demands of the masses bent both Government and National Assembly beneath
their sway. More than once there arose indignation in the Assembly at so
unworthy and dangerous a condition; but at each attempt to grapple with
and remove it, the fear of a monarchical or aristocratic reaction fell
upon it and paralyzed its action.

In order to control the anarchical wilfulness of demagogues and
proletaires there was but one thing to be done, to strengthen the
authority of the executive. This meant restoration of discipline in the
army, and energetic organization of Government, extensive powers
conferred on the police officials, sharp punishments, and swift justice.
But how then? If power were thus conferred upon the Government to
restrain proletaires and rioters, who could guarantee liberty and the
National Assembly against the head of the reinforced Government, against
the King, who had hitherto been by these chronic riots kept in
defenceless subjection? This dilemma led to the revolutionary spirit
invariably triumphing at the National Assembly. The present fear of the
violence of the crowd attendant at the sittings combined with the
apprehension of a future monarchical reaction. When, some years later,
at the organization of the Republican Government, the weakness of
authority was again felt, more than one orator freely declared the
existing arrangements to be undoubtedly bad throughout, and to be
amended as soon as possible; owned that this had, indeed, been perfectly
known at the time of their creation in 1790, but that they were
intentionally framed thus, in the interests of liberty, to prevent the
King from exercising any power. Enough--the Constitutional Assembly did
nothing to surround personal safety and political order with any
inviolable defence; on the contrary, they did much to open the door wide
to the passionate and arbitrary action of the masses. We may say that
they thoughtlessly sowed the seeds of all the horrors of the Terror, and
had the sad beginnings of that development before their eyes, without
even an attempt to avert them. This is true, most especially in the
economical department: the colossal transformation of the laws of
property in France, which brought half the soil into new hands, and
irresistibly threw the population at large into communistic paths, was
out and out the work of the Constituent Assembly.

For more than twenty years I have, in my "History of the Revolution
Period," established these circumstances from authentic documents, and
thus given repeated offence to the French public. I may therefore be
permitted to feel all the greater satisfaction at such a distinguished
investigator as Taine, after drawing forth numberless documents from
Parisian archives, coming to absolutely the same conclusion. All I have
heard in the way of objection to his statements is utterly unimportant.
As it is not possible to drive the facts he has proved from original
documents out of existence, the observation is made that though his
information may be true, it is one-sided; that while he never wearies of
describing revolts and misdeeds, he does not sufficiently point out in
how many places the Civil Guard bravely and loyally upheld civil order.
Taine would be the last to dispute this fact; had it not been so there
would have been no longer any France left in the nineteenth century. But
he would venture to inquire whether praise be deserved by an Assembly
which, as ruler of a great State, surrendered without resistance now the
third of it, now the half, during three years, to a bloody anarchy;
whether we can speak of "fair days" or "humane Revolution," when in this
short period six horrible Jacqueries laid the land waste, when countless
political murders remained unpunished, and military _émeutes_ and
ecclesiastical brawls thrust the weapons of civil war into the hands of
the masses. We are told of a pure and ideal inspiration then filling
millions of liberty-loving and patriotic spirits; and well may we call
that a fair time in which noble aims and infinite hopes set all pulses
beating higher, and stimulate a whole people to youthful efforts, and
fill it with fresh and energetic life. Yes, there were moments of golden
dreams and illusions like these. Only they should have lasted longer. It
is not through their feelings, speeches, wishes, but their deeds, that
nations assume their historical position and receive their historical
sentence. Taine writes the last, indeed, with an incisive pen, and often
with glaring colours, but essentially he gives nothing but what follows
by indissoluble sequence from the facts of the Revolution.

On certain points, indeed, one may notice a few omissions in his work,
or raise a few objections, though they do not affect it as a whole.
Space does not permit me to dwell on all particular instances; I must be
satisfied with pointing out a few. While during the first months of the
Revolution the agitation of the lower classes was identical in town and
country, and the lawless violence of artisans and peasants pursued the
same ends by the same means, one of the most prominent features of the
later phase, the Terror, was the gradual introduction of a war of
interest between the people of the capital and the villages. The more
the power of the Mountain and the Parisian Commune increased, the more
absolutely the booty of the Revolution fell to the share of the town
proletaires, at the cost not only of the great landed proprietors, but
the small farmers as well. Our first impression at the aspect of this
rivalry is the selfishness and greed of the Parisian demagogues; but we
may easily convince ourselves that these could never have attained to so
extended an activity if existing circumstances had not offered the
possibility of a class war. But for any disquisition on this subject, or
allusion to the causes that, in the first years of the Revolution,
prepared its way, we look through Taine's pages in vain. Again, in the
representation of the Ancien Régime, his attention is pre-eminently
turned to social relations connected with the land. Had he with an
equally comprehensive and minute care studied the different strata, the
interests and wants of the town population, the problem alluded to would
have solved itself.

It is with admirable insight and incontrovertible reasoning that Taine
shows the logical untenableness and practical mischief of the theory of
equality, both in the writings of Rousseau and the action of the
Constituent Assembly. He proves the contradiction between this equality
and the very nature of man, and how, consequently, pure democracy
rendered the development of political liberty unattainable. In perfect
agreement with Tocqueville, he points to the absolute necessity, under
the circumstances of the time, of aristocratic institutions, for the
creation and preservation of a free State, and explains how deeply
seated these are in the needs and claims of human nature. This portion
of his work is indeed masterly; and the more widely extended the
equalitarian superstition among the Liberal parties of our day, the more
one could desire Taine's views to exercise a strong and wide-spread
influence. But, on the other hand, it appears to me that by this very
conception of political institutions, our author has been led to show
himself something more than just in the sentence he passes on the
representatives of this period, the nobles and prelates of 1789. This is
one of the few incongruities already alluded to between the first and
second volume. After reading of the luxury, artificiality, and idleness
of aristocratic society in the former, and coming with the author to the
conviction that terrible consequences must attend such a condition, one
is surprised to find in the latter that these privileged ones were the
best, the most discerning and patriotic portion of the nation, whose
annihilation or exile brought about the same injurious results that the
expulsion of the Huguenots had done. This contradiction is not cleared
up by the fact that in the years immediately preceding the Revolution,
and chiefly through the influence of Rousseau, a sentimental humanity
had prevailed in high circles, that here, too, it was the fashion to
speak of a return to an idyllic life of nature, of universal brotherly
love, and of the relief of every form of distress. For these
transformations remained, in point of fact, only fanciful phrases of the
salons. When Louis XVI., Turgot, and Calonne, really desired to set
about such philanthropic reforms in good earnest, it was, as we have
already seen, these sentimental nobles themselves who hindered their
effort, and by nullifying reform brought about the Revolution. When the
catastrophe came, many of them had sufficient insight into the new
position of affairs to make haste and repudiate those privileges which
throughout the land had been already trampled under foot by an unchained
people. The horrible persecution to which they were subjected, in utter
disregard of all existing rights and all human feeling, with
bloodthirsty cruelty and shameless greed, must ever insure for the
victims the compassion and sympathy of every right-minded observer; and
in order fully to justify revolutionary laws against emigrants, one
would be driven to advance sophisms only, not arguments. But all this
does not affect the question, whether, as Taine assumes, these
persecuted ones did hold a distinguished place in the nation for
political virtue, intellectual culture, and capacity for action.
Neighbouring nations, so far as I know, without exception took at the
time an entirely different view. Doubtless, there were among the
emigrants many who won respect and regard in the regions whither their
flight had led them. But the great majority, by their thoughtless
arrogance, mutual bickerings, and shameless frivolity, left behind them
a bad reputation; whereas a hundred years before the exiled Huguenots,
by their unity, earnestness, and industry, won, wherever they went, the
respect and gratitude of their new countrymen.



Returning to settle in Ireland after an absence that began more than
twenty years ago, I found two things strongly claiming my attention.
One, was the very great advance in material well-being which my country
appeared to have made. The other, was the fact that both Englishmen and
Irishmen appeared resolutely to ignore this progress. Nearly all who
write and speak about Ireland, either dwell upon her grievances or
assume poverty as her normal condition. I know not of any who have
attempted to record her returning prosperity. Yet there are few facts in
modern history better worthy of notice than the advance in material
wealth which has taken place in Ireland during the thirty years between
1846 and 1876.

The year 1879 marks the close of just one-third of a century from the
great famine. The first thirty years of this period, 1846-76, were years
of continual advance in well-being. From 1877 and down to the present
year a reaction has been going on, which is largely connected with a
general depression of trade all over the world. For reasons which will
appear hereafter, I do not hold that this reaction is likely to be

It is true that at the beginning of that period the country was in the
very lowest depths of poverty and depression. The starting-point
therefore was a very backward one: and the wonder is that so much
advance should have been made, considering not only the backwardness of
the starting-point but the difficulties of the road.

I shall not attempt to depict the state of things which prevailed at the
close of the great potato famine. The condition of the country is well
known; the facts are in the recollection of many persons now living; and
the evidence is within the reach of all inquirers. I may safely assume
that Ireland then was among the very poorest of all the countries in
Europe. What is her position now?

In discussing the social condition of any country, the population
question naturally comes to the front. Is the population pressing unduly
on the means of subsistence? then there is something wrong, and until
this is set right progress is impossible. On the other hand, if the
population is so sparse as to leave the resources of the country
undeveloped, there is also something wrong, though in this case the evil
is far less. The population, such as it is, may be prosperous and
advancing, though it is not producing all it might.

The former was notoriously the state of things in Ireland before
1847.[21] In 1845 (the year immediately preceding the famine) the
population was at the highest point it attained during the present
century, and probably the highest it ever reached. It was estimated at
8,295,061. In 1847, the year when the famine was at its height, the
numbers are given as 8,025,274. In 1875, just thirty years after the
maximum, the numbers had fallen to 5,309,494. In 1877 they were
estimated at 5,338,906, showing an increase over 1875 of 29,412.

It is a familiar fact that the population of 1845 and 1847 was
excessive. Whether the present population may not be defective in regard
of productive power is a question not without importance, but not
immediately relevant. What we are now dealing with is the material
welfare of the existing population; and it is clear that five millions
can live where eight cannot. But are the five millions better off in
some proportion to the price the country has paid for the decrease in
population? And is there a real advance in the condition of the people,
not a mere rise out of beggary and starvation?

In attempting an answer to a question of this nature, one looks
naturally to the rate of wages first. But this test is an imperfect one:
partly because local variations are still considerable; partly because
money payments in many places and among large classes are more or less
supplemented by subsistence drawn directly from the land. Besides, a
mere increase in money wages may mean little or nothing, unless the
increased wages possess increased purchasing power, and there be at the
same time an upward tendency in the standard of living. Putting aside
the wages question accordingly (to be discussed hereafter), let us try
to find other indications of the extent and nature of the changes in the
people's condition since the famine. A test of some value, though not
absolutely conclusive by itself, will be afforded by changes in the area
of farms. It is notorious that one of the causes which most contributed
to bring about the famine and its miseries was the small size of
holdings. Now the census returns show that from 1851, very shortly after
the famine, there has been a steady decrease in the number of farms
under fifteen acres, and a steady increase in the number of farms
between fifteen and thirty acres, as well as in farms exceeding thirty
acres in area. Up to 1861 the number of holdings not exceeding fifteen
acres had declined fifty-five per cent., while those above fifteen acres
had increased 133 per cent. The number of farms between fifteen and
thirty acres was in 1861 double what it had been in 1841, and the farms
above thirty acres amounted in 1861 to 157,833, against 48,625, which
had been their number twenty years before. Between 1861 and 1871 farms
under fifteen acres decreased by 12,548, and farms above thirty acres
increased by 1470. According to the latest returns (1875) the farms not
exceeding one acre in area were 51,459; those of one to five acres were
69,098; those of five to fifteen acres, 166,959; fifteen to thirty
acres, 137,669; the total above thirty acres being 160,298 holdings.

This distribution of the land seems to indicate a considerable
improvement compared with the state of things prevailing before the
famine. Unfortunately the increase in the size of holdings has not been
attended by a corresponding decrease in the number held on an insecure
tenure. Tenancy at will continues to be the rule, and permanency the
exception, in our land tenure. I have made an attempt to estimate
roughly the classes of landholders. The "Domesday" list of proprietors
of land gives the number of owners of one acre and under ten as 6892,
holding 28,968 acres, or an average of a little over four acres each:
between ten acres and fifty there are 7746 owners, holding 195,525
acres, or an average a little over twenty-six acres: between fifty acres
and a hundred there are 3479 owners, holding 250,147 acres, or an
average of just under seventy-two acres. These make up a body of small
proprietors, owning from one to a hundred acres, numbering 18,117.
_Eason's Almanac_ for 1879, which has been published while I write,
estimates the number of "proprietors in fee" of agricultural holdings at
20,217. The same authority gives the number of leaseholders in
perpetuity as 10,298; for terms of years exceeding thirty-one as 13,712;
for thirty-one years and under, 47,623 (many of which may be short
leases); and of leases for lives, or lives and years alternative, as
63,759. The number of tenancies at will is 526,628, or 77.2 per cent, of
the whole number of holdings. These statistics were collected in 1870,
and they have doubtless been in some degree modified by the working of
the Church Act and the Land Act. I have omitted from my extracts from
the Domesday list the proprietors of under one acre. These are given in
_Thom's Directory_ as 36,144, holding 9065 acres; but their holdings do
not affect the present question, as they are mostly non-agricultural.
The estimate in _Eason's Almanac_ purports to relate wholly to
agricultural holdings. Domesday includes all classes.

Another index of the condition of a people may be found in the way they
are housed. Mean and comfortless dwellings imply not only a low standard
of comfort, but often a low morality. Let us see how this matter has
stood in Ireland. The Census Commissioners of 1841 divided the dwellings
of the people into four classes. The fourth, or lowest, comprised all
mud cabins having only one room. Of this class there were in all
Ireland, according to the 1841 census, 491,278. In the last census,
1871, the number had fallen to 155,675. The third-class dwellings were
also built of mud, but contained three or four rooms, with windows; the
latter convenience being by no means universally present in the
one-roomed cabin of the fourth class. Of the third class the census of
1841 enumerated 533,297; by 1871 this number had fallen to 357,126. The
second class are described as good farmhouses, and in towns, houses
having from five to nine rooms. Of this class in 1841 there were
264,184; and in 1871 the number had increased to 387,660. The first
class of houses increased during the same period from 40,080 to 60,919.
Let us see now in what way the population has been distributed in the
different classes of houses. In 1841 the number of families occupying
first-class houses was 31,333. In 1871 the number had risen to 49,693.
During the same period the number of families in second-class houses
rose from 241,664 to 357,752. On the other hand, the families in
third-class houses decreased from 574,386 to 432,774; and those in the
fourth-class, or one-roomed cabins, from 625,356 to 227,379. By a
curious coincidence, the _proportion_ of families to houses was the same
in 1841 and in 1871--one hundred and eleven families to one hundred
houses. In this way the very great shifting in the _classes_ is all the
more clearly proved to indicate a real rise in the condition of the

In connection with this part of my subject, I may now proceed to discuss
the wages question and the condition of the labouring population. Of the
actual number of this class I can find no accurate return. But we have
already seen that the number of families inhabiting the lowest class of
houses (and these may be assumed all to belong to the lowest class of
labourers) was about 227,400. As the census of 1871 gave the average
number of a family as 5.07, or 507 persons to 100 families, we may
estimate the number of this class at 2274 multiplied by 507, or
1,152,918. Those who inhabit a better class of house may be safely
assumed on the whole to be better off in other respects. Now the money
wages of the ordinary agricultural labourer are 1_s._ 6_d._ a day in the
most remote and backward places. This is the minimum, and in harvest
time the labourers earn 2_s._ 6_d._ a day. A great many labourers have
small holdings; but as these are not rent-free they do not count
directly as an element in wages. The way in which they do count is that
the people are not so overworked but that the labourer and his family
can attend to the holding, grow their own potatoes, feed the pig,
&c.--thereby eking out the actual money payment.

The diet of these labourers (I am still referring to the most backward
and remote parts of Ireland) is tea and bread for breakfast, potatoes
and a little bacon for dinner, and oatmeal porridge for supper. The
people have quite risen out of the "potatoes and point" stage of
feeding. Of course, on Fridays and other fast-days, Roman Catholics
abstain from flesh meat; but there are few places so remote from the sea
that fresh herrings are not to be had, and at any rate salt ones are
always available. On the other hand, on Sundays and holidays many of the
labouring families contrive to have butcher's meat; and I am told that
in certain districts there is one day in the year when every family
among the peasantry makes an invariable rule to eat a dinner of fresh
meat, some animal (often a fowl) being killed on purpose to furnish this
meal. This is probably some relic of a sacrificial observance.

The condition of the people being such as I have described, one would
naturally expect not to find pauperism very prevalent. As a matter of
fact it is not. The average daily number of paupers in the workhouses
throughout 1876 was 43,235, and of recipients of out-door relief 31,600:
bringing up the total to 74,835. The average of persons in receipt of
relief was 140.6 in 10,000 of population. This daily average represents
the current subsisting mass of pauperism, and is in a considerable
measure made up of the old, infirm, and sick. Of able-bodied paupers,
the males were only 1697 in the daily average of workhouse inmates, and
the females were 4130. There were 10,134 healthy children under fifteen
in the workhouses, and the other inmates were either sick in hospital or
permanently unable to work. These figures seem to be the very reverse of
alarming. Permanent pauperism is not a very virulent social disorder
when only two able-bodied persons to every five hundred of the
population are in receipt of in-door relief, and when the whole
permanent pauper population barely exceeds fourteen in a thousand. But
though permanent pauperism may be well in hand, casual pauperism may be
at a high pitch. Let us see how this matter has stood. I shall first
take the statistics of 1876, and then try to modify my conclusions by
such later figures as may be available. In 1876 the population of
England and Wales stood at 24,244,000, and the total of paupers in
receipt of relief, in-door and out-door, on the 1st of January of that
year, was 752,887; Scotland, with a population of 3,527,000, had a total
pauper population on the 1st of January, 1876, of 66,733. In Ireland, on
the same date, the total population being 5,321,600, the paupers
amounted to 77,913. In other words, at a rough estimate, on the 1st of
January, 1876, about one person in every thirty-three in England and
Wales was in receipt of relief as a pauper; in Scotland, about one in
every fifty-three; while in Ireland the proportion was only one in
sixty-eight. A similar proportion appears in the incidence of the
poor-rate. In 1876 England and Wales paid at the rate of 6_s._ 0¾_d._
per head of population; Scotland 5_s_. 0½_d._; Ireland only 3_s._

Of course these figures must undergo modification in view of the altered
circumstances of the present time. The statistics of 1876 are not an
accurate guide to the facts of 1879. During the last three years there
has been considerable depression of trade; and it may very well be that
the returns of this year will indicate an ebb in the tide of prosperity.
But, unless I am very much mistaken, after making all allowances, it
will probably be found that Ireland is the part of the United Kingdom
least affected by the present prolonged commercial crisis.[22]

The figures and facts recorded above will probably astonish the
considerable class of persons to whom the word "Irish" has an air of
wanting something, unless it is followed by "pauper." A smaller but
perhaps not less intelligent class--that of English travellers in
Ireland--will promptly jump to the conclusion that the figures are
cooked; they will argue, "We have travelled in Ireland, and have been
beset with beggars; how, then, can the country be so free from
pauperism? Surely the true state of the case is that the people keep out
of the workhouses merely in order to live on public charity in another
form?" It cannot, I regret to say, be denied that mendicancy is very
common in Ireland; so common as to be little less than a national
scandal. There is, however, something to be said in mitigation of
judgment, though perhaps not in defence. It is a matter in which figures
are of little use; for no one could, by any possibility, estimate how
many persons live wholly by begging. That there are in every community
some persons who do may be taken as certain. That their number is larger
in proportion to the bulk of the population in a Roman Catholic than in
a Protestant community, is antecedently probable. The theory of the
Roman Catholic religion positively encourages mendicancy. It is held to
be no sin to live on alms, and to be a positive merit to give alms.
_Never turn away thy face from any poor man_, is a text acted on by
devout Romanists in its most literal acceptation. The result is not
difficult to foresee. It must, however, be recorded to the credit of the
Irish Catholic clergy, that they are beginning to see the folly of
indiscriminate almsgiving; and though they are hampered in no small
degree by the traditions of their Church, they have made many successful
efforts in the direction of the organization of charity. Another
influence, which largely contributes to the existence of the mendicancy
that scandalizes the traveller, is the tradition of recent poverty. The
habits of centuries are not effaced in a generation. Not much more than
twenty years ago, begging was a recognized necessity in the life of the
Irish poor. But now, when times are moderately prosperous, begging is
limited almost wholly to old people who hang about the doors of Catholic
chapels, and about places frequented by tourists. On the roads leading
to such "show places," also, the tourist will be often beset by little
knots of children clamouring for half-pence; but these are no more
professional beggars than a gentleman who amuses himself with pheasant
shooting is a professional dealer in game. It is a form of excitement
with them; not a very high one to be sure, but not meaner or more
vicious than baccarat or rouge-et-noir.

Still, when all is said, there is more mendicancy in Ireland than would
exist if things were in a healthier state; and where mendicancy is
common, pauperism must fluctuate largely. In more prosperous times, a
larger number of mendicants can find support from a more copious supply
of alms. When evil times curtail the fund whence alms are supplied, the
mendicant must fall back on legal relief. From this point of view the
small increase of six in ten thousand, already referred to,[23] seems to
show that the commercial depression of 1877 has not largely touched the
revenues of the Irish mendicant!

An account of the condition of the Irish people would be incomplete
without some reference to the statistics of drunkenness and crime. Here
we shall find some results of a rather surprising kind. Thus, in England
and Wales in 1876, the population being 24,244,000, the number of
drunkards brought before magistrates was 205,567; being, at an
approximate estimate, one in every 118 of the population. In Scotland,
the population being 3,527,800, the drunkards arrested numbered 26,209,
or about one in 134. In Ireland, the population being 5,321,600, the
drunkards brought before magistrates were 112,253; showing the enormous
proportion of one in every 47 of the people. Of course these figures in
all three kingdoms include very many cases of repeated conviction, so
that it would not be fair to say that one man in every 118 in England,
still less in every 47 in Ireland, is actually a drunkard. All the same,
this comparison is sufficiently alarming as well as perplexing. It is
rather paradoxical to find Scotland showing a smaller proportion of
apparent drunkards than either of the other kingdoms; and some people
might be ill-natured enough to hint that this result depended mainly on
greater skill in keeping out of the hands of the police. On the other
hand, a patriotic Irishman might, without any very flagrant paradox,
argue that the fact of so many Irish being arrested for being drunk
proves that they are actually a more sober people. It takes less to make
an Irishman drunk, partly because he is more excitable in temperament,
and partly because he drinks but seldom. The habitually temperate man,
when he does casually exceed, shows his condition very promptly; the
habitual toper can dissemble it far longer. Another reason that may be
given for the state of things here indicated, is that the police force
is more numerous in Ireland in proportion to the population than in
England or Scotland;[24] and as, for reasons which will be hereafter
seen, the police have actually less to do, they are able to expend a
quantity of surplus energy in arresting drunkards whom the busier
constables of England and Scotland would allow to stagger quietly home.
That some or all these causes are in operation to bring about the
startling excess of apparent drunkenness in Ireland, is manifest when we
come to discuss the statistics of crime. The connection of crime with
drink is a commonplace of moralists; but, like most other commonplaces,
it requires to be seriously tested by the light of facts.

The crimes with which drink is most closely connected are naturally
those which come under the class of offences against the person. Drink
may, indeed, prompt offences against property; but chiefly in an
indirect fashion. A drunkard is very likely to be in want of things
which he may seek to obtain by theft; but drink is not the sole cause of
poverty, and professional thieves are not habitual drunkards. Referring
then to the class of offences against the person, we find that in 1876
only four persons were sentenced to death in all Ireland. The number
sentenced in England was 32. Here is already a considerable discrepancy;
for the population of England is to that of Ireland in the proportion of
only about four and two-fifths to one, and the death sentences in
England were eight times as numerous as in Ireland.[25] But this is not
all. Nearly all the murders in Ireland are agrarian, and with these
drink is only casually if at all connected. On the other hand, nearly
every murder in England is committed more or less under the influence of
intoxication. Turning to the secondary punishments, we find twelve
sentences of penal servitude for life in England, while there were none
in Ireland. Ten of these twelve ought perhaps to be discounted, as
representing ten commutations of capital punishment, for of the
thirty-two persons sentenced to death in England only twenty-two were
executed. But the most remarkable discrepancy is seen when we come to
sentences of penal servitude for terms of years. Of these there were
only fifty in Ireland against 280 in England. In the absence of returns
of crime actually committed (including undetected offences), it is not
easy to pronounce an opinion of much value; but from the statistics of
conviction it would appear that violent crimes against the person are
much less prevalent in proportion to the population in Ireland than in
England. These results are by no means contrary to reasonable
expectation, when we consider the vast congestion of population in
London and other cities in England, to which there is no parallel
anywhere in Ireland. But, such as they are, they seem to show that the
apparent addiction of Irishmen to strong drink is not attended by a
proportionate addiction to the more serious forms of crime. On the other
hand (and this must be recorded for whatever it may be worth), we have
1078 sentences of imprisonment and other minor penalties inflicted in
Ireland, against only 1533 similar sentences in England.

Turning now to the class of offences against property with violence, we
find two sentences of penal servitude for life in England, against none
in Ireland; 271 sentences for terms of years in England, against 26 in
Ireland; 898 sentences of minor terms of imprisonment against only 69 in
Ireland. In cases of this nature one might naturally expect drink to be
a considerable predisposing cause. On the other hand, there is no
assignable connection between drink and crime unaccompanied by violence,
except in so far as poverty is an effect of drink and a cause for crime.
Even here, however, the proportion fails; for the convictions for minor
offences against property in Ireland were only 798, against 10,674 in
England: and of these only 104 suffered penal servitude for terms of
years, against 1063 in England.

All this, it may be said, simply shows that there must be a great deal
of undetected crime in Ireland. To a certain extent, no doubt, this is
true; but the remark applies chiefly to some of the more serious crimes,
especially agrarian murder. There is not the same motive for concealing
minor forms of crime, nor perhaps would even the Ribbon organization
make such concealment practicable. To be sure it may be urged that,
though minor crime is not purposely concealed, the police are too busy
keeping the peace and looking after Fenians and Ribbonmen to have time
for detecting ordinary thefts. This fact may, indeed, have something to
do with the apparent scarcity of petty crime in Ireland; but this is
certainly not the aspect of the case usually dwelt upon, by Judges of
Assizes, for instance, when a Grand Jury sends up a pair of white gloves
instead of a sheaf of criminal indictments. However this may be, I
merely record the facts as I find them; leaving readers, for the most
part, to draw what inferences the facts seem to suggest. One inference
they suggest to me is, that Irishmen are not such very drunken animals
after all; or else that they are somehow or other an exception to the
rule which connects drink and crime. The undeniable blot on the Irish
character--agrarian outrage--is not to be accounted for by drink. The
true explanation is familiar to all who really know the country. The
Irish peasant is very largely dependent on the soil for his support, and
believes himself to be wholly so. He also believes himself to have a
moral and a historical right to the possession of the soil; a belief
which contains a considerable admixture of truth, provided it be stated
with the proper limitations. Unluckily, the Irish peasant holds it
without any limitation at all; and herein lies the secret of his
hostility to the law. The peasant ejected, or in fear of ejectment,
looks on himself as a ruined man (which he need not be), and as a
wronged man (which he is only very partially). Men ruined and wronged
have always been raw material for brigands; and the Ribbonman is simply
a brigand in a frieze coat.

I have no desire to compose an Essay on the Land Question; but it is
absolutely impracticable to discuss Irish social economy without finding
the Land Question in one's way. It is the question which most closely
concerns the industrial classes; for the land is the mainstay of Irish
industry. It is the pivot upon which all Irish politics turn; for
although priestly influence counts for a great deal, that influence
itself depends in great measure on the land hunger of the peasantry. I
feel that I should be leaving Hamlet out of the play if I did not say a
few words on the matter. As I have already hinted, the Irish peasant has
three reasons for his desire to be "rooted in the soil." One is a
traditional reason. He thinks that his forefathers were unjustly ousted
by foreign conquerors. His belief rests on an utterly distorted view of
history. It is true that eight hundred years ago a few of the ancestors
of a few of the existing peasantry might in a sort of sense have been
called landowners. But so far as the Gaelic race survives, it would be
equally true to say that the ancestors of the existing peasantry had
been the serfs or the slaves of barbarous chieftains. The old Gaelic
tribal ownership, if left to itself, might or might not have ripened
into a peasant proprietary; but the only real grievance which the
existing Gaelic peasantry can allege, is that the English conquest
forcibly interrupted the natural process of evolution. Moreover, a large
number of the existing peasants are no true Gael at all, but the
descendants of Danes, Normans, and the various waves of Saxon settlers
from Elizabeth to William of Orange. In parts of Ireland there are even
to be found the descendants of French Huguenots, of Scotch fugitives
involved in the Stuart insurrections, and of refugees of 1793. That such
a _colluvies gentium_ should claim to be the heirs of Septs which
occupied the land

    "Ere the emerald gem of the Western world
        Had been set in the crown of a stranger,"

is simply a proof of profound ignorance of history. Such, however, is
the vague traditional belief; and it is complicated with a moral
sentiment, that he who tills the land has a right to live by the land.
The sentiment is open to no objection, provided it be understood that
the land is an instrument of production in which the whole community is
interested. The cultivator has the same right to live by the land as the
artisan to live by his handicraft, and no more--that is, both peasant
and artisan have a right to expect that the social system shall be so
adjusted that neither shall be unjustly deprived of the fruit of his
labour. But neither peasant nor artisan can claim that any instrument of
production shall be used for the sole sake of the producer. Hence, even
if peasant proprietorship were undeniably the best thing for the
peasant, it does not follow that he has a moral right to it, unless it
be good for the whole community as well. This consideration is too
often neglected by the thorough-going advocates of peasant
proprietorship. They assume that the interests of the peasants are the
only interests to be considered. In Ireland, indeed, they are not far
wrong; for the peasantry _are_ very nearly the whole community. This,
however, only raises the previous question, whether peasant
proprietorship would be a success in Ireland--of which hereafter. The
last and most practical of the agrarian arguments is that a tenant
evicted is a man ruined. Even this is only partially true, and at most
is only an argument against capricious eviction. It is conclusive as
against the system of tenancy at will, or any of those short tenures
which are, in fact, a standing notice to quit. It holds good in favour
of peasant proprietorship to this extent--that the ruin of a peasant
proprietor can only occur through his own fault or misfortune, and not
through the caprice of a landlord. In short, the discontent of the Irish
peasantry proves that the Anglo-Irish system of tenure is about the
worst of all possible systems; but it proves little or nothing in favour
of peasant ownership.

My own opinion (_valeat quantum_) is that the soil and climate of
Ireland render the country utterly unfit to maintain a considerable body
of peasant proprietors; but that, nevertheless, it would be wise and
politic to establish peasant properties as widely as may be practicable.
The climate is notoriously damp, and variable in the extreme. Grain
crops are inferior and precarious--root crops are not much better--even
meadows are untrustworthy, because of the difficulty of haymaking--but
Irish pasture is perhaps the best in the world. Natural conditions mark
out Ireland as a pastoral and cattle-breeding country; and such a
country is the destined home of _latifundia_. It is not merely that
cattle require large spaces of pasture; but the trade in cattle requires
capital, and requires the power of staying through seasons of adversity.
An attempt to breed or deal in cattle by a class of peasant proprietors,
acting singly, could only end in ruin; a ruin even more complete than
bad seasons would bring upon unsuccessful cultivators of grain. Another
product for which Ireland is eminently fitted is timber.[26] This also
obviously requires spaces of land, and intervals of idle capital,
utterly incompatible with any system of small holdings. Nature would
seem to have marked out Ireland as a country to be thinly populated;
historical accident once made her one of the most populous of countries,
and we all know what came of it. The people were dependent on a single
kind of food; it failed, and misery ensued such as modern Europe had
never beheld. The scenes of 1847 we may devoutly hope will never be
witnessed again; but such a season as 1878-79 would be a trial that few
peasant proprietors could stand. Why then do I say that a peasant
proprietary ought to be created? Because I believe that in the
experiment is to be found the sole method of convincing the Irish
peasants that their true interest lies in quite another direction. The
peasant now believes that all he wants in order to be prosperous is to
be "rooted in the soil." It is of no use to appeal to abstract
reasoning. He knows that he has to pay rent, and that he is liable to
eviction for non-payment. Carefully as recent legislation has guarded
him against capricious eviction, he knows that if his landlord chooses
to pay for turning him out, out he must go. The few of his neighbours
who do acquire freeholds, he perceives to be comparatively prosperous.
He does not take into account that the prosperity of the freeholder is
maintained by precisely the same exceptional energy and thrift which in
the first instance enabled him to secure the freehold. Besides, it is
undeniable that _cæteris paribus_ a man who holds rent-free is likely to
be better off than one who pays rent; and so long as rent is the rule
and freehold the exception, the few freeholders will seem at least to
possess an advantage over the many rentpayers. In short, the peasant
farmer will never cease to believe ownership a panacea for all his ills,
until he shall have tried it, and failed. Of course it does not
absolutely follow that the experiment of creating a peasant proprietary
must needs fail. It may succeed; and then the Irish land problem is
solved. For the reasons given above, however, I think it would fail. If
all the holdings of fifteen acres and under (there are 285,000[27] of
them, or nearly half the whole number of farms in Ireland) were turned
into peasant properties tomorrow, I believe they would in thirty, or at
most in fifty, years be recast into large cattle farms, owned probably
for the most part by joint-stock companies. The process of consolidation
would be partly the buying out of ruined peasants after some such
seasons as we are now undergoing; partly a voluntary union of the
residue, who would find association desirable in order to secure a
sufficiency of land and capital. But those who might be compelled to
part with their lands could no longer ascribe their ruin to the tenure
by which they held. It would be made clear to them and to all concerned
that it is the laws of Nature and not the laws of England which hinder
Ireland from maintaining a dense agricultural population.

It may be urged against what I have here said, that it is hardly worth
while engaging in a social revolution merely in order that the last
state of things may turn out on the whole very similar to the first. I
cannot deny the force of this remark; though I may suggest, in my turn,
that perhaps it is worth while to make some sacrifice for the sake of
attaining stable equilibrium in the social system. I am persuaded that
the one great difficulty in Irish affairs is to convince the peasant
that the law is a power not hostile but friendly to him. This is no easy
task. It is not so very long since the law actually was the hard master
it is still supposed to be. Nor is the peasant's own attitude of mind a
very easy one to deal with. He clamours loudly to be "rooted in the
soil," or, in other words, to be made absolute owner of his farm; but he
clamours not less loudly against the absenteeship of his landlord. He
utterly fails to perceive the inconsistency of his position. He cannot
eat his cake and have his cake. He cannot be at one and the same time
tenant to a resident lord of the manor, and owner in fee-simple of his
own holding. Absolute peasant ownership is _primâ facie_ incompatible
with the very existence of a landed aristocracy; and it may be some
perception of this that induces certain of the land agitators to propose
fixity of tenure at a quit-rent rather than absolute peasant
proprietorship. But it is clear that this is a mere evasion of the
difficulty. A landlord, who is merely a rent-charger, has no more motive
to reside on his estate than if he sold it and lived on the interest of
the purchase-money. There is no doubt a sense in which the two things
are not absolutely incompatible. Peasant properties might be intermixed
with large estates owned by resident landlords. And this would certainly
constitute a state of things by no means undesirable; in fact, it is
what might possibly emerge from the experiment I have mentioned above. I
think it more than probable that a great deal of the land, after such an
experiment, would fall into the hands of joint-stock companies; but a
considerable portion might also be bought up by individuals, who might
choose to become resident landlords. It must, however, be remembered
that there are many things besides agrarian agitation which tempt Irish
landlords to become absentees. Residence in Ireland is attended with
many drawbacks and discomforts, even when a landlord is on the best of
terms with his tenantry. Absenteeism is no new complaint; Adam Smith
discussed proposals for an absentee-tax. Its prevalence is not
uncommonly ascribed to the Union, but it might as well be ascribed to
the Deluge. The most potent causes of absenteeism in the latter half of
the nineteenth century are the City of Dublin Steam Navigation Company,
and the London and North-Western Railway. These, and kindred
institutions, are also the channels which conduct a vast deal of wealth
into Ireland; and if absenteeism constitutes a perennial drain on her
resources, the facilities of locomotion cause the drain to return
ten-fold.[28] If these facilities did not exist, it does not follow that
the landlords who remained at home would necessarily be of much use to
the community. The squires and _squireens_ in Lever's and Maxwell's
novels are very amusing to read about; but they are a race that nobody
at the present day would seriously wish to revive. However this may be,
there is little inducement for the existing landlords to remain resident
in a country where they are continually threatened, and occasionally
shot. I cannot help thinking that in the tendency to absenteeism,
courageous statesmanship might find the means of solving the Land
problem. There should be little difficulty, one would imagine, in
persuading a number of existing Irish landlords to part with their
estates for a reasonable compensation.[29] The Church Surplus is at hand
to provide the purchase-money. After deducting the sums to be paid to
the Intermediate Education Board, and to the National School Teachers'
Pension Fund, there will remain nearly four millions in the hands of the
Temporalities Commission. This money judiciously advanced to tenant
farmers would enable a considerable number of them to acquire the
freehold of their farms, and thus the foundations of a peasant
proprietary might be laid without any confiscation or disturbance of
vested rights. The Royal Commission on Agriculture would perhaps be a
good medium for acquiring information on this subject. They might
include in the scope of their inquiry the best method of carrying out
some such scheme as has been here indicated.

Having set out with no intention beyond that of offering a general view
of a few leading facts and figures relating to Irish affairs, I find
myself insensibly gliding into a political discussion. So far as I have
any excuse for this, it must be found in the irrepressible character of
the Land problem; which, as I before remarked, can by no possibility be
evaded by any one who writes on Irish social economy. Yet this problem
itself is in one aspect simply a phase of the struggle going on all over
the world between, labour and capital. Side by side with this there is
yet another struggle going on, which is also a phase of a world-wide
conflict. It is the old story of Priesthood against Free Thought; but in
Ireland, like nearly all things Irish, it bears a peculiar aspect of its
own. Many a man here would be amazed to be told that he is fighting on
the side of the priests; yet the Irish Orange Tory, and to some extent
even the Irish Evangelical clergyman, is really and truly (though of
course unconsciously) helping the policy of the Roman Church. But it
would extend my essay beyond all reasonable limits to discuss this
matter; and besides, I set out to write on statistics, and not on



[21] The statistics in this Essay are chiefly taken from _Thom's Almanac
and Official Directory for 1878_. The tables given in that Almanac are
for the most part brought down no later than 1876. It so happens,
however, that 1876 is a very convenient date for the purpose of this
paper. It marks the conclusion of a period of just thirty years from the
worst crisis of the Potato Famine; and it marks also the conclusion of a
cycle of commercial inflation, some of whose results were strongly felt
in Ireland.

I have, of course, consulted other authorities besides _Thom's
Directory_, but I shall specify these as occasion arises. When no
special reference is given, my authority is Thom.

[22] While I write _Eason's Almanac for 1879_ has been published. This
authority gives the total average of paupers daily in receipt of relief
through 1877 as 78,223, or 146.5 in 10,000 of the population. An
increase of less than six in ten thousand is not very alarming, and the
fact seems in some measure to justify the opinion I have ventured to
express in the text, that Ireland will be found to suffer less from the
present crisis than other parts of the United Kingdom. It must, however,
be taken into consideration that the present year (1879) threatens a
very poor harvest: and this circumstance is absolutely certain to
enhance whatever distress already exists.

[23] See note on previous page.

[24] The 24¼ millions in England and Wales are kept in order by a
police force of 29,689. In Scotland 3½ millions of population have
only 3356 policemen. In Ireland, with a population well under 5½
millions, there are 12,081 policemen. And yet, as will appear presently,
there is far less crime in Ireland relatively than in either of the
other kingdoms.

[25] It is only just to admit that the death sentences are not a fair
test. Too many murders remain undetected, owing to the existence of
agrarian conspiracy. The number of murders known to have been committed
is unluckily not to be found in the returns to which I have access. But
the very fact of their remaining undetected is a proof that they are not
directly connected with intoxication, for it shows that they are for the
most part agrarian.

[26] It has been calculated, apparently on trustworthy data, that an
acre of land planted with larch or fir, at an expense of about £20,
would be worth £2000 at the end of forty years, besides the intermediate
yield from clearings of young timber, game cover, and so forth. This is
a very high return for a small outlay; but it is completely beyond the
means of any peasant proprietor.

[27] _Eason's Almanac_, 1879. The actual number is 285,464. The total of
agricultural holdings is 581,963.

[28] I have unfortunately been unable to obtain any statistics of the
cross-channel trade. I find it stated in _Thom's Directory_ that the
trade of Belfast alone was valued in the year 1866 at £24,332,000--viz.,
£12,417,000 imports and £11,915,000 exports. The year 1866 was a bad
year: so it may be assumed that these figures represent a low average. I
find no means of estimating the import and export trade of Cork and

I may mention here that one cause of interruption in the composition of
this paper was an unsuccessful search for complete trade statistics.

[29] A few of the Home Rule M.P.'s who are now stumping the country on
the Land grievance are themselves landlords. It has been suggested that
they should introduce fixity of tenure on their estates, in one or other
of its various forms. Mr. Errington (who is _not_ one of the stump
orators of the party) has, I am told, notified his intention to give
long leases to his tenantry. In a case like this the _argumentum ad
hominem_, though a perfectly fair one, is a perfectly useless one.

[30] I have referred above (note, p. 463) to my failure to obtain trade
statistics. This circumstance has caused me to fail also in fully
carrying out the original plan of this paper. I had intended not only to
give a general view of the recent condition of the Irish people, but to
enter somewhat fully into its causes, and discuss the probabilities of
the future. The great revival in prosperity, which I have imperfectly
sketched, was closely connected with the cross-channel trade. At
present, affairs look sufficiently gloomy both here and in England; and
the forecast of the future depends mainly upon the prospect of revival
in English trade.



Of all traditions relating to the history of primitive humanity, by far
the most universal is that of the Deluge. Our present purpose is to pass
under review the principal versions of it extant among the leading races
of men. The concordance of these with the Biblical narrative will bring
out their primary unity, and we shall thus be able to recognize the fact
of this tradition being one of those which date before the dispersion of
peoples, go back to the very dawn of the civilized world, and can only
refer to a real and definite event.

But we have previously to get rid of certain legendary recollections
erroneously associated with the Biblical Deluge, their essential
features forbidding sound criticism to assimilate them therewith. We
allude to such as refer to local phenomena, and are of historic and
comparatively recent date. Doubtless the tradition of the great
primitive cataclysm may have been confused with these, and thus have led
to an exaggeration of their importance; but the characteristic points of
the narrative admitted into the Book of Genesis are wanting, and even
under the legendary form it has assumed these events retain a decidedly
special and restricted character. To group recollections of this nature
with those that really relate to the Deluge would be to invalidate,
rather than confirm, the consequences we are entitled to draw from the

Take, for instance, the great inundation placed by the historic books of
China in the reign of Yao. This has no real relation, or even
resemblance, to the Biblical Deluge; it is a purely local event, the
date of which, spite of the uncertainty of Chinese chronology previous
to the eighth century B.C., we may yet determine as long subsequent to
the fully historic periods of Egypt and Babylon.[31] Chinese authors
describe Yu, minister and engineer of the day, as restoring the course
of rivers, raising dykes, digging canals, and regulating the taxation of
every province throughout China. A learned Sinologist, Edouard Biot, has
proved, in a treatise on the changes of the lower course of the
Hoang-ho, that it was to one of its frequent inundations the above
catastrophe was due, and that the early Chinese settlements on its banks
had had much to suffer from this cause. These works of Yu were but the
beginning of embankments necessary to contain its waters, carried on
further in following ages. A celebrated inscription graven on the rocky
face of one of the mountain peaks of Ho-nan passes for contemporaneous
with these works, and is consequently the most ancient specimen of
Chinese epigraphy extant. This inscription appears to present an
intrinsically authentic character, sufficient to dispel the doubts
suggested by Mr. Legge, although there is this rather suspicious fact
connected with it, that we are only acquainted with it through ancient
copies, and that for many centuries past the minutest research has
failed to re-discover the original.

Nor is the character of a mere local event less conspicuous in the
legend of Botchica, such as we have it reported by the Muyscas, the
ancient inhabitants of the province of Cundinamarca, in South America,
although here mythological fable is mingled much more largely with the
fundamental historic element.

Huythaca, the wife of a divine man, or rather a god, called Botchica,
having practised abominable witchcraft in order to make the river Funzha
leave its bed, the whole plain of Bogota is devastated by its waters;
men and beasts perish in the inundation, and only a few escape by flight
to the loftiest mountains. The tradition adds that Botchica broke
asunder the rocks inclosing the valley of Canoas and Tequendama, in
order to facilitate the escape of the waters, next reassembled the
dispersed remnant of the Muyscas, taught them Sun-worship, and went up
to heaven, after having lived 500 years in Cundinamarca.


_Chaldean and Biblical Narratives._--Of the traditions relating to the
great cataclysm the most curious, no doubt, is that of the Chaldeans.
Its influence has stamped itself in an unmistakable manner on the
tradition of India; and, of all the accounts of the Deluge, it comes
nearest to that in Genesis. To whoever compares the two it becomes
evident that they must have been one and the same up to the time when
Terah and his family left Ur of the Chaldees to go into Palestine.

We have two versions of the Chaldean story--unequally developed indeed,
but exhibiting a remarkable agreement. The one most anciently known, and
also the shorter, is that which Berosus took from the sacred books of
Babylon and introduced into the history that he wrote for the use of
the Greeks.[32] After speaking of the last nine antediluvian kings, the
Chaldean priest continues thus:--

    "Obartès Elbaratutu being dead, his son Xisuthros (Khasisatra)
    reigned eighteen sares (64,800 years). It was under him that the
    Great Deluge took place, the history of which is told in the sacred
    documents as follows:--Cronos (Êa) appeared to him in his sleep, and
    announced that on the fifteenth of the month of Daisios (the
    Assyrian month Sivan--a little before the summer solstice), all men
    should perish by a flood. He therefore commanded him to take the
    beginning, the middle, and the end of whatever was consigned to
    writing,[33] and to bury it in the City of the Sun, at Sippara; then
    to build a vessel, and to enter into it with his family and dearest
    friends; to place in this vessel provisions to eat and drink, and to
    cause animals, birds, and quadrupeds to enter it; lastly, to prepare
    everything for navigation. And when Xisuthros inquired in what
    direction he should steer his bark, he was answered, 'towards the
    gods,' and enjoined to pray that good might come of it for men.

    "Xisuthros obeyed, and constructed a vessel five stadia long and
    five broad; he collected all that had been prescribed to him, and
    embarked his wife, his children, and his intimate friends.

    "The Deluge having come, and soon going down, Xisuthros loosed some
    of the birds. These finding no food nor place to alight on returned
    to the ship. A few days later Xisuthros again let them free, but
    they returned again to the vessel, their feet full of mud. Finally,
    loosed the third time the birds came no more back. Then Xisuthros
    understood that the earth was bare. He made an opening in the roof
    of the ship, and saw that it had grounded on the top of a mountain.
    He then descended with his wife, his daughter, and his pilot,
    worshipped the earth, raised an altar, and there sacrificed to the
    gods; at the same moment he vanished with those who accompanied him.

    "Meanwhile those who had remained in the vessel not seeing Xisuthros
    return, descended too and began to seek him, calling him by his
    name. They saw Xisuthros no more; but a voice from heaven was heard
    commanding them piety towards the gods; that he, indeed, was
    receiving the reward of his piety in being carried away to dwell
    thenceforth in the midst of the gods, and that his wife, his
    daughter, and the pilot of the ship shared the same honour. The
    voice further said that they were to return to Babylon, and
    conformably to the decrees of fate, disinter the writings buried at
    Sippara in order to transmit them to men. It added that the country
    in which they found themselves was Armenia. These, then, having
    heard the voice, sacrificed to the gods and returned on foot to
    Babylon. Of the vessel of Xisuthros, which had finally landed in
    Armenia, a portion is still to be found in the Gordyan Mountains in
    Armenia, and pilgrims bring thence asphalte that they have scraped
    from its fragments. It is used to keep off the influence of
    witchcraft. As to the companions of Xisuthros, they came to Babylon,
    disinterred the writings left at Sippara, founded numerous cities,
    built temples, and restored Babylon."

By the side of this version, which, interesting though it be, is, after
all, second hand, we are now able to place an original
Chaldeo-Babylonian edition, which the lamented George Smith was the
first to decipher on the cuneiform tablets exhumed at Nineveh and now in
the British Museum. Here the narrative of the Deluge appears as an
episode in the eleventh tablet, or eleventh chaunt of the great epic of
the town of Uruk. The hero of this poem, a kind of Hercules, whose name
has not as yet been made out with certainty,[34] being attacked by
disease (a kind of leprosy), goes, with a view to its cure, to consult
the patriarch saved from the Deluge, Khasisatra, in the distant land to
which the gods have transported him, there to enjoy eternal felicity. He
asks Khasisatra to reveal the secret of the events which led to his
obtaining the privilege of immortality, and thus the patriarch is
induced to relate the cataclysm.

By a comparison of the three copies of the poem that the library of the
palace of Nineveh contained, it has been possible to restore the
narrative with hardly any breaks.[35] These three copies were, by order
of the King of Assyria, Asshurbanabal, made in the eighth century B.C.,
from a very ancient specimen in the sacerdotal library of the town of
Uruk, founded by the monarchs of the first Chaldean empire. It is
difficult precisely to fix the date of the original, copied by Assyrian
scribes, but it certainly goes back to the ancient empire, seventeen
centuries, at least, before our era, and even probably beyond; it was
therefore much anterior to Moses, and nearly contemporaneous with
Abraham. The variations presented by the three existing copies prove
that the original was in the primitive mode of writing called the
_hieratic_, a character which must have already become difficult to
decipher in the eighth century B.C., as the copyists have differed as to
the interpretation to be given to certain signs, and in other cases have
simply reproduced exactly the forms of such as they did not understand.
Finally, it results from a comparison of these variations, that the
original, transcribed by order of Asshurbanabal, must itself have been a
copy of some still more ancient manuscript, in which the original text
had already received interlinear comments. Some of the copyists have
introduced these into their text, others have omitted them. With these
preliminary observations I proceed to give integrally the narrative
ascribed in the poem to Khasisatra:--

    "I will reveal to thee, O Izdhubar, the history of my
    preservation--and tell to thee the decision of the gods.

    "The town of Shurippak, a town which thou knowest, is situated on
    the Euphrates--it was ancient and in it [men did not honour] the
    gods. [I alone, I was] their servant, to the great gods--[The gods
    took counsel on the appeal of] Anu--[a deluge was proposed by]
    Bel--[and approved by Nabon, Nergal and] Adar.

    "And the god [Êa] the immutable lord,--repeated this command in a
    dream.--I listened to the decree of fate that he announced, and he
    said to me:--'Man of Shiruppak, son of Ubaratutu--thou, build a
    vessel and finish it [quickly].--[By a deluge] I will destroy
    substance and life.--Cause thou to go up into the vessel the
    substance of all that has life.--The vessel thou shall build--600
    cubits shall be the measure of its length--and 60 cubits the amount
    of its breadth and of its height.--[Launch it] thus on the ocean and
    cover it with a roof.'--I understood, and I said to Êa, my
    lord:--'[The vessel] that thou commandest me to build thus--[when] I
    shall do it,--young and old [shall laugh at me.]'--[Êa opened his
    mouth and] spoke.--He said to me, his servant:--'[If they laugh at
    thee] thou shalt say to them: [shall be punished] he who has
    insulted me, [for the protection of the gods] is over me.-- ... like
    to caverns ... ---- ... I will exercise my judgment on that which is
    on high and that which is below ... ---- ... Close the vessel ...
    ---- ... At a given moment that I shall cause thee to know,--enter
    into it and draw the door of the ship towards thee.--Within it, thy
    grains, thy furniture, thy provisions,--thy riches, thy
    men-servants, and thy maid-servants, and thy young people--the
    cattle of the field and the wild beasts of the plain that I will
    assemble--and that I will send thee, shall be kept behind thy
    door.'--Khasisatra opened his mouth and spoke;--he said to Êa, his
    lord:--'No one has made [such a] ship.--On the prow I will
    fix....--I shall see ... and the vessel ...--the vessel thou
    commandest me to build [thus]--which in....[36]

    "On the fifth day [the two sides of the bark] were raised.--In its
    covering fourteen in all were its rafters--fourteen in all did it
    count above.--I placed its roof and I covered it.--I embarked in it
    on the sixth day; I divided its floors on the seventh;--I divided
    the interior compartments on the eighth. I stopped up the chinks
    through which the water entered in;--I visited the chinks and added
    what was wanting.--I poured on the exterior three times 3,600
    measures of asphalte,--and three times 3,600 measures of asphalte
    within.--Three times 3,600 men, porters, brought on their heads the
    chests of provisions.--I kept 3,600 chests for the nourishment of my
    family,--and the mariners divided among themselves twice 3,600
    chests.--For [provisioning] I had oxen slain;--I instituted
    [rations] for each day.--In [anticipation of the need of] drinks, of
    barrels and of wine--[I collected in quantity] like to the waters of
    a river, [of provisions] in quantity like to the dust of the
    earth.--[To arrange them in] the chests I set my hand to.-- ... of
    the sun ... the vessel was completed.-- ... strong and--I had
    carried above and below the furniture of the ship.--[This lading
    filled the two-thirds.]

    "All that I possessed I gathered together; all I possessed of silver
    I gathered together; all that I possessed of gold I gathered--all
    that I possessed of the substance of life of every kind I gathered
    together.--I made all ascend into the vessel; my servants male and
    female,--the cattle of the fields, the wild beasts of the plains,
    and the sons of the people, I made them all ascend."

    "Shamash (the sun) made the moment determined and----he announced it
    in these terms: 'In the evening I will cause it to rain abundantly
    from heaven; enter into the vessel and close the door.'----The fixed
    moment had arrived, which he announced in these terms: 'In the
    evening I will cause it to rain abundantly from heaven.'----When the
    evening of that day arrived, I was afraid,----I entered into the
    vessel and shut my door.----In shutting the vessel, to
    Buzur-shadi-rabi, the pilot----I confided this dwelling, with all
    that it contained.

    "Mu-sheri-ina-namari[37]--rose from the foundations of heaven in a
    black cloud;--Ramman[38] thundered in the midst of the cloud--and
    Nabon and Sharru marched before;--they marched, devastating the
    mountain and the plain;--Nergal[39] the powerful, dragged
    chastisements after him;--Adar[40] advanced, overthrowing before
    him;--the Archangels of the abyss brought destruction--in their
    terrors they agitated the earth.--The inundation of Ramman swelled
    up to the sky--and [the earth] became without lustre, was changed
    into a desert.

    "They broke ... of the surface of the earth like ...;--[they
    destroyed] the living beings of the surface of the earth.--The
    terrible [Deluge] on men swelled up to [heaven].--The brother no
    longer saw his brother; men no longer knew each other. In
    heaven--the gods became afraid of the water-spout, and--sought a
    refuge; they mounted up to the heaven of Anu.[41]--The gods were
    stretched out motionless, pressing one against another like
    dogs.--Ishtar wailed like a child,--the great goddess pronounced her
    discourse:--'Here is humanity returned into mud, and--this is the
    misfortune that I have announced in the presence of the gods.--So I
    announced the misfortune in the presence of the gods,--for the evil
    I announced the terrible [chastisement] of men who are mine.--I am
    the mother who gave birth to men, and--like to the race of fishes,
    there they are filling the sea;--and the gods by reason of
    that--which the archangels of the abyss are doing, weep with
    me.'--The gods on their seats were seated in tears--and they held
    their lips closed, [revolving] future things.

    "Six days and as many nights passed; the wind, the water-spout, and
    the diluvian rain were in all their strength. At the approach of the
    seventh day the diluvian rain grew weaker, the terrible
    water-spout--which had assailed after the fashion of an
    earthquake--grew calm, the sea inclined to dry up, and the wind and
    the water-spout came to an end. I looked at the sea, attentively
    observing--and the whole of humanity had returned to mud; like unto
    seaweeds the corpses floated. I opened the window, and the light
    smote on my face. I was seized with sadness; I sat down and I
    wept;--and my tears came over my face.

    "I looked at the regions bounding the sea; towards the twelve points
    of the horizon; not any continent.--The vessel was borne above the
    land of Nizir--the mountain of Nizir arrested the vessel, and did
    not permit it to pass over.--A day and a second day the mountain of
    Nizir arrested the vessel, and did not permit it to pass over;--the
    third and fourth day the mountain of Nizir arrested the vessel, and
    did not permit it to pass over;--the fifth and sixth day the
    mountain of Nizir arrested the vessel, and did not permit it to pass
    over.--At the approach of the seventh day, I sent out and loosed a
    dove. The dove went, turned, and--found no place to light on, and it
    came back. I sent out and loosed a swallow; the swallow went,
    turned, and--found no place to light on, and it came back. I sent
    out and loosed a raven; the raven went and saw the corpses on the
    waters; it ate, rested, turned and came not back.

    "I then sent out (what was in the vessel) towards the four winds,
    and I offered a sacrifice. I raised the pile of my burnt offering on
    the peak of the mountain; seven by seven I disposed the measured
    vases,[42]--and beneath I spread rushes, cedar, and juniper wood.
    The gods were seized with the desire of it--the gods were seized
    with a benevolent desire of it;--and the gods assembled like flies
    above the master of the sacrifice. From afar, in approaching, the
    great goddess raised the great zones that Anu has made for their
    glory (the gods).[43] These gods, luminous crystal before me, I will
    never leave them; in that day I prayed that I might never leave
    them. 'Let the gods come to my sacrificial pile!--but never may Bel
    come to my sacrificial pile! for he did not master himself, and he
    has made the water-spout for the Deluge, and he has numbered my men
    for the pit.'

    "From far, in drawing near, Bel--saw the vessel, and Bel
    stopped;--he was filled with anger against the gods and the
    celestial archangels:--

    "'No one shall come out alive! No man shall be preserved from the
    abyss!'--Adar opened his mouth and said; he said to the warrior
    Bel:--'What other than Êa should have formed this resolution?--for
    Êa possesses knowledge and [he foresees] all.'--Êa opened his mouth
    and spake; he said to the warrior Bel:--'O thou, herald of the gods,
    warrior,--as thou didst not master thyself, thou hast made the
    water-spout of the deluge.--Let the sinner carry the weight of his
    sins, the blasphemer the weight of his blasphemy.--Please thyself
    with this good pleasure and it shall never be infringed; faith in it
    never [shall be violated.]--Instead of thy making a new deluge, let
    lions appear and reduce the number of men; instead of thy making a
    new deluge, let hyenas appear and reduce the number of men;--instead
    of thy making a new deluge, let there be famine and let the earth be
    [devastated];--instead of thy making a new deluge, let Dibbara[44]
    appear, and let men be [mown down]. I have not revealed the decision
    of the great gods;--it is Khasisatra who interpreted a dream and
    comprehended what the gods had decided.'

    "Then, when his resolve was arrested, Bel entered into the
    vessel.--He took my hand and made me rise.--He made my wife rise and
    made her place herself at my side.--He turned around us and stopped
    short; he approached our group.--'Until now Khasisatra has made part
    of perishable humanity;--but lo, now, Khasisatra and his wife are
    going to be carried away to live like the gods,--and Khasisatra will
    reside afar at the mouth of the rivers.'--They carried me away and
    established me in a remote place at the mouth of the streams."

This narrative follows with great exactness the same course as that, or
rather as those of Genesis, and the analogies are on both sides
striking. It is well known, and has long been critically demonstrated,
that chapters vi., vii., viii. and ix. of Genesis contain two different
narratives of the Deluge, the one taken from the Elohist document, the
other from the Jehovist, both being skilfully combined by the final
editor. Reverencing their text, which he evidently considered sacred, he
omitted no fact given by either, so that we have the whole story twice
narrated in different terms; and, in spite of the way the verses are
mixed up, it is easy so to disentangle the two versions as that each
should form a continuous and unbroken narrative. Some critics have
recently pretended that, with regard to the stories of the Creation and
Deluge, both cuneiform documents disproved the distinction between the
two sources of Genesis, and proved the primitive unity of its
composition; that the same repetitions, in effect, were to be found
there. This was a premature conclusion, drawn from translations very
imperfect as yet, and requiring thorough revision; and, indeed,
confining ourselves to the story of the Deluge, such revision, carried
on according to strict philological principles, does away with the
arguments that had been based on the version of George Smith. None of
the repetitions of the final text of Genesis are observable in the
Chaldean poem; which, on the contrary, decisively confirms the
distinction made between the two narratives, the Elohist and Jehovist,
interwoven by the last compiler of the Pentateuch. It is with each of
these separately--when disentangled and compared--that the Chaldean
narrative coincides in its order--it is not with the result of their
combination. And nothing could be easier than to demonstrate this by a
synoptic table, in which the three narratives were collated.

Such a table would at once show their agreement and their difference,
what the three records have in common, and what each has added of its
own to the primitive outline. They are certainly three versions of the
same traditional history, and with the Chaldeo-Babylonians on the one
hand, and the Hebrews on the other, we have two parallel streams
proceeding from one source. Nevertheless, we must note on both sides
divergences of certain importance which prove the bifurcation of the two
traditions to have taken place at a very remote era, and the one of
which the Bible affords us the expression to be not merely an edition of
that preserved by the Chaldean priesthood, expurgated from a severely
monotheistic point of view.

The Biblical narrative bears the impress of an inland people, ignorant
of navigation. In Genesis, the name of the ark, _têbâh_, signifies
"coffer," and not "vessel." Nothing is said about the launching of the
ark; there is no mention made of the sea, or of navigation; there is no
pilot. In the Epic of Uruk, on the contrary, everything shows it to have
been composed amidst a maritime population; every circumstance bears a
reflex of the manners and customs of people living on the shore of the
Persian Gulf. Khasisatra enters a vessel, properly so called; it is
launched, undergoes a trial trip, all its seams are caulked with
bitumen, it is entrusted to a pilot.

The Chaldeo-Babylonian narrative represents Khasisatra as a king, who
goes up into the ship surrounded by a whole population of servants and
companions; in the Bible, we have only Noah and his family who are
saved; the new human race has no other source than the patriarch's three
sons. Nor is there any trace in the Chaldean poem of the distinction (in
the Bible peculiar indeed only to the Jehovist) between clean and
unclean beasts, and of each kind of the former being numbered by sevens,
although in Babylonia the number seven had a specially sacramental

As to the dimensions of the ark, we find a disagreement not only between
the Bible and the tablet copied by order of Asshurbanabal, but between
the latter and Berosus. Both Genesis and the cuneiform documents measure
the ark's dimensions by cubits, Berosus by stadia. Genesis states its
length and breadth to have been in the proportion of 6 to 1, Berosus of
5 to 2, the tablet in the British Museum of 10 to 1. On the other hand,
the fragments of Berosus do not treat of the relative dimensions of
height and breadth, and the tablet gives them as equal, while the Bible
speaks of thirty cubits of height and fifty of breadth. But these
differences as to figures have but a secondary importance; nothing so
liable to alterations and variations in different editions of the same
narrative. We may observe, however, that in Genesis it is only the
Elohist--always much addicted to figures--who gives the dimensions of
the ark. And, on the other hand, it is the Jehovist alone who tells of
the sending forth of the birds, which occupies a considerable place in
the Chaldean tradition. As to the variations here between the Biblical
story and that in the poem of Uruk, the latter adding the swallow to
the dove and the raven, and not attributing to the dove the part of a
messenger of good tidings, I do not think they go for much. The
agreement as to the main point is, in my eyes, of far more importance.

But what is, on the contrary, of very decided importance, is the
absolute disagreement as to the duration of the Deluge between the
Elohist and Jehovist, as well as between the two and the
Chaldeo-Babylonian narrator. Here we have a manifest trace of different
systems applying to the ancient tradition calendrical conceptions,
dissimilar in each record, and yet all seeming to have proceeded from

By the Elohist the periods of the Deluge are indicated by the ordinal
numbers of the months, but these ordinal numbers relate to a lunar year,
beginning on the 1st of Tishri (September-October), at the autumnal
equinox. This is admitted by Josephus, and by the Author of the Targum
of the pseudo-Jonathan, as well as by Rashi and Kimchi, among the Jewish
commentators of the Middle Ages; and proved, as I conceive, by Michaelis
among the moderns. The rain begins to fall, and Noah enters into the ark
the 17th day of the second month--_i.e._, Marcheshvan. The great force
of the waters lasts 150 days, and the 17th of the seventh month--_i.e._,
Nisan (March-April)--the ark grounds on Mount Ararat. The 1st day of the
tenth month, or Tammuz (June-July), about the summer solstice, the
mountains are laid bare. The 1st day of the first month of the following
year--that is, of Tishri, at the autumnal equinox--the waters have
completely retired, and Noah leaves the ark on the 27th of the second
month. Thus the Deluge lasted a whole lunar year, plus eleven days--that
is to say, as Ewald well remarks, a solar year of 365 days. Now, under
the climatic conditions of Babylonia and Assyria, the rains of late
autumn begin towards the end of November, and at once the level of the
Euphrates and Tigris rises. The periodic overflow of the two rivers
occurs in the middle of March, and culminates at the end of May, from
which time the waters go down. At the end of June they have left the
plains, and from August to November are at their lowest level. Now the
dates of the Deluge, given by the Elohist, and re-stated as we have been
doing according to Michaelis and Knobel, accord perfectly with these
phases of the rising and falling of the two Mesopotamian rivers. They
accord even better in the primitive system which served for
starting-point to that of the Elohist, and which has been so ingeniously
restored by M. Schræder,[45] a system attributing to the Deluge 300 days
in all, or a ten months' duration: 150 days for its greatest height and
150 for its decrease. According to this system, the leaving of the ark
must have taken place on the first day of the 601st year of Noah's
life--that is to say, on the 1st of Tishri, at the autumnal equinox.
Thus the deliverance of the father of the new humanity, as well as the
Covenant made by God with him and his race, were fixed on the very day
to which an ancient opinion which has maintained itself among the Jews
assigned the creation of the world. As to the beginning of the Deluge,
it occurred, according to the same system, on the 1st day of the third
month--that is to say, at the commencement of the lunation whose end
coincided with the Sun's entry into Capricorn, when the conjunction of
planets brought about periodic deluges according to an astrological
conception of Chaldean origin, which does not indeed appear a very
ancient one; but must have been based on data adopted by some of the
sacerdotal schools of Babylonia as to the epoch of the cataclysm.

It is also with the winter rains, and not with the swelling of the
Euphrates and Tigris in spring, that the calendrical construction,
according to which the antediluvian kings or patriarchs have been placed
in relation with solar mansions (a construction followed in Uruk's Epic
poem), causes the commencement of the Deluge to coincide. It connects,
in point of fact, the tradition of the cataclysm with the month of
Shabut (January-February), and with the sign of Aquarius. Accordingly, I
find great difficulty in admitting the exactness of the date, 15th of
Daisios, given in the extract of Alexander Polybister, as that assigned
by Berosus to the Deluge, for this would make the event occur in the
middle of the Assyrian month Sivan, at the beginning of July, in a
season of complete drought, when the rivers have reached their lowest
level. I hold this to be an evident error, due not to the author of the
Chaldean History himself, but to his transcriber. Berosus must have
written μηνὸς ὀγδόυ· πέμπτῃ καὶ δεκάτῃ the 15th of the eighth month,
translating into Greek the Assyrian name of the Arakh-Shanina. And by a
readily explicable error Cornelius Alexander must have turned it into
Daisios, which was the eighth month of the Syro-Macedonian Calendar,
forgetting the difference between the initial point of its year and that
of the Chaldeo-Assyrian. In reality, then, the date given by Berosus
only differed by two days from that adopted by the Elohist compiler of
Genesis. Besides, as Knobel rightly insists, in placing the commencement
of the Deluge at the 15th or 17th of a month, we place it always at the
full moon, for it is also with this phase of the light that lights the
night that popular belief in Egypt and Mesopotamia links the periodic
rise of Nile or Tigris.

The system of the Jehovist is quite a different one. According to him,
Jahveh announces the Deluge to Noah only seven days beforehand. The
waters are at their height for forty days, and decrease during forty
more. After these eighty days Noah sends out the three birds at
intervals of seven days, and thus it is on the 21st day after he has
opened the window of the ark for the first time that he, too, goes out
of the ark and offers his sacrifice to the Lord. Here the phases of the
cataclysm are evidently calculated on those of the annual spring outflow
of the Euphrates and Tigris, so that we need not hesitate to assign the
origin of the very form of the tradition received by the Jehovist
writer, to the cradle of the race of the Terahites in Chaldea. The
overflow of the two rivers of Mesopotamia lasts, in fact, for an average
of seventy-five days from the middle of March to the end of May; and
twenty-six days later--that is, at the end of the 101 in all (80 + 21 =
75 + 26 = 101), when the Jehovist makes Noah leave the ark--the lands
which have been inundated become once more practicable.

What, moreover, in the Jehovist narrative bears a very marked impress of
Chaldean origin is the part played in it by septennial periods; seven
days intervening between the announcement and the beginning of the
Deluge, seven between each sending forth of the birds. That religious
and mystic importance attached to the heptade which gave rise to the
conception of the seven days of creation, and to the invention of the
week, is an essentially Chaldean idea. It is among the
Chaldeo-Babylonians that we discover its origin and find its most
numerous applications. The story of Khasisatra, in the poem of Uruk,
invariably proceeds hebdomadally. The violence of the Deluge lasts seven
days, and so does the stay of the vessel on Mount Nizir when the waters
begin to go down. It is true, indeed, that the building of the vessel
occupies eight instead of seven days; but we must add the time necessary
for the embarkation of provisions, animals, passengers, and this will
enable us to calculate the whole duration of Khasisatra's preparations
between the vision sent him by Êa and the moment when he closes the
vessel at the approach of the rain, as consisting of fourteen days or
two hebdomades. This being granted, if the poem does not state precisely
the intervals at which the three birds were sent forth, we are justified
in applying here the figures used by the Jehovist in Genesis, and
counting seven days between the first and second sending forth, seven
between the second and third, and seven, lastly, between the departure
of the bird which does not return, and the leaving the vessel. The whole
interval, then, between the warning of Êa and the sacrifice of
Khasisatra, amounts to seven hebdomades--plainly a number intentionally
assigned. And the whole duration of the Deluge is doubled by the sacred
writer, who was the author of the Jehovist document, 7 × 2 × 7, instead
of 7 × 7; that is, fourteen weeks with just three days over, owing to
the writer having employed the round numbers 40 + 40 = 80 days, instead
of the precise number seventy-seven days or eleven hebdomades (7 + 4 ×
7), to indicate the interval between the beginning of the diluvian rain
and the sending forth of the first bird. And now, if we keep count of
the time between the announcing of the cataclysm by Jahveh and its
commencement, the figures of the Jehovist are in all 7 × 2 × 7 + 7 days,
and those of the system of the Chaldean poem 7 × 7. But they are on both
sides combinations of seven.

Where the Chaldeo-Babylonian narrative and that of the Bible absolutely
diverge, is in their statement of what, after the Deluge, befell the
righteous man saved from it. According to the figures of the Elohist,
Noah lives on among his descendants for 350 years, and dies at the age
of 950. Khasisatra receives the privilege of immortality; is carried
away "to live like the gods," and transported into "a distant place,"
where the hero of Uruk goes to visit him in order to learn the secrets
of life and death. But in the Bible we have something of the same kind
told us of Noah's great-grandfather Enoch, who "walked with God, and was
not, because God took him." We see, then, that the Babylonian tradition
united in the person of Khasisatra facts which the Bible distributes
between Enoch and Noah, the two whom Holy Scripture equally
characterizes as having "walked with God."

The author of the treatise "On the Syrian Goddess," erroneously
attributed to Lucian, acquaints us with the diluvian tradition of the
Arameans, directly derived from that of Chaldea, as it was narrated in
the celebrated Sanctuary of Hierapolis or Bambyce.

    "The generality of people, he says, tell us that the founder of the
    temple was Deucalion Sisythes, that Deucalion in whose time the
    great inundation occurred. I have also heard the account given by
    the Greeks themselves of Deucalion; the myth runs thus:--The actual
    race of men is not the first, for there was a previous one, all the
    members of which perished. We belong to a second race, descended
    from Deucalion, and multiplied in the course of time. As to the
    former men, they are said to have been full of insolence and pride,
    committing many crimes, disregarding their oath, neglecting the
    rights of hospitality, unsparing to suppliants, accordingly they
    were punished by an immense disaster. All on a sudden enormous
    volumes of water issued from the earth, and rains of extraordinary
    abundance began to fall; the rivers left their beds, and the sea
    overflowed its shores; the whole earth was covered with water, and
    all men perished. Deucalion alone, because of his virtue and piety,
    was preserved alive to give birth to a new race. This is how he was
    saved:--He placed himself, his children, and his wives in a great
    coffer that he had, in which pigs, horses, lions, serpents, and all
    other terrestrial animals came to seek refuge with him. He received
    them all, and while they were in the coffer Zeus inspired them with
    reciprocal amity which prevented their devouring one another. In
    this manner, shut up within one single coffer, they floated as long
    as the waters remained in force. Such is the account given by the
    Greeks of Deucalion.

    "But to this which they equally tell, the people of Hierapolis add a
    marvellous narrative:--That in their country a great chasm opened,
    into which all the waters of the deluge poured. Then Deucalion
    raised an altar and dedicated a temple to Hera (Atargatis) close to
    this very chasm. I have seen it; it is very narrow, and situated
    under the temple. Whether it was once large and has now shrunk, I do
    not know; but I have seen it, and it is quite small. In memory of
    the event the following is the rite accomplished:--Twice a year sea
    water is brought to the temple. This is not only done by the
    priests, but numerous pilgrims come from the whole of Syria and
    Arabia, and even from beyond the Euphrates, bringing water. It is
    poured out in the temple and goes into the cleft which, narrow as it
    is, swallows up a considerable quantity. This is said to be in
    virtue of a religious law instituted by Deucalion to preserve the
    memory of the catastrophe and of the benefits that he received from
    the gods. Such is the ancient tradition of the temple."

It appears to me difficult not to recognize an echo of fables popular
in all Semitic countries about this chasm of Hierapolis, and the part it
played in the Deluge,--in the enigmatic expressions of the Koran
respecting the oven _tannur_ which began to bubble and disgorge water
all around at the commencement of the Deluge. We know that this _tannur_
has been the occasion of most grotesque imaginings of Mussulman
commentators, who had lost the tradition of the story to which Mahomet
made allusion. And, moreover, the Koran formally states that the waters
of the Deluge were absorbed in the bosom of the earth.


_Indian Traditions._--India, in its turn, affords us an account of the
Deluge, which by its poverty strikingly contrasts with that of the Bible
and the Chaldeans. Its most simple and ancient form is found in the
_Çatapatha Brâhmana_ of the Rig-Veda. It has been translated for the
first time by M. Max Müller.

    "One morning water for washing was brought to Manu, and when he had
    washed himself a fish remained in his hands. And it addressed these
    words to him:--'Protect me and I will save thee.' 'From what wilt
    thou save me?' 'A deluge will sweep all creatures away; it is from
    that I will save thee.' 'How shall I protect thee?' The fish
    replied: 'While we are small we run great dangers, for fish swallow
    fish. Keep me at first in a vase; when I become too large for it dig
    a basin to put me into. When I shall have grown still more, throw me
    into the ocean; then I shall be preserved from destruction.' Soon it
    grew a large fish. It said to Manu, 'The very year I shall have
    reached my full growth the Deluge will happen. Then build a vessel
    and worship me. When the waters rise, enter the vessel and I will
    save thee.'

    "After keeping him thus, Manu carried the fish to the sea. In the
    year indicated Manu built a vessel and worshipped the fish. And when
    the Deluge came he entered the vessel. Then the fish came swimming
    up to him, and Manu fastened the cable of the ship to the horn of
    the fish, by which means the latter made it pass over the mountain
    of the North. The fish said, 'I have saved thee; fasten the vessel
    to a tree that the water may not sweep it away while thou art on the
    mountain; and in proportion as the waters decrease thou shalt
    descend.' Manu descended with the waters, and this is what is called
    the _descent of Manu_ on the mountain of the North. The deluge had
    carried away all creatures, and Manu remained alone."

Next in order of date and complication, which always goes on loading the
narrative more and more with fantastic and parasitical details, comes
the version in the enormous epic of _Mahâbhârata_. That of the poem
called _Bhâgavata-Purâna_ is still more recent and fabulous. Finally,
the same tradition forms the subject of an entire poem of very low date,
the _Matsya-Purâna_, of which an analysis has been given by the great
Indian scholar, Wilson.

In the preface to the third volume of his edition of _Bhâgavata-Purâna_,
Eugene Burnouf has carefully compared the three narratives known at the
time he wrote (that of the _Çatapatha Brâhmana_ has been since
discovered), with a view to clearing up the origin of the Indian
tradition of the Deluge. He points out in a discussion that deserves to
remain a model of erudition and subtle criticism, that it is absolutely
wanting in the Vedic hymns, where we only find distant allusions to it
that seem to belong to a different kind of legend altogether, and also
that this tradition was primitively foreign to the essentially Indian
system of _Manvantaras_, or periodic destructions of the world. He
thence concludes that it must have been imported into India subsequently
to the adoption of this system, which is, however, very ancient, being
common to Brahmanism and Buddhism, and therefore inclines to look upon
it as a Semitic importation that took place in historic times, not,
indeed, of Genesis, but more probably of the Babylonian tradition.

The discovery of an original edition of the latter confirms the theory
of the French savant. The leading feature which distinguishes the Indian
narrative is the part assigned to a god who puts on the form of a fish,
in order to warn Manu, to guide his vessel and save him from the flood.
The nature of the metamorphosis is the only fundamental and primitive
point, for different versions vary as to the personality of the god who
assumes this form--the _Brâhmana_ leaves it uncertain, the _Mahâbhârata_
fixes on Brahma, and the compilers of the _Purânas_ on Vishnu. This is
the more remarkable that this metamorphosis into a fish _Matsyavatara_
remains isolated in Indian mythology, is foreign to its habitual
symbolism, and gives rise to no ulterior developments: no trace being
found in India of that fish-worship which was so important and
widespread among other ancient people. Burnouf rightly saw in this a
sign of importation from without, and especially of its Babylonian
origin, for classic testimony, recently confirmed by native monuments,
shows us that in the religion of Babylon the conception of
ichthyomorphic gods held a more prominent place than elsewhere. The part
played by the divine fish with regard to Manu in the Indian legend, is
attributed both by the Epic of Uruk and by Berosus to the god Êa, who is
also designated Schalman, "the Saviour." Now this god, whose type of
representation we now know certainly from Assyrian and Babylonian
monuments, is essentially the ichthyomorphic god, and his image almost
invariably combines the forms of fish and man. In astronomical tables
frequent mention is made of the catasterism of the "fish of Êa," which
is indubitably our sign Pisces, since it presides over the month Adar.
It is to a connection of ideas based on the diluvian record, that we
must attribute the placing of Pisces--primarily of the "fish of
Êa"--next to Aquarius, whose relation to the history of the Deluge we
have already pointed out. Here we have an evident allusion to the part
of Saviour attributed by the people who invented the Zodiac, to the god
Êa in the flood, and to the idea of an ichthyomorphic nature especially
belonging to this aspect of his personality. Êa is, moreover, the
Oannès, lawgiver of the fragments of Berosus, half-man, half-fish, whose
form, answering to the description given by the Chaldean history, has
been discovered in the sculptures of Assyrian palaces and on cylinders,
the Euahanès of Hygin, and the Oès of Helladios.[46]

Whenever we find among two different peoples one same legend, with as
_special_ a circumstance which does not spring _naturally_ and
_necessarily_ from the fundamental facts of the narrative, and when,
moreover, this circumstance is closely connected with the whole
religious conceptions of one of these peoples, and remains isolated and
alien from the customary symbolism of the other, criticism lays it down
as an absolute rule that we must conclude the legend to have been
transmitted from the one to the other in an already fixed form, to be a
foreign importation, superimposed, not fused with the national, and as
it were genial, traditions of the people, who have received, without
having created it.

We must also remark that in the _Purânas_ it is no longer Manu Vaivasata
that the divine fish saves from the Deluge, but a different personage,
the King of the Dâsas--_i.e._, fishers, Satyravata, "the man who loves
justice and truth," strikingly corresponding to the Chaldean Khasisatra.
Nor is the Puranic version of the Legend of the Deluge to be despised,
though it be of recent date and full of fantastic and often puerile
details. In certain aspects it is less Aryanized than that of _Brâhmana_
or than the _Mahâbhârata_, and above all it gives some circumstances
omitted in these earlier versions, which must yet have belonged to the
original foundation, since they appear in the Babylonian legend; a
circumstance preserved no doubt by the oral tradition--popular and not
Brahmanic--with which the _Purânas_ are so deeply imbued. This has been
already observed by Pictet, who lays due stress on the following passage
of the _Bhâgavata-Purâna_: "In _seven days_," said Vishnu to Satyravata,
"the three worlds shall be submerged." There is nothing like this in the
_Brâhmana_ nor the _Mahâbhârata_, but in Genesis the Lord says to Noah,
"_Yet seven days_ and I will cause it to rain upon the earth;" and a
little further we read, "_After seven days_ the waters of the flood were
upon the earth." And we have just pointed out the parts played by
hebdomades as successive periods in that system of the duration of the
flood, adopted by the author of the Jehovist documents inserted in
Genesis, as well as by the compiler of the Chaldean Epic of Uruk. Nor
must we pay less attention to what the _Bhâgavata-Purâna_ says of the
directions given by the fish-god to Satyravata for the placing of the
sacred Scriptures in a safe place in order to preserve them from
Hayagrîva, a marine horse dwelling in the abyss, and of the conflict of
the god with this Hayagrîva, who had stolen the Vedas and thus produced
the cataclysm by disturbing the order of the world. This circumstance
too is wanting in the more ancient compositions, even in the
_Mahâbhârata_, but it is a most important one, and cannot be looked on
as a spontaneous product of Indian soil, for we recognize in it under
an Indian garb the very tradition of the interment of the sacred
writings at Sippara by Khasisatra, such as we have it in the fragments
of Berosus.

It is the Chaldean form, then, of the tradition that the Indians have
adopted owing to communications which the commercial relations between
the countries render historically natural, and they afterwards amplified
it with the exuberance peculiar to their imagination. But they must have
adopted it all the more readily because it agreed with a tradition,
which under a somewhat different form had been brought by their
ancestors from the primitive cradle of the Aryan race. That the
recollection of the flood did indeed form part of the original
groundwork of the legends as to the origin of the world held by this
great race, is beyond all doubt. For if Indians have accepted the
Chaldean form of the story, so nearly allied to that of Genesis, all
other nations of Aryan descent show themselves possessed of entirely
original versions of the cataclysm which cannot be held to have been
borrowed either from Babylonian or Hebrew sources.


_Traditions of other Aryan Peoples._--Among the Iranians, in the sacred
books containing the fundamental Zoroastrian doctrines, and dating very
far back, we meet with a tradition which must assuredly be looked upon
as a variety of that of the Deluge, though possessing a special
character, and diverging in some essential particulars from those we
have been examining. It relates how Yima, who in the original and
primitive conception was the father of the human race, was warned by
Ahuramazda, the good deity, of the earth being about to be devastated by
a flood. The god ordered Yima to construct a refuge, a square garden,
_vara_, protected by an enclosure, and to cause the germs of men,
beasts, and plants to enter it, in order to escape annihilation.
Accordingly, when the inundation occurred, the garden of Yima with all
that it contained was alone spared, and the message of safety was
brought thither by the bird Karshipta, the envoy of Ahuramazda.[47]

A comparison has also been made, but erroneously as I think, between the
Biblical and Chaldean Deluge and a story only found complete in the
_Bundahesh-pahlavi_;[48] though, as a few of the older books contain
allusions to some of its circumstances;[49] it must date further back
than this edition of it, which is recent. Ahuramazda determines to
destroy the Khafçtras--_i.e._, the maleficent spirits created by
Angrômainyus, the spirit of evil: Tistrya, the genius of the star
Sirius, descends at his command to earth, and, assuming the form of a
man, causes it to rain for ten days. The waters cover the earth, and all
maleficent beings are drowned. A violent wind dries the earth, but some
germs of the evil spirit's creation remain, and may reappear, therefore
Tistrya descends again under the form of a white horse, and produces a
second Deluge by another rainfall of ten days. To prevent him
accomplishing his task, the demon Apusha assumes the appearance of a
black horse, and engages in combat; but he is struck with lightning by
Ahuramazda, as well as the demon Çpendjaghra, who had come to his aid.
Finally, to bring about the complete destruction of evil, Tistrya
descends the third time under the form of a bull, and produces a third
Deluge by a third rainfall of ten days, after which the waters divide to
form the four great and the twenty-four small seas. Now all this relates
to a cosmogonic fact, anterior to the creation of man. The Khafçtras,
from which Tistrya undertakes to purge the earth, are the hurtful and
venomous beasts created by Angrômainyus which fervent Mazedans make it a
duty to destroy in our actual world--such as scorpions, lizards, toads,
serpents, rats, &c. There is no allusion here to humanity, or the
punishment of its sins. If we were bent on finding in our Bible any
parallel to this first rain falling on the surface of the earth--which
both destroys the hurtful creatures by which it was infested and renders
it productive of a fertile vegetation--we should turn, not to the
account of the Deluge, but to what is said in Gen. ii. 5, 6.

The Greeks had two principal legends as to the cataclysm by which
primitive humanity was destroyed. The first was connected with the name
of Ogyges, the most ancient of the kings of Bœotia or Attica; a quite
mythical personage, lost in the night of ages, his very name seemingly
derived from one signifying deluge in Aryan idioms, in Sanscrit _Ângha_.
It is said that in his time the whole land was covered by a flood, whose
waters reached the sky, and from which he, together with some
companions, escaped in a vessel.

The second tradition is the Thessalian legend of Deucalion. Zeus having
worked to destroy the men of the age of bronze, with whose crimes he was
wroth, Deucalion, by the advice of Prometheus, his father, constructed a
coffer, in which he took refuge with his wife, Pyrrha. The Deluge came,
the chest or coffer floated at the mercy of the waves for nine days and
nine nights, and was finally stranded on Mount Parnassus. Deucalion and
Pyrrha leave it, offer sacrifice, and according to the command of Zeus
re-people the world by throwing behind them "the bones of the
earth"--namely, stones, which change into men. This Deluge of Deucalion
is in Grecian tradition what most resembles a universal Deluge. Many
authors affirm that it extended to the whole earth, and that the whole
human race perished. At Athens, in memory of the event, and to appease
the manes of its victims, a ceremony called _Hydrophoria_ was observed,
having so close a resemblance to that in use at Hierapolis in Syria,
that we can hardly fail to look upon it as a Syro-Phœnician importation,
and the result of an assimilation established in remote antiquity
between the Deluge of Deucalion and that of Khasisatra, as described by
the author of the treatise "On the Syrian Goddess."[50] Close to the
temple of the Olympian Zeus a fissure in the soil was shown, in length
but one cubit, through which it was said the waters of the Deluge had
been swallowed up. Thus, every year, on the third day of the festival of
the Anthestéria, a day of mourning consecrated to the dead,--that is, on
the thirteenth of the month of Anthestérion, towards the beginning of
March--it was customary, as at Bambyce, to pour water into the fissure,
together with flour mixed with honey, poured also into the trench dug to
the west of the tomb, in the funereal sacrifices of the Athenians.

Others, on the contrary, limit Deucalion's flood to Greece, even declare
that it only destroyed the larger portion of the community, a great many
men saving themselves on the highest mountains. Thus the Delphian legend
told how the inhabitants of that town, following the wolves in their
flight, had taken refuge in a cave on the summit of Parnassus, where
they built the town of Lycorea, whose foundation is, on the other hand,
attributed by the Chronicle of Paros to Deucalion, after the
reproduction by him of a new human race. Later mythographers necessarily
adopted this idea of several points of simultaneous escape from a desire
to reconcile the local legends of several places in Greece, which named
some other than Deucalion as the hero saved from the flood. For
instance, at Megara it was the eponym of the city Megaros, son of Zeus
and of one of the nymphs Sithnides, who, warned by the cry of cranes of
the imminence of the danger, took refuge on Mount Geranien. Again, there
was the Thessalian Cerambos, who was said to have escaped the flood by
rising into the air on wings given him by the nymphs, and it was
Perirrhoos, son of Eolus, that Zeus Naios had preserved at Dodona. For
the inhabitants of the Isle of Cos the hero of the Deluge was Merops,
son of Hyas, who there assembled under his rule the remnant of humanity
preserved with him. The traditions of Rhodes only supposed the
Telchines, those of Crete Jasion, to have escaped the cataclysm. In
Samothracia the same character was attributed to Saon, said to be the
son of Zeus or of Hermes; he seems only to have been a heroic form of
the Hermès Saos or Sôcos, the object of special worship in the island, a
divinity in whom M. Philippe Berges recognizes with good reason a
Phœnician importation, the Sakan of Canaan identified elsewhere with
Hermes Dardanos, supposed to have arrived in Samothracia immediately
after these events, being driven by the Deluge from Arcadia.

In all these flood stories of Greece we cannot doubt that the tradition
of a cataclysm fatal to the whole of humanity--a tradition common to all
Aryan peoples--was mixed up, as Knobel rightly observes, more or less
precisely with local catastrophes produced by extraordinary overflows of
lakes or rivers, or the rupture of their natural embankments, the
sinking of some portions of the sea-coast, or tidal waves consequent
upon earthquakes or sudden upheavals of the ocean bed. Such events were
frequent in Greece, in the district between Egypt and Palestine, near
Pelusium and Mount Casius, as well as in the Cimbric Chersonese. The
Greeks used to relate how often their country had in primitive ages been
the theatre of such catastrophes. Istros numbered four of these, one of
which had opened the Straits of the Bosphorus and Hellespont, when the
waters of the Euxine, rushing into the Ægean, submerged the islands and
neighbouring coasts. This is evidently the Deluge of Samothracia; where
the inhabitants who succeeded in saving themselves did so only by
gaining the highest peak of the mountain that rises there; then, in
gratitude for their preservation, consecrated the whole island by
surrounding its shores with a belt of altars dedicated to the gods. In
like manner the tradition of the Deluge of Ogyges seems connected with
the recollection of an extraordinary rise of the Lake Capaïs, inundating
the whole of the great Bœotian Valley, a recollection amplified
later--as is ever the case with legends--by applying to the local
disaster all the details popularly told of the primitive Deluge which
had taken place before the separation of the ancestors of the two races,
Semitic and Aryan. It is also probable that some event that had occurred
in Thessaly, or rather in the region of Parnassus, determined the
localization of the legend of Deucalion. Nevertheless, it always
retained, as we have seen, a more general character than the others,
whether the Deluge be extended to the whole earth or limited to the
whole of Greece.

Be that as it may, the different narratives were reconciled by admitting
three successive Deluges, those of Ogyges, Deucalion, and Dardanos. The
general opinion pronounced the former the most ancient, placing it 600
or 250 years before that of Deucalion. But this chronology is far from
being universally accepted; and the inhabitants of Samothracia maintain
their Deluge to have been the earliest. Christian chronographers of the
third and fourth century, as, for instance, Julius Africanus and
Eusebius, adopted the Hellenic dates of the Deluges of Ogyges and
Deucalion, and inscribed them in their records as different events from
the Mosaic Deluge, which, for their part, they fixed at 1000 years
before that of Ogyges.

In Phrygia the diluvian tradition was as natural as in Greece. The town
of Apamea derived thence its surname _Kibotos_, or ark, and claimed to
be the place where the Ark had stopped. Iconium had the like
pretensions. In the same way the people of Milyas, in Armenia, showed
the fragments of the Ark on the top of the mountain called Baris; and
these were also exhibited in early Christian times to pilgrims on
Ararat, as Berosus tells us that in his day the remnants of the vessel
of Khasisatra were visited on the Gordyan range.

In the second and third centuries of our era, by means of the syncretic
infiltration of Jewish and Christian traditions even into minds still
attached to Paganism, the sacerdotal authorities of Apamea and Phrygia
had coins struck bearing an open ark, in which the patriarch and his
wife were seen receiving back the dove with the olive branch, and side
by side were the two same personages, having left the Ark to retake
possession of the earth. On the Ark is inscribed the name ΝΩΕ, the very
form the name assumes in the Septuagint. Thus, at this time the Pagan
priesthood of the Phrygian city had, we see, adopted the Biblical
narrative, even down to its names, and had grafted it on the old native
tradition. They related that a short while before the Deluge there
reigned a holy man called Annacos, who had predicted it, and occupied
the throne more than 300 years, an evident reproduction of the Enoch of
the Bible, who walked with God for 365 years.

As to the branch of the Celts--in the bardic poems of Wales, we have a
tradition of the Deluge, which, although recent under the concise form
of the Triads, is still deserving of attention. As usual, the legend is
localized in the country, and the Deluge counts among three terrible
catastrophes of the island of Prydain, or Britain, the other two
consisting of devastation by fire and by drought.

    "The first of these events," it is said, "was the irruption of
    Llyn-llion, or 'the lake of waves,' and the inundation (_bawdd_) of
    the whole country, by which all mankind was drowned with the
    exception of Dwyfan and Dwyfach, who saved themselves in a vessel
    without rigging, and it was by them that the island of Prydain was

Pictet here observes--

    "Although the triads in their actual form hardly date further than
    the thirteenth or fourteenth century, some of them are undoubtedly
    connected with very ancient traditions, and nothing here points to a
    borrowing from Genesis.

    "But it is not so, perhaps, with another triad[52] speaking of the
    vessel Nefydd-naf-Neifion, which at the time of the overflow of
    Llyn-llion, bore a pair of all living creatures, and rather too much
    resembles the ark of Noah. The very name of the patriarch may have
    suggested this triple epithet, obscure as to its meaning, but
    evidently formed on the principle of Cymric alliteration. In the
    same triad we have the enigmatic story of the horned oxen (_ychain
    bannog_) of Hu the mighty, who drew out of Llyn-llion the _avanc_
    (beaver or crocodile?) in order that the lake should not overflow.
    The meaning of these enigmas could only be hoped from deciphering
    the chaos of bardic monuments of the Welsh middle age; but meanwhile
    we cannot doubt that the Cymri possessed an indigenous tradition of
    the Deluge."

We also find a vestige of the same tradition in the Scandinavian
Ealda.[53] But here the story is combined with a cosmogonic myth. The
three sons of Borr, Othin, Wili, and We, grandsons of Buri, the first
man, slay Ymir, the father of the Hrimthursar or Ice giants, and his
body serves them for the construction of the world. Blood flows from his
wounds in such abundance that all the race of giants is drowned in it,
except Bergelmir, who saves himself, with his wife, in a boat, and
reproduces the race. "Thus," Pictet again observes, "the myth only
belongs to the general tradition through these last features, by which,
however, we trace it up to a common source."

Of all European peoples the Lithuanians were the last to embrace
Christianity, and their language remains nearest to the original Aryan.
They have a legend of the Deluge, the groundwork of which appears very
ancient, although it has assumed the simple character of a popular tale,
and some of its details may have been borrowed from Genesis at the time
of the first Christian missions. According to it[54] the god Pramzimras,
seeing the whole earth to be full of iniquity, sends two giants, Wandu
and Wêjas (fire and wind), to lay it waste. These overthrew everything
in their fury, and only a few men saved themselves on a mountain.
Pramzimras, who was engaged in eating celestial walnuts, dropped a shell
near the mountain, and in it the men took refuge, the giants respecting
it. Having escaped from the calamity, they afterwards disperse, and only
one very aged couple remain in the country, greatly bewailing their
childless condition. Pramzimras, to console them, sends his rainbow and
bids them jump "on the bones of the earth," which curiously recalls the
oracle to Deucalion. The two old people jump nine times, and nine pairs
are the result, who became the ancestors of the nine Lithuanian tribes.


_Egyptian Traditions._--While the tradition of the Deluge holds so
considerable a place in the legendary memories of all branches of the
Aryan race, the monuments and original texts of Egypt, with their many
cosmogonic speculations, have not afforded one, even distant, allusion
to this cataclysm. When the Greeks told the Egyptian priests of the
Deluge of Deucalion, their reply was that they had been preserved from
it as well as from the conflagration produced by Phaëton; they even
added that the Hellenes were childish in attaching so much importance to
that event, as there had been several other local catastrophes
resembling it. According to a passage in Manetho, much suspected,
however, of being an interpolation, Thoth or Hermes Trismegistus had
himself, before the cataclysm, inscribed on stelæ in hieroglyphical and
sacred language the principles of all knowledge. After it the second
Thoth translated into the vulgar tongue the contents of these stelæ.
This would be the only Egyptian mention of the Deluge, the same Manetho
not speaking of it in what remains to us of his "Dynasties," his only
complete authentic work. The silence of all other myths of the Pharaonic
religion on this head render it very likely that the above is merely a
foreign tradition, recently introduced, and no doubt of Asiatic and
Chaldean origin. "Thus," says M. Maury, "the Seriadic land, where the
passage in question places these hieroglyphic columns, might very well
be no other than Chaldea. This tradition, though not in the Bible,
existed as a popular legend among the Jews at the beginning of our era,
which confirms our supposition; as the Hebrews might have learnt it
during the Babylonian captivity. Josephus tells us that the patriarch
Seth, in order that wisdom and astronomical knowledge should not perish,
erected, in prevision of the double destruction by fire and water
predicted by Adam, two columns, the one in brick, the other in stone, on
which this knowledge was engraved, and which subsisted in the Seriadic
country." This history is evidently only a variety of the Chaldean
legend of the terra-cotta tables bearing the divine revelations, and the
principles of all sciences which Êa ordered Khasisatra to bury before
the Deluge, "in the city of the Sun at Sippara," as we have had it above
in the extracts from Berosus.

Nevertheless, the Egyptians did admit a destruction by the gods of
primal men on account of their rebellion and their sins. This event was
related in a chapter of the sacred books of Thoth, those famous Hermetic
books of the Egyptian priesthood which are graven on the sides of one of
the inmost chambers of the funereal hypogeum of Seti the First at
Thebes. The text has been published and translated by M. Edouard

The scene is laid at the close of the reign of the god Râ, the earliest
terrestrial reign, according to the system of the priests of Thebes, the
second, according to that of the priests of Memphis, which is the one
followed by Manetho, who placed at the very origin of things the reign
of Phtah, previous to that of Râ. Irritated by the impiety and crimes of
the men he has made, the god assembles the other gods to hold counsel
with them in profound secrecy, "so that men should not see it, nor their
heart be afraid."

    "Said by Râ to Nun:[56] 'Thou, the eldest of the gods, of whom I am
    born, and ye ancient gods, here are the men who are born from
    myself; they speak words against me, tell me what you would do in
    the matter; lo, I have waited, and have not slain them before
    hearing your words.'

    "Said by the Majesty of Nun: 'My son Râ, a greater god than he who
    has made him and created him, I stand in great fear of thee; do thou
    deliberate alone.'

    "Said by the Majesty of Râ: 'Lo, they take to flight through the
    country, and their hearts are afraid....'

    "Said by the Gods: 'Let thy face permit, and let those men be
    smitten who plot evil things, thine enemies, and let none [of them

A goddess, whose name has unfortunately disappeared, but who seems to
have been Tefnut, identified with Hathor and Sekhet, is then sent to
accomplish the sentence of destruction.

    "This goddess left, and slew the men upon the earth.

    "Said by the Majesty of this God: 'Come in peace, Hathor; thou hast
    done [what was ordained thee.]'

    "Said by this Goddess: 'Thou art living; for I have been stronger
    than men, and my heart is satisfied.'

    "Said by the Majesty of Râ: 'I am living, for I will rule over them
    [and I will complete] their ruin.'

    "And lo, Sekhet, during several nights, trod their blood under-foot
    as far as the town of Hâ-klinen-su (Héracléopolis.)"

But the massacre ended, the anger of Râ was appeased; he began to repent
of what he had done. A great expiatory sacrifice succeeded in finally
calming him. Fruits were gathered throughout Egypt, bruised, and their
juice mingled with human blood, 7000 pitchers being filled with it and
presented to the god.

    "And lo, the Majesty of Râ, the god of Upper and Lower Egypt, comes
    with the gods in three days of sailing to see these vases of drink,
    after he had ordered the goddess to slay men.

    "Said by the Majesty of Râ: 'This is well; I will protect men
    because of it.' Said by Râ: 'I raise my hand concerning this, to say
    that I will no more destroy men.'

    "The Majesty of Râ, the god of Upper and Lower Egypt, commanded in
    the middle of the night to overthrow the liquid in the vases, and
    the fields were completely filled with water by the will of this
    god. The goddess arrived in the morning, and found the fields full
    of water. Her face grew joyous, and she drank abundantly and went
    away satisfied. She no more perceived any men.

    "Said by the Majesty of Râ to the goddess: 'Come in peace, gracious

    "And he caused the young priestesses of Amu to be born.

    "Said by the Majesty of Râ to this goddess: 'Libations shall be made
    to her at each of the festivals of the new year, under the
    superintendence of my priestesses.'

    "Hence it comes that libations are made under the superintendence of
    the priestesses of Hathor by all men since the ancient days."

Nevertheless, some men have escaped the destruction commanded by Râ, and
renewed the population of the earth. As for the solar god who reigns
over the world, he feels himself old, sick and weary; he has had enough
of living among men, whom he regrets not to have completely annihilated,
but has sworn henceforth to spare.

    "Said by the Majesty of Râ: 'There is a smarting pain that torments
    me; what is it then that hurts me?' Said by the Majesty of Râ: 'I am
    living, but my heart is weary of being with them [men], and I have
    in no way destroyed them. That destruction is not one that I have
    made myself.'

    "Said by the gods who accompany him: 'Away with lassitude, thou hast
    obtained all thou didst desire.'"

The god Râ decides, however, to accept the help of the men of the new
human race who offer themselves to him to combat his enemies, and a
great battle takes place, out of which they come victorious. But in
spite of this success the god, disgusted with earthly life, resolves to
quit it for ever, and has himself carried into heaven by the goddess
Nut, who takes the form of a cow. Then he creates a region of delight,
the fields of Aalu, the Elysium of Egyptian mythology, which he peoples
with stars. Entering into rest, he assigns to different gods the
government of different parts of the world. Shu, who is to succeed him
as king, is to administer celestial matters with Nut; Seb and Nun
receive the charge of the things of earth and water. Finally, Râ, a
sovereign who has voluntarily abdicated, goes to dwell with Thoth, his
favourite son, on whom he has bestowed the superintendence of the

Such is this strange narrative, "in which," as M. Naville has well said,
"in the midst of fantastic and often puerile inventions, we do
nevertheless find the two terms of existence as understood by the
ancient Egyptians. Râ begins with earth, and passing through heaven
stops in the region of profundity, Ament, in which he apparently wishes
to sojourn. This then is a symbolic and religious representation of
life, which for every Egyptian--and especially for a royal
conqueror--had to begin and end like the sun. This explains the chapter
being inscribed in a tomb."

Hence it was the last portion of the narrative--which we can analyse but
very briefly--the abdication of Râ and his retreat, first, in heaven,
next in the Ament, a symbol of death which is to be followed by
resurrection as the setting of the sun by its rising--it is this which
constituted its interest in the conception of the doctrine of a future
life, illustrated in the decoration of the interior of the tomb of Seti
I. For our present purpose, on the contrary, it is the beginning of the
story which constitutes its importance, it is that destruction of primal
humanity by the gods of which no mention has been hitherto found
elsewhere. Although the means of destruction employed by Râ are quite
dissimilar, although he does not proceed by submersion but by a massacre
in which the lion-headed goddess Tefnut or Sekhet, the dreadful form of
Hathor, is the agent, the other sides of the story bear a sufficiently
striking analogy to that of the Mosaic or Chaldean Deluge to show that
it is the special and very individual form assumed in Egypt by that
tradition. In both we have human corruption exciting divine wrath, and
punished by a divinely ordained annihilation of the race, from which
there escapes but a very small number destined to give birth to a new
humanity. Finally, after the event an expiatory sacrifice appeases the
celestial anger, and a solemn covenant is made between men and the
deity, who swears never so to destroy them again. To me, the agreement
of these principal features outweighs the divergence in detail. And we
have also to observe how singularly akin is the part ascribed by the
Egyptian priest to Râ with that assigned in the epic poem of Uruk to the
god Bel, in the deluge of Khasisatra. The Egyptians believed, as did
other nations, in the destruction of mankind; but as inundation meant
for them prosperity and life, they changed the primitive tradition; the
human race, instead of perishing by water, was otherwise exterminated;
and the inundation--that crowning benefit to the valley of the
Nile--became in their eyes the sign that the wrath of Râ was appeased.


_American Stories of the Flood._

    "It is a very remarkable fact," says M. Alfred Maury, "that we find
    in America traditions of the Deluge coming infinitely nearer to that
    of the Bible and the Chaldean religion than among any people of the
    Old World. It is difficult to suppose that the emigration that
    certainly took place from Asia into North America by the Kourile and
    Aleutian islands, and still does so in our day, should have brought
    in these memories, since no trace is found of them among those
    Mongol or Siberian populations,[57] which were fused with the
    natives of the New World.... No doubt certain American nations, the
    Mexicans and Peruvians, had reached a very advanced social condition
    at the time of the Spanish conquest, but this civilization had a
    special character, and seems to have been developed on the soil
    where it flourished. Many very simple inventions, such as the use of
    weights, were unknown to these people, and this shows that their
    knowledge was not derived from India or Japan. The attempts that
    have been made to trace the origin of Mexican civilization to Asia
    have not as yet led to any sufficiently conclusive facts. Besides,
    had Buddhism, which we doubt, made its way into America, it could
    not have introduced a myth not found in its own Scriptures.[58] The
    cause of these similarities between the diluvian traditions of the
    nations of the New World and that of the Bible remains therefore

I have particular pleasure in quoting these words by a man of immense
erudition, because he does not belong to orthodox writers, and will not
therefore be thought biassed by a preconceived opinion. Others also, no
less rationalistic than he, have pointed out this likeness between
American traditions of the Deluge and those of the Bible and the

The most important among the former are the Mexican, for they appear to
have been definitively fixed by symbolic and mnemonic paintings before
any contact with Europeans. According to these documents, the Noah of
the Mexican cataclysm was Coxcox, called by certain peoples Teocipactli
or Tezpi. He had saved himself, together with his wife Xochiquetzal, in
a bark, or, according to other traditions, on a raft, made of cypress
wood (_Cupressus disticha_). Paintings retracing the deluge of Coxcox
have been discovered among the Aztecs, Miztecs, Zapotecs, Tlascaltecs,
and Mechoacaneses. The tradition of the latter is still more strikingly
in conformity with the story as we have it in Genesis and in Chaldean
sources. It tells how Tezpi embarked in a spacious vessel with his wife,
his children, and several animals, and grain, whose preservation was
essential to the subsistence of the human race. When the great god
Tezcatlipoca decreed that the waters should retire, Tezpi sent a vulture
from the bark. The bird, feeding on the carcases with which the earth
was laden, did not return. Tezpi sent out other birds, of which the
humming-bird only came back with a leafy branch in its beak. Then Tezpi,
seeing that the country began to vegetate, left his bark on the mountain
of Colhuacan.

The document, however, that gives the most valuable information as to
the cosmogony of the Mexicans is one known as "Codex Vaticanus," from
the library where it is preserved. It consists of four symbolic
pictures, representing the four ages of the world preceding the actual
one. They were copied at Chobula from a manuscript anterior to the
conquest, and accompanied by the explanatory commentary of Pedro de los
Rios, a Dominican monk, who in 1566, less than fifty years after the
arrival of Cortez, devoted himself to the research of indigenous
traditions as being necessary to his missionary work.

The first age is marked with the cipher 13×400+6, or 5206, which
Alexander von Humboldt understands as giving the number of years of the
period, and Abbé Brasseur de Bourbourg as the date of its commencement,
from a proleptic era going back from the period of the execution of the
manuscript. This age is called _Tlatonatiuh_, "Sun of Earth." It is that
of the giants, or Quinames, the earliest inhabitants of Anahuac, whose
end was destruction by famine.

The number of the second age is 12×400+4, or 4804, and it is called
_Tlatonatiuh_, "Sun of Fire." It closes with the descent on Earth of
Xiuhteuchli, the god of fire. Mankind are all transformed into birds,
and only thus escape the conflagration. Nevertheless, one human pair
find refuge in a cave, and repeople the world.

As to the third age, _Ehécatonatiuh_, "Sun of Wind," its number is
10×400+10, or 4010. Its final catastrophe is a terrible hurricane raised
by Quetzalcoatl, the "god of the air." With few exceptions, men are
metamorphosed into monkeys.

Then comes the fourth age, _Atonatiuh_, "Sun of Water," whose number is
10×400+8, or 4008. It ends by a great inundation, a veritable deluge.
All mankind are changed into fish, with the exception of one man and his
wife, who save themselves in a bark made of the trunk of a cypress-tree.
The picture represents Matlalcueye, goddess of waters, and consort of
Tlaloc, god of rain, as darting down towards earth. Coxcox and
Xochiquetzal, the two human beings preserved, are seen seated on a
tree-trunk and floating in the midst of the waters. This flood is
represented as the last cataclysm that devastates the earth.

All this is most important, as a mind of the order of Humboldt's did not
hesitate to acknowledge. However, M. Girard de Realle wrote quite

    "The myth of the deluge has been met with in several parts of
    America, and Christian writers have not failed to see in it a
    reminiscence of the Biblical tradition, nay, in connection with the
    pyramid of Chobula, they have found traces of the Tower of Babel. We
    shall not waste time in pointing out how out of a fish-god, Coxcox,
    among the Chichimecs, Teocipactli among the Aztecs, and a goddess of
    flowers, Xochiquetzal, it was easy to concoct the Mexican figures of
    Noah and his wife by joining on to them the story of the ark and the
    dove. It is enough to observe that all these legends have only been
    collected and published at a relatively recent period.[59] The first
    chroniclers, so cautious already despite their honest simplicity,
    such as Sahagun, Mendieta, Olmos, and the Hispano-indigenous
    authors, such as the Tezcucan Ixthilxochitl and the Tlascaltec
    Camargo, never breathe a word of stories they could not have failed
    to bring to light, had they existed in their days. Lastly, we find
    in Mr. Bancroft's[60] work a criticism of these legends, due to Don
    José Fernando Ramirez, keeper of the National Museum, which proves
    incontestably that all these stories spring from all too ready and
    tendency-fraught interpretations of old Mexican paintings, which
    according to him only represent episodes in the migration of Aztecs
    around the central lakes of the plateau of Anahuac."

I much fear that the _tendency_ here is not on the side of writers who
are looked on as ground to powder by the epithet Christian; which,
indeed, be it said in passing, might well surprise a few among them. And
this tendency, when resolved at any cost to attack the Bible, is as
anti-scientific as when grasping at any uncritical argument in its
defence. No doubt the identical character of Xochiquetzal or
Maciulxochiquetzal, as goddess of the fertilizing rain and of
vegetation, with that of Chalchihuitlicué or Mallalcuéyé, is a
well-known fact, more certain even than the character of fish-god of
Coxcox or Teocipactli. But the transformation of gods into heroes is a
very common fact in all polytheisms, and most common in the kind of
unconscious euhemerism from which infant peoples never free themselves.
There is therefore nothing here to contradict the fact that these two
divine personages, contemplated as heroes, may be taken as the two
survivors of the Flood, and the ancestors of the new humanity. As to the
theory of Don José Ramirez, about the symbolic pictures that have been
interpreted as expressing the diluvian tradition, it is very ingenious
and scientifically presented, but not so absolutely proved as M. Girard
de Realle considers. But even granting its incontestability, it only
removes part of the evidence which may have been unintentionally forced
by those naturally disposed to see in it a parallel to Genesis; as for
instance, with regard to the sending out the birds by Tezpi. Still the
existence of the tradition among Mexican peoples would not be shaken,
for it rests upon a whole of indubitable testimony, confirming in a
striking manner the interpretation hitherto given of the "Codex

The valuable work in the Aztec language, and in Latin letters, compiled
by a native, subsequently to the Spanish conquest, called _Codex
Chimalpopoca_ by Abbé Brasseur de Bourbourg, who gives an analysis and
partial translation of it in the first volume of his "Histoire des
Nations Civilisees du Mexique," contains in its third portion a history
of the suns, or successive ages of the world. Each takes its name from
the way in which humanity is destroyed at its close. The first is the
age of jaguars, who devour the primordial giants;[61] the second, the
age of wind; at its close men lost themselves, and were carried off by
the hurricane, and transformed themselves into monkeys. Houses, woods,
everything was swept away by the wind. Then comes the age of fire, whose
sun is called Tlalocan-Teuctli, "Lord of the lower regions," the usual
appellation of Mictlanteuctli, the Mexican Pluto, which seems to point
to the idea of an age of special volcanic activity. At its close,
mankind is destroyed by a rain of fire, and such as do not perish escape
under the form of birds. Finally, the fourth age is that of water,
which immediately precedes our present epoch, and closes with the

Here is the narrative according to Abbé Brasseur's version, held correct
by Americanists:--

    "This is the sun called _Nahui-atl_, '4 water.'[62] Now the water
    was tranquil for forty years, plus twelve, and men lived for the
    third and fourth times. When the sun _Nahui-atl_ came there had
    passed away four hundred years, plus two ages, plus seventy-six
    years. Then all mankind was lost and drowned and found themselves
    changed into fish. The sky came nearer the water. In a single day
    all was lost and the day _Nahui-xochitl_ '4 flower,' destroyed all
    our flesh.

    "And that year was that of _cé-calli_, '1 house,'[63] and the day
    _Nahui-atl_ all was lost. Even the mountains sank into the water,
    and the water remained tranquil for fifty-two springs.

    "Now at the end of the year the god Titlacahuan had warned Nata and
    his spouse Nena, saying: 'Make no more wine of Agave, but begin to
    hollow out a great cypress, and you will enter into it when in the
    month Tozontli the water approaches the sky.'

    "Then they entered in, and when the god had closed the door he said:
    'Thou shalt eat but one ear of maize and thy wife one also.'

    "But as soon as they had finished they went out, and the water
    remained calm, for the wood no longer moved, and on opening it they
    began to see fish.

    "Then they lit a fire, by rubbing together pieces of wood, and they
    roasted fish.

    "The gods Citlallinicué and Citlalatonac instantly looking down
    said: 'Divine Lord, what is that fire that is making there. Why do
    they thus smoke the sky?' At once Titlacahuan-Tezcatlipoca
    descended. He began to chide, saying, 'Who has made this fire here?'
    And seizing hold of the fish he shaped their loins and heads, and
    they were transformed into dogs (_chichime_)."

This last touch is a satire on the Chichimecs, or "barbarians of the
North," founders of the kingdom of Tezcuco. It proves the decidedly
indigenous character of the story, and removes any such suspicion of a
Biblical imitation, as the date might have led to.

The manuscript, written in Spanish by Motolina, who belonged to the
generation of the "conquistadores," has hitherto only been known by
extracts given from it by Abbé Brasseur in his "Recherches sur les
Ruines de Palenque," a work containing many useful documents, though
already pervaded by the delusions which towards the end of his career so
strangely misled this learned pioneer of Mexican antiquarianism. Here,
too, we find the theory of the four suns, or four ages, given in the
same order as by the author of the "Codex Chimalpopoca."

The first is called "age of Tezcatlipoca," because that god had then
added on a half to the sun, which was only half luminous, or had "made
himself sun in its place." This was the age of the Quinames, or giants,
who were almost all exterminated by famine. After this, Quetzlcoatl, the
god of the air, having armed himself with a great stick, struck
Tezcatlipoca with it, threw him into the water, and "and made himself
sun in his place." The fallen god, transforming himself into a jaguar,
devoured such of the Quinames as had escaped from the famine. The
statements of the "Codex Vaticanus" and the "Codex Chimalpopoca" as to
the final catastrophe of the world's first age, are thus reconciled by
this last narrative.

Motolina calls the two next ages those of wind and fire; they are closed
in the way we have seen.

The fourth is the age of the "Sun of Water," placed under the patronage
of the goddess Chalchihuitlicué. The Deluge terminates it, and after
this last cataclysm, we enter upon our present era.

We come next to the "History of the Chichimecs," by Don Fernando d'Alva
Ixtlilxochitl, descendant of the old pagan kings of Tezcuco, whose
pretended silence on the subject we have seen appealed to as disproving
the authenticity of these Mexican diluvian traditions. In the first
chapter of his first book, Ixtlilxochitl relates the story of the cosmic
ages according to the traditions of his native city. He only gives four
in all, including the actual period. The first is the _Atonatiuh_, or
"Sun of Waters," which begins with the creation, and ends with a
universal deluge. Then comes the _Thlachitonatiuh_, or "Sun of Earth,"
when the giants called Quinametziu-Tzocuilhioxime lived, descendants of
the survivors of the first epoch. A frightful earthquake, overthrowing
the mountains, and destroying the greater part of the dwellers on earth,
closes this age. It is in the third age, _Ehecatonatiuh_, "Sun of Wind,"
that Olmecs and Xicalanques came from the east to settle in the south of
Mexico. At first they were conquered by the remnant of the Quinames, but
ended by massacring these. Quetzalcoatl next appears as a religious
reformer, but is not listened to by men, whose indocility is punished by
the appalling hurricane during which such as escaped became monkeys.
Then begins the present age, _Tlatonatiuh_, or "Sun of Fire," thus
called because it is to end by a rain of fire. We see, therefore, that
Ixtlilxochitl was perfectly acquainted with the diluvian tradition, and
if he does not enter into its details, he assigns it an important place
in his series of ages.

Therefore we must needs acknowledge the diluvian tradition to be really
indigenous in Mexico and not an invention of missionaries. We may doubt
as to some particulars in some of the versions, though this arises
chiefly from a preconceived idea, because they too much resemble the
story in Genesis; but as to the fundamental tradition it is
unassailable, and intimately connected with a conception not drawn from
the Bible--and universally admitted to have existed--that, namely, of
the four ages of the world. Between this conception, and that of the
four ages or Yugas of India, and of the _manvantaras_ where the
destruction of the world and the renewals of humanity alternate, there
is an analogy which appeared very significant to Humboldt, MacCulloch,
and M. Maury. It is one that justifies us in asking whether the Mexicans
devised it independently or borrowed it more or less directly from
India. The system of the four ages, inseparable in Mexico from that of
the diluvian tradition, confronts us with the problem--ever recurring
with regard to American civilization--of how far these are spontaneous
and how far derived from Asia through Buddhist or other missionaries. In
the present state of our knowledge we can as little solve this problem
negatively as affirmatively, and all attempts made to come to a positive
conclusion are premature and unproductive. Before discovering whence
American civilizations came, we must thoroughly know what they were, nor
attempt the arduous and obscure question of their origin till we frame a
real American archæology on the same scientific basis and by the same
methods as other archæologies. And in this respect Messrs. T. G. Müller
and Herbert Bancroft appear to me greatly in advance of their precursors
in this field of inquiry.

For the present, all that can be done is, as I have attempted with Flood
stories, to determine facts without pretending to draw inferences. Hence
I should no longer boldly write, as I did eight years ago: "The Flood
stories of Mexico positively prove the tradition of the Deluge to be one
of the oldest held by humanity--a tradition so primitive as to be
anterior to the dispersion of human families and the final developments
of material civilization; which the Red race peopling America brought
from the common cradle of our species into their new home, at the same
time that the Semites, Chaldeans, and Aryans respectively carried it
into theirs."[64] The fact is that among American peoples this tradition
may not be primitive. We may indeed affirm that it was not borrowed from
the Bible after the arrival of the Spaniards, but we cannot be equally
confident that it was not the result of some previous foreign
importation, the precise date of which we have no means of fixing.

Be that as it may, the doctrines of successive ages, and of the
destruction of the men of the first age by a Deluge, is also found in
the curious book of _Popol-vuh_ that collection of the mythological
traditions of Guatemala, written after the conquest in the native
tongue, by a secret adept of the old religion; discovered, copied, and
translated into Spanish in the beginning of the last century by the
Dominican Francisco Ximenez, curé of St. Thomas of Chiula. His Spanish
version has been published by M. Schelzer, the original text with a
French translation by Abbé Brasseur. Here we read that the gods, seeing
that animals were neither capable of speaking nor of adoring them,
determined to make men in their own image. They fashioned them at first
in clay. But those men had no consistency, could not turn their heads;
spoke, indeed, but understood nothing. The gods then destroyed their
imperfect work by a Deluge. Setting about it for the second time, they
made a man of wood and a woman of resin. These creatures were far
superior to the former; they moved and lived, but only like other
animals; they spoke, but unintelligibly; and gave no thought to the
gods. Then Hurakan, "the heart of heaven," the god of storm, caused a
rain of burning resin to fall, while the ground was shaken by a fearful
earthquake. All the descendants of the wood-and-resin pair perished,
with a few exceptions, who became monkeys of the forest. Finally, out of
white and yellow maize, the gods produced four perfect men:
Balam-Quitze, "the smiling jaguar;" Balam-agab, "the jaguar of the
night;" Mahuentah, "the distinguished name;" and Igi-Balam, "the jaguar
of the moon." They were tall and strong; saw and knew everything, and
rendered thanks to the gods. But the latter were alarmed at this their
final success, and feared for their supremacy: accordingly, they threw a
light veil, like a mist, over the vision of the four men, which became
like that of the men of to-day. While they slept the gods created for
them four wives of great beauty, and from three of these pairs the
Quichés were born--Igi-Balam and his wife Cakixaha having no children.
This series of awkward attempts at creation is sufficiently removed from
the Biblical narrative to do away with any suspicion of Christian
missionary influence over this indigenous quadrennial legend, where, as
usual, we find the belief in the destruction of primal mankind by a
great flood.

We meet with it in Nicaragua as well. Oviedo relates that Pedsarias
Davila, governor of the province in 1538, charged F. Bobadilla, of the
Order of St. Dominic, to inquire into the spiritual condition of those
Indians whom his predecessors boasted of having converted in great
numbers to Catholicism, which he, Davila, with good reason, doubted. The
monk accordingly examined the natives, and Oviedo has transmitted
several dialogues which show us the creed of the Nicaraguans a few years
after the Spanish conquest. The following bears directly on our

    "_Question by Bobadilla._ Who has created heaven and earth, the
    stars and moon, man and all else?

    "_Answer (by the Cacique Avogoaltegoan)._ Tamagastad and Cippatoval,
    the one is a man, the other a woman.

    "_Q._ Who created that man and woman?

    "_A._ No one. On the contrary, all men and women descend from them.

    "_Q._ Did they create Christians?

    "_A._ I do not know, but the Indians descend from Tamagastad and

    "_Q._ Are there any gods greater than they?

    "_A._ No; we believe them to be the greatest.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "_Q._ Are they gods of flesh or wood, or any other substance?

    "_A._ They are of flesh; they are man and woman, brown in colour
    like us Indians. They walked on earth dressed like us, and ate what
    Indians eat.

    "_Q._ Who gave them to eat?

    "_A._ Everything belongs to them.

    "_Q._ Where are they now?

    "_A._ In heaven, according to what our ancestors have told us.

    "_Q._ How did they ascend thither?

    "_A._ I only know that it is their home. I do not know how they were
    born, for they have no father nor mother.

    "_Q._ How do they live at present?

    "_A._ They eat what Indians eat, for maize and all food proceeds
    from the place where dwell the _teotes_ (gods).

    "_Q._ Do you know, or have you heard tell, whether since the
    _teotes_ created the world it has been destroyed?

    "_A._ Before the present race existed, the world was destroyed by
    water and all became sea.

    "_Q._ How did that man and woman escape?

    "_A._ They were in heaven, for that was their dwelling, and
    afterwards they came down to earth and re-made all things as they
    now are, and we are their issue.

    "_Q._ You say the whole world was destroyed by water. Did not some
    individuals save themselves in a canoe, or by some other way?

    "_A._ No. All the world was drowned, according to what my ancestors
    told me."

The great god Tamagastad, of whom mention is made in this dialogue, is
evidently the same as Thomagata, the awful-visaged spirit of fire, whose
cultus was anterior among a portion of the Muyscas at Tunga and Sogamosa
to that of Botchica. This, therefore, brings us back to the religious
and cosmogonic traditions of the very advanced civilization in the high
table-land of Cundinamarca, and we are led to recognize in the
Flood-legend of Botchica a certain echo of the so universally spread
tradition of the Deluge of early ages, mingled with the memory of a
local event, from which the ancestors of the Muyscas had suffered at the
time of their first settlement. Neither must we forget that Botchica and
his wicked spouse, who brought about the inundation of Cundinamarca, are
no other than personifications of the sun and moon, as were the pair
Manco-Capac and Mama-Oello in the empire of the Incas. "The moon of Peru
is gentle and beneficent," well observes M. Girard de Realle, "she helps
her brother and husband in the work of civilization; on the plateau of
Cundinamarca, on the contrary, she is a witch, a veritable deity of
night and of evil, worthily represented by the lugubrious owl."

Some have believed themselves to have discovered the Flood-tradition
among the Peruvians, but careful criticism disproves this. For it only
arises from an unintelligent interpretation of the myth of Viracocha or
Con, god of waters, or more precisely, the personification of the
element, as shown by the legend which represents him as having no bones,
and yet stretching himself out afar, lowering the mountains and filling
up the valleys in his course. He was the chief god of the Aymaras, who,
according to them, had created the earth; and who, issuing from Lake
Titicaca, to manifest himself on earth, had assembled the earliest men
at Tiahuanaco. Later, the official cosmogony of the Incas led to his
undergoing an euhemeristic transformation diminishing his religious
importance; and he is represented as one of the sons of the Sun, come
upon earth to dwell among and civilize mankind, a younger brother of
Manco-Capac. Now it is under the government of Viracocha that the Deluge
is placed by the writers of very recent date, who mention this event, of
which the native tradition was unknown to the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega,
to Montesinos, Balboa, Gomara, F. Oliva, and, in short, to all
authorities of any weight in Peruvian matters. MacCulloch does indeed
quote Acosta and Herrera, but these authors never speak of a Deluge
involving all humanity; they only say that Viracocha gave laws to the
earliest men at the close of a primordial period anterior to their
creation, when the whole surface of the earth had been under water.

Numerous legends of the great inundation of earliest times have been
found among the savage tribes of America. But by their very nature these
leave room for doubt. They have not been committed to writing by the
natives, we only know them by intermediaries who may, in perfectly good
faith, have altered them considerably in an unconscious desire to
assimilate them to the Bible story. Besides, they have been only
collected very lately, when the tribes had been for a long time in
contact with Europeans, and had often had living among them more than
one adventurer who might well have introduced new elements into their
traditions. They are therefore very inferior in importance to those we
have found existing in Mexico, Guatemala, and Nicaragua, previous to the
arrival of the Spanish conquerors.

The most remarkable of them, as excluding by its very form the idea of
European communication, is that of the Cherokees. It seems a childish
version of the Indian tradition, only that it is a dog instead of a fish
who plays the part of deliverer to the man who escapes the catastrophe;
but this brings us back to a myth special to America--that of the
transformation of fish into dogs, as we have seen in the Flood-story of
the "Codex Chimalpopoca."

    "The dog," says the legend of the Cherokees, "never ceased for
    several days to run up and down the banks of the river, looking
    fixedly at the water and howling as in distress. His master was
    annoyed by his ways and roughly ordered him to go home, upon which
    he began speaking and revealed the impending calamity, ending his
    prediction by saying that the only way in which his master and his
    family could escape was by throwing him at once into the water, for
    he would become their deliverer by swimming to seek a boat, but that
    there was not a moment to lose, for a terrible rain was at hand
    which would lead to a general inundation in which everything would
    perish. The man obeyed his dog, was saved with his family, and they
    repeopled the earth."

It is said that the Tamanakis, a Carib tribe on the banks of the
Orinoco, have a legend of the man and woman who escaped the flood by
reaching the summit of Mount Tapanacu. There they threw cocoa-nuts
behind them, from which sprung a new race of men and women. If the
report be true, which, however, we cannot affirm, this would be a very
singular agreement with one of the distinctive features of the Greek
story of Deucalion and Pyrrha.

Russian explorers have reported a childlike narrative of the flood in
the Aleutian Islands, forming the geographical link between Asia and
North America, and at the extremity of the north-east of America among
the Kolosks. Henry the traveller gives the following tradition as
current among the Indians of the Great Lakes:--

    "In former times the father of the Indian tribes dwelt towards the
    rising sun. Having been warned in a dream that a deluge was coming
    upon the earth, he built a raft, on which he saved himself with his
    family and all the animals. He floated thus for several months. The
    animals, who at that time spoke, loudly complained and murmured
    against him. At last a new earth appeared, on which he landed with
    all the animals, who from that time lost the power of speech as a
    punishment for their murmurs against their deliverer."

According to Father Charlevoix, the tribes of Canada and the valley of
the Mississippi relate in their rude legends that all mankind was
destroyed by a flood, and that the good spirit, to repeople the earth,
had changed animals into men. It is to J. S. Kohl we owe our
acquaintance with the version of the Chippeways--full of grotesque and
perplexing touches--in which the man saved from the deluge is called
Menaboshu.[65] To know if the earth be drying he sends a bird, the
diver, out of his bark; then becomes the restorer of the human race and
the founder of existing society. Catlin relates a story, current among
the Mandans, of the earth being a great tortoise borne on the waters,
and that when one day, in digging the soil, a tribe of white men pierced
the shell of the tortoise, it sank, and the water covering it drowned
all men, with the exception of one, who saved himself in a boat; and
when the earth re-emerged, sent out a dove, who returned with a branch
of willow in its beak. Here we have Noah's dove, as in the story of
Tezpi and Menaboshu we have other birds substituted for it. But the
native originality of this detail, as of the whole diluvian tradition
among the Mandans, may well be doubted when we remember that the
physical peculiarities of this curious tribe on the banks of the
Missouri led Catlin to consider it of mixed blood, and partly white

In the songs of the inhabitants of New California allusion was made to a
very remote period when the sea left its bed and covered the earth. The
whole race of men and animals perished in this deluge, sent by the
supreme god Chinigchinig, with the exception of a few who had taken
refuge on a high mountain which the water failed to reach. The
Commissioners of the United States who explored New Mexico before its
annexation, tell of the existence of a similar tradition among the
different native tribes of that vast territory. Other travellers give us
kindred narratives, more or less strikingly resembling the Bible record.
But for the most part they are too vaguely reported to be entirely


_Polynesian Traditions._--In Oceania even, and not among the Pelagian
negroes or Papoos,[66] but the Polynesian, racenatives of the
archipelago of Australasia, the diluvian tradition has been traced,
mingled with recollections of sudden rises of the sea, which are one of
the most frequent scourges of those islands. The most noted is that of
Tahiti, which has been specially referred to the primeval tradition.
Here it is as given by M. Gaussin,[67] who has published a translation
of it, as well as the Tahitian text, written by a native named Maré:--

    "Two men had gone out to sea to fish with the line, Roo and Teahoroa
    by name. They threw their hooks into the sea, which caught in the
    hair of the god Ruahatu. They exclaimed, 'A fish!' They drew up the
    line and saw that it was a man they had caught. At sight of the god
    they bounded to the other end of their bark, and were half dead with
    fear. Ruahatu asked them, 'What is this?' The two fishermen replied,
    'We came to fish, and we did not know that our hooks would catch
    thee.' The god then said, 'Unfasten my hair;' and they did so. Then
    Ruahatu asked, 'What are your names?' They replied, 'Roo and
    Teahoroa.' Ruahatu next said, 'Return to the shore, and tell men
    that the earth will be covered with water, and all the world will
    perish. To-morrow morning repair to the islet called Toa-marama; it
    will be a place of safety for you and your children.'

    "Ruahatu caused the sea to cover the lands. All were covered, and
    all men perished except Roo, Teahoroa, and their families."

This story, like all in this part of the world currently referred to the
memory of the Deluge, has assumed the childish character peculiar to
Polynesian legends, and moreover, as M. Maury justly observes, it may be
naturally explained by the recollection of one of those tidal waves so
common in Polynesia. The most essential feature of all traditions
properly called diluvian is wanting here. The island, observes M. Maury,
has no resemblance to the Ark.[68] It is true that one of the versions
of the Tahitian legend states that the two fishermen repaired to
Toa-marama, not only with their families, but with a pig, a dog, and a
couple of fowls, which recalls the entry of the animals into the Ark. On
the other hand, some details of a similar story among the Fijis,
especially one in which, for many years after the event, canoes were
kept ready in case of its repetition, far better fit a local phenomenon,
a tidal wave, than a universal deluge.

However, if all these legends were exclusively related to local
catastrophes, it would be strange that they should appear and be almost
similar in a certain number of localities at a great distance from each
other, and only where the Polynesian race has taken root, or left
indubitable traces of its passage;--this race, indigenous in the Malay
Archipelago, not having migrated thence till about the fourth century of
the Christian era--_i.e._, at a time when, in consequence of the
communication between India and a portion of Malaysia,[69] the
Flood-tradition under its Indian form might well have entered in.
Without, therefore, deciding the question one way or other, we do not
think that that opinion can absolutely be condemned which finds in these
Polynesian legends an echo of the tradition of the Deluge, much
weakened, much changed, and more inextricably confused than anywhere
else with local disasters of recent date.

The result, then, of this long review authorizes us to affirm the story
of the Deluge to be a universal tradition among all branches of the
human race, with the one exception, however, of the black. Now a
recollection thus precise and concordant cannot be a myth voluntarily
invented. No religious or cosmogonic myth presents this character of
universality. It must arise from the reminiscence of a real and terrible
event, so powerfully impressing the imagination of the first ancestors
of our race, as never to have been forgotten by their descendants. This
cataclysm must have occurred near the first cradle of mankind, and
before the dispersion of the families from which the principal races
were to spring; for it would be at once improbable and uncritical to
admit that at as many different points of the globe as we should have to
assume in order to explain the wide spread of these traditions--local
phenomena so exactly alike should have occurred, their memory having
assumed an identical form, and presenting circumstances that need not
necessarily have occurred to the mind in such cases.

Let us observe, however, that probably the diluvian tradition is not
primitive but imported in America; that it undoubtedly wears the aspect
of an importation among the rare populations of the yellow race where it
is found; and lastly, that it is doubtful among the Polynesians of
Oceania. There will still remain three great races to which it is
undoubtedly peculiar, who have not borrowed it from each other, but
among whom the tradition is primitive, and goes back to the most ancient
times; and these three races are precisely the only ones of which the
Bible speaks as being descended from Noah, those of which it gives the
ethnic filiation in the tenth chapter of Genesis. This observation,
which I hold to be undeniable, attaches a singularly historic and exact
value to the tradition as recorded by the Sacred Book, even if, on the
other hand, it may lead to giving it a more limited geographical and
ethnological significance. In another paper I propose to inquire
whether, in the conception of the inspired writers, the Deluge really
was universal, in the sense customarily supposed.

But as the case now stands, we do not hesitate to declare that, far from
being a myth, the Biblical Deluge is a real and historical fact, having,
to say the least, left its impress on the ancestors of three
races--Aryan or Indo-European, Semitic or Syro-Arabian, Chamitic or
Kushite--that is to say, on the three great civilized races of the
ancient world, those which constitute the higher humanity--before the
ancestors of those races had as yet separated, and in the part of Asia
they together inhabited.



[31] The date of the termination of the works undertaken by Yu, in order
to repair the damage done by this flood, lies between 2278 and 2062 B.C.
according to the chronological system adopted.

[32] This work of Berosus was already out of existence in the fourth
century of our era, when Eusebius of Cesarea, to whom we owe such
fragments as we possess, wrote. Only two abridgments remained, due to
later polygraphers, Abydenus and Alexander Polybistor. Eusebius gives
the version of each editor, the one I quote is that of Alexander.

[33] Abydenus says, "all that composed the scriptures."

[34] He is provisionally called Izdhubar or Ghirdhubar, transcribing for
want of a more certain method, according to their phonetic value, the
characters composing the ideographic spelling of his name.

[35] The text is published in "Cuneiform Inscriptions of Western Asia,"
vol. iv. pp. 50 and 51. The two principal translations hitherto given
are those of George Smith and M. Oppert. The one we now offer contains a
large share of personal work. We avail ourselves of the labours of our
illustrious precursors, but believe that we have also added some
important steps towards a precise understanding of the text.

[36] Here several verses are wanting.

[37] "The water of the twilight at break of day," one of the
personifications of rain.

[38] The god of thunder.

[39] The god of war and death.

[40] The Chaldeo-Assyrian Hercules.

[41] The superior heaven of the fixed stars.

[42] Vases of the measure called in Hebrew _Seäh_. This relates to a
detail of the ritualistic prescriptions for sacrifice.

[43] These metaphorical expressions appear to designate the rainbow.

[44] The god of epidemics.

[45] _Studien zur Kritik und Erklarung der Biblischen Urgeschichte_, p.

[46] Oannès and Euahanès belong to an Accadian form: Êa-Khan, "Êa the
fish;" Oès to the simple Êa, as the Aos of Damascus.

[47] _Vendidâd_, ii. 46.

[48] Chapter vii.

[49] See especially _Yesht_ viii., 13 _Vendidâd_, xix. 135.

[50] It is in virtue of this assimilation that Plutarch (De Solert anim.
13) speaks of the dove sent out by Deucalion to see if the Deluge had
ceased, a circumstance mentioned by no other Greek mythographer.

[51] "Myvyrian Archæology of Wales," vol. ii. p. 50, triad 13.

[52] _Ibid._ p. 71, triad 97.

[53] Vafthrudnismal, st. 29.

[54] Hanwsch, _Slawischer Mythus_, p. 234.

[55] "Transactions of the Society of Biblical Archæology," vol. iv. pp.

[56] Personification of the primordial abyss.

[57] Nevertheless, the Deluge holds an important place among the
cosmogonic traditions--decidedly original in character--which Reguly has
found among the Voguls. We also hear of a diluvian story among the
Eulets or Kalmuks, where it seems to have come in with Buddhism.

[58] We must, however, observe that Buddhist missionaries appear to have
introduced the diluvian tradition of Judea into China. Gutzlaff, "On
Buddhism in China," in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (1st
series, vol. xii. p. 78), affirms that he saw its principal episode
represented in a very fine painting of a temple to the goddess

[59] Recently published, not recently collected. The date of Pedro de
los Rios shows this.

[60] "The Native Races of the Pacific States," vol. iii. p. 68.

[61] By a singular alteration of the text it is said that the jaguars
"were devoured," instead of "they devoured."

[62] From the day of the year when the final cataclysm was supposed to
have occurred.

[63] This designation of the year accords with the system of Mexican
cycles, containing four groups of years, each named after some object or

[64] "Essai de commentaire des fragments de Berose," p. 283.

[65] This name looks like a corruption of that of the Indian Manu

[66] Except in the Fiji Islands, where the Polynesians have been for
some time settled among the Melanians, and have only been destroyed by
these after having infused into the population an element sufficiently
marked to render the Fijis a mixed rather than a purely black race.

[67] Gaussin: "Du Dialecte de Tahiti et de la Langue polynésienne," p.
235. See also Ellis's "Polynesian Researches."

[68] We may, however, observe that in the Iranian myth of Yima, which we
have reported above, a square enclosure (_vara_) miraculously preserved
from the deluge, holds the place of the Biblical Ark and of the vessel
of Chaldean tradition.

[69] The date of the first establishment of Indian Brahmanists in Java
remains uncertain, but from the end of the second century B.C. the Greek
Iambulos (Diod. Sicul. ii. 57) very exactly described as the way of
writing in this island the syllabic system Kavi, borrowed from India.


Some time since an article appeared in the _Times_, quoted from the
_Brisbane Courier_ (an Australian paper of good credit), stating that
one Signor Rotura had devised a plan by which animals might be congealed
for weeks or months without being actually deprived of life, so that
they might be shipped from Australia for English ports as dead meat, yet
on their arrival here be restored to full life and activity. Many
regarded this account as intended to be received seriously, though a few
days later an article appeared, the opening words of which implied that
only persons from north of the Tweed should have taken the article _au
grand sérieux_. Of course it was a hoax; but it is worthy of notice that
the editor of the _Brisbane Courier_ had really been misled, as he
admitted a few weeks later, with a candour which did him credit.[70]

This wonderful discovery, however, besides being worth publishing as a
joke (though rather a mischievous one, as will presently be shown), did
good service also by eliciting from a distinguished physician certain
statements respecting the possibility of suspending animation, which
otherwise might have remained for some time unpublished. I propose here
to consider these statements, and the strange possibilities which some
of them seem to suggest. In the first place, however, it may be worth
while to recall the chief statements in the clever Australian story, as
some of Dr. Richardson's statements refer specially to that narrative. I
shall take the opportunity of indicating certain curious features of
resemblance between the Australian story, which really had its origin in
America (I am assured that it was published a year earlier in a New York
paper), and an American hoax which acquired a wide celebrity some forty
years ago, the so-called Lunar Hoax. As it is certain that the two
stories came from different persons, the resemblance referred to seems
to suggest that the special mental qualities (defects, _bien entendu_)
which cause some to take delight in such inventions, are commonly
associated with a characteristic style of writing. If Buffon was right,
indeed, in saying, _Le style c'est de l'homme même_, we can readily
understand that clever hoaxers should thus have a style peculiar to

It can hardly be considered essential to the right comprehension of
scientific experiments that a picturesque account should be given of the
place where the experiments were made. The history of the wonderful
Australian discovery opens nevertheless as follows:--"Many of the
readers of the _Brisbane Courier_ who know Sydney Harbour will remember
the long inlet opposite the heads known as Middle Harbour, which, in a
succession of land-locked reaches, stretches away like a chain of lakes
for over twenty miles. On one of these reaches, made more than
ordinarily picturesque by the bold headlands that drop almost sheer into
the water, stand, on about an acre of grassy flat, fringed by white
beach on which the clear waters of the harbour lap, two low brick
buildings. Here, in perfect seclusion, and with a careful avoidance of
publicity, is being conducted an experiment, the success of which, now
established beyond any doubt, must have a wider effect upon the future
prosperity of Australia than any project ever contemplated." It was
precisely in this tone that the author of the "Lunar Hoax"[71] opened
his account of those "recent discoveries in astronomy which will build
an imperishable monument to the age in which we live, and confer upon
the present generation of the human race a proud distinction through all
future time." "It has been poetically said," he remarks--though probably
he would have found some difficulty in saying where or by whom this had
been said,--"that the stars of heaven are the hereditary regalia of man,
as the intellectual sovereign of the animal creation; he may now fold
the zodiac around him with a loftier consciousness of his mental
supremacy" (a sublime idea, irresistibly suggestive of the description
which an American humourist gave of a certain actor's representation of
the death of Richard III., "he wrapped the star-spangled banner round
him, and died like the son of a hoss").

It next becomes necessary to describe the persons engaged in pursuing
the experiments by which the art of freezing animals alive is to be
attained. "The gentlemen engaged in this enterprise are Signor Rotura,
whose researches into the botany and natural history of South America
have rendered his name eminent; and Mr. James Grant, a pupil of the late
Mr. Nicolle, so long associated with Mr. Thomas Mort in his freezing
process. Next to the late Mr. Nicolle, Mr. James Grant can claim
pre-eminence of knowledge in the science of generating cold, and his
freezing chamber at Woolhara has long been known as the seat of valuable
experiments originated in his, Mr. Nicolle's, lifetime." Is it merely an
accident, by the way, or is it due to the circumstance that exceptional
powers of invention in general matters are often found in company with
singular poverty of invention as to details, that two of the names here
mentioned closely resemble names connected with the Lunar Hoax? It was
Nicollet who in reality devised the Lunar Hoax, though Richard Alton
Locke, the reputed author, probably gave to the story its final form;
and, again, the story purported to come from Dr. Grant, of Glasgow. In
the earlier narrative, again, as in the later, due care was taken to
impress readers with the belief that those who had made the discovery,
or taken part in the work, were worthy of all confidence. Sir W.
Herschel was the inventor of the optical device by which the inhabitants
of the moon were to be rendered visible, a plan which "evinced the most
profound research in optical science, and the most dexterous ingenuity
in mechanical contrivance. But his son, Sir John Herschel, nursed and
cradled in the observatory, and a practical astronomer from his boyhood,
determined upon testing it at whatever cost." Among his companions he
had "Dr. Andrew Grant, Lieutenant Drummond of the Royal Engineers, and a
large party of the best English mechanics."

The accounts of preliminary researches, doubts, and difficulties are in
both cases very similar in tone. "It appears that five months ago," says
the narrator of the Australian hoax, "Signor Rotura called upon Mr.
Grant to invoke his assistance in a scheme for the transmission of live
stock to Europe. Signor Rotura averred that he had discovered a South
American vegetable poison, allied to the well-known _woolara_ (_sic_)
that had the power of perfectly suspending animation, and that the
trance thus produced continued until the application of another
vegetable essence caused the blood to resume its circulation and the
heart its functions. So perfect, moreover, was this suspension of life
that Signor Rotura had found in a warm climate decomposition set in at
the extremities after a week of this living death, and he imagined that
if the body in this inert state were reduced to a temperature
sufficiently low to arrest decomposition, the trance might be kept up
for months, possibly for years. He frankly owned that he had never tried
this preserving of the tissues by cold, and could not confidently speak
as to its effect upon the after-restoration of the animal operated on.
Before he left Mr. Grant he had turned that gentleman's doubts into
wondering curiosity by experimenting on his dog." The account of this
experiment I defer for a moment till I have shown how closely in several
respects this portion of the Australian hoax resembles the corresponding
part of the American story. It will be observed that the great discovery
is presented as simply a very surprising development of a process which
is strictly within the limits, not only of what is possible, but of what
is known. So also in the case of the Lunar Hoax, the amazing magnifying
power by which living creatures in the moon were said to have been
rendered visible, was presented as simply a very remarkable development
of the familiar properties of the telescope. In both cases, the
circumstances which in reality limit the possible extension of the
properties in question were kept conveniently concealed from view. In
both cases, doubts and difficulties were urged with an apparent
frankness intended to disarm suspicion. In both cases, also, the
inventor of the new method by which difficulties were to be overcome is
represented as in conference with a man of nearly equal skill, who urges
the doubts naturally suggested by the wonderful nature of the promised
achievements. In the Lunar Hoax, Sir John Herschel and Sir David
Brewster are thus represented in conference. Herschel asks whether the
difficulty arising from deficient illumination may not be overcome by
effecting a transfusion of artificial light through the focal image.
Brewster, startled at the novel thought, as he well might be,
hesitatingly refers "to the refrangibility of rays and the angle of
incidence," which is effective though glorious in its absurdity. (Yet it
has been gravely asserted that this nonsense deceived Arago.) "Sir John,
grown more confident, adduced the example of the Newtonian reflector, in
which the refrangibility was arrested by the second speculum and the
angle of incidence restored by the third" (a bewilderingly ridiculous
statement). "'And,' continued he, 'why cannot the illuminated
microscope, say the hydro-oxygen, be applied to render distinct, and if
necessary even to magnify, the focal object?' Sir David sprang from his
chair in an ecstasy of conviction, and leaping half-way to the ceiling"
(from which we may infer that he was somewhat more than _tête montée_),
"exclaimed, 'Thou art the man!'"

The method devised in each case being once accepted as sound, the rest
of course readily follows. In the case of the Lunar Hoax a number of
discoveries are made which need not here be described[72] (though I
shall take occasion presently to quote some passages relating to them
which closely resemble in style certain passages in the Australian
narrative). In the later hoax, the illustrative experiments are
forthwith introduced. Signor Rotura, having so far persuaded Mr. Grant
of the validity of the plan as to induce him to allow a favourite dog to
be experimented upon, "injected two drops of his liquid, mixed with a
little glycerine, into a small puncture made in the dog's ear. In three
or four minutes the animal was perfectly rigid, the four legs stretched
backward, eyes wide open, pupils very much dilated, and exhibiting
symptoms very similar to those caused by strychnine, except that there
had been no previous struggle or pain. Begging his owner to have no
apprehension for the life of his favourite animal, Signor Rotura lifted
the dog carefully and placed him on a shelf in a cupboard, where he
begged he might be left till the following day, when he promised to call
at ten o'clock and revive the apparently dead brute. Mr. Grant
continually during that day and night visited the cupboard, and so
perfectly was life suspended in his favourite--no motion of the pulse or
heart giving any indication of the possibility of revival--that he
confesses he felt all the sharpest reproaches of remorse at having
sacrificed a faithful friend to a doubtful and dangerous experiment. The
temperature of the body, too, in the first four hours gradually lowered
to 25 degrees Fahrenheit below ordinary blood temperature, which
increased his fears as to the result; and by morning the body was as
cold as in natural death. At ten o'clock next morning, according to
promise, Signor Rotura presented himself, and laughing at Mr. Grant's
fears, requested a tub of warm water to be brought. He tested this with
the thermometer at 32 degrees Fahrenheit" (which, being the temperature
of freezing water, can hardly be called warm), "and in this laid the
dog, head under." In reply to Mr. Grant's objections Signor Rotura
assured him that, as animation must remain entirely suspended until the
administration of the antidote, no water could be drawn into the lungs,
and that the immersion of the body was simply to bring it again to a
blood-heat. After about ten minutes of this bath the body was taken out,
and another liquid injected in a puncture made in the neck. "Mr. Grant
tells me," proceeds the veracious narrator, "that the revival of Turk
was the most startling thing he ever witnessed; and having since seen
the experiment made upon a sheep, I can fully confirm his statement. The
dog first showed the return of life in the eye" (winking, doubtless, at
the joke), "and after five and a half minutes he drew a long breath, and
the rigidity left his limbs. In a few minutes more he commenced gently
wagging his tail, and then slowly got up, stretched himself, and trotted
off as though nothing had happened." From this moment Mr. Grant had full
faith in Signor Rotura's discovery, and promised him all the assistance
in his power. They next determined to try freezing the body. But the
first two experiments were not encouraging. Mr. Grant fortunately did
not allow his favourite dog to be experimented upon further, so a
strange dog was put into the freezing room at Mr. Grant's works for four
days, after having in the first place had his animation suspended by
Signor Rotura. Although this animal survived so far as to draw a long
breath, the vital energies appeared too exhausted for a complete rally,
and the animal died. So also did the next two animals experimented on,
a cat and a dog. "In the meantime, however, Dr. Barker had been taken
into their counsels, and at his suggestion respiration was encouraged,
as in the case of persons drowned, by artificial compression and
expansion of the lungs. Dr. Barker was of opinion that, as the heart in
every case began to beat, it was a want of vital force to set the lungs
in proper motion that caused death. The result showed his surmises to be
entirely correct. A number of animals whose lives had been sealed up in
this artificial death have been kept in the freezing chamber from one to
five weeks, and it is found that though the shock to the system from
this freezing is very great, it is not increased by duration of time."

I need not follow the hoaxer's account of the buildings erected for the
further prosecution of these researches. One point, however, may be
mentioned illustrating the resemblance to which I have already referred
as existing between this Australian narrative and the Lunar Hoax. In
describing the works erected at Middle Harbour, the Australian account
carefully notes that the necessary funds were provided by Mr.
Christopher Newton, of Pitt Street. In like manner, in the Lunar Hoax we
are told that the plate-glass required for the optical arrangement
devised by Sir J. Herschel was "obtained, by consent be it observed,
from the shop-window of M. Desanges, the jeweller to his ex-majesty
Charles X., in High Street."

Now comes the culminating experiment, the circumstances of which are the
more worthy of being carefully noted, because it is distinctly stated by
Dr. Richardson that none of the experiments described in this narrative,
apocryphal though they may really be, can be regarded as beyond the
range of scientific possibilities:--"Arrived at the works in Middle
Harbour, I was taken into the building that contains Mr. Grant's
apparatus for generating cold.... Attached to this is the freezing
chamber, a small, dark room, about eight feet by ten. Here were fourteen
sheep, four lambs, and three pigs, stacked on their sides in a heap,
_alive_, which Mr. Grant told me had been in their present position for
nineteen days, and were to remain there for another three months.
Selecting one of the lambs, Signor Rotura put it on his shoulder, and
carried it outside into the other building, where a number of shallow
cemented tanks were in the floor, having hot and cold water taps to each
tank, with a thermometer hanging alongside. One of these tanks was
quickly filled, and its temperature tested by the Signor, I meantime
examining with the greatest curiosity and wonder the nineteen-days-dead
lamb. The days of miracles truly seem to have come back to us, and many
of those stories discarded as absurdities seem to me less improbable
than this fact, witnessed by myself. There was the lamb, to all
appearance dead, and as hard almost as a stone, the only difference
perceptible to me between his condition and actual death being the
absence of dull glassiness about the eye, which still retained its
brilliant transparency. Indeed, this brilliancy of the eye, which is
heightened by the enlargement of the pupil, is very striking, and lends
a rather weird appearance to the bodies. The lamb was gently dropped
into the warm bath, and was allowed to remain in it about twenty-three
minutes, its head being raised above the water twice for the
introduction of the thermometer into its mouth, and then it was taken
out and placed on its side on the floor, Signor Rotura quickly dividing
the wool on its neck, and inserting the sharp point of a small silver
syringe under the skin and injecting the antidote. This was a pale green
liquid, and, as I believe, a decoction from the root of the
_Astracharlis_, found in South America. The lamb was then turned on its
back, Signor Rotura standing across it, gently compressing its ribs with
his knees and hands in such a manner as to imitate their natural
depression and expansion during breathing. In ten minutes the animal was
struggling to free itself, and when released skipped out through the
door and went gambolling and bleating over the little garden in front.
Nothing has ever impressed me so entirely with a sense of the
marvellous. One is almost tempted to ask, in the presence of such a
discovery, whether death itself may not ultimately be baffled by
scientific investigation." In the Lunar Hoax there is a passage
resembling in tone the lively account of the lamb's behaviour when
released. Herds of agile creatures like antelopes were seen in the moon,
"abounding in the acclivitous glades of the woods." "This beautiful
creature afforded us," says the narrator, "the most exquisite amusement.
The mimicry of its movements upon our white-painted canvas was as
faithful and luminous as that of animals within a few yards of the
_camera obscura_. Frequently, when attempting to put our fingers upon
its beard, it would suddenly bound away, as if conscious of our earthly
impertinence; but then others would appear, whom we could not prevent
nibbling the herbage, say or do to them what we would." And again, a
little further on, "We fairly laughed at the recognition of so familiar
an acquaintance as a sheep in so distant a land--a good large sheep,
which would not have disgraced the farms of Leicestershire or the
shambles of Leadenhall Market; presently they appeared in great numbers,
and on reducing the lenses we found them in flocks over a great part of
the valley. I need not say how desirous we were of finding shepherds to
these flocks, and even a man with blue apron and rolled-up sleeves would
have been a welcome sight to us, if not to the sheep; but they fed in
peace, lords of their own pastures, without either protector or
destroyer in human shape."

Not less amusing, though more gravely written, is the account of the
benefits likely to follow from the use of the wonderful process for
freezing animals alive. Cargoes of live sheep can be readily sent from
Australia to Europe. Any that cannot be restored to life will still be
good meat; while the rest can be turned to pasture or driven alive to
market. With bullocks the case would not be quite so simple, because of
their greater size and weight, which would render them more difficult
to handle with safety. The carcass being rendered brittle by freezing,
they are so much the more liable to injury. "It sounded odd to hear Mr.
Grant and Signor Rotura laying stress upon the danger of breakage in a
long voyage." This one can readily imagine.

Some of the remoter consequences of the discovery are touched on by the
narrator, though but lightly, as if he saw the necessity of keeping his
wonders within reasonable limits. Signor Rotura, "though he had never
attempted his experiment on a human being," which was considerate on his
part, "had no doubt at all as to its perfect safety." He had requested
Sir Henry Parkes to allow him to operate on the next felon under capital
sentence. This, by the way, was a compromising statement on our hoaxer's
part. It requires very little acquaintance with our laws to know that no
one could allow a felon condemned to death to be experimented on in this
or in any other manner. Such a man is condemned to die, and to die
without any preliminary tortures, bodily or mental, other than those
inseparable from the legally adopted method of bringing death about. He
can neither be allowed to remain alive after an experiment, and
necessarily free (because he has not been condemned to other punishment
than the death penalty), nor can he be first experimented upon and then
hanged. So that that single sentence in the narrative should have shown
every one that it was a hoax, even if the inherent absurdity of many
other parts of the story had not shown this very clearly. As to whether
a temporary suspension of the vital faculties would affect the longevity
of the patient, Signor Rotura expressed himself somewhat doubtful; he
believed, however, that the duration of life might in this way be
prolonged for years. "I was anxious," says the hoaxer, "to know if a
period of, say, five years of this inertness were submitted to, whether
it would be so much cut out of one's life, or if it would be simply five
years of unconscious existence tacked on to one's sentient life. Signor
Rotura could give no positive answer, but he believes, as no change
takes place or can take place while this frozen trance continues, no
consumption, destruction, or reparation of tissue being possible, it
would be so many unvalued and profitless years added to a lifetime." Of
some of the strange ideas suggested by this conception I shall take
occasion to speak further on; I must for the present turn, however, from
the consideration of this ingenious hoax to discuss the scientific
possibilities which underlie the narrative, or at least some parts of
the narrative.

In the first place, it must be noticed that in the phenomena of
hibernation we have what at a first view seems closely to resemble the
results of Signor Rotura's apocryphal experiments. As was remarked in
the _Times_, the idea underlying the Australian story is that the
hibernation of animals can be artificially imitated and extended, so
that as certain animals lie in a state of torpor and insensibility
throughout the winter months, all animals also may perhaps be caused to
lie in such a state for an indefinite length of time, if only a suitable
degree of cold is maintained, and some special contrivance adopted to
prevent insensibility from passing into death. The phenomena of
hibernation are indeed so surprising, when rightly understood, that
inexperienced persons might well believe in almost any wonders resulting
from the artificial production (which, be it remembered, is altogether
possible) of the hibernating condition, and the artificial extension of
this condition to other animals than those which at present hibernate,
and to long periods of time. It has been justly said, that if
hibernation had only been noticed among cold-blooded animals, its
possibility in the case of mammals would have seemed inconceivable. The
first news that the bat and hedgehog pass into the state of complete
hibernation, would probably have bean received as either a daring hoax
or a very gross blunder.

Let us consider what hibernation really is. When, as winter approaches
and their insect food disappears, the bat and the hedgehog resign
themselves to torpor, the processes which we are in the habit of
associating with vitality gradually diminish in activity. The breathing
becomes slower and slower, the heart beats more and more slowly, more
and more feebly. At last the breathing ceases altogether. The
circulation does not wholly cease, however. So far as is known, the life
of warm-blooded animals cannot continue after the circulation has
entirely ceased for more than a certain not very considerable length of
time.[73] The chemical changes on which animal heat depends, and without
which there can be no active vitality, cease with the cessation of
respiration. But dormant vitality is still maintained in hibernation,
because the heart's fibre, excited to contract by the carbonized blood,
continues to propel the blood through the torpid body. This slow
circulation of venous blood continues during the whole period of
hibernation. It is the only vital process which can be recognised; and
it is not easy to understand how the life of any warm-blooded animal can
be maintained in this way. The explanation usually offered is that the
material conveyed by the absorbents suffices to counterbalance the
process of waste occasioned by the slow circulation. But this does not
in reality touch the chief difficulty presented by the phenomena of
hibernation. So far as mere waste is concerned (as I have elsewhere
pointed out) the imagined Australian process is as effectual as
hibernation; in that process, of course the circulation would be as
completely checked as the respiration; thus there would be no waste, and
the absorbents (which would also be absolutely dormant) would not have
to do even that slight amount of work which they accomplish during
hibernation. Science can only say that the known cases of hibernation
among warm-blooded animals show that the vital forces may be reduced
much lower without destroying life, than but for them we should have
deemed conceivable.

But next let us consider what science has to say as to the artificial
suspension of vitality. In Dr. Richardson's paper on this subject there
is much which seems almost as surprising as anything in the Australian
story. Indeed, he seems scarcely to have felt assured that that story
really was a hoax. "The statements," he says, "which, under the head of
'A Wonderful Discovery,' are copied from the _Brisbane Courier_, seem
greatly to have astonished the reading public. To what extent the
statements are true or untrue it is impossible to say. The whole may be
a cleverly-written fiction, and certain of the words and names used
seem, according to some readers, to suggest that view; but be this so or
not, I wish to indicate that some part at all events of what is stated
might be true, and is certainly within the range of possibility." "The
discovery," he proceeds, "which is described in the communication under
notice, is not in principle new; on the subject of suspension of
animation I have myself been making experimental inquiries for
twenty-five years at least, and have communicated to the scientific
world many essays, lectures, and demonstrations, relating to it. I have
twice read papers bearing on this inquiry to the Royal Society, once to
the British Association for the Advancement of Science, two or three
times in my lectures on Experimental and Practical Medicine, and
published one in _Nature_. In respect to the particular point of the
preservation of animal bodies for food, I dwelt on this topic in the
lectures delivered before the Society of Arts, in April and May of last
year (1878), explaining very definitely that the course of research in
the direction of preservation must ultimately lead to a process by which
we should keep the structures of animals in a form of suspended
molecular life." In other words, Dr. Richardson had indicated the
possibility of doing precisely that which would have constituted the
chief value of the Australian discovery, if this had been real.

Let us next consider what is known respecting the possibility of
suspending a conscious and active life. This is first stated in general
terms by Dr. Richardson, as follows:--"If an animal perfectly free from
disease be subjected to the action of some chemical agents or physical
agencies which have the property of reducing to the extremest limit the
motor forces of the body, the muscular irritability, and the nervous
stimulus to muscular action, and if the suspension of the muscular
irritability and of the nervous excitation be made at once and equally,
the body even of a warm-blooded animal may be brought down to a
condition so closely resembling death, that the most careful examination
may fail to detect any signs of life." This general statement must be
carefully studied if the reader desires thoroughly to understand at once
the power and the limits of the power of science in this direction. The
motor forces, the muscular irritability, and the nervous stimulus to
muscular action, can be reduced to a certain extent without destroying
life, but not absolutely without destroying life. The reduction of the
muscular irritability must be made at once and equally; if the muscular
irritability is reduced to its lowest limit while the nervous
excitation remains unaltered, or is less reduced, death ensues; and
_vice versâ_, if the nervous excitation is reduced to its lowest limits
while the muscular irritability remains unaltered, or is little reduced,
death equally follows. Then it is to be noticed that though when the
state of seeming death is brought about, the most careful examination
may fail to detect any signs of life, it does not follow that science
may not find perfectly sure means of detecting cases where life still
exists but is at its very lowest. Of course all the ordinary tests, in
which so many place complete reliance--a mirror placed close to the
mouth, a finger on the pulse, hand, or ear applied to the breast[74]
over the heart, and so forth--would be utterly inadequate, in such a
case, to reveal any signs of life. That doctors have been deceived by
cases of suspended vitality not artificially produced, but presenting
similar phenomena, is well known. A case in point may not be out of
place here, as illustrating well certain features of suspended
animation, and showing the possibility that in _some_ cases
consciousness may remain, even when the most careful examination detects
no traces of life. The case is described by Dr. Alexander Crichton, in
his "Inquiry into the Nature and Origin of Mental Derangement." "A young
lady, who had seemed gradually to sink until she died, had been placed
in her coffin, careful scrutiny revealing no signs of vitality. On the
day appointed for her funeral, several hymns were sung before her door.
She was conscious of all that happened around her, and heard her friends
lamenting her death. She felt them put on the dead-clothes, and lay her
in the coffin, which produced an indescribable mental anxiety. She tried
to cry, but her mind was without power, and could not act on the body.
It was equally impossible to her to stretch out her arms or to open her
eyes or to cry, although she continually endeavoured to do so. The
internal anguish of her mind was, however, at its utmost height when the
funeral hymns began to be sung and when the lid of the coffin was about
to be nailed on. The thought that she was to be buried alive was the
first one which gave activity to her mind, and caused it to operate on
her corporeal frame. Just as the people were about to nail on the lid,
a kind of perspiration was observed to appear on the surface of the
body. It grew greater every moment, and at last a kind of convulsive
motion was observed in the hands and feet of the corpse. A few minutes
after, during which fresh signs of returning life appeared, she at once
opened her eyes, and uttered a most pitiable shriek." In this case it
was considered that the state of trance had been brought about by the
excessive contractile action of the nervous centres. St. Augustine, by
the way, remarks in his "De Civitate Dei" on the case of a certain
priest called Restitutus (appropriately enough), who could when he
wished withdraw himself from life in such sort that he did not feel when
twitched or stung, but might even be burned without suffering pain
except afterwards from the wound so produced. Not only did he not
struggle or even move, but like a dead person he did not breathe, yet
afterwards he said that he could hear the voices of those around him (if
they spoke loudly) as if from a great distance (_de longinquo_).

To return, however, to Dr. Richardson's discussion of the artificial
suspension of active life.

He recognises three degrees of muscular irritability, to which he has
given the names of active efficient, passive efficient, and
negative,--though doubtless he would recognize the probability that the
line separating the first from the second may not always be easily
traced, and that, though there is a most definite distinction between
the second and the third, the actual position of the boundary line has
not as yet been determined. In other words, so far as the first and
second states are concerned, there are not two degrees only, but many.
As regards the third or negative state, which is only another way of
describing death, there is, of course, only one degree, though the
evidence as to the existence of this state may be more or less complete
and obvious. Dr. Richardson defines the active efficient state of
muscular irritability as that "represented in the ordinary living muscle
in which the heart is working at full tension, and all parts of the body
are thoroughly supplied with blood, with perfection of consciousness in
waking hours, and, in a word, full life." The second, or passive
efficient state, "is represented in suspended animation, in which the
heart is working regularly but at low tension, supplying the muscles and
other parts with sufficient blood to maintain the molecular life, but no
more." The third of these states--the negative--"is represented when
there is no motion whatever of blood through the body, as in an animal
entirely frozen."

With the first and third of these states I have in reality nothing to
do, unless indeed it could be shown that the third or negative state can
be produced without causing death. Perhaps in assuming, as I did above,
that this state is identical with the state of the dead, I was, in fact,
assuming what science has yet to demonstrate. I may at any rate,
however, say without fear of valid contradiction, that science has as
yet never succeeded in showing that this negative state may be attained
even for a moment without death ensuing; and the probability (almost
amounting to certainty) is that death and this change of state have in
every instance been simultaneous. Dr. Richardson speaks of the second
stage as that in which animation is _usually_ suspended; but he does not
show that the third stage can even possibly be attained without death.

The second stage, or stage of passive efficiency, closely resembles the
third, "but differs from it in that, under favouring circumstances, the
whole of the phenomena of the active efficient stage may be perfectly
resumed, the heart suddenly enlarging in volume from its filling with
blood, and reanimating the whole organism by the force of its renewed
stroke in full tension. So far as we have yet proceeded," continues Dr.
Richardson, "the whole phenomena of restoration from death are
accomplished during this stage;" meaning, it would seem, that in all
instances of restoration the restoration has been from the second, never
from the third stage. "To those who are not accustomed to see them they
are no doubt very wonderful, looking like veritable restorations from
death. They surprise even medical men the first time they are witnessed
by them." He gives an interesting illustration. At a meeting of the
British Medical Association at Leeds, "a member of the Association was
showing to a large audience the action of nitrous oxide gas, using a
rabbit as the subject of his demonstration. The animal was removed from
the narcotizing chamber a little too late, for it had ceased to breathe,
and it was placed on the table to all appearance dead." "At this stage,"
he proceeds, "I went to the table, and by use of a small pair of
double-acting bellows restored respiration. In about four minutes there
was revival of active irritability in the abdominal muscles, and two
minutes later the animal leaped again into life, as if it had merely
been asleep. There was nothing remarkable in the fact; but it excited,
even in so cultivated an audience as was then present, the liveliest

But when we learn the condition necessary that a body which has once
been reduced to the state of passive efficiency should be restored to
active life, we recognise that even when science has learned how to
reduce vitality to a minimum without destroying it, few will care to
risk the process, either in their own persons or in the case of those
dear to them. Besides the condition already indicated, that the muscular
irritability and the nervous excitation must be simultaneously and
equally reduced, it is essential that the blood, the muscular fluid, and
the nervous fluid should all three remain in what Dr. Richardson calls
the aqueous condition, and not become what he calls pectous, a word
which we must understand to bear the same relation to the word solid or
crystalline that the word "aqueous," as used by Dr. Richardson, bears to
the word watery. If all three fluids remain in the aqueous condition,
"the period during which life may be restored is left undefined. It may
be a very long period, including weeks, and possibly months, granting
that decomposition of the tissues is not established; and even after a
limited process of decomposition, there may be renewal of life in
cold-blooded animals. But if pectous change begins in any one of the
structures I have named, it extends like a crystallization quickly
through all the structures, and thereupon recovery is impossible, for
the change in one of the parts is sufficient to prevent the restoration
of all. Thus the heart may be beating, but the blood being pectous it
beats in vain; or the heart may beat and the blood may flow, but the
voluntary muscles being pectous the circulating action is vain; or the
heart may beat, the blood may flow, and the muscles may remain in the
aqueous condition, but the nerves being pectous the circulating action
is in vain; or sometimes the heart may come to rest, and the other parts
may remain susceptible, but the motion of the heart and blood not being
present to quicken them into activity, their life is in vain." Add to
this, that the restoration of the motor forces, of the muscular
irritability, and of the nervous excitation, must be as simultaneous and
as equal as their reduction had been, and we begin to recognise decided
objections to the too frequent suspension of animation, even when the
most perfect artificial means have been devised for bringing about that
interesting result.

Although, however, we may not feel encouraged to believe that many will
care to have experiments tried on themselves in this direction, we may
still examine with interest the results of experimental research and
experience. These agree in showing that there are means by which active
life may be suspended, while at the same time the aqueous condition of
the fluids mentioned above (the blood, the muscular fluid, and the
nervous fluid, the two latter of which are for convenience called the
colloidal animal fluids, and are derived from the blood) is retained.

The first and in some respects the most efficient of these means is
cold. The blood and the colloidal fluids remain in the aqueous condition
when the body is exposed to cold at freezing-point. "At this same point
all vital acts, excepting perhaps the motion of the heart" (it is Dr.
Richardson, be it remembered, who thus uses the significant word
"perhaps"), "may be temporarily arrested in an animal, and then some
animals may continue apparently dead for long intervals of time, and may
yet return to life under conditions favourable to recovery." Dr.
Richardson gives a singular illustration of this, describing an
experiment which must have appeared even more surprising to those who
witnessed it than that in which the rabbit was restored to life. "In one
of my lectures on death from cold," he says, "which I delivered in the
winter session of 1867, some fish which during a hard frost had been
frozen in a tank at Newcastle-on-Tyne, were sent up to me by rail. They
were produced in the completely frozen state at the lecture, and by
careful thawing many of them were restored to perfect life. At my
Croomian lecture on muscular irritability after systemic death, a
similar fact was illustrated from frogs." It would appear, indeed, that
so far as cold-blooded animals are concerned, there is no recognisable
limit to the time during which they may remain thus frozen yet
afterwards recover. But, even in their case, much skill is required to
make the recovery sure. "If in thawing them the utmost care is not taken
to thaw gradually, and at a temperature always below the natural
temperature of the living animal, the fluids will pass from the frozen
state through the aqueous into the pectous so rapidly that death from
pectous change will be pronounced without perceiving any intermediate or
life stage at all." Naturally it is much more difficult to restore life
in the case of warm-blooded animals. Indeed, Dr. Richardson remarks,
that in the case of the more complex and differently shielded organs of
warm-blooded animals, it is next to impossible to thaw equally and
simultaneously all the colloidal fluids. "In very young animals it can
be done. Young kittens, a day or two old, that have been drowned in
ice-cold water, will recover after two hours' immersion almost to a
certainty, if brought into dry air at a temperature of 98 degrees
Fahrenheit. The gentlest motion of the body will be sufficient to
re-start the respiration, and therewith the life."

Remarking on such cases as these, Dr. Richardson notes that the nearest
natural approach to the stage of passive efficiency is seen in
hibernating animals. He states, however, that in hibernation the
complete state of passive efficiency is not produced. He does not accept
the opinion of those who consider that in true hibernation breathing
ceases as above described. A slow respiration continues, he believes, as
well as that low stage of active efficiency of circulation which we have
already indicated. "The hibernating animal sleeps only; and while
sleeping it consumes or wastes; and if the cold be prolonged it may die
from waking." More decisive, because surer, is the evidence derived from
the possibility of waking the hibernating animals by the common methods
used for waking a sleeper. This certainly seems to show that animation
is not positively suspended.

He asks next the question whether an animal like a fish, frozen equally
through all its structures, is to be regarded as actually dead in the
strict sense of the word or not, seeing that if it be uniformly and
equally thawed it may recover from this perfectly frozen state. "In like
manner," he says, "it may be doubted whether a healthy warm-blooded
animal suddenly and equally frozen through all its parts is dead,
although it is not recoverable." If, as seems certainly to be the case,
the animal dies because in the very act of trying to restore it some
inequality in the process is almost sure to determine a fatal issue,
some vital centre passing into the pectous state, the animal could not
have been dead before restoration was attempted; for the dead cannot die
again. Albeit, the outlook is not encouraging, at any rate so far as the
use of cold alone for maintaining suspended animation in full-grown
warm-blooded animals is concerned. Cold will, however, for a long time
maintain ready for motion active organs locally subject to it Even after
death this effect of cold "may be locally demonstrated," Dr. Richardson
tells us, "and has sometimes been so demonstrated to the wonder of the
world." "For instance, on January 17, in the year 1803, Aldini, the
nephew of Galvani, created the greatest astonishment in London by a
series of experiments which he conducted on a malefactor, twenty-six
years old, named John Forster, who was executed at Newgate, and whose
body, an hour after execution, was delivered over to Mr. Keate, Master
of the College of Surgeons, for research. The body had been exposed for
an hour to an atmosphere two degrees below freezing-point,[75] and from
that cause, though Aldini does not seem to have recognised the fact, the
voluntary muscles retained their irritability to such a degree that when
Aldini began to pass voltaic currents through the body, some of the
bystanders seem to have concluded that the unfortunate malefactor had
come again to life. It is significant also that Aldini in his report
says that his object was not to produce reanimation, but to obtain a
practical knowledge how far galvanism might be employed as an auxiliary
to revive persons who were accidentally suffocated, _as though he
himself were in some doubt_,"--that is, not in doubt only about the
power of galvanism, but in doubt whether Forster had been restored to
life for a while, or not! Dr. Richardson has himself repeated, on lower
animals, these experiments of Aldini's, except that the animals on which
he has experimented have passed into death under chloroform, not through
suffocation. His object, in fact, was to determine the best treatment
for human beings who sink under chloroform and other anæsthetics. He
finds that in warm weather he fails to get the same results. Noticing
this, he says, "I experimented at and below the freezing-point, and then
found that both by the electrical discharge, and by injection of water
heated to 130 degrees" (again this terrible inexactness of expression)
"into the muscles through the arteries, active muscular movements could
be produced in warm-blooded animals many hours after death. Thus, for
lecture experiment, I have removed one muscle from the body of an animal
that had slept to death from chloroform, and putting the muscle in a
glass tube surrounded with ice and salt, I have kept it for several days
in a condition for its making a final muscular contraction, and, by
gently thawing it, have made it, in the act of final contraction, do
some mechanical work, such as moving a long needle on the face of a
dial, or discharging a pistol. In muscles so removed from the body and
preserved ready for motion there is, however, only one final act. For
as the blood and nervous supply are both cut off from it, there is
nothing left in it but the reserved something that was fixed by the
cold. But I do not see any reason why this should not be maintained in
reservation for weeks or months, as easily as for days, in a fixed cold

Cold being, however, obviously insufficient of itself for the suspension
of active life in warm-blooded animals, at least if such life is
eventually to be restored, let us next consider some of the agencies
which either alone or aided by cold may suspend without destroying life.

The first known of all such agencies was mandragora. Dioscorides
describes a wine, called _morion_, which was made from the leaves and
the root of mandragora, and possessed properties resembling those of
chloral hydrate. That it must have been an effective narcotic is shown
by the circumstance that painful operations were performed on patients
subjected to its influence, without their suffering the least pain, or
even feeling. The sleep thus produced lasted several hours. Dr.
Richardson considers that the use of this agent was probably continued
until the twelfth or thirteenth century. "From the use of it doubtless
came," he says, "the Shaksperian legend of Juliet." He strangely omits
to notice that Shakspeare elsewhere speaks of this narcotic by name,
where Iago says of Othello:

            "Not poppy, nor mandragora,
    Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world,
    Shall ever med'cine thee to that sweet sleep
    Which thou own'dst yesterday."

Probably the use of mandragora as a narcotic may have continued much
later than the thirteenth century. In earlier times it was certainly
used as opium is now used, not for medicinal purposes, but to produce
for a while an agreeable sensation of dreamy drowsiness. "There were
those," says Dr. Richardson, in his interesting article on Narcotics in
the CONTEMPORARY REVIEW for July last, "who drank of it for taste or
pleasure, and who were spoken of as 'mandragorites,' as we might speak
of 'alcoholists' or 'chloralists.' They passed into the land of sleep
and dream, and waking up in scare and alarm were the screaming mandrakes
of an ancient civilization." He has himself made the "morion" of the
ancients, dispensing the prescription of Dioscorides and Pliny. "The
same chemist, Mr. Hanbury," he says, "who first put chloral into my
hands for experiment, also procured for me the root of the true
mandragora. From that root I made the morion, tested it on myself, tried
its effects, and re-proved, after a lapse perhaps of four or five
centuries, that it had all the properties originally ascribed to it."

The "deadly nightshade" has similar properties. (In fact, morion was
originally made from the _Atropa belladonna_, not from its ally the
_Atropa mandragora_.) In 1851, Dr. Richardson attended two children who
were poisoned for a time from eating the berries and chewing the leaves
of the nightshade, which they had gathered near Richmond. They were
brought home insensible, he says, "and they lay in a condition of
suspended life for seven hours, the greatest care being required to
detect either the respiration or the movements of the heart; they
nevertheless recovered."

With the nitrite of amyl, Dr. Richardson has suspended the life of a
frog for nine days, yet the creature was then restored to full and
vigorous life. He has shown also that the same power of suspension,
though in less degree, "could be produced in warm-blooded animals, and
that the heart of a warm-blooded animal would contract for a period of
eighteen hours after apparent death." The action of nitrite of amyl
seems to resemble that of cold. In the pleasing language of the doctors,
"it prevents the pectous change of colloidal matter, and so prevents
_rigor mortis_, coagulation of blood, and solidification of nervous
centres and cords." So long as this change is prevented, active life can
be restored. But when in these experiments "the pectous change occurred,
all was over, and resolution into new forms of matter by putrefaction
was the result." From the analogy of some of the symptoms resulting from
the use of nitrite of amyl with the symptoms of catalepsy, Dr.
Richardson has "ventured to suggest that under some abnormal conditions
the human body itself, in its own chemistry, may produce an agent which
causes the suspended life observed during the cataleptic condition." The
suggestion has an interest apart from the question of the possibility of
safely suspending animation for considerable periods of time: it might
be possible to detect the nature of the agent thus produced by the
chemistry of the human body (if the theory is correct), and thus to
learn how its power might be counteracted.

Chloral hydrate seems singularly efficient in producing the semblance of
death,--so completely, indeed, as to deceive even the elect. Dr.
Richardson states that at the meeting of the British Association at
Exeter, some pigeons which had been put to sleep by the needle injection
of a large dose of chloral, "fell into such complete resemblance of
death that they passed for dead among an audience containing many
physiologists and other men of science. For my own part," he proceeds,
"I could detect no sign of life in them, and they were laid in one of
the out-offices of the museum of the infirmary as dead. In this
condition they were left late at night, but in the following morning
they were found alive, and as well as if nothing hurtful had happened to
them." Similar effects seem to be produced by the deadly poisons
cyanogen gas and hydrocyanic acid, though in the following case,
narrated by Dr. Richardson, the animal experimented upon (not with the
idea of eventually restoring it to life) belonged to a race so specially
tenacious of life that some may consider only one of its proverbial nine
lives to have been affected. In the laboratory of a large drug
establishment a cat, "by request of its owner, was killed, as was
assumed, instantaneously and painlessly by a large dose of Scheele's
acid. The animal appeared to die without a pang, and, presenting every
appearance of death, was laid in a sink to be removed on the next
morning. At night the animal was lying still in form of death in the
tank beneath a tap. In the morning it was found alive and well, but with
the fur wet from the dropping of water from the tap." This fact was
communicated to Dr. Richardson by an eminent chemist under whose direct
observation it occurred, in corroboration of an observation of his own
similar in character.

Our old friend alcohol (if friend it can be called) possesses the power
of suspending active vitality without destroying life, or at any rate
without depriving the muscles of their excitability. Dr. Richardson
records the case of a drunken man who, while on the ice at the Welsh
Harp lake, fell into the water through an opening in the ice, and was
for more than fifteen minutes completely immersed. He was extricated to
all appearance dead, but under artificial respiration was restored to
consciousness, though he did not survive for many hours. On the whole,
alcoholic suspension of life does not appear to be the best method
available. To test it, the patient must first get "very, very drunk,"
and even then, like the soldiers in the old song, must go on drinking,
lest the experiment should terminate simply in the fiasco of a drunken

The last agent for suspending life referred to by Dr. Richardson is pure
oxygen. But he has not yet obtained such information on the power of
oxygen in this respect as he hopes to do.

Summing up the results of the various experiments made with narcotics
and other agents for suspending life, Dr. Richardson remarks that much
is already known in the world of science in respect to the suspension of
animal life by artificial means: "cold as well as various chemical
agents has this power, and it is worthy of note that cold, together with
the agents named, is antiseptic, as though whatever suspended living
action, suspended also by some necessary and correlative influence the
process of putrefactive change." He points out that if the news from
Brisbane were reliable, it would be clear that what had been done had
been effected by the combination of one of the chemical agents above
named, or of a similar agent, with cold. The only question which would
remain as of moment is, not whether a new principle has been developed,
but whether in matter of detail a new product has been discovered which,
better than any of the agents we already possess, destroys and suspends
animation. "In organic chemistry," he proceeds, "there are, I doubt not,
hundreds of substances which, like mandragora and nitrite of amyl, would
suspend the vital process, and it may be a new experimenter has met with
such an agent. It is not incredible, indeed, that the Indian Fakirs
possess a vegetable extract or essence which possesses the same power,
and by means of which they perform their as yet unexplained feat of
prolonged living burial." But he is careful to note the weak points of
the Australian story--viz., first, the statement that the method used is
a secret, "for men of true science know no such word;" secondly, that
the experimenter has himself to go to America to procure more supplies
of his agents; and, thirdly, that he requires two agents, one of which
is an antidote to the other. As respects this third point, he asks very
pertinently how an antidote can be absorbed and enter into the
circulation in a body practically dead.

It is, of course, now well known that the whole story was a hoax, and a
mischievous one. Several Australian farmers travelled long distances to
Sydney to make inquiries about a method which promised such important
results, only to find that there was not a particle of truth in the



[70] Many fail to see a joke when it is gravely propounded in print, who
would at once recognise it as such, were it uttered verbally, with
however serious a countenance. Possibly this is due to the necessary
absence in the printed account of the indications by which we recognise
that a speaker is jesting--as a certain expression of countenance, or a
certain intonation of voice, by which the grave utterer of a spoken jest
conveys his real meaning. In a paper which recently appeared in the
_Gentleman's Magazine_, Mr. Foster (Thomas of that ilk) propounded very
gravely the theory that our Nursery Rhymes have in reality had their
origin in Nature Myths. He explained, for instance, that the rhymes
relating to Little Jack Horner were originally descriptive of sunrise in
winter: Little Jack is the sun in winter, the Christmas pie is the
cloud-covered sky; the thumb represents the sun's first ray piercing
through the clouds; and Jack's rejoicing means the brightness of full
sunlight. So also the rhymes beginning Hey Diddle Diddle are shown to be
of deep and solemn import, all in manifest burlesque of some recent
extravagant interpretations of certain ancient stories by Goldziher,
Steinthal, and others. Yet this fun was seriously criticized by more
than half the critics, by some approvingly, by some otherwise.

[71] For a full account of this clever hoax the reader is referred to my
"Myths and Marvels of Astronomy."

[72] The most curious are given in the ninth essay of my work referred
to in the preceding note.

[73] Few probably are aware how long some animals may remain without
breathing and yet survive. Kittens and puppies have been brought to life
after being immersed in water for nearly three-quarters of an hour.

[74] Objection has been taken to the italicized words in the following
passage from "No Thoroughfare" (one of the parts certainly written by
Dickens and not by Wilkie Collins): "The cry came up: 'His heart still
beats against mine. I warm him in my arms. I have cast off the rope, for
the ice melts under us, and the rope would separate me from him; but I
am not afraid.' ... The cry came up, 'We are sinking lower, but his
heart still beats against mine.' ... The cry came up, 'We are sinking
still, and we are deadly cold. _His heart no longer beats against mine._
Let no one come down to add to our weight. Lower the rope only.' ... The
cry came up with a deathly silence, 'Raise! softly!' ... She broke from
them all and sank over him on his litter, with both her loving hands
upon _the heart that stood still_." It has been supposed that Dickens
wilfully departed here from truth, in order to leave the impression on
the reader that Vendale was assuredly dead. That he wished to convey
this impression is obvious. He often showed similar care to remove, if
possible, all hope from the anxious reader's mind (markedly so in his
latest and unfinished work, where nevertheless any one well acquainted
with Dickens's manner knows not only that Drood is alive, but that
disguised as Datchery he was to have watched Jasper to the end). But in
reality, it has happened more than once that persons have been restored
to life who have been found in snow-drifts not merely reduced to
complete insensibility, but without any recognisable heart-beat. Dickens
had probably heard of such cases when in Switzerland.

[75] Dr. Richardson will certainly excite the contempt of the northern
professor who rebuked me recently for speaking of heat when I should
have said temperature. "An atmosphere two degrees below freezing-point"
is an expression as inadmissible, if we must be punctilious in such
matters, as the expressions "blood-heat," "a heat of ten degrees," and
so forth. Possibly, however, it is not desirable to be punctilious when
there is no possibility of being misunderstood, especially as it may be
noticed (the Edinburgh professor has often afforded striking
illustrations of the fact by errors of his own) that too great an effort
to be punctilious often results in very remarkable incorrectness of



In some respects Mill's Essays, published under the title
"Utilitarianism," are among his best writings. They have, in the first
place, the excellence of brevity. Ninety-six pages, printed in handsome
type, make but a light task for the student who wishes to enter into the
intricacies of moral doctrine. Moreover, the last Essay consists of a
digression concerning the nature and origin of the idea of Justice, and
it occupies nearly one-third of the whole book. Thus Mill managed to
compress his discussion of so important a subject as the foundations of
Moral Right and Wrong into some sixty pleasant pages.

And pleasant pages they certainly are, for they are written in Mill's
very best style. Now Mill, even when he is most prolix, when he is
pursuing the intricacies of the most involved points of logic and
philosophy, can seldom or never be charged with dulness and heaviness.
His language is too easy, polished, and apparently lucid. In these
Essays on Utilitarianism, he reaches his own highest standard of style.
There is hardly any other book in the range of philosophy, so far as my
reading has gone, which can be read with less effort. There is something
enticing in the easy flow of sentences and ideas, and without apparent
difficulty the reader finds himself agreeably borne into the midst of
the most profound questions of ethical philosophy, questions which have
been the battle-ground of the human intellect for two thousand five
hundred years.

Partly to this excellence of style, partly to Mill's immense reputation,
acquired by other works and in other ways, must we attribute the
importance which has been generally attached to these ninety-six pages.
Probably no other modern work of the same small typographical extent has
been equally discussed, criticized, and admired, unless, indeed, it be
the Essay on Liberty of the same author. The result is, that Mill has
been generally regarded as the latest and best expounder of the great
Utilitarian Doctrine--that doctrine which is, by one and no doubt the
preponderating school, regarded as the foundation of all moral and
legislative progress. Many there are who think that, what Hume and Paley
and Jeremy Bentham began, Mill has carried nearly to perfection in these
agreeable Essays.

Nothing can be more plain, too, than that Mill himself believed he was
dutifully expounding the doctrines of his father, of his father's
friend, the great Bentham, and of the other unquestionable Utilitarians
among whom he grew up. Mill seems to pride himself upon having been the
first, not indeed to invent, but to bring into general acceptance the
name of the school to which he supposed himself to belong. He says:[76]
"The author of this essay has reason for believing himself to be the
first person who brought the word utilitarian into use. He did not
invent it, but adopted it from a passing expression in Mr. Galt's
'Annals of the Parish.' After using it as a designation for several
years, he and others abandoned it from a growing dislike to anything
resembling a badge or watchword of sectarian distinction. But as a name
for one single opinion, not a set of opinions--to denote the recognition
of utility as a standard, not any particular way of applying it--the
term supplies a want in the language, and offers, in many cases, a
convenient mode of avoiding tiresome circumlocution."

In the Autobiography (p. 79), Mill makes a statement to the same effect,

    "I did not invent the word, but found it in one of Galt's novels,
    the 'Annals of the Parish,' in which the Scotch clergyman, of whom
    the book is a supposed autobiography, is represented as warning his
    parishioners not to leave the Gospel and become utilitarians. With a
    boy's fondness for a name and a banner I seized on the word, and for
    some years called myself and others by it as a sectarian
    appellation; and it came to be occasionally used by some others
    holding the opinions it was intended to designate. As those opinions
    attracted more notice, the term was repeated by strangers and
    opponents, and got into rather common use just about the time when
    those who had originally assumed it, laid down that along with other
    sectarian characteristics."

It is pointed out, however, by Mr. Sidgwick in his article on
Benthamism,[77] that Bentham himself suggested the name "Utilitarian,"
in a letter to Dumont, as far back as June, 1802.

Mill explicitly states that it was his purpose in these Essays on
Utilitarianism to expound a previously received doctrine of utility.
Towards the close of his first chapter, containing General Remarks, he
says (p. 6): "On the present occasion, I shall, without further
discussion of the other theories, attempt to contribute something
towards the understanding and appreciation of the Utilitarian or
Happiness theory, and towards such proof as it is susceptible of." He
proceeds to explain that a preliminary condition of the rational
acceptance or rejection of a doctrine is that its formula should be
correctly understood. The very imperfect notion ordinarily formed of the
Utilitarian formula was the chief obstacle which impeded its reception;
the main work to be done, therefore, by a Utilitarian writer was to
clear the doctrine from the grosser misconceptions. Thus the question
would be greatly simplified, and a large proportion of its difficulties
removed. His Essays purport throughout to be a defence and exposition of
the Utilitarian doctrine.

But one characteristic of Mill's writings is that there is often a wide
gulf between what he intends and what he achieves. There is even a want
of security that what he is at any moment urging may not be the logical
contrary of what he thinks he is urging. This happens to be palpably the
case with the celebrated Essays before us. Mill explains and defends his
favourite doctrine with so much affection and so much candour that he
finally explains himself into the opposite doctrine. Yet with that
simplicity which is a pleasing feature of his personal character, Mill
continues to regard himself as a Utilitarian long after he has left the
grounds of Paley and Bentham. Lines of logical distinction and questions
of logical consistency are of little account to one who cannot
distinguish between fact and feeling, between sense and sentiment. It is
possible that no small part of the favour with which these Essays have
always been received by the general public is due to the happy way in
which Mill has combined the bitter and the sweet. The uncompromising
rigidity of the Benthamist formulas is softened and toned down. An
apparently scientific treatment is combined with so many noble
sentiments and high aspirations, that almost any one except a logician
may be disarmed.

But nothing can endure if it be not logical. These Essays may be very
agreeable reading; they may make readers congratulate themselves on so
easily becoming moral philosophers; but they cannot really advance moral
science if they represent one thing as being another thing. I make it my
business therefore in this article to show that Mill was intellectually
unfitted to decide what was utilitarian and what was not. In removing
the obstacles to the reception of his favourite doctrine he removed its
landmarks too, and confused everything. It is true that I come rather
late in the day to show this. Some scores, if not hundreds, of critics
have shown the same fact more or less clearly. Eminent men of the most
different schools and tones of thought--such as the Rev. Dr. Martineau,
Mr. Sidgwick, Dr. Ward, Professor Birks, the late Professor Grote--have
criticized and refuted Mill time after time.

Since commencing my analysis of Mill's Philosophy, I have been surprised
to find, too, that some who were supposed to support Mill's school
through thick and thin, have long since discovered the inconsistencies
which I would now expose, at such wearisome length as if they were new
discoveries. Such is the ground which my friend, Professor Croom
Robertson, takes in his quarterly review, _Mind_, which must be
considered our best authority on philosophical questions. As to this
matter of Utilitarianism, a very eminent author, formerly a friend of
Mill himself, assures me that the subject is quite threshed out, and
implies that there is no need for me to trouble the public any more
about it. In fact, it would seem to be allowed within philosophical
circles that Mill's works are often wrongheaded and unphilosophical. Yet
these works are supposed to have done so much good that obloquy attaches
to any one who would seek to diminish the respect paid to them by the
public at large. Philosophers, and teachers of the last generation at
least, have done their best to give Mill's groundless philosophy a hold
upon all the schools and all the press, and yet we of this generation
are to wait calmly until this influence dissolves of its own accord. We
are to do nothing to lessen the natural respect paid to the memory of
the dead, especially of the dead who have unquestionably laboured with
single-minded purpose for what they considered the good of their
fellow-creatures. But in nothing is it more true than in philosophy,
that "the evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred
with their bones." Words and false arguments cannot be recalled. Throw a
stone into the surface of the still sea, and you are powerless to
prevent the circle of disturbance from spreading more and more widely.
True it is, that one disturbance may be overcome and apparently
obliterated by other deeper disturbances; but Mill's works and opinions
were disseminated by the immense former influence of the united band of
Benthamist philosophers. He is criticized and discussed and repeated, in
almost every philosophical work of the last thirty or forty years. He is
taken throughout the world as the representative of British philosophy,
and it is not sufficient for a few eminent thinkers in Oxford, or
Cambridge, or London, or Edinburgh, or Aberdeen, to acknowledge in a
tacit sort of way that this doctrine and that doctrine is wrong.
Eventually, no doubt, the opinion of the Lecture Halls and Combination
Rooms will guide the public opinion; but it may take a generation for
tacit opinions to permeate society. We must have them distinctly and
boldly expressed. It is especially to be remembered that the public
press throughout the English-speaking countries is mostly conducted by
men educated in the time when Mill's works were entirely predominant.
These men are now for the most part cut off, by geographical or
professional obstacles, from the direct influence of Oxford or
Cambridge. The circle of disturbance has spread beyond the immediate
reach of those centres of thought. To be brief, I do not believe that
Mill's immense philosophical influence, founded as it is on confusion of
thought, will readily collapse. I fear that it may remain as a permanent
obstacle in the way of sound thinking. _Citius emergit veritas ex
errore, quam ex confusione._ Had Mill simply erred as did Hobbes about
elementary geometry, and Berkeley about infinitesimals, it would be
necessary merely to point out the errors and consign them to merciful
oblivion. But it is not so easy to consign to oblivion ponderous works
so full of confusion of thought that every inexperienced and unwarned
reader is sure to lose his way in them, and to take for profound
philosophy that which is really a kind of kaleidoscopic presentation of
philosophic ideas and phrases, in a succession of various but usually
inconsistent combinations. To the public at large, Mill's works still
undoubtedly remain as the standard of accurate thinking, and the most
esteemed repertory of philosophy. I cannot therefore consider my
criticism superfluous, and at the risk of repeating much that has been
said by the eminent critics already mentioned, or by others, I must show
that Mill has thrown ethical philosophy into confusion as far as could
well be done in ninety-six pages.

The nature of the Utilitarian doctrine is explained by Mill with
sufficient accuracy in pp. 9 and 10, where he says--

    "The creed which accepts as the foundation of morals, Utility, or
    the Greatest Happiness Principle, holds that actions are right in
    proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to
    produce the reverse of happiness. By happiness is intended pleasure,
    and the absence of pain; by unhappiness, pain, and the privation of
    pleasure. To give a clear view of the moral standard set up by the
    theory, much more requires to be said; in particular, what things it
    includes in the ideas of pain and pleasure; and to what extent this
    is left an open question. But these supplementary explanations do
    not affect the theory of life on which this theory of morality is
    grounded--namely, that pleasure, and freedom from pain, are the only
    things desirable as ends; and that all desirable things (which are
    as numerous in the utilitarian as any other scheme) are desirable
    either for the pleasure inherent in themselves, or as means to the
    promotion of pleasure and the prevention of pain."

Mill proceeds to say that such a theory of life excites inveterate
dislike in many minds, and among them some of the most estimable in
feeling and purpose. To hold forth no better end than pleasure is felt
to be utterly mean and grovelling--a doctrine worthy only of swine. Mill
accordingly proceeds to inquire whether there is anything really
grovelling in the doctrine--whether, on the contrary, we may not include
under pleasure, feelings and motives which are in the highest degree
noble and elevating. The whole inquiry turns upon this question--Do
pleasures differ in quality as well as in quantity? Can a small amount
of pleasure of very elevated character outweigh a large amount of
pleasure of low quality? We should never think of estimating pictures by
their size and number. The productions of West and Fuseli, which were
the wonder and admiration of our grandparents, can now be bought by the
square yard, to cover the bare walls of eating-houses and music-halls.
_Sic transit gloria mundi._ But a choice sketch by Turner sometimes
sells for many pounds per square inch. It is clear, then, that in the
opinion of connoisseurs, which must, for our present purpose, be
considered final, high art is almost wholly a matter of quality. Two
great pictures by West may be nearly twice as valuable as one; and two
equally choice sketches by Turner are twice as good as one; but it would
seem hardly possible in the present day for the disciple of "high art"
to bring West and Turner into the same category of thought. I suppose
that even Turner will presently begin to wane before "the higher

A corresponding difficulty lies at the very basis of the Utilitarian
theory of ethics. The tippler may esteem two pints of beer doubly as
much as one; the hero may feel double satisfaction in saving two lives
instead of one; but who shall weigh the pleasure of a pint of beer
against the pleasure of saving a fellow-creature's life.

Paley, indeed, cut the Gordian knot of this difficulty in a summary
manner; he denied altogether that there is any difference between
pleasures, except in continuance and intensity. It must have required
some moral courage to write the paragraph to be next quoted; yet Paley,
however much he may be said to have temporized and equivocated about
oaths and subscription to Articles, cannot be accused of want of
explicitness in this passage. There is a directness and clear-hitting of
the point in Paley's writings which always charms me.

    "In strictness, any condition may be denominated happy, in which the
    amount or aggregate of pleasure exceeds that of pain; and the degree
    of happiness depends upon the quantity of this excess. And the
    greatest quantity of it ordinarily attainable in human life, is what
    we mean by happiness, when we inquire or pronounce what human
    happiness consists in. In which inquiry I will omit much usual
    declamation on the dignity and capacity of our nature; the
    superiority of the soul to the body, of the rational to the animal
    part of our constitution; upon the worthiness, refinement, and
    delicacy of some satisfactions, or the meanness, grossness, and
    sensuality of others; because I hold that pleasures differ in
    nothing, but in continuance and intensity: from a just computation
    of which, confirmed by what we observe of the apparent cheerfulness,
    tranquillity, and contentment, of men of different tastes, tempers,
    stations, and pursuits, every question concerning human happiness
    must receive its decision."[78]

Bentham, it need hardly be said, adopted the same idea as the basis of
his ethical and legislative theories. In his uncompromising style he
tells us[79] that

    "Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign
    masters, _pain_ and _pleasure_. It is for them alone to point out
    what we ought to do, as well as to determine what we shall do. On
    the one hand the standard of right and wrong, on the other the chain
    of causes and effects, are fastened to their throne. They govern us
    in all we do, in all we say, in all we think: every effort we can
    make to throw off our subjection will serve but to demonstrate and
    confirm it. In words a man may pretend to abjure their empire: but
    in reality he will remain subject to it all the while. The
    _principle of utility_ recognises this subjection, and assumes it
    for the foundation of that system, the object of which is to rear
    the fabric of felicity by the hands of reason and of law. Systems
    which attempt to question it, deal in sounds instead of sense, in
    caprice instead of reason, in darkness instead of light."

Elsewhere Bentham proceeds to show how we may estimate the _values_ of
pleasures and pains, meaning obviously by _values_ the quantities or
forces. As these feelings are both the ends and the instruments of the
moralist and legislator, it especially behoves us to learn how to
estimate these values aright, and Bentham tells us most distinctly.[80]

    To a person, he says, considered _by himself_, the value of a
    pleasure or pain considered _by itself_, will be greater or less,
    according to the four following circumstances. 1. Its _intensity_.
    2. Its _duration_. 3. Its _certainty_ or _uncertainty_. 4. Its
    _propinquity_ or _remoteness_. But when the value of any pleasure or
    pain is to be considered for the purpose of estimating the general
    tendency of the act, we have to take into account also, 5. The
    _fecundity_, or the chance it has of being followed by sensations of
    the same kind, that is, pleasures, if it be a pleasure; pains, if it
    be a pain. 6. Its _purity_, or the chance it has of _not_ being
    followed by sensations of the _opposite_ kind: that is, pains, if it
    be a pleasure; pleasures, if it be a pain. Finally, when we consider
    the interests of a number of persons, we must also estimate a
    pleasure or pain with reference to, 7. Its extent; that is the
    number of persons to whom it extends, or who are affected by it.

Thus did Bentham clearly and explicitly lay the foundations of the moral
and political sciences, and to impress these fundamental propositions on
the memory he framed the following curious mnemonic lines, which may be
quoted for the sake of their quaintness:--

    "_Intense, long, certain, speedy, fruitful, pure_----
    Such marks in pleasures and in pains endure.
    Such pleasures seek, if private be thy end:
    If it be public, wide let them _extend_.
    Such _pains_ avoid, whichever be thy view:
    If pains _must_ come, let them _extend_ to few."

In all that Bentham says about pleasure and pain, there is not a word
about the intrinsic superiority of one pleasure to another. He advocates
our seeking _pure_ pleasures; but with him a pure pleasure was clearly
defined as one not likely to be followed by feelings of the opposite
kind; the pleasure of opium-eating, for instance, would be called
impure, simply because it is likely to lead to bad health and consequent
pain; if not so followed by evil consequences, the pleasure would be as
pure as any other pleasure. With Bentham morality became, as it were, a
question of the ledger and the balance-sheet; all feelings were reduced
to the same denomination of value, and whenever we indulge in a little
enjoyment, or endure a pain, the consequences in regard to subsequent
enjoyment or suffering are to be inexorably scored for or against us, as
the case may be. Our conduct must be judged wise or foolish according
as, in the long-run, we find a favourable "hedonic" balance-sheet.

What Mill in his earlier life thought about these foundations of the
utilitarian doctrine, and the elaborate structure reared therefrom by
Bentham, he has told us in his Autobiography, pp. 64 to 70. Subsequently
Mill revolted, as we all know, against the narrowness of the Benthamist
creed. While wishing to retain[81] the precision of expression, the
definiteness of meaning, the contempt of declamatory phrases and vague
generalities, which were so honourably characteristic both of Bentham
and of his own father, James Mill, John Stuart decided to give a wider
basis and a more free and "genial" character to the utilitarian

Let us consider how Mill proceeded to give this "genial" character to
the utilitarian philosophy. It must be admitted, he says,[82] that
utilitarian writers in general have placed the superiority of mental
over bodily pleasures _chiefly_ in the greater permanency, safety,
uncostliness, &c., of the former--that is, in their circumstantial
advantages rather than in their intrinsic nature. As regards Bentham, at
least, Mill might have omitted the word _chiefly_. But according to
Mill, there is no need why they should have taken such a ground.

    "They might have taken the other, and, as it may be called, higher
    ground, with entire consistency. It is quite compatible with the
    principle of utility to recognise the fact, that some _kinds_ of
    pleasure are more desirable and more valuable than others. It would
    be absurd, that while, in estimating all other things, quality is
    considered as well as quantity, the estimation of pleasures should
    be supposed to depend on quantity alone."

Then Mill proceeds to point out, with all the persuasiveness of his best
style, that there are higher feelings which we would not sacrifice for
any quantity of a lower feeling. Few human creatures, he holds, would
consent to be changed into any of the lower animals for a promise of the
fullest allowance of a beast's pleasures; no intelligent human being
would consent to be a fool, no instructed person would be an ignoramus,
no person of feeling and conscience would be selfish and base, and so
forth. Mill, in fact, treats us to a good deal of what Paley so
cynically called the "usual declamation," on the dignity and capacity of
our nature, and the worthiness of some satisfactions compared with the
grossness and sensuality of others. It must be allowed that Mill has the
best of it, at least with the majority of readers. Paley is simply
brutal as to the way in which he depresses everything to the same level
of apparent sensuality. Mill overflows with genial and noble
aspirations; he hardly deigns to count the lower pleasures as worth
putting in the scale; it is better, he thinks, to be a human being
dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied
than a fool satisfied. If the pig or the fool is of a different opinion,
it is because they only know their own side of the question. The other
party to the comparison knows both sides. In the pages which follow
there is much nobleness and elevation of thought. But where is the
logic? We are nothing if we are not logical. But does Mill, in the
fervour of his revolt against the cold, narrow restraints of the
Benthamist formulas, consider the consistency and stability of his
position? Let us examine in some detail the position to which he has
brought himself.

It is plain, in the first place, that pleasure is with Mill the ultimate
purpose of existence; for the philosophy is that of utilitarianism, and
Mill distinctly assures us (Autobiography, p. 178) that he "never
ceased to be a utilitarian." We must, of course, distinguish between the
pleasure of the individual and the pleasure of other individuals of the
race, between Egoistic and Universalistic Hedonism, as Mr. Sidgwick
calls these very different doctrines. But the happiness of the race is,
of course, made up of the happiness of its units, so that unless most of
the individuals pursue a course ensuring happiness, the race cannot be
happy in the aggregate. Now, to acquire happiness the individual must,
of course, select that line of conduct which is likely to--that is, will
in the majority of cases--bring happiness. He must aim at something
which is capable of being reached. Mill tells us (p. 18) that if by
happiness be meant a continuity of highly pleasurable excitement, it is
evident enough that this is impossible to attain.

    "A state of exalted pleasure lasts only moments, or in some cases,
    and with some intermissions, hours or days, and is the occasional
    brilliant flash of enjoyment, not its permanent and steady flame. Of
    this the philosophers who have taught that happiness is the end of
    life were as fully aware as those who taunt them. The happiness
    which they meant was not a life of rapture; but moments of such, in
    an existence made up of few and transitory pains, many and various
    pleasures, with a decided predominance of the actual over the
    passive, and _having as the foundation of the whole, not to expect
    more from life than it is capable of bestowing_.[83] A life thus
    composed, to those who have been fortunate enough to obtain it, has
    always appeared worthy of the name of happiness."

Then Mill goes on to point out what he considers has been sufficient to
satisfy great numbers of mankind (p. 19):

    "The main constituents of a satisfied life appear to be two, either
    of which by itself is often found sufficient for the purpose:
    tranquillity, and excitement. With much tranquillity, many find that
    they can be content with very little pleasure: with much excitement,
    many can reconcile themselves to a considerable quantity of pain.
    There is assuredly no inherent impossibility in enabling even the
    mass of mankind to unite both."

From these passages we must gather that at any rate the mass of mankind
will attain happiness if they are satisfied with these main
constituents, and we are especially told that the foundation of the
whole utilitarian philosophy (Mill does not specify the substantive to
which the adjective _whole_ applies in the above quotation, but it must
from the context be either "utilitarian philosophy," "search for
happiness," or some closely equivalent idea) is _not to expect from life
more than it is capable of bestowing_.

The question, then, may fairly arise whether upon a fair calculation of
probabilities they are not wise, upon Mill's own showing, who aim at
moderate achievements in life, so that in accomplishing these they may
insure a satisfied life. This seems the more reasonable, if, as Mill
elsewhere tells us, the nobler feelings are very apt to be killed off by
the chilly realities of life.

    "Many," he says (p. 14), "who begin with youthful enthusiasm for
    everything noble, as they advance in years sink into indolence and
    selfishness. But I do not believe that those who undergo this very
    common change, voluntarily choose the lower description of pleasure
    in preference to the higher, I believe that before they devote
    themselves exclusively to the one, they have already become
    incapable of the other. Capacity for the nobler feelings is in most
    natures a very tender plant, easily killed, not only by hostile
    influences, but by mere want of sustenance; and in the majority of
    young persons it speedily dies away if the occupations to which
    their position in life has devoted them, and the society into which
    it has thrown them, are not favourable to keeping that higher
    capacity in exercise. Men lose their high aspirations as they lose
    their intellectual tastes, because they have not time or opportunity
    for indulging them; and they addict themselves to inferior
    pleasures, not because they deliberately prefer them, but because
    they are either the only ones to which they have access, or the only
    ones which they are any longer capable of enjoying. It may be
    questioned whether any one who has remained equally susceptible to
    both classes of pleasure, ever knowingly and calmly preferred the
    lower; though many, in all ages, have broken down in an ineffectual
    attempt to combine both."

It would seem, then, that for the mass of mankind there is small
prospect indeed of achieving happiness through high aspirations. They
will not have time nor opportunity for indulging them. If they look for
happiness solely to such aspirations they must be disappointed, and
cannot have a satisfied life; if they attempt to combine the higher and
lower lives they are likely to "break down in the ineffectual attempt."
Now, I submit that, under these circumstances, it is folly, according to
Mill's scheme of morality, to aim high; it is equivalent to going into a
life-lottery, in which there are no doubt high prizes to be gained, but
few and far between. It is simply gambling with hedonic stakes;
preferring a small chance of high enjoyment to comparative certainty of
moderate pleasures. Mill clearly admits this when he says (p. 14), "It
is indisputable that the being whose capacities of enjoyment are low has
the greatest chance of having them fully satisfied; and a highly endowed
being will always feel that any happiness which he can look for, as the
world is constituted, is imperfect."

Although, then, "the foundation of the whole" is not to expect from life
more than it is capable of bestowing, we are actually to prefer becoming
highly endowed, although we cannot expect life to satisfy the
corresponding aspirations. That is to say, although seeking for
happiness, we are to prefer the course in which we are approximately
certain of not obtaining it.

But Mill goes on to give some explanations. He says that the highly
endowed being can learn to bear the imperfections of his happiness, "if
they are at all bearable" (p. 14). This is small comfort if they happen
to be _not at all bearable_, an alternative which is not further pursued
by Mill. And will not this intolerable fate be most likely to befall
those whose aspirations have been pitched most highly? But Mill goes on:

    "They (that is, the imperfections of life or happiness?) will not
    make him envy the being who is indeed unconscious of the
    imperfections, but only because he feels not at all the good which
    those imperfections qualify. It is better to be a human being
    dissatisfied, than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates
    dissatisfied, than a fool satisfied. And if the fool, or the pig, is
    of a different opinion, it is because they only know their own side
    of the question. The other party to the comparison knows both

Concerning this position of affairs the most apposite remark I can make
is contained in the somewhat trite and vulgar saying, "Where ignorance
is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise." If Socrates is pretty sure to be
dissatisfied, and yet, owing to his wisdom, cannot help wishing to be
Socrates, he seems to have no chance of that individual happiness which
depends on being satisfied, and not expecting from life more than it is
capable of bestowing. The great majority of people who do not know what
it is like to be Socrates, are surely to be congratulated that they can,
without scruple or remorse, seek a prize of happiness which there is a
fair prospect of securing. But Mill tells us that those who choose the
lower life do so "because they only know their own side of the question.
The other party to the comparison knows both sides." Then Mill
introduces a paragraph, already partially quoted, in which he allows
that men often do, _from infirmity of character_, make their selection
for the nearer good, though they know it to be the less valuable. Many
who begin with youthful enthusiasm for everything noble, sink in later
years into indolence and selfishness. The capacity for the nobler
feelings is easily killed, and men lose their high aspirations because
they have not time and opportunity for indulging them. I submit that,
_from Mill's point of view_, these are all valid reasons why they should
_not_ choose the higher life. We are considering here, not those who
have always been devoid of the nobler feelings, but those who have in
earlier life been full of enthusiasm and high aspirations. If such men,
with few exceptions, decide eventually in favour of the lower life, they
are parties who _do_ know both sides of the comparison, and deliberately
choose not to be Socrates, with the prospect of the very imperfect
happiness (probably involving short rations) which is incident to the
life of Socrates.

Mill, indeed, calmly assumes that the vote goes in his own and Socrates'
favour. He says (p. 15):

    "From this verdict of the only competent judges, I apprehend there
    can be no appeal. On a question which is the best worth having of
    two pleasures, or which of two modes of existence is the most
    grateful to the feelings, apart from its moral attributes and from
    its consequences, the judgment of those who are qualified by
    knowledge of both, or, if they differ, that of the majority among
    them, must be admitted as final. And there need be the less
    hesitation to accept this judgment respecting the quality of
    pleasures, since there is no other tribunal to be referred to, even
    on the question of quantity. What means are there of determining
    which is the acutest of two pains, or the intensest of two
    pleasurable sensations, except the general suffrage of those who are
    familiar with both?"

Now, were we dealing with a writer of average logical accuracy there
would be considerable presumption that when he adduces evidence and
claims a result in his own favour in this confident way, there would be
some ground for the claim. But my scrutiny of Mill's "System of Logic"
has taught me caution in admitting such presumptions in respect of his
writings, and here is a case in point. He claims that the suffrage of
the majority is in favour of Socrates' life, although he has admitted
that the vast majority of men somehow or other elect not to be Socrates.
He assumes, indeed, that this is because their aspirations have been
first killed off by unfavourable circumstances; his only residuum of
fact is contained in this somewhat hesitating conclusion already

    "It may be questioned whether any one who has remained equally
    susceptible to both classes of pleasures, ever knowingly and calmly
    preferred the lower; though many, in all ages, have broken down in
    an ineffectual attempt to combine both."

Although, then, millions and millions are continually deciding against
Socrates' life, for one reason or another (and many in all ages who make
the ineffectual attempt at a combination break down), Mill gratuitously
assumes that they are none of them competent witnesses, because they
must have lost their higher feelings before they could have descended to
the lower level; then the comparatively few who do choose the higher
life and succeed in attaining it are adduced as giving a large majority,
or even a unanimous vote in favour of their own choice. I submit that
this is a fallacy probably to be best classed as a _petitio principii_;
Mill entirely begs the question when he assumes that every witness
against him is an incapacitated witness, because he must have lost his
capacity for the nobler feelings before he could have decided in favour
of the lower.

The verdict which Mill takes in favour of his high-quality pleasures is
entirely that of a packed jury. It is on a par with the verdict which
would be given by vegetarians in favour of a vegetable diet. No doubt,
those who call themselves vegetarians would almost unanimously say that
it is the best and highest diet; but then, all those who have tried such
diet and found it impracticable have disappeared from the jury, together
with all those whose common sense, or scientific knowledge, or weak
state of health, or other circumstances, have prevented them from
attempting the experiment. By the same method of decision, we might all
be required to get up at five o'clock in the morning and do four hours
of head-work before breakfast, because the few hard-headed and
hard-bodied individuals who do this sort of thing are unanimously of
opinion that it is a healthly and profitable way of beginning the day.

Of course, it will be understood that I am not denying the moral
superiority of some pleasures and courses of life over others. I am only
showing that Mill's attempt to reconcile his ideas on the subject with
the Utilitarian theory hopelessly fails. The few pleasant pages in which
he makes this attempt (Utilitarianism, pp. 8-28), form, in fact, a most
notable piece of sophistical reasoning. Much of the interest of these
undoubtedly interesting passages arises from the kaleidoscopic way in
which the standing difficulties of ethical science are woven together,
as if they were logically coherent in Mill's mode of presentation. The
ideas involved are as old as Plato and Aristotle. The high aspirations
correspond to τὸ καλὸν of Plato. The superior man who can judge both
sides of the question is the βέλτιστος ἀνήρ of Aristotle. The
Utilitarian doctrine is that of Epicurus. Now, Mill managed to persuade
himself that he could in twenty pages reconcile the controversies of

Nor is it to be supposed that Bentham, in making his analysis of the
conditions of pleasure, overlooked the difference of high and low; he
did not overlook it at all--he analyzed it. A pleasure to be high must
have the marks of intensity, length, certainty, fruitfulness, and
purity, or of some of these at least; and when we take Altruism into
account, the feelings must be of wide extent--that is, fruitful of
pleasure and devoid of evil to great numbers of people. It is a higher
pleasure to build a Free Library than to establish a new Race Course;
not because there is a _Free-Library-building emotion_, which is
essentially better than a _Race-Course-establishing emotion_, each being
a simple unanalyzable feeling; but because we may, after the model of
inquiry given by Bentham, resolve into its elements the effect of one
action and the other upon the happiness of the community. Thus, we
should find that Mill proposed to give "geniality" to the Utilitarian
philosophy by throwing into confusion what it was the very merit of
Bentham to have distinguished and arranged scientifically. We must hold
to the dry old Jeremy, if we are to have any chance of progress in
Ethics. Mill, at some "crisis in his mental history," decided in favour
of a genial instead of a logical and scientific Ethics, and the result
is the mixture of sentiment and sophistry contained in the attractive
pages under review.

In order to treat adequately of Mill's ethical doctrines it would no
doubt be necessary to go on to other parts of the Essays, and to inquire
how he treats other moral elements, such as the Social or Altruistic
Feelings. The existence of such feelings is admitted on p. 46, and,
indeed, insisted on as a basis of powerful natural sentiment,
constituting the strength of the Utilitarian morality. But it would be
an endless work to examine all phases of Mill's doctrines, and to show
whether or not they are logically consistent _inter se_. They are really
not worth the trouble. Just let us notice, however, how he treats the
question whether moral feelings are innate or not. On this point Mill
gives (p. 45) the following characteristic deliverance:--"If, as is my
own belief, the moral feelings are not innate, but acquired, they are
not for that reason the less natural. It is natural to man to speak, to
reason, to build cities, to cultivate the ground, though these are
acquired faculties. The moral feelings are not indeed a part of our
nature, in the sense of being in any perceptible degree present in all
of us; but this, unhappily, is a fact admitted by those who believe the
most strenuously in their transcendental origin. Like the other acquired
capacities above referred to, the moral faculty, if not a part of our
nature, is a natural outgrowth from it; capable, like them, in a certain
small degree, of springing up spontaneously; and susceptible of being
brought by cultivation to a high degree of development." If life were
long enough, I should like, with the assistance of the "Methods of
Ethics," to analyze the ideas involved in this passage. I can merely
suggest the following questions:--If acquired capacities are equally
natural with those not acquired, what is the use of introducing a
distinction without a difference? If moral feelings can spring up
spontaneously, even in the smallest degree, and then be developed by
"natural outgrowths," how do any of our feelings differ from natural
ones? What does Mill mean, at the top of the next page, by speaking of
"moral associations which are wholly of artificial creation?" Are these
also not the less natural because they are of artificial creation? If
not, we should like to know how to draw the line between _acquired_ and
_artificial_ capacities. How, again, are we to interpret the use of the
word _natural_, on p. 50, where, speaking of the deeply-rooted
conception which every individual even now has of himself as a social
being, he says--

    "This feeling in most individuals is much inferior in strength to
    their selfish feelings, and is often wanting altogether. But to
    those who have it, it possesses all the characters of a natural
    feeling. It does not present itself to their minds as a superstition
    of education," &c.

Here a natural feeling is contrasted to the product of education,
although we were before told that acquired capacities, like speaking,
building, cultivating, were none the less natural. But I must candidly
confess that when Mill introduces the words _nature_ and _natural_, I am
completely baffled. I give it up. I can no longer find any logical marks
to assist me in tracking out his course of thought. The word _nature_
may be Mill's key to a profound philosophy; but I rather think it is the
key to many of his fallacies.

I often amuse myself by trying to imagine what Bentham would have said
of Benthamism expounded by Mill. Especially would it be interesting to
hear Bentham on Mill's use of the word "natural." No passage in which
Bentham analyzes the meaning of "nature," or "natural," occurs to me,
but the following is his treatment of the word "unnatural," as employed
in Ethics:--

    "Unnatural, when it means anything, means unfrequent: and there it
    means something; although nothing to the present purpose. But here
    it means no such thing: for the frequency of such acts is perhaps
    the great complaint. It therefore means nothing; nothing, I mean,
    which there is in the act itself. All it can serve to express is,
    the disposition of the person who is talking of it: the disposition
    he is in to be angry at the thoughts of it."[84]

Would that the grand old man, as he still sits benignly pondering in his
own proper bones and clothes, in the upper regions of a well-known
institution, could be got to deliver himself in like style about
feelings which are _not the less natural because they are acquired_.

Before passing on, however, I must point out, in the extract from p. 45,
the characteristic habit which Mill has of _minimizing_ things which he
is obliged to admit. Instead of denying straightforwardly that we have
moral feelings, he says they are not present in all of us in any
"perceptible degree." The moral faculty is capable of springing up
spontaneously "in a certain small degree." This will remind every reader
of the way in which, in his "Essays on Religion," instead of flatly
adopting Atheism or Theism, which are clear logical negatives each of
the other, he concludes that though God is almost proved not to exist,
He may possibly exist, and we must "imagine" this chance to be as large
as we can, though it belongs only "to one of the lower degrees of
probability." Exactly the same manner of meeting a weighty question will
be discovered again in his demonstration of the non-existence of
necessary truths. I shall hope to examine carefully his treatment of
this important part of philosophy on a future occasion. We shall then
find, I believe, that his argument proves non-existence of such things
as necessary truths, because those truths which cannot be explained on
the association principle are very few indeed. I beg pardon for
introducing an incongruous illustration, but Mill's manner of minimizing
an all-important admission often irresistibly reminds me of the young
woman who, being taxed with having borne a child, replied that it was
only a very small one.

Such are the intricacies and wide extent of ethical questions, that it
is not practicable to pursue the analysis of Mill's doctrine in at all a
full manner. We cannot detect the fallacious reasoning with the same
precision as in matters of geometric and logical science. This analysis
is the less needful too, because, since Mill's Essays appeared, Moral
Philosophy has undergone a revolution. I do not so much allude to the
reform effected by Mr. Sidgwick's "Methods of Ethics," though that is a
great one, introducing as it does a precision of thought and
nomenclature which was previously wanting. I allude, of course, to the
establishment of the Spencerian Theory of Morals, which has made a new
era in philosophy.[85] Mill has been singularly unfortunate from this
point of view. He might be defined as the last great philosophic writer
conspicuous for his ignorance of the principles of evolution. He brought
to confusion the philosophy of his master, Bentham; he ignored that
which was partly to replace, partly to complete it.

I am aware that, in her Introductory Notice to the Essays on Religion
(p. viii.), Miss Helen Taylor apologizes for Mill having omitted any
references to the works of Mr. Darwin and Sir Henry Maine "in passages
where there is coincidence of thought with those writers, or where
subjects are treated which they have since discussed in a manner to
which the Author of these Essays would certainly have referred had their
works been published before these were written."[86] Here it is implied
that Mill anticipated the authors of the Evolution philosophy in some of
their thoughts, and it is a most amiable and pardonable bias which leads
Miss Taylor to find in the works of one so dear to her that which is not
there. The fact is that the whole tone of Mill's moral and political
writings is totally opposed to the teaching of Darwin and Spencer,
Taylor and Maine. Mill's idea of human nature was that we came into the
world like lumps of soft clay, to be shaped by the accidents of life, or
the care of those who educate us. Austin insisted on the evidence which
history and daily experience afford of "the extraordinary pliability of
human nature," and Mill borrowed the phrase from him.[87] No phrase
could better express the misapprehensions of human nature which, it is
to be hoped, will cease for ever with the last generation of writers.
Human nature is one of the last things which can be called "pliable."
Granite rocks can be more easily moulded than the poor savages that hide
among them. We are all of us full of deep springs of unconquerable
character, which education may in some degree soften or develop, but can
neither create nor destroy. The mind can be shaped about as much as the
body; it may be starved into feebleness, or fed and exercised into
vigour and fulness; but we start always with inherent hereditary powers
of growth. The non-recognition of this fact is the great defect in the
moral system of Bentham. The great Jeremy was accustomed to make short
work with the things which he did not understand, and it is thus he
disposes of "the pretended system" of a moral sense:[88]

    "One man says he has a thing made on purpose to tell him what is
    right and what is wrong, and that it is called a _moral sense_; and
    then he goes to his work at his ease, and says such a thing is right
    and such a thing is wrong--Why? because my moral sense tells me it

Bentham then bluntly ignored the validity of innate feelings, but this
omission, though a great defect, did not much diminish the value of his
analysis of the good and bad effects of actions. Mill discarded the
admirable Benthamist analysis, but failed to introduce the true
Evolutionist principles; thus he falls between the two. It is to Herbert
Spencer we must look for a more truthful philosophy of morals than was
possible before his time.

The publication of the first part of his Principles of Morality, under
the title "The Data of Ethics," gives us, in a definite form, and in his
form, what we could previously only infer from the general course of his
philosophy and from his brief letter on Utilitarianism addressed to
Mill. Although but fragments, these writings enable us to see that a
definite step has been made in a matter debated since the dawn of
intellect. The moral sense doctrine, so rudely treated by Bentham, is no
longer incapable of reconciliation with the greatest happiness
principle, only it now becomes a moving and developable moral sense. An
absolute and unalterable moral standard was opposed to the palpable fact
that customs and feelings differ widely, and Paley, on this ground, was
induced to reject it. Now we perceive that we all have a moral sense;
but the moral sense of one individual, and still more of one race, may
differ from that of another individual or race. Each is more or less
fitted to its circumstances, and the best is ascertained by _eventual

At the tail end of an article it is, of course, impossible to discuss
the grounds or results of the Spencerian philosophy. To me it presents
itself, in its main features, as unquestionably true; indeed, it is
already difficult to look back and imagine how philosophers could have
denied of the human mind and actions what is so obviously true of the
animal races generally. As a reaction from the old views about innate
ideas, the philosophers of the eighteenth century wished to believe that
the human mind was a kind of _tabula rasa_, or _carte blanche_, upon
which education could impress any character. But if so, why not harness
the lion, and teach the sheep to drive away the wolf? If the moral, not
to speak of the physical characteristics of the lower animals, are so
distinct, why should there not be moral and mental differences among
ourselves, descending, as we obviously do, from different stocks with
different physical characteristics? Notice what Mr. Darwin says on this

    "Mr. J. S. Mill speaks, in his celebrated work, 'Utilitarianism'
    (1864, p. 46), of the social feelings as a 'powerful natural
    sentiment,' and as 'the natural basis of sentiment for utilitarian
    morality;' but on the previous page he says, 'if, as is my own
    belief, the moral feelings are not innate, but acquired, they are
    not for that reason less natural.' It is with hesitation that I
    venture to differ from so profound a thinker, but it can hardly be
    disputed that the social feelings are instinctive or innate in the
    lower animals; and why should they not be so in man? Mr. Bain and
    others believe that the moral sense is acquired by each individual
    during his lifetime. On the general theory of evolution this is at
    least extremely improbable."[89]

Many persons may be inclined to like the philosophy of Spencer no better
than that of Mill. But, if the one be true and the other false, liking
and disliking have no place in the matter. There may be many things
which we cannot possibly like; but if they are, they are. It is possible
that the Principles of Evolution, as expounded by Mr. Herbert Spencer,
may seem as wanting in "geniality" as the formulas of Bentham. There is
nothing genial, it must be confessed, about the mollusca and other
cold-blooded organisms with which Mr. Spencer perpetually illustrates
his principles. Heaven forbid that any one should try to give geniality
to Mr. Spencer's views of ethics by any operation comparable to that
which Mill performed upon Benthamism.

Nevertheless, I fully believe that all which is sinister and ungenial in
the Philosophy of Evolution is either the expression of unquestionable
facts, or else it is the outcome of misinterpretation. It is impossible
to see how Mr. Spencer, any more than other people, can explain away the
existence of pain and evil. Nobody has done this; perhaps nobody ever
shall do it; certainly systems of Theology will not do it. A true
philosopher will not expect to solve everything. But if we admit the
patent fact that pain exists, let us observe also the tendency which
Spencer and Darwin establish towards its _minimization_. Evolution is a
striving ever towards the better and the happier. There may be almost
infinite powers against us, but at least there is a deep-laid scheme
working towards goodness and happiness. So profound and wide-spread is
this confederacy of the powers of good, that no failure and no series of
failures can disconcert it. Let mankind be thrown back a hundred times,
and a hundred times the better tendencies of evolution will re-assert
themselves. Paley pointed out how many beautiful contrivances there are
in the human form, tending to our benefit. Spencer has pointed out that
the Universe is one deep-laid framework for the production of such
beneficent contrivances. Paley called upon us to admire such exquisite
inventions as a hand or an eye. Spencer calls upon us to admire a
machine which is the most comprehensive of all machines, because it is
ever engaged in inventing beneficial inventions _ad infinitum_. Such at
least is my way of regarding his Philosophy.

Darwin, indeed, cautions us against supposing that natural selection
always leads towards the production of higher and happier types of life.
Retrogression may result as well as progression. But I apprehend that
retrogression can only occur where the environment of a living species
is altered to its detriment. Mankind degenerates when forced, like the
Esquimaux, to inhabit the Arctic regions. Still in retrograding, in a
sense, the being becomes more suited to its circumstances--more capable
therefore of happiness. The inventing machine of Evolution would be
working badly if it worked otherwise. But, however this may be, we must
accept the philosophy if it be true, and, for my part, I do so without

According to Mill, we are little self-dependent gods, fighting with a
malignant and murderous power called Nature, sure, one would think, to
be worsted in the struggle. According to Spencer, as I venture to
interpret his theory, we are the latest manifestation of an
all-prevailing tendency towards the good--the happy. Creation is not yet
concluded, and there is no one of us who may not become conscious in his
heart that he is no Automaton, no mere lump of Protoplasm, but the
Creature of a Creator.



[76] "Utilitarianism," fifth edition, p. 9, foot-note. Except where
otherwise specified, the references throughout this article will be to
the pages of the fifth edition of "Utilitarianism."

[77] _Fortnightly Review_, May, 1877, vol. xxi. p. 648.

[78] "The Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy," Book I. chap.
vi. 2nd paragraph.

[79] "An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation," p.

[80] "Principles," &c. chap. iv. sect. 2-5. The statement is not a
verbatim extract but an abridgment of the sections named.

[81] "Autobiography," p. 214.

[82] "Utilitarianism," p. 11.

[83] Italicised by the present writer.

[84] "Principles of Morals and Legislation," ed. 1823, vol. i. p. 31.

[85] A very important article by Dr. E. L. Youmans upon Mr. Spencer's
philosophy has just appeared in the _North American Review_ for October,
1879. Dr. Youmans traces the history of the Evolution doctrines, and
proves the originality and independence of Mr. Spencer as regards the
closely related views of Mr. Darwin, Mr. Wallace, and Professor Huxley.
The eminent men in question are no doubt in perfect agreement; but Dr.
Youmans seems to think that readers in general do not properly
understand the singular originality and boldness of Mr. Spencer's vast
and partially accomplished enterprise in philosophy.

[86] Mr. Morley does not seem to countenance any such claims. On the
contrary, he remarks in his "Critical Miscellanies," p. 324, that Mill's
Essays lose in interest by not dealing with the Darwinian hypothesis.

[87] "Autobiography," p. 187.

[88] "Principles of Morals," &c., p. 29.

[89] "The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex," 1871, vol.
i. p. 71. I cannot help thinking that Mr. Darwin felt the inconsistency
and confusion of ideas in the passages quoted, although he does not so
express himself. Otherwise, why does he quote from two pages?

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