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Title: Human Intercourse
Author: Hamerton, Philip Gilbert, 1834-1894
Language: English
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  HUMAN INTERCOURSE.


  BY PHILIP GILBERT HAMERTON,
  AUTHOR OF "THE INTELLECTUAL LIFE," "A PAINTER'S CAMP,"
  "THOUGHTS ABOUT ART," "CHAPTERS ON ANIMALS," "ROUND MY
  HOUSE," "THE SYLVAN YEAR" AND "THE UNKNOWN RIVER,"
  "WENDERHOLME," "MODERN FRENCHMEN," "LIFE OF J. M. W.
  TURNER," "THE GRAPHIC ARTS," "ETCHING AND ETCHERS,"
  "PARIS IN OLD AND PRESENT TIMES," "HARRY BLOUNT."


  "I love tranquil solitude,
      And such society
  As is quiet, wise, and good."
                    SHELLEY.


  BOSTON:
  LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY.
  1898.



  AUTHOR'S EDITION.

  University Press:
  JOHN WILSON AND SON, CAMBRIDGE.



To the Memory of Emerson.


_If I dedicate this book on Human Intercourse to the memory of one whose
voice I never heard, and to whom I never addressed a letter, the seeming
inappropriateness will disappear when the reader knows what a great and
persistent influence he had on the whole course of my thinking, and
therefore on all my work. He was told of this before his death, and the
acknowledgment gave him pleasure. Perhaps this public repetition of it may
not be without utility at a time when, although it is clear to us that he
has left an immortal name, the exact nature of the rank he will occupy
amongst great men does not seem to be evident as yet. The embarrassment of
premature criticism is a testimony to his originality. But although it may
be too soon for us to know what his name will mean to posterity, we may
tell posterity what service he rendered to ourselves. To me he taught two
great lessons. The first was to rely confidently on that order of the
universe which makes it always really worth while to do our best, even
though the reward may not be visible; and the second was to have
self-reliance enough to trust our own convictions and our own gifts, such
as they are, or such as they may become, without either echoing the
opinions or desiring the more brilliant gifts of others. Emerson taught
much besides; but it is these two doctrines of reliance on the
compensations of Nature, and of a self-respectful reliance on our own
individuality, that have the most invigorating influence on workers like
myself. Emerson knew that each of us can only receive that for which he
has an affinity, and can only give forth effectually what is by
birthright, or has become, his own. To have accepted this doctrine with
perfect contentment is to possess one's soul in peace._

_Emerson combined high intellect with pure honesty, and remained faithful
to the double law of the intellectual life--high thinking and fearless
utterance--to the end of his days, with a beautiful persistence and
serenity. So now I go, in spirit, a pilgrim to that tall pine-tree that
grows upon "the hill-top to the east of Sleepy Hollow," and lay one more
wreath upon an honored grave._

_June 24, 1884._



PREFACE.


When this book was begun, some years ago, I made a formal plan, according
to which it was to have been one long Essay or Treatise, divided into
sections and chapters, and presenting that apparently perfect _ordonnance_
which gives such an imposing air to a work of art. I say "apparently
perfect _ordonnance_," because in such cases the perfection of the
arrangement is often only apparent, and the work is like those formal
pseudo-classical buildings that seem, with their regular columns, spaces,
and windows, the very highest examples of method; but you find on entering
that the internal distribution of space is defective and inconvenient,
that one room has a window in a corner and another half a window, that one
is needlessly large for its employment and another far too small. In
literature the ostentation of order may compel an author to extreme
condensation in one part of his book and to excessive amplification in
another, since, in reality, the parts of his subject do not fall more
naturally into equal divisions than words beginning with different letters
in the dictionary. I therefore soon abandoned external rigidity of order,
and made my divisions more elastic; but I went still further after some
experiments, and abandoned the idea of a Treatise. This was not done
without some regret, as I know that a Treatise has a better chance of
permanence than a collection of Essays; but, in this case, I met with an
invisible obstacle that threatened to prevent good literary execution.
After making some progress I felt that the work was not very readable, and
that the writing of it was not a satisfactory occupation. Whenever this
happens there is sure to be an error of method somewhere. What the error
was in this case I did not discover for a long time, but at last I
suddenly perceived it. A formal Treatise, to be satisfactory, can only be
written about ascertained or ascertainable laws; and human intercourse as
it is carried on between individuals, though it looks so accessible to
every observer, is in reality a subject of infinite mystery and obscurity,
about which hardly anything is known, about which certainly nothing is
known absolutely and completely. I found that every attempt to ascertain
and proclaim a law only ended, when the supposed law was brought face to
face with nature, by discovering so many exceptions that the best
practical rules were suspension of judgment and a reliance upon nothing
but special observation in each particular case. I found that in real
human intercourse the theoretically improbable, or even the theoretically
impossible, was constantly happening. I remember a case in real life which
illustrates this very forcibly. A certain English lady, influenced by the
received ideas about human intercourse which define the conditions of it
in a hard and sharp manner, was strongly convinced that it would be
impossible for her to have friendly relations with another lady whom she
had never seen, but was likely to see frequently. All her reasons would be
considered excellent reasons by those who believe in maxims and rules. It
was plain that there could be nothing in common. The other lady was
neither of the same country, nor of the same religious and political
parties, nor exactly of the same class, nor of the same generation. These
facts were known, and the inference deduced from them was that intercourse
would be impossible. After some time the English lady began to perceive
that the case did not bear out the supposed rules; she discovered that the
younger lady might be an acceptable friend. At last the full strange truth
became apparent,--that she was singularly well adapted, better adapted
than any other human being, to take a filial relation to the elder,
especially in times of sickness, when her presence was a wonderful
support. Then the warmest affection sprang up between the two, lasting
till separation by death and still cherished by the survivor. What becomes
of rules and maxims and wise old saws in the face of nature and reality?
What can we do better than to observe nature with an open, unprejudiced
mind, and gather some of the results of observation?

I am conscious of several omissions that may possibly be rectified in
another volume if this is favorably accepted. The most important of these
are the influence of age on intercourse, and the effects of living in the
same house, which are not invariably favorable. Both these subjects are
very important, and I have not time to treat them now with the care they
would require. There ought also to have been a careful study of the
natural antagonisms, which are of terrible importance when people,
naturally antagonistic, are compelled by circumstances to live together.
These are, however, generally of less importance than the affinities,
because we contrive to make our intercourse with antagonistic people as
short and rare as possible, and that with sympathetic people as frequent
and long as circumstances will permit.

I will not close this preface without saying that the happiness of
sympathetic human intercourse seems to me incomparably greater than any
other pleasure. I may be supposed to have passed the age of enthusiastic
illusions, yet I would at any time rather pass a week with a real friend
in any place that afforded simple shelter than with an indifferent person
in a palace. In saying this I am thinking of real experiences. One of my
friends who is devoted to archæological excavations has often invited me
to share his life in a hut or a cottage, and I have invariably found that
the pleasure of his society far overbalanced the absence of luxury. On the
other hand, I have sometimes endured extreme _ennui_ at sumptuous feasts
in richly appointed houses. The result of experience, in my case, has been
to confirm a youthful conviction that the value of certain persons is not
to be estimated by comparison with anything else. I was always a believer,
and am so at this day more than ever, in the happiness of genuine human
intercourse, but I prefer solitude to the false imitation of it. It is in
this as in other pleasures, the better we appreciate the real thing, the
less we are disposed to accept the spurious copy as a substitute. By far
the greater part of what passes for human intercourse is not intercourse
at all, but only acting, of which the highest object and most considerable
merit is to conceal the weariness that accompanies its hollow observances.

One sad aspect of my subject has not been touched upon in this volume. It
was often present in my thoughts, but I timidly shrank from dealing with
it. I might have attempted to show in what manner intercourse is cut short
by death. All reciprocity of intercourse is, or appears to be, entirety
cut short by that catastrophe; but those who have talked with us much in
former years retain an influence that may be even more constant than our
recollection of them. My own recollection of the dead is extremely vivid
and clear, and I cultivate it by willingly thinking about them, being
especially happy when by some accidental flash of brighter memory a more
than usual degree of lucidity is obtained. I accept with resignation the
natural law, on the whole so beneficent, that when an organism is no
longer able to exist without suffering, or senile decrepitude, it should
be dissolved and made insensible of suffering; but I by no means accept
the idea that the dead are to be forgotten in order that we may spare
ourselves distress. Let us give them their due place, their great place,
in our hearts and in our thoughts; and if the sweet reciprocity of human
intercourse is no longer possible with those who are silent and asleep,
let the memory of past intercourse be still a part of our lives. There are
hours when we live with the dead more than with the living, so that
without any trace of superstition we feel their old sweet influence acting
upon us yet, and it seems as if only a little more were needed to give us
"the touch of a vanished hand, and the sound of a voice that is still."

Closely connected with this subject of death is the subject of religious
beliefs. In the present state of confusion and change, some causes of
which are indicated in this volume, the only plain course for honorable
men is to act always in favor of truthfulness, and therefore against
hypocrisy, and against those encouragers of hypocrisy who offer social
advantages as rewards for it. What may come in the future we cannot tell,
but we may be sure that the best way to prepare for the future is to be
honest and candid in the present. There are two causes which are gradually
effecting a great change, and as they are natural causes they are
irresistibly powerful. One is the process of analytic detachment, by which
sentiments and feelings once believed to be religious are now found to be
separable from religion. If a French peasant has a feeling for
architecture, poetry, or music, or an appreciation of eloquence, or a
desire to hear a kind of moral philosophy, he goes to the village church
to satisfy these dim incipient desires. In his case these feelings and
wants are all confusedly connected with religion; in ours they are
detached from it, and only reconnected with it by accident, we being still
aware that there is no essential identity. That is the first dissolving
cause. It seems only to affect the externals of religion, but it goes
deeper by making the consciously religious state of mind less habitual.
The second cause is even more serious in its effects. We are acquiring the
habit of explaining everything by natural causes, and of trying to remedy
everything by the employment of natural means. Journals dependent on
popular approval for the enormous circulation that is necessary to their
existence do not hesitate, in clear terms, to express their preference of
natural means to the invocation of supernatural agencies. For example, the
correspondent of the "Daily News" at Port Said, after describing the
annual blessing of the Suez Canal at the Epiphany, observes: "Thus the
canal was solemnly blessed. The opinion of the captains of the ships that
throng the harbor, waiting until the block adjusts itself, is that it
would be better to widen it." Such an opinion is perfectly modern,
perfectly characteristic of our age. We think that steam excavators and
dredgers would be more likely to prevent blocks in the Suez Canal than a
priest reading prayers out of a book and throwing a golden cross into the
sea, to be fished up again by divers. We cannot help thinking as we do:
our opinion has not been chosen by us voluntarily, it has been forced upon
us by facts that we cannot help seeing, but it deprives us of an
opportunity for a religious emotion, and it separates us, on that point,
from all those who are still capable of feeling it. I have given
considerable space to the consideration of these changes, but not a
disproportionate space. They have a deplorable effect on human intercourse
by dividing friends and families into different groups, and by separating
those who might otherwise have enjoyed friendship unreservedly. It is
probable, too, that we are only at the beginning of the conflict, and that
in years not immeasurably distant there will be fierce struggles on the
most irritating of practical issues. To name but one of these it is
probable that there will be a sharp struggle when a strong and determined
naturalist party shall claim the instruction of the young, especially with
regard to the origin of the race, the beginnings of animal life, and the
evidences of intention in nature. Loving, as I do, the amenities of a
peaceful and polished civilization much better than angry controversy, I
long for the time when these great questions will be considered as settled
one way or the other, or else, if they are beyond our intelligence, for
the time when they may be classed as insoluble, so that men may work out
their destiny without bitter quarrels about their origin. The present at
least is ours, and it depends upon ourselves whether it is to be wasted in
vain disputes or brightened by charity and kindness.



CONTENTS.


  ESSAY                                                     PAGE

      I. ON THE DIFFICULTY OF DISCOVERING FIXED LAWS           3

     II. INDEPENDENCE                                         12

    III. OF PASSIONATE LOVE                                   33

     IV. COMPANIONSHIP IN MARRIAGE                            44

      V. FAMILY TIES                                          63

     VI. FATHERS AND SONS                                     78

    VII. THE RIGHTS OF THE GUEST                              99

   VIII. THE DEATH OF FRIENDSHIP                             110

     IX. THE FLUX OF WEALTH                                  119

      X. DIFFERENCES OF RANK AND WEALTH                      130

     XI. THE OBSTACLE OF LANGUAGE                            148

    XII. THE OBSTACLE OF RELIGION                            161

   XIII. PRIESTS AND WOMEN                                   175

    XIV. WHY WE ARE APPARENTLY BECOMING LESS RELIGIOUS       205

     XV. HOW WE ARE REALLY BECOMING LESS RELIGIOUS           215

    XVI. ON AN UNRECOGNIZED FORM OF UNTRUTH                  232

   XVII. ON A REMARKABLE ENGLISH PECULIARITY                 239

  XVIII. OF GENTEEL IGNORANCE                                253

    XIX. PATRIOTIC IGNORANCE                                 264

     XX. CONFUSIONS                                          280

    XXI. THE NOBLE BOHEMIANISM                               295

   XXII. OF COURTESY IN EPISTOLARY COMMUNICATION             315

  XXIII. LETTERS OF FRIENDSHIP                               336

   XXIV. LETTERS OF BUSINESS                                 354

    XXV. ANONYMOUS LETTERS                                   370

   XXVI. AMUSEMENTS                                          383

  INDEX                                                      403



HUMAN INTERCOURSE.



HUMAN INTERCOURSE.



ESSAY I.

ON THE DIFFICULTY OF DISCOVERING FIXED LAWS.


A book on Human Intercourse might be written in a variety of ways, and
amongst them might be an attempt to treat the subject in a scientific
manner so as to elucidate those natural laws by which intercourse between
human beings must be regulated. If we knew quite perfectly what those laws
are we should enjoy the great convenience of being able to predict with
certainty which men and women would be able to associate with pleasure,
and which would be constrained or repressed in each other's society. Human
intercourse would then be as much a positive science as chemistry, in
which the effects of bringing substances together can be foretold with the
utmost accuracy. Some very distant approach to this scientific state may
in certain instances actually be made. When we know the characters of two
people with a certain degree of precision we may sometimes predict that
they are sure to quarrel, and have the satisfaction of witnessing the
explosion that our own acumen has foretold. To detect in people we know
those incompatibilities that are the fatal seeds of future dissension is
one of our malicious pleasures. An acute observer really has considerable
powers of prediction and calculation with reference to individual human
beings, but there his wisdom ends. He cannot deduce from these separate
cases any general rules or laws that can be firmly relied upon as every
real law of nature can be relied upon, and therefore it may be concluded
that such rules are not laws of nature at all, but only poor and
untrustworthy substitutes for them.

The reason for this difficulty I take to be the extreme complexity of
human nature and its boundless variety, which make it always probable that
in every mind which we have not long and closely studied there will be
elements wholly unknown to us. How often, with regard to some public man,
who is known to us only in part through his acts or his writings, are we
surprised by the sudden revelation of characteristics that we never
imagined for him and that seem almost incompatible with the better known
side of his nature! How much the more, then, are we likely to go wrong in
our estimates of people we know nothing about, and how impossible it must
be for us to determine how they are likely to select their friends and
companions!

Certain popular ideas appear to represent a sort of rude philosophy of
human intercourse. There is the common belief, for example, that, in order
to associate pleasantly together, people should be of the same class and
nearly in the same condition of fortune, but when we turn to real life we
find very numerous instances in which this fancied law is broken with the
happiest results. The late Duke of Albany may be mentioned as an example.
No doubt his own natural refinement would have prevented him from
associating with vulgar people; but he readily associated with refined and
cultivated people who had no pretension to rank. His own rank was a power
in his hands that he used for good, and he was conscious of it, but it did
not isolate him; he desired to know people as they are, and was capable of
feeling the most sincere respect for anybody who deserved it. So it is,
generally, with all who have the gifts of sympathy and intelligence.
Merely to avoid what is disagreeable has nothing to do with pride of
station. Vulgar society is disagreeable, which is a sufficient reason for
keeping aloof from it. Amongst people of refinement, association or even
friendship is possible in spite of differences of rank and fortune.

Another popular belief is that "men associate together when they are
interested in the same things." It would, however, be easy to adduce very
numerous instances in which an interest in similar things has been a cause
of quarrel, when if one of the two parties had regarded those things with
indifference, harmonious intercourse might have been preserved. The
livelier our interest in anything the more does acquiescence in matters of
detail appear essential to us. Two people are both of them extremely
religious, but one of them is a Mahometan, and the other a Christian; here
the interest in religion causes a divergence, enough in most cases to make
intercourse impossible, when it would have been quite possible if both
parties had regarded religion with indifference. Bring the two nearer
together, suppose them to be both Christians, they acknowledge one law,
one doctrine, one Head of the church in heaven. Yes, but they do not
acknowledge the same head of it on earth, for one accepts the Papal
supremacy, which the other denies; and their common Christianity is a
feeble bond of union in comparison with the forces of repulsion contained
in a multitude of details. Two nominal, indifferent Christians who take no
interest in theology would have a better chance of agreeing. Lastly,
suppose them to be both members of the Church of England, one of the old
school, with firm and settled beliefs on every point and a horror of the
most distant approaches to heresy, the other of the new school, vague,
indeterminate, desiring to preserve his Christianity as a sentiment when
it has vanished as a faith, thinking that the Bible is not true in the old
sense but only "contains" truth, that the divinity of Christ is "a past
issue,"[1] and that evolution is, on the whole, more probable than direct
and intentional creation,--what possible agreement can exist between these
two? If they both care about religious topics, and talk about them, will
not their disagreement be in exact proportion to the liveliness of their
interest in the subject? So in a realm with which I have some
acquaintance, that of the fine arts, discord is always probable between
those who have a passionate delight in art. Innocent, well-intentioned
friends think that because two men "like painting," they ought to be
introduced, as they are sure to amuse each other. In reality, their
tastes may be more opposed than the taste of either of them is to perfect
indifference. One has a severe taste for beautiful form and an active
contempt for picturesque accidents and romantic associations, the other
feels chilled by severe beauty and delights in the picturesque and
romantic. If each is convinced of the superiority of his own principles he
will deduce from them an endless series of judgments that can only
irritate the other.

Seeing that nations are always hostile to each other, always watchfully
jealous and inclined to rejoice in every evil that happens to a neighbor,
it would appear safe to predict that little intercourse could exist
between persons of different nationality. When, however, we observe the
facts as they are in real life, we perceive that very strong and durable
friendships often exist between men who are not of the same nation, and
that the chief obstacle to the formation of these is not so much
nationality as difference of language. There is, no doubt, a prejudice
that one is not likely to get on well with a foreigner, and the prejudice
has often the effect of keeping people of different nationality apart, but
when once it is overcome it is often found that very powerful feelings of
mutual respect and sympathy draw the strangers together. On the other
hand, there is not the least assurance that the mere fact of being born in
the same country will make two men regard each other with kindness. An
Englishman repels another Englishman when he meets him on the
Continent.[2] The only just conclusion is that nationality affords no
certain rule either in favor of intercourse or against it. A man may
possibly be drawn towards a foreign nationality by his appreciation of its
excellence in some art that he loves, but this is the case only when the
excellence is of the peculiar kind that supplies the needs of his own
intelligence. The French excel in painting; that is to say, that many
Frenchmen have attained a certain kind of excellence in certain
departments of the art of painting. Englishmen and Americans who value
that particular kind of excellence are often strongly drawn towards Paris
as an artistic centre or capital; and this opening of their minds to
French influence in art may admit other French influences at the same
time, so that the ultimate effect of a love of art may be a breaking down
of the barrier of nationality. It seldom happens that Frenchmen are drawn
towards England and America by their love of painting, but it frequently
happens that they become in a measure Anglicized or Americanized either by
the serious study of nautical science, or by the love of yachting as an
amusement, in which they look to England and America both for the most
advanced theories and the newest examples.

The nearest approach ever made to a general rule may be the affirmation
that likeness is the secret of companionship. This has a great look of
probability, and may really be the reason for many associations, but after
observing others we might come to the conclusion that an opposite law
would be at least equally applicable. We might say that a companion, to be
interesting, ought to bring new elements, and not be a repetition of our
own too familiar personality. We have enough of ourselves in ourselves; we
desire a companion who will relieve us from the bounds of our thoughts, as
a neighbor opens his garden to us, and delivers us from our own hedges.
But if the unlikeness is so great that mutual understanding is impossible,
then it is too great. We fancy that we should like to know this or that
author, because we feel a certain sympathy with him though he is very
different from us, but there are other writers whom we do not desire to
know because we are aware of a difference too excessive for companionship.

The only approximation to a general law that I would venture to affirm is
that the strongest reason why men are drawn together is not identity of
class, not identity of race, not a common interest in any particular art
or science, but because there is something in their idiosyncrasies that
gives a charm to intercourse between the two. What it is I cannot tell,
and I have never met with the wise man who was able to enlighten me.

It is not respect for character, seeing that we often respect people
heartily without being able to enjoy their society. It is a mysterious
suitableness or adaptability, and _how_ mysterious it is may be in some
degree realized when we reflect that we cannot account for our own
preferences. I try to explain to myself, for my own intellectual
satisfaction, how and why it is that I take pleasure in the society of one
very dear friend. He is a most able, honorable, and high-minded man, but
others are all that, and they give me no pleasure. My friend and I have
really not very much in common, far less than I have with some perfectly
indifferent people. I only know that we are always glad to be together,
that each of us likes to listen to the other, and that we have talked for
innumerable hours. Neither does my affection blind me to his faults. I see
them as clearly as if I were his enemy, and doubt not that he sees mine.
There is no illusion, and there has been no change in our sentiments for
twenty years.

As a contrast to this instance I think of others in which everything seems
to have been prepared on purpose for facility of intercourse, in which
there is similarity of pursuits, of language, of education, of every thing
that is likely to permit men to talk easily together, and yet there is
some obstacle that makes any real intercourse impossible. What the
obstacle is I am unable to explain even to myself. It need not be any
unkind feeling, nor any feeling of disapprobation; there may be good-will
on both sides and a mutual desire for a greater degree of intimacy, yet
with all this the intimacy does not come, and such intercourse as we have
is that of simple politeness. In these cases each party is apt to think
that the other is reserved, when there is no wish to be reserved but
rather a desire to be as open as the unseen obstacle will allow. The
existence of the obstacle does not prevent respect and esteem or even a
considerable degree of affection. It divides people who seem to be on the
most friendly terms; it divides even the nearest relations, brother from
brother, and the son from the father. Nobody knows exactly what it is, but
we have a word for it,--we call it incompatibility. The difficulty of
going farther and explaining the real nature of incompatibility is that
it takes as many shapes as there are varieties in the characters of
mankind.

Sympathy and incompatibility,--these are the two great powers that decide
for us whether intercourse is to be possible or not, but the causes of
them are dark mysteries that lie undiscovered far down in the "abysmal
deeps of personality."



ESSAY II.

INDEPENDENCE.


There is an illusory and unattainable independence which is a mere dream,
but there is also a reasonable and attainable independence not really
inconsistent with our obligations to humanity and our country.

The dependence of the individual upon the race has never been so fully
recognized as now, so that there is little fear of its being overlooked.
The danger of our age, and of the future, is rather that a reasonable and
possible independence should be made needlessly difficult to attain and to
preserve.

The distinction between the two may be conveniently illustrated by a
reference to literary production. Every educated man is dependent upon his
own country for the language that he uses; and again, that language is
itself dependent on other languages from which it is derived; and,
farther, the modern author is indebted for a continual stimulus and many a
suggestion to the writings of his predecessors, not in his own country
only but in far distant lands. He cannot, therefore, say in any absolute
way, "My books are my own," but he may preserve a certain mental
independence which will allow him to say that with truth in a relative
sense. If he expresses himself such as he is, an idiosyncrasy affected
but not annihilated by education, he may say that his books are his own.

Few English authors have studied past literature more willingly than
Shelley and Tennyson, and none are more original. In these cases
idiosyncrasy has been affected by education, but instead of being
annihilated thereby it has gained from education the means of expressing
its own inmost self more clearly. We have the true Shelley, the born
Tennyson, far more perfectly than we should ever have possessed them if
their own minds had not been opened by the action of other minds. Culture
is like wealth, it makes us more ourselves, it enables us to express
ourselves. The real nature of the poor and the ignorant is an obscure and
doubtful problem, for we can never know the inborn powers that remain in
them undeveloped till they die. In this way the help of the race, so far
from being unfavorable to individuality, is necessary to it. Claude helped
Turner to become Turner. In complete isolation from art, however
magnificently surrounded by the beauties of the natural world, a man does
not express his originality as a landscape-painter, he is simply incapable
of expressing _anything_ in paint.

But now let us inquire whether there may not be cases in which the labors
of others, instead of helping originality to express itself, act as a
check to it by making originality superfluous.

As an illustration of this possibility I may take the modern railway
system. Here we have the labor and ingenuity of the race applied to
travelling, greatly to the convenience of the individual, but in a manner
which is totally repressive of originality and indifferent to personal
tastes. People of the most different idiosyncrasies travel exactly in the
same way. The landscape-painter is hurried at speed past beautiful spots
that he would like to contemplate at leisure; the archæologist is whirled
by the site of a Roman camp that he would willingly pause to examine; the
mountaineer is not permitted to climb the tunnelled hill, nor the swimmer
to cross in his own refreshing, natural way the breadth of the
iron-spanned river. And as individual tastes are disregarded, so
individual powers are left uncultivated and unimproved. The only talent
required is that of sitting passively on a seat and of enduring, for hours
together, an unpleasant though mitigated vibration. The skill and courage
of the horseman, the endurance of the pedestrian, the art of the paddler
or the oarsman, are all made superfluous by this system of travelling by
machines, in which previous labors of engineers and mechanics have
determined everything beforehand. Happily, the love of exercise and
enterprise has produced a reaction of individualism against this levelling
railway system, a reaction that shows itself in many kinds of slower but
more adventurous locomotion and restores to the individual creature his
lost independence by allowing him to pause and stop when he pleases; a
reaction delightful to him especially in this, that it gives him some
pride and pleasure in the use of his own muscles and his own wits. There
are still, happily, Englishmen who would rather steer a cutter across the
Channel in rough weather than be shot through a long hole in the chalk.

What the railway is to physical motion, settled conventions are to the
movements of the mind. Convention is a contrivance for facilitating what
we write or speak by which we are relieved from personal effort and almost
absolved from personal responsibility. There are men whose whole art of
living consists in passing from one conventionalism to another as a
traveller changes his train. Such men may be envied for the skill with
which they avoid the difficulties of life. They take their religion, their
politics, their education, their social and literary opinions, all as
provided by the brains of others, and they glide through existence with a
minimum of personal exertion. For those who are satisfied with easy,
conventional ways the desire for intellectual independence is
unintelligible. What is the need of it? Why go, mentally, on a bicycle or
in a canoe by your own toilsome exertions when you may sit so very
comfortably in the train, a rug round your lazy legs and your softly
capped head in a corner?

The French ideal of "good form" is to be undistinguishable from others; by
which it is not understood that you are to be undistinguishable from the
multitude of poor people, but one of the smaller crowd of rich and
fashionable people. Independence and originality are so little esteemed in
what is called "good society" in France that the adjectives
"_indépendant_" and "_original_" are constantly used in a bad sense. "_Il
est très indépendant_" often means that the man is of a rude,
insubordinate, rebellious temper, unfitting him for social life. "_Il est
original_," or more contemptuously, "_C'est un original_," means that the
subject of the criticism has views of his own which are not the
fashionable views, and which therefore (whatever may be their accuracy)
are proper objects of well-bred ridicule.

I cannot imagine any state of feeling more destructive of all interest in
human intercourse than this, for if on going into society I am only to
hear the fashionable opinions and sentiments, what is the gain to me who
know them too well already? I could even repeat them quite accurately with
the proper conventional tone, so why put myself to inconvenience to hear
that dull and wearisome play acted over again? The only possible
explanation of the pleasure that French people of some rank appear to take
in hearing things, which are as stale as they are inaccurate, repeated by
every one they know, is that the repetition of them appears to be one of
the signs of gentility, and to give alike to those who utter them and to
those who hear, the profound satisfaction of feeling that they are present
at the mysterious rites of Caste.

There is probably no place in the whole world where the feeling of mental
independence is so complete as it is in London. There is no place where
differences of opinion are more marked in character or more frank and open
in expression; but what strikes one as particularly admirable in London is
that in the present day (it has not always been so) men of the most
opposite opinions and the most various tastes can profess their opinions
and indulge their tastes without inconvenient consequences to themselves,
and there is hardly any opinion, or any eccentricity, that excludes a man
from pleasant social intercourse if he does not make himself impossible
and intolerable by bad manners. This independence gives a savor to social
intercourse in London that is lamentably wanting to it elsewhere. There is
a strange and novel pleasure (to one who lives habitually in the country)
in hearing men and women say what they think without deference to any
local public opinion.

In many small places this local public opinion is so despotic that there
is no individual independence in society, and it then becomes necessary
that a man who values his independence, and desires to keep it, should
learn the art of living contentedly outside of society.

It has often occurred to me to reflect that there are many men in London
who enjoy a pleasant and even a high social position, who live with
intelligent people, and even with people of great wealth and exalted rank,
and yet who, if their lot had been cast in certain small provincial towns,
would have found themselves rigorously excluded from the upper local
circles, if not from all circles whatsoever.

I have sometimes asked myself, when travelling on the railway through
France, and visiting for a few hours one of those sleepy little old
cities, to me so delightful, in which the student of architecture and the
lover of the picturesque find so much to interest them, what would have
been the career of a man having, for example, the capacity and the
convictions of Mr. Gladstone, if he had passed all the years of his
manhood in such a place.

It commonly happens that when Nature endows a man with a vigorous
personality and its usual accompaniment, an independent way of seeing
things, she gives him at the same time powerful talents with which to
defend his own originality; but in a small and ancient city, where
everything is traditional, intellectual force is of no avail, and learning
is of no use. In such a city, where the upper class is an exclusive caste
impenetrable by ideas, the eloquence of Mr. Gladstone would be
ineffectual, and if exercised at all would be considered in bad taste. His
learning, even, would tend to separate him from the unlearned local
aristocracy. The simple fact that he is in favor of parliamentary
government, without any more detailed information concerning his political
opinions, would put him beyond the pale, for parliamentary government is
execrated by the French rural aristocracy, who tolerate nothing short of a
determined monarchical absolutism. His religious views would be looked
upon as those of a low Dissenter, and it would be remembered against him
that his father was in trade. Such is the difference, as a field for
talent and originality, between London and an aristocratic little French
city, that those very qualities which have raised our Prime Minister to a
not undeserved pre-eminence in the great place would have kept him out of
society in the small one. He might, perhaps, have talked politics in some
café with a few shop-keepers and attorneys.

It may be objected that Mr. Gladstone, as an English Liberal, would
naturally be out of place in France and little appreciated there, so I
will take the cases of a Frenchman in France and an Englishman in England.
A brave French officer, who was at the same time a gentleman of ancient
lineage and good estate, chose (for reasons of his own which had no
connection with social intercourse) to live upon a property that happened
to be situated in a part of France where the aristocracy was strongly
Catholic and reactionary. He then found himself excluded from "good
society," because he was a Protestant and a friend to parliamentary
government. Reasons of this kind, or the counter-reasons of Catholicism
and disapprobation of parliaments, would not exclude a polished and
amiable gentleman from society in London. I have read in a biographical
notice of Sidney Dobell that when he lived at Cheltenham he was excluded
from the society of the place because his parents were Dissenters and he
had been in trade.

In cases of this kind, where exclusion is due to hard prejudices of caste
or of religion, a man who has all the social gifts of good manners,
kind-heartedness, culture, and even wealth, may find himself outside the
pale if he lives in or near a small place where society is a strong little
clique well organized on definitely understood principles. There are
situations in which exclusion of that kind means perfect solitude. It may
be argued that to escape solitude the victim has nothing to do but
associate with a lower class, but this is not easy or natural, especially
when, as in Dobell's case, there is intellectual culture. Those who have
refined manners and tastes and a love for intellectual pursuits, usually
find themselves disqualified for entering with any real heartiness and
enjoyment into the social life of classes where these tastes are
undeveloped, and where the thoughts flow in two channels,--the serious
channel, studded with anxieties about the means of existence, and the
humorous channel, which is a diversion from the other. Far be it from me
to say anything that might imply any shade of contempt or disapprobation
of the humorous spirit that is Nature's own remedy for the evils of an
anxious life. It does more for the mental health of the middle classes
than could be done by the most sublimated culture; and if anything
concerning it is a subject for regret it is that culture makes us
incapable of enjoying poor jokes. It is, however, a simple matter of fact
that although men of great culture may be humorists (Mr. Lowell is a
brilliant example), their humor is both more profound in the serious
intention that lies under it, and vastly more extensive in the field of
its operations than the trivial humor of the uneducated; whence it follows
that although humor is the faculty by which different classes are brought
most easily into cordial relations, the humorist who has culture will
probably find himself _à l'étroit_ with humorists who have none, whilst
the cultured man who has no humor, or whose humorous tendencies have been
overpowered by serious thought, is so terribly isolated in uneducated
society that he feels less alone in solitude. To realize this truth in its
full force, the reader has only to imagine John Stuart Mill trying to
associate with one of those middle-class families that Dickens loved to
describe, such as the Wardle family in Pickwick.

It follows from these considerations that unless a man lives in London, or
in some other great capital city, he may easily find himself so situated
that he must learn the art of being happy without society.

As there is no pleasure in military life for a soldier who fears death, so
there is no independence in civil existence for the man who has an
overpowering dread of solitude.

There are two good reasons against the excessive dread of solitude. The
first is that solitude is very rarely so absolute as it appears from a
distance; and the second is that when the evil is real, and almost
complete, there are palliatives that may lessen it to such a degree as to
make it, at the worst, supportable, and at the best for some natures even
enjoyable in a rather sad and melancholy way.

Let us not deceive ourselves with conventional notions on the subject. The
world calls "solitude" that condition in which a man lives outside of
"society," or, in other words, the condition in which he does not pay
formal calls and is not invited to state dinners and dances. Such a
condition may be very lamentable, and deserving of polite contempt, but it
need not be absolute solitude.

Absolute solitude would be the state of Crusoe on the desert island,
severed from human kind and never hearing a human voice; but this is not
the condition of any one in a civilized country who is out of a prison
cell. Suppose that I am travelling in a country where I am a perfect
stranger, and that I stay for some days in a village where I do not know a
soul. In a surprisingly short time I shall have made acquaintances and
begun to acquire rather a home-like feeling in the place. My new
acquaintances may possibly not be rich and fashionable: they may be the
rural postman, the innkeeper, the stone-breaker on the roadside, the
radical cobbler, and perhaps a mason or a joiner and a few more or less
untidy little children; but every morning their greeting becomes more
friendly, and so I feel myself connected still with that great human race
to which, whatever may be my sins against the narrow laws of caste and
class, I still unquestionably belong. It is a positive advantage that our
meetings should be accidental and not so long as to involve any of the
embarrassments of formal social intercourse, as I could not promise myself
that the attempt to spend a whole evening with these humble friends might
not cause difficulties for me and for them. All I maintain is that these
little chance talks and greetings have a tendency to keep me cheerful and
preserve me from that moody state of mind to which the quite lonely man
exposes himself. As to the substance and quality of our conversations, I
amuse myself by comparing them with conversations between more genteel
people, and do not always perceive that the disparity is very wide. Poor
men often observe external facts with the greatest shrewdness and
accuracy, and have interesting things to tell when they see that you set
up no barrier of pride against them. Perhaps they do not know much about
architecture and the graphic arts, but on these subjects they are devoid
of the false pretensions of the upper classes, which is an unspeakable
comfort and relief. They teach us many things that are worth knowing.
Humble and poor people were amongst the best educators of Shakspeare,
Scott, Dickens, Wordsworth, George Eliot. Even old Homer learned from
them touches of nature which have done as much for his immortality as the
fire of his wrathful kings.

Let me give the reader an example of this chance intercourse just as it
really occurred. I was drawing architectural details in and about a
certain foreign cathedral, and had the usual accompaniment of youthful
spectators who liked to watch me working, as greater folks watch
fashionable artists in their studios. Sometimes they rather incommoded me,
but on my complaining of the inconvenience, two of the bigger boys acted
as policemen to defend me, which they did with stern authority and
promptness. After that one highly intelligent little boy brought paper and
pencil from his father's house and set himself to draw what I was drawing.
The subject was far too difficult for him, but I gave him a simpler one,
and in a very short time he was a regular pupil. Inspired by his example,
three other little boys asked if they might do likewise, so I had a class
of four. Their manner towards me was perfect,--not a trace of rudeness nor
of timidity either, but absolute confidence at once friendly and
respectful. Every day when I went to the cathedral at the same hour my
four little friends greeted me with such frank and visible gladness that
it could neither have been feigned nor mistaken. During our lessons they
surprised and interested me greatly by the keen observation they
displayed; and this was true more particularly of the bright little leader
and originator of the class. The house he lived in was exactly opposite
the rich west front of the cathedral; and I found that, young as he was (a
mere child), he had observed for himself almost all the details of its
sculpture. The statues, groups, bas-reliefs, and other ornaments were all,
for him, so many separate subjects, and not a confused enrichment of
labored stone-work as they so easily might have been. He had notions, too,
about chronology, telling me the dates of some parts of the cathedral and
asking me about others. His mother treated me with the utmost kindness and
invited me to sketch quietly from her windows. I took a photographer up
there, and set his big camera, and we got such a photograph as had been
deemed impossible before. Now in all this does not the reader perceive
that I was enjoying human intercourse in a very delicate and exquisite
way? What could be more charming and refreshing to a solitary student than
this frank and hearty friendship of children who caused no perceptible
hindrance to his work, whilst they effectually dispelled sad thoughts?

Two other examples may be given from the experience of a man who has often
been alone and seldom felt himself in solitude.

I remember arriving, long ago, in the evening at the head of a salt-water
loch in Scotland, where in those days there existed an exceedingly small
beginning of a watering-place. Soon after landing I walked on the beach
with no companion but the beauty of nature and the "long, long thoughts"
of youth. In a short time I became aware that a middle-aged Scotch
gentleman was taking exercise in the same solitary way. He spoke to me,
and we were soon deep in a conversation that began to be interesting to
both of us. He was a resident in the place and invited me to his house,
where our talk continued far into the night. I was obliged to leave the
little haven the next day, but my recollection of it now is like the
memorandum of a conversation. I remember the wild romantic scenery and the
moon upon the water, and the steamer from Glasgow at the pier; but the
real satisfaction of that day consisted in hours of talk with a man who
had seen much, observed much, thought much, and was most kindly and
pleasantly communicative,--a man whom I had never spoken to before, and
have never seen or heard of since that now distant but well-remembered
evening.

The other instance is a conversation in the cabin of a steamer. I was
alone, in the depth of winter, making a voyage by an unpopular route, and
during a long, dark night. It was a dead calm. We were only three
passengers, and we sat together by the bright cabin-fire. One of us was a
young officer in the British navy, just of age; another was an
anxious-looking man of thirty. Somehow the conversation turned to the
subject of inevitable expenses; and the sailor told us that he had a
certain private income, the amount of which he mentioned. "I have exactly
the same income," said the man of thirty, "but I married very early and
have a wife and family to maintain;" and then--as we did not know even his
name, and he was not likely to see us again--he seized the opportunity
(under the belief that he was kindly warning the young sailor) of telling
the whole story of his anxieties in detail. The point of his discourse was
that he did not pretend to be poor, or to claim sympathy, but he
powerfully described the exact nature of his position. What had been his
private income had now become the public revenue of a household. It all
went in housekeeping, almost independently of his will and outside of his
control. He had his share in the food of the family, and he was just
decently clothed, but there was an end to personal enterprises. The
economy and the expenditure of a free and intelligent bachelor had been
alike replaced by a dull, methodical, uncontrollable outgo; and the man
himself, though now called the head of a family, had discovered that a new
impersonal necessity was the real master, and that he lived like a child
in his own house. "This," he said, "is the fate of a gentleman who marries
on narrow means, unless he is cruelly selfish."

Frank and honest conversations of this kind often come in the way of a man
who travels by himself, and they remain with him afterwards as a part of
his knowledge of life. This informal intercourse that comes by chance is
greatly undervalued, especially by Englishmen, who are seldom very much
disposed to it except in the humbler classes; but it is one of the broadly
scattered, inestimable gifts of Nature, like the refreshment of air and
water. Many a healthy and happy mind has enjoyed little other human
intercourse than this. There are millions who never get a formal
invitation, and yet in this accidental way they hear many a bit of
entertaining or instructive talk. The greatest charm of it is its
consistency with the most absolute independence. No abandonment of
principle is required, nor any false assumption. You stand simply on your
elementary right to consideration as a decent human being within the great
pale of civilization.

There is, however, another sense in which every superior person is greatly
exposed to the evil of solitude if he lives outside of a great capital
city.

Without misanthropy, and without any unjust or unkind contempt for our
fellow-creatures, we still must perceive that mankind in general have no
other purpose than to live in comfort with little mental exertion. The
desire for comfort is not wholly selfish, because people want it for their
families as much as for themselves, but it is a low motive in this sense,
that it is scarcely compatible with the higher kinds of mental exertion,
whilst it is entirely incompatible with devotion to great causes. The
object of common men is not to do noble work by their own personal
efforts, but so to plot and contrive that others may be industrious for
their benefit, and not for their highest benefit, but in order that they
may have curtains and carpets.

Those for whom accumulated riches have already provided these objects of
desire seldom care greatly for anything except amusements. If they have
ambition, it is for a higher social rank.

These three common pursuits, comfort, amusements, rank, lie so much
outside of the disciplinary studies that a man of studious habits is
likely to find himself alone in a peculiar sense. As a human being he is
not alone, but as a serious thinker and worker he may find himself in
complete solitude.

Many readers will remember the well-known passage in Stuart Mill's
autobiography, in which he dealt with this subject. It has often been
quoted against him, because he went so far as to say that "a person of
high intellect should never go into unintellectual society, unless he can
enter it as an apostle," a passage not likely to make its author beloved
by society of that kind; yet Mill was not a misanthropist, he was only
anxious to preserve what there is of high feeling and high principle from
deterioration by too much contact with the common world. It was not so
much that he despised the common world, as that he knew the infinite
preciousness, even to the common people themselves, of the few better and
higher minds. He knew how difficult it is for such minds to "retain their
higher principles unimpaired," and how at least "with respect to the
persons and affairs of their own day they insensibly adopt the modes of
feeling and judgment in which they can hope for sympathy from the company
they keep."

Perhaps I may do well to offer an illustration of this, though from a
department of culture that may not have been in Mill's view when he wrote
the passage.

I myself have known a certain painter (not belonging to the English
school) who had a severe and elevated ideal of his art. As his earnings
were small he went to live in the country for economy. He then began to
associate intimately with people to whom all high aims in painting were
unintelligible. Gradually he himself lost his interest in them and his
nobler purposes were abandoned. Finally, art itself was abandoned and he
became a coffee-house politician.

So it is with all rare and exceptional pursuits if once we allow ourselves
to take, in all respects, the color of the common world. It is impossible
to keep up a foreign language, an art, a science, if we are living away
from other followers of our pursuit and cannot endure solitude.

It follows from this that there are many situations in which men have to
learn that particular kind of independence which consists in bearing
isolation patiently for the preservation of their better selves. In a
world of common-sense they have to keep a little place apart for a kind of
sense that is sound and rational but not common.

This isolation would indeed be difficult to bear if it were not mitigated
by certain palliatives that enable a superior mind to be healthy and
active in its loneliness. The first of these is reading, which is seldom
valued at its almost inestimable worth. By the variety of its records and
inventions, literature continually affords the refreshment of change, not
to speak of that variety which may be had so easily by a change of
language when the reader knows several different tongues, and the other
marvellous variety due to difference in the date of books. In fact,
literature affords a far wider variety than conversation itself, for we
can talk only with the living, but literature enables us to descend, like
Ulysses, into the shadowy kingdom of the dead. There is but one defect in
literature,--that the talk is all on one side, so that we are listeners,
as at a sermon or a lecture, and not sharers in some antique symposium,
our own brows crowned with flowers, and our own tongues loosened with
wine. The exercise of the tongue is wanting, and to some it is an
imperious need, so that they will talk to the most uncongenial human
beings, or even to parrots and dogs. If we value books as the great
palliative of solitude and help to mental independence, let us not
undervalue those intelligent periodicals that keep our minds modern and
prevent us from living altogether in some other century than our own.
Periodicals are a kind of correspondence more easily read than manuscript
and involving no obligation to answer. There is also the great palliative
of occasional direct correspondence with those who understand our
pursuits; and here we have the advantage of using our own tongues, not
physically, but at least in an imaginative way.

A powerful support to some minds is the constantly changing beauty of the
natural world, which becomes like a great and ever-present companion. I am
anxious to avoid any exaggeration of this benefit, because I know that to
many it counts for nothing; and an author ought not to think only of those
who have his own mental constitution; but although natural beauty is of
little use to one solitary mind, it may be like a living friend to
another. As a paragraph of real experience is worth pages of speculation,
I may say that I have always found it possible to live happily in
solitude, provided that the place was surrounded by varied, beautiful, and
changeful scenery, but that in ugly or even monotonous places I have felt
society to be as necessary as it was welcome. Byron's expression,--

  "I made me friends of mountains,"

and Wordsworth's,

      "Nature never did betray
  The heart that loved her,"

are not more than plain statements of the companionship that _some_ minds
find in the beauty of landscape. They are often accused of affectation,
but in truth I believe that we who have that passion, instead of
expressing more than we feel, have generally rather a tendency to be
reserved upon the subject, as we seldom expect sympathy. Many of us would
rather live in solitude and on small means at Como than on a great income
in Manchester. This may be a foolish preference; but let the reader
remember the profound utterance of Blake, that if the fool would but
persevere in his folly he would become wise.

However powerful may be the aid of books and natural scenery in enabling
us to bear solitude, the best help of all must be found in our occupations
themselves. Steady workers do not need much company. To be occupied with a
task that is difficult and arduous, but that we know to be within our
powers, and to awake early every morning with the delightful feeling that
the whole day can be given to it without fear of interruption, is the
perfection of happiness for one who has the gift of throwing himself
heartily into his work. When night comes he will be a little weary, and
more disposed for tranquil sleep than to "danser jusqu' au jour chez
l'ambassadeur de France."

This is the best independence,--to have something to do and something that
can be done, and done most perfectly, in solitude. Then the lonely hours
flow on like smoothly gliding water, bearing one insensibly to the
evening. The workman says, "Is my sight failing?" and lo the sun has set!

There is but one objection to this absorption in worthy toil. It is that
as the day passes so passes life itself, that succession of many days. The
workman thinks of nothing but his work, and finds the time all too short.
At length he suddenly perceives that he is old, and wonders if life might
not have been made to seem a little longer, and if, after all, it has been
quite the best policy always to avoid _ennui_.



ESSAY III.

OF PASSIONATE LOVE.


The wonder of love is that, for the time being, it makes us ardently
desire the presence of one person and feel indifferent to all others of
her sex. It is commonly spoken of as a delusion, but I do not see any
delusion here, for if the presence of the beloved person satisfies his
craving, the lover gets what he desires and is not more the victim of a
deception than one who succeeds in satisfying any other want.

Again, it is often said that men are blinded by love, but the fact that
one sees certain qualities in a beloved person need not imply blindness.
If you are in love with a little woman it is not a reason for supposing
her to be tall. I will even venture to affirm that you may love a woman
passionately and still be quite clearly aware that her beauty is far
inferior to that of another whose coming thrills you with no emotion,
whose departure leaves with you no regret.

The true nature of a profound passion is not to attribute every physical
and mental quality to its object, but rather to think, "Such as she is,
with the endowments that are really her own, I love her above all women,
though I know that she is not so beautiful as some are, nor so learned as
some others." The only real deception to which a lover is exposed is that
he may overestimate the strength of his own passion. If he has not made
this mistake he is not likely to make any other, since, whatever the
indifferent may see, or fail to see, in the woman of his choice, he surely
finds in her the adequate reason for her attraction.

Love is commonly treated as if it belonged only to the flowering of the
spring-time of life, but strong and healthy natures remain capable of
feeling the passion in great force long after they are supposed to have
left it far behind them. It is, indeed, one of the signs of a healthy
nature to retain for many years the freshness of the heart which makes one
liable to fall in love, as a healthy palate retains the natural early
taste for delicious fruits.

This freshness of the heart is lost far more surely by debauchery than by
years; and for this reason worldly parents are not altogether dissatisfied
that their sons should "sow their wild oats" in youth, as they believe
that this kind of sowing is a preservative against the dangers of pure
love and an imprudent or unequal marriage. The calculation is well
founded. After a few years of indiscriminate debauchery a young man is
likely to be deadened to the sweet influences of love and therefore able
to conduct himself with steady worldliness, either remaining in celibacy
or marrying for position, exactly as his interests may dictate.

The case of Shelley is an apt illustration of this danger. He had at the
same time a horror of debauchery and an irresistible natural tendency to
the passion of love.

From the worldly point of view both his connections were degrading for a
young gentleman of rank. Had he followed the very common course of a
_real_ degradation and married a lady of rank after ten years of
indiscriminate immorality, is it an unjust or an unlikely supposition that
he would have given less dissatisfaction to his friends?

As to the permanence of love, or its transitoriness, the plain and candid
answer is that there is no real assurance either way. To predict that it
will certainly die after fruition is to shut one's eyes against the
evident fact that men often remain in love with mistresses or wives. On
the other hand, to assume that love is fixed and made permanent in a
magical way by marriage is to assume what would be desirable rather than
what really is. There are no magical incantations by which Love may be
retained, yet sometimes he will rest and dwell with astonishing tenacity
when there seem to be the strongest reasons for his departure. If there
were any ceremony, if any sacrifice could be made at an altar, by which
the capricious little deity might be conciliated and won, the wisest might
hasten to perform that ceremony and offer that acceptable sacrifice; but
he cares not for any of our rites. Sometimes he stays, in spite of
cruelty, misery, and wrong; sometimes he takes flight from the hearth
where a woman sits and grieves alone, with all the attractions of health,
beauty, gentleness, and refinement.

Boys and girls imagine that love in a poor cottage or a bare garret would
be more blissful than indifference in a palace, and the notion is thought
foolish and romantic by the wise people of the world; but the boys and
girls are right in their estimate of Love's great power of cheering and
brightening existence even in the very humblest situations. The possible
error against which they ought to be clearly warned is that of supposing
that Love would always remain contentedly in the cottage or the garret.
Not that he is any more certain to remain in a mansion in Belgrave Square,
not that a garret with him is not better than the vast Vatican without
him; but when he has taken his flight, and is simply absent, one would
rather be left in comfortable than in beggarly desolation.

The poets speak habitually of love as if it were a passion that could be
safely indulged, whereas the whole experience of modern existence goes to
show that it is of all passions the most perilous to happiness except in
those rare cases where it can be followed by marriage; and even then the
peril is not ended, for marriage gives no certainty of the duration of
love, but constitutes of itself a new danger, as the natures most disposed
to passion are at the same time the most impatient of restraint.

There is this peculiarity about love in a well-regulated social state. It
is the only passion that is quite strictly limited in its indulgence. Of
the intellectual passions a man may indulge several different ones either
successively or together; in the ordinary physical enjoyments, such as the
love of active sports or the pleasures of the table, he may carry his
indulgence very far and vary it without blame; but the master passion of
all has to be continually quelled, the satisfactions that it asks for have
to be continually refused to it, unless some opportunity occurs when they
may be granted without disturbing any one of many different threads in the
web of social existence; and these threads, to a lover's eye, seem
entirely unconnected with his hope.

In stating the fact of these restraints I do not dispute their necessity.
On the contrary, it is evident that infinite practical evil would result
from liberty. Those who have broken through the social restraints and
allowed the passion of love to set up its stormy and variable tyranny in
their hearts have led unsettled and unhappy lives. Even of love itself
they have not enjoyed the best except in those rare cases in which the
lovers have taken bonds upon themselves not less durable than those of
marriage; and even these unions, which give no more liberty than marriage
itself gives, are accompanied by the unsettled feeling that belongs to all
irregular situations.

It is easy to distinguish in the conventional manner between the lower and
the higher kinds of love, but it is not so easy to establish the real
distinction. The conventional difference is simply between the passion in
marriage and out of it; the real distinction would be between different
feelings; but as these feelings are not ascertainable by one person in the
mind or nerves of another, and as in most cases they are probably much
blended, the distinction can seldom be accurately made in the cases of
real persons, though it is marked trenchantly enough in works of pure
imagination.

The passion exists in an infinite variety, and it is so strongly
influenced by elements of character which have apparently nothing to do
with it, that its effects on conduct are to a great extent controlled by
them. For example, suppose the case of a man with strong passions combined
with a selfish nature, and that of another with passions equally strong,
but a rooted aversion to all personal satisfactions that might end in
misery for others. The first would ruin a girl with little hesitation; the
second would rather suffer the entire privation of her society by quitting
the neighborhood where she lived.

The interference of qualities that lie outside of passion is shown very
curiously and remarkably in intellectual persons in this way. They may
have a strong temporary passion for somebody without intellect or culture,
but they are not likely to be held permanently by such a person; and even
when under the influence of the temporary desire they may be clearly aware
of the danger there would be in converting it into a permanent relation,
and so they may take counsel with themselves and subdue the passion or fly
from the temptation, knowing that it would be sweet to yield, but that a
transient delight would be paid for by years of weariness in the future.

Those men of superior abilities who have bound themselves for life to some
woman who could not possibly understand them, have generally either broken
their bonds afterwards or else avoided as much as possible the
tiresomeness of a _tête-à-tête_, and found in general society the means of
occasionally enduring the dulness of their home. For short and transient
relations the principal charm in a woman is either beauty or a certain
sweetness, but for any permanent relation the first necessity of all is
that she be companionable.

Passionate love is the principal subject of poets and novelists, who
usually avoid its greatest difficulties by well-known means of escape.
Either the passion finishes tragically by the death of one of the parties,
or else it comes to a natural culmination in their union, whether
according to social order or through a breach of it. In real life the
story is not always rounded off so conveniently. It may happen, it
probably often does happen, that a passion establishes itself where it has
no possible chance of satisfaction, and where, instead of being cut short
by death, it persists through a considerable part of life and embitters
it. These cases are the more unfortunate that hopeless desire gives an
imaginary glory to its own object, and that, from the circumstances of the
case, this halo is not dissipated.

It is common amongst hard and narrow people, who judge the feelings of
others by their own want of them, to treat all the painful side of passion
with contemptuous levity. They say that people never die for love, and
that such fancies may easily be chased away by the exercise of a little
resolution. The profounder students of human nature take the subject more
seriously. Each of the great poets (including, of course, the author of
the "Bride of Lammermoor," in which the poetical elements are so abundant)
has treated the aching pain of love and the tragedy to which it may lead,
as in the deaths of Haidée, of Lucy Ashton, of Juliet, of Margaret. In
real life the powers of evil do not perceive any necessity for an
artistic conclusion of their work. A wrinkled old maid may still preserve
in the depths of her own heart, quite unsuspected by the young and lively
people about her, the unextinguished embers of a passion that first made
her wretched fifty years before; and in the long, solitary hours of a dull
old age she may live over and over again in memory the brief delirium of
that wild and foolish hope which was followed by years of self-repression.

Of all the painful situations occasioned by passionate love, I know of
none more lamentable than that of an innocent and honorable woman who has
been married to an unsuitable husband and who afterwards makes the
discovery that she involuntarily loves another. In well-regulated, moral
societies such passions are repressed, but they cannot be repressed
without suffering which has to be endured in silence. The victim is
punished for no fault when none is committed; but she may suffer from the
forces of nature like one who hungers and thirsts and sees a fair banquet
provided, yet is forbidden to eat or drink. It is difficult to suppress
the heart's regret, "Ah, if we had known each other earlier, in the days
when I was free, and it was not wrong to love!" Then there is the haunting
fear that the woful secret may one day reveal itself to others. Might it
not be suddenly and unexpectedly betrayed by a momentary absence of
self-control? This has sometimes happened, and then there is no safety but
in separation, immediate and decided. Suppose a case like the following,
which is said to have really occurred. A perfectly honorable man goes to
visit an intimate friend, walks quietly in the garden one afternoon with
his friend's wife, and suddenly discovers that he is the object of a
passion which, until that moment, she has steadily controlled. One
outburst of shameful tears, one pitiful confession of a life's
unhappiness, and they part forever! This is what happens when the friend
respects his friend and the wife her husband. What happens when both are
capable of treachery is known to the readers of English newspaper reports
and French fictions.

It seems as if, with regard to this passion, civilized man were placed in
a false position between Nature on the one hand and civilization on the
other. Nature makes us capable of feeling it in very great strength and
intensity, at an age when marriage is not to be thought of, and when there
is not much self-control. The tendency of high civilization is to retard
the time of marriage for men, but there is not any corresponding
postponement in the awakening of the passions. The least civilized classes
marry early, the more civilized later and later, and not often from
passionate love, but from a cool and prudent calculation about general
chances of happiness, a calculation embracing very various elements, and
in itself as remote from passion as the Proverbs of Solomon from the Song
of Songs. It consequently happens that the great majority of young
gentlemen discover early in life that passionate love is a danger to be
avoided, and so indeed it is; but it seems a peculiar misfortune for
civilized man that so natural an excitement, which is capable of giving
such a glow to all his faculties as nothing else can give, an excitement
which exalts the imagination to poetry and increases courage till it
becomes heroic devotion, whilst it gives a glamour of romance to the
poorest and most prosaic existence,--it seems, I say, a misfortune that a
passion with such unequalled powers as these should have to be eliminated
from wise and prudent life. The explanation of its early and inconvenient
appearance may be that before the human race had attained a position of
any tranquillity or comfort, the average life was very short, and it was
of the utmost importance that the flame of existence should be passed on
to another generation without delay. We inherit the rapid development
which saved the race in its perilous past, but we are embarrassed by it,
and instead of elevating us to a more exalted life it often avenges itself
for the refusal of natural activity by its own corruption, the corruption
of the best into the worst, of the fire from heaven into the filth of
immorality. The more this great passion is repressed and expelled, the
more frequent does immorality become.

Another very remarkable result of the exclusion of passionate love from
ordinary existence is that the idea of it takes possession of the
imagination. The most melodious poetry, the most absorbing fiction, are
alike celebrations of its mysteries. Even the wordless voice of music
wails or languishes for love, and the audience that seems only to hear
flutes and violins is in reality listening to that endless song of love
which thrills through the passionate universe. Well may the rebels against
Nature revolt against the influence of Art! It is everywhere permeated by
passion. The cold marble warms with it, the opaque pigments palpitate
with it, the dull actor has the tones of genius when he wins access to its
perennial inspiration. Even those forms of art which seem remote from it
do yet confess its presence. You see a picture of solitude, and think that
passion cannot enter there, but everything suggests it. The tree bends
down to the calm water, the gentle breeze caresses every leaf, the
white-pated old mountain is visited by the short-lived summer clouds. If,
in the opening glade, the artist has sketched a pair of lovers, you think
they naturally complete the scene; if he has omitted them, it is still a
place for lovers, or has been, or will be on some sweet eve like this.
What have stars and winds and odors to do with love? The poets know all
about it, and so let Shelley tell us:--

  "I arise from dreams of Thee
   In the first sweet sleep of night,
   When the winds are breathing low
   And the stars are shining bright:
   I arise from dreams of thee,
   And a spirit in my feet
   Has led me--who knows how?--
   To thy chamber-window, Sweet!
   The wandering airs they faint
   On the dark, the silent stream;
   The champak odors fail
   Like sweet thoughts in a dream;
   The nightingale's complaint
   It dies upon her heart,
   As I must die on thine
   O belovèd as thou art!"



ESSAY IV.

COMPANIONSHIP IN MARRIAGE.


If the reader has ever had for a travelling-companion some person totally
unsuited to his nature and quite unable to enter into the ideas that
chiefly interest him, unable, even, to _see_ the things that he sees and
always disposed to treat negligently or contemptuously the thoughts and
preferences that are most his own, he may have some faint conception of
what it must be to find one's self tied to an unsuitable companion for the
tedious journey of this mortal life; and if, on the other hand, he has
ever enjoyed the pleasure of wandering through a country that interested
him along with a friend who could understand his interest, and share it,
and whose society enhanced the charm of every prospect and banished
dulness from the dreariest inns, he may in some poor and imperfect degree
realize the happiness of those who have chosen the life-companion wisely.

When, after an experiment of months or years, the truth becomes plainly
evident that a great mistake has been committed, that there is really no
companionship, that there never will be, never can be, any mental
communion between the two, but that life in common is to be like a stiff
morning call when the giver and the receiver of the visit are beating
their brains to find something to say, and dread the gaps of silence, then
in the blank and dreary outlook comes the idea of separation, and
sometimes, in the loneliness that follows, a wild rebellion against social
order, and a reckless attempt to find in some more suitable union a
compensation for the first sad failure.

The world looks with more indulgence on these attempts when it sees reason
to believe that the desire was for intellectual companionship than when
inconstant passions are presumed to have been the motives; and it has so
happened that a few persons of great eminence have set an example in this
respect which has had the unfortunate effect of weakening in a perceptible
degree the ancient social order. It is not possible, of course, that there
can be many cases like that of George Eliot and Lewes, for the simple
reason that persons of their eminence are so rare; but if there were only
a few more cases of that kind it is evident that the laws of society would
either be confessedly powerless, or else it would be necessary to modify
them and bring them into harmony with new conditions. The importance of
the case alluded to lies in the fact that the lady, though she was
excluded (or willingly excluded herself) from general society, was still
respected and visited not only by men but by ladies of blameless life. Nor
was she generally regarded as an immoral person even by the outer world.
The feeling about her was one of regret that the faithful companionship
she gave to Lewes could not be legally called a marriage, as it was
apparently a model of what the legal relation ought to be. The object of
his existence was to give her every kind of help and to spare her every
shadow of annoyance. He read to her, wrote letters for her, advised her on
everything, and whilst full of admiration for her talents was able to do
something for their most effectual employment. She, on her part, rewarded
him with that which he prized above riches, the frank and affectionate
companionship of an intellect that it is needless to describe and of a
heart full of the most lively sympathy and ready for the most romantic
sacrifices.

In the preceding generation we have the well-known instances of Shelley,
Byron, and Goethe, all of whom sought companionship outside of social
rule, and enjoyed a sort of happiness probably not unembittered by the
false position in which it placed them. The sad story of Shelley's first
marriage, that with Harriett Westbrook, is one of the best instances of a
deplorable but most natural mistake. She is said to have been a charming
person in many ways. "Harriett," says Mr. Rossetti, "was not only
delightful to look at but altogether most agreeable. She dressed with
exquisite neatness and propriety; her voice was pleasant and her speech
cordial; her spirits were cheerful and her manners good. She was well
educated, a constant and agreeable reader; adequately accomplished in
music." But in spite of these qualities and talents, and even of
Harriett's willingness to learn, Shelley did not find her to be
companionable for him; and he unfortunately did discover that another
young lady, Mary Godwin, was companionable in the supreme degree. That
this latter idea was not illusory is proved by his happy life afterwards
with Mary so far as a life could be happy that was poisoned by a tragic
recollection.[3] Before that miserable ending, before the waters of the
Serpentine had closed over the wretched existence of Harriett, Shelley
said, "Every one who knows me must know that the partner of my life should
be one who can feel poetry and understand philosophy. Harriett is a noble
animal, but she can do neither." Here we have a plain statement of that
great need for companionship which was a part of Shelley's nature. It is
often connected with its apparent opposite, the love of solitude. Shelley
was a lover of solitude, which means that he liked full and adequate human
intercourse so much that the insufficient imitation of it was intolerable
to him. Even that sweetest solitude of all, when he wrote the "Revolt of
Islam" in summer shades, to the sound of rippling waters, was willingly
exchanged for the society of the one dearest and best companion:--

  "So now my summer-task is ended, Mary,
       And I return to thee, mine own heart's home;
   As to his Queen some victor Knight of Faëry,
       Earning bright spoils for her enchanted dome.
       Nor thou disdain that, ere my fame become
   A star among the stars of mortal night
       (If it indeed may cleave its native gloom),
     Its doubtful promise thus I would unite
   With thy beloved name, thou child of love and light.

  "The toil which stole from thee so many an hour
       Is ended, and the fruit is at thy feet.
   No longer where the woods to frame a bower
       With interlaced branches mix and meet,
       Or where, with sound like many voices sweet,
   Waterfalls leap among wild islands green
       Which framed for my lone boat a lone retreat
     Of moss-grown trees and weeds, shall I be seen:
   But beside thee, where still my heart has ever been."

It is not surprising that the companionship of conjugal life should be
like other friendships in this, that a first experiment may be a failure
and a later experiment a success. We are all so fallible that in matters
of which we have no experience we generally commit great blunders.
Marriage unites all the conditions that make a blunder probable. Two young
people, with very little conception of what an unsurmountable barrier a
difference of idiosyncrasy may be, are pleased with each other's youth,
health, natural gayety, and good looks, and fancy that it would be
delightful to live together. They marry, and in many cases discover that
somehow, in spite of the most meritorious efforts, they are not
companions. There is no fault on either side; they try their best, but the
invisible demon, incompatibility, is too strong for them.

From all that we know of the characters of Lord and Lady Byron it seems
evident that they never were likely to enjoy life together. He committed
the mistake of marrying a lady on the strength of her excellent
reputation. "She has talents and excellent qualities," he said before
marriage; as if all the arts and sciences and all the virtues put together
could avail without the one quality that is _never_ admired, _never_
understood by others,--that of simple suitableness. She was "a kind of
pattern in the North," and he "heard of nothing but her merits and her
wonders." He did not see that all these excellencies were dangers, that
the consciousness of them and the reputation for them would set the lady
up on a judgment seat of her own, from which she would be continually
observing the errors, serious or trivial, of that faulty specimen of the
male sex that it was her lofty mission to correct or to condemn. All this
he found out in due time and expressed in the bitter lines,--

  "Oh! she was perfect past all parallel
     Of any modern female saint's comparison

      *       *       *       *       *

   Perfect she was."

The story of his subsequent life is too well known to need repetition
here. All that concerns our present subject is that ultimately, in the
Countess Guiccioli, he found the woman who had, for him, that one quality,
suitableness, which outweighs all the perfections. She did not read
English, but, though ignorant alike of the splendor and the tenderness of
his verse, she knew the nature of the man; and he enjoyed in her society,
probably for the first time in his life, the most exquisite pleasure the
masculine mind can ever know, that of being looked upon by a feminine
intelligence with clear sight and devoted affection at the same time. The
relation that existed between Byron and the Countess Guiccioli is one
outside of our morality, a revenge of Nature against a marriage system
that could take a girl not yet sixteen and make her the third wife of a
man more than old enough to be her grandfather. In Italy this revenge of
Nature against a bad social system is accepted, within limits, and is an
all but inevitable consequence of marriages like that of Count Guiccioli,
which, however they may be approved by custom and consecrated by religious
ceremonies, remain, nevertheless, amongst the worst (because the most
unnatural) immoralities. All that need be said in his young wife's defence
is that she followed the only rule habitually acted upon by mankind, the
custom of her country and her class, and that she acted, from beginning to
end, with the most absolute personal abnegation. On Byron her influence
was wholly beneficial. She raised him from a mode of life that was
deplored by all his true friends, to the nearest imitation of a happy
marriage that was accessible to him; but the irregularity of their
position brought upon them the usual Nemesis, and after a broken
intercourse, during which he never could feel her to be really his own, he
went to Missolonghi and wrote, under the shadow of Death,--

  "The hope, the fear, the jealous care,
     The exalted portion of the pain
   And power of love, I cannot share,
     But wear the chain."

The difference between Byron and Goethe in regard to feminine
companionship lies chiefly in this,--that whilst Byron does not seem to
have been very susceptible of romantic love (though he was often entangled
in _liaisons_ more or less degrading), Goethe was constantly in love and
imaginative in his passions, as might be expected from a poet. He appears
to have encouraged himself in amorous fancies till they became almost or
quite realities, as if to give himself that experience of various feeling
out of which he afterwards created poems. He was himself clearly conscious
that his poetry was a transformation of real experiences into artistic
forms. The knowledge that he came by his poetry in this way would
naturally lead him to encourage rather than stifle the sentiments which
gave him his best materials. It is quite within the comprehensive powers
of a complex nature that a poet might lead a dual life; being at the same
time a man, ardent, very susceptible of all passionate emotions, and a
poet, observing this passionate life and accumulating its results. In all
this there is very little of what occupies us just now, the search for a
satisfactory companionship. The woman with whom he most enjoyed that was
the Baroness von Stein, but even this friendship was not ultimately
satisfying and had not a permanent character. It lasted ten or eleven
years, till his return from the Italian journey, when "she thought him
cold, and her resource was--reproaches. The resource was more feminine
than felicitous. Instead of sympathizing with him in his sorrow at leaving
Italy, she felt the regret as an offence; and perhaps it was; but a truer,
nobler nature would surely have known how to merge its own pain in
sympathy with the pain of one beloved. He regretted Italy; she was not a
compensation to him; she saw this, and her self-love suffered."[4] And so
it ended. "He offered friendship in vain; he had wounded the self-love of
a vain woman." Goethe's longest connection was with Christiane Vulpius, a
woman quite unequal to him in station and culture, and in that respect
immeasurably inferior to the Baroness von Stein, but superior to her in
the power of affection, and able to charm and retain the poet by her
lively, pleasant disposition and her perfect constancy. Gradually she rose
in his esteem, and every year increased her influence over him. From the
precarious position of a mistress out of his house she first attained that
of a wife in all but the legal title, as he received her under his roof in
defiance of all the good society of Weimar; and lastly she became his
lawful wife, to the still greater scandal of the polite world. It may even
be said that her promotion did not end here, for the final test of love is
death; and when Christiane died she left behind her the deep and lasting
sorrow that is happiness still to those who feel it, though happiness in
its saddest form.

The misfortune of Goethe appears to have been that he dreaded and avoided
marriage in early life, perhaps because he was instinctively aware of his
own tendency to form many attachments of limited duration; but his
treatment of Christiane Vulpius, so much beyond any obligations which,
according to the world's code, he had incurred, is sufficient proof that
there was a power of constancy in his nature; and if he had married early
and suitably it is possible that this constancy might have stayed and
steadied him from the beginning. It is easy to imagine that a marriage
with a cultivated woman of his own class would have given him, in course
of time, by mutual adaptation, a much more complete companionship than
either of those semi-associations with the Frau von Stein and Christiane,
each of which only included a part of his great nature. Christiane,
however, had the better part, his heartfelt affection.

The case of John Stuart Mill and the remarkable woman by whose side he
lies buried at Avignon, is the most perfect instance of thorough
companionship on record; and it is remarkable especially because men of
great intellectual power, whose ways of thinking are quite independent of
custom, and whose knowledge is so far outside the average as to carry
their thoughts continually beyond the common horizon, have an extreme
difficulty in associating themselves with women, who are naturally
attached to custom, and great lovers of what is settled, fixed, limited,
and clear. The ordinary disposition of women is to respect what is
authorized much more than what is original, and they willingly, in the
things of the mind, bow before anything that is repeated with
circumstances of authority. An isolated philosopher has no costume or
surroundings to entitle him to this kind of respect. He wears no vestment,
he is not magnified by any architecture, he is not supported by superiors
or deferred to by subordinates. He stands simply on his abilities, his
learning, and his honesty. There is, however, this one chance in his
favor, that a certain natural sympathy may possibly exist between him and
some woman on the earth,--if he could only find her,--and this woman would
make him independent of all the rest. It was Stuart Mill's rare
good-fortune to find this one woman, early in life, in the person of Mrs.
Taylor; and as his nature was intellectual and affectionate rather than
passionate, he was able to rest contented with simple friendship for a
period of twenty years. Indeed this friendship itself, considered only as
such, was of very gradual growth. "To be admitted," he wrote, "into any
degree of mental intercourse with a being of these qualities, could not
but have a most beneficial influence on my development; though the effect
was only gradual, and many years elapsed before her mental progress and
mine went forward in the complete companionship they at last attained. The
benefit I received was far greater than any I could hope to give.... What
I owe, even intellectually, to her, is in its detail almost infinite."

Mill speaks of his marriage, in 1851 (I use his words), to the lady whose
incomparable worth had made her friendship the greatest source to him both
of happiness and of improvement during many years in which they never
expected to be in any closer relation to one another. "For seven and a
half years," he goes on to say, "that blessing was mine; for seven and a
half only! I can say nothing which could describe, even in the faintest
manner, what that loss was and is. But because I know that she would have
wished it, I endeavor to make the best of what life I have left and to
work on for her purposes with such diminished strength as can be derived
from thoughts of her and communion with her memory.... Since then I have
sought for such alleviation as my state admitted of, by the mode of life
which most enabled me to feel her still near me. I bought a cottage as
close as possible to the place where she is buried, and there her daughter
(my fellow-sufferer and now my chief comfort) and I live constantly during
a great portion of the year. My objects in life are solely those which
were hers; my pursuits and occupations those in which she shared, or
sympathized, and which are indissolubly associated with her. Her memory is
to me a religion, and her approbation the standard by which, summing up as
it does all worthiness, I endeavor to regulate my life."

The examples that I have selected (all purposely from the real life of
well-known persons) are not altogether encouraging. They show the
difficulty that there is in finding the true companion. George Eliot found
hers at the cost of a rebellion against social order to which, with her
regulated mind and conservative instincts, she must have been by nature
little disposed. Shelley succeeded only after a failure and whilst the
failure still had rights over his entire existence. His life was like one
of those pictures in which there is a second work over a first, and the
painter supposes the first to be entirely concealed, which indeed it is
for a little time, but it reappears afterwards and spoils the whole.
Nothing could be more unsatisfactory than the domestic arrangements of
Byron. He married a lady from a belief in her learning and virtue, only to
find that learning and virtue were hard stones in comparison with the
daily bread of sympathy. Then, after a vain waste of years in error, he
found true love at last, but on terms which involved too heavy sacrifices
from her who gave it, and procured him no comfort, no peace, if indeed
his nature was capable of any restfulness in love. Goethe, after a number
of attachments that ended in nothing, gave himself to one woman by his
intelligence and to another by his affections, not belonging with his
whole nature to either, and never in his long life knowing what it is to
have equal companionship in one's own house. Stuart Mill is contented, for
twenty years, to be the esteemed friend of a lady married to another,
without hope of any closer relation; and when his death permits them to
think of marriage, they have only seven years and a half before them, and
he is forty-five years old.

Cases of this kind would be discouraging in the extreme degree, were it
not that the difficulty is exceptional. High intellect is in itself a
peculiarity, in a certain sense it is really an eccentricity, even when so
thoroughly sane and rational as in the cases of George Eliot, Goethe, and
Mill. It is an eccentricity in this sense, that its mental centre does not
coincide with that of ordinary people. The mental centre of ordinary
people is simply the public opinion, the common sense, of the class and
locality in which they live, so that, to them, the common sense of people
in another class, another locality, appears irrational or absurd. The
mental centre of a superior person is not that of class and locality.
Shelley did not belong to the English aristocracy, though he was born in
it; his mind did not centre itself in aristocratic ideas. George Eliot did
not belong to the middle class of the English midlands, nor Stuart Mill to
the London middle classes. So far as Byron belonged to the aristocracy it
was a mark of inferiority in him, owing to a touch of vulgarity in his
nature, the same vulgarity which made him believe that he could not be a
proper sort of lord without a prodigal waste of money. Yet even Byron was
not centred in local ideas; that which was best in him, his enthusiasm for
Greece, was not an essential part of Nottinghamshire common sense. Goethe
lived much more in one locality, and even in a small place; but if
anything is remarkable in him it is his complete independence of Weimar
ideas. It was the Duke, his friend and master, not the public opinion of
Weimar, that allowed Goethe to be himself. He refused even to be classed
intellectually, and did not recognize the vulgar opinion that a poet
cannot be scientific. In all these cases the mental centre was not in any
local common sense. It was a result of personal studies and observations
acting upon an individual idiosyncrasy.

We may now perceive how infinitely easier it is for ordinary people to
meet and be companionable than for these rare and superior minds. Ordinary
people, if bred in the same neighborhood and class, are sure to have a
great fund of ideas in common, all those ideas that constitute the local
common sense. If you listen attentively to their conversations you will
find that they hardly ever go outside of that. They mention incidents and
actions, and test them one after another by a tacit reference to the
public opinion of the place. Therefore they have a good chance of
agreeing, of considering each other reasonable; and this is why it is a
generally received opinion that marriages between people of the same
locality and the same class offer the greatest probability of happiness.
So they do, in ordinary cases, but if there is the least touch of any
original talent or genius in one of the parties, it is sure to result in
many ideas that will be outside of any local common sense, and then the
other party, living in that sense, will consider those ideas peculiar, and
perhaps deplorable. Here, then, are elements of dissension lying quite
ready like explosive materials, and the merest accident may shatter in a
moment the whole fabric of affection. To prevent such an accident an
artificial kind of intercourse is adopted which is not real companionship,
or anything resembling it.

The reader may imagine, and has probably observed in real life, a marriage
in which the husband is a man of original power, able to think forcibly
and profoundly, and the wife a gentle being quite unable to enter into any
thought of that quality. In cases of that kind the husband may be
affectionate and even tender, but he is careful to utter nothing beyond
the safest commonplaces. In the presence of his wife he keeps his mind
quite within the circle of custom. He has, indeed, no other resource.
Custom and commonplace are the protection of the intelligent against
misapprehension and disapproval.

Marriages of this unequal kind are an imitation of those equal marriages
in which both parties live in the local common sense; but there is this
vast difference between them, that in the imitation the more intelligent
of the two parties has to stifle half his nature. An intelligent man has
to make up his mind in early life whether he has courage enough for such
a sacrifice or not. Let him try the experiment of associating for a short
time with people who cannot understand him, and if he likes the feeling of
repression that results from it, if he is able to stop short always at the
right moment, if he can put his knowledge on the shelf as one puts a book
in a library, then perhaps he may safely undertake the long labor of
companionship with an unsuitable wife.

This is sometimes done in pure hopelessness of ever finding a true mate. A
man has no belief in any real companionship, and therefore simply conforms
to custom in his marriage, as Montaigne did, allying himself with some
young lady who is considered in the neighborhood to be a suitable match
for him. This is the _mariage de convenance_. Its purposes are
intelligible and attainable. It may add considerably to the dignity and
convenience of life and to that particular kind of happiness which results
from satisfaction with our own worldly prudence. There is also the
probability that by perfect courtesy, by a scrupulous observance of the
rules of intercourse between highly civilized persons who are not
extremely intimate, the parties who contract a marriage of this kind may
give each other the mild satisfactions that are the reward of the
well-bred. There is a certain pleasure in watching every movement of an
accomplished lady, and if she is your wife there may also be a certain
pride. She receives your guests well; she holds her place with perfect
self-possession at your table and in her drawing-room; she never commits a
social solecism; and you feel that you can trust her absolutely. Her
private income is a help in the maintenance of your establishment and so
increases your credit in the world. She gives you in this way a series of
satisfactions that may even, in course of time, produce rather
affectionate feelings. If she died you would certainly regret her loss,
and think that life was, on the whole, decidedly less agreeable without
her.

But alas for the dreams of youth if this is all that is to be gained by
marriage! Where is the sweet friend and companion who was to have
accompanied us through prosperous or adverse years, who was to have
charmed and consoled us, who was to have given us the infinite happiness
of being understood and loved at the same time? Were all those dreams
delusions? Is the best companionship a mere fiction of the fancy, not
existing anywhere upon the earth?

I believe in the promises of Nature. I believe that in every want there is
the promise of a possible satisfaction. If we are hungry there is food
somewhere, if we are thirsty there is drink. But in the things of the
world there is often an indication of order rather than a realization of
it, so that in the confusion of accidents the hungry man may be starving
in a beleaguered city and the thirsty man parched in the Sahara. All that
the wants indicate is that their satisfaction is possible in nature. Let
us believe that, for every one, the true mate exists somewhere in the
world. She is worth seeking for at any cost of trouble or expense, worth
travelling round the globe to find, worth the endurance of labor and pain
and privation. Men suffer all this for objects of far inferior
importance; they risk life for the chance of a ribbon, and sacrifice
leisure and peace for the smallest increase of social position. What are
these vanities in comparison with the priceless benefit, the continual
blessing, of having with you always the one person whose presence can
deliver you from all the evils of solitude without imposing the
constraints and hypocrisies of society? With her you are free to be as
much yourself as when alone; you say what you think and she understands
you. Your silence does not offend her; she only thinks that there will be
time enough to talk together afterwards. You know that you can trust her
love, which is as unfailing as a law of nature. The differences of
idiosyncrasy that exist between you only add interest to your intercourse
by preventing her from becoming a mere echo of yourself. She has her own
ways, her own thoughts that are not yours and yet are all open to you, so
that you no longer dwell in one intellect only but have constant access to
a second intellect, probably more refined and elegant, richer in what is
delicate and beautiful. There you make unexpected discoveries; you find
that the first instinctive preference is more than justified by merits
that you had not divined. You had hoped and trusted vaguely that there
were certain qualities; but as a painter who looks long at a natural scene
is constantly discovering new beauties whilst he is painting it, so the
long and loving observation of a beautiful human mind reveals a thousand
unexpected excellences. Then come the trials of life, the sudden
calamities, the long and wearing anxieties. Each of these will only reveal
more clearly the wonderful endurance, fidelity, and fortitude that there
is in every noble feminine nature, and so build up on the foundation of
your early love an unshakable edifice of esteem and respect and love
commingled, for which in our modern tongue we have no single term, but
which our forefathers called "worship."



ESSAY V.

FAMILY TIES.


One of the most remarkable differences between the English and some of the
Continental nations is the comparative looseness of family ties in
England. The apparent difference is certainly very great; the real
difference is possibly not so great. It may be that a good deal of that
warm family affection which we are constantly hearing of in France is only
make-believe, but the keeping-up of a make-believe is often favorable to
the reality. In England a great deal of religion is mere outward form; but
to be surrounded by the constant observance of outward form is a great
practical convenience to the genuine religious sentiment where it exists.

In boyhood we suppose that all gentlemen of mature age who happen to be
brothers must naturally have fraternal feelings; in mature life we know
the truth, having discovered that there are many brothers between whom no
sentiment of fraternity exists. A foreigner who knows England well, and
has observed it more carefully than we ourselves do, remarked to me that
the fraternal relationship is not generally a cause of attachment in
England, though there may be cases of exceptional affection. It certainly
often happens that brothers live contentedly apart and do not seem to feel
the need of intercourse, or that such intercourse as they have has no
appearance of cordiality. A very common cause of estrangement is a natural
difference of class. One man is so constituted as to feel more at ease in
a higher class, and he rises; his brother feels more at ease in a lower
class, adopts its manners, and sinks. After a few years have passed the
two will have acquired such different habits, both of thinking and living,
that they will be disqualified for equal intercourse. If one brother is a
gentleman in tastes and manners and the other not a gentleman, the
vulgarity of the coarser nature will be all the more offensive to the
refined one that there is the troublesome consciousness of a very near
relationship and of a sort of indefinite responsibility.

The frequency of coolness between brothers surprises us less when we
observe how widely they may differ from each other in mental and physical
constitution. One may be a sportsman, traveller, man of the world; another
a religious recluse. One may have a sensitive, imaginative nature and be
keenly alive to the influences of literature, painting, and music; his
brother may be a hard, practical man of business, with a conviction that
an interest in literary and artistic pursuits is only a sign of weakness.

The extreme uncertainty that always exists about what really constitutes
suitableness is seen as much between brothers as between other men; for we
sometimes see a beautiful fraternal affection between brothers who seem to
have nothing whatever in common, and sometimes an equal affection appears
to be founded upon likeness.

Jealousy in its various forms is especially likely to arise between
brothers, and between sisters also for the same reason, which is that
comparisons are constantly suggested and even made with injudicious
openness by parents and teachers, and by talkative friends. The
development of the faculties in youth is always extremely interesting, and
is a constant subject of observation and speculation. If it is interesting
to on-lookers, it is still more likely to be so to the young persons most
concerned. They feel as young race-horses might be expected to feel
towards each other if they could understand the conversations of trainers,
stud-owners, and grooms.

If a full account of family life could be generally accessible, if we
could read autobiographies written by the several members of the same
family, giving a sincere and independent account of their own youth, it
would probably be found in most cases that jealousies were easily
discoverable. They need not be very intense to create a slight fissure of
separation that may be slowly widened afterwards.

If you listen attentively to the conversation of brothers about brothers,
of sisters about sisters, you will probably detect such little jealousies
without difficulty. "My sister," said a lady in my hearing, "was very much
admired when she was young, _but she aged prematurely_." Behind this it
was easy to read the comparison with self, with a constitution less
attractive to others but more robust and durable, and there was a faint
reverberation of girlish jealousy about attentions paid forty years
before.

The jealousies of youth are too natural to deserve any serious blame, but
they may be a beginning of future coolness. A boy will seem to praise the
talents of his brother with the purpose of implying that the facilities
given by such talents make industry almost superfluous, whilst his own
more strenuous efforts are not appreciated as they deserve. Instead of
soothing and calming these natural jealousies some parents irritate and
inflame them. They make wounding remarks that produce evil in after years.
I have seen a sensitive boy wince under cutting sarcasms that he will
remember till his hair is gray.

If there are fraternal jealousies in boyhood, when the material comforts
and the outward show of existence are the same for brothers, much more are
these jealousies likely to be accentuated in after-life, when differences
of worldly success, or of inherited fortune, establish distinctions so
obvious as to be visible to all. The operation of the aristocratic custom
by which eldest sons are made very much richer than their brethren can
scarcely be in favor of fraternal intimacy. No general rule can be
established, because characters differ so widely. An eldest brother _may_
be so amiable, so truly fraternal, that the cadets instead of feeling envy
of his wealth may take a positive pride in it; still, the natural effect
of creating such a vast inequality is to separate the favored heir from
the less-favored younger sons. I leave the reader to think over instances
that may be known to him. Amongst those known to me I find several cases
of complete or partial suspension of intercourse and others of manifest
indifference and coolness. One incident recurs to my memory after a lapse
of thirty years. I was present at the departure of a young friend for
India when his eldest brother was too indifferent to get up a little
earlier to see him off, and said, "Oh, you're going, are you? Well,
good-by, John!" through his bedroom door. The lad carried a wound in his
heart to the distant East.

There is nothing in the mere fact of fraternity to establish friendship.
The line of "In Memoriam,"--

  "More than my brothers are to me,"

is simply true of every real friend, unless friendship adds itself to
brotherhood, in which case the intimacy arising from a thousand details of
early life in common, from the thorough knowledge of the same persons and
places, and from the memories of parental affection, must give a rare
completeness to friendship itself and make it in these respects even
superior to marriage, which has the great defect that the associations of
early life are not the same. I remember a case of wonderfully strong
affection between two brothers who were daily companions till death
separated them; but they were younger sons and their incomes were exactly
alike; their tastes, too, and all their habits were the same. The only
other case that occurs to me as comparable to this one was also of two
younger sons, one of whom had an extraordinary talent for business. They
were partners in trade, and no dissension ever arose between them, because
the superiority of the specially able man was affectionately recognized
and deferred to by the other. If, however, they had not been partners it
is possible that the brilliant success of one brother might have created
a contrast and made intercourse more constrained.

The case of John Bright and his brother may be mentioned, as he has made
it public in one of his most charming and interesting speeches. His
political work has prevented him from laboring in his business, but his
brother and partner has affectionately considered him an active member of
the firm, so that Mr. Bright has enjoyed an income sufficient for his
political independence. In this instance the comparatively obscure brother
has shown real nobility of nature. Free from the jealousy and envy which
would have vexed a small mind in such a position he has taken pleasure in
the fame of the statesman. It is easy to imagine the view that a mean mind
would have taken of a similar situation. Let us add that the statesman
himself has shown true fraternal generosity of another kind, and perhaps
of a more difficult kind, for it is often easier to confer an obligation
than to accept it heartily.

It has often been a subject of astonishment to me that between very near
relations a sensitive feeling about pecuniary matters should be so lively
as it is. I remember an instance in the last generation of a rich man in
Cheshire who made a present of ten thousand pounds to a lady nearly
related to him. He was very wealthy, she was not; the sum would never be
missed by him, whilst to her it made a great difference. What could be
more reasonable than such a correction of the inequalities of fortune?
Many people would have refused the present, out of pride, but it was much
kinder to accept it in the same good spirit that dictated the offer. On
the other hand, there are poor gentlefolks whose only fault is a sense of
independence, so _farouche_ that nobody can get them to accept anything of
importance, and any good that is done to them has to be plotted with
consummate art.

A wonderful light is thrown upon family relations when we become
acquainted with the real state of those family pecuniary transactions that
are not revealed to the public. The strangest discovery is the widely
different ways in which pecuniary obligations are estimated by different
persons, especially by different women. Men, I believe, take them rather
more equally; but as women go by sentiment they have a tendency to
extremes, either exaggerating the importance of an obligation when they
like to feel very much obliged, or else adopting the convenient theory
that the generous person is fulfilling a simple duty, and that there is no
obligation whatever. One woman will go into ecstasies of gratitude because
a brother makes her a present of a few pounds; and another will never
thank a benefactor who allows her, year by year, an annuity far larger
than is justified by his precarious professional income. In one real case
a lady lived for many years on her brother's generosity and was openly
hostile to him all the time. After her death it was found that she had
insulted him in her will. In another case a sister dependent on her
brother's bounty never thanked him or even acknowledged the receipt of a
sum of money, but if the money was not sent to the day she would at once
write a sharp letter full of bitter reproaches for his neglect. The marvel
is the incredible patience with which toiling men will go on sending the
fruits of their industry to relations who do not even make a pretence of
affection.

A frequent cause of hostility between very near relations is the
_restriction_ of generosity. So long as you set no limit to your giving it
is well, you are doing your duty; but the moment you fix a limit the case
is altered; then all past sacrifices go for nothing, your glory has set in
gloom, and you will be considered as more niggardly than if you had not
begun to be generous. Here is a real case, out of many. A man makes bad
speculations, but conceals the full extent of his losses, and by the
influence of his wife obtains important sums from a near relation of hers
who half ruins himself to save her. When the full disaster is known the
relation stops short and declines to ruin himself entirely; she then
bitterly reproaches him for his selfishness. A very short time before
writing the present Essay I was travelling, and met an old friend, a
bachelor of limited means but of a most generous disposition, the kindest
and most affectionate nature I ever knew in the male sex. I asked for news
about his brother. "I never see him now; a coldness has sprung up between
us."--"It must be his fault, then, for I am sure it did not originate with
you."--"The truth is, he got into money difficulties, so I gave him a
thousand pounds. He thought that under the circumstances I ought to have
done more and broke off all intercourse. I really believe that if I had
given him nothing we should have been more friendly at this day."

The question how far we are bound to allow family ties to regulate our
intercourse is not easily treated in general terms, though it seems
plainer in particular cases. Here is one for the reader's consideration.

Owing to natural refinement, and to certain circumstances of which he
intelligently availed himself, one member of a family is a cultivated
gentleman, whose habitual ways of thinking are of rather an elevated kind,
and whose manners and language are invariably faultless. He is blessed
with very near relations whose principal characteristic is loud,
confident, overwhelming vulgarity. He is always uncomfortable with these
relations. He knows that the ways of thinking and speaking which are
natural to him will seem cold and uncongenial to them; that not one of his
thoughts can be exactly understood by them; that his deficiency in what
they consider heartiness is a defect he cannot get over. On the other
hand, he takes no interest in what they say, because their opinions on all
the subjects he cares about are too crude, and their information too
scanty or erroneous. If he said what he felt impelled to say, all his talk
would be a perpetual correction of their clumsy blunders. He has,
therefore, no resource but to repress himself and try to act a part, the
part of a pleased companion; but this is wearisome, especially if
prolonged. The end is that he keeps out of their way, and is set down as a
proud, conceited person, and an unkind relative. In reality he is simply
refined and has a difficulty in accommodating himself to the ways of all
vulgar society whatever, whether composed of his own relations or of
strangers. Does he deserve to be blamed for this? Certainly not. He has
not the flexibility, the dramatic power, to adapt himself to a lower
state of civilization; that is his only fault. His relations are persons
with whom, if they were not relations, nobody would expect him to
associate; but because he and they happen to be descended from a common
ancestor he is to maintain an impossible intimacy. He wishes them no harm;
he is ready to make sacrifices to help them; his misfortune is that he
does not possess the humor of a Dickens that would have enabled him to
find amusement in their vulgarity, and he prefers solitude to that
infliction.

There is a French proverb, "Les cousins ne sont pas parents." The exact
truth would appear to be rather that cousins are relations or not just as
it pleases them to acknowledge the relationship, and according to the
natural possibilities of companionship between the parties. If they are of
the same class in society (which does not always happen), and if they have
pursuits in common or can understand each other's interests, and if there
is that mysterious suitableness which makes people like to be together,
then the fact of cousinship is seized upon as a convenient pretext for
making intercourse more frequent, more intimate, and more affectionate;
but if there is nothing to attract one cousin to another the relationship
is scarcely acknowledged. Cousins are, or are not, relations just as they
find it agreeable to themselves. It need hardly be added that it is a
general though not an invariable rule that the relationship is better
remembered on the humbler side. The cousinly degree may be felt to be very
close under peculiar circumstances. An only child looks to his cousins
for the brotherly and sisterly affection that fate has denied him at home,
and he is not always disappointed. Even distant cousins may be truly
fraternal, just as first cousins may happen to be very distant, the
relationship is so variable and elastic in its nature.

Unmarried people have often a great vague dread of their future wife's
relations, even when the lady has not yet been fixed upon, and married
people have sometimes found the reality more terrible even than their
gloomy anticipation. And yet it may happen that some of these dreaded new
relations will be unexpectedly valuable and supply elements that were
grievously wanting. They may bring new life into a dull house, they may
enliven the sluggish talk with wit and information, they may take a too
thoughtful and studious man out of the weary round of his own ideas. They
may even in course of time win such a place in one's affection that if
they are taken away by death they will leave a great void and an enduring
sorrow. I write these lines from a sweet and sad experience.[5]

Intellectual men are, more than others, liable to a feeling of
dissatisfaction with their relations because they want intellectual
sympathy and interest, which relations hardly ever give. The reason is
extremely simple. Any special intellectual pursuit is understood only by a
small select class of its own, and our relations are given us out of the
general body of society without any selection, and they are not very
numerous, so that the chances against our finding intellectual sympathy
amongst them are calculably very great. As we grow older we get accustomed
to this absence of sympathy with our pursuits, and take it as a matter of
course; but in youth it seems strange that what we feel and know to be so
interesting should have no interest for those nearest to us. Authors
sometimes feel a little hurt that their nearest relations will not read
their books, and are but dimly aware that they have written any books at
all; but do they read books of the same class by other writers? As an
author you are in the same position that other authors occupy, but with
this difference, which is against you, that familiarity has made you a
commonplace person in your own circle, and that is a bad opening for the
reception of your higher thoughts. This want of intellectual sympathy does
not prevent affection, and we ought to appreciate affection at its full
value in spite of it. Your brother or your cousin may be strongly attached
to you personally, with an old love dating from your boyhood, but he may
separate _you_ (the human creature that he knows) from the author of your
books, and not feel the slightest curiosity about the books, believing
that he knows you perfectly without them, and that they are only a sort of
costume in which you perform before the public. A female relative who has
given up her mind to the keeping of some clergyman, may scrupulously avoid
your literature in order that it may not contaminate her soul, and yet she
may love you still in a painful way and be sincerely sorry that you have
no other prospect but that of eternal punishment.

I have sometimes heard the question proposed whether relations or friends
were the more valuable as a support and consolation. Fate gives us our
relations, whilst we select our friends; and therefore it would seem at
first sight that the friends must be better adapted for us; but it may
happen that we have not selected with great wisdom, or that we have not
had good opportunities for making a choice really answering to our deepest
needs. Still, there must have been mutual affinity of some kind to make a
friendship, whilst relations are all like tickets in a lottery. It may
therefore be argued that the more relations we have, the better, because
we are more likely to meet with two or three to love us amongst fifty than
amongst five.

The peculiar peril of blood-relationship is that those who are closely
connected by it often permit themselves an amount of mutual rudeness
(especially in the middle and lower classes) which they never would think
of inflicting upon a stranger. In some families people really seem to
suppose that it does not matter how roughly they treat each other. They
utter unmeasured reproaches about trifles not worth a moment's anger; they
magnify small differences that only require to be let alone and forgotten,
or they relieve the monotony of quarrels with an occasional fit of the
sulks. Sometimes it is an irascible father who is always scolding,
sometimes a loud-tongued matron shrieks "in her fierce volubility." Some
children take up the note and fire back broadside for broadside; others
wait for a cessation in contemptuous silence and calmly disregard the
thunder. Family life indeed! domestic peace and bliss! Give me, rather,
the bachelor's lonely hearth with a noiseless lamp and a book! The manners
of the ill-mannered are never so odious, unbearable, exasperating, as they
are to their own nearest kindred. How is a lad to enjoy the society of his
mother if she is perpetually "nagging" and "nattering" at him? How is he
to believe that his coarse father has a tender anxiety for his welfare
when everything that he does is judged with unfatherly harshness? Those
who are condemned to live with people for whom scolding and quarrelling
are a necessary of existence must either be rude in self-defence or take
refuge in a sullen and stubborn taciturnity. Young people who have to live
in these little domestic hells look forward to any change as a desirable
emancipation. They are ready to go to sea, to emigrate. I have heard of
one who went into domestic service under a feigned name that he might be
out of the range of his brutal father's tongue.

The misery of uncongenial relations is caused mainly by the irksome
consciousness that they are obliged to live together. "To think that there
is so much space upon the earth, that there are so many houses, so many
rooms, and yet that I am so unfortunate as to be compelled to live in the
same lodging with this uncivilized, ill-conditioned fellow! To think that
there are such vast areas of tranquil silence, and yet that I am compelled
to hear the voice of that scolding woman!" This is the feeling, and the
relief would be temporary separation. In this, as in almost everything
that concerns human intercourse, the rich have an immense advantage, as
they can take only just so much of each other's society as they find by
experience to be agreeable. They can quietly, and without rudeness, avoid
each other by living in different houses, and even in the same house they
can have different apartments and be very little together. Imagine the
difference between two rich brothers, each with his suite of rooms in a
separate tower of the paternal castle, and two very poor ones,
inconveniently occupying the same narrow, uncomfortable bed, and unable to
remain in the wretched paternal tenement without being constantly in each
other's way. Between these extremes are a thousand degrees of more or less
inconvenient nearness. Solitude is bad for us, but we need a margin of
free space. If we are to be crowded let it be as the stars are crowded.
They look as if they were huddled together, but every one of them has his
own clear space in the illimitable ether.



ESSAY VI.

FATHERS AND SONS.


There is a certain unsatisfactoriness in this relation in our time which
is felt by fathers and often avowed by them when they meet, though it does
not occupy any conspicuous place in the literature of life and manners. It
has been fully treated by M. Legouvé, the French Academician, in his own
lively and elegant way; but he gave it a volume, and I must here confine
myself to the few points which can be dealt with in the limits of a short
Essay.

We are in an interregnum between two systems. The old system, founded on
the stern authority of the father, is felt to be out of harmony with the
amenity of general social intercourse in modern times and also with the
increasing gentleness of political governors and the freedom of the
governed. It is therefore, by common consent, abandoned. Some new system
that may be founded upon a clear intelligence of both the paternal and the
filial relations has yet to come into force. Meanwhile, we are trying
various experiments, suggested by the different characters and
circumstances of fathers and sons, each father trying his own experiments,
and we communicate to each other such results as we arrive at.

It is obvious that the defect here is the absence of a settled public
opinion to which both parties would feel bound to defer. Under the old
system the authority of the father was efficiently maintained, not only by
the laws, but by that general consensus of opinion which is far more
powerful than law. The new system, whatever it may be, will be founded on
general opinion again, but our present experimental condition is one of
anarchy.

This is the real cause of whatever may be felt as unsatisfactory in the
modern paternal and filial relations. It is not that fathers have become
more unjust or sons more rebellious.

The position of the father was in old times perfectly defined. He was the
commander, not only armed by the law but by religion and custom.
Disobedience to his dictates was felt to be out of the question, unless
the insurgent was prepared to meet the consequences of open mutiny. The
maintenance of the father's authority depended only on himself. If he
abdicated it through indolence or weakness he incurred moral reprobation
not unmingled with contempt, whilst in the present day reprobation would
rather follow a new attempt to vindicate the antique authority.

Besides this change in public opinion there is a new condition of paternal
feeling. The modern father, in the most civilized nations and classes, has
acquired a sentiment that appears to have been absolutely unknown to his
predecessors: he has acquired a dislike for command which increases with
the age of the son; so that there is an unfortunate coincidence of
increasing strength of will on the son's part with decreasing disposition
to restrain it on the father's part. What a modern father really desires
is that a son should go right of his own accord, and if not quite of his
own accord, then in consequence of a little affectionate persuasion. This
feeling would make command unsatisfactory to us, even if it were followed
by a military promptitude of obedience. We do not wish to be like
captains, and our sons like privates in a company; we care only to
exercise a certain beneficent influence over them, and we feel that if we
gave military orders we should destroy that peculiar influence which is of
the most fragile and delicate nature.

But now see the unexpected consequences of our modern dislike to command!
It might be argued that there is a certain advantage on our side from the
very rarity of the commands we give, which endows them with extraordinary
force. Would it not be more accurate to say that as we give orders less
and less our sons become unaccustomed to receive orders from us, and if
ever the occasion arises when we _must_ give them a downright order it
comes upon their feelings with a harshness so excessive that they are
likely to think us tyrannical, whereas if we had kept up the old habits of
command such orders would have seemed natural and right, and would not
have been less scrupulously obeyed?

The paternal dislike to give orders personally has had a peculiar effect
upon education. We are not yet quite imbecile enough to suppose that
discipline can be entirely dispensed with; and as there is very little of
it in modern houses it has to be sought elsewhere, so boys are placed
more and more completely under the authority of schoolmasters, often
living at such a distance from the father of the family that for several
months at a time he can exercise no direct influence or authority over his
own children. This leads to the establishment of a peculiar boyish code of
justice. Boys come to think it not unjust that the schoolmaster should
exercise authority, when if the father attempted to exercise authority of
equal rigor, or anything approaching it, they would look upon him as an
odious domestic tyrant, entirely forgetting that any power to enforce
obedience which is possessed by the schoolmaster is held by him
vicariously as the father's representative and delegate. From this we
arrive at the curious and unforeseen conclusion that the modern father
only exercises _strong_ authority through another person who is often a
perfect stranger and whose interest in the boy's present and future
well-being is as nothing in comparison with the father's anxious and
continual solicitude.

The custom of placing the education of sons entirely in the hands of
strangers is so deadly a blow to parental influence that some fathers have
resolutely rebelled against it and tried to become themselves the
educators of their children. James Mill is the most conspicuous instance
of this, both for persistence and success. His way of educating his
illustrious son has often been coarsely misrepresented as a merciless
system of cram. The best answer to this is preserved for us in the words
of the pupil himself. He said expressly: "Mine was not an education of
cram," and that the one cardinal point in it, the cause of the good it
effected, was that his father never permitted anything he learnt to
degenerate into a mere exercise of memory. He greatly valued the training
he had received, and fully appreciated its utility to him in after-life.
"If I have accomplished anything," he says, "I owe it, amongst other
fortunate circumstances, to the fact that through the early training
bestowed on me by my father I started, I may fairly say, with an advantage
of a quarter of a century over my contemporaries."

But though in this case the pupil's feeling in after-life was one of
gratitude, it may be asked what were his filial sentiments whilst this
paternal education was going forward. This question also is clearly and
frankly answered by Stuart Mill himself. He says that his father was
severe; that his authority was deficient in the demonstration of
tenderness, though probably not in the reality of it; that "he resembled
most Englishmen in being ashamed of the signs of feeling, and by the
absence of demonstration starving the feelings themselves." Then the son
goes on to say that it was "impossible not to feel true pity for a father
who did, and strove to do, so much for his children, who would have so
valued their affection, yet who must have been constantly feeling that
fear of him was drying it up at its source." And we probably have the
exact truth about Stuart Mill's own sentiments when he says that the
younger children loved his father tenderly, "and if I cannot say so much
of myself I was always loyally devoted to him."

This contains the central difficulty about paternal education. If the
choice were left to boys they would learn nothing, and you cannot make
them work vigorously "by the sole force of persuasion and soft words."
Therefore a severe discipline has to be established, and this severity is
incompatible with tenderness; so that in order to preserve the affection
of his children the father intrusts discipline to a delegate.

But if the objection to parental education is clear in Mill's case, so are
its advantages, and especially the one inestimable advantage that the
father was able to impress himself on his son's mind and to live
afterwards in his son's intellectual life. James Mill did not _abdicate_,
as fathers generally do. He did not confine paternal duties to the simple
one of signing checks. And if it is not in our power to imitate him
entirely, if we have not his profound and accurate knowledge, if we have
not his marvellous patience, if it is not desirable that we should take
upon ourselves alone that immense responsibility which he accepted, may we
not imitate him to such a degree as to secure _some_ intellectual and
moral influence over our own offspring and not leave them entirely to the
teaching of the schoolfellow (that most influential and most dangerous of
all teachers), the pedagogue, and the priest?

The only practical way in which this can be done is for the father to act
within fixed limits. May he not reserve to himself some speciality? He can
do this if he is himself master of some language or science that enters
into the training of his son; but here again certain difficulties present
themselves.

By the one vigorous resolution to take the entire burden upon his own
shoulders James Mill escaped minor embarrassments. It is the _partial_
education by the father that is difficult to carry out with steadiness and
consistency. First, as to place of residence. If your son is far away
during his months of work, and at home only for vacation pleasures, what,
pray, is your hold upon him? He escapes from you in two directions, by
work and by play. I have seen a Highland gentleman who, to avoid this and
do his duty to his sons, quitted a beautiful residence in magnificent
scenery to go and live in the dull and ugly neighborhood of Rugby. It is
not convenient or possible for every father to make the same sacrifice,
but if you are able to do it other difficulties remain. Any speciality
that you may choose will be regarded by your son as a trifling and
unimportant accomplishment in comparison with Greek and Latin, because
that is the school estimate; and if you choose either Greek or Latin your
scholarship will be immediately pitted against the scholarship of
professional teachers whose more recent and more perfect methods will
place you in a position of inferiority, instantly perceived by your pupil,
who will estimate you accordingly. The only two cases I have ever
personally known in which a father taught the classical languages failed
in the object of increasing the son's affection and respect, because,
although the father had been quite a first-rate scholar in his time, his
ways of teaching were not so economical of effort as are the professional
ways; and the boys perceived that they were not taking the shortest cut to
a degree.

If, to avoid this comparison, you choose something outside the school
curriculum, the boy will probably consider it an unfair addition to the
burden of his work. His view of education is not your view. _You_ think it
a valuable training or acquirement; _he_ considers it all task-work, like
the making of bricks in Egypt; and his notion of justice is that he ought
not to be compelled to make more bricks than his class-fellows, who are
happy in having fathers too indolent or too ignorant to trouble them. If,
therefore, you teach him something outside of what his school-fellows do,
he does not think, "I get the advantage of a wider education than theirs;"
but he thinks, "My father lays an imposition upon me, and my
school-fellows are lucky to escape it."

In some instances the father chooses a modern language as the thing that
he will teach; but he finds that as he cannot apply the school discipline
(too harsh and unpaternal for use at home), there is a quiet, passive
resistance that will ultimately defeat him unless he has inexhaustible
patience. He decrees, let us suppose, that French shall be spoken at
table; but the chief effect of his decree is to reveal great and
unsuspected powers of taciturnity. Who could be such a tyrant as to find
fault with a boy because he so modestly chooses to be silent? Speech may
be of silver, but silence is of gold, and it is especially beautiful and
becoming in the young.

Seeing that everything in the way of intellectual training is looked upon
by boys as an unfair addition to school-work, some fathers abandon that
altogether, and try to win influence over their sons by initiating them
into sports and pastimes. Just at first these happy projects appear to
unite the useful with the agreeable; but as the youthful nature is much
better fitted for sports and pastimes than middle-age can pretend to be,
it follows that the pupil very soon excels the master in these things, and
quite gets the upper hand of him and offers him advice, or else dutifully
(but with visible constraint) condescends to accommodate himself to the
elder man's inferiority; so that perhaps upon the whole it may be that
sports and pastimes are not the field of exertion in which paternal
authority is most likely to preserve a dignified preponderance.

It is complacently assumed by men of fifty that over-ripe maturity is the
superior of adolescence; but an impartial balance of advantages shows that
some very brilliant ones are on the side of youth. At fifty we may be
wiser, richer, more famous than a clever boy; but he does not care much
for our wisdom, he thinks that expenses are a matter of course, and our
little rushlights of reputations are as nothing to the future electric
illumination of his own. In bodily activity we are to boyhood what a
domestic cow is to a wild antelope; and as boys rightly attach an immense
value to such activity they generally look upon us, in their secret
thoughts, as miserable old "muffs." I distinctly remember, when a boy,
accompanying a middle-aged gentleman to a country railway station. We were
a little late, and the distance was long, but my companion could not be
induced to go beyond his regular pace. At last we were within half a mile,
and the steam of the locomotive became visible. "Now let us run for it," I
cried, "and we shall catch the train!" Run?--_he_ run, indeed! I might as
well have asked the Pope to run in the streets of Rome! My friend kept in
silent solemnity to his own dignified method of motion, and we were left
behind. To this day I well remember the feelings of contemptuous pity and
disgust that filled me as I looked upon that most respectable gentleman. I
said not a word; my demeanor was outwardly decorous; but in my secret
heart I despised my unequal companion with the unmitigated contempt of
youth.

Even those physical exertions that elderly men are equal to--the ten
miles' walk, the ride on a docile hunter, the quiet drive or sail--are so
much below the achievements of fiery youth that they bring us no more
credit than sitting in a chair. Though our efforts seem so respectable to
ourselves that we take a modest pride therein, a young man can only look
upon them with indulgence.

In the mental powers elderly men are inferior on the very point that a
young man looks to first. His notion of cleverness, by which he estimates
all his comrades, is not depth of thought, nor wisdom, nor sagacity; it is
simply rapidity in learning, and there his elders are hopelessly behind
him. They may extend or deepen an old study, but they cannot attack a new
one with the conquering spirit of youth. _Too late! too late! too late!_
is inscribed, for them, on a hundred gates of knowledge. The young man,
with his powers of acquisition urging him like unsatisfied appetites, sees
the gates all open and believes they are open for him. He believes all
knowledge to be his possible province, knowing not yet the chilling,
disheartening truth that life is too short for success in any but a very
few directions. Confident in his powers, the young man prepares himself
for difficult examinations, and he knows that we should be incapable of
the same efforts.

Not having succeeded very well with attempts to create intercourse through
studies and amusements, the father next consoles himself with the idea
that he will convert his son into an intimate friend; but shortly
discovers that there are certain difficulties, of which a few may be
mentioned here.

Although the relationship between father and son is a very near
relationship, it may happen that there is but little likeness of inherited
idiosyncrasy, and therefore that the two may have different and even
opposite tastes. By the law or accident of atavism a boy may resemble one
of his grandfathers or some remoter ancestor, or he may puzzle theorists
about heredity by characteristics for which there is no known precedent in
his family. Both his mental instincts and processes, and the conclusions
to which they lead him, may be entirely different from the habits and
conclusions of his father; and if the father is so utterly unphilosophical
as to suppose (what vulgar fathers constantly _do_ suppose) that his own
mental habits and conclusions are the right ones, and all others wrong,
then he will adopt a tone of authority towards his son, on certain
occasions, which the young man will excusably consider unbearable and
which he will avoid by shunning the paternal society. Even a very mild
attempt on the father's part to impose his own tastes and opinions will be
quietly resented and felt as a reason for avoiding him, because the son is
well aware that he cannot argue on equal terms with a man who, however
amiable he chooses to be for the moment, can at any time arm himself with
the formidable paternal dignity by simply taking the trouble to assume it.

The mere difference of age is almost an insuperable barrier to
comradeship; for though a middle-aged man may be cheerful, his
cheerfulness is "as water unto wine" in comparison with the merriment of
joyous youth. So exuberant is that youthful gayety that it often needs to
utter downright nonsense for the relief of its own high spirits, and feels
oppressed in sober society where nonsense is not permitted. Any elderly
gentleman who reads this has only to consult his own recollections, and
ask himself whether in youth he did not often say and do utterly
irrational things. If he never did, he never was really young. I hardly
know any author, except Shakspeare, who has ventured to reproduce, in its
perfect absurdity, the full flow of youthful nonsense. The criticism of
our own age would scarcely tolerate it in books, and might accuse the
author himself of being silly; but the thing still exists abundantly in
real life, and the wonder is that it is sometimes the most intelligent
young men who enjoy the most witless nonsense of all. When we have lost
the high spirits that gave it a relish, it becomes very wearisome if
prolonged. Young men instinctively know that we are past the appreciation
of it.

Another very important reason why fathers and sons have a difficulty in
maintaining close friendships is the steady divergence of their
experience.

In childhood, the father's knowledge of places, people, and things
includes the child's knowledge, as a large circle includes a little one
drawn within it. Afterwards the boy goes to school, and has comrades and
masters whom his father does not personally know. Later on, he visits many
places where his father has never been.

The son's life may socially diverge so completely from that of the father
that he may really come to belong to a different class in society. His
education, habits, and associates may be different from those of his
father. If the family is growing richer they are likely to be (in the
worldly sense) of a higher class; if it is becoming poorer they will
probably be of a lower class than the father was accustomed to in his
youth. The son may feel more at ease than his father does in very refined
society, or, on the other hand, he may feel refined society to be a
restraint, whilst he only enjoys himself thoroughly and heartily amongst
vulgar people that his father would carefully avoid.

Divergence is carried to its utmost by difference of professional
training, and by the professional habit of seeing things that follows from
it. If a clergyman puts his son into a solicitor's office, he need not
expect that the son will long retain those views of the world that prevail
in the country parsonage where he was born. He will acquire other views,
other mental habits, and he will very soon believe himself to possess a
far greater and more accurate knowledge of mankind, and of affairs, than
his father ever possessed.

Even if the son is in the father's own profession he will have new views
of it derived from the time at which he learns it, and he is likely to
consider his father's ideas as not brought down to the latest date. He
will also have a tendency to look to strangers as greater authorities than
his father, even when they are really on the same level, because they are
not lowered in his estimate by domestic intimacy and familiarity. Their
opinion will be especially valued by the young man if it has to be paid
for, it being an immense depreciation of the paternal counsel that it is
always given gratuitously.

If the father has bestowed upon his son what is considered a "complete"
education, and if he himself has not received the same "complete"
education in his youth, the son is likely to accept the conventional
estimate of education because it is in his own favor, and to estimate his
father as an "uneducated" or a "half-educated" man, without taking into
much account the possibility that his father may have developed his
faculties by mental labor in other ways. The conventional division between
"educated" and "uneducated" men is so definite that it is easily seen. The
educated are those who have taken a degree at one of the Universities; the
rest are uneducated, whatever may be their attainments in the sciences, in
modern languages, or in the fine arts.

There are differences of education even more serious than this, because
more real. A man may be not only conventionally uneducated, but he may be
really and truly uneducated, by which I mean that his faculties may never
have been drawn out by intellectual discipline of any kind whatever. It is
hard indeed for a well-educated young man to live under the authority of
a father of that kind, because he has constantly to suppress reasons and
motives for opinions and decisions that such a father could not possibly
enter into or understand. The relationship is equally hard for the father,
who must be aware, with the lively suspicion of the ignorant, that his son
is not telling him all his thought but only the portion of it which he
thinks fit to reveal, and that much more is kept in reserve. He will ask,
"Why this reserve towards _me_?" and then he will either be profoundly
hurt and grieved by it at times, or else, if of another temper, he will be
irritated, and his irritation may find harsh utterance in words.

An educated man can never rid himself of his education. His views of the
most ordinary things are different from the views of the uneducated. If he
were to express them in his own language they would say, "Why, how he
talks!" and consider him "a queer chap;" and if he keeps them to himself
they say he is very "close" and "shut up." There is no way out of the
dilemma except this, that kind and tender feelings may exist between
people who have nothing in common intellectually, but these are only
possible when all pretence to paternal authority is abandoned.

Our forefathers had an idea with regard to the opinions of their children
that in these days we must be content to give up. They thought that all
opinions were by nature hereditary, and it was considered an act of
disloyalty to ancestors if a descendant ventured to differ from them. The
profession of any but the family opinions was so rare as to be almost
inconceivable; and if in some great crisis the head of a family took a
new departure in religion or politics the new faith substituted itself for
the old one as the hereditary faith of the family. I remember hearing an
old gentleman (who represented old English feeling in great perfection)
say that it was totally unintelligible to him that a certain Member of
Parliament could sit on the Liberal side of the House of Commons. "I
cannot understand it," he said; "I knew his father intimately, and he was
always a good Tory." The idea that the son might have opinions of his own
was unthinkable.

In our time we are beginning to perceive that opinions cannot be imposed,
and that the utmost that can be obtained by brow-beating a son who differs
from ourselves is that he shall make false professions to satisfy us.
Paternal influence may be better employed than in encouraging habits of
dissimulation.

M. Legouvé attaches great importance to the religious question as a cause
of division between fathers and sons because in the present day young men
so frequently imbibe opinions which are not those of their parents. It is
not uncommon, in France, for Catholic parents to have unbelieving sons;
and the converse is also seen, but more frequently in the case of
daughters. As opinions are very freely expressed in France (except where
external conformity is an affair of caste), we find many families in which
Catholicism and Agnosticism have each their open and convinced adherents;
yet family affection does not appear to suffer from the difference, or is,
at least, powerful enough to overcome it. In old times this would have
been impossible. The father would have resented a difference of opinion
in the son as an offence against himself.

A very common cause of division between father and son, in old times, was
the following.

The father expressed a desire of some kind, mildly and kindly perhaps, yet
with the full expectation that it should be attended to; but the desire
was of an exorbitant nature, in this sense, that it involved something
that would affect the whole course of the young man's future life in a
manner contrary to his natural instincts. The father was then grievously
hurt and offended because the son did not see his way to the fulfilment of
the paternal desire.

The strongest cases of this kind were in relation to profession and
marriage. The father wished his son to enter into some trade or profession
for which he was completely unsuited, or he desired him to marry some
young lady for whom he had not the slightest natural affinity. The son
felt the inherent difficulties and refused. Then the father thought, "I
only ask of my son _this one simple thing_, and he denies me."

In these cases the father was _not_ asking for one thing, but for
thousands of things. He was asking his son to undertake many thousands of
separate obligations, succeeding each other till the far-distant date of
his retirement from the distasteful profession, or his release, by his own
death or hers, from the tedious companionship of the unloved wife.
Sometimes the concession would have involved a long series of hypocrisies,
as for example when a son was asked to take holy orders, though with
little faith and no vocation.

Peter the Great is the most conspicuous example in history of a father
whose idiosyncrasy was not continued in his son, and who could not
understand or tolerate the separateness of his son's personality. They
were not only of independent, but even of opposite natures. "Peter was
active, curious, and energetic. Alexis was contemplative and reflective.
He was not without intellectual ability, but he liked a quiet life. He
preferred reading and thinking. At the age when Peter was making
fireworks, building boats, and exercising his comrades in mimic war,
Alexis was pondering over the 'Divine Manna,' reading the 'Wonders of
God,' reflecting on Thomas à Kempis's 'Imitation of Christ,' and making
excerpts from Baronius. While it sometimes seemed as if Peter was born too
soon for the age, Alexis was born too late. He belonged to the past
generation. Not only did he take no interest in the work and plans of his
father, but he gradually came to dislike and hate them.... He would
sometimes even take medicine to make himself ill, so that he might not be
called upon to perform duties or to attend to business. Once, when he was
obliged to go to the launch of a ship, he said to a friend, 'I would
rather be a galley-slave, or have a burning fever, than be obliged to go
there.'"[6]

In this case one is sorry for both father and son. Peter was a great
intelligent barbarian of immense muscular strength and rude cerebral
energy. Alexis was of the material from which civilization makes priests
and students, or quiet conventional kings, but he was even more unlike
Peter than gentle Richard Cromwell was unlike authoritative Oliver. The
disappointment to Peter, firmly convinced, as all rude natures are, of the
perfection of his own personality, and probably quite unable to appreciate
a personality of another type, must have been the more bitter that his
great plans for the future required a vigorous, practically minded
innovator like himself. At length the difference of nature so exasperated
the Autocrat that he had his son three times tortured, the third time in
his own presence and with a fatal result. This terrible incident is the
strongest expression known to us of a father's vexation because his son
was not of his own kind.

Another painful case that will be long remembered, though the character of
the father is less known to us, is that of the poet Shelley and Sir
Timothy. The little that we do know amounts to this, that there was a
total absence of sympathy. Sir Timothy committed the very greatest of
paternal mistakes in depriving himself of the means of direct influence
over his son by excluding him from his own home. Considering that the
supreme grief of unhappy fathers is the feebleness of their influence over
their sons, they can but confirm and complete their sorrow by annihilating
that influence utterly and depriving themselves of all chance of
recovering and increasing it in the future. This Sir Timothy did after the
expulsion from Oxford. In his position, a father possessing some skill and
tact in the management of young men at the most difficult and wayward
period of their lives would have determined above all things to keep his
son as much as possible within the range of his own control. Although
Shelley afterwards returned to Field Place for a short time, the scission
had been made; there was an end of real intercourse between father and
son; the poet went his own way, married Harriett Westbrook, and lived
through the rest of his short, unsatisfactory existence as a homeless,
wandering _déclassé_.

This Essay has hitherto run upon the discouraging side of the subject, so
that it ought not to end without the happier and more hopeful
considerations.

Every personality is separate from others, and expects its separateness to
be acknowledged. When a son avoids his father it is because he fears that
the rights of his own personality will be disregarded. There are fathers
who habitually treat their sons with sneering contempt. I have myself seen
a young man of fair common abilities treated with constant and undisguised
contempt by a clever, sardonic father who went so far as to make brutal
allusions to the shape of the young man's skull! He bore this treatment
with admirable patience and unfailing gentleness, but suffered from it
silently. Another used to laugh at his son, and called him "Don Quixote"
whenever the lad gave expression to some sentiment above the low
Philistine level. A third, whom I knew well, had a disagreeable way of
putting down his son because he was young, telling him that up to the age
of forty a man "might have impressions, but could not possibly have
opinions." "My father," said a kind-hearted English gentleman to me, "was
the most thoroughly unbearable person I ever met with in my life."

The frank recognition of separate personality, with all its rights, would
stop this brutality at once. There still remains the legitimate power of
the father, which he ought not to abdicate, and which is of itself enough
to prevent the freedom and equality necessary to perfect friendship. This
reason, and the difference of age and habits, make it impossible that
young men and their fathers should be comrades; but a relation may be
established between them which, if rightly understood, is one of the most
agreeable in human existence.

To be satisfactory it must be founded, on the father's side, on the idea
that he is repaying to posterity what he has received from his own
parents, and not on any selfish hope that the descending stream of benefit
will flow upwards again to him. Then he must not count upon affection, nor
lay himself out to win it, nor be timidly afraid of losing it, but found
his influence upon the firmer ground of respect, and be determined to
deserve and have _that_, along with as much unforced affection as the son
is able naturally and easily to give. It is not desirable that the
affection between father and son should be so tender, on either side, as
to make separation a constant pain, for such is human destiny that the two
are generally fated to see but little of each other.

The best satisfaction for a father is to deserve and receive loyal and
unfailing respect from his son.

No, this is not quite the best, not quite the supreme satisfaction of
paternity. Shall I reveal the secret that lies in silence at the very
bottom of the hearts of all worthy and honorable fathers? Their
profoundest happiness is to be able themselves to respect their sons.



ESSAY VII.

THE RIGHTS OF THE GUEST.


If hospitality were always perfectly practised it would be the strongest
of all influences in favor of rational liberty, because the host would
learn to respect it in the persons of his guests, and thence, by extension
of habit, amongst others who could never be his guests.

Hospitality educates us in respect for the rights of others. This is the
substantial benefit that the host ought to derive from his trouble and his
outlay, but the instincts of uncivilized human nature are so powerful that
this education has usually been partial and incomplete. The best part of
it has been systematically evaded, in this way. People were aware that
tolerance and forbearance ought to be exercised towards guests, and so, to
avoid the hard necessity of exercising these qualities when they were
really difficult virtues, they practised what is called exclusiveness. In
other words, they accepted as guests only those who agreed with their own
opinions and belonged to their own class. By this arrangement they could
be both hospitable and intolerant at the same time.

If, in our day, the barrier of exclusiveness has been in many places
broken down, there is all the greater need for us to remember the true
principle of hospitality. It might be forgotten with little inconvenience
in a very exclusive society, but if it were forgotten in a society that is
not exclusive the consequences would be exactly the opposite of what every
friend of civilization most earnestly desires. Social intercourse, in that
case, so far from being an education in respect for the rights of others,
would be an opportunity for violating them. The violation might become
habitual; and if it were so this strange result would follow, that society
would not be a softening and civilizing influence, but the contrary. It
would accustom people to treat each other with disregard, so that men
would be hardened and brutalized by it as schoolboys are made ruder by the
rough habits of the playground, and urbanity would not be cultivated in
cities, but preserved, if at all, in solitude.

The two views concerning the rights of the guest may be stated briefly as
follows:--

1. The guest is bound to conform in all things to the tastes and customs
of his host. He ought to find or feign enjoyment in everything that his
host imposes upon him; and if he is unwilling to do this in every
particular it is a breach of good manners on his part, and he must be made
to suffer for it.

2. The guest should be left to be happy in his own way, and the business
of the host is to arrange things in such a manner that each guest may
enjoy as much as possible his own peculiar kind of happiness.

When the first principle was applied in all its rigor, as it often used to
be applied, and as I have myself seen it applied, the sensation
experienced by the guest on going to stay in certain houses was that of
entirely losing the direction of himself. He was not even allowed, in the
middle classes, to have any control over his own inside, but had to eat
what his host ordered him to eat, and to drink the quantity of wine and
spirits that his host had decided to be good for him. Resistance to these
dictates was taken as an offence, as a crime against good fellowship, or
as a reflection on the quality of the good things provided; and
conversation paused whilst the attention of the whole company was
attracted to the recalcitrant guest, who was intentionally placed in a
situation of extreme annoyance and discomfort in order to compel him to
obedience. The victim was perhaps half an invalid, or at least a man who
could only keep well and happy on condition of observing a certain
strictness of regimen. He was then laughed at for idle fears about his
health, told that he was a hypochondriac, and recommended to drink a
bottle of port every day to get rid of such idle nonsense. If he declined
to eat twice or three times as much as he desired, the hostess expressed
her bitter regret that she had not been able to provide food and cookery
to his taste, thus placing him in such a position that he must either eat
more or seem to condemn her arrangements. It was very common amongst
old-fashioned French _bourgeois_ in the last generation for the hostess
herself to heap things on the guest's plate, and to prevent this her poor
persecuted neighbor had to remove the plate or turn it upside down. The
whole habit of pressing was dictated by selfish feeling in the hosts. They
desired to see their guests devour voraciously, in order that their own
vanity might be gratified by the seeming appreciation of their things.
Temperate men were disliked by a generation of topers because their
temperance had the appearance of a silent protest or censure. The
discomfort inflicted by these odious usages was so great that many people
either injured their health in society or kept out of it in self-defence,
though they were not sulky and unsociable by nature, but would have been
hearty lovers of human intercourse if they could have enjoyed it on less
unacceptable terms.

The wholesome modern reaction against these dreadful old customs has led
some hosts into another error. They sometimes fail to understand the great
principle that it is the guest alone who ought to be the judge of the
quantity that he shall eat and drink. The old pressing hospitality assumed
that the guest was a child, too shame-faced to take what it longed for
unless it was vigorously encouraged; but the new hospitality, if indeed it
still in every case deserves that honored name, does really sometimes
appear to assume (I do not say always, or often, but in extreme cases)
that the guest is a fool, who would eat and drink more than is good for
him if he were not carefully rationed. Such hosts forget that excess is
quite a relative term, that each constitution has its own needs. Beyond
this, it is well known that the exhilaration of social intercourse enables
people who meet convivially to digest and assimilate, without fatigue, a
larger amount of nutriment than they could in dull and perhaps dejected
solitude. Hence it is a natural and long-established habit to eat and
drink more when in company than alone, and the guest should have the
possibility of conforming to this not irrational old custom until, in
Homer's phrase, he has "put from him the desire of meat and drink."

Guests have no right whatever to require that the host should himself eat
and drink to keep them in countenance. There used to be a belief (it
lingers still in the middle classes and in country places) that the laws
of hospitality required the host to set what was considered "a good
example," or, in other words, to commit excesses himself that his friends
might not be too much ashamed of theirs. It is said that the Emperor
William of Germany never eats in public at all, but sits out every banquet
before an empty plate. This, though quite excusable in an old gentleman,
obliged to live by rule, must have rather a chilling effect; and yet I
like it as a declaration of the one great principle that no person at
table, be he host or guest, ought to be compelled to inflict the very
slightest injury upon his own health, or even comfort. The rational and
civilized idea is that food and wines are simply placed at the disposal of
the people present to be used, or abstained from, as they please.

It is clear that every invited guest has a right to expect some slight
appearance of festivity in his honor. In coarse and barbarous times the
idea of festivity is invariably expressed by abundance, especially by vast
quantities of butcher's meat and wine, as we always find it in Homer,
where princes and gentlemen stuff themselves like savages; but in refined
times the notion of quantity has lost its attraction, and that of
elegance takes its place. In a highly civilized society nothing conveys so
much the idea of festivity as plenty of light and flowers, with beautiful
table-linen and plate and glass. These, with some extra delicacy in
cookery and wines, are our modern way of expressing welcome.

There is a certain kind of hospitality in which the host visibly declines
to make any effort either of trouble or expense, but plainly shows by his
negligence that he only tolerates the guest. All that can be said of such
hospitality as this is that a guest who respects himself may endure it
silently for once, but would not be likely to expose himself to it a
second time.

There is even a kind of hospitality which seems to find a satisfaction in
letting the guest perceive that the best in the house is not offered to
him. He is lodged in a poor little room, when there are noble bedchambers,
unused, in the same house; or he is allowed to hire a vehicle in the
village, to make some excursion, when there are horses in the stables
plethoric from want of exercise. In cases of this kind it is not the
privation of luxury that is hard to bear, but the indisposition to give
honor. The guest feels and knows that if a person of very high rank came
to the house everything would be put at his disposal, and he resents the
slight put upon his own condition. A rich English lady, long since dead,
had a large mansion in the country with fine bedrooms; so she found a
pleasure in keeping those rooms empty and sending guests to sleep at the
top of the house in little bare and comfortless chambers that the
architect had intended for servants. I have heard of a French house where
there are fine state apartments, and where all ordinary guests are poorly
lodged, and fed in a miserable _salle à manger_. An aggravation is when
the host treats himself better than his guest. Lady B. invited some
friends to a country-house; and they drove to another country-house in the
neighborhood in two carriages, one containing Lady B. and one friend, the
other the remaining guests. Her ladyship was timid and rather selfish, as
timid people often are; so when they reached the avenue she began to fancy
that both carriages could not safely turn in the garden, and she
despatched her footman to the second carriage, with orders that her guests
(amongst whom was a lady very near her confinement) were to get out and
walk to the house, whilst she drove up to the door in state.

A guest has an absolute right to have his religious and political opinions
respected in his presence, and this is not invariably done. The rule more
generally followed seems to be that class opinions only deserve respect
and not individual opinions. The question is too large to be treated in a
paragraph, but I should say that it is a clear breach of hospitality to
utter anything in disparagement of any opinion whatever that is known to
be held by any one guest present, however humble may be his rank. I have
sometimes seen the known opinions of a guest attacked rudely and directly,
but the more civilized method is to do it more artfully through some other
person who is not present. For example, a guest is known to think, on
important subjects, very much as Mr. Herbert Spencer does; then the host
will contrive to talk at him in talking about Spencer. A guest ought not
to bear this ungenerous kind of attack. If such an occasion arises he
should declare his opinions plainly and with firmness, and show his
determination to have them respected whilst he is there, whatever may be
said against them in his absence. If he cannot obtain this degree of
courtesy, which is his right, let him quit the house and satisfy his
hunger at some inn. The innkeeper will ask for a little money, but he
demands no mental submission.

It sometimes happens that the nationality of a foreign guest is not
respected as it ought to be. I remember an example of this which is
moderate enough to serve as a kind of type, some attacks upon nationality
being much more direct and outrageous. An English lady said at her own
table that she would not allow her daughter to be partially educated in a
French school, "because she would have to associate with French girls,
which, you know, is undesirable." Amongst the guests was a French lady,
and the observation was loud enough for everybody to hear it. I say
nothing of the injustice of the imputation. It was, indeed, most unjust,
but that is not the point. The point is that a foreigner ought not to hear
attacks upon his native land even when they are perfectly well founded.

The host has a sort of judicial function in this way. The guest has a
right to look to him for protection on certain occasions, and he is likely
to be profoundly grateful when it is given with tact and skill, because
the host can say things for him that he cannot even hint at for himself.
Suppose the case of a young man who is treated with easy and rather
contemptuous familiarity by another guest, simply on account of his youth.
He is nettled by the offence, but as it is more in manner than in words he
cannot fix upon anything to answer. The host perceives his annoyance, and
kindly gives him some degree of importance by alluding to some superiority
of his, and by treating him in a manner very different from that which had
vexed him.

A witty host is the most powerful ally against an aggressor. I remember
dining in a very well-known house in Paris where a celebrated Frenchman
repeated the absurd old French calumny against English ladies,--that they
all drink. I was going to resent this seriously when a clever Frenchwoman
(who knew England well) perceived the danger, and answered the man herself
with great decision and ability. I then watched for the first opportunity
of making him ridiculous, and seized upon a very delightful one that he
unwittingly offered. Our host at once understood that my attack was in
revenge for an aggression that had been in bad taste, and he supported me
with a wit and pertinacity that produced general merriment at the enemy's
expense. Now in that case I should say that the host was filling one of
the most important and most difficult functions of a host.

This Essay has hitherto been written almost entirely on the guest's side
of the question, so that we have still briefly to consider the limitations
to his rights.

He has no right to impose any serious inconvenience upon his host. He has
no right to disturb the ordinary arrangements of the house, or to inflict
any serious pecuniary cost, or to occupy the host's time to the prejudice
of his usual pursuits. He has no right to intrude upon the privacy of his
host.

A guest has no right to place the host in such a dilemma that he must
either commit a rudeness or put up with an imposition. The very courtesy
of an entertainer places him at the mercy of a pushing and unscrupulous
guest, and it is only when the provocation has reached such a point as to
have become perfectly intolerable that a host will do anything so painful
to himself as to abandon his hospitable character and make the guest
understand that he must go.

It may be said that difficulties of this kind never occur in civilized
society. No doubt they are rare, but they happen just sufficiently often
to make it necessary to be prepared for them. Suppose the case of a guest
who exceeds his invitation. He has been invited for two nights, plainly
and definitely; but he stays a third, fourth, fifth, and seems as if he
would stay forever. There are men of that kind in the world, and it is one
of their arts to disarm their victims by pleasantness, so that it is not
easy to be firm with them. The lady of the house gives a gentle hint, the
master follows with broader hints, but the intruder is quite impervious to
any but the very plainest language. At last the host has to say, "Your
train leaves at such an hour, and the carriage will be ready to take you
to the station half an hour earlier." This, at any rate, is intelligible;
and yet I have known one of those clinging limpets whom even this
proceeding failed to dislodge. At the approach of the appointed hour he
was nowhere to be found! He had gone to hide himself in a wood with no
companion but his watch, and by its help he took care to return when it
was too late. That is sometimes one of the great uses of a watch.



ESSAY VIII.

THE DEATH OF FRIENDSHIP.


A sad subject, but worth analysis; for if friendship is of any value to us
whilst it is alive, is it not worth while to inquire if there are any
means of keeping it alive?

The word "death" is correctly employed here, for nobody has discovered the
means by which a dead friendship can be resuscitated. To hope for that
would be vain indeed, and idle the waste of thought in such a bootless
quest.

Shall we mourn over this death without hope, this blank annihilation, this
finis of intercourse once so sweet, this dreary and ultimate conclusion?

The death of a friendship is not the death of a person; we do not mourn
for the absence of some beloved person from the world. It is simply the
termination of a certain degree and kind of intercourse, not of necessity
the termination of all intercourse. We may be grieved that the change has
come; we may be remorseful if it has come through a fault of our own; but
if it is due simply to natural causes there is small place for any
reasonable sorrow.

Friendship is a certain _rapport_ between two minds during one or more
phases of their existence, and the perfection of it is quite as dependent
upon what is not in the two minds as upon their positive acquirements and
possessions. Hence the extreme facility with which schoolboys form
friendships which, for the time, are real, true, and delightful. School
friendships are formed so easily because boys in the same class know the
same things; and it rarely happens that in addition to what they have in
common either one party or the other has any knowledge of importance that
is not in common.

Later in life the pair of friends who were once comrades go into different
professions that fill the mind with special professional ideas and induce
different habits of thought. Each will be conscious, when they meet, that
there is a great range of ideas in the other's mind from which he is
excluded, and each will have a difficulty in keeping within the smaller
range of ideas that they have now in common; so that they will no longer
be able to let their _whole_ minds play together as they used to do, and
they will probably feel more at ease with mere acquaintances who have what
is _now_ their knowledge, what are now their mental habits, than with the
friend of their boyhood who is without them.

This is strongly felt by men who go through a large experience at a
distance from their early home and then return for a while to the old
place and old associates, and find that it is only a part of themselves
that is acceptable. New growths of self have taken place in distant
regions, by travel, by study, by intercourse with mankind; and these new
growths, though they may be more valuable than any others, are of no
practical use, of no social availableness, in the little circle that has
remained in the old ways.

Then there are changes of temper that result from the fixing of the
character by time. We think we remain the same, but that is one of our
many illusions. We change, and we do not always change in the same way.
One man becomes mellowed by advancing years, but another is hardened by
them; one man's temper gains in sweetness and serenity as his intellect
gains in light, another becomes dogmatic, peremptory, and bitter. Even
when the change is the same for both, it may be unfavorable to their
intercourse. Two merry young hearts may enjoy each other's company, when
they would find each other dull and flat if the sparkle of the early
effervescence were all spent.

I have not yet touched upon change of opinion as a cause of the death of
friendship, but it is one of the most common causes. It would be a calumny
on the intelligence of the better part of mankind to say that they always
desire to hear repeated exactly what they say themselves, though that is
really the desire of the unintelligent; but the cleverest people like to
hear new and additional reasons in support of the opinions they hold
already; and they do not like to hear reasons, hitherto unsuspected, that
go to the support of opinions different from their own. Therefore a slow
divergence of opinion may carry two friends farther and farther apart by
narrowing the subjects of their intercourse, or a sudden intellectual
revolution in one of them may effect an immediate and irreparable breach.

"If the character is formed," says Stuart Mill, "and the mind made up on
the few cardinal points of human opinion, agreement of conviction and
feeling on these has been felt at all times to be an essential requisite
of anything worthy the name of friendship in a really earnest mind." I do
not quote this in the belief that it is absolutely true, but it expresses
a general sentiment. We can only be guided by our own experience in these
matters. Mine has been that friendship is possible with those whom I
respect, however widely they differ from me, and not possible with those
whom I am unable to respect, even when on the great matters of opinion
their views are identical with my own.

It is certain, however, that the change of opinion itself has a tendency
to separate men, even though the difference would not have made friendship
impossible if it had existed from the first. Instances of this are often
found in biographies, especially in religious biographies, because
religious people are more "pained" and "wounded" by difference of opinion
than others. We read in such books of the profound distress with which the
hero found himself separated from his early friends by his new conviction
on this or that point of theology. Political divergence produces the same
effect in a minor degree, and with more of irritation than distress. Even
divergence of opinion on artistic subjects is enough to produce coolness.
Artists and men of letters become estranged from each other by
modifications of their critical doctrines.

Differences of prosperity do not prevent the formation of friendship if
they have existed previously, and can be taken as established facts; but
if they widen afterwards they have a tendency to diminish it. They do so
by altering the views of one of the parties about ways of living and about
the multitude of things involving questions of expense. If the enriched
man lives on a scale corresponding to his newly acquired wealth, he may be
regarded by the other as pretentious beyond his station, whilst if he
keeps to his old style he may be thought parsimonious. From delicacy he
will cease to talk to the other about his money matters, which he spoke of
with frankness when he was not so rich. If he has social ambition he will
form new alliances with richer men, and the old friend may regard these
with a little unconscious jealousy.

It has been observed that young artists often have a great esteem for the
work of one of their number so long as its qualities are not recognized
and rewarded by the public, but that so soon as the clever young man wins
the natural meed of industry and ability his early friendships die. They
were often the result of a generous indignation against public injustice,
so when that injustice came to an end the kindness that was a protest
against it ceased at the same time. In jealous natures it would no doubt
be replaced by the conviction that public favor had rewarded merit far
beyond its deserts.

In the political life of democracies we see men enthusiastically supported
and really admired with sincerity so long as they remain in opposition,
and their friends indulge the most favorable anticipations about what they
would do if they came to power; but when they accept office they soon lose
many of these friends, who are quite sure to be disappointed with the
small degree in which their excessive hopes have been realized. There is
no country where this is seen more frequently than in France, where
Ministers are often criticised with the most unrelenting and uncharitable
acerbity by the men and newspapers that helped to raise them.

Changes of physical constitution may be the death of friendship in this
way. A friendship may be founded upon some sport that one of the parties
becomes unable to follow. After that the two men cease to meet on the
particularly pleasant occasions that every sport affords for its real
votaries, and they only meet on common occasions, which are not the same
because there is not the same jovial and hearty temper. In like manner a
friendship may be weakened if one of the parties gives up some indulgence
that both used to enjoy together. Many a friendship has been cemented by
the habit of smoking, and weakened afterwards when one friend gave up the
habit, declined the cigars that the other offered, and either did not
accompany him to the smoking-room or sat there in open and vexatious
nonconformity.

It is well known, so well known indeed as scarcely to require mention
here, that one of the most frequent and powerful causes of the death of
bachelor friendships is marriage. One of the two friends takes a wife, and
the friendship is at once in peril. The maintenance of it depends upon the
lady's taste and temper. If not quite approved by her, it will languish
for a little while and then die, in spite of all painful and visible
efforts on the husband's part to compensate, by extra attention, for the
coolness of his wife. I have visited a Continental city where it is always
understood that all bachelor friendships are broken off by marriage. This
rule has at least the advantage of settling the question unequivocally.

Simple neglect is probably the most common of all causes deadly to
friendship,--neglect arising either from real indifference, from
constitutional indolence, or from excessive devotion to business. Friendly
feelings must be either of extraordinary sincerity, or else strengthened
by some extraneous motive of self-interest, to surmount petty
inconveniences. The very slightest difficulty in maintaining intercourse
is sufficient in most cases to insure its total cessation in a short time.
Your house is somewhat difficult of access,--it is on a hill-side or at a
little distance from a railway station: only the most sincere friends will
be at the trouble to find you unless your rank is so high that it is a
glory to visit you.

Poor friends often keep up intercourse with rich ones by sheer force of
determination long after it ought to have been allowed to die its own
natural death. When they do this without having the courage to require
some approach to reciprocity they sink into the condition of mere clients,
whom the patron may indeed treat with apparent kindness, but whom he
regards with real indifference, taking no trouble whatever to maintain the
old connection between them.

Equality of rank and fortune is not at all necessary to friendship, but a
certain other kind of equality is. A real friendship can never be
maintained unless there is an equal readiness on both sides to be at some
pains and trouble for its maintenance; so if you perceive that a person
whom you once supposed to be your friend will not put himself to any
trouble on your account, the only course consistent with your dignity is
to take exactly the same amount of pains to make yourself agreeable to
him. After you have done this for a little time you will soon know if the
friendship is really dead; for he is sure to perceive your neglect if he
does not perceive his own, and he will either renew the intercourse with
some _empressement_ or else cease from it altogether.

In early life the right rule is to accept kindness gratefully from one's
elders and not to be sensitive about omissions, because such omissions are
then often consistent with the most real and affectionate regard; but as a
man advances towards middle-age it is right for him to be somewhat careful
of his dignity and to require from friends, whatever may be their station,
a certain general reciprocity. This should always be understood in rather
a large sense, and not exacted in trifles. If he perceives that there is
no reciprocity he cannot do better than drop an acquaintance that is but
the phantom and simulacrum of Friendship's living reality.

It is as natural that many friendships should die and be replaced by
others as that our old selves should be replaced by our present selves.
The fact seems melancholy when first perceived, but is afterwards accepted
as inevitable. There is, however, a death of friendship which is so truly
sad and sorrowful as to cast its gloomy shadow on all the years that
remain to us. It is when we ourselves, by some unhappy fault of temper
that might have been easily avoided, have wounded the kind breast of our
friend, and killed the gentle sentiment that was dwelling happily within.
The only way to be quite sure of avoiding this great and irretrievable
calamity is to remember how very delicate friendly sentiments are and how
easy it is to destroy them by an inconsiderate or an ungentle word.



ESSAY IX.

THE FLUX OF WEALTH.


We become richer or poorer; we seldom remain exactly as we were. If we
have property, it increases or diminishes in value; if our income is
fixed, the value of money alters; and if it increased proportionally to
the depreciation of money, our position would still be relatively altered
by changes in the fortunes of others. We marry and have children; then our
wealth becomes less our own after every birth. We win some honor or
professional advancement that seems a gain; but increased expenditure is
the consequence, and we are poorer than we were before. Amidst all these
fluctuations of wealth human intercourse either continues under altered
conditions or else it is broken off because they are no longer favorable
to its maintenance. I propose to consider, very briefly, how these altered
conditions operate.

We have to separate, in the first place, intercourse between individuals
from intercourse between families. The distinction is of the utmost
importance, because the two are not under the same law.

Two men, of whom one is extremely rich and the other almost penniless,
have no difficulty in associating together on terms agreeable to both when
they possess intellectual interests in common, or even when there is
nothing more than an attraction of idiosyncrasy; but these conditions only
subsist between one individual and another; they are not likely to subsist
between two families. Intercourse between individuals depends on something
in intellect and culture that enables them to understand each other, and
upon something in character that makes them love or respect each other.
Intercourse between families depends chiefly on neighborhood and
similarity in style of living.

This is the reason why bachelors have so much easier access to society
than men with wives and families. The bachelor is received for himself,
for his genius, information, manners; but if he is married the question
is, "What sort of people are _they_?" This, being interpreted, means,
"What style do they live in?" "How many servants do they keep?"

Whatever may be the variety of opinions concerning the doctrines of the
Church of Rome, there is but one concerning her astuteness. There can be
no doubt that she is the most influential association of men that has ever
existed; and she has decided for celibacy, that the priest might stand on
his merits and on the power of the Church, and be respected and admitted
everywhere in spite of notorious poverty.

Mignet, the historian, was a most intimate and constant friend of Thiers.
Mignet, though rich in reality, as he knew how to live contentedly on
moderate means, was poor in comparison with his friend. This inequality
did not affect their friendship in the least; for both were great workers,
well qualified to understand each other, though Thiers lived in a grand
house, and Mignet in a barely furnished lodging high up in a house that
did not belong to him.

Mignet was a bachelor, and they were both childless men; but imagine them
with large families. One family would have been bred in the greatest
luxury, the other in austere simplicity. Children are keenly alive to
these distinctions; and even if there had been neither pride in the rich
house nor envy in the poorer one the contrast would have been constantly
felt. The historical studies that the fathers had in common would probably
not have interested their descendants, and unless there had been some
other powerful bond of sympathy the two families would have lived in
different worlds. The rich family would have had rich friends, the poorer
family would have attached itself to other families with whom it could
have exchanged hospitality on more equal terms. This would have happened
even in Paris, a city where there is a remarkable absence of contempt for
poverty; a city where the slightest reason for distinction will admit any
well-bred man into society in spite of narrow means and insure him
immunity from disdain. All the more certainly would it happen in places
where money is the only regulator of rank, the only acknowledged claim to
consideration.

I once knew an English merchant who was reputed to be wealthy, and who,
like a true Englishman as he was, inhabited one of those great houses that
are so elaborately contrived for the exercise of hospitality. He had a
kind and friendly heart, and lived surrounded by people who often did him
the favor to drink his excellent wines and sleep in his roomy
bedchambers. On his death it turned out that he had never been quite so
rich as he appeared and that during his last decade his fortune had
rapidly dwindled. Being much interested in everything that may confirm or
invalidate those views of human nature that are current in ancient and
modern literature, I asked his son how those who were formerly such
frequent guests at the great house had behaved to the impoverished family.
"They simply avoided us," he said; "and some of them, when they met me,
would cut me openly in the street."

It may be said with perfect truth that this was a good riddance. It is
certain that it was so; it is undeniable that the deliverance from a horde
of false friends is worth a considerable sum per head of them; and that in
itself was only a subject of congratulation, but their behavior was hard
to bear because it was the evidence of a fall. We like deference as a
proof that we have what others respect, quite independently of any real
affection on their part; nay, we even enjoy the forced deference of those
who hate us, well knowing that they would behave very differently if they
dared. Besides this, it is not certain that an impoverished family will
find truer friends amongst the poor than it did formerly amongst the rich.
The relation may be the same as it was before, and only the incomes of the
parties altered.

What concerns our present subject is simply that changes of pecuniary
situation have always a strong tendency to throw people amongst other
associates; and as these changes are continually occurring, the result is
that families very rarely preserve the same acquaintances for more than a
single generation. And now comes the momentous issue. The influence of our
associates is so difficult to resist, in fact so completely irresistible
in the long run, that people belong far less to the class they are
descended from than to the class in which they live. The younger son of
some perfectly aristocratic family marries rather imprudently and is
impoverished by family expenses. His son marries imprudently again and
goes into another class. The children of that second marriage will
probably not have a trace of the peculiarly aristocratic civilization.
They will have neither the manners, nor the ideas, nor the unexpressed
instincts of the real aristocracy from which they sprang. In place of them
they will have the ideas of the lower middle class, and be in habits and
manners just as completely of that class as if their forefathers had
always belonged to it.

I have in view two instances of this which are especially interesting to
me because they exemplify it in opposite ways. In one of these cases the
man was virtuous and religious, but though his ancestry was aristocratic
his virtues and his religion were exactly those of the English middle
class. He was a good Bible-reading, Sabbath-observing, theatre-avoiding
Evangelical, inclined to think that dancing was rather sinful, and in all
those subtle points of difference that distinguish the middle-class
Englishman from the aristocratic Englishman he followed the middle class,
not seeming to have any unconscious reminiscence in his blood of an
ancestry with a freer and lordlier life. He cared neither for the sports,
nor the studies, nor the social intercourse of the aristocracy. His time
was divided, as that of the typical good middle-class Englishman generally
is, between business and religion, except when he read his newspaper. By a
combination of industry and good-fortune he recovered wealth, and might
have rejoined the aristocracy to which he belonged by right of descent;
but middle-class habits were too strong, and he remained contentedly to
the close of life both in that class and of it.

The other example I am thinking of is that of a man still better
descended, who followed a profession which, though it offers a good field
for energy and talent, is seldom pursued by gentlemen. He acquired the
habits and ideas of an intelligent but dissipated working-man, his vices
were exactly those of such a man, and so was his particular kind of
religious scepticism. I need not go further into detail. Suppose the
character of a very clever but vicious and irreligious workman, such as
may be found in great numbers in the large English towns, and you have the
accurate portrait of this particular _déclassé_.

In mentioning these two cases I am anxious to avoid misinterpretation. I
have no particular respect for one class more than another, and am
especially disposed to indulgence for the faults of those who bear the
stress of the labor of the world; but I see that there _are_ classes, and
that the fluctuations of fortune, more than any other cause, bring people
within the range of influence exercised by the habits of classes, and form
them in the mould, so that their virtues and vices afterwards, besides
their smaller qualities and defects, belong to the class they live in and
not to the class they may be descended from. In other words, men are more
strongly influenced by human intercourse than by heredity.

The most remarkable effect of the fluctuation of wealth is the extreme
rapidity with which the prosperous family gains refinement of manners,
whilst the impoverished family loses it. This change seems to be more
rapid in our own age and country than it has ever been before. Nothing is
more interesting than to watch this double process; and nothing in social
studies is more curious than the multiplicity of the minute causes that
bring it about. Every abridgment of ceremony has a tendency to lower
refinement by introducing that _sans-gêne_ which is fatal to good manners.
Ceremony is only compatible with leisure. It is abridged by haste; haste
is the result of poverty; and so it comes to pass that the loss of fortune
induces people to give up one little observance after another, for economy
of time, till at last there are none remaining. There is the excellent
habit of dressing for the evening meal. The mere cost of it is almost
imperceptible, except that it causes a small additional expenditure in
clean linen; but, although the pecuniary tax is slight, there is a tax on
time which is not compatible with hurry and irregularity, so it is only
people of some leisure who maintain it. Now consider the subtle influence,
on manners, of the maintenance or abandonment of this custom. Where it is
kept up, gentlemen and ladies meet in a drawing-room before dinner
prepared by their toilet for the disciplined intercourse of
well-regulated social life. They are like officers in uniform, or
clergymen in canonicals: they wear a dress that is not without its
obligations. It is not the luxury of it that does this, for the dress is
always plain for men and often simple for ladies, but the mere fact of
taking the trouble to dress is an act of deference to civilization and
disposes the mind to other observances. It has the further advantage of
separating us from the occupations of the day and marking a new point of
departure for the gentler life of the evening. As people become poorer
they give up dressing except when they have a party, and then they feel
ill at ease from the consciousness of a white tie. You have only to go a
little further in this direction to arrive at the people who do not feel
any inclination to wash their hands before dinner, even when they visibly
need it. Finally there are houses where the master will sit down to table
in his shirt-sleeves and without anything round his neck. People who live
in this way have no social intercourse whatever of a slightly ceremonious
kind, and therefore miss all the discipline in manners that rich people go
through every day. The higher society is a school of manners that the poor
have not leisure to attend.

The downward course of an impoverished family is strongly aided by an
element in many natures that the discipline of high life either subdues or
eliminates. There are always people, especially in the male sex, who feel
ill at ease under ceremonial restraints of any kind, and who find the
release from them an ineffably delightful emancipation. Such people hate
dressing for dinner, hate the forms of politeness, hate gloves and
visiting-cards, and all that such things remind them of. To be rid of
these things once for all, to be able to sit and smoke a pipe in an old
gray coat, seems to them far greater and more substantial happiness than
to drink claret in a dining-room, napkin on knee. Once out of society,
such men have no desire to enter it again, and after a very short
exclusion from it they belong to a lower class from taste quite as much as
from circumstances. All those who have a tendency towards the philosophy
of Diogenes (and they are more numerous than we suppose) are of this
manner of thinking. Sometimes they have a taste for serious intellectual
pursuits which makes the nothings of society seem frivolous, and also
consoles their pride for an apparent _déchéance_.

If it were possible to get rid of the burdensome superfluities of high
life, most of which are useless encumbrances, and live simply without any
loss of refinement, I should say that these philosophers would have reason
on their side. The complicated apparatus of wealthy life is not in itself
desirable. To convert the simple act of satisfying hunger into the tedious
ceremonial of a state dinner may be a satisfaction of pride, but it is
assuredly not an increase of pleasure. To receive as guests people whom we
do not care for in the least (which is constantly done by rich people to
maintain their position) offers less of what is agreeable in human
intercourse than a chat with a real friend under a shed of thatch.
Nevertheless, to be totally excluded from the life of the wealthy is to
miss a discipline in manners that nothing ever replaces, and this is the
real loss. The cultivation of taste which results from leisure forms, in
course of time, amongst rich people a public opinion that disciplines
every member of an aristocratic society far more severely than the more
careless opinion of the hurried classes ever disciplines _them_. To know
the value of such discipline we have only to observe societies from which
it is absent. We have many opportunities for this in travelling, and one
occurred to me last year that I will describe as an example. I was boating
with two young friends on a French river, and we spent a Sunday in a
decent riverside inn, where we had _déjeûner_ in a corner of the public
room. Several men of the neighborhood, probably farmers and small
proprietors, sat in another corner playing cards. They had a very decent
appearance, they were fine healthy-looking men, quite the contrary of a
degraded class, and they were only amusing themselves temperately on a
Sunday morning. Well, from the beginning of their game to the end of it
(that is, during the whole time of our meal), they did nothing but shout,
yell, shriek, and swear at each other loudly enough to be heard across the
broad river. They were not angry in the least, but it was their habit to
make a noise and to use oaths and foul language continually. We, at our
table, could not hear each other's voices; but this did not occur to them.
They had no notion that their noisy kind of intercourse could be
unpleasant to anybody, because delicacy of sense, fineness of nerve, had
not been developed in their class of society. Afterwards I asked them for
some information, which they gave with a real anxiety to make themselves
of use. Some rich people came to the inn with a pretty carriage, and I
amused myself by noting the difference. _Their_ manners were perfectly
quiet. Why are rich people quiet and poorer ones noisy? Because the
refinements of wealthy life, its peace and tranquillity, its leisure, its
facilities for separation in different rooms, produce delicacy of nerve,
with the perception that noise is disagreeable; and out of this delicacy,
when it is general amongst a whole class, springs a strong determination
so to discipline the members of the class that they shall not make
themselves disagreeable to the majority. Hence lovers of good manners have
a preference for the richer classes quite apart from a love of physical
luxury or a snobbish desire to be associated with people of rank. For the
same reason a lover of good manners dreads poverty or semi-poverty for his
children, because even a moderate degree of poverty (not to speak of the
acute forms of it) may compel them to associate with the undisciplined.
What gentleman would like his son to live habitually with the card-players
I have described?



ESSAY X.

DIFFERENCES OF RANK AND WEALTH.


The most remarkable peculiarity about the desire to establish distinctions
of rank is not that there should be definite gradations amongst people who
have titles, but that, when the desire is strong in a nation, public
opinion should go far beyond heralds and parchments and gazettes, and
establish the most minute gradations amongst people who have nothing
honorific about them.

When once the rule is settled by a table of precedence that an earl is
greater than a baron, we simply acquiesce in the arrangement, as we are
ready to believe that a mandarin with a yellow jacket is a
much-to-be-honored sort of mandarin; but what is the power that strikes
the nice balance of social advantages in favor of Mr. Smith as compared
with Mr. Jones, when neither one nor the other has any title, or ancestry,
or anything whatever to boast of? Amongst the many gifts that are to be
admired in the fair sex this seems one of the most mysterious, that ladies
can so decidedly fix the exact social position of every human being. Men
soon find themselves bewildered by conflicting considerations, but a woman
goes to the point at once, and settles in the most definite manner that
Smith is certainly the superior of Jones.

This may bring upon me the imputation of being a democrat and a leveller.
No, I rather like a well-defined social distinction when it has reality.
Real distinctions keep society picturesque and interesting; what I fail to
appreciate so completely are the fictitious little distinctions that have
no basis in reality, and appear to be instituted merely for the sake of
establishing differences that do not naturally exist. It seems to be an
unfortunate tendency that seeks unapparent differences, and it may have a
bad effect on character by forcing each man back upon the consideration of
his own claims that it would be better for him to forget.

I once dined at a country-house in Scotland when the host asked one of the
guests this question, "Are you a land-owner?" in order to determine his
precedence. It did so happen that the guest owned a few small farms, so he
answered "Yes;" but it struck me that the distinction between a man who
had a moderate sum invested in land and one who had twice as much in other
investments was not clearly in favor of the first. Could not the other buy
land any day if he liked? He who hath gold hath land, potentially. If
precedence is to be regulated by so material a consideration as wealth,
let it be done fairly and plainly. The best and simplest plan would be to
embroider the amount of each gentleman's capital in gold thread on the
breast of his dress-coat. The metal would be appropriate, the embroidery
would be decorative, and the practice would offer unequalled encouragement
to thrift.

Again, I have always understood in the most confused manner the
distinction, so clear to many, between those who are in trade and those
who are not. I think I see the only real objection to trade with the help
of M. Renan, who has stated it very clearly, but my difficulty is to
discover who are tradesmen, and, still more, who are not tradesmen. Here
is M. Renan's account of the matter:--

    "Our ideal can only be realized with a Government that gives some
    _éclat_ to those who are connected with it and which creates
    distinctions outside of wealth. We feel an antipathy to a society in
    which the merit of a man and his superiority to another can only be
    revealed under the form of industry and commerce; not that trade and
    industry are not honest in our eyes, but because we see clearly that
    the best things (such as the functions of the priest, the magistrate,
    the _savant_, the artist, and the serious man of letters) are the
    inverse of the industrial and commercial spirit, the first duty of
    those who follow them being not to try to enrich themselves, and never
    to take into consideration the venal value of what they do."

This I understand, provided that the priest, magistrate, _savant_, artist,
and serious man of letters are faithful to this "first duty;" provided
that they "never take into consideration the venal value of what they do;"
but there are tradesmen in the highest professions. All that can be said
against trade is that its object is profit. Then it follows that every
profession followed for profit has in it what is objectionable in trade,
and that the professions are not noble in themselves but only if they are
followed in a disinterested spirit. I should say, then, that any attempt
to fix the degree of nobleness of persons by the supposed nobleness of
their occupations must be founded upon an unreal distinction. A venal
clergyman who does not believe the dogmas that he defends for his
endowment, a venal barrister, ready to prostitute his talents and his
tongue for a large income, seem to me to have in them far more of what is
objectionable in trade than a country bookseller who keeps a little shop
and sells note-paper and sealing-wax over the counter; yet it is assumed
that their occupations are noble occupations and that his business is not
noble, though I can see nothing whatever in it of which any gentleman need
be in the slightest degree ashamed.

Again, there seem to be most unreal distinctions of respectability in the
trades themselves. The wine trade has always been considered a gentlemanly
business; but why is it more respectable to sell wine and spirits than to
sell bread, or cheese, or beef? Are not articles of food more useful to
the community than alcoholic drinks, and less likely to contribute to the
general sum of evil? As for the honesty of the dealers, no doubt there are
honest wine-merchants; but what thing that is sold for money has been more
frequently adulterated, or more mendaciously labelled, or more
unscrupulously charged for, than the produce of European vintages?[7]

Another wonderful unreality is the following. People desire the profits of
trade, but are unwilling to lose caste by engaging in it openly. In order
to fill their pockets and preserve their rank at the same time they engage
in business anonymously, either as members of some firm in which their
names do not appear, or else as share-holders in great trading
enterprises. In both these cases the investor of capital becomes just as
really and truly a tradesman as if he kept a shop, but if you were to tell
him that he was a tradesman he would probably resent the imputation.

It is remarkable that the people who most despise commerce are the very
people who bow down most readily before the accomplished results of
commerce; for as they have an exaggerated sense of social distinctions,
they are great adorers of wealth for the distinction that it confers. By
their worship of wealth they acknowledge it to be most desirable; but then
they worship rank also, and this other cultus goes with the sentiment of
contempt for humble and plodding industry in all its forms.

The contempt for trade is inconsistent in another way. A man may be
excluded from "good society" because he is in trade, and his grandson may
be admitted because the grandfather was in trade, that is, through a
fortune of commercial origin. The present Prime Minister (Gladstone) and
the Speaker of the House of Commons (Mr. Arthur Peel) and many other men
of high position in both Houses may owe their fame to their own
distinguished abilities; but they owe the leisure and opportunity for
cultivating and displaying those abilities to the wits and industry of
tradesmen removed from them only by one or two generations.

Is there not a strange inconsistency in adoring wealth as it is adored,
and despising the particular kind of skill and ability by which it is
usually acquired? For if there be anything honorable about wealth it must
surely be as evidence of the intelligence and industry that are necessary
for the conquest of poverty. On the contrary, a narrowly exclusive society
despises the virtue that is most creditable to the _nouveau riche_, his
industry, whilst it worships his wealth as soon as the preservation of it
is compatible with idleness.

There is a great deal of unreal distinction in the matter of ancestry.
Those who observe closely are well aware that many undoubted and lineal
descendants of the oldest families are in humble social positions, simply
for want of money to make a display, whilst others usurp their
coats-of-arms and claim a descent that they cannot really prove. The whole
subject is therefore one of the most unsatisfactory that can be, and all
that remains to the real members of old families who have not wealth
enough to hold a place in the expensive modern aristocracy, is to remember
secretly the history of their ancestors if they are romantic and poetical
enough to retain the old-fashioned sentiment of birth, and to forget it
if they look only to the present and the practical. There is, indeed, so
little of the romantic sentiment left in the country, that even amongst
the descendants of old families themselves very few are able to blazon
their own armorial bearings, or even know what the verb "to blazon" means.

Amidst so great a confusion the simplest way would be not to think about
rank at all, and to take human nature as it comes without reference to it;
but however the ancient barriers of rank may be broken down, it is only to
erect new ones. English feeling has a deep satisfaction in contemplating
rank and wealth combined. It is that which it likes,--the combination.
When wealth is gone it thinks that a man should lock up his pedigree in
his desk and forget that he has ancestors; so it has been said that an
English gentleman in losing wealth loses his caste with it, whilst a
French or Italian gentleman may keep his caste, except in the most abject
poverty. On the other hand, when an Englishman has a vast fortune it is
thought right to give him a title also, that the desirable combination may
be created afresh. Nothing is so striking in England, considering that it
is an old country, as the newness of most of the great families. The
aristocracy is like London, that has the reputation of being a very
ancient city, yet the houses are of recent date. An aristocracy may be
stronger and in better repair because of its newness; it may also be more
likely to make a display of aristocratic superiorities, and expect
deference to be paid to them, than an easy-going old aristocracy would
be.

What are the superiorities, and what is the nature of the deference?

The superiority given by title depends on the intensity of title-worship
amongst the public. In England that religion is in a very healthy and
flourishing state, so that titles are very valuable there; in France the
sense of a social hierarchy is so much weakened that titles are of
infinitely less value. False ones are assumed and borne with impunity on
account of the general indifference, whilst true and authentic titles are
often dropped as an encumbrance. The blundering ignorance of the French
about our titles, which so astonishes Englishmen, is due to a carelessness
about the whole subject that no inhabitant of the British Islands can
imagine.[8] In those islands title is of very great importance because
the people have such a strong consciousness of its existence. In England,
if there is a lord in the room every body is aware of it.

Superiority of family, without title, is merely local; it is not
understood far from the ancestral home. Superiority of title is national;
it is imperfectly appreciated in foreign countries. But superiority of
wealth has the immense advantage over these that it is respected
everywhere and can display itself everywhere with the utmost ostentation
under pretext of custom and pleasure. It commands the homage of foolish
and frivolous people by possibilities of vain display, and at the same
time it appears desirable to the wise because it makes the gathering of
experience easy and human intercourse convenient.

The rich man has access to an immense range of varied situations; and if
he has energy to profit by this facility and put himself in those
situations where he may learn the most, he may become far more experienced
at thirty-five than a poor man can be at seventy. A poor man has a taste
for boating, so he builds a little boat with his own hands, and paints it
green and white, with its name, the "Cock-Robin," in yellow. Meanwhile his
good wife, in spite of all the work she has to do, has a kindly indulgence
for her poor Tom's hobby, thinks he deserves a little amusement, and
stitches the sail for him in the evenings. He sails five or six miles up
and down the river. Sir Thomas Brassey has exactly the same tastes: he
builds the "Sunbeam;" and whilst the "Cock-Robin" has been doing its
little trips, the "Sunbeam" has gone round the world; and instead of
stitching the sails, the kind wife has accompanied the mariner, and
written the story of his voyage. If after that you talk with the owners of
the two vessels you may be interested for a few minutes--deeply interested
and touched if you have the divine gift of sympathy--with the poor man's
account of his doings; but his experience is small and soon told, whilst
the owner of the "Sunbeam" has traversed all the oceans and could tell you
a thousand things. So it naturally follows in most cases, though the rule
has exceptions, that rich men are more interesting people to know than
poor men of equal ability.

I remember being forcibly reminded of the narrow experience of the poor on
one of those occasions that often happen to those who live in the country
and know their poorer neighbors. A friend of mine, with his children, had
come to stay with me; and there was a poor woman, living in a very
out-of-the-way hamlet on a hill, who had made me promise that I would take
my friend and his children to see her, because she had known their mother,
who was dead, and had felt for her one of those strong and constant
affections that often dwell in humble and faithful hearts. We have a great
respect for this poor woman, who is in all ways a thoroughly dutiful
person, and she has borne severe trials with great patience. Well, she was
delighted to see my friend and his children, delighted to see how well
they looked, how much they had grown, and so on; and then she spoke of her
own little ones, and showed us the books they were learning in, and
described their dispositions, and said that her husband was in full work
and went every day to the schist mine, and was much steadier than he used
to be, and made her much happier. After that she began again, saying
exactly the same things all over again, and she said them a third time,
and a fourth time. When we had left, we noticed this repetition, and we
agreed that the poor woman, instead of being deficient in intelligence,
was naturally above the average, but that the extreme narrowness of her
experience, the total want of variety in her life, made it impossible for
her mind to get out of that little domestic groove. She had about
half-a-dozen ideas, and she lived in them, as a person in a small house
lives in a very few rooms.

Now, however much esteem, respect, and affection you may have for a person
of that kind, you will find it impossible to enjoy such society because
conversation has no aliment. This is the one great reason why cultivated
people seem to avoid the poor, even when they do not despise them in the
least.

The greater experience of the rich is united to an incomparably greater
power of pleasant reception, because in their homes conversation is not
interfered with by the multitude of petty domestic difficulties and
inconveniences. I go to spend the day with a very poor friend, and this is
what is likely to happen. He and I can only talk without interruption when
we are out of the house. Inside it his children break in upon us
constantly. His wife finds me in the way, and wishes I had not come,
because she has not been able to provide things exactly as she desired. At
dinner her mind is not in the conversation; she is really occupied with
petty household cares. I, on my part, have the uncomfortable feeling that
I am creating inconvenience; and it requires incessant attention to soothe
the watchful sensitiveness of a hostess who is so painfully alive to the
deficiencies of her small establishment. If I have a robust appetite, it
is well; but woe to me if my appetite is small, and I must overeat to
prove that the cookery is good! If I accept a bed the sacrifice of a room
will cause crowding elsewhere, besides which I shall be a nuisance in the
early morning hours when nothing in the _ménage_ is fit for the public
eye. Whilst creating all this inconvenience to others, I suffer the great
one of being stopped in my usual pursuits. If I want a few quiet hours for
reading and writing there is only one way: I must go privately to some
hotel and hire a sitting-room for myself.

Now consider the difference when I go to visit a rich friend! The first
delightful feeling is that I do not occasion the very slightest
inconvenience. His arrangements for the reception of guests are permanent
and perfect. My arrival will scarcely cost his wife a thought; she has
simply given orders in the morning for a room to be got ready and a cover
to be laid at table. Her mind is free to think about any subject that
suggests itself. Her conversation, from long practice, is as easy as the
style of a good writer. All causes of interruption are carefully kept in
the background. The household details are attended to by a regiment of
domestics under their own officers. The children are in rooms of their own
with their governesses and servants, and we see just enough of them to be
agreeable. If I desire privacy, nothing is more easily obtained. On the
slightest hint a room is placed at my disposal. I remember one house where
that room used to be a splendid library, full of the books which at that
time I most wanted to consult; and the only interruption in the mornings
was the noiseless entrance of the dear lady of the house, always at eleven
o'clock precisely, with a glass of wine and a biscuit on a little silver
tray. It is not the material luxury of rich men's houses that a wise man
would desire; but he must thoroughly appreciate their convenience and the
varied food for the mind that they afford,--the books, the pictures, the
curiosities. In one there is a museum of antiquities that a large town
might envy, in another a collection of drawings, in a third a magnificent
armory. In one private house in Paris[9] there used to be fourteen noble
saloons containing the arts of two hundred years. You go to stay in ten
rich houses and find them all different; you enjoy the difference, and in
a certain sense you possess the different things. The houses of the poor
are all alike, or if they differ it is not by variety of artistic or
intellectual interest. By the habit of staying in each other's houses the
rich multiply their riches to infinity. In a certain way of their own (it
is not exactly the way of the early Christians) they have their goods in
common.

There are, no doubt, many guests in the houses of the rich who care little
for the people they visit, but much for the variety and
accommodation,--guests who visit the place rather than the owner; guests
who enjoy the cookery, the wines, the shooting, and who would go to the
house if the owner were changed, exactly as they continue to patronize
some pleasantly situated and well-managed hotel, after a change of
masters. I hardly know how to describe these people in a word, but it is
easy to characterize their entertainers. They are unpaid innkeepers.

There are also people, apparently hospitable, who care little for the
persons they invite,--so very little, indeed, that we do not easily
discover what motive they have for inviting them. The answer may be that
they dislike solitude so much that any guest is acceptable, or else that
they want admirers for the beautiful arrangements and furniture of their
houses; for what is the use of having beautiful things if there is nobody
to appreciate them? Hosts of this class are amateur exhibitors, or they
are like amateur actors who want an audience, and who will invite people
to come and listen, not because they care for the people, but because it
is discouraging to play to empty benches.

These two classes of guests and hosts cannot exist without riches. The
desire to be entertained ceases at once when it is known that the
entertainment will be of a poor quality; and the desire to exhibit the
internal arrangements of our houses ceases when we are too poor to do
justice to the refinement of our taste.

The story of the rich man who had many friends and saw them fall away from
him when he became poor, which, under various forms, reappears in every
age and is common to all literatures, is explained by these
considerations. Bucklaw does not find Lord Ravenswood a valuable
gratuitous innkeeper; and Ravenswood is not anxious to exhibit to Bucklaw
the housekeeping at Wolf's Crag.

But quite outside of parasite guests and exhibiting entertainers, there
still remains the undeniable fact that if you like a rich man and a poor
one equally well, you will prefer the rich man's hospitality for its
greater convenience. Nay, more, you will rightly and excusably prefer the
rich man's hospitality even if you like the poor man better, but find his
household arrangements disagreeable, his wife fagged, worn, irritable, and
ungracious, his children ill-bred, obtrusive, and dirty, himself unable to
talk about anything rational on account of family interruptions, and
scarcely his own better and higher self at all in the midst of his
domestic plagues.[10]

There is no nation in the world that has so acute a sense of the value,
almost the necessity, of wealth for human intercourse as the English
nation. Whilst in other countries people think "Wealth is peace of mind,
wealth is convenience, wealth is _la vie élégante_," in England they
silently accept the maxim, "A large income is a necessary of life;" and
they class each other according to the scale of their establishments,
looking up with unfeigned reverence to those who have many servants, many
horses, and gigantic houses where a great hospitality is dispensed. An
ordinary Englishman thinks he has failed in life, and his friends are of
the same opinion, if he does not arrive at the ability to imitate this
style and state, at least in a minor degree. I have given the best reasons
why it is desired; I understand and appreciate them; but at the same time
I think it deeply to be deplored that an expenditure far beyond what can
be met by the physical or intellectual labor of ordinary workers should be
thought necessary in order that people may meet and talk in comfort. The
big English house is a machine that runs with unrivalled smoothness; but
it masters its master, it possesses its nominal possessor. George Borrow
had the deepest sense of the Englishman's slavery to his big, well-ordered
dwelling, and saw in it the cause of unnumbered anxieties, often ending in
heart-disease, paralysis, bankruptcy, and in minor cases sacrificing all
chance of leisure and quiet happiness. Many a land-owner has crippled
himself by erecting a great house on his estate,--one of those huge,
tasteless buildings that express nothing but pompous pride. What wisdom
there is in the excellent old French adage, "A petite terre, petite
maison"!

The reader may remember Herbert Spencer's idea that the display of wealth
is intended to subjugate. Royal palaces are made very vast and magnificent
to subjugate those who approach the sovereign; and all rich and powerful
people use the same means, for the same purpose, though in minor degrees.
This leads us to the price that has to be paid for intercourse with
persons of great rank and wealth. May we not suspect that there is a heavy
price of some kind, since many of the best and noblest minds in the world
either avoid it altogether or else accept it cautiously and only with a
very few rich men whom they esteem independently of their riches?

The answer is that wealth and rank expect deference, not so much humble
and slavish manners as that intellectual deference which a thinker can
never willingly give. The higher the rank of the personage the more it is
considered ill-bred to contradict him, or even to have an opinion of your
own in his presence. This, to a thinker, is unendurable. He does not see
that because a person is rich and noble his views on everything must be
the best and soundest views.

You, my dear Aristophilus, who by your pleasing manners are so well fitted
for the very best society, could give interesting answers to the following
questions: Have you never found it advisable to keep silence when your
wealthy host was saying things against which you inwardly protested? Have
you not sometimes gone a step further, and given a kind of assent to some
opinion that was not your own? Have you not, by practice, attained the
power of giving a still stronger and heartier assent to what seemed
doubtful propositions?

There is one form of this assent which is deeply damaging to character.
Some great person, a great lady perhaps, unjustly condemns, in your
presence, a public man for whom you have a sincere respect. Instead of
boldly defending him, you remain silent and acquiescent. You are afraid
to offend, afraid to lose favor, afraid that if you spoke openly you would
not be invited to the great house any more.

Sometimes not a single individual but a class is attacked at once. A great
lady is reported to have said that she "had a deep objection to French
literature in all its branches." Observe that this expression of opinion
contains a severe censure on _all_ French authors and on all readers of
French literature. Would you have ventured to say a word in their defence?
Would you have dared to hint, for example, that a serious mind might be
none the worse for some acquaintance with Montesquieu and De Tocqueville?
No, sir, you would have bowed your head and put on a shocked expression of
countenance.

In this way, little by little, by successive abandonments of what we
think, and abdications of what we know, we may arrive at a state of
habitual and inane concession that softens every fibre of the mind.



ESSAY XI.

THE OBSTACLE OF LANGUAGE.


The greatest impediment to free intercourse between nations is neither
distance nor the differences of mental habits, nor the opposition of
national interests; it is simply the imperfect manner in which languages
are usually acquired, and the lazy contentment of mankind with a low
degree of attainment in a foreign tongue when a much higher degree of
attainment would be necessary to any efficient interchange of ideas.

It seems probable that much of the future happiness of humanity will
depend upon a determination to learn foreign languages more thoroughly.
International ill-will is the parent of innumerable evils. From the
intellectual point of view it is a great evil, because it narrows our
range of ideas and deprives us of light from foreign thinkers. From the
commercial point of view it is an evil, because it leads a nation to deny
itself conveniences in order to avoid the dreaded result of doing good to
another country. From the political point of view it is an enormous evil,
because it leads nations to make war upon each other and to inflict and
endure all the horrors, the miseries, the impoverishment of war rather
than make some little concession on one side or on both sides that would
have been made with little difficulty if the spirit of the two countries
had been more friendly. May we not believe that a more general spirit of
friendliness would result from more personal intercourse, and that this
would be the consequence of more thorough linguistic acquirement?

It has always seemed to me an inexpressible misfortune to the French that
they should not be better acquainted with English literature; and this not
simply from the literary point of view, but because on so many questions
that interest active minds in France it would be such an advantage to
those minds to be able to see how those questions have appeared to men
bred in a different and a calmer atmosphere. If the French read English
easily they might often avoid (without ceasing to be national) many of
those errors that result from seeing things only from a single point of
view. I know a few intelligent Frenchmen who do read our most thoughtful
writers in the original, and I can see what a gain this enlarged
experience has been to them. On the other hand, it is certain that good
French literature may have an excellent effect on the literary training of
an Englishman. The careful study of that clear, concise, and moderate
French writing which is the most perfect flower of the cultivated national
mind has been most beneficial to some English writers, by making them less
clumsy, less tedious, less verbose.

Of commercial affairs it would be presumptuous in me to say much, but no
one disputes that international commerce is a benefit, and that it would
not be possible without a class of men who are acquainted with foreign
languages. On this class of men, be they merchants or corresponding
clerks, the commercial intercourse between nations must depend. I find it
stated by foreign tradesmen that if they were better acquainted with the
English language much trade that now escapes them might be made to pass
through their hands. I have myself often observed, on a small scale, that
transactions of an international character have taken place because one of
the parties happened to know the language of the other, when they would
certainly not have taken place if it had been necessary to make them
through an agent or an interpreter.

With regard to peace and war, can it be doubted that the main reason for
our peaceful relations with the United States lies in the fact of our
common language? We may have newspaper quarrels, but the newspapers
themselves help to make every question understood. It is far harder to
gain acceptance for English ideas in France, yet even our relations with
France are practically more peaceful than of old, and though there is
intense jealousy between the two countries, they understand each other
better, so that differences which would certainly have produced bloodshed
in the days of Pitt, cause nothing worse than inkshed in the days of
Gladstone. This happy result may be attributed in great part to the
English habit of learning French and going to Paris or to the south of
France. We need not expect any really cordial understanding between the
two countries, though it would be an incalculable benefit to both. That is
too much to be hoped for; their jealousy, on both sides, is too irritable
and too often inflamed afresh by new incidents, for neither of them can
stir a foot without putting the other out of temper; but we may hope that
through the quietly and constantly exerted influence of those who know
both languages, war may be often, though perhaps not always, avoided.

Unfortunately an imperfect knowledge of a foreign language is of little
use, as it does not give any real freedom of intercourse. Foreigners do
not open their minds to one who blunders about their meaning; they
consider him to be a sort of child, and address to him "easy things to
understand." Their confidence is only to be won by a demonstration of
something like equality in intelligence, and nobody can give proof of this
unless he has the means of making his thoughts intelligible, and even of
assuming, when the occasion presents itself, a somewhat bold and
authoritative tone. People of mature and superior intellect, but imperfect
linguistic acquirements, are liable to be treated with a kind of
condescending indulgence when out of their own country, as if they were as
young in years and as feeble in power of thought as they are in their
knowledge of foreign languages.

The extreme rarity of that degree of attainment in a foreign language
which deserves to be called _mastery_ is well known to the very few who
are competent to judge. At a meeting of French professors Lord Houghton
said that the wife of a French ambassador had told him that she knew only
three Englishmen who could speak French. One of these was Sir Alexander
Cockburn, another the Duke of Bedford, and we may presume the third to
have been Lord Houghton himself. Amongst men of letters Lord Houghton only
knew one, Henry Reeve, the editor of the "Edinburgh Review" and
translator of the works of De Tocqueville. He mentioned Lord Arthur
Russell as an example of accomplishment, but he is "quasi French by
_l'esprit_, education, and marriage."

On reading the report of Lord Houghton's speech, I asked a cultivated
Parisian lady (who knows English remarkably well and has often been in
England) what her own experience had been. After a little hesitation she
said it had been exactly that of the French ambassadress. She, also, had
met with three Englishmen who spoke French, and she named them. I
suggested several others, and amongst them some very learned scholars,
merely to hear what she would say, but her answer was that their
inadequate power of expression compelled them to talk far below the level
of their abilities, so that when they spoke French nobody would suppose
them to be clever men. She also affirmed that they did not catch the
shades of French expression, so that in speaking French to them one was
never sure of being quite accurately understood.

I myself have known many French people who have studied English more or
less, including several who read English authors with praiseworthy
industry, but I have only met with one or two who can be said to have
mastered the language. I am told that M. Beljame, the learned Professor of
English Literature at the Sorbonne, has a wonderful mastery of our tongue.
Many French professors of English have considerable historical and
grammatical knowledge of it, but that is not practical mastery. In
general, the knowledge of English attained by French people (not without
more labor than the result would show) is so poor and insufficient as to
be almost useless.

I remember an accidental circumstance that put into my hands some curious
materials for judging of the attainments of a former generation. A Belgian
lady, for a reason that has no concern with our present subject, lent me
for perusal an important packet of letters in the French language written
by English ladies of great social distinction about the date of Waterloo.
They showed a rough familiarity with French, but no knowledge of its finer
shades, and they abounded in glaring errors. The effect of this
correspondence on my mind was that the writers had certainly used (or
abused) the language, but that they had never condescended to learn it.

These and other experiences have led me to divide progress in languages
into several stages, which I place at the reader's disposal in the belief
that they may be convenient to him as they have been convenient to me.

The first stage in learning a language is when every sentence is a puzzle
and exercises the mind like a charade or a conundrum. There are people to
whom this kind of exercise is a sport. They enjoy the puzzle for its own
sake and without any reference to the literary value of the sentence or
its preciousness as an utterance of wisdom. Such people are much better
adapted to the early stage of linguistic acquirement than those who like
reading and dislike enigmas.

The excessive slowness with which one works in this early stage is a cause
of irritation when the student interests himself in the thoughts or the
narrative, because what comes into his mind in a given time is so small a
matter that it seems not worth while to go on working for such a little
intellectual income. Therefore in this early stage it is a positive
disadvantage to have eager literary desires.

In the second stage the student can push along with the help of a
translation and a dictionary; but this is not _reading_, it is only aided
construing. It is disagreeable to a reader, though it may be endured by
one who is indifferent to reading. This may be made clear by reference to
other pursuits. A man who loves rowing, and who knows what rowing is, does
not like to pull a slow and heavy boat, such as an ordinary Scottish
Highlander pulls with perfect contentment. So a man who loves reading, and
knows what reading is, does not like the heavy work of laborious
translation. This explains the fact which is often so unintelligible to
parents, that boys who are extremely fond of reading often dislike their
classical studies. Grammar, prosody, philology, so far as they are the
subjects of _conscious attention_ (which they are with all pedagogues),
are the rivals of literature, and so it happens that pedagogy is
unfavorable to literary art. It is only when the sciences of dissection
are forgotten that we can enjoy the arts of poetry and prose.

If, then, the first stage of language-learning requires rather a taste for
solving puzzles than a taste for literature, so I should say that the
second stage requires rather a turn for grammatical and philological
considerations than an interest in the ideas or an appreciation of the
style of great authors. The most favorable state of mind for progress in
this stage is that of a philologist; and if a man has literary tastes in
great strength, and philological tastes in a minor degree, he will do
well, in this stage, to encourage the philologist in himself and keep his
love of literature in abeyance.

In the third stage the vocabulary has become rich enough to make
references to the dictionary less frequent, and the student can read with
some degree of literary enjoyment. There is, however, this remaining
obstacle, that even when the reader knows the words and can construe well,
the foreign manner of saying things still appears _unnatural_. I have made
many inquiries concerning this stage of acquirement and find it to be very
common. Men of fair scholarship in Latin tell me that the Roman way of
writing does not seem to be really a natural way. I find that even those
Latin works which were most familiar to me in youth, such as the Odes of
Horace, for example, seem unnatural still, though I may know the meaning
of every word, and I do not believe that any amount of labor would ever
rid me of this feeling. This is a great obstacle, and not the less that it
is of such a subtle and intangible nature.[11]

In the fourth stage the mode of expression seems natural, and the words
are perfectly known, but the sense of the paragraph is not apparent at a
glance. There is the feeling of a slight obstacle, of something that has
to be overcome; and there is a remarkable counter-feeling which always
comes after the paragraph is mastered. The reader then wonders that such
an obviously intelligible page can have offered any opposition whatever.
What surprises us is that this fourth stage can last so long as it does.
It seems as if it would be so easily passed, and yet, in fact, it is for
most persons impassable.

The fifth stage is that of perfection in reading. It is not reached by
everybody even in the native language itself. The reader who has attained
it sees the contents of a page and catches their meaning at a glance even
before he has had time to read the sentences.

This condition of extreme lucidity in a language comes, when it comes at
all, long after the mere acquisition of it. I have said that it does not
always come even in the native tongue. Some educated people take a much
longer time than others to make themselves acquainted with the contents of
a newspaper. A clever newspaper reader sees in one minute if there is
anything of importance. He knows what articles and telegrams are worth
reading before he separates the words.

These five stages refer only to reading, because educated people learn to
read first and to speak afterwards. Uneducated people learn foreign
languages by ear in a most confused and blundering way. I need not add
that they never master them, as only the educated ever master their native
tongue. It is unnecessary to go through the stages of progress in
conversation, as they are in a great degree dependent upon reading, though
they lag behind it; but I will say briefly that the greatest of all
difficulties in using foreign languages is to become really insensible to
the absurdities that they contain. All languages, I believe, abound in
absurd expressions; and a foreigner, with his inconveniently fresh
perceptions, can hardly avoid being tickled by them. He cannot use the
language seriously without having first become unconscious of these
things, and it is inexpressibly difficult to become unconscious of
something that has once provoked us to laughter. Again, it is most
difficult to arrive at that stage when foreign expressions of politeness
strike us no more and no less than they strike the native; or, in other
words, it is most difficult for us to attach to them the exact value which
they have in the country where they prevail. French forms seem absurdly
ceremonious to Englishmen; in reality, they are only convenient, but the
difficulty for an Englishman is to feel that they are convenient. There
are in every foreign tongue two classes of absurdities,--the real inherent
absurdities to which the natives are blinded by habit, though they are
seen at once to be comical when attention is directed to them, and the
expressions that are not absurd in themselves but only seem so to us
because they are not like our own.

The difficulty of becoming insensible to these things must be especially
great for humorous people, who are constantly on the look-out for subjects
of odd remarks. I have a dear friend who is gifted with a delightful
genius for humor, and he knows a little French. All that he has acquired
of that language is used by him habitually as material for fun, and as he
is quite incapable of regarding the language as anything but a funny way
of talking, he cannot make any progress in it. If he were asked to read
prayers in French the idea would seem to him incongruous, a mingling of
frivolous with sacred things. Another friend is serious in French because
he knows it well, and therefore has become unconscious of its real or
apparent absurdities, but when he is in a merry mood he talks Italian,
with which he is much less intimately acquainted, so that it still seems
droll and amusing.

Many readers will be already familiar with the idea of a universal
language, which has often been the subject of speculation in recent times,
and has even been discussed in a sort of informal congress connected with
one of the universal exhibitions. Nobody now looks forward to anything so
unlikely, or so undesirable, as the abandonment of all the languages in
the world except one. What is considered practicable is the selection of
one language as the recognized international medium, and the teaching of
that language everywhere in addition to the mother tongue, so that no two
educated men could ever meet without possessing the means of
communication. To a certain degree we have this already in French, but
French is not known so generally, or so perfectly, as to make it answer
the purpose. It is proposed to adopt modern Greek, which has several great
advantages. The first is that the old education has familiarized us
sufficiently with ancient Greek to take away the first sense of
strangeness in the same language under its modern form. The second is that
everything about modern arts and sciences, and political life, and trade,
can be said easily in the Greek of the present day, whilst it has its own
peculiar interest for scholars. The third reason is of great practical
importance. Greece is a small State, and therefore does not awaken those
keen international jealousies that would be inevitably aroused by
proposing the language of a powerful State to be learned, without
reciprocity, by the youth of the other powerful States. It may be some
time before the Governments of great nations agree to promote the study of
modern Greek, or any other living language, amongst their peoples; but if
all who feel the immense desirableness of a common language for
international intercourse would agree to prepare the way for its adoption,
the time might not be very far distant when statesmen would begin to
consider the question within the horizon of the practical. Let us try to
imagine the difference between the present Babel-confusion of tongues,
which makes it a mere chance whether we shall be able to communicate with
a foreigner or not, and the sudden facility that would result from the
possession of a common medium of intercourse! If it were once agreed by a
union of nations (of which the present Postal Union may be the forerunner)
that the learning of the universal language should be encouraged, that
language would be learned with a zest and eagerness of which our present
languid linguistic attempts give but a faint idea. There would be such
powerful reasons for learning it! All those studies that interest men in
different nations would lead to intercommunication in the common tongue.
Many books would be written in it, to be circulated everywhere, without
being enfeebled and falsified by translation. International commerce would
be transacted by its means. Travelling would be enormously facilitated.
There would be such a gain to human intercourse by language that it might
be preferred, in many cases, to the old-fashioned international
intercourse by means of bayonets and cannon-balls.



ESSAY XII.

THE OBSTACLE OF RELIGION.


Human intercourse, on equal terms, is difficult or impossible for those
who do not belong to that religion which is dominant in the country where
they live. The tendency has always been either to exclude such persons
from human intercourse altogether (a fate so hard to bear during a whole
life-time that they have often compromised the matter by outward
conformity), or else to maintain some degree of intercourse with them in
placing them at a social disadvantage. In barbarous times such persons,
when obstinate, are removed by taking away their lives; or if somewhat
less obstinate they are effectually deterred from the profession of
heretical opinions by threats of the most pitiless punishments. In
semi-barbarous times they are paralyzed, so far as public action is
concerned, by political disabilities expressly created for their
inconvenience. In times which pride themselves on having completely
emerged from barbarism political disabilities are almost entirely removed,
but certain class-exclusions still persist, by which it is arranged
(whilst avoiding all appearance of persecution) that although heretics are
no longer banished from their native land they may be excluded from their
native class, and either deprived of human intercourse altogether, or
left to seek it in classes inferior to their own.

The religious obstacle differs from all other obstacles in one remarkable
characteristic. It is maintained only against honest and truth-speaking
persons. Exemption from its operation has always been, and is still,
uniformly pronounced in favor of all heretics who will consent to lie. The
honorable unbeliever has always been treated harshly; the unbeliever who
had no sense of honor has been freely permitted, in every age, to make the
best use of his abilities for his own social advancement. For him the
religious obstacle is simply non-existent. He has exactly the same chances
of preferment as the most orthodox Christian. In Pagan times, when public
religious functions were a part of the rank of great laymen, unbelief in
the gods of Olympus did not hinder them from seeking and exercising those
functions. Since the establishment of Christianity as a State religion,
the most stringently framed oaths have never prevented an unscrupulous
infidel from attaining any position that lay within reach of his wits and
his opportunities. He has sat in the most orthodox Parliaments, he has
been admitted to Cabinet councils, he has worn royal crowns, he has even
received the mitre, the Cardinal's hat, and the Papal tiara. We can never
sufficiently admire the beautiful order of society by which
heretic-plus-liar is so graciously admitted everywhere, and
heretic-plus-honest man is so cautiously and ingeniously kept out. It is,
indeed, even more advantageous to the dishonest unbeliever than at first
sight appears; for not only does it open to him all positions accessible
to the orthodox, but it even gives him a noteworthy advantage over honest
orthodoxy itself by training him daily and hourly in dissimulation. To be
kept constantly in the habit of dissimulation on one subject is an
excellent discipline in the most serviceable of social arts. An atheist
who reads prayers with a pious intonation, and is exemplary in his
attendance at church, and who never betrays his real opinions by an
unguarded word or look, though always preserving the appearance of the
simplest candor, the most perfect openness, is, we may be sure, a much
more formidable person to contend with in the affairs of this world than
an honest Christian who has never had occasion to train himself in
habitual imposture. Yet good Christians willingly admit these dangerous,
unscrupulous rivals, and timidly exclude those truthful heretics who are
only honest, simple people like themselves.

After religious liberty has been nominally established in a country by its
lawgivers, its enemies do not consider themselves defeated, but try to
recover, through the unwritten law of social customs and observances, the
ground they have lost in formal legislation. Hence we are never sure that
religious liberty will exist within the confines of a class even when it
is loudly proclaimed in a nation as one of the most glorious conquests of
the age. It is often enjoyed very imperfectly, or at a great cost of
social and even pecuniary sacrifice. In its perfection it is the liberty
to profess openly, and in their full force, those opinions on religious
subjects which a man holds in his own conscience, and without incurring
any kind of punishment or privation on account of them, legal or social.
For example, a really sincere member of the Church of England enjoys
perfect religious liberty in England.[12] He can openly say what he
thinks, openly take part in religious services that his conscience
approves, and without incurring the slightest legal or social penalty for
so doing. He meets with no hindrance, no obstacle, placed in the path of
his worldly life on account of his religious views. True liberty is not
that which is attainable at some cost, some sacrifice, but that which we
can enjoy without being made to suffer for it in any way. It is always
enjoyed, to the full, by every one whose sincere convictions are heartily
on the side of authority. Sincere Roman Catholics enjoyed perfect
religious liberty in Spain under Ferdinand and Isabella, and in England
under Mary Tudor. Even a Trappist who loves the rule of his order enjoys
the best kind of liberty within the walls of his monastery. He is not
allowed to neglect the prescribed services and other obligations; but as
he feels no desire to neglect them he is a free agent, as free as if he
dwelt in the Abbaye de Thélème of Rabelais, with its one rule, "Fay ce que
vouldras." We may go farther, and say that not only are people whose
convictions are on the side of authority perfectly free agents, but, like
successful artists, they are rewarded for doing what they themselves
prefer. They are always rewarded by the approval of their superiors and
very frequently by opportunities for social advancement that are denied to
those who think differently from persons in authority.

There are cases in which liberty is less complete than this, yet is still
spoken of as liberty. A man is free to be a Dissenter in England and a
Protestant in France. By this we mean that he will incur no legal
disqualification for his opinions; but does he incur no social penalty?
The common answer to this question is that the penalty is so slight that
there is nothing to complain of. This depends upon the particular
situation of the Dissenter, because the penalty is applied very
differently in different cases, and may vary between an unperceived
hindrance to an undeveloped ambition and an insurmountable obstacle to an
eager and aspiring one. To understand this thoroughly, let us ask whether
there are any positions in which a member of the Church of England would
incur a penalty for leaving it. Are there any positions that are socially
considered to be incompatible with the religious profession of a
Dissenter?

It will be generally admitted that royal personages do not enjoy any
religious liberty at all. A royal personage _must_ profess the State
religion of his country, and it is so well understood that this is
obligatory and has nothing to do with the convictions of the conscience
that such personages are hardly expected to have any conscience in the
matter. They take up a religion as part of their situation in the world. A
princess may abjure her faith for that of an imperial lover, and if he
dies before marriage she may abjure her adopted faith; and if she is asked
again in marriage she may abjure the religion of her girlhood a second
time without exciting comment, because it is well understood that her
private convictions may remain undisturbed by such changes, and that she
submits to them as a necessity for which she has no personal
responsibility.[13] And whilst princes are compelled to take up the
religion which best suits their worldly interests, they are not allowed
simply to bear the name of the State Church but must also conform to its
services with diligent regularity. In many cases they probably have no
objection to this, as they may be really conscientious members of the
State Church, or they may accept it in a general way as an expression of
duty towards God (without going into dogmatic details), or they may be
ready and willing to conform to it for political reasons, as the best
means of conciliating public opinion; but however this may be, all human
fellowship, so far as religion is concerned, must, for them, be founded on
deference to the State religion and a conciliatory attitude towards its
ministers. The Court circulars of different countries register the
successive acts of outward conformity by which the prince acknowledges the
power of the national priesthood, and it would be impossible for him to
suspend these acts of conformity for any reason except illness. The daily
account of the life of a French sovereign during the hunting season used
to be, "His Majesty heard mass; His Majesty went out to hunt." Louis
XVIII. had to hear mass like his ancestors; but after the long High Mass
which he was compelled to listen to on Sundays, and which he found
extremely wearisome, he enjoyed a compensation and a consolation in
talking impiously to his courtiers, and was maliciously pleased in
shocking pious people and in forcing them to laugh against their
conscience, as by courtly duty bound, at the blasphemous royal jests. This
is one of the great evils of a compulsory conformity. It drives the victim
into a reaction against the religion that tyrannizes over him, and makes
him _anti_-religious, when without pressure he would have been simply and
inoffensively _non_-religious. To understand the pressure that weighs upon
royal personages in this respect, we have only to remember that there is
not a sovereign in the whole world who could venture to say openly that he
was a conscientious Unitarian, and would attend a Unitarian place of
worship. If a King of England held Unitarian opinions, and was at the same
time scrupulously honest, he would have no resource but abdication, for
not only is the King a member of the Anglican Church, but he is its living
head. The sacerdotal position of the Emperor of Russia is still more
marked, and he can no more avoid taking part in the fatiguing ceremonies
of the orthodox Greek religion than he can avoid sitting on horseback and
reviewing troops.

The religious slavery of princes is, however, exclusively in ceremonial
acts and verbal professions. With regard to the moral side of religion,
with regard to every religious doctrine that is practically favorable to
good conduct, exalted personages have always enjoyed an astonishing amount
of liberty. They are not free to hold themselves aloof from public
ceremonies, but they are free to give themselves up to every kind of
private self-indulgence, including flagrant sexual immoralities, which are
readily forgiven them by a loyal priesthood and an admiring populace, if
only they show an affable condescension in their manners. Surely morality
is a part of Christianity; surely it is as unchristian an act to commit
adultery as to walk out during service-time on Sunday morning; yet
adultery is far more readily forgiven in a prince, and far easier for him,
than the merely negative religious sin of abstinence from church-going.
Amongst the great criminal sovereigns of the world, the Tudors, Bourbons,
Bonapartes, there has never been any neglect of ceremonies, but they have
treated the entire moral code of Christianity as if it were not binding
on persons of their degree.

Every hardship is softened, at least in some measure, by a compensation;
and when in modern times a man is so situated that he has no outward
religious liberty it is perfectly understood that his conformity is
official, like that of a soldier who is ordered to give the Host a
military salute without regard for his private opinion about
transubstantiation. This being understood, the religious slavery of a
royal personage is far from being the hardest of such slaveries. The
hardest cases are those in which there is every appearance of liberty,
whilst some subtle secret force compels the slave to acts that have the
appearance of the most voluntary submission. There are many positions of
this kind in the world. They abound in countries where the right of
private judgment is loudly proclaimed, where a man is told that he may act
in religious matters quite freely according to the dictates of his
conscience, whilst he well knows, at the same time, that unless his
conscience happens to be in unison with the opinions of the majority, he
will incur some kind of disability, some social paralysis, for having
obeyed it.

The rule concerning the ceremonial part of religion appears to be that a
man's liberty is in inverse proportion to his rank. A royal personage has
none; he must conform to the State Church. An English nobleman has two
churches to choose from: he may belong to the Church of England or the
Church of Rome. A simple private gentleman, a man of good family and
moderate independent fortune, living in a country where the laws are so
liberal as they are in England, and where on the whole there is so little
bitterness of religious hatred, might be supposed to enjoy perfect
religious liberty, but he finds, in a practical way, that it is scarcely
possible for him to do otherwise than the nobility. He has the choice
between Anglicanism and Romanism, because, though untitled, he is still a
member of the aristocracy.

As we go down lower in the social scale, to the middle classes, and
particularly to the lower middle classes, we find a broader liberty,
because in these classes the principle is admitted that a man may be a
good Christian beyond the pale of the State Churches. The liberty here is
real, so far as it goes, for although these persons are not obliged by
their own class opinion to be members of a State Church, as the
aristocracy are, they are not compelled, on the other hand, to be
Dissenters. They may be good Churchmen, if they like, and still be
middle-class Englishmen, or they may be good Methodists, Baptists,
Independents, and still be respectable middle-class Englishmen. This
permits a considerable degree of freedom, yet it is still by no means
unlimited freedom. The middle-class Englishman allows dissent, but he does
not encourage honesty in unbelief.

There is, however, a class in English society in which for some time past
religious liberty has been as nearly as possible absolute,--I mean the
working population in the large towns. A working-man may belong to the
Church of England, or to any one of the dissenting communities; or, if he
does not believe in Christianity, he may say so and abstain from
religious hypocrisy of all kinds. Whatever his opinions, he will not be
regarded very coldly on account of them by persons of his own class, nor
prevented from marrying, nor hindered from pursuing his trade.

We find, therefore, that amongst the various classes of society, from the
highest to the humblest, religious liberty increases as we go lower. The
royal family is bound to conform to whatever may be the dominant religion
for the time being; the nobility and gentry have the choice between the
present dominant faith and its predecessor; the middle class has, in
addition, the liberty of dissent; the lower class has the liberty, not
only of dissent, but also of abstinence and negation. And in each case the
increase of liberty is real; it is not that illusory kind of extension
which loses in one direction the freedom that it wins in another. All the
churches are open to the plebeian secularist if he should ever wish to
enter them.

We have said that religious liberty increases as we go lower in the social
scale. Let us consider, now, how it is affected by locality. The rule may
be stated at once. _Religious liberty diminishes with the number of
inhabitants in a place._

However humble may be the position of the dweller in a small village at a
distance from a town, he must attend the dominant church because no other
will be represented in the place. He may be in heart a Dissenter, but his
dissent has no opportunity of expressing itself by a different form of
worship. The laws of his country may be as liberal as you please; their
liberality is of no practical service in such a case as this because
religious profession requires public worship, and an isolated family
cannot institute a cult.

If, indeed, there were the liberty of abstinence the evil would not be so
great. The liberty of rejection is a great and valuable liberty. If a
particular kind of food is unsuited to my constitution, and only that kind
of food is offered me, the permission to fast is the safeguard of my
health and comfort. The loss of this negative liberty is terrible in
convivial customs, when the victim is compelled to drink against his will.

The Dissenter in the country can be forced to conform by his employer or
by public opinion, acting indirectly. The master may avoid saying, "I
expect you to go to Church," but he may say, "I expect you to attend a
place of worship," which attains precisely the same end with an appearance
of greater liberality. Public opinion may be really liberal enough to
tolerate many different forms of religion, but if it does not tolerate
abstinence from public services the Dissenter has to conform to the
dominant worship in places where there is no other. In England it may seem
that there is not very much hardship in this, as the Church is not extreme
in doctrine and is remarkably tolerant of variety, yet even in England a
conscientious Unitarian might feel some difficulty about creeds and
prayers which were never intended for him. There are, however, harder
cases than those of a Dissenter forced to conform to the Church of
England. The Church of Rome is far more extreme and authoritative, far
more sternly repressive of human reason; yet there are thousands of rural
places on the Continent where religious toleration is supposed to exist,
and where, nevertheless, the inhabitants are compelled to hear mass to
avoid the imputation of absolute irreligion. A man like Wesley or Bunyan
would, in such a position, have to choose between apparent Romanism and
apparent Atheism, if indeed the village opinion did not take good care
that he should have no choice in the matter.

It may be said that people should live in places where their own form of
worship is publicly practised. No doubt many do so. I remember an
Englishman belonging to a Roman Catholic family who would not spend a
Sunday in an out-of-the-way place in Scotland because he could not hear
mass. Such a person, having the means to choose his place of residence,
and a faith so strong that religious considerations always came first with
him, would compel everything to give way to the necessity for having mass
every Sunday, but this is a very exceptional case. Ordinary people are the
victims of circumstances and not their masters.

If a villager has little religious freedom he does not greatly enlarge it
when he becomes a soldier. He has the choice between the Church of England
and the Church of Rome. In some countries even this very moderate degree
of liberty is denied. Within the present century Roman Catholic soldiers
were compelled to attend Protestant services in Prussia. The truth is that
the genuine military spirit is strongly opposed to individual opinion in
matters of religion. Its ideal is that every detail in a soldier's
existence should be settled by the military authorities, his religious
belief amongst the rest.

What may be truly said about military authority in religious matters is
that as the force employed is perfectly well known,--as it is perfectly
well known that soldiers take part in religious services under
compulsion,--there is no hypocrisy in their case, especially where the
conscription exists, and therefore but slight moral hardship. Certainly
the greatest hardship of all is to be compelled to perform acts of
conformity with all the appearance of free choice. The tradesman who must
go to mass to have customers is in a harder position than the soldier. For
this reason, it is better for the moral health of a nation, when there is
to be compulsion of some kind, that it should be boldly and openly
tyrannical; that its work should be done in the face of day; that it
should be outspoken, uncompromising, complete. To tyranny of that kind a
man may give way without any loss of self-respect, he yields to _force
majeure_; but to that viler and meaner kind of tyranny which keeps a man
in constant alarm about the means of earning his living, about the
maintenance of some wretched little peddling position in society, he
yields with a sense of far deeper humiliation, with a feeling of contempt
for the social power that uses such miserable means, and of contempt for
himself also.



ESSAY XIII.

PRIESTS AND WOMEN.


PART I.--SYMPATHY.

Women hate the Inexorable. They like a condition of things in which
nothing is so surely fixed but that the rule may be broken in their favor,
or the hard decision reversed. They like concession for concession's sake,
even when the matter is of slight importance. A woman will ask a favor
from a person in authority when a man will shrink from the attempt; and if
the woman gains her point by entreaty she will have a keen and peculiar
feminine satisfaction in having successfully exercised what she feels to
be her own especial power, to which the strong, rough creature, man, may
often be made to yield. A woman will go forth on the most hopeless errands
of intercession and persuasion, and in spite of the most adverse
circumstances will not infrequently succeed. Scott made admirable use of
this feminine tendency in the "Heart of Mid-Lothian." Jeanie Deans, with a
woman's feelings and perseverance, had a woman's reliance on her own
persuasive powers, and the result proved that she was right. All things in
a woman combine to make her mighty in persuasion. Her very weakness aids
her; she can assume a pitiful, childlike tenderness. Her ignorance aids
her, as she seems never to know that a decision can be fixed and final;
then she has tears, and besides these pathetic influences she has
generally some magnetism of sex, some charm or attraction, at least, in
voice or manner, and sometimes she has that marvellous--that all but
irresistible--gift of beauty which has ruled and ruined the masters of the
world.

Having constantly used these powers of persuasion with the strongest being
on this planet, and used them with such wonderful success that it is even
now doubtful whether the occult feminine government is not mightier than
the open masculine government, whilst it is not a matter of doubt at all,
but of assured fact, that society is ruled by queens and ladies and not by
kings and lords,--with all these evidences of their influence in this
world, it is intelligible that women should willingly listen to those who
tell them that they have similar influence over supernatural powers, and,
through them, on the destinies of the universe. Far less willingly would
they listen to some hard scientific teacher who should say, "No, you have
no influence beyond this planet, and that which you exercise upon its
surface is limited by the force that you are able to set in motion. The
Empress Eugénie had no supernatural influence through the Virgin Mary, but
she had great and dangerous natural influence through her husband; and it
may be true, what is asserted, that she caused in this way a disastrous
war." An exclusively _originating_ Intelligence, acting at the beginning
of Evolution,--a setter-in-motion of a prodigious self-acting machinery
of cause producing effect, and effects in their turn becoming a new
complexity of causes,--an Intelligence that we cannot persuade because we
are born millions of years too late for the first impulse that started all
things,--this may be the God of the future, but it will be a distant
future before the world of women will acknowledge him.

There is another element in the feminine nature that urges women in the
same direction. They have a constant sense of dependence in a degree
hardly ever experienced by men except in debilitating illness; and as this
sense of dependence is continual with them and only occasional with us, it
becomes, from habit, inseparable from their mental action, whereas even in
sickness a man looks forward to the time when he will act again freely for
himself. Men choose a course of action; women choose an adviser. They feel
themselves unable to continue the long conflict without help, and in spite
of their great patience and courage they are easily saddened by solitude,
and in their distress of mind they feel an imperious need for support and
consolation. "Our valors are our best gods," is a purely masculine
sentiment, and to a woman such self-reliance seems scarcely
distinguishable from impiety. The feminine counterpart of that would be,
"In our weakness we seek refuge in Thy strength, O Lord!"

A woman is not satisfied with merely getting a small share in a vast
bounty for the general good; she is kind and affectionate herself, she is
personally attentive to the wants of children and animals, and cares for
each of them separately, and she desires to be cared for in the same way.
The philosopher does not give her any assurance of this whatever; but the
priest, on the contrary, gives it in the most positive form. It is not
merely one of the doctrines of religion, but the central doctrine, the
motive for all religious exercises, that God cares for every one of us
individually; that he knows Jane Smith by name, and what she is earning a
week, and how much of it she devotes to keeping her poor paralyzed old
mother. The philosopher says, "If you are prudent and skilful in your
conformity to the laws of life you will probably secure that amount of
mental and physical satisfaction which is attainable by a person of your
organization." There is nothing in this about personal interest or
affection; it is a bare statement of natural cause and consequence. The
priest holds a very different language; the use of the one word _love_
gives warmth and color to his discourse. The priest says, "If you love God
with all your soul and with all your strength He will love and cherish you
in return, and be your own true and tender Father. He will watch over
every detail and every minute of your existence, guard you from all real
evil, and at last, when this earthly pilgrimage shall be over, He will
welcome you in His eternal kingdom." But this is not all; God may still
seem at too unapproachable a distance. The priest then says that means
have been divinely appointed to bridge over that vast abyss. "The Father
has given us the Son, and Christ has instituted the Church, and the Church
has appointed _me_ as her representative in this place,--_me_, to whom you
may come always for guidance and consolation that will never be refused
you."

This is the language for which the ears of a woman thirst as parched
flowers thirst for the summer rain. Instead of a great, blank universe
with fixed laws, interesting to _savans_ but not to her, she is told of
love and affection that she thoroughly understands. She is told of an
affectionate Creator, of His beloved and loving Son, of the tender care of
the maternal Church that He instituted; and finally all this chain of
affectionate interest ends close to her in a living link,--a man with
soft, engaging manners, with kind and gentle voice, who takes her hand,
talks to her about all that she really cares for, and overflows with the
readiest sympathy for all her anxieties. This man is so different from
common men, so very much better and purer, and, above all, so much more
accessible, communicative, and consolatory! He seems to have had so much
spiritual experience, to know so well what trouble and sorrow are, to
sympathize so completely with the troubles and sorrows of a woman! With
him, the burden of life is ten times easier to bear; without his precious
fellowship, that burden would be heavy indeed!

It may be objected to this, that the clergy do not entirely teach a
religion of love; that, in fact, they curse as well as bless, and foretell
eternal punishment for the majority. All this, it may be thought, must be
as painful to the feelings of women as Divine kindness and human felicity
must be agreeable to them. Whoever made this objection would show that he
had not quite understood the feminine nature. It is at the same time
kinder and tenderer than the masculine nature, and more absolute in
vindictiveness. Women do not generally like the infliction of pain that
they believe to be undeserved;[14] they are not generally advocates for
vivisection; but as their feelings of indignation against evil-doers are
very easily aroused, and as they are very easily persuaded that severe
punishments are just, they have often heartily assented to them even when
most horrible. In these cases their satisfaction, though it seems to us
ferocious, may arise from feeling themselves God's willing allies against
the wicked. When heretics were burnt in Spain the great ladies gazed
calmly from their windows and balconies on the grotesque procession of
miserable _morituri_ with flames daubed on their tabards, so soon to be
exchanged for the fiery reality. With the influence that women possess
they could have stopped those horrors; but they countenanced them; and yet
there is no reason to believe that they were not gentle, tender,
affectionate. The most relentless persecutor who ever sat on the throne of
England was a woman. Nor is it only in ages of fierce and cruel
persecution that women readily believe God to be on the side of the
oppressor. Other ages succeed in which human injustice is not so bold and
bloodthirsty, not so candid and honest, but more stealthily pursues its
end by hampering and paralyzing the victim that it dares not openly
destroy. It places a thousand little obstacles in his way, the
well-calculated effect of which is to keep him alive in impotent
insignificance. In those ages of weaker malevolence the heretic is quietly
but carefully excluded from the best educational and social advantages,
from public office, from political power. Wherever he turns, whatever he
desires to do, he feels the presence of a mysterious invisible force that
quietly pushes him aside or keeps him in shadow. Well, in this milder,
more coldly cruel form of wrong, vast numbers of the gentlest and most
amiable women have always been ready to acquiesce.[15]

I willingly pass from this part of the subject, but it was impossible not
to make one sad reference to it, for of all the sorrowful things in the
history of the world I see none more sorrowful than this,--that the
enormous influence of women should not have been more on the side of
justice. It is perhaps too much to expect that they should have placed
themselves in advance of their age, but they have been innocent abettors
and perpetuators of the worst abuses, and all from their proneness to
support any authority, however corrupt, if only it can succeed in
confounding itself with goodness.

As the representatives of a Deity who tenderly cares for every one of His
creatures, the clergy themselves are bound to cultivate all their own
powers and gifts of sympathy. The best of them do this with the important
result that after some years spent in the exercise of their profession
they become really and unaffectedly more sympathetic than laymen generally
are. The power of sympathy is a great power everywhere, but it is so
particularly in those countries where the laity are not much in the habit
of cultivating the sympathetic feelings, and timidly shrink from the
expression of them even when they exist. I remember going with a French
gentleman to visit a lady who had very recently lost her father; and my
friend made her a little speech in which he said no more than what he
felt, but he said it so elegantly, so delicately, so appropriately, and in
such feeling terms, that I envied him the talent of expressing condolence
in that way. I never knew an English layman who could have got through
such an expression of feeling, but I have known English clergymen who
could have done it. Here is a very great and real superiority over us,
and especially with women, because women are exquisitely alive to
everything in which the feelings are concerned, and we often seem to them
dead in feeling when we are only awkward, and dumb by reason of our
awkwardness.

I think it probable that most readers of this page will find, on
consulting their own recollections, that they have received warmer and
kinder expressions of sympathy from clerical friends than from laymen. It
is certainly so in my own case. On looking back to the expressions of
sympathy that have been addressed to me on mournful occasions, and of
rejoicing on happy ones, I find that the clearest and most ample and
hearty utterances of these feelings have generally come either from
clergymen of the Church of England, or priests of the Church of Rome.

The power of sympathy in clergymen is greatly increased by their easy
access to all classes of society. They are received everywhere on terms
which may be correctly defined as easily respectful; for their sacred
character gives them a status of their own, which is neither raised by
association with rich people nor degraded by friendliness with the poor or
with that lower middle class which, of all classes, is the most perilous
to the social position of a layman. They enter into the joys and sorrows
of the most different orders of parishioners, and in this way, if there is
any natural gift of sympathy in the mind of a clergyman, it is likely to
be developed and brought to perfection.

Partly by arrangements consciously devised by ecclesiastical authorities,
and partly by the natural force of circumstances, the work of the Church
is so ordered that her representatives are sure to be present on the most
important occasions in human life. This gives them some influence over
men, but that which they gain by it over women is immeasurably greater,
because the minds of women are far more closely and exclusively bound up
in domestic interests and events.

Of these the most visibly important is marriage. Here the priest has his
assured place and conspicuous function, and the wonderful thing is that
this function seems to survive the religious beliefs on which it was
originally founded. It seems to be not impossible that a Church might
still survive for an indefinite length of time in the midst of surrounding
scepticism simply for the purpose of performing marriage and funeral
rites. The strength of the clerical position with regard to marriage is so
great, even on the Continent, that, although a woman may have scarcely a
shred of faith in the doctrines of the Church, it is almost certain that
she will desire the services of a priest, and not feel herself to be
really married without them. Although the civil ceremony may be the only
one recognized by the law, the woman openly despises it, and reserves all
her feelings and emotions for the pompous ceremony at the church. On such
occasions women laugh at the law, and will even sometimes declare that the
law itself is not legal. I once happened to say that civil marriage was
obligatory in France, but only legal in England; on which an English lady
attacked me vehemently, and stoutly denied that civil marriage was legal
in England at all. I asked if she had never heard of marriages in a
Registrar's office. "Yes, I have," she answered, with a shocked expression
of countenance, "but they are not legal. The Church of England does not
recognize them, and that is the legal church."

As soon as a child is born the mother begins to think about its baptism;
and at a time of life when the infant is treated by laymen as a little
being whose importance lies entirely in the future the clergyman gives it
consequence in the present by admitting it, with solemn ceremony, to
membership in the Church of Christ. It is not possible to imagine anything
more likely to gratify the feelings of a mother than this early admission
of her unconscious offspring to the privileges of a great religious
community. Before this great initiation it was alone in the world, loved
only by her, and with all its prospects darkened by original sin; now it
is purified, blessed, admitted into the fellowship of the holy and the
wise. A certain relationship of a peculiar kind is henceforth established
between priest and infant. In after years he prepares it for confirmation,
another ceremony touching to the heart of a mother when she sees her son
gravely taking upon himself the responsibilities of a thinking being. The
marriage of a son or daughter renews in the mother all those feelings
towards the friendly, consecrating power of the Church which were excited
at her own marriage.

Then come those anxious occasions when the malady of one member of the
family casts a shadow on the happiness of all. In these cases any
clergyman who unites natural kindness of heart with the peculiar training
and experience of his profession can offer consolation incomparably
better than a layman; he is more accustomed to it, more _authorized_. A
friendly physician is a great help and a great stay so long as the disease
is not alarming, but when he begins to look very grave (the reader knows
that look), and says that recovery is not probable, by which physicians
mean that death is certain and imminent, the clergyman says there is hope
still, and speaks of a life beyond the grave in which human existence will
be delivered from the evils that afflict it here. When death has come, the
priest treats the dead body with respect and the survivors with sympathy,
and when it is laid in the ground he is there to the last moment with the
majesty of an ancient and touching form of words already pronounced over
the graves of millions who have gone to their everlasting rest.[16]


PART II. ART.

I have not yet by any means exhausted the advantages of the priestly
position in its influence upon women. If the reader will reflect upon the
feminine nature as he has known it, especially in women of the best kind,
he will at once admit that not only are women more readily moved by the
expression of sympathy than men, and more grateful for it, but they are
also more alive to poetical and artistic influences. In our sex the
æsthetic instinct is occasionally present in great strength, but more
frequently it is altogether absent; in the female sex it seldom reaches
much creative force, but it is almost invariably present in minor degrees.
Almost all women take an interest in furniture and dress; most of them in
the comfortable classes have some knowledge of music; drawing has been
learned as an accomplishment more frequently by girls than by boys. The
clergy have a strong hold upon the feminine nature by its æsthetic side.
All the external details of public worship are profoundly interesting to
women. When there is any splendor in ritual the details of vestments and
altar decorations are a constant occupation for their thoughts, and they
frequently bestow infinite labor and pains to produce beautiful things
with their own hands to be used in the service of the Church. In cases
where the service itself is too austere and plain to afford much scope for
this affectionate industry, the slightest pretext is seized upon with
avidity. See how eagerly ladies will decorate a church at Christmas, and
how they will work to get up an ecclesiastical bazaar! Even in that Church
which most encourages or permits æsthetic industry, the zeal of ladies
sometimes goes beyond the desires of the clergy, and has to be more or
less decidedly repressed. We all can see from the outside how fond women
generally are of flowers, though I believe it is impossible for us to
realize all that flowers are to them, as there are no inanimate objects
that men love with such affectionate and even tender solicitude. However,
we see that women surround themselves with flowers, in gardens, in
conservatories, and in their rooms; we see that they wear artificial
flowers in their dress, and that they paint flowers in water-color and on
china. Now observe how the Church of Rome and the Ritualists in England
show sympathy with this feminine taste! Innumerable millions of flowers
are employed annually in the churches on the Continent; they are also
used in England, though in less lavish profusion, and a sermon on flowers
is preached annually in London, when every pew is full of them.

It is well known that women take an unfailing interest in dress. The
attention they give to it is close, constant, and systematic, like an
orderly man's attention to order. Women are easily affected by official
costumes, and they read what great people have worn at levees and
drawing-rooms. The clergy possess, in ecclesiastical vestments, a very
powerful help to their influence. That many of them are clearly aware of
this is proved by their boldness and perseverance in resuming ornamental
vestments; and (as might be expected) that Church which has the most
influence over women is at the same time the one whose vestments are most
gorgeous and most elaborate. Splendor, however, is not required to make a
costume impressive. It is enough that it be strikingly peculiar, even in
simplicity, like the white robe of the Dominican friars.

Costume naturally leads our minds to architecture. I am not the first to
remark that a house is only a cloak of a larger size. The gradation is
insensible from a coat to a cathedral: first, the soldier's heavy cloak
which enabled the Prussians to dispense with the little tent, then the
tent, hut, cottage, house, church, cathedral, heavier and larger as we
ascend the scale. "He has clothed himself with his church," says Michelet
of the priest; "he has wrapped himself in this glorious mantle, and in it
he stands in triumphant state. The crowd comes, sees, admires. Assuredly,
if we judge the man by his covering, he who clothes himself with a _Notre
Dame de Paris_, or with a Cologne Cathedral, is, to all appearance, the
giant of the spiritual world. What a dwelling such an edifice is, and how
vast the inhabitant must be! All proportions change; the eye is deceived
and deceives itself again. Sublime lights, powerful shadows, all help the
illusion. The man who in the street looked like a village schoolmaster is
a prophet in this place. He is transfigured by these magnificent
surroundings; his heaviness becomes power and majesty; his voice has
formidable echoes. Women and children are overawed."

To a mind that does not analyze but simply receives impressions,
magnificent architecture is a convincing proof that the words of the
preacher are true. It appears inconceivable that such substantial glories,
so many thousands of tons of masonry, such forests of timber, such acres
of lead and glass, all united in one harmonious work on which men lavished
wealth and toil for generations,--it appears inconceivable that such a
monument can perpetuate an error or a dream. The echoing vaults bear
witness. Responses come from storied window and multitudinous imagery.
When the old cosmogony is proclaimed to be true in York Minster, the
scientists sink into insignificance in their modern ordinary rooms; when
the acolyte rings his bell in Rouen Cathedral, and the Host is lifted up,
and the crowd kneels in silent adoration on the pavement, who is to deny
the Real Presence? Does not every massive pillar stand there to affirm
sturdily that it is true; and do not the towers outside announce it to
field and river, and to the very winds of heaven?

The musical culture of women finds its own special interest in the vocal
and instrumental parts of the church service. Women have a direct
influence on this part of the ritual, and sometimes take an active share
in it. Of all the arts music is the most closely connected with religion,
and it is the only one that the blessed are believed to practise in a
future state. A suggestion that angels might paint or carve is so
unaccustomed that it seems incongruous; yet the objection to these arts
cannot be that they employ matter, since both poets and painters give
musical instruments to the angels,--

  "And angels meeting us shall sing
     To their citherns and citoles."

Worship naturally becomes musical as it passes from the prayer that asks
for benefits to the expression of joyful praise; and though the austerity
of extreme Protestantism has excluded instruments and encouraged reading
instead of chanting, I am not aware that it has ever gone so far as to
forbid the singing of hymns.

I have not yet touched upon pulpit eloquence as one of the means by which
the clergy gain a great ascendency over women. The truth is that the
pulpit is quite the most advantageous of all places for any one who has
the gift of public speaking. He is placed there far more favorably than a
Member of Parliament in his place in the House, where he is subject to
constant and contemptuous interruptions from hearers lounging with their
hats on. The chief advantage is that no one present is allowed either to
interrupt or to reply; and this is one reason why some men will not go to
church, as they say, "We may hear our principles misrepresented and not be
permitted to defend them." A Bishop, in my hearing, touched upon this very
point. "People say," he remarked, "that a preacher is much at his ease
because no one is allowed to answer him; but I invite discussion. If any
one here present has doubts about the soundness of my reasoning, I invite
him to come to me at the Episcopal Palace, and we will argue the question
together in my study." This sounded unusually liberal, but how the
advantages were still on the side of the Bishop! His attack on heresy was
public. It was uttered with long-practised professional eloquence, it was
backed by a lofty social position, aided by a peculiar and dignified
costume, and mightily aided also by the architecture of a magnificent
cathedral. The doubter was invited to answer, but not on equal terms. The
attack was public, the answer was to be private, and the heretic was to
meet the Bishop in the Episcopal Palace, where, again, the power of rank
and surroundings would be all in the prelate's favor.

Not only are clergymen privileged speakers, in being as secure from
present contradiction as a sovereign on the throne, but they have the
grandest of all imaginable subjects. In a word, they have the subject of
Dante,--they speak to us _del Inferno_, _del Purgatorio_, _del Paradiso_.
If they have any gift of genius, any power of imagination, such a subject
becomes a tremendous engine in their hands. Imagine the difference between
a preacher solemnly warning his hearers that the consequences of
inattention may be everlasting torment, and a politician warning the
Government that inattention may lead to a deficit! The truth is, that
however terrible may be the earthly consequences of imprudence and of sin,
they sink into complete insignificance before the menaces of the Church;
nor is there, on the other hand, any worldly success that can be proposed
as a motive comparable to the permanent happiness of Paradise. The good
and the bad things of this world have alike the fatal defect, as subjects
for eloquence, that they equally end in death; and as death is near to all
of us, we see the end to both. The secular preacher is like a man who
predicts a more or less comfortable journey, which comes to the same end
in any case. A philosophic hearer is not very greatly elated by the
promise of comforts so soon to be taken away, nor is he overwhelmed by the
threat of evils that can but be temporary. Hence, in all matters belonging
to this world only, the tone of quiet advice is the reasonable and
appropriate tone, and it is that of the doctor and lawyer; but in matters
of such tremendous import as eternal happiness and misery the utmost
energy of eloquence can never be too great for the occasion; so that if a
preacher can threaten like peals of thunder, and appal like flashes of
lightning, he may use such terrible gifts without any disproportionate
excess. On the other hand, if he has any charm of language, any brilliancy
of imagination, there is nothing to prevent him from alluring his hearers
to the paths of virtue by the most lavish and seductive promises. In
short, his opportunities in both directions are of such a nature that
exaggeration is impossible; and all his power, all his charm, are as free
to do their utmost as an ocean wave in a tempest or the nightingale in the
summer woods.

I cannot quit the subject of clerical oratory without noticing one of its
marked characteristics. The priest is not in a position of disinterested
impartiality, like a man of science, who is ready to renounce any doctrine
when he finds evidence against it. The priest is an advocate whose
life-long pleading must be in favor of the Church as he finds her, and in
opposition to her adversaries. To attack adversaries is therefore one of
the recognized duties of his profession; and if he is not a man of
uncommon fairness, if he has not an inborn love of justice which is rare
in human nature, he will not only attack his adversaries but misrepresent
them. There is even a worse danger than simple misrepresentation. A priest
may possibly be a man of a coarse temper, and if he is so he will employ
the weapons of outrage and vituperation, knowing that he can do so with
impunity. One would imagine that these methods must inevitably repel and
displease women, but there is a very peculiar reason why they seldom have
this effect. A highly principled woman is usually so extremely eager to be
on the side of what is right that suspension of judgment is most difficult
for her. Any condemnation uttered by a person she is accustomed to trust
has her approval on the instant. She cannot endure to wait until the crime
is proved, but her feelings of indignation are at once aroused against the
supposed criminal on the ground that there must be clear distinctions
between right and wrong. The priest, for her, is the good man,--the man on
the side of God and virtue; and those whom he condemns are the bad
men,--the men on the side of the Devil and vice. This being so, he may
deal with such men as roughly as he pleases. Nor have these men the
faintest chance of setting themselves right in her opinion. She quietly
closes the avenues of her mind against them; she declines to read their
books; she will not listen to their arguments. Even if one of them is a
near relation whose opinions inflict upon her what she calls "the deepest
distress of mind," she will positively prefer to go on suffering such
distress until she dies, rather than allow him to remove it by a candid
exposition of his views. She prefers the hostile misrepresentation that
makes her miserable, to an authentic account of the matter that would
relieve her anguish.


PART III.--ASSOCIATION.

The association of clergymen with ladies in works of charity affords
continual opportunities for the exercise of clerical influence over women.
A partnership in good works is set up which establishes interesting and
cordial relations, and when the lady has accomplished some charitable
purpose she remembers for long afterwards the clergyman without whose
active assistance her project might have fallen to the ground. She sees in
the clergyman a reflection of her own goodness, and she feels grateful to
him for lending his masculine sense and larger experience to the
realization of her ideas. There are other cases of a different nature in
which the self-esteem of the lady is deeply gratified when she is selected
by the clergyman as being more capable of devoted effort in a sacred cause
than women of inferior piety and strength of mind. This kind of clerical
selection is believed to be very influential in furthering clerical
marriages. The lady is told that she will serve the highest of all causes
by lending a willing ear to her admirer. Every reader will remember how
thoroughly this idea is worked out in "Jane Eyre," where St. John urges
Jane to marry him on the plain ground that she would be a valuable
fellow-worker with a missionary. Charlotte Brontë was, indeed, so strongly
impressed with this aspect of clerical influence that she injured the best
and strongest of her novels by an almost wearisome development of that
episode.

Clerical influence is immensely aided by the possession of leisure.
Without underrating the self-devotion of hard-working clergymen (which is
all the more honorable to them that they might take life more easily if
they chose), we see a wide distinction, in point of industry, between the
average clergyman and the average solicitor, for example. The clergyman
has leisure to pay calls, to accept many invitations, and to talk in full
detail about the interests that he has in common with his female friends.
The solicitor is kept to his office by strictly professional work
requiring very close application and allowing no liberty of mind.

Much might be said about the effect of clerical leisure on clerical
manners. Without leisure it is difficult to have such quiet and pleasant
manners as the clergy generally have. Very busy men generally seem
preoccupied with some idea of their own which is not what you are talking
about, but a leisurely man will give hospitality to your thought. A busy
man wants to get away, and fidgets you; a man of leisure dwells with you,
for the time, completely. Ladies are exquisitely sensitive to these
differences, and besides, they are generally themselves persons of
leisure. Overworked people often confound leisure with indolence, which is
a great mistake. Leisure is highly favorable to intelligence and good
manners; indolence is stupid, from its dislike to mental effort, and
ill-bred, from the habit of inattention.

The feeling of women towards custom draws them strongly to the clergy,
because a priesthood is the instinctive upholder of ancient customs and
ceremonies, and steadily maintains external decorum. Women are naturally
more attracted by custom than we are. A few men have an affectionate
regard for the sanctities of usage, but most men only submit to them from
an idea that they are generally helpful to the "maintenance of order;" and
if women could be supposed absent from a nation for a time, it is probable
that external observances of all kinds would be greatly relaxed. Women do
not merely submit passively to custom; they uphold it actively and
energetically, with a degree of faith in the perfect reasonableness of it
which gives them great decision in its defence. It seems to them the
ultimate reason from which there is no appeal. Now, in the life of every
organized Church there is much to gratify this instinct, especially in
those which have been long established. The recurrence of holy seasons,
the customary repetition of certain forms of words, the observance at
stated intervals of the same ceremonies, the adherence to certain
prescribed decencies or splendors of dress, the reservation of sacred days
on which labor is suspended, give to the religious life a charm of
customariness which is deeply gratifying to good, order-loving women. It
is said that every poet has something feminine in his nature; and it is
certainly observable that poets, like women, are tenderly affected by the
recurrence of holy seasons, and the observance of fixed religious rites. I
will only allude to Keble's "Christian Year," because in this instance it
might be objected that the poet was secondary to the Christian; but the
reader will find instances of the same sentiment in Tennyson, as, for
example, in the profoundly affecting allusions to the return of Christmas
in "In Memoriam." I could not name another occupation so closely and
visibly bound up with custom as the clerical profession, but for the sake
of contrast I may mention one or two others that are completely
disconnected from it. The profession of painting is an example, and so is
that of literature. An artist, a writer, has simply nothing whatever to do
with custom, except as a private man. He may be an excellent and a famous
workman without knowing Sunday from week-day or Easter from Lent. A man of
science is equally unconnected with traditional observances.

It may be a question whether a celibate or a married clergy has the
greater influence over women.

There are two sides to this question. The Church of Rome is, from the
worldly point of view, the most astute body of men who have ever leagued
themselves together in a corporation; and that Church has decided for
celibacy, rejecting thereby all the advantages to be derived from rich
marriages and good connections. In a celibate church the priest has a
position of secure dignity and independence. It is known from the first
that he will not marry, so there is no idle and damaging gossip about his
supposed aspirations after fortune, or tender feelings towards beauty.
Women can treat him with greater confidence than if he were a possible
suitor, and then can confess to him, which is felt to be difficult with a
married or a marriageable clergy. By being decidedly celibate the clergy
avoid the possible loss of dignity which might result from allying
themselves with families in a low social position. They are simply
priests, and escape all other classification. A married man is, as it
were, made responsible for the decent appearance, the good manners, and
the proper conduct of three different sets of people. There is the family
he springs from, there is his wife's family, and, lastly, there is the
family in his own house. Any one of these may drag a man down socially
with almost irresistible force. The celibate priest is only affected by
the family he springs from, and is generally at a distance from that. He
escapes the invasion of his house by a wife's relations, who might
possibly be vulgar, and, above all, he escapes the permanent degradation
of a coarse and ill-dressed family of his own. No doubt, from the
Christian point of view, poverty is as honorable as wealth; but from the
worldly point of view its visible imperfections are mean, despicable, and
even ridiculous. In the early days of English Protestants the liberty to
marry was ruinous to the social position of the clergy. They generally
espoused servant-girls or "a lady's maid whose character had been blown
upon, and who was therefore forced to give up all hope of catching the
steward."[17] Queen Elizabeth issued "special orders that no clergyman
should presume to marry a servant-girl without the consent of the master
or mistress." "One of the lessons most earnestly inculcated on every girl
of honorable family was to give no encouragement to a lover in orders; and
if any young lady forgot this precept she was almost as much disgraced as
by an illicit amour." The cause of these low marriages was simply poverty,
and it is needless to add that they increased the evil. "As children
multiplied and grew, the household of the priest became more and more
beggarly. Holes appeared more and more plainly in the thatch of his
parsonage and in his single cassock. His boys followed the plough, and his
girls went out to service."

When clergymen can maintain appearances they gain one advantage from
marriage which increases their influence with women. The clergyman's wife
is almost herself in holy orders, and his daughter often takes an equally
keen interest in ecclesiastical matters. These "clergywomen," as they have
been called, are valuable allies, through whom much may be done that
cannot be effected directly. This is the only advantage on the side of
marriage, and it is but relative; for a celibate clergy has also its
female allies who are scarcely less devoted; and in the Church of Rome
there are great organized associations of women entirely under the control
of ecclesiastics. Again, there is a lay element in a clergyman's family
which brings the world into his own house, to the detriment of its
religious character. The sons of the clergy are often anything but
clerical in feeling. They are often strongly laic, and even sceptical, by
a natural reaction from ecclesiasticism. On the whole, therefore, it seems
certain that an unmarried clergy more easily maintains both its own
dignity and the distinction between itself and the laity.

Auricular confession is so well known as a means of influencing women that
I need scarcely do more than mention it; but there is one characteristic
of it which is little understood by Protestants. They fancy (judging from
Protestant feelings of antagonism) that confession must be felt as a
tyranny. A Roman Catholic woman does not feel it to be an infliction that
the Church imposes, but a relief that she affords. Women are not naturally
silent sufferers. They like to talk about their anxieties and interests,
especially to a patient and sympathetic listener of the other sex who will
give them valuable advice. There is reason to believe that a good deal of
informal confession is done by Protestant ladies; in the Church of Rome it
is more systematic and leads to a formal absolution. The subject which the
speaker has to talk about is that most interesting of all subjects, self.
In any other place than a confessional to talk about self at any length is
an error; in the confessional it is a virtue. The truth is that pious
Roman Catholic women find happiness in the confessional and try the
patience of the priests by minute accounts of trifling or imaginary sins.
No doubt confession places an immense power in the hands of the Church,
but at an incalculable cost of patience. It is not felt to weigh unfairly
on the laity, because the priest who to-day has forgiven your faults will
to-morrow kneel in penitence and ask forgiveness for his own. I do not see
in the confessional so much an oppressive institution as a convenience for
both parties. The woman gets what she wants,--an opportunity of talking
confidentially about herself; and the priest gets what he wants,--an
opportunity of learning the secrets of the household.

Nothing has so powerfully awakened the jealousy of laymen as this
institution of the confessional. The reasons have been so fully treated by
Michelet and others, and are in fact so obvious, that I need not repeat
them.

The dislike for priests that is felt by many Continental laymen is
increased by a cause that helps to win the confidence of women. "Observe,"
the laymen say, "with what art the priest dresses so as to make women feel
that he is without sex, in order that they may confess to him more
willingly. He removes every trace of hair from his face, his dress is half
feminine, he hides his legs in petticoats, his shoulders under a tippet,
and in the higher ranks he wears jewelry and silk and lace. A woman would
never confess to a man dressed as we are, so the wolf puts on sheep's
clothing."

Where confession is not the rule the layman's jealousy is less acrid and
pungent in its expression, but it often manifests itself in milder forms.
The pen that so clearly delineated the Rev. Charles Honeyman was impelled
by a layman's natural and pardonable jealousy. A feeling of this kind is
often strong in laymen of mature years. They will say to you in
confidence, "Here is a man about the age of one of my sons, who knows no
more concerning the mysteries of life and death than I do, who gets what
he thinks he knows out of a book which is as accessible to me as it is to
him, and yet who assumes a superiority over me which would only be
justifiable if I were ignorant and he enlightened. He calls me one of his
sheep. I am not a sheep relatively to him. I am at least his equal in
knowledge, and greatly his superior in experience. Nobody but a parson
would venture to compare me to an animal (such a stupid animal too!) and
himself to that animal's master. His one real and effective superiority is
that he has all the women on his side."

You poor, doubting, hesitating layman, not half so convinced as the ladies
of your family, who and what are you in the presence of a man who comes
clothed with the authority of the Church? If you simply repeat what he
says, you are a mere echo, a feeble repetition of a great original, like
the copy of a famous picture. If you try to take refuge in philosophic
indifference, in silent patience, you will be blamed for moral and
religious inertia. If you venture to oppose and discuss, you will be the
bad man against the good man, and as sure of condemnation as a murderer
when the judge is putting on the black cap. There is no resource for you
but one, and that does not offer a very cheering or hopeful prospect. By
the exercise of angelic patience, and of all the other virtues that have
been preached by good men from Socrates downwards, you may in twenty or
thirty years acquire some credit for a sort of inferior goodness of your
own,--a pinchbeck goodness, better than nothing, but not in any way
comparable to the pure golden goodness of the priest; and when you come to
die, the best that can be hoped for your disembodied soul will be mercy,
clemency, indulgence; not approbation, welcome, or reward.



ESSAY XIV.

WHY WE ARE APPARENTLY BECOMING LESS RELIGIOUS.


It has happened to me on more than one occasion to have to examine papers
left by ladies belonging to the last generation, who had lived in the
manner most esteemed and respected by the general opinion of their time,
and who might, without much risk of error, be taken for almost perfect
models of English gentlewomen as they existed before the present
scientific age. The papers left by these ladies consisted either of
memoranda of their private thoughts, or of thoughts by others which seemed
to have had an especial interest for them. I found that all these papers
arranged themselves naturally and inevitably under two heads: either they
concerned family interests and affections, or they were distinctly
religious in character, like the religious meditations we find in books of
devotion.

There may be nothing extraordinary in this. Thousands of other ladies may
have left religious memoranda; but consider what a preponderance of
religious ideas is implied when written thoughts are entirely confined to
them! The ladies in question lived in the first half of the nineteenth
century, a period of great intellectual ferment, of the most important
political and social changes, and of wonderful material progress; but
they did not seem to have taken any real interest in these movements. The
Bible and the commentaries of the clergy satisfied not only their
spiritual but also their intellectual needs. They seem to have desired no
knowledge of the universe, or of the probable origin and future of the
human race, which the Bible did not supply. They seem to have cared for no
example of human character and conduct other than the scriptural examples.

This restfulness in Biblical history and philosophy, this substitution of
the Bible for the world as a subject of study and contemplation, this
absence of desire to penetrate the secrets of the world itself, this want
of aspiration after any ideal more recent than the earlier ages of
Christianity, permitted a much more constant and uninterrupted dwelling
with what are considered to be religious ideas than is possible to any
active and inquiring mind of the present day. Let it be supposed, for
example, that a person to whom the Bible was everything desired
information about the origin of the globe, and of life upon it; he would
refer to the Book of Genesis as the only authority, and this reference
would have the character of a religious act, and he would get credit for
piety on account of it; whilst a modern scientific student would refer to
some great modern paleontologist, and his reference would not have the
character of a religious act, nor bring him any credit for piety; yet the
prompting curiosity, the desire to know about the remote past, would be
exactly the same in both cases. And I think it may be easily shown that if
the modern scientific student appears to be less religious than others
think he ought to be, it is often because he possesses and uses more
abundant sources of information than those which were accessible to the
ancient Jews. It is not his fault if knowledge has increased; he cannot be
blamed if he goes where information is most copious and most exact; yet
his preference for such information gives an unsanctified aspect to his
studies. The study of the most ancient knowledge wears a religious aspect,
but the study of modern knowledge appears to be non-religious.

Again, when we come to the cultivation of the idealizing faculties, of the
faculties which do not seek information merely, but some kind of
perfection, we find that the very complexity of modern life, and the
diversity of the ideal pleasures and perfections that we modern men
desire, have a constant tendency to take us outside of strictly religious
ideals. As long as the writings which are held to be sacred supply all
that our idealizing faculties need, so long will our imaginative powers
exercise themselves in what is considered to be a religious manner, and we
shall get credit for piety; but when our minds imagine what the sacred
writers could not or did not conceive, and when we seek help for our
imaginative faculty in profane writers, we appear to be less religious. So
it is with the desire to study and imitate high examples of conduct and
character. There is no nobler or more fruitful instinct in man than a
desire like this, which is possible only to those who are at once humble
and aspiring. An ancient Jew who had this noble instinct could satisfy it
by reading the sacred books of the Hebrews, and so his aspiration appeared
to be wholly religious. It is not so with an active-minded young
Englishman of the present day. He cannot find the most inspiriting models
amongst the ancient Hebrews, for the reason that their life was altogether
so much simpler and more primitive than ours. They had nothing that can
seriously be called science; they had not any organized industry; they had
little art, and hardly any secular literature, so that in these directions
they offer us no examples to follow. Our great inspiriting examples in
these directions are to be found either in the Renaissance or in recent
times, and therefore in profane biography. From this it follows that an
active modern mind seems to study and follow non-religious examples, and
so to differ widely, and for the worse, from the simpler minds of old
time, who were satisfied with the examples they found in their Bibles.
This appearance is misleading; it is merely on the surface; for if we go
deeper and do not let ourselves be deceived by the words "sacred" and
"profane," we shall find that when a simple mind chooses a model from a
primitive people, and a cultivated one chooses a model from an advanced
people, and from the most advanced class in it, they are both really doing
the same thing, namely, seeking ideal help of the kind which is best for
each. Both of them are pursuing the same object,--a mental discipline and
elevation which may be comprised under the general term _virtue_; the only
difference being that one is studying examples of virtue in the history of
the ancient Jews, whilst the other finds examples of virtue more to his
own special purpose in the lives of energetic Englishmen, Frenchmen, or
Germans.

A hundred such examples might be mentioned, for every occupation worth
following has its own saints and heroes; but I will confine myself to two.
The first shall be a French gentleman of the eighteenth century, to whom
life offered in the richest profusion everything that can tempt a man to
what is considered an excusable and even a respectable form of idleness.
He had an independent fortune, excellent health, a good social position,
and easy access to the most lively, the most entertaining, the most
amiable society that ever was, namely, that of the intelligent French
nobility before the Revolution. There is no merit in renouncing what we do
not enjoy; but he enjoyed all pleasant things, and yet renounced them for
a higher and a harder life. At the age of thirty-two he retired to the
country, made a rule of early rising and kept it, sallied forth from his
house every morning at five, went and shut himself up in an old tower with
a piece of bread and a glass of water for his breakfast, worked altogether
eleven or twelve hours a day in two sittings, and went to bed at nine.
This for eight months in the year, regularly, the remaining four being
employed in scientific and administrative work at the Jardin des Plantes.
He went on working in this way for forty years, and in the whole course of
that time never let pass an ill-considered page or an ill-constructed
sentence, but always did his best, and tried to make himself able to do
better.

Such was the great life of Buffon; and in our own time another great life
has come to its close, inferior to that of Buffon only in this, that as it
did not begin in luxury, the first renunciation was not so difficult to
make. Yet, however austere his beginnings, it is not a light or easy thing
for a man to become the greatest intellectual worker of his time, so that
one of his days (including eight hours of steady nocturnal labor) was
equivalent to two or more of our days. No man of his time in Europe had so
vast a knowledge of literature and science in combination; yet this
knowledge was accompanied by perfect modesty and by a complete
indifference to vulgar distinctions and vain successes. For many years he
was the butt of coarse and malignant misrepresentation on the part of
enemies who easily made him odious to a shallow society; but he bore it
with perfect dignity, and retained unimpaired the tolerance and charity of
his nature. His way of living was plain and frugal; he even contented
himself with narrow dwellings, though the want of space must have
occasioned frequent inconvenience to a man of his pursuits. He
scrupulously fulfilled his domestic duties, and made use of his medical
education in ministering gratuitously to the poor. Such was his courage
that when already advanced in life he undertook a gigantic task, requiring
twenty years of incessant labor; and such were his industry and
perseverance that he brought it to a splendidly successful issue. At
length, after a long life of duty and patience, after bearing calumny and
ridicule, he was called to endure another kind of suffering,--that of
incessant physical pain. This he bore with perfect fortitude, retaining to
the last his mental serenity, his interest in learning, and a high-minded
patriotic thoughtfulness for his country and its future, finding means in
the midst of suffering to dictate long letters to his fellow-citizens on
political subjects, which, in their calm wisdom, stood in the strongest
possible contrast to the violent party writing of the hour.

Such was the great life of Littré; and now consider whether he who studies
lives like these, and wins virtue from their austere example, does not
occupy his thoughts with what would have been considered religious
aspirations, if these two men, instead of being Frenchmen of the
eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, had happened to be ancient Jews. If
it had been possible for so primitive a nation as the Jewish to produce
men of such steady industry and so large a culture, we should have read
the story of their lives in the Jewish sacred books, and then it would
have been a part of the popular religion to study them, whereas now the
study of such biography is held to be non-religious, if not (at least in
the case of Littré) positively irreligious. Yet surely when we think of
the virtues which made these lives so fruitful, our minds are occupied in
a kind of religious thought; for are we not thinking of temperance,
self-discipline, diligence, perseverance, patience, charity, courage,
hope? Were not these men distinguished by their aspiration after higher
perfection, by a constant desire to use their talents well, and by a
vigilant care in the employment of their time? And are not these virtues
and these aspirations held to be parts of a civilized man's religion, and
the best parts?

The necessity for an intellectual expansion beyond the limits of the Bible
was felt very strongly at the time of the Renaissance, and found ample
satisfaction in the study of the Greek and Latin classics. There are many
reasons why women appear to be more religious than men; and one of them is
because women study only one collection of ancient writings, whilst men
have been accustomed to study three; consequently that which women study
(if such a word is applicable to devotional, uncritical reading) occupies
their minds far more exclusively than it occupies the mind of a classical
scholar. But, though the intellectual energies of men were for a time
satisfied with classical literature, they came at length to look outside
of that as their fathers had looked outside of the Bible. Classical
literature was itself a kind of religion, having its own sacred books; and
it had also its heretics,--the students of nature,--who found nature more
interesting than the opinions of the Greeks and Romans. Then came the
second great expansion of the human mind, in the midst of which we
ourselves are living. The Renaissance opened for it a world of mental
activity which had the inappreciable intellectual advantage of lying well
outside of the popular beliefs and ideas, so that cultivated men found in
it an escape from the pressure of the uneducated; but the new scientific
expansion offers us a region governed by laws of a kind peculiar to
itself, which protect those who conform to them against every assailant.
It is a region in which authority is unknown, for, however illustrious any
great man may appear in it, every statement that he makes is subject to
verification. Here the knowledge of ancient writers is continually
superseded by the better and more accurate knowledge of their successors;
so that whereas in religion and learning the most ancient writings are the
most esteemed, in science it is often the most recent, and even these have
no authority which may not be called in question freely by any student.
The new scientific culture is thus encouraging a habit of mind different
from old habits, and which in our time has caused such a degree of
separation that the most important and the most interesting of all topics
are those upon which we scarcely dare to venture for fear of being
misunderstood.

If I had to condense in a short space the various reasons why we are
apparently becoming less religious, I should say that it is because
knowledge and feeling, embodied or expressed in the sciences and arts, are
now too fully and too variously developed to remain within the limits of
what is considered sacred knowledge or religious emotion. It was possible
for them to remain well within those limits in ancient times, and it is
still possible for a mind of very limited activity and range to dwell
almost entirely in what was known or felt at the time of Christ; but this
is not possible for an energetic and inquiring mind, and the consequence
is that the energetic mind will seem to the other, by contrast, to be
negligent of holy things, and too much occupied with purely secular
interests and concerns. A great misunderstanding arises from this, which
has often had a lamentable effect on intercourse between relations and
friends. Pious ladies, to whom theological writings appear to contain
almost everything that it is desirable to know, often look with secret
misgiving or suspicion on young men of vigorous intellect who cannot rest
satisfied with the old knowledge, and what such ladies vaguely hear of the
speculations of the famous scientific leaders inspires them with profound
alarm. They think that we are becoming less religious because theological
writings do not occupy the same space in our time and thoughts as they do
in theirs; whereas, if such a matter could be put to any kind of positive
test, it would probably be found that we know more, even of their own
theology, than they do, and that, instead of being indifferent to the
great problems of the universe, we have given to such problems an amount
of careful thought far surpassing, in mental effort, their own simple
acquiescence. The opinions of a thoughtful and studious man in the present
day have never been lightly come by; and if he is supposed to be less
religious than his father or his grandfather it may be that his religion
is different from theirs, without being either less earnest or less
enlightened. There is, however, one point of immense importance on which I
believe that we really are becoming less religious, indeed on that point
we seem to be rapidly abandoning the religious principle altogether; but
the subject is of too much consequence to be treated at the end of an
Essay.



ESSAY XV.

HOW WE ARE REALLY BECOMING LESS RELIGIOUS.


The reader may remember how, after the long and unsuccessful siege of
Syracuse, the Athenian general Nikias, seeing his discouraged troops ill
with the fever from the marshes, determined to raise the siege; and that,
when his soldiers were preparing to retreat, and striking their tents for
the march, there occurred an eclipse of the moon. Nikias, in his anxiety
to know what the gods meant by this with reference to him and his army, at
once consulted a soothsayer, who told him that he would incur the Divine
anger if he did not remain where he was for three times nine days. He
remained, doing nothing, allowing his troops to perish and his ships to be
shut up by a line of the enemy's vessels chained together across the
entrance of the port. At length the three times nine days came to an end,
and what was left of the Athenian army had to get out of a situation that
had become infinitely more difficult during its inaction. The ships tried
to get out in vain; the army was able to retreat by land, but only to be
harassed by the enemy, and finally placed in such distress that it was
compelled to surrender. Most of the remnant died miserably in the old
quarries of Syracuse.

The conduct of Nikias throughout these events was in the highest degree
religious. He was fully convinced that the gods concerned themselves about
him and his doings, that they were watching over him, and that the eclipse
was a communication from them not to be neglected without a breach of
religious duty. He, therefore, in the spirit of the most perfect religious
faith, which we are compelled to admire for its sincerity and
thoroughness, shut his eyes resolutely to all the visible facts of a
situation more disastrous every day, and attended only to the invisible
action of the invisible gods, of which nothing could be really known by
him. For twenty-seven days he went on quietly sacrificing his soldiers to
his faith, and only moved at last when he believed that the gods allowed
it.

In contrast with this, let us ask what we think of an eclipse ourselves,
and how far any religious emotion, determinant of action or of inaction,
is connected with the phenomenon in our experience. We know, in the first
place, that eclipses belong to the natural order, and we do not feel
either grateful to the supernatural powers, or ungrateful, with regard to
them. Even the idea that eclipses demonstrate the power of God is hardly
likely to occur to us, for we constantly see terrestrial objects eclipsed
by cast shadows; and the mere falling of a shadow is to us only the
natural interruption of light by the intervention of any opaque object. In
the true theory of eclipses there is absolutely no ground whatever for
religious emotion, and accordingly the phenomenon is now entirely
disconnected from religious ideas. The consequence is that where the
Athenian general had a strong motive for religious emotion, a motive so
strong that he sacrificed his army to the supposed will of Heaven, a
modern general in the same situation would feel no emotion and make no
sacrifice.

If this process stopped at eclipses the result would be of little
importance, as eclipses of the celestial bodies are not frequently
visible, and to lose the opportunity of emotion which they present is not
a very sensible loss. But so far is the process from stopping at eclipses,
that exactly the same process is going on with regard to thousands of
other phenomena which are one by one, yet with increasing rapidity,
ceasing to be regarded as special manifestations of Divine will, and
beginning to be regarded as a part of that order of nature with which, to
quote Professor Huxley's significant language, "nothing interferes." Every
one of these transferrences from supernatural government to natural order
deprives the religious sentiment of one special cause or motive for its
own peculiar kind of emotion, so that we are becoming less and less
accustomed to such emotion (as the opportunities for it become less
frequent), and more and more accustomed to accept events and phenomena of
all kinds as in that order of nature "with which nothing interferes."

This single mental conception of the unfailing regularity of nature is
doing more in our time to affect the religious condition of thoughtful
people than could be effected by many less comprehensive conceptions.

It has often been said, not untruly, that merely negative arguments have
little permanent influence over the opinions of men, and that institutions
which have been temporarily overthrown by negation will shortly be set up
again, and flourish in their old vigor, unless something positive can be
found to supply their place. But here is a doctrine of a most positive
kind. "The order of nature is invariably according to regular sequences."
It is a doctrine which cannot be proved, for we cannot follow all the
changes which have ever taken place in the universe; but, although
incapable of demonstration, it may be accepted until something happens to
disprove it; and it _is_ accepted, with the most absolute faith, by a
constantly increasing number of adherents.

To show how this doctrine acts in diminishing religious emotion by taking
away the opportunity for it, let me narrate an incident which really
occurred on a French line of railway in the winter of 1882. The line, on
which I had travelled a few days before, passes between a river and a
hill. The river has a rocky bed and is torrential in winter; the hill is
densely covered with a pine forest coming down to the side of the line.
The year 1882 had been the rainiest known in France for two centuries, and
the roots of the trees on the edge of this pine forest had been much
loosened by the rain. In consequence of this, two large pine-trees fell
across the railway early one morning, and soon afterwards a train
approached the spot by the dim light of early dawn. There was a curve just
before the engine reached the trees, and it had come rapidly for several
miles down a decline. The driver reversed his steam, the engine and tender
leaped over the trees, and then went over the embankment to a place within
six feet of the rapid river. The carriages remained on the line, but were
much broken. Nobody was killed; nobody was seriously injured. The
remarkable escape of the passengers was accounted for as follows by the
religious people in the neighborhood. There happened to be a priest in the
train, and at the time when the shock took place he made what is called "a
pious ejaculation." This, it was said, had saved the lives of the
passengers. In the ages of faith this explanation would have been received
without question; but the notion of natural sequences--Professor Huxley's
"order with which nothing interferes"--had obtained such firm hold on the
minds of the townsmen generally that they said the priest was trying to
make ecclesiastical capital out of an occurrence easily explicable by
natural causes. They saw nothing supernatural either in the production of
the accident or its comparative harmlessness. The trickling of much water
had denuded the roots of the trees, which fell because they could not
stand with insufficient roothold; the lives of the passengers were saved
because they did not happen to be in the most shattered carriage; and the
men on the engine escaped because they fell on soft ground, made softer
still by the rain. It was probable, too, they said, that if any beneficent
supernatural interference had taken place it would have maintained the
trees in an erect position, by preventive miracle, and so spared the
slight injuries which really were inflicted, and which, though treated
very lightly by others because there were neither deaths nor amputations,
still caused suffering to those who had to bear them.

Now if we go a little farther into the effects of this accident on the
minds of the people who shared in it, or whose friends had been imperilled
by it, we shall see very plainly the effect of the modern belief in the
regularity of natural sequences. Those who believed in supernatural
intervention would offer thanksgivings when they got home, and probably go
through some special religious thanksgiving services for many days
afterwards; those who believed in the regularity of natural sequences
would simply feel glad to have escaped, without any especial sense of
gratitude to supernatural powers. So much for the effect as far as
thanksgiving is concerned; but there is another side of the matter at
least equally important from the religious point of view,--that of prayer.
The believers in supernatural interference would probably, in all their
future railway journeys, pray to be supernaturally protected in case of
accident, as they had been in 1882; but the believers in the regularity of
natural sequences would only hope that no trees had fallen across the
line, and feel more than usually anxious after long seasons of rainy
weather. Can there be a doubt that the priest's opinion, that he had won
safety by a pious ejaculation, was highly favorable to his religious
activity afterwards, whilst the opinion of the believers in "the natural
order with which nothing interferes" was unfavorable both to prayer and
thanksgiving in connection with railway travelling?

Examples of this kind might easily be multiplied, for there is hardly any
enterprise that men undertake, however apparently unimportant, which
cannot be regarded both from the points of view of naturalism and
supernaturalism; and in every case the naturalist manner of regarding the
enterprise leads men to study the probable influence of natural causes,
whilst the supernaturalist opinion leads them to propitiate supernatural
powers. Now, although some new sense may come to be attached to the word
"religion" in future ages, so that it may come to mean scientific
thoroughness, intellectual ingenuousness, or some other virtue that may be
possessed by a pure naturalist, the word has always been understood, down
to the present time, to imply a constant dependence upon the supernatural;
and when I say that we are becoming less religious, I mean that from our
increasing tendency to refer everything to natural causes the notion of
the supernatural is much less frequently present in our minds than it was
in the minds of our forefathers. Even the clergy themselves seem to be
following the laity towards the belief in natural law, at least so far as
matter is concerned. The Bishop of Melbourne, in 1882, declined to order
prayers for rain, and gave his reason honestly, which was that material
phenomena were under the control of natural law, and would not be changed
in answer to prayer. The Bishop added that prayer should be confined to
spiritual blessings. Without disputing the soundness of this opinion, we
cannot help perceiving that if it were generally received it would put an
end to one half of the religious activity of the human race; for half the
prayers and half the thanksgivings addressed to the supernatural powers
are for material benefits only. It is possible that, in the future,
religious people will cease to pray for health, but take practical
precautions to preserve it; that they will cease to pray for prosperity,
but study the natural laws which govern the wealth of nations; that they
will no longer pray for the national fleets and armies, but see that they
are well supplied and intelligently commanded. All this and much more is
possible; but when it comes to pass the world will be less religious than
it was when men believed that every pestilence, every famine, every
defeat, was a chastisement specially, directly, and intentionally
inflicted by an angry Deity. Even now, what an immense step has been made
in this direction! In the fearful description of the pestilence at
Florence, given with so much detail by Boccaccio, he speaks of "l'ira di
Dio a punire la iniquità degli uomini con quella pestilenza;" and he
specially implies that those who sought to avoid the plague by going to
healthier places in the country deceived themselves in supposing that the
wrath of God would not follow them whithersoever they went. That is the
old belief expressing itself in prayers and humiliations. It is still
recognized officially. If the plague could occur in a town on the whole so
well cared for as modern London, the language of Boccaccio would still be
used in the official public prayers; but the active-minded practical
citizens would be thinking how to destroy the germs, how to purify air and
water. An instance of this divergence occurred after the Egyptian war of
1882. The Archbishop of York, after the battle of Tel-el-Kebir, ordered
thanksgivings to be offered in the churches, on the ground that God was in
Sir Garnet Wolseley's camp and fought with him against the Egyptians,
which was a survival of the antique idea that national deities fought
with the national armies. On this a Member of Parliament, Mr. George
Palmer, said to his constituents in a public meeting at Reading, "At the
same time I cannot agree with the prayers that have been made in churches.
Though I respect the consciences of other men, I must say that it was not
by Divine interference, but from the stuff of which our army was made and
our great ironclads, that victory was achieved." I do not quote this
opinion for any originality in itself, as there have always been men who
held that victory was a necessary result of superior military efficiency,
but I quote it as a valuable test of the change in general opinion. It is
possible that such views may have been expressed in private in all ages of
the world; but I doubt if in any age preceding ours a public man, at the
very time when he was cultivating the good graces of his electors, would
have refused to the national Deity a special share in a military triumph.
To an audience imbrued with the old conception of incessant supernatural
interferences, the doctrine that a victory was a natural result would have
sounded impious; and such an audience, if any one had ventured to say what
Mr. Palmer said, would have received him with a burst of indignation. But
Mr. Palmer knew the tendencies of the present age, and was quite correct
in thinking that he might safely express his views. His hearers were not
indignant, they were not even grave and silent, as Englishmen are when
they simply disapprove, but they listened willingly, and marked their
approbation by laughter and cheers. Even a clergyman may hold Mr.
Palmer's opinion. Soon after his speech at Reading the Rev. H. R. Haweis
said the same thing in the pulpit. "Few people," he said, "really doubt
that we have conquered the Egyptians, not because we were in the right and
they were in the wrong, but because we had the heaviest hand." The
preacher went on to say that the idea of God fighting on one side more
than another in particular battles seemed to him to be a Pagan or at most
a Jewish one. How different was the old sentiment as expressed by Macaulay
in the stirring ballad of Ivry! "We of the religion" had no doubt about
the Divine interference in the battle,

  "For our God hath crushed the tyrant, our God hath raised the slave,
   And mocked the counsel of the wise, and the valor of the brave;
   Then glory to his holy name from whom all glories are,
   And glory to our Sovereign Lord, King Henry of Navarre!"

The way in which the great mental movement of our age towards a more
complete recognition of natural order is affecting human intercourse may
be defined in a few words. If the movement were at an equal rate of
advance for all civilized people they would be perfectly agreed amongst
themselves at any one point of time, as it would be settled which events
were natural in their origin and which were due to the interposition of
Divine or diabolical agency. Living people would differ in opinion from
their predecessors, but they would not differ from each other. The change,
however, though visible and important, is not by any means uniform, so
that a guest sitting at dinner may have on his right hand a lady who sees
supernatural interferences in many things, and on his left a student of
science who is firmly convinced that there are no supernatural
interferences in the present, and that there never have been any in the
past. Private opinion, out of which public opinion slowly and gradually
forms itself, is in our time in a state of complete anarchy, because two
opposite doctrines are held loosely, and one or the other is taken up as
it happens to seem appropriate. The interpositions of Providence are
recognized or rejected according to political or personal bias. The French
Imperialists saw the Divine vengeance in the death of Gambetta, whilst in
their view the death of Napoleon III. was the natural termination of his
disease, and that of the Prince Imperial a simple accident, due to the
carelessness of his English companions. Personal bias shows itself in the
belief, often held by men occupying positions of importance, that they are
necessary, at least for a time, to fulfil the intentions of Providence.
Napoleon III. said in a moment of emotion, "So long as I am needed I am
invulnerable; but when my hour comes I shall be broken like glass!" Even
in private life a man will sometimes think, "I am so necessary to my wife
and family that Providence will not remove me," though every newspaper
reports the deaths of fathers who leave their families destitute.
Sometimes men believe that Providence takes the same view of their
enterprises that they themselves take; and when a great enterprise is
drawing near to its termination they feel assured that supernatural power
will protect them till it is quite concluded, but they believe that the
enterprises of other men are exposed to all the natural risks. When Mr.
Gifford Palgrave was wrecked in the sea of Oman, he was for some time in
an open boat, and thus describes his situation: "All depended on the
steerage, and on the balance and support afforded by the oars, and even
more still on the Providence of Him who made the deep; nor indeed could I
get myself to think that He had brought me thus far to let me drown just
at the end of my journey, and in so very unsatisfactory a way too; for had
we then gone down, what news of the event off Sowadah would ever have
reached home, or when?--so that altogether I felt confident of getting
somehow or other on shore, though by what means I did not exactly know."
Here the writer thinks of his own enterprise as deserving Divine
solicitude, but does not attach the same importance to the humbler
enterprises of the six passengers who went down with the vessel. I cannot
help thinking, too, of the poor passenger Ibraheem, who swam to the boat
and begged so piteously to be taken in, when a sailor "loosened his grasp
by main force and flung him back into the sea, where he disappeared
forever." Neither can I forget the four who imprudently plunged from the
boat and perished. We may well believe that these lost ones would have
been unable to write such a delightful and instructive book as Mr.
Palgrave's "Travels in Arabia," yet they must have had their own humble
interests in life, their own little objects and enterprises.

The calculation that Providence would spare a traveller towards the close
of a long journey may be mistaken, but it is pious; it affords an
opportunity for the exercise of devout emotion which the scientific
thinker would miss. If Mr. Herbert Spencer had been placed in the same
situation he would, no doubt, have felt the most perfect confidence that
the order of nature would not be disturbed, that even in such a turmoil of
winds and waters the laws of buoyancy and stability would be observed in
every motion of the boat to the millionth of an inch; but he would not
have considered himself likely to escape death on account of the important
nature of his undertakings. Mr. Spencer's way of judging the situation as
one of equal peril for himself and his humble companions would have been
more reasonable, but at the same time he would have lost that opportunity
for special and personal gratitude which Mr. Palgrave enjoyed when he
believed himself to be supernaturally protected. The curious inconsistency
of the common French expression, "C'est un hasard providentiel" is another
example of the present state of thought on the question. A Frenchman is
upset from a carriage, breaks no bones, and stands up, exclaiming, as he
dusts himself, "It was un hasard vraiment providentiel that I was not
lamed for life." It is plain that if his escape was providential it could
not be accidental at the same time, yet in spite of the obvious
inconsistency of his expression there is piety in his choice of an
adjective.

The distinction, as it has usually been understood hitherto, between
religious and non-religious explanations of what happens, is that the
religious person believes that events happen by supernatural direction,
and he is only thinking religiously so long as he thinks in that manner;
whilst the non-religious theory is that events happen by natural sequence,
and so long as a person thinks in this manner, his mind is acting
non-religiously, whatever may be his religious profession. "To study the
universe as it is manifested to us; to ascertain by patient inquiry the
order of the manifestations; to discover that the manifestations are
connected with one another after regular ways in time and space; and,
after repeated failures, to give up as futile the attempt to understand
the power manifested, is condemned as irreligious. And meanwhile the
character of religious is claimed by those who figure to themselves a
Creator moved by motives like their own; who conceive themselves as seeing
through His designs, and who even speak of Him as though He laid plans to
outwit the Devil!"

Yes, this is a true account of the way in which the words irreligious and
religious have always been used and there does not appear to be any
necessity for altering their signification. Every event which is
transferred, in human opinion, from supernatural to natural action is
transferred from the domain of religion to that of science; and it is
because such transferrences have been so frequent in our time that we are
becoming so much less religious than our forefathers were. In how many
things is the modern man perfectly irreligious! He is so in everything
that relates to applied science, to steam, telegraphy, photography,
metallurgy, agriculture, manufactures. He has not the slightest belief in
spiritual intervention, either for or against him, in these material
processes. He is beginning to be equally irreligious in government.
Modern politicians have been accused of thinking that God cannot govern,
but that is not a true account of their opinion. What they really think is
that government is an application of science to the direction of national
life, in which no invisible powers will either thwart a ruler in that
which he does wisely, or shield him from the evil consequences of his
errors.

But though we are less religious than our ancestors because we believe
less in the interferences of the supernatural, do we deserve censure for
our way of understanding the world? Certainly not. Was Nikias a proper
object of praise because the eclipse seen by him at Syracuse seemed a
warning from the gods; and was Wolseley a proper object of blame because
the comet seen by him on the Egyptian plain was without a Divine message?
Both these opinions are quite outside of merit, although the older opinion
was in the highest degree religious, and the later one is not religious in
the least. Such changes simply indicate a gradual revolution in man's
conception of the universe, which is the result of more accurate
knowledge. So why not accept the fact, why not admit that we have really
become less religious? Possibly we have a compensation, a gain equivalent
to our loss. If the gods do not speak to us by signs in the heavens; if
the entrails of victims and the flight of birds no longer tell us when to
march to battle and where to remain inactive in our tents; if the oracle
is silent at Delos, and the ark lost to Jerusalem; if we are pilgrims to
no shrine; if we drink of no sacred fountain and plunge into no holy
stream; if all the special sanctities once reverenced by humanity are
unable any longer to awaken our dead enthusiasm, have we gained nothing in
exchange for the many religious excitements that we have lost? Yes, we
have gained a keener interest in the natural order, and a knowledge of it
at once more accurate and more extensive, a gain that Greek and Jew might
well have envied us, and which a few of their keener spirits most ardently
desired. Our passion for natural knowledge is not a devout emotion, and
therefore it is not religious; but it is a noble and a fruitful passion
nevertheless, and by it our eyes are opened. The good Saint Bernard had
his own saintly qualities; but for us the qualities of a De Saussure are
not without their worth. Saint Bernard, in the perfection of ancient
piety, travelling a whole day by the lake of Geneva without seeing it, too
much absorbed by devout meditation to perceive anything terrestrial, was
blinded by his piety, and might with equal profit have stayed in his
monastic cell. De Saussure was a man of our own time. Never, in his
writings, do you meet with any allusion to supernatural interferences
(except once or twice in pity for popular superstitions); but fancy De
Saussure passing the lake of Geneva, or any other work of nature, without
seeing it! His life was spent in the continual study of the natural world;
and this study was to him so vigorous an exercise for the mind, and so
strict a discipline, that he found in it a means of moral and even of
physical improvement. There is no trace in his writings of what is called
devout emotion, but the bright light of intelligent admiration illumines
every page; and when he came to die, if he could not look back, like
Saint Bernard, upon what is especially supposed to be a religious life, he
could look back upon many years wisely and well spent in the study of that
nature of which Saint Bernard scarcely knew more than the mule that
carried him.



ESSAY XVI.

ON AN UNRECOGNIZED FORM OF UNTRUTH.


In the art of painting there are two opposite ways of dealing with natural
color. It may be intensified, or it may be translated by tints of inferior
chromatic force. In either case the picture may be perfectly harmonious,
provided only that the same principle of interpretation be consistently
followed throughout.

The first time that I became acquainted with the first of these two
methods of interpretation was in my youth, when I met with a Scottish
painter who has since become eminent in his art. He was painting studies
from nature; and I noticed that whenever in the natural object there was a
trace of dull gold, as in some lichen, he made it a brighter gold, and
whenever there was a little rusty red he made it a more vivid red. So it
was with every other tint. His eye seemed to become excited by every hue,
and he translated it by one of greater intensity and power.

Now that is a kind of exaggeration which is very commonly recognized as a
departure from the sober truth. People complain that the sky is too blue,
the fields too green, and so on.

Afterwards I saw French painters at work, and I noticed that they (in
those days) interpreted natural color by an intentional lowering of the
chromatic force. When they had to deal with the splendors of autumnal
woods against a blue sky they interpreted the azure by a blue-gray, and
the flaming gold by a dull russet. They even refused themselves the more
quiet brightness of an ordinary wheat-field, and translated the yellow of
the wheat by an earthy brown.

Unlike falsehood by exaggeration, this other kind of falsehood (by
diminution) is very seldom recognized as a departure from the truth. Such
coloring as this French coloring excited but few protests, and indeed was
often praised for being "modest" and "subdued."

Both systems are equally permissible in the fine arts, if consistently
followed, because in art the unity and harmony of the work are of greater
importance than the exact imitation of nature. It is not as an art-critic
that I should have any fault to find with a well-understood and thoroughly
consistent conventionalism in the interpretation of nature; but the two
kinds of falsity we have noticed are constantly found in action outside of
the fine arts, and yet only one of them is recognized in its true
character, the other being esteemed as a proof of modesty and moderation.

The general opinion, in our own country, condemns falsehood by
exaggeration, but it does not blame falsehood by diminution. Overstatement
is regarded as a vice, and understatement as a sort of modest virtue,
whilst in fact they are both untruthful, exactly in the degree of their
departure from perfect accuracy.

If a man states his income as being larger than it really is, if he adopts
a degree of ostentation which (though he may be able to pay for it)
conveys the idea of more ample means than he really possesses, and if we
find out afterwards what his income actually is, we condemn him as an
untruthful person; but lying by diminution with reference to money matters
is looked upon simply as modesty.

I remember a most respectable English family who had this modesty in
perfection. It was their great pleasure to represent themselves as being
much less rich than they really were. Whenever they heard of anybody with
moderate or even narrow means, they pretended to think that he had quite
an ample income. If you mentioned a man with a family, struggling on a
pittance, they would say he was "very comfortably provided for," and if
you spoke of another whose expenses were the ordinary expenses of
gentlemen, they wondered by what inventions of extravagance he could get
through so much money. They themselves pretended to spend much less than
they really spent, and they always affected astonishment when they heard
how much it cost other people to live exactly in their own way. They
considered that this was modesty; but was it not just as untruthful as the
commoner vice of assuming a style more showy than the means warrant?

In France and Italy the departure from the truth is almost invariably in
the direction of overstatement, unless the speaker has some distinct
purpose to serve by adopting the opposite method, as when he desires to
depreciate the importance of an enemy. In England people habitually
understate, and the remarkable thing is that they believe themselves to be
strictly truthful in doing so. The word "lying" is too harsh a term to be
applied either to the English or the Continental habit in this matter; but
it is quite fair to say that both of them miss the truth, one in falling
short of it, the other in going beyond it.

An English family has seen the Alps for the first time. A young lady says
Switzerland is "nice;" a young gentleman has decided that it is "jolly."
This is what the habit of understatement may bring us down to,--absolute
inadequacy. The Alps are not "nice," and they are not "jolly;" far more
powerful adjectives are only the precise truth in this instance. The Alps
are stupendous, overwhelming, magnificent, sublime. A Frenchman in similar
circumstances will be embarrassed, not by any timidity about using a
sufficiently forcible expression, but because he is eager to exaggerate;
and one scarcely knows how to exaggerate the tremendous grandeur of the
finest Alpine scenery. He will have recourse to eloquent phraseology, to
loudness of voice, and finally, when he feels that these are still
inadequate, he will employ energetic gesture. I met a Frenchman who tried
to make me comprehend how many English people there were at Cannes in
winter. "Il y en a--des Anglais--il y en a,"--then he hesitated, whilst
seeking for an adequate expression. At last, throwing out both his arms,
he cried, "_Il y en a plus qu'en Angleterre!_"

The English love of understatement is even more visible in moral than in
material things. If an Englishman has to describe any person or action
that is particularly admirable on moral grounds, he will generally
renounce the attempt to be true, and substitute for the high and
inspiring truth some quiet little conventional expression that will
deliver him from what he most dreads,--the appearance of any noble
enthusiasm. It does not occur to him that this inadequacy, this
insufficiency of expression, is one of the forms of untruth; that to
describe noble and admirable conduct in commonplace and non-appreciative
language is to pay tribute of a kind especially acceptable to the Father
of Lies. If we suppose the existence of a modern Mephistopheles watching
the people of our own time and pleased with every kind of moral evil, we
may readily imagine how gratified he must be to observe the moral
indifference which uses exactly the same terms for ordinary and heroic
virtue, which never rises with the occasion, and which always seems to
take it for granted that there are neither noble natures nor high purposes
in the world. The dead mediocrity of common talk, too timid and too
indolent for any expression equivalent either to the glory of external
nature or the intellectual and moral grandeur of great and excellent men,
has driven many of our best minds from conversation into literature,
because in literature it is not thought extraordinary for a man to express
himself with a degree of force and clearness equivalent to the energy of
his feelings, the accuracy of his knowledge, and the importance of his
subject. The habit of using inadequate expression in conversation has led
to the strange result that if an Englishman has any power of thought, any
living interest in the great problems of human destiny, you will know
hardly anything of the real action of his mind unless he becomes an
author. He dares not express any high feelings in conversation, because
he dreads what Stuart Mill called the "sneering depreciation" of them; and
if such feelings are strong enough in him to make expression an imperative
want, he has to utter them on paper. By a strange result of
conventionalism, a man is admired for using language of the utmost
clearness and force in literature, whilst if he talked as vigorously as he
wrote (except, perhaps, in extreme privacy and even secrecy with one or
two confidential companions) he would be looked upon as scarcely
civilized. This may be one of the reasons why English literature,
including the periodical, is so abundant in quantity and so full of
energy. It is a mental outlet, a _dérivatif_.

The kind of untruthfulness which may be called _untruthfulness by
inadequacy_ causes many strong and earnest minds to keep aloof from
general society, which seems to them insipid. They find frank and clear
expression in books, they find it even in newspapers and reviews, but they
do not find it in social intercourse. This deficiency drives many of the
more intelligent of our countrymen into the strange and perfectly
unnatural position of receiving ideas almost exclusively through the
medium of print, and of communicating them only by writing. I remember an
Englishman of great learning and ability who lived almost entirely in that
manner. He received his ideas through books and the learned journals, and
whenever any thought occurred to him he wrote it immediately on a slip of
paper. In society he was extremely absent, and when he spoke it was in an
apologetic and timidly suggestive manner, as if he were always afraid
that what he had to say might not be interesting to the hearer, or might
even appear objectionable, and as if he were quite ready to withdraw it.
He was far too anxious to be well-behaved ever to venture on any forcible
expression of opinion or to utter any noble sentiment; and yet his
convictions on all important subjects were very serious, and had been
arrived at after deep thought, and he was capable of real elevation of
mind. His writings are the strongest possible contrast to his oral
expression of himself. They are bold in opinion, very clear and decided in
statement, and full of well-ascertained knowledge.



ESSAY XVII.

ON A REMARKABLE ENGLISH PECULIARITY.


In De Tocqueville's admirable book on "Democracy in America" there is an
interesting chapter on the behavior of Englishmen to each other when they
meet in a foreign country:--

    "Two Englishmen meet by chance at the antipodes; they are surrounded
    by foreigners whose language and mode of life are hardly known to
    them.

    "These two men begin by studying each other very curiously and with a
    kind of secret uneasiness; they then turn away, or, if they meet, they
    are careful to speak only with a constrained and absent air, and to
    say things of little importance.

    "And yet they know nothing of each other; they have never met, and
    suppose each other to be perfectly honorable. Why, then, do they take
    such pains to avoid intercourse?"

De Tocqueville was a very close observer, and I hardly know a single
instance in which his faculty of observation shows itself in greater
perfection. In his terse style of writing every word tells; and even in my
translation, unavoidably inferior to the original, you actually see the
two Englishmen and the minute details of their behavior.

Let me now introduce the reader to a little scene at a foreign _table
d'hôte_, as described with great skill and truth by a well-known English
novelist, Miss Betham-Edwards:--

    "The time, September; the scene, a _table d'hôte_ dinner in a
    much-frequented French town. For the most part nothing can be more
    prosaic than these daily assemblies of English tourists bound for
    Switzerland and the South, and a slight sprinkling of foreigners, the
    two elements seldom or never blending; a visitant from another planet
    might, indeed, suppose that between English and French-speaking people
    lay such a gulf as divides the blond New Englander from the swarth
    African, so icy the distance, so unbroken the reserve. Nor is there
    anything like cordiality between the English themselves. Our imaginary
    visitant from Jupiter would here find matter for wonder also, and
    would ask himself the reason of this freezing reticence among the
    English fellowship. What deadly feud of blood, caste, or religion
    could thus keep them apart? Whilst the little knot of Gallic
    travellers at the farther end of the table straightway fall into
    friendliest talk, the long rows of Britons of both sexes and all ages
    speak only in subdued voices and to the members of their own family."

Next, let me give an account of a personal experience in a Parisian hotel.
It was a little, unpretending establishment that I liked for its quiet and
for the honest cookery. There was a _table d'hôte_, frequented by a few
French people, generally from the provinces, and once there came some
English visitors who had found out the merits of the little place. It
happened that I had been on the Continent a long time without revisiting
England, so when my fellow-countrymen arrived I had foolish feelings of
pleasure on finding myself amongst them, and spoke to them in our common
English tongue. The effect of this bold experiment was extremely curious,
and to me, at the time, almost inexplicable, as I had forgotten that
chapter by De Tocqueville. The new-comers were two or three young men and
one in middle life. The young men seemed to be reserved more from timidity
than pride. They were quite startled and frightened when spoken to, and
made answer with grave brevity, as if apprehensive of committing
themselves to some compromising statement. With an audacity acquired by
habits of intercourse with foreigners, I spoke to the older Englishman.
His way of putting me down would have been a charming study for a
novelist. His manner resembled nothing so much as that of a dignified
English minister,--Mr. Gladstone for example, when he is questioned in the
House by some young and presumptuous member of the Opposition. A few brief
words were vouchsafed to me, accompanied by an expression of countenance
which, if not positively stern, was intentionally divested of everything
like interest or sympathy. It then began to dawn upon me that perhaps this
Englishman was conscious of some august social superiority; that he might
even know a lord; and I thought, "If he does really know a lord we are
very likely to hear his lordship's name." My expectation was not fulfilled
to the letter, but it was quite fulfilled in spirit; for in talking to a
Frenchman (for me to hear) our Englishman shortly boasted that he knew an
English duchess, giving her name and place of abode. "One day when I was
at ---- House I said to the Duchess of ----," and he repeated what he had
said to Her Grace; but it would have no interest for the reader, as it
probably had none for the great lady herself. Shade of Thackeray! why
wast thou not there to add a paragraph to the "Book of Snobs"?

The next day came another Englishman of about fifty, who distinguished
himself in another way. He did not know a duchess, or, if he did, we were
not informed of his good fortune; but he assumed a wonderful air of
superiority to his temporary surroundings, that filled me, I must say,
with the deepest respect and awe. The impression he desired to produce was
that he had never before been in so poor a little place, and that our
society was far beneath what he was accustomed to. He criticised things
disdainfully, and when I ventured to speak to him he condescended, it is
true, to enter into conversation, but in a manner that seemed to say, "Who
and what are you that you dare to speak to a gentleman like me, who am, as
you must perceive, a person of wealth and consideration?"

This account of our English visitors is certainly not exaggerated by any
excessive sensitiveness on my part. Paris is not the Desert; and one who
has known it for thirty years is not dependent for society on a chance
arrival from beyond the sea. For me these Englishmen were but actors in a
play, and perhaps they afforded me more amusement with their own peculiar
manners than if they had been pleasant and amiable. One result, however,
was inevitable. I had been full of kindly feeling towards my
fellow-countrymen when they came, but this soon gave place to
indifference; and their departure was rather a relief. When they had left
Paris, there arrived a rich French widow from the south with her son and
a priest, who seemed to be tutor and chaplain. The three lived at our
_table d'hôte_; and we found them most agreeable, always ready to take
their share in conversation, and, although far too well-bred to commit the
slightest infraction of the best French social usages, either through
ignorance or carelessness, they were at the same time perfectly open and
easy in their manners. They set up no pretensions, they gave themselves no
airs, and when they returned to their own southern sunshine we felt their
departure as a loss.

The foreign idea of social intercourse under such conditions (that is, of
intercourse between strangers who are thrown together accidentally) is
simply that it is better to pass an hour agreeably than in dreary
isolation. People may not have much to say that is of any profound
interest, but they enjoy the free play of the mind; and it sometimes
happens, in touching on all sorts of subjects, that unexpected lights are
thrown upon them. Some of the most interesting conversations I have ever
heard have taken place at foreign _tables d'hôte_, between people who had
probably never met before and who would separate forever in a week. If by
accident they meet again, such acquaintances recognize each other by a
bow, but there is none of that intrusiveness which the Englishman so
greatly dreads.

Besides these transient acquaintanceships which, however brief, are by no
means without their value to one's experience and culture, the foreign way
of understanding a _table d'hôte_ includes the daily and habitual meeting
of regular subscribers, a meeting looked forward to with pleasure as a
break in the labors of the day, or a mental refreshment when they are
over. Nothing affords such relief from the pressure of work as a free and
animated conversation on other subjects. Of this more permanent kind of
_table d'hôte_, Mr. Lewes gave a lively description in his biography of
Goethe:--

    "The English student, clerk, or bachelor, who dines at an
    eating-house, chop-house, or hotel, goes there simply to get his
    dinner, and perhaps look at the 'Times.' Of the other diners he knows
    nothing, cares little. It is rare that a word is interchanged between
    him and his neighbor. Quite otherwise in Germany. There the same
    society is generally to be found at the same table. The _table d'hôte_
    is composed of a circle of _habitués_, varied by occasional visitors
    who in time become, perhaps, members of the circle. _Even with
    strangers conversation is freely interchanged_; and in a little while
    friendships are formed over these dinner-tables, according as natural
    tastes and likings assimilate, which, extending beyond the mere hour
    of dinner, are carried into the current of life. Germans do not rise
    so hastily from the table as we, for time with them is not so
    precious; life is not so crowded; time can be found for quiet
    after-dinner talk. The cigars and coffee, which appear before the
    cloth is removed, keep the company together; and in that state of
    suffused comfort which quiet digestion creates, they hear without
    anger the opinions of antagonists."

In this account of German habits we see the repast made use of as an
opportunity for human intercourse, which the Englishman avoids except with
persons already known to him or known to a private host. The reader has
noticed the line I have italicized,--"Even with strangers conversation is
freely interchanged." The consequence is that the stranger does not feel
himself to be isolated, and if he is not an Englishman he does not take
offence at being treated like an intelligent human being, but readily
accepts the welcome that is offered to him.

The English peculiarity in this respect does not, however, consist so much
in avoiding intercourse with foreigners as in shunning other English
people. It is true that in the description of a _table d'hôte_ by Miss
Betham-Edwards, the English and foreign elements are represented as
separated by an icy distance, and the description is strikingly accurate;
but this shyness and timidity as regards foreigners may be sufficiently
accounted for by want of skill and ease in speaking their language. Most
English people of education know a little French and German, but few speak
those languages freely, fluently, and correctly. When it does happen that
an Englishman has mastered a foreign tongue, he will generally talk more
readily and unreservedly with a foreigner than with one of his own
countrymen. This is the notable thing, that if English people do not
really dislike and distrust one another, if there is not really "a deadly
feud of blood, caste, or religion" to separate them, they expose
themselves to the accusation of John Stuart Mill, that "everybody acts as
if everybody else was either an enemy or a bore."

This English avoidance of English people is so remarkable and exceptional
a characteristic that it could not but greatly interest and exercise so
observant a mind as that of De Tocqueville. We have seen how accurately he
noticed it; how exactly the conduct of shy Englishmen had fixed itself in
his memory. Let us now see how he accounted for it.

Is it a mark of aristocracy? Is it because our race is more aristocratic
than other races?

De Tocqueville's theory was, that it is _not_ the mark of an aristocratic
society, because, in a society classed by birth, although people of
different castes hold little communication with each other, they talk
easily when they meet, without either fearing or desiring social fusion.
"Their intercourse is not founded on equality, but it is free from
constraint."

This view of the subject is confirmed by all that I know, through personal
tradition, of the really aristocratic time in France that preceded the
Revolution. The old-fashioned facility and directness of communication
between ranks that were separated by wide social distances would surprise
and almost scandalize a modern aspirant to false aristocracy, who has
assumed the _de_, and makes up in _morgue_ what is wanting to him in
antiquity of descent. I believe, too, that when England was a far more
aristocratic country than it is at present, manners were less distant and
not so cold and suspicious.

If the blame is not to be laid on the spirit of aristocracy, what is the
real cause of the indisputable fact that an Englishman avoids an
Englishman? De Tocqueville believed that the cause was to be found in the
uncertainty of a transition state from aristocratic to plutocratic ideas;
that there is still the notion of a strict classification; and yet that
this classification is no longer determined by blood, but by money, which
has taken its place, so that although the ranks exist still, as if the
country were really aristocratic, it is not easy to see clearly, and at
the first glance, who occupies them. Hence there is a _guerre sourde_
between all the citizens. Some try by a thousand artifices to edge their
way in reality or apparently amongst those above them; others fight
without ceasing to repel the usurpers of their rights; or rather, the same
person does both; and whilst he struggles to introduce himself into the
upper region he perpetually endeavors to put down aspirants who are still
beneath him.

"The pride of aristocracy," said De Tocqueville, "being still very great
with the English, and the limits of aristocracy having become doubtful,
every one fears that he may be surprised at any moment into undesirable
familiarity. Not being able to judge at first sight of the social position
of those they meet, the English prudently avoid contact. They fear, in
rendering little services, to form in spite of themselves an ill-assorted
friendship; they dread receiving attention from others; and they withdraw
themselves from the indiscreet gratitude of an unknown fellow-countryman
as carefully as they would avoid his hatred."

This, no doubt, is the true explanation, but something may be added to it.
An Englishman dreads acquaintances from the apprehension that they may end
by coming to his house; a Frenchman is perfectly at his ease on that point
by reason of the greater discretion of French habits. It is perfectly
understood, in France, that you may meet a man at a _café_ for years, and
talk to him with the utmost freedom, and yet he will not come near your
private residence unless you ask him; and when he meets you in the street
he will not stop you, but will simply lift his hat,--a customary
salutation from all who know your name, which does not compromise you in
any way. It might perhaps be an exaggeration to say that in France there
is absolutely no struggling after a higher social position by means of
acquaintances, but there is certainly very little of it. The great
majority of French people live in the most serene indifference as regards
those who are a little above them socially. They hardly even know their
titles; and when they do know them they do not care about them in the
least.[18]

It may not be surprising that the conduct of Americans should differ from
that of Englishmen, as Americans have no titles; but if they have not
titles they have vast inequalities of wealth, and Englishmen can be
repellent without titles. Yet, in spite of pecuniary differences between
Americans, and notwithstanding the English blood in their veins, they do
not avoid one another. "If they meet by accident," says De Tocqueville,
"they neither seek nor avoid one another; their way of meeting is natural,
frank, and open; it is evident that they hope or fear scarcely anything
from each other, and that they neither try to exhibit nor to conceal the
station they occupy. If their manner is often cold and serious, it is
never either haughty or stiff; and when they do not speak it is because
they are not in the humor for conversation, and not because they believe
it their interest to be silent. In a foreign country two Americans are
friends at once, simply because they are Americans. They are separated by
no prejudice, and their common country draws them together. In the case of
two Englishmen the same blood is not enough; there must be also identity
of rank."

The English habit strikes foreigners by contrast, and it strikes
Englishmen in the same way when they have lived much in foreign countries.
Charles Lever had lived abroad, and was evidently as much struck by this
as De Tocqueville himself. Many readers will remember his brilliant story,
"That Boy of Norcott's," and how the young hero, after finding himself
delightfully at ease with a society of noble Hungarians, at the Schloss
Hunyadi, is suddenly chilled and alarmed by the intelligence that an
English lord is expected. "When they shall see," he says, "how my titled
countryman will treat me,--the distance at which he will hold me, and the
measured firmness with which he will repel, not my familiarities, for I
should not dare them, _but simply the ease of my manner_,--the foreigners
will be driven to regard me as some ignoble upstart who has no pretension
whatever to be amongst them."

Lever also noted that a foreigner would have had a better chance of civil
treatment than an Englishman. "In my father's house I had often had
occasion to remark that while Englishmen freely admitted the advances of a
foreigner and accepted his acquaintance with a courteous readiness, with
each other they maintained a cold and studied reserve, as though no
difference of place or circumstance was to obliterate that insular code
which defines class, and limits each man to the exact rank he belongs to."

These readings and experiences, and many others too long to quote or
narrate, have led me to the conclusion that it is scarcely possible to
attempt any other manner with English people than that which the very
peculiar and exceptional state of national feeling appears to authorize.
The reason is that in the present state of feeling the innovator is almost
sure to be misunderstood. He may be perfectly contented with his own
social position; his mind may be utterly devoid of any desire to raise
himself in society; the extent of his present wishes may be to wile away
the tedium of a journey or a repast with a little intelligent
conversation; yet if he breaks down the barrier of English reserve he is
likely to be taken for a pushing and intrusive person who is eager to lift
himself in the world. Every friendly expression on his part, even in a
look or the tone of his voice, "simply the ease of his manner," may be
repelled as an impertinence. In the face of such a probable
misinterpretation one feels that it is hardly possible to be too distant
or too cold. When two men meet it is the colder and more reserved man who
always has the advantage. He is the rock; the other is the wave that comes
against the rock and falls shattered at its foot.

It would be wrong to conclude this Essay without a word of reference to
the exceptional Englishman who can pass an hour intelligently with a
stranger, and is not constantly preoccupied with the idea that the
stranger is plotting how to make some ulterior use of him. Such Englishmen
are usually men of ripe experience, who have travelled much and seen much
of the world, so that they have lost our insular distrust. I have met with
a few of them,--they are not very numerous,--and I wish that I could meet
the same fellow-countrymen by some happy accident again. There is nothing
stranger in life than those very short friendships that are formed in an
hour between two people born to understand each other, and cut short
forever the next day, or the next week, by an inevitable separation.[19]



ESSAY XVIII.

OF GENTEEL IGNORANCE.


All virtue has its negative as well as its positive side, and every ideal
includes not having as well as having. Gentility, for those who aspire to
it and value it, is an ideal condition of humanity, a superior state which
is maintained by selection amongst the things that life offers to a man
who has the power to choose. He is judged by his selection. The genteel
person selects in his own way, not only amongst things that can be seen
and handled, such as the material adjuncts of a high state of
civilization, but also amongst the things of the mind, including all the
varieties of knowledge.

That a selection of this kind should be one of the marks of gentility is
in itself no more than a natural consequence of the idealizing process as
we see it continually exercised in the fine arts. Every work of fine art
is a result of selection. The artist does not give us the natural truth as
it is, but he purposely omits very much of it, and alters that which he
recognizes. The genteel person is himself a work of art, and, as such,
contains only partial truth.

This is the central fact about gentility, that it is a narrow ideal,
impoverishing the mind by the rejection of truth as much as it adorns it
by elegance; and it is for this reason that gentility is disliked and
refused by all powerful and inquiring intellects. They look upon it as a
mental condition with which they have nothing to do, and they pursue their
labors without the slightest deference or condescension to it. They may,
however, profitably study it as one of the states of human life, and a
state towards which a certain portion of humanity, aided by wealth,
appears to tend inevitably.

The misfortune of the genteel mind is that it is carried by its own
idealism so far away from the truth of nature that it becomes divorced
from fact and unable to see the movement of the actual world; so that
genteel people, with their narrow and erroneous ideas, are sure to find
themselves thrust aside by men of robust intelligence, who are not
genteel, but who have a stronger grip upon reality. There is,
consequently, a pathetic element in gentility, with its fallacious hopes,
its certain disappointments, so easily foreseen by all whom it has not
blinded, and its immense, its amazing, its ever invincible ignorance.

There is not a country in Europe more favorable than France for the study
of the genteel condition of mind. There you have it in its perfection in
the class _qui n'a rien appris et rien oublié_, and in the numerous
aspirants to social position who desire to mix themselves and become
confounded with that class. It has been in the highest degree fashionable,
since the establishment of the Republic, to be ignorant of the real course
of events. In spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, genteel
people either really believed or universally professed to believe during
the life-time of the Count de Chambord, that his restoration was not only
probable but imminent. No belief could have been more destitute of
foundation in fact; and if genteel people had not been compelled by
gentility to shut their eyes against what was obvious to everybody else,
they might have ascertained the truth with the utmost facility. The truth
was simply this, that the country was going away further and further from
divine right every day, and from every sort of real monarchy, or one-man
government, and was becoming more and more attached to representative
institutions and an elective system everywhere; and what made this truth
glaringly evident was not only the steadily increasing number of
republican elections, but the repeated return to power of the very
ministers whom the party of divine right most bitterly execrated. The same
class of genteel French people affected to believe that the end of the
temporal power of the Papacy by the foundation of the Italian kingdom was
but a temporary crisis, probably of short duration; though the process
which had brought the Papacy to nothing as a temporal sovereignty had been
slow, gradual, and natural,--the progressive enfeeblement of a theocracy
unable to defend itself against its own subjects, and dependent on foreign
soldiers for every hour of its artificial survival. Such is genteel
ignorance in political matters. It is a polite shutting of the eyes
against all facts and tendencies that are disagreeable to people of
fashion. It is unpleasant to people of fashion to be told that the France
of the future is more likely to be governed by men of business than by
kings and cardinals; it is disagreeable to them to hear that the Pope is
not to do what he likes with the Roman people; and so, to please them, we
are to pretend that we do not understand the course of recent history,
which is obvious to everybody who thinks. The course of events has always
proved the blindness of the genteel world, its incapacity to understand
the present and forecast the future; yet still it goes on in the old way,
shutting its eyes resolutely against surrounding facts, and making
predictions that are sure to be falsified by the event. Such a state of
mind is unintelligent to the last degree, but then it is genteel; and
there is always, in every country, a large class of persons who would
rather be gentlemanly than wise.

In religion, genteel ignorance is not less remarkable than in politics.
Here the mark of gentility is to ignore the unfashionable churches, and
generally to underestimate all those forces of opinion that are not on the
side of the particular form of orthodoxy which is professed by the upper
class. In France it is one of the marks of high breeding not to know
anything about Protestantism. The fact that there are such people as
Protestants is admitted, and it is believed that some of them are decent
and respectable people in their line of life, who may follow an erroneous
religion with an assiduity praiseworthy in itself, but the nature of their
opinions is not known, and it is thought better not to inquire into them.

In England the gentry know hardly anything about Dissenters. As to the
organization of dissenting communities, nobody ever hears of any of them
having bishops, and so it is supposed that they must have some sort of
democratic system. Genteel knowledge of dissenting faith and practice is
confined to a very few points,--that Unitarians do not believe in the
Trinity, that Baptists have some unusual practice about baptism, and that
Methodists are fond of singing hymns. This is all, and more than enough;
as it is inconceivable that an aristocratic person can have anything to do
with Dissent, unless he wants the Nonconformist vote in politics. If
Dissenters are to be spoken of at all, it should be in a condescending
tone, as good people in their way, who may be decent members of the middle
and lower classes, of some use in withstanding the tide of infidelity.

I remember a lady who condemned some eminent man as an atheist, on which I
ventured to object that he was a deist only. "It is exactly the same
thing," she replied. Being at that time young and argumentative, I
maintained that there existed a distinction: that a deist believed in God,
and an atheist had not that belief. "That is of no consequence," she
rejoined; "what concerns us is that we should know as little as possible
about such people." When this dialogue took place the lady seemed to me
unreasonable and unjust, but now I perceive that she was genteel. She
desired to keep her soul pure from the knowledge which gentility did not
recognize; she wanted to know nothing about the shades and colors of
heresy.

There is a delightful touch of determined ignorance in the answer of the
Russian prelates to Mr. William Palmer, who went to Russia in 1840 with a
view to bring about a recognition of Anglicanism by Oriental orthodoxy.
In substance, according to Cardinal Newman, it amounted to this: "We know
of no true Church besides our own. We are the only Church in the world.
The Latins are heretics, or all but heretics; you are worse; _we do not
even know your name_." It would be difficult to excel this last touch; it
is the perfection of uncontaminated orthodoxy, of the pure Russian
religious _comme il faut_. We, the holy, the undefiled, the separate from
heretics and from those lost ones, worse than heretics, into whose
aberrations we never inquire, "_we do not even know your name_."

Of all examples of genteel ignorance, there are none more frequent than
the ignorance of those necessities which are occasioned by a limited
income. I am not, at present, alluding to downright poverty. It is genteel
to be aware that the poor exist; it is genteel, even, to have poor people
of one's own to pet and patronize; and it is pleasant to be kind to such
poor people when they receive our kindness in a properly submissive
spirit, with a due sense of the immense distance between us, and read the
tracts we give them, and listen respectfully to our advice. It is genteel
to have to do with poor people in this way, and even to know something
about them; the real genteel ignorance consists in not recognizing the
existence of those impediments that are familiar to people of limited
means. "I cannot understand," said an English lady, "why people complain
about the difficulties of housekeeping. Such difficulties may almost
always be included under one head,--insufficiency of servants; people have
only to take more servants, and the difficulties disappear." Of course
the cost of maintaining a troup of domestics is too trifling to be taken
into consideration. A French lady, in my hearing, asked what fortune had
such a family. The answer was simple and decided, they had no fortune at
all. "No fortune at all! then how can they possibly live? How can people
live who have no fortune?" This lady's genteel ignorance was enlightened
by the explanation that when there is no fortune in a family it is
generally supported by the labor of one or more of its members. "I cannot
understand," said a rich Englishman to one of my friends, "why men are so
imprudent as to allow themselves to sink into money embarrassments. There
is a simple rule that I follow myself, and that I have always found a
great safeguard,--it is, _never to let one's balance at the banker's fall
below five thousand pounds_. By strictly adhering to this rule one is
always sure to be able to meet any unexpected and immediate necessity."
Why, indeed, do we not all follow a rule so evidently wise? It may be
especially recommended to struggling professional men with large families.
If only they can be persuaded to act upon it they will find it an
unspeakable relief from anxiety, and the present volume will not have been
penned in vain.

Genteel ignorance of pecuniary difficulties is conspicuous in the case of
amusements. It is supposed, if you are inclined to amuse yourself in a
certain limited way, that you are stupid for not doing it on a much more
expensive scale. Charles Lever wrote a charming paper for one of the early
numbers of the "Cornhill Magazine," in which he gave an account of the
dangers and difficulties he had encountered in riding and boating, simply
because he had set limits to his expenditure on those pastimes, an economy
that seemed unaccountably foolish to his genteel acquaintances. "Lever
will ride such screws! Why won't he give a proper price for a horse? It's
the stupidest thing in the world to be under-horsed; and bad economy
besides." These remarks, Lever said, were not sarcasms on his skill or
sneers at his horsemanship, but they were far worse, they were harsh
judgments on himself expressed in a manner that made reply impossible. So
with his boating. Lever had a passion for boating, for that real boating
which is perfectly distinct from yachting and incomparably less costly;
but richer acquaintances insisted on the superior advantages of the more
expensive amusement. "These cockle-shells, sir, must go over; they have no
bearings, they lee over, and there you are,--you fill and go down. Have a
good decked boat,--I should say five-and-thirty or forty tons; _get a
clever skipper and a lively crew_." Is not this exactly like the lady who
thought people stupid for not having an adequate establishment of
servants?

Another form of genteel ignorance consists in being so completely blinded
by conventionalism as not to be able to perceive the essential identity of
two modes of life or habits of action when one of them happens to be in
what is called "good form," whilst the other is not accepted by polite
society. My own tastes and pursuits have often led me to do things for the
sake of study or pleasure which in reality differ but very slightly from
what genteel people often do; yet, at the same time, this slight
difference is sufficient to prevent them from seeing any resemblance
whatever between my practice and theirs. When a young man, I found a
wooden hut extremely convenient for painting from nature, and when at a
distance from other lodging I slept in it. This was unfashionable; and
genteel people expressed much wonder at it, being especially surprised
that I could be so imprudent as to risk health by sleeping in a little
wooden house. Conventionalism made them perfectly ignorant of the fact
that they occasionally slept in little wooden houses themselves. A railway
carriage is simply a wooden hut on wheels, generally very ill-ventilated,
and presenting the alternative of foul air or a strong draught, with
vibration that makes sleep difficult to some and to others absolutely
impossible. I have passed many nights in those public wooden huts on
wheels, but have never slept in them so pleasantly as in my own private
one.[20] Genteel people also use wooden dwellings that float on water. A
yacht's cabin is nothing but a hut of a peculiar shape with its own
special inconveniences. On land a hut will remain steady; at sea it
inclines in every direction, and is tossed about like Gulliver's large
box. An Italian nobleman who liked travel, but had no taste for dirty
Southern inns, had four vans that formed a square at night, with a little
courtyard in the middle that was covered with canvas and served as a
spacious dining-room. The arrangement was excellent, but he was
considered hopelessly eccentric; yet how slight was the difference between
his vans and a train of saloon carriages for the railway! He simply had
saloon carriages that were adapted for common roads.

It is difficult to see what advantage there can be in genteel ignorance to
compensate for its evident disadvantages. Not to be acquainted with
unfashionable opinions, not to be able to imagine unfashionable
necessities, not to be able to perceive the real likeness between
fashionable and unfashionable modes of life on account of some external
and superficial difference, is like living in a house with closed
shutters. Surely a man, or a woman either, might have as good manners, and
be as highly civilized in all respects, with accurate notions of things as
with a head full of illusions. To understand the world as it really is, to
see the direction in which humanity is travelling, ought to be the purpose
of every strong and healthy intellect, even though such knowledge may take
it out of gentility altogether.

The effect of genteel ignorance on human intercourse is such a deduction
from the interest of it that men of ability often avoid genteel society
altogether, and either devote themselves to solitary labors, cheered
principally by the companionship of books, or else keep to intimate
friends of their own order. In Continental countries the public
drinking-places are often frequented by men of culture, not because they
want to drink, but because they can talk freely about what they think and
what they know without being paralyzed by the determined ignorance of the
genteel. In England, no doubt, there is more information; and yet Stuart
Mill said that "general society as now carried on in England is so insipid
an affair, even to the persons who make it what it is, that it is kept up
for any reason rather than the pleasure it affords. All serious discussion
on matters in which opinions differ being considered ill-bred, and the
national deficiency in liveliness and sociability having prevented the
cultivation of the art of talking agreeably on trifles, the sole
attraction of what is called society to those who are not at the top of
the tree is the hope of being aided to climb a little higher. To a person
of any but a very common order in thought or feeling, such society, unless
he has personal objects to serve by it, must be supremely unattractive;
and most people in the present day of any really high class of intellect
make their contact with it so slight and at such long intervals as to be
almost considered as retiring from it altogether." The loss here is
distinctly to the genteel persons themselves. They may not feel it, they
may be completely insensible of it, but by making society insipid they
eliminate from it the very men who might have been its most valuable
elements, and who, whether working in solitude or living with a few
congenial spirits, are really the salt of the earth.



ESSAY XIX.

PATRIOTIC IGNORANCE.


Patriotic ignorance is maintained by the satisfaction that we feel in
ignoring what is favorable to another nation. It is a voluntary closing of
the mind against the disagreeable truth that another nation may be on
certain points equal to our own, or even, though inferior, in some degree
comparable to our own.

The effect of patriotic ignorance as concerning human intercourse is to
place any one who knows the exact truth in the unpleasant dilemma of
having either to correct mistakes which are strongly preferred to truth,
or else to give assent to them against his sense of justice. International
intercourse is made almost impossible by patriotic ignorance, except
amongst a few highly cultivated persons who are superior to it. Nothing is
more difficult than to speak about one's own country with foreigners who
are perpetually putting forward the errors which they have imbibed all
their lives, and to which they cling with such tenacity that it seems as
if those errors were, in some mysterious way, essential to their mental
comfort and well-being. If, on the other hand, we have any really intimate
knowledge of a foreign country, gained by long residence in it and
studious observation of the inhabitants, then we find a corresponding
difficulty in talking reasonably about it and them with our own
countrymen, because they, too, have their patriotic ignorance which they
prize and value as foreigners value theirs.

At the risk of turning this Essay into a string of anecdotes, I intend to
give a few examples of patriotic ignorance, in order to show to what an
astonishing degree of perfection it may attain. When we fully understand
this we shall also understand how those who possess such a treasure should
be anxious for its preservation. Their anxiety is the more reasonable that
in these days there is a difficulty in keeping things when they are easily
injured by light.

A French lady who possessed this treasure in its perfection gave, in my
hearing, as a reason why French people seldom visited England, that there
were no works of art there, no collections, no architecture, nothing to
gratify the artistic sense or the intelligence; and that it was only
people specially interested in trade and manufactures who went to England,
as the country had nothing to show but factories and industrial products.
On hearing this statement, there suddenly passed before my mind's eye a
rapid vision of the great works of architecture, sculpture, and painting
that I had seen in England, and a confused recollection of many minor
examples of these arts not quite unworthy of a studious man's attention.
It is impossible to contradict a lady; and any statement of the simple
truth would, in this instance, have been a direct and crushing
contradiction. I ventured on a faint remonstrance, but without effect; and
my fair enemy triumphed. There were no works of art in England. Thus she
settled the question.

This little incident led me to take note of French ideas about England
with reference to patriotic ignorance; and I discovered that there existed
a very general belief that there was no intellectual light of any kind in
England. Paris was the light of the world, and only so far as Parisian
rays might penetrate the mental fog of the British Islands was there a
chance of its becoming even faintly luminous. It was settled that the
speciality of England was trade and manufacture, that we were all of us
either merchants or cotton-spinners, and I discovered that we had no
learned societies, no British Museum, no Royal Academy of Arts.

An English painter, who for many years had exhibited on the line of the
Royal Academy, happened to be mentioned in my presence and in that of a
French artist. I was asked by some French people who knew him personally
whether the English painter had a good professional standing. I answered
that he had a fair though not a brilliant reputation; meanwhile the French
artist showed signs of uneasiness, and at length exploded with a vigorous
protest against the inadmissible idea that a painter could be anything
whatever who was not known at the French _Salon_. "Il n'est pas connu au
Salon de Paris, donc, il n'existe pas--il n'existe pas. Les réputations
dans les beaux-arts se font au Salon de Paris et pas ailleurs." This
Frenchman had no conception whatever of the simple fact that artistic
reputations are made in every capital of the civilized world. That was a
truth which his patriotism could not tolerate for a moment.

A French gentleman expressed his surprise that I did not have my books
translated into French, "because," said he, "no literary reputation can be
considered established until it has received the consecration of Parisian
approval." To his unfeigned astonishment I answered that London and not
Paris was the capital city of English literature, and that English authors
had not yet fallen so low as to care for the opinion of critics ignorant
of their language.

I then asked myself why this intense French patriotic ignorance should
continue so persistently; and the answer appeared to be that there was
something profoundly agreeable to French patriotic sentiment in the belief
that England had no place in the artistic and intellectual world. Until
quite recently the very existence of an English school of painting was
denied by all patriotic Frenchmen, and English art was rigorously excluded
from the Louvre.[21] Even now a French writer upon art can scarcely
mention English painting without treating it _de haut en bas_, as if his
Gallic nationality gave him a natural right to treat uncivilized islanders
with lofty disdain or condescending patronage.

My next example has no reference to literature or the fine arts. A young
French gentleman of superior education and manners, and with the instincts
of a sportsman, said in my hearing, "There is no game in England." His
tone was that of a man who utters a truth universally acknowledged.

It might be a matter of little consequence, as touching our national
pride, whether there was game in England or not. I have no doubt that some
philosophers would consider, and perhaps with reason, that the
non-existence of game, where it can only be maintained by an army of
keepers and a penal code of its own, would be the sign of an advancing
social state; but my young Frenchman was not much of a philosopher, and no
doubt he considered the non-existence of game in England a mark of
inferiority to France. There is something in the masculine mind, inherited
perhaps from ancestors who lived by the chase, which makes it look upon an
abundance of wild things that can be shot at, or run after with horses and
dogs, as a reason for the greatest pride and glorification. On reflection,
it will be found that there is more in the matter than at first sight
appears. As there is no game in England, of course there are no sportsmen
in that country. The absence of game means the absence of shooters and
huntsmen, and consequently an inferiority in manly exercises to the
French, thousands of whom take shooting licenses and enjoy the
invigorating excitement of the chase. For this reason it is agreeable to
French patriotic sentiment to be perfectly certain that there is no game
in England. When I inquired what reason my young friend had for holding
his conviction on the subject, he told me that in a country like England,
so full of trade and manufactures, there could not be any room for game.

One of the most popular of French songs is that charming one by Pierre
Dupont in praise of his vine. Every Frenchman who knows anything knows
that song, and believes that he also knows the tune. The consequence is
that when one of them begins to sing it his companions join in the refrain
or chorus, which is as follows:--

  "Bons Français, quand je vois mon verre
   Plein de ce vin couleur de feu
   Je songe en remerciant Dieu
   Qu'ils n'en ont pas dans l'Angleterre!"

The singers repeat "qu'ils n'en ont pas," and besides this the whole of
the last line is repeated with triumphant emphasis.

We need not feel hurt by this little outburst of patriotism. There is no
real hatred of England at the bottom of it, only a little "malice" of a
harmless kind, and the song is sometimes sung good-humoredly in the
presence of Englishmen. It is, however, really connected with patriotic
ignorance. The common French belief is that as vines are not grown in
England, we have no wine in our cellars, so that English people hardly
know the taste of wine; and this belief is too pleasing to the French mind
to be readily abandoned by those who hold it. They feel that it enhances
the delightfulness of every glass they drink. The case is precisely the
same with fruit. The French enjoy plenty of excellent fruit, and they
enjoy it all the more heartily from a firm conviction that there is no
fruit of any kind in England. "Pas un fruit," said a countryman of Pierre
Dupont in writing about our unfavored island, "pas un fruit ne mûrit dans
ce pays." What, not even a gooseberry? Were the plums, pears,
strawberries, apples, apricots, that we consumed in omnivorous boyhood
every one of them unripe? It is lamentable to think how miserably the
English live. They have no game, no wine, no fruit (it appears to be
doubtful, too, whether they have any vegetables), and they dwell in a
perpetual fog where sunshine is totally unknown. It is believed, also,
that there is no landscape-beauty in England,--nothing but a green field
with a hedge, and then another green field with another hedge, till you
come to the bare chalk cliffs and the dreary northern sea. The English
have no Devonshire, no valley of the Severn, no country of the Lakes. The
Thames is a foul ditch, without a trace of natural beauty anywhere.[22]

It would be easy to give many more examples of the patriotism of our
neighbors, but perhaps for the sake of variety it may be desirable to turn
the glass in the opposite direction and see what English patriotism has to
say about France. We shall find the same principle at work, the same
determination to believe that the foreign country is totally destitute of
many things on which we greatly pride ourselves. I do not know that there
is any reason to be proud of having mountains, as they are excessively
inconvenient objects that greatly impede agriculture and communication;
however, in some parts of Great Britain it is considered, somehow, a glory
for a nation to have mountains; and there used to be a firm belief that
French landscape was almost destitute of mountainous grandeur. There were
the Highlands of Scotland, but who had ever heard of the Highlands of
France? Was not France a wearisome, tame country that unfortunately had to
be traversed before one could get to Switzerland and Italy? Nobody seemed
to have any conception that France was rich in mountain scenery of the
very grandest kind. Switzerland was understood to be the place for
mountains, and there was a settled but erroneous conviction that Mont
Blanc was situated in that country. As for the Grand-Pelvoux, the Pointe
des Écrins, the Mont Olan, the Pic d'Arsine, and the Trois Ellions, nobody
had ever heard of them. If you had told any average Scotchman that the
most famous Bens would be lost and nameless in the mountainous departments
of France, the news would have greatly surprised him. He would have been
astonished to hear that the area of mountainous France exceeded the area
of Scotland, and that the height of its loftiest summits attained three
times the elevation of Ben Nevis.

It may be excusable to feel proud of mountains, as they are noble objects
in spite of their inconvenience, but it seems less reasonable to be
patriotic about hedges, which make us pay dearly for any beauty they may
possess by hiding the perspective of the land. A hedge six feet high
easily masks as many miles of distance. However, there is a pride in
English hedges, accompanied by a belief that there are no such things in
France. The truth is that regions of large extent are divided by hedges in
France as they are in England Another belief is that there is little or
no wood in France, though wood is the principal fuel, and vast forests are
reserved for its supply. I have heard an Englishman proudly congratulating
himself, in the spirit of Dupont's song, on the supposed fact that the
French had neither coal nor iron; and yet I have visited a vast
establishment at the Creuzot, where ten thousand workmen are continually
employed in making engines, bridges, armor-plates, and other things from
iron found close at hand, by the help of coal fetched from a very little
distance. I have read in an English newspaper that there were no singing
birds in France; and by way of commentary a hundred little French
songsters kept up a merry din that would have gladdened the soul of
Chaucer. It happened, too, to be the time of the year for nightingales,
which filled the woods with their music in the moonlight.

Patriotic ignorance often gets hold of some partial truth unfavorable to
another country, and then applies it in such an absolute manner that it is
truth no longer. It is quite true, for example, that athletic exercises
are not so much cultivated in France, nor held in such high esteem, as
they are in England, but it is not true that all young Frenchmen are
inactive. They are often both good swimmers and good pedestrians, and,
though they do not play cricket, many of them take a practical interest in
gymnastics and are skilful on the bar and the trapeze. The French learn
military drill in their boyhood, and in early manhood they are inured to
fatigue in the army, besides which great numbers of them learn fencing on
their own account, that they may hold their own in a duel. Patriotic
ignorance likes to shut its eyes to all inconvenient facts of this kind,
and to dwell on what is unfavorable. A man may like a glass of absinthe in
a _café_ and still be as energetic as if he drank port wine at home. I
know an old French officer who never misses his daily visit to the _café_,
and so might serve as a text for moralizing, but at the same time he walks
twenty kilomètres every day. Patriotic ignorance has its opportunity in
every difference of habit. What can be apparently more indolent, for an
hour or two after _déjeûner_, than a prosperous man of business in Paris?
Very possibly he may be caught playing cards or dominoes in the middle of
the day, and severely blamed by a foreign censor. The difference between
him and his equal in London is simply in the arrangement of time. The
Frenchman has been at his work early, and divides his day into two parts,
with hours of idleness between them.

Many examples of those numerous international criticisms that originate in
patriotic ignorance are connected with the employment of words that are
apparently common to different nations, yet vary in their signification.
One that has given rise to frequent patriotic criticisms is the French
word _univers_. French writers often say of some famous author, such as
Victor Hugo, "Sa renommée remplit l'univers;" or of some great warrior,
like Napoleon, "Il inquiéta l'univers." English critics take up these
expressions and then say, "Behold how bombastic these French writers are,
with their absurd exaggerations, as if Victor Hugo and Napoleon astonished
the universe, as if they were ever heard of beyond our own little
planet!" Such criticism only displays patriotic ignorance of a foreign
language. The French expression is perfectly correct, and not in the least
exaggerated. Napoleon did not disquiet the universe, but he disquieted
_l'univers_. Victor Hugo is not known beyond the terrestrial globe, but he
is known, by name at least, throughout _l'univers_. The persistent
ignorance of English writers on this point would be inexplicable if it
were not patriotic; if it did not afford an opportunity for deriding the
vanity of foreigners. It is the more remarkable that the deriders
themselves constantly use the word in the same restricted sense as an
adjective or an adverb. I open Mr. Stanford's atlas, and find that it is
called "The London Atlas of _Universal Geography_," though it does not
contain a single map of any planet but our own, not even one of the
visible hemisphere of the moon, which might easily have been given. I take
a newspaper, and I find that the late President of the Royal Society died
_universally_ respected, though he was known only to the cultivated
inhabitants of a single planet. Such is the power of patriotic ignorance
that it is able to prevent men from understanding a foreign word when they
themselves employ a nearly related word in identically the same
sense.[23]

The word _univers_ reminds me of universities, and they recall a striking
example of patriotic ignorance in my own countrymen. I wonder how many
Englishmen there are who know anything about the University of France. I
never expect an Englishman to know anything about it; and, what is more, I
am always prepared to find him impervious to any information on the
subject. As the organization of the University of France differs
essentially from that of English universities, each of which is localized
in one place, and can be seen in its entirety from the top of a tower, the
Englishman hears with contemptuous inattention any attempt to make him
understand an institution without a parallel in his own country. Besides
this, the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge are venerable and wealthy
institutions, visibly beautiful, whilst the University of France is of
comparatively recent origin; and, though large sums are expended in its
service, the result does not strike the eye because the expenditure is
distributed over the country. I remember having occasion to mention the
Academy of Lyons to a learned doctor of Oxford who was travelling in
France, and I found that he had never heard of the Academy of Lyons, and
knew nothing about the organization of the national university of which
that academy forms a part. From a French point of view this is quite as
remarkable an example of patriotic ignorance as if some foreigner had
never heard of the diocese of York, or the episcopal organization of the
Church of England. Every Frenchman who has any education at all knows the
functions of academies in the university, and which of the principal
cities are the seats of those learned bodies.

As Englishmen ignore the University of France, they naturally at the same
time ignore the degrees that it confers. They never know what a _Licencié_
is, they have no conception of the _Agrégation_, or of the severe ordeal
of competitive examination through which an _Agrégé_ must have passed.
Therefore, if a Frenchman has attained either of these grades, his title
is unintelligible to an Englishman.

There is, no doubt, great ignorance in France on the subject of the
English universities, but it is neither in the same degree nor of the same
kind. I should hardly call French ignorance of the classes at Oxford
patriotic ignorance, because it does not proceed from the belief that a
foreign university is unworthy of a Frenchman's attention. I should call
French ignorance of the Royal Academy, for example, genuine patriotic
ignorance, because it proceeds from a conviction that English art is
unworthy of notice, and that the French _Salon_ is the only exhibition
that can interest an enlightened lover of art. That is the essence of
patriotism in ignorance,--to be ignorant of what is done in another
nation, because we believe our own to be first and the rest nowhere; and
so the English ignorance of the University of France is genuine patriotic
ignorance. It is caused by the existence of Oxford and Cambridge, as the
French ignorance of the Royal Academy is caused by the French _Salon_.

Patriotic ignorance is one of the most serious impediments to conversation
between people of different nationality, because occasions are continually
arising when the national sentiments of the one are hurt by the ignorance
of the other. But we may also wound the feelings of a foreigner by
assuming a more complete degree of ignorance on his part than that which
is really his. This is sometimes done by English people towards Americans,
when English people forget that their national literature is the common
possession of the two countries. A story is told by Mr. Grant White of an
English lady who informed him that a novel (which she advised him to read)
had been written about Kenilworth, by Sir Walter Scott; and he expected
her to recommend a perusal of the works of William Shakespeare. Having
lived much abroad, I am myself occasionally the grateful recipient of
valuable information from English friends. For example, I remember an
Englishman who kindly and quite seriously informed me that Eton College
was a public school where many sons of the English aristocracy were
educated.

There is a very serious side to patriotic ignorance in relation to war.
There can be no doubt that many of the most foolish, costly, and
disastrous wars ever undertaken were either directly due to patriotic
ignorance, or made possible only by the existence of such ignorance in the
nation that afterwards suffered by them. The way in which patriotic
ignorance directly tends to produce war is readily intelligible. A nation
sees its own soldiers, its own cannons, its own ships, and becomes so
proud of them as to remain contentedly and even wilfully ignorant of the
military strength and efficiency of its neighbors. The war of 1870-71, so
disastrous to France, was the direct result of patriotic ignorance. The
country and even the Emperor himself were patriotically ignorant of their
own inferior military condition and of the superior Prussian organization.
One or two isolated voices were raised in warning, but it was considered
patriotic not to listen to them. The war between Turkey and Russia, which
cost Turkey Bulgaria and all but expelled her from Europe, might easily
have been avoided by the Sultan; but he was placed in a false position by
the patriotic ignorance of his own subjects, who believed him to be far
more powerful than he really was, and who would have probably dethroned or
murdered him if he had acted rationally, that is to say, in accordance
with the degree of strength that he possessed. In almost every instance
that I am able to remember, the nations that have undertaken imprudent and
easily avoidable wars have done so because they were blinded by patriotic
ignorance, and therefore either impelled their rulers into a foolish
course against their better knowledge, or else were themselves easily led
into peril by the temerity of a rash master, who would risk the well-being
of all his subjects that he might attain some personal and private end.
The French have been cured of their most dangerous patriotic
ignorance,--that concerning the military strength of the country,--by the
war of 1870, but the cure was of a costly nature.

Patriotism has been so commonly associated with a wilful closing of the
eyes against unpleasant facts, that those who prefer truth to illusion are
often considered unpatriotic. Yet surely ignorance has not the immense
advantage over knowledge of having all patriotism on her side. There is a
far higher and better patriotism than that of ignorance; there is a love
of country that shows itself in anxiety for its best welfare, and does not
remain satisfied with the vain delusion of a fancied superiority in
everything. It is the interest of England as a nation to be accurately
informed about all that concerns her position in the world, and it is
impossible for her to receive this information if a stupid national vanity
is always ready to take offence when it is offered. It is desirable for
England to know exactly in what degree she is a military power, and also
how she stands with reference to the naval armaments of other nations, not
as they existed in the days of Nelson, but as they will exist next year.
It is the interest of England to know by what tenure she holds India, just
as in the reign of George the Third it would have been very much the
interest of England to know accurately both the rights of the American
colonists and their strength. I cannot imagine any circumstances that
might make ignorance more desirable for a free people than knowledge. With
enslaved peoples the case is different: the less they know and the
greater, perhaps, are their chances of enjoying the dull kind of somnolent
happiness which alone is attainable by them; but this is a kind of
happiness that no citizen of a free country would desire.



ESSAY XX.

CONFUSIONS.


Surely the analytical faculty must be very rare, or we should not so
commonly find people confounding together things essentially distinct. Any
one who possesses that faculty naturally, and has followed some occupation
which strengthens it, must be continually amused if he has a humorous
turn, or irritated if he is irascible, by the astounding mental confusions
in which men contentedly pass their lives. To be just, this account ought
to include both sexes, for women indulge in confusions even more
frequently than men, and are less disposed to separate things when they
have once been jumbled together.

A confusion of ideas in politics which is not uncommon amongst the enemies
of all change is to believe that whoever desires the reform of some law
wants to do something that is not legal, and has a rebellious, subversive
spirit. Yet the reformer is not a rebel; it is indeed the peculiar
distinction of his position not to be a rebel, for there has never been a
real reformer (as distinguished from a revolutionist) who wished to do
anything illegal. He desires, certainly, to do something which is not
legal just at present, but he does not wish to do it so long as it remains
in the condition of illegality. He wishes first to make it legal by
obtaining legislative sanction for his proposal, and then to do it when it
shall have become as legal as anything else, and when all the most
conservative people in the kingdom will be strenuous in its defence as
"part and parcel of the law of the land."

Another confusion in political matters which has always been extremely
common is that between private and public liberty. Suppose that a law were
enacted to the effect that each British subject without exception should
go to Mass every Sunday morning, on pain of death, and should take the
Roman Catholic Sacrament of Holy Communion, involving auricular
confession, at Easter; such a law would not be an infringement of the
sensible liberty of Roman Catholics, because they do these things already.
Then they might say, "People talk of the tyranny of the law, yet the law
is not tyrannical at all; we enjoy perfect liberty in England, and it is
most unreasonable to say that we do not." The Protestant part of the
community would exclaim that such a law was an intolerable infringement of
liberty, and would rush to arms to get rid of it. This is the distinction
between private and public liberty. There is private liberty when some men
are not interfered with in the ordinary habits of their existence; and
there has always been much of such private liberty under the worst of
despotisms; but there is not public liberty until every man in the country
may live according to his own habits, so long as he does not interfere
with the rights of others. Here is a distinction plain enough to be
evident to a very commonplace understanding; yet the admirers of tyrants
are often successful in producing a confusion between the two things, and
in persuading people that there was "ample liberty" under some foreign
despot, because they themselves, when they visited the country that lay
prostrate under his irresistible power, were allowed to eat good dinners,
and drive about unmolested, and amuse themselves by day and by night
according to every suggestion of their fancy.

Many confusions have been intentionally maintained by political enemies in
order to cast odium on their adversaries; so that it becomes of great
importance to a political cause that it should not bear a name with two
meanings, or to which it may be possible to give another meaning than that
which was originally intended. The word "Radical" is an instance of this.
According to the enemies of radicalism it has always meant a political
principle that strikes at the root of the constitution; but it was not
that meaning of the word which induced the first Radicals to commit the
imprudence of adopting it. The term referred to agriculture rather than
tree-felling, the original idea being to uproot abuses as a gardener pulls
weeds up by the roots. I distinctly remember my first boyish notion of the
Radicals. I saw them in a sort of sylvan picture,--violent savage men
armed with sharp axes, and hewing away at the foot of a majestic oak that
stood for the glory of England. Since then I have become acquainted with
another instance of the unfortunate adoption of a word which may be
plausibly perverted from its meaning. The French republican motto is
_Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité_, and to this day there is hardly an
English newspaper that does not from time to time sneer at the French
Republicans for aspiring to equality, as if equality were not impossible
in the nature of things, and as if, supposing an unnatural equality to be
established to-day, the operation of natural causes would not bring about
inequality to-morrow. We are told that some men would be stronger, or
cleverer, or more industrious than others, and earn more and make
themselves leaders; that children of the same parents, starting in life
with the same fortunes, never remain in precisely the same positions; and
much more to the same purpose. All this trite and familiar reasoning is
without application here. The word _Égalité_ in the motto means something
which _can_ be attained, and which, though it did not exist in France
before the Revolution, is now almost a perfect reality there,--it means
equality before the law; it means that there shall not be privileged
classes exempt from paying taxes, and favored with such scandalous
partiality that all posts of importance in the government, the army, the
magistracy, and the church are habitually reserved for them. If it meant
absolute equality, no Republican could aim at wealth, which is the
creation of inequality in his own favor; neither would any Republican
labor for intellectual reputation, or accept honors. There would not even
be a Republican in the gymnastic societies, where every member strives to
become stronger and more agile than his fellows, and knows that, whether
in his favor or against him, the most striking inequalities will be
manifested in every public contest. There would be no Republicans in the
University, for has it not a hierarchy with the most marked gradations of
title, and differences of consideration and authority? Yet the University
is so full of Republicans that it is scarcely too much to say that it is
entirely composed of them. I am aware that there are dreamers in the
working classes, both in France and elsewhere, who look forward to a
social state when all men will work for the same wages,--when the
Meissonier of the day will be paid like a sign-painter, and the
sign-painter like a white-washer, and all three perform each other's tasks
by turns for equality of agreeableness in the work; but these dreams are
only possible in extreme ignorance, and lie quite outside of any theories
to be seriously considered.

Religious intolerance, when quite sincere and not mixed up with social
contempt or political hatred, is founded upon a remarkable confusion of
ideas, which is this. The persecutor assumes that the heretic knowingly
and maliciously resists the will of God in rejecting the theology which he
knows that God desires him to receive. This is a confusion between the
mental states of the believer and the unbeliever, and it does not
accurately describe either, for the believer of course accepts the
doctrine, and the unbeliever does not reject it as coming from God, but
precisely because he is convinced that it has a purely human origin.

"Are you a Puseyite?" was a question put to a lady in my hearing; and she
at once answered, "Certainly not, I should be ashamed of being a
Puseyite." Here was a confusion between her present mental state and her
supposed possible mental state as a Puseyite; for it is impossible to be a
real Puseyite and at the same time to think of one's belief with an inward
sense of shame. A believer always thinks that his belief is simply the
truth, and nobody feels ashamed of believing what is true. Even
concealment of a belief does not imply shame; and those who have been
compelled, in self-defence, to hide their real opinions, have been
ashamed, if at all, of hiding and not of having them.

A confusion common to all who do not think, and avoided only with the
greatest difficulty by those who do, is that between their own knowledge
and the knowledge possessed by another person who has different tastes,
different receptive powers, and other opportunities. They cannot imagine
that the world does not appear the same to him that it appears to them.
They do not really believe that he can feel quite differently from
themselves and still be in every respect as sound in mind and as
intelligent as they are. The incapacity to imagine a different mental
condition is strikingly manifested in what we call the Philistine mind,
and is one of its strongest characteristics. The true Philistine thinks
that every form of culture which opens out a world that is closed against
himself leaves the votary exactly where he was before. "I cannot imagine
why you live in Italy," said a Philistine to an acquaintance; "nothing
could induce _me_ to live in Italy." He did not take into account the
difference of gifts and culture, but supposed the person he addressed to
have just his own mental condition, the only one that he was able to
conceive, whereas, in fact, that person was so endowed and so educated as
to enjoy Italy in the supreme degree. He spoke the purest Italian with
perfect ease; he had a considerable knowledge of Italian literature and
antiquities; his love of natural beauty amounted to an insatiable passion;
and from his youth he had delighted in architecture and painting. Of these
gifts, tastes, and acquirements the Philistine was simply destitute. For
him Italy could have had no meaning. Where the other found unfailing
interest he would have suffered from unrelieved _ennui_, and would have
been continually looking back, with the intolerable longing of nostalgia,
to the occupations of his English home. In the same spirit a French
_bourgeois_ once complained in my hearing that too much space was given to
foreign affairs in the newspapers, "car, vous comprenez, cela n'intéresse
pas." This was simply an attribution of his personal apathy to everybody
else. Certainly, as a nation, the French take less interest in foreign
affairs than we do, but they do take some interest, and the degree of it
is exactly reflected by the importance given to foreign affairs in their
journals, always greatest in the best of them. An Englishman said, also in
my hearing, that to have a library was a mistake, as a library was of no
use; he admitted that a few books might be useful if the owner read them
through. Here, again, is the attribution of one person's experience to all
cases. This man had never himself felt the need of a library, and did not
know how to use one. He could not realize the fact that a few books only
allow you to read, whilst a library allows you to pursue a study. He could
not at all imagine what the word "library" means to a scholar,--that it
means the not being stopped at every turn for want of light, the not being
exposed to scornful correction by men of inferior ability and inferior
industry, whose only superiority is the great and terrible one of living
within a cabfare of the British Museum. I remember reading an account of
the establishment of a Greek professorship in a provincial town, and it
was wisely proposed, by one who understood the difficulties of a scholar
remote from the great libraries, that provision should be made for the
accumulation of books for the use of the future occupants of the chair,
but the trustees (honest men of business, who had no idea of a scholar's
wants and necessities) said that each professor must provide his own
library, just as road commissioners advertise that a surveyor must have
his own horse.

One of the most serious reasons why it is imprudent to associate with
people whose opinions you do not wish to be made responsible for is that
others will confound you with them. There is an old Latin proverb, and
also a French one, to the effect that if a man knows what your friends
are, he knows what you are yourself. These proverbs are not true, but they
well express the popular confusion between having something in common and
having everything in common. If you are on friendly terms with clergymen,
it is inferred that you have a clerical mind; when the reason may be that
you are a scholar living in the country, and can find no scholarship in
your neighborhood except in the parsonage houses. You associate with
foreigners, and are supposed to be unpatriotic; when in truth you are as
patriotic as any rational and well-informed creature can be, but have a
faculty for languages that you like to exercise in conversation. This kind
of confusion takes no account of the indisputable fact that men constantly
associate together on the ground of a single pursuit that they have in
common, often a mere amusement, or because, in spite of every imaginable
difference, they are drawn together by one of those mysterious natural
affinities which are so obscure in their origin and action that no human
intelligence can explain them.

Not only are a man's tastes liable to be confounded with those of his
personal acquaintances, but he may find some trade attributed to him, by a
perfectly irrational association of ideas, because it happens to be
prevalent in the country where he lives. I have known instances of men
supposed to have been in the cotton trade simply because they had lived in
Lancashire, and of others supposed to be in the mineral oil trade for no
other reason than because they had lived in a part of France where mineral
oil is found.

Professional men are usually very much alive to the danger of confusion as
affecting their success in life. If you are known to do two things, a
confusion gets established between the two, and you are no longer classed
with that ease and decision which the world finds to be convenient. It
therefore becomes a part of worldly wisdom to keep one of the occupations
in obscurity, and if that is not altogether possible, then to profess as
loudly and as frequently as you can that it is entirely secondary and only
a refreshment after more serious toils. Many years ago a well-known
surgeon published a set of etchings, and the merit of them was so
dangerously conspicuous, so superior, in fact, to the average of
professional work, that he felt constrained to keep those too clever
children in their places by a quotation from Horace,--

      "O laborum
  Dulce lenimen!"

To present one's self to the world always in one character is a great help
to success, and maintains the stability of a position. The kings in the
story-books and on playing cards who have always their crowns on their
heads and sceptres in their hands, appear to enjoy a decided advantage
over modern royalty, which dresses like other people and enters into
common interests and pursuits. Literary men admire the prudent
self-control of our literary sovereign, Tennyson, who by his rigorous
abstinence from prose takes care never to appear in public without his
singing robes and his crown of laurel. Had he carelessly and familiarly
employed the commoner vehicle of expression, there would have been a
confusion of two Tennysons in the popular idea, whilst at present his name
is as exclusively associated with the exquisite music of his verse as that
of Mozart with another kind of melody.

The great evil of confusions, as they affect conversation, is that they
constantly place a man of accurate mental habits in such trying situations
that, unless he exercises the most watchful self-control, he is sure to
commit the sin of contradiction. We have all of us met with the lady who
does not think it necessary to distinguish between one person and
another, who will tell a story of some adventure as having happened to A,
when in reality it happened to B; who will attribute sayings and opinions
to C, when they properly belong to D; and deliberately maintain that it is
of no consequence whatever, when some suffering lover of accuracy
undertakes to set her right. It is in vain to argue that there really does
exist, in the order of the universe, a distinction between one person and
another, though both belong to the human race; and that organisms are
generally isolated, though there has been an exception in the case of the
Siamese twins. The death of the wonderful swimmer who attempted to descend
the rapids of Niagara afforded an excellent opportunity for confounders.
In France they all confounded him with Captain Boyton, who swam with an
apparatus; and when poor Webb was sucked under the whirlpool they said,
"You see that, after all, his inflated dress was of no avail." Fame of a
higher kind does not escape from similar confusions. On the death of
George Eliot, French readers of English novels lamented that they would
have nothing more from the pen that wrote "John Halifax," and a cultivated
Frenchman expressed his regret for the author of "Adam Bede" and "Uncle
Tom's Cabin."[24]

Men who have trained themselves in habits of accurate observation often
have a difficulty in realizing the confused mental condition of those who
simply receive impressions without comparison and classification. A fine
field for confused tourists is architecture. They go to France and Italy,
they talk about what they have seen, and leave you in bewilderment, until
you make the discovery that they have substituted one building for
another, or, better still, mixed two different edifices inextricably
together. Foreigners of this class are quite unable to establish any
distinction between the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey,
because both have towers; and they are not clear about the difference
between the British Museum and the National Gallery, because there are
columns in the fronts of both.[25] English tourists will stay some time in
Paris, and afterwards not be able to distinguish between photographs of
the Louvre and the Hôtel de Ville. We need not be surprised that people
who have never studied architecture at all should not be sure whether St.
Paul's is a Gothic building or not, but the wonder is that they seem to
retain no impressions received merely by the eye. One would think that the
eye alone, without knowledge, would be enough to establish a distinction
between one building and another altogether different from it; yet it is
not so.

I cannot close this chapter without some allusion to a crafty employment
of words only too well understood already by those who influence the
popular mind. There is such a natural tendency to confusion in all
ordinary human beings that if you repeatedly present to them two totally
distinct things at the same time, they will, before long, associate them
so closely as to consider them inseparable by their very nature. This is
the reason why all those branches of education that train the mind in
analysis are so valuable. To be able to distinguish between accidental
connections of things or characteristics and necessary connections, is one
of the best powers that education bestows upon us. By far the greater
number of erroneous popular notions are due simply to the inability to
make this distinction which belongs to all undisciplined minds. Calumnies,
that have great influence over such minds, must lose their power as the
habit of analysis enables people to separate ideas which the uncultivated
mingle together.

Insufficient analysis leads to a very common sort of confusion between the
defectiveness of a part only and a defect pervading the whole. An
invention (as often happens) does not visibly succeed on the first trial,
and then the whole of the common public will at once declare the invention
to be bad, when, in reality, it may be a good invention with a local
defect, easily remediable. Suppose that a yacht misses stays, the common
sort of criticism would be to say that she was a bad boat, when, in fact,
her hull and everything else might be thoroughly well made, and the defect
be due only to a miscalculation in the placing of her canvas. I have
myself seen a small steel boat sink at her anchorage, and a crowd laugh
at her as badly contrived, when her only defect was the unobserved
starting of a rivet. The boat was fished up, the rivet replaced, and she
leaked and sank no more. When Stephenson's locomotive did not go because
its wheels slid on the rails, the vulgar spectators were delighted with
the supposed failure of a benefactor of the human species, and set up a
noise of jubilant derision. The invention, they had decided, was of no
good, and they sang their own foolish _gaudeamus igitur_. Stephenson at
once perceived that the only defect was want of weight, and he immediately
proceeded to remedy it by loading the machine with ballast. So it is in
thousands of cases. The common mind, untrained in analysis, condemns the
whole as a failure, when the defect lies in some small part which the
specialist, trained in analysis, seeks for and discovers.

I have not touched upon the confusions due to the decline of the
intellectual powers. In that case the reason is to be sought for in the
condition of the brain, and there is, I believe, no remedy. In healthy
people, enjoying the complete vigor of their faculties, confusions are
simply the result of carelessness and indolence, and are proper subjects
for sarcasm. With senile confusions the case is very different. To treat
them with hard, sharp, decided correction, as is so often done by people
of vigorous intellect, is a most cruel abuse of power. Yet it is difficult
to say what ought to be done when an old person falls into manifest errors
of this kind. Simple acquiescence is in this case a pardonable abandonment
of truth, but there are situations in which it is not possible. Then you
find yourself compelled to show where the confusion lies. You do it as
gently as may be, but you fail to convince, and awaken that tenacious,
unyielding opposition which is a characteristic of decline in its earlier
stages. All that can be said is, that when once it has become evident that
confusions are not careless but senile, they ought to be passed over if
possible, and if not, then treated with the very utmost delicacy and
gentleness.



ESSAY XXI.

THE NOBLE BOHEMIANISM.


Amongst the common injustices of the world there have been few more
complete than its reprobation of the state of mind and manner of life that
have been called Bohemianism; and so closely is that reprobation attached
to the word that I would gladly have substituted some other term for the
better Bohemianism had the English language provided me with one. It may,
however, be a gain to justice itself that we should be compelled to use
the same expression, qualified only by an adjective, for two states of
existence that are the good and the bad conditions of the same, as it will
tend to make us more charitable to those whom we must always blame, and
yet may blame with a more or less perfect understanding of the causes that
led them into error.

The lower forms of Bohemianism are associated with several kinds of vice,
and are therefore justly disliked by people who know the value of a
well-regulated life, and, when at the worst, regarded by them with
feelings of positive abhorrence. The vices connected with these forms of
Bohemianism are idleness, irregularity, extravagance, drunkenness, and
immorality; and besides these vices the worst Bohemianism is associated
with many repulsive faults that may not be exactly vices, and yet are
almost as much disliked by decent people. These faults are slovenliness,
dirt, a degree of carelessness in matters of business, often scarcely to
be distinguished from dishonesty, and habitual neglect of the decorous
observances that are inseparable from a high state of civilization.

After such an account of the worst Bohemianism, in which, as the reader
perceives, I have extenuated nothing, it may seem almost an act of
temerity to advance the theory that this is only the bad side of a state
of mind and feeling that has its good and perfectly respectable side also.
If this seems difficult to believe, the reader has only to consider how
certain other instincts of humanity have also their good and bad
developments. The religious and the sexual instincts, in their best
action, are on the side of national and domestic order, but in their worst
action they produce sanguinary quarrels, ferocious persecutions, and the
excesses of the most degrading sensuality. It is therefore by no means a
new theory that a human instinct may have a happy or an unfortunate
development, and it is not a reason for rejecting Bohemianism, without
unprejudiced examination, that the worst forms of it are associated with
evil.

Again, before going to the _raison d'être_ of Bohemianism, let me point to
one consideration of great importance to us if we desire to think quite
justly. It is, and has always been, a characteristic of Bohemianism to be
extremely careless of appearances, and to live outside the shelter of
hypocrisy; so its vices are far more visible than the same vices when
practised by men of the world, and incomparably more offensive to persons
with a strong sense of what is called "propriety." At the time when the
worst form of Bohemianism was more common than it is now, its most serious
vices were also the vices of the best society. If the Bohemian drank to
excess, so did the nobility and gentry; if the Bohemian had a mistress, so
had the most exalted personages. The Bohemian was not so much blamed for
being a sepulchre as for being an ill-kept sepulchre, and not a whited
sepulchre like the rest. It was far more his slovenliness and poverty than
his graver vices that made him offensive to a corrupt society with fine
clothes and ceremonious manners.

Bohemianism and Philistinism are the terms by which, for want of better,
we designate two opposite ways of estimating wealth and culture. There are
two categories of advantages in wealth,--the intellectual and the
material. The intellectual advantages are leisure to think and read,
travel, and intelligent conversation. The material advantages are large
and comfortable houses, tables well served and abundant, good coats, clean
linen, fine dresses and diamonds, horses, carriages, servants, hot-houses,
wine-cellars, shootings. Evidently the most perfect condition of wealth
would unite both classes of advantages; but this is not always, or often,
possible, and it so happens that in most situations a choice has to be
made between them. The Bohemian is the man who with small means desires
and contrives to obtain the intellectual advantages of wealth, which he
considers to be leisure to think and read, travel, and intelligent
conversation. The Philistine is the man who, whether his means are small
or large, devotes himself wholly to the attainment of the other set of
advantages,--a large house, good food and wine, clothes, horses, and
servants.

The Philistine gratifies his passion for comfort to a wonderful extent,
and thousands of ingenious people are incessantly laboring to make his
existence more comfortable still, so that the one great inconvenience he
is threatened with is the super-multiplication of conveniences. Now there
is a certain noble Bohemianism which perceives that the Philistine life is
not really so rich as it appears, that it has only some of the advantages
which ought to belong to riches, and these not quite the best advantages;
and this noble Bohemianism makes the best advantages its first aim, being
contented with such a small measure of riches as, when ingeniously and
skilfully employed, may secure them.

A highly developed material luxury, such as that which fills our modern
universal exhibitions and is the great pride of our age, has in itself so
much the appearance of absolute civilization that any proposal to do
without it may seem like a return to savagery; and Bohemianism is exposed
to the accusation of discouraging arts and manufactures. There is a
physical side to Bohemianism to be considered later; and there may,
indeed, be some connection between Bohemianism and the life of a red
Indian who roams in his woods and contents himself with a low standard of
physical well-being. The fair statement of the case between Bohemianism
and the civilization of arts and manufactures is as follows: the
intelligent Bohemian does not despise them; on the contrary, when he can
afford it, he encourages them and often surrounds himself with beautiful
things; but he will not barter his mental liberty in exchange for them, as
the Philistine does so readily. If the Bohemian simply prefers sordid
idleness to the comfort which is the reward of industry, he has no part in
the higher Bohemianism, but combines the Philistine fault of intellectual
apathy with the Bohemian fault of standing aloof from industrial
civilization. If a man abstains from furthering the industrial
civilization of his country he is only excusable if he pursues some object
of at least equal importance. Intellectual civilization really is such an
object, and the noble Bohemianism is excusable for serving it rather than
that other civilization of arts and manufactures which has such numerous
servants of its own. If the Bohemian does not redeem his negligence of
material things by superior intellectual brightness, he is half a
Philistine, he is destitute of what is best in Bohemianism (I had nearly
written of all that is worth having in it), and his contempt for material
perfection has no longer any charm, because it is not the sacrifice of a
lower merit to a higher, but the blank absence of the lower merit not
compensated or condoned by the presence of anything nobler or better.

Bohemianism and Philistinism are alike in combining self-indulgence with
asceticism, but they are ascetic or self-indulgent in opposite directions.
Bohemianism includes a certain self-indulgence, on the intellectual side,
in the pleasures of thought and observation and in the exercise of the
imaginative faculties, combining this with a certain degree of asceticism
on the physical side, not a severe religious asceticism, but a
disposition, like that of a thorough soldier or traveller, to do without
luxury and comfort, and take the absence of them gayly when they are not
to be had. The self-indulgence of Philistinism is in bodily comfort, of
which it has never enough; its asceticism consists in denying itself
leisure to read and think, and opportunities for observation.

The best way of describing the two principles will be to give an account
of two human lives that exemplified them. These shall not be described
from imagination, but from accurate memory; and I will not have recourse
to the easy artifice of selecting an unfavorable example of the class with
which I happen to have a minor degree of personal sympathy. My Philistine
shall be one whom I sincerely loved and heartily respected. He was an
admirable example of everything that is best and most worthy in the
Philistine civilization; and I believe that nobody who ever came into
contact with him, or had dealings with him, received any other impression
than this, that he had a natural right to the perfect respect which
surrounded him. The younger son of a poor gentleman, he began life with
narrow means, and followed a profession in a small provincial town. By
close attention and industry he saved a considerable sum of money, which
he lost entirely through the dishonesty of a trusted but untrustworthy
acquaintance. He had other mishaps, which but little disturbed his
serenity, and he patiently amassed enough to make himself independent. In
every relation of life he was not only above reproach, he was much more
than that: he was a model of what men ought to be, yet seldom are, in
their conduct towards others. He was kind to every one, generous to those
who needed his generosity, and, though strict with himself, tolerant
towards aberrations that must have seemed to him strangely unreasonable.
He had great natural dignity, and was a gentleman in all his ways, with an
old-fashioned grace and courtesy. He had no vanity; there may have been
some pride as an ingredient in his character, but if so it was of a kind
that could hurt nobody, for he was as simple and straightforward in his
intercourse with the poor as he was at ease with the rich.

After this description (which is so far from being overcharged that I have
omitted, for the sake of brevity, many admirable characteristics), the
reader may ask in what could possibly consist the Philistinism of a nature
that had attained such excellence. The answer is that it consisted in the
perfect willingness with which he remained outside of every intellectual
movement, and in the restriction of his mental activity to riches and
religion. He used to say that "a man must be contentedly ignorant of many
things," and he lived in this contented ignorance. He knew nothing of the
subjects that awaken the passionate interest of intellectual men. He knew
no language but his own, bought no books, knew nothing about the fine
arts, never travelled, and remained satisfied with the life of his little
provincial town. Totally ignorant of all foreign literatures, ancient or
modern, he was at the same time so slightly acquainted with that of his
own country that he had not read, and scarcely even knew by name, the most
famous authors of his own generation. His little bookcase was filled
almost exclusively with evangelical sermons and commentaries. This is
Philistinism on the intellectual side, the mental inertness that remains
"contentedly ignorant" of almost everything that a superior intellect
cares for. But, besides this, there is also a Philistinism on the physical
side, a physical inertness; and in this, too, my friend was a real
Philistine. In spite of great natural strength, he remained inexpert in
all manly exercises, and so had not enjoyed life on that side as he might
have done, and as the Bohemian generally contrives to do. He belonged to
that class of men who, as soon as they reach middle age, are scarcely more
active than the chairs they sit upon, the men who would fall from a horse
if it were lively, upset a boat if it were light, and be drowned if they
fell into the water. Such men can walk a little on a road, or they can sit
in a carriage and be dragged about by horses. By this physical inertia my
friend was deprived of one set of impressions, as he was deprived by his
intellectual inertia of another. He could not enjoy that close intimacy
with nature which a Bohemian generally finds to be an important part of
existence.

I wonder if it ever occurred to him to reflect, in the tedious hours of
too tranquil age, how much of what is best in the world had been simply
_missed_ by him; how he had missed all the variety and interest of travel,
the charm of intellectual society, the influences of genius, and even the
physical excitements of healthy out-door amusements. When I think what a
magnificent world it is that we inhabit, how much natural beauty there is
in it, how much admirable human work in literature and the fine arts, how
many living men and women there are in each generation whose acquaintance
a wise man would travel far to seek, and value infinitely when he had
found it, I cannot avoid the conclusion that my friend might have lived as
he did in a planet far less richly endowed than ours, and that after a
long life he went out of the world without having really known it.

I have said that the intelligent Bohemian is generally a man of small or
moderate means, whose object is to enjoy the _best_ advantages (not the
most visible) of riches. In his view these advantages are leisure, travel,
reading, and conversation. His estimate is different from that of the
Philistine, who sets his heart on the lower advantages of riches,
sacrificing leisure, travel, reading, and conversation, in order to have a
larger house and more servants. But how, without riches, is the Bohemian
to secure the advantages that he desires, for they also belong to riches?
There lies the difficulty, and the Bohemian's way of overcoming it
constitutes the romance of his existence. In absolute destitution the
intelligent Bohemian life is not possible. A little money is necessary for
it, and the art and craft of Bohemianism is to get for that small amount
of money such an amount of leisure, reading, travel, and good conversation
as may suffice to make life interesting. The way in which an old-fashioned
Bohemian usually set about it was this: he treated material comfort and
outward appearances as matters of no consequence, accepting them when they
came in his way, but enduring the privation of them gayly. He learned the
art of living on a little.

  "Je suis pauvre, très pauvre, et vis pourtant fort bien
   C'est parce que je vis comme les gens de rien."[26]

He spent the little that he had, first for what was really necessary, and
next for what really gave him pleasure, but he spent hardly anything in
deference to the usages of society. In this way he got what he wanted. His
books were second-hand and ill bound, but he _had_ books and read them;
his clothes were shabby, yet still they kept him warm; he travelled in all
sorts of cheap ways and frequently on foot; he lived a good deal in some
unfashionable quarters in a capital city, and saw much of art, nature, and
humanity.

To exemplify the true theory of Bohemianism let me describe from memory
two rooms, one of them inhabited by an English lady, not at all Bohemian,
the other by a German of the coarser sex who was essentially and
thoroughly Bohemian. The lady's room was not a drawing-room, being a
reasonable sort of sitting-room without any exasperating inutilities, but
it was extremely, excessively comfortable. Half hidden amongst its
material comforts might be found a little rosewood bookcase containing a
number of pretty volumes in purple morocco that were seldom, if ever,
opened. My German Bohemian was a steady reader in six languages; and if
he had seen such a room as that he would probably have criticised it as
follows. He would have said, "It is rich in superfluities, but has not
what is necessary. The carpet is superfluous; plain boards are quite
comfortable enough. One or two cheap chairs and tables might replace this
costly furniture. That pretty rosewood bookcase holds the smallest number
of books at the greatest cost, and is therefore contrary to true economy;
give me, rather, a sufficiency of long deal shelves all innocent of paint.
What is the use of fine bindings and gilt edges? This little library is
miserably poor. It is all in one language, and does not represent even
English literature adequately; there are a few novels, books of poems, and
travels, but I find neither science nor philosophy. Such a room as that,
with all its comfort, would seem to me like a prison. My mind needs wider
pastures." I remember his own room, a place to make a rich Englishman
shudder. One climbed up to it by a stone corkscrew-stair, half-ruinous, in
an old mediæval house. It was a large room, with a bed in one corner, and
it was wholly destitute of anything resembling a carpet or a curtain. The
remaining furniture consisted of two or three rush-bottomed chairs, one
large cheap lounging-chair, and two large plain tables. There were plenty
of shelves (common deal, unpainted), and on them an immense litter of
books in different languages, most of them in paper covers, and bought
second-hand, but in readable editions. In the way of material luxury there
was a pot of tobacco; and if a friend dropped in for an evening a jug of
ale would make its appearance. My Bohemian was shabby in his dress, and
unfashionable; but he had seen more, read more, and passed more hours in
intelligent conversation than many who considered themselves his
superiors. The entire material side of life had been systematically
neglected, in his case, in order that the intellectual side might
flourish. It is hardly necessary to observe that any attempt at luxury or
visible comfort, any conformity to fashion, would have been incompatible,
on small means, with the intellectual existence that this German scholar
enjoyed.

Long ago I knew an English Bohemian who had a small income that came to
him very irregularly. He had begun life in a profession, but had quitted
it that he might travel and see the world, which he did in the oddest,
most original fashion, often enduring privation, but never ceasing to
enjoy life deeply in his own way, and to accumulate a mass of observations
which would have been quite invaluable to an author. In him the two
activities, physical and mental, were alike so energetic that they might
have led to great results had they been consistently directed to some
private or public end; but unfortunately he remained satisfied with the
existence of an observant wanderer who has no purpose beyond the healthy
exercise of his faculties. In usefulness to others he was not to be
compared with my good and admirable Philistine, but in the art of getting
for himself what is best in the world he was by far the more accomplished
of the two. He fully enjoyed both the physical and the intellectual life;
he could live almost like a red Indian, and yet at the same time carry in
his mind the most recent results of European thought and science. His
distinguishing characteristic was a heroic contempt for comfort, in which
he rather resembled a soldier in war-time than any self-indulgent
civilian. He would sleep anywhere,--in his boat under a sail, in a
hayloft, under a hedge if belated, and he would go for days together
without any regular meal. He dressed roughly, and his clothes became old
before he renewed them. He kept no servant, and lived in cheap lodgings in
towns, or hired one or two empty rooms and adorned them with a little
portable furniture. In the country he contrived to make very economical
arrangements in farmhouses, by which he was fed and lodged quite as well
as he ever cared to be. It would be difficult to excel him in simple
manliness, in the quiet courage that accepts a disagreeable situation or
faces a dangerous one; and he had the manliness of the mind as well as
that of the body; he estimated the world for what it is worth, and cared
nothing for its transient fashions either in appearances or opinion. I am
sorry that he was a useless member of society,--if, indeed, such an
eccentric is to be called a member of society at all,--but if uselessness
is blamable he shares the blame, or ought in justice to share it, with a
multitude of most respectable gentlemen and ladies who receive nothing but
approbation from the world.

Except this fault of uselessness there was nothing to blame in this man's
manner of life, but his want of purpose and discipline made his fine
qualities seem almost without value. And now comes the question whether
the fine qualities of the useless Bohemian may not be of some value in a
life of a higher kind. I think it is evident that they may, for if the
Bohemian can cheerfully sacrifice luxury for some mental gain he has made
a great step in the direction of the higher life, and only requires a
purpose and a discipline to attain it. Common men are completely enslaved
by their love of comfort, and whoever has emancipated himself from this
thraldom has gained the first and most necessary victory. The use that he
will make of it depends upon himself. If he has high purposes, his
Bohemianism will be ennobled by them, and will become a most precious
element in his character; and if his purposes are not of the highest, the
Bohemian element may still be very valuable if accompanied by
self-discipline. Napoleon cannot be said to have had high purposes, but
his Bohemianism was admirable. A man who, having attained success, with
boundless riches at his disposal, could quit the luxury of his palaces and
sleep anywhere, in any poor farmhouse, or under the stars by the fire of a
bivouac, and be satisfied with poor meals at the most irregular hours,
showed that, however he may have estimated luxury, he was at least
entirely independent of it. The model monarch in this respect was Charles
XII. of Sweden, who studied his own personal comfort as little as if he
had been a private soldier. Some royal commanders have carried luxury into
war itself, but not to their advantage. When Napoleon III. went in his
carriage to meet his fate at Sedan the roads were so encumbered by wagons
belonging to the Imperial household as to impede the movements of the
troops.

There is often an element of Bohemianism where we should least expect to
find it. There is something of it in our English aristocracy, though it is
not _called_ Bohemianism here because it is not accompanied by poverty;
but the spirit that sacrifices luxury to rough travelling is, so far, the
true Bohemian spirit. In the aristocracy, however, such sacrifices are
only temporary; and a rough life accepted for a few weeks or months gives
the charm of a restored freshness to luxury on returning to it. The class
in which the higher Bohemianism has most steadily flourished is the
artistic and literary class, and here it is visible and recognizable
because there is often poverty enough to compel the choice between the
objects of the intelligent Bohemian and those of ordinary men. The early
life of Goldsmith, for example, was that of a genuine Bohemian. He had
scarcely any money, and yet he contrived to get for himself what the
intelligent Bohemian always desires, namely, leisure to read and think,
travel, and interesting conversation. When penniless and unknown he
lounged about the world thinking and observing; he travelled in Holland,
France, Switzerland, and Italy, not as people do in railway carriages, but
in leisurely intercourse with the inhabitants. Notwithstanding his poverty
he was received by the learned in different European cities, and, notably,
heard Voltaire and Diderot talk till three o'clock in the morning. So long
as he remained faithful to the true principles of Bohemianism he was happy
in his own strange and eccentric way, and all the anxieties, all the
slavery of his later years were due to his apostasy from those
principles. He no longer estimated leisure at its true value when he
allowed himself to be placed in such a situation that he was compelled to
toil like a slave in order to clear off work that had been already paid
for, such advances having been rendered necessary by expenditure on
Philistine luxuries. He no longer enjoyed humble travel but on his later
tour in France with Mrs. Horneck and her two beautiful daughters, instead
of enjoying the country in his own old simple innocent way, he allowed his
mind to be poisoned with Philistine ideas, and constantly complained of
the want of physical comfort, though he lived far more expensively than in
his youth. The new apartments, taken on the success of the "Good-natured
Man," consisted, says Irving, "of three rooms, which he furnished with
mahogany sofas, card-tables, and bookcases; with curtains, mirrors, and
Wilton carpets." At the same time he went even beyond the precept of
Polonius, for his garments were costlier than his purse could buy, and his
entertainments were so extravagant as to give pain to his acquaintances.
All this is a desertion of real Bohemian principles. Goldsmith ought to
have protected his own leisure, which, from the Bohemian point of view,
was incomparably more precious to himself than Wilton carpets and coats
"of Tyrian bloom."

Corot, the French landscape-painter, was a model of consistent Bohemianism
of the best kind. When his father said, "You shall have £80 a year, your
plate at my table, and be a painter; or you shall have £4,000 to start
with if you will be a shop-keeper," his choice was made at once. He
remained always faithful to true Bohemian principles, fully understanding
the value of leisure, and protecting his artistic independence by the
extreme simplicity of his living. He never gave way to the modern rage for
luxuries, but in his latter years, when enriched by tardy professional
success and hereditary fortune, he employed his money in acts of fraternal
generosity to enable others to lead the intelligent Bohemian life.

Wordsworth had in him a very strong element of Bohemianism. His long
pedestrian rambles, his interest in humble life and familiar intercourse
with the poor, his passion for wild nature, and preference of natural
beauty to fine society, his simple and economical habits, are enough to
reveal the tendency. His "plain living and high thinking" is a thoroughly
Bohemian idea, in striking opposition to the Philistine passion for rich
living and low thinking. There is a story that he was seen at a
breakfast-table to cut open a new volume with a greasy butter-knife. To
every lover of books this must seem horribly barbarous, yet at the same
time it was Bohemian, in that Wordsworth valued the thought only and cared
nothing for the material condition of the volume. I have observed a like
indifference to the material condition of books in other Bohemians, who
took the most lively interest in their contents. I have also seen
"bibliophiles" who had beautiful libraries in excellent preservation, and
who loved to fondle fine copies of books that they never read. That is
Philistine, it is the preference of material perfection to intellectual
values.

The reader is, I hope, fully persuaded by this time that the higher
Bohemianism is compatible with every quality that deserves respect, and
that it is not of necessity connected with any fault or failing. I may
therefore mention as an example of it one of the purest and best
characters whom it was ever my happiness to know. There was a strong
element of noble Bohemianism in Samuel Palmer, the landscape-painter.
"From time to time," according to his son, "he forsook his easel, and
travelled far away from London smoke to cull the beauties of some favorite
country side. His painting apparatus was complete, but singularly simple,
his dress and other bodily requirements simpler still; so he could walk
from village to hamlet easily carrying all he wanted, and utterly
indifferent to luxury. With a good constitution it mattered little to him
how humble were his quarters or how remote from so-called civilization.
'In exploring wild country,' he writes, 'I have been for a fortnight
together, uncertain each day whether I should get a bed under cover at
night; and about midsummer I have repeatedly been walking all night to
watch the mystic phenomena of the silent hours.' He enjoyed to the full
this rough but not uncomfortable mode of travelling, and was better
pleased to take his place, after a hard day's work, in some old chimney
corner--joining on equal terms the village gossip--than to mope in the
dull grandeur of a private room."

Here are two of my Bohemian elements,--the love of travel and the love of
conversation. As for the other element,--the love of leisure to think and
read,--it is not visible in this extract (though the kind of travel
described is leisurely), but it was always present in the man. During the
quiet, solitary progress by day and night there were ample opportunities
for thinking, and as for reading we know that Palmer never stirred without
a favorite author in his pocket, most frequently Milton or Virgil. To
complete the Bohemian we only require one other
characteristic,--contentment with a simple material existence; and we are
told that "the painting apparatus was singularly simple, the dress and
other bodily requirements simpler still." So here we have the intelligent
Bohemian in his perfection.

All this is the exact opposite of Philistine "common sense." A Philistine
would not have exposed himself, voluntarily, to the certainty of poor
accommodation. A Philistine would not have remained out all night "to
watch the mystic phenomena of the silent hours." In the absence of a
railway he would have hired a carriage, and got through the wild country
rapidly to arrive at a good dinner. Lastly, a Philistine would not have
carried either Milton or Virgil in his pocket; he would have had a
newspaper.

Some practical experience of the higher Bohemianism is a valuable part of
education. It enables us to estimate things at their true worth, and to
extract happiness from situations in which the Philistine is both dull and
miserable. A true Bohemian, of the best kind, knows the value of mere
shelter, of food enough to satisfy hunger, of plain clothes that will keep
him sufficiently warm; and in the things of the mind he values the liberty
to use his own faculties as a kind of happiness in itself. His philosophy
leads him to take an interest in talking with human beings of all sorts
and conditions, and in different countries. He does not despise the poor,
for, whether poor or rich in his own person, he understands simplicity of
life, and if the poor man lives in a small cottage, he, too, has probably
been lodged less spaciously still in some small hut or tent. He has lived
often, in rough travel, as the poor live every day. I maintain that such
tastes and experiences are valuable both in prosperity and in adversity.
If we are prosperous they enhance our appreciation of the things around
us, and yet at the same time make us really know that they are not
indispensable, as so many believe them to be; if we fall into adversity
they prepare us to accept lightly and cheerfully what would be depressing
privations to others. I know a painter who in consequence of some change
in the public taste fell into adversity at a time when he had every reason
to hope for increased success. Very fortunately for him, he had been a
Bohemian in early life,--a respectable Bohemian, be it understood,--and a
great traveller, so that he could easily dispense with luxuries. "To be
still permitted to follow art is enough," he said; so he reduced his
expenses to the very lowest scale consistent with that pursuit, and lived
as he had done before in the old Bohemian times. He made his old clothes
last on, he slung a hammock in a very simple painting-room, and cooked his
own dinner on the stove. With the canvas on his easel and a few books on a
shelf he found that if existence was no longer luxurious it had not yet
ceased to be interesting.



ESSAY XXII.

OF COURTESY IN EPISTOLARY COMMUNICATION.


The universal principle of courtesy is that the courteous person manifests
a disposition to sacrifice something in favor of the person whom he
desires to honor; the opposite principle shows itself in a disposition to
regard our own convenience as paramount over every other consideration.

Courtesy lives by a multitude of little sacrifices, not by sacrifices of
sufficient importance to impose any burdensome sense of obligation. These
little sacrifices may be both of time and money, but more of time, and the
money sacrifice should be just perceptible, never ostentatious.

The tendency of a hurried age, in which men undertake more work or more
pleasure (hardest work of all!) than they are able properly to accomplish,
is to abridge all forms of courtesy because they take time, and to replace
them by forms, if any forms survive, which cost as little time as
possible. This wounds and injures courtesy itself in its most vital part,
for the essence of it is the willingness to incur that very sacrifice
which modern hurry avoids.

The first courtesy in epistolary communication is the mere writing of the
letter. Except in cases where the letter itself is an offence or an
intrusion, the mere making of it is an act of courtesy towards the
receiver. The writer sacrifices his time and a trifle of money in order
that the receiver may have some kind of news.

It has ever been the custom to commence a letter with some expression of
respect, affection, or good will. This is graceful in itself, and
reasonable, being nothing more than the salutation with which a man enters
the house of his friend, or his more ceremonious act of deference in
entering that of a stranger or a superior. In times and seasons where
courtesy has not given way to hurry, or a selfish dread of unnecessary
exertion, the opening form is maintained with a certain amplitude, and the
substance of the letter is not reached in the first lines, which gently
induce the reader to proceed. Afterwards these forms are felt to involve
an inconvenient sacrifice of time, and are ruthlessly docked.

In justice to modern poverty in forms it is fair to take into
consideration the simple truth, so easily overlooked, that we have to
write thirty letters where our ancestors wrote one; but the principle of
sacrifice in courtesy always remains essentially the same; and if of our
more precious and more occupied time we consecrate a smaller portion to
forms, it is still essential that there should be no appearance of a
desire to escape from the kind of obligation which we acknowledge.

The most essentially modern element of courtesy in letter-writing is the
promptitude of our replies. This promptitude was not only unknown to our
remote ancestors, but even to our immediate predecessors. They would
postpone answering a letter for days or weeks, in the pure spirit of
procrastination, when they already possessed all the materials necessary
for the answer. Such a habit would try our patience very severely, but our
fathers seem to have considered it a part of their dignity to move slowly
in correspondence. This temper even yet survives in official
correspondence between sovereigns, who still notify to each other their
domestic events long after the publication of them in the newspapers.

A prompt answer equally serves the purpose of the sender and the receiver.
It is a great economy of time to answer promptly, because the receiver of
the letter is so much gratified by the promptitude itself that he readily
pardons brevity in consideration of it. An extremely short but prompt
letter, that would look curt without its promptitude, is more polite than
a much longer one written a few days later.

Prompt correspondents save all the time that others waste in excuses. I
remember an author and editor whose system imposed upon him the tax of
perpetual apologizing. He always postponed writing until the delay had put
his correspondent out of temper, so that when at last he _did_ write,
which somehow happened ultimately, the first page was entirely occupied
with apologies for his delay, as he felt that the necessity had arisen for
soothing the ruffled feelings of his friend. It never occurred to him that
the same amount of pen work which these apologies cost him would, if given
earlier, have sufficed for a complete answer. A letter-writer of this sort
must naturally be a bad man of business, and this gentleman was so, though
he had excellent qualities of another order.

I remember receiving a most extraordinary answer from a correspondent of
this stamp. I wrote to him about a matter which was causing me some
anxiety, and did not receive an answer for several weeks. At last the
reply came, with the strange excuse that as he knew I had guests in my
house he had delayed writing from a belief that I should not be able to
attend to anything until after their departure. If such were always the
effect of entertaining friends, what incalculable perturbation would be
caused by hospitality in all private and public affairs!

The reader may, perhaps, have met with a collection of letters called the
"Plumpton Correspondence," which was published by the Camden Society in
1839. I have always been interested in this for family reasons, and also
because the manuscript volume was found in the neighborhood where I lived
in youth;[27] but it does not require any blood connection with the now
extinct house of Plumpton of Plumpton to take an interest in a collection
of letters which gives so clear an insight into the epistolary customs of
England in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The first peculiarity
that strikes the modern reader is the extreme care of almost all the
writers, even when near relations, to avoid a curt and dry style,
destitute of the ambages which were in those days esteemed an essential
part of politeness. The only exception is a plain, straightforward
gentleman, William Gascoyne, who heads his letters, "To my Uncle Plumpton
be these delivered," or "To my Uncle Plumpton this letter be delivered in
hast." He begins, "Uncle Plumpton, I recommend me unto you," and
finishes, "Your nephew," simply, or still more laconically, "Your." Such
plainness is strikingly rare. The rule was, to be deliberately perfect in
all epistolary observances, however near the relationship. Not that the
forms used were hard forms, entirely fixed by usage and devoid of personal
feeling and individuality. They appear to have been more flexible and
living than our own, as they were more frequently varied according to the
taste and sentiment of the writers. Sometimes, of course, they were
perfunctory, but often they have an original and very graceful turn. One
letter, which I will quote at length, contains curious evidence of the
courtesy and discourtesy of those days. The forms used in the letter
itself are perfect, but the writer complains that other letters have not
been answered.

In the reign of Henry VII. Sir Robert Plumpton had a daughter, Dorothy,
who was in the household of Lady Darcy (probably as a sort of maid of
honor to her ladyship), but was not quite pleased with her position, and
wanted to go home to Plumpton. She had written to her father several
times, but had received no answer, so she now writes again to him in these
terms. The date of the letter is not fully given, as the year is wanting;
but her parents were married in 1477, and her father died in 1523, at the
age of seventy, after a life of strange vicissitudes. The reader will
observe two leading characteristics in this letter,--that it is as
courteous as if the writer were not related to the receiver, and as
affectionate as if no forms had been observed. As was the custom in those
days, the young lady gives her parents their titles of worldly honor, but
she always adds to them the most affectionate filial expressions:

    _To the right worshipfull and my most entyerly beloved, good, kind
    father, Sir Robart Plompton, knyght, lying at Plompton in Yorkshire,
    be thes delivered in hast._

    Ryght worshipfull father, in the most humble manner that I can I
    recommend me to you, and to my lady my mother, and to all my brethren
    and sistren, whom I besech almyghtie God to mayntayne and preserve in
    prosperus health and encrese of worship, entyerly requiering you of
    your daly blessing; letting you wyt that I send to you mesuage, be
    Wryghame of Knarsbrugh, of my mynd, and how that he should desire you
    in my name to send for me to come home to you, and as yet I had no
    answere agane, the which desire my lady hath gotten knowledg.
    Wherefore, she is to me more better lady than ever she was before,
    insomuch that she hath promysed me hir good ladyship as long as ever
    she shall lyve; and if she or ye can fynd athing meyter for me in this
    parties or any other, she will helpe to promoote me to the uttermost
    of her puyssaunce. Wherefore, I humbly besech you to be so good and
    kind father unto me as to let me know your pleasure, how that ye will
    have me ordred, as shortly as it shall like you. And wryt to my lady,
    thanking hir good ladyship of hir so loving and tender kyndnesse
    shewed unto me, beseching hir ladyship of good contynewance thereof.
    And therefore I besech you to send a servant of yours to my lady and
    to me, and show now by your fatherly kyndnesse that I am your child;
    for I have sent you dyverse messuages and wryttings, and I had never
    answere againe. Wherefore yt is thought in this parties, by those
    persones that list better to say ill than good, that ye have litle
    favor unto me; the which error ye may now quench yf yt will like you
    to be so good and kynd father unto me. Also I besech you to send me a
    fine hatt and some good cloth to make me some kevercheffes. And thus I
    besech _Jesu_ to have you in his blessed keeping to his pleasure, and
    your harts desire and comforth. Wryten at the Hirste, the xviii day of
    Maye.

        By your loving daughter,
            DORYTHE PLOMPTON.

It may be worth while, for the sake of contrast, and that we may the
better perceive the lost fragrance of the antique courtesy, to put the
substance of this letter into the style of the present day. A modern young
lady would probably write as follows:--

    HIRST, _May 18_.

    DEAR PAPA,--Lady Darcy has found out that I want to leave her, but she
    has kindly promised to do what she can to find something else for me.
    I wish you would say what you think, and it would be as well, perhaps,
    if you would be so good as to drop a line to her ladyship to thank
    her. I have written to you several times, but got no answer, so people
    here say that you don't care very much for me. Would you please send
    me a handsome bonnet and some handkerchiefs? Best love to mamma and
    all at home.

        Your affectionate daughter,
            DOROTHY PLUMPTON.

This, I think, is not an unfair specimen of a modern letter.[28] The
expressions of worship, of humble respect, have disappeared, and so far it
may be thought that there is improvement, yet that respect was not
incompatible with tender feeling; on the contrary, it was closely
associated with it, and expressions of sentiment have lost strength and
vitality along with expressions of respect. Tenderness may be sometimes
shown in modern letters, but it is rare; and when it occurs it is
generally accompanied by a degree of familiarity which our ancestors would
have considered in bad taste. Dorothy Plumpton's own letter is far richer
in the expression of tender feeling than any modern letter of the
courteous and ceremonious kind, or than any of those pale and commonplace
communications from which deep respect and strong affection are almost
equally excluded. Please observe, moreover, that the young lady had reason
to be dissatisfied with her father for his neglect, which does not in the
least diminish the filial courtesy of her style, but she chides him in the
sweetest fashion,--"_Show now by your fatherly kindness that I am your
child_." Could anything be prettier than that, though the reproach
contained in it is really one of some severity?

Dorothy's father, Sir Robert, puts the following superscription on a
letter to his wife, "To my entyrely and right hartily beloved wife, Dame
Agnes Plumpton, be this Letter delivered." He begins his letter thus, "My
deare hart, in my most hartily wyse, I recommend mee unto you;" and he
ends tenderly, "By your owne lover, Robert Plumpton, Kt." She, on the
contrary, though a faithful and brave wife, doing her best for her husband
in a time of great trial, and enjoying his full confidence, begins her
letters, "Right worshipful Sir," and ends simply, "By your wife, Dame
Agnes Plumpton." She is so much absorbed by business that her expressions
of feeling are rare and brief. "Sir, I am in good health, and all your
children prays for your daly blessing. And all your servants is in good
health and prays diligently for your good speed in your matters."

The generally courteous tone of the letters of those days may be judged of
by the following example. The reader will observe how small a space is
occupied with the substance of the letter in comparison with the
expressions of pure courtesy, and how simply and handsomely regret for the
trespass is expressed:--

    _To his worshipful Cosin, Sir Robart Plompton, Kt._

    Right reverend and worshipful Cosin, I commend me unto you as hertyly
    as I can, evermore desiring to heare of your welfare, the which I
    besech _Jesu_ to continew to his pleasure, and your herts desire.
    Cosin, please you witt that I am enformed, that a poor man somtyme
    belonging to mee, called Umfrey Bell, hath trespased to a servant of
    youres, which I am sory for. Wherefore, Cosin, I desire and hartily
    pray you to take upp the matter into your own hands for my sake, and
    rewle him as it please you; and therein you wil do, as I may do that
    may be plesur to you, and my contry, the which I shalbe redy too, by
    the grace of God, who preserve you.

        By your own kynsman,
            ROBART WARCOPP, of Warcoppe.

The reader has no doubt by this time enough of these old letters, which
are not likely to possess much charm for him unless, like the present
writer, he is rather of an antiquarian turn.[29]

The quotations are enough to show some of the forms used in correspondence
by our forefathers, forms that were right in their own day, when the state
of society was more ceremonious and deferential, but no one would propose
to revive them. We may, however, still value and cultivate the beautifully
courteous spirit that our ancestors possessed and express it in our own
modern ways.

I have already observed that the essentially modern form of courtesy is
the rapidity of our replies. This, at least, is a virtue that we can
resolutely cultivate and maintain. In some countries it is pushed so far
that telegrams are very frequently sent when there is no need to employ
the telegraph. The Arabs of Algeria are extremely fond of telegraphing for
its own sake: the notion of its rapidity pleases and amuses them; they
like to wield a power so wonderful. It is said that the Americans
constantly employ the telegraph on very trivial occasions, and the habit
is increasing in England and France. The secret desire of the present age
is to find a plausible excuse for excessive brevity in correspondence, and
this is supplied by the comparative costliness of telegraphing. It is a
comfort that it allows you to send a single word. I have heard of a letter
from a son to a father consisting of the Latin word _Ibo_, and of a still
briefer one from the father to the son confined entirely to the imperative
_I_. These miracles of brevity are only possible in letters between the
most intimate friends or relations, but in telegraphy they are common.

It is very difficult for courtesy to survive this modern passion for
brevity, and we see it more and more openly cast aside. All the long
phrases of politeness have been abandoned in English correspondence for a
generation, except in formal letters to official or very dignified
personages; and the little that remains is reduced to a mere shred of
courteous or affectionate expression. We have not, it is true, the
detestable habit of abridging words, as our ancestors often did, but we
cut our phrases short, and sometimes even words of courtesy are abridged
in an unbecoming manner. Men will write Dr. Sir for Dear Sir. If I am
dear enough to these correspondents for their sentiments of affection to
be worth uttering at all, why should they be so chary of expressing them
that they omit two letters from the very word which is intended to affect
my feelings?

  "If I be dear, if I be dear,"

as the poet says, why should my correspondent begrudge me the four letters
of so brief an adjective?

The long French and Italian forms of ceremony at the close of letters are
felt to be burdensome in the present day, and are gradually giving place
to briefer ones; but it is the very length of them, and the time and
trouble they cost to write, that make them so courteous, and no brief form
can ever be an effective substitute in that respect.

I was once placed in the rather embarrassing position of having suddenly
to send telegrams in my own name, containing a request, to two high
foreign authorities in a corps where punctilious ceremony is very strictly
observed. My solution of the difficulty was to write two full ceremonious
letters, with all the formal expressions unabridged, and then have these
letters telegraphed _in extenso_. This was the only possible solution, as
an ordinary telegram would have been entirely out of the question. It
being rather expensive to telegraph a very formal letter, the cost added
to the appearance of deference, so I had the curious but very real
advantage on my side that I made a telegram seem even more deferential
than a letter.

The convenience of the letter-writer is consulted in inverse ratio to the
appearances of courtesy. In the matter of sealing, for example, that seems
so slight and indifferent a concern, a question of ceremony and courtesy
is involved. The old-fashioned custom of a large seal with the sender's
arms or cipher added to the importance of the contents both by strictly
guarding the privacy of the communication and by the dignified assertion
of the writer's rank. Besides this, the time that it costs to take a
proper impression of a seal shows the absence of hurry and the disposition
to sacrifice which are a part of all noble courtesy; whilst the act of
rapidly licking the gum on the inside of an envelope and then giving it a
thump with your fist to make it stick is neither dignified nor elegant.
There were certain beautiful associations with the act of sealing. There
was the taper that had to be lighted, and that had its own little
candlestick of chased or gilded silver, or delicately painted porcelain;
there was the polished and graven stone of the seal, itself more or less
precious, and enhanced in value by an art of high antiquity and noble
associations, and this graven signet-stone was set in massive gold. The
act of sealing was deliberate, to secure a fair impression, and as the wax
caught flame and melted it disengaged a delicate perfume. These little
things may be laughed at by a generation of practical men of business who
know the value of every second, but they had their importance, and have it
still, amongst those who possess any delicacy of perception.[30] The
reader will remember the sealing of Nelson's letter to the Crown Prince of
Denmark during the battle of Copenhagen. "A wafer was given him," says
Southey, "but he ordered a candle to be brought from the cockpit, and
sealed the letter with wax, _affixing a larger seal than he ordinarily
used_. 'This,' said he, 'is no time to appear hurried and informal.'" The
story is usually told as a striking example of Nelson's coolness in a time
of intense excitement, but it might be told with equal effect as a proof
of his knowledge of mankind and of the trifles which have a powerful
effect on human intercourse. The preference of wax to a wafer, and
especially the deliberate choice of a larger seal as more ceremonious and
important, are clear evidence of diplomatic skill. No doubt, too, the
impression of Nelson's arms was very careful and clear.

In writing to French Ministers of State it is a traditional custom to
employ a certain paper called "papier ministre," which is very much larger
than that sent to ordinary mortals. Paper is by no means a matter of
indifference. It is the material costume under which we present ourselves
to persons removed from us by distance; and as a man pays a call in
handsome clothes as a sign of respect to others, and also of self-respect,
so he sends a piece of handsome paper to be the bearer of his salutation.
Besides, a letter is in itself a gift, though a small one, and however
trifling a gift may be it must never be shabby. The English understand
this art of choosing good-looking letter-paper, and are remarkable for
using it of a thickness rare in other nations. French love of elegance has
led to charming inventions of tint and texture, particularly in delicate
gray tints, and these papers are now often decorated with embossed
initials of heraldic devices on a large scale, but that is carrying
prettiness too far. The common American habit of writing letters on ruled
paper is not to be recommended, as the ruling reminds us of copy-books and
account-books, and has a mechanical appearance that greatly detracts from
what ought to be the purely personal air of an autograph.

Modern love of despatch has led to the invention of the post-card, which,
from our present point of view, that of courtesy, deserves unhesitating
condemnation. To use a post-card is as much as to say to your
correspondent, "In order to save for myself a very little money and a very
little time, I will expose the subject of our correspondence to the eyes
of any clerk, postman, or servant, who feels the slightest curiosity about
it; and I take this small piece of card, of which I am allowed to use one
side only, in order to relieve myself from the obligation, and spare
myself the trouble, of writing a letter." To make the convenience
absolutely perfect, it is customary in England to omit the opening and
concluding salutations on post-cards, so that they are the _ne plus
ultra_, I will not say of positive rudeness, but of that negative rudeness
which is not exactly the opposite of courtesy, but its absence. Here
again, however, comes the modern principle; and promptitude and frequency
of communication may be accepted as a compensation for the sacrifice of
formality. It may be argued, and with reason, that when a man of our own
day sends a post-card his ancestors would have been still more laconic,
for they would have sent nothing at all, and that there are a thousand
circumstances in which a post-card may be written when it is not possible
to write a letter. A husband on his travels has a supply of such cards in
a pocket-book. With these, and his pencil, he writes a line once or twice
a day in train or steamboat, or at table between two dishes, or on the
windy platform of a railway station, or in the street when he sees a
letter-box. He sends fifty such communications where his father would
have written three letters, and his grandfather one slowly composed and
slowly travelling epistle.

Many modern correspondents appreciate the convenience of the post-card,
but their conscience, as that of well-bred people, cannot get over the
fault of its publicity. For these the stationers have devised several
different substitutes. There is the French plan of what is called "Un Mot
à la Poste," a piece of paper with a single fold, gummed round the other
three edges, and perforated like postage-stamps for the facility of the
opener.[31] There is the miniature sheet of paper that you have not to
fold, and there is the card that you enclose in an envelope, and that
prepares the reader for a very brief communication. Here, again, is a very
curious illustration of the sacrificial nature of courtesy. A card is
sent; why a card? Why not a piece of paper of the same size which would
hold as many words? The answer is that a card is handsomer and more
costly, and from its stiffness a little easier to take out of the
envelope, and pleasanter to hold whilst reading, so that a small sacrifice
is made to the pleasure and convenience of the receiver, which is the
essence of courtesy in letter-writing. All this brief correspondence is
the offspring of the electric telegraph. Our forefathers were not used to
it, and would have regarded it as an offence. Even at the present date
(1884) it is not quite safe to write in our brief modern way to persons
who came to maturity before the electric telegraph was in use.

There is a wide distinction between brevity and hurry; in fact, brevity,
if of the intelligent kind, is the best preservative against hurry. Some
men write short letters, but are very careful to observe all the forms;
and they have the great advantage that the apparent importance of the
formal expressions is enhanced by the shortness of the letter itself. This
is the case in Robert Warcopp's letter to Sir Robert Plumpton.

When hurry really exists, and it is impossible to avoid the appearance of
it, as when a letter _cannot_ be brief, yet must be written at utmost
speed, the proper course is to apologize for hurry at the beginning and
not at the end of the letter. The reader is then propitiated at once, and
excuses the slovenly penmanship and style.

It is remarkable that legibility of handwriting should never have been
considered as among the essentials of courtesy in correspondence. It is
obviously for the convenience of the reader that a letter should be easily
read; but here another consideration intervenes. To write very legibly is
the accomplishment of clerks and writing-masters, who are usually poor
men, and, as such, do not hold a high social position. Aristocratic pride
has always had it for a principle to disdain, for itself, the
accomplishments of professional men; and therefore a careless scrawl is
more aristocratic than a clean handwriting, if the scrawl is of a
fashionable kind. Perhaps the historic origin of this feeling may be the
scorn of the ignorant mediæval baron for writing of all kinds as beneath
the attention of a warrior. In a cultured age there may be a reason of a
higher order. It may be supposed that attention to mechanical excellence
is incompatible with the action of the intellect; and people are curiously
ready to imagine incompatibilities where they do not really exist. As a
matter of fact, some men of eminent intellectual gifts write with as
exquisite a clearness in the formation of their letters as in the
elucidation of their ideas. It is easily forgotten, too, that the same
person may use different kinds of handwriting, according to circumstances,
like the gentleman whose best hand some people could read, whose middling
hand the writer himself could read, and whose worst neither he nor any
other human being could decipher. Legouvé, in his exquisite way, tells a
charming story of how he astonished a little girl by excelling her in
calligraphy. His scribble is all but illegible, and she was laughing at it
one day, when he boldly challenged her to a trial. Both sat down and
formed their letters with great patience, as in a writing class, and it
turned out, to the girl's amazement, that the scribbling Academician had
by far the more copperplate-like hand of the two. He then explained that
his bad writing was simply the result of speed. Frenchmen provokingly
reserve their very worst and most illegible writing for the signature. You
are able to read the letter but not the signature, and if there is not
some other means of ascertaining the writer's name you are utterly at
fault.

The old habit of crossing letters, now happily abandoned, was a direct
breach of real, though not of what in former days were conventional, good
manners. To cross a letter is as much as to say, "In order to spare myself
the cost of another sheet of paper or an extra stamp, I am quite willing
to inflict upon you, my reader, the trouble of disengaging one set of
lines from another." Very economical people in the past generation saved
an occasional penny in another way at the cost of the reader's eyes. They
diluted their ink with water, till the recipient of the letter cried,
"Prithee, why so pale?"

The modern type-writing machine has the advantage of making all words
equally legible; but the receiver of the printed letter is likely to feel
on opening it a slight yet perceptible shock of the kind always caused by
a want of consideration. The letter so printed is undoubtedly easier to
read than all but the very clearest manuscript, and so far it may be
considered a politeness to use the instrument; but unluckily it is
impersonal, so that the performer on the instrument seems far removed from
the receiver of the letter and not in that direct communication with him
which would be apparent in an autograph. The effect on the mind is almost
like that of a printed circular, or at least of a letter which has been
dictated to a short-hand writer.

The dictation of letters is allowable in business, because men of business
have to use the utmost attainable despatch, and (like the use of the lead
pencil) it is permitted to invalids, but with these exceptions it is sure
to produce a feeling of distance almost resembling discourtesy. In the
first place, a dictated letter is not strictly private, its contents
being already known to the amanuensis; and besides this it is felt that
the reason for dictating letters is the composer's convenience, which he
ought not to consult so obviously. If he dictates to a short-hand writer
he is evidently chary of his valuable time, whereas courtesy always at
least _seems_ willing to sacrifice time to others. These remarks, I
repeat, have no reference to business correspondence, which has its own
code of good manners.

The most irritating letters to receive are those which, under a great show
of courtesy, with many phrases and many kind inquiries about your health
and that of your household, and even with some news adapted to your taste,
contain some short sentence which betrays the fact that the whole letter
was written with a manifestly selfish purpose. The proper answer to such
letters is a brief business answer to the one essential sentence that
revealed the writer's object, not taking any notice whatever of the froth
of courteous verbiage.

Is it a part of necessary good breeding to answer letters at all? Are we
really, in the nature of things, under the obligation to take a piece of
paper and write phrases and sentences thereupon because it has pleased
somebody at a distance to spend his time in that manner?

This requires consideration; there can be no general rule. It seems to me
that people commit the error of transferring the subject from the region
of oral conversation to the region of written intercourse. If a man asked
me the way in the street it would be rudeness on my part not to answer
him, because the answer is easily given and costs no appreciable time,
but in written correspondence the case is essentially different. I am
burdened with work; every hour, every minute of my day is apportioned to
some definite duty or necessary rest, and three strangers make use of the
post to ask me questions. To answer them I must make references; however
brief the letters may be they will take time,--altogether the three will
consume an hour. Have these correspondents any right to expect me to work
an hour for them? Would a cabman drive them about the streets of London
during an hour for nothing? Would a waterman pull them an hour on the
Thames for nothing? Would a shoe-black brush their boots and trousers an
hour for nothing? And why am I to serve these men gratuitously and be
called an ill-bred, discourteous person if I tacitly decline to be their
servant? We owe sacrifices--occasional sacrifices--of this kind to friends
and relations, and we can afford them to a few, but we are under no
obligation to answer everybody. Those whom we do answer may be thankful
for a word on a post-card in Gladstone's brief but sufficient fashion. I
am very much of the opinion of Rudolphe in Ponsard's "L'Honneur et
l'Argent." A friend asks him what he does about letters:--

    _Rudolphe._          Je les mets
  Soigneusement en poche et ne réponds jamais.
    _Premier Ami._      Oh! vous raillez.
    _Rudolphe._ Non pas. Je ne puis pas admettre
  Qu'un importun m'oblige à répondre à sa lettre,
  Et, parcequ'il lui plaît de noircir du papier
  Me condamne moi-même à ce fâcheux métier.



ESSAY XXIII.

LETTERS OF FRIENDSHIP.


If the art of writing had been unknown till now, and if the invention of
it were suddenly to burst upon the world as did that of the telephone, one
of the things most generally said in praise of it would be this. It would
be said, "What a gain to friendship, now that friends can communicate in
spite of separation by the very widest distances!"

Yet we have possessed this means of communication, the fullest and best of
all, from remote antiquity, and we scarcely make any use of it--certainly
not any use at all responding to its capabilities, and as time goes on,
instead of developing those capabilities by practice in the art of
friendly correspondence, we allow them to diminish by disuse.

The lowering of cost for the transport of letters, instead of making
friendly correspondents numerous, has made them few. The cheap
postage-stamp has increased business correspondence prodigiously, but it
has had a very different effect on that of friendship. Great numbers of
men whose business correspondence is heavy scarcely write letters of
friendship at all. Their minds produce the business letter as by a second
nature, and are otherwise sterile.

As for the facilities afforded by steam communication with distant
countries, they seem to be of little use to friendship, since a moderate
distance soon puts a stop to friendly communication. Except in cases of
strong affection the Straits of Dover are an effectual though imaginary
bar to intercourse of this kind, not to speak of the great oceans.

The impediment created by a narrow sea is, as I have said, imaginary, but
we may speculate on the reasons for it; and my own reflections have ended
in the somewhat strange conclusion that it must have something to do with
sea-sickness. It must be that people dislike the idea of writing a letter
that will have to cross a narrow channel of salt-water, because they
vaguely and dimly dread the motion of the vessel. Nobody would consciously
avow to himself such a sympathy with a missive exempt from all human ills,
but the feeling may be unconsciously present. How else are we to account
for the remarkable fact that salt-water breaks friendly communication by
letter? If you go to live anywhere out of your native island your most
intimate friends cease to give any news of themselves. They do not even
send printed announcements of the marriages and deaths in their families.
This does not imply any cessation of friendly feeling on their part. If
you appeared in England again they would welcome you with the utmost
kindness and hospitality, but they do not like to post anything that will
have to cross the sea. The news-vendors have not the same delicate
imaginative sympathy with the possible sufferings of rag-pulp, so you get
your English journals and find therein, by pure accident, the marriage of
one intimate old friend and the death of another. You excuse the married
man, because he is too much intoxicated with happiness to be responsible
for any omission; and you excuse the dead man, because he cannot send
letters from another world. Still you think that somebody not preoccupied
by bridal joys or impeded by the last paralysis might have sent you a line
directly, were it only a printed card.

Not only do the writers of letters feel a difficulty in sending their
manuscript across the sea, but people appear to have a sense of difficulty
in correspondence proportionate to the distance the letter will have to
traverse. One would infer that they really experience, by the power of
imagination, a feeling of fatigue in sending a letter on a long journey.
If this is not so, how are we to account for the fact that the rarity of
letters from friends increases in exact proportion to our remoteness from
them? A simple person without correspondence would naturally imagine that
it would be resorted to as a solace for separation, and that the greater
the distance the more the separated friends would desire to be drawn
together occasionally by its means, but in practice this rarely happens.
People will communicate by letter across a space of a hundred miles when
they will not across a thousand.

The very smallest impediments are of importance when the desire for
intercourse is languid. The cost of postage to colonies and to countries
within the postal union is trifling, but still it is heavier than the cost
of internal postage, and it may be unconsciously felt as an impediment.
Another slight impediment is that the answer to a letter sent to a great
distance cannot arrive next day, so that he who writes in hope of an
answer is like a trader who cannot expect an immediate return for an
investment.

To prevent friendships from dying out entirely through distance, the
French have a custom which seems, but is not, an empty form. On or about
New Year's Day they send cards to _all_ friends and many acquaintances,
however far away. The useful effects of this custom are the following:--

1. It acquaints you with the fact that your friend is still
alive,--pleasing information if you care to see him again.

2. It shows you that he has not forgotten you.

3. It gives you his present address.

4. In case of marriage, you receive his wife's card along with his own;
and if he is dead you receive no card at all, which is at least a negative
intimation.[32]

This custom has also an effect upon written correspondence, as the printed
card affords the opportunity of writing a letter, when, without the
address, the letter might not be written. When the address is well known
the card often suggests the idea of writing.

When warm friends send visiting-cards they often add a few words of
manuscript on the card itself, expressing friendly sentiments and giving a
scrap of brief but welcome news.

Here is a suggestion to a generation that thinks friendly letter-writing
irksome. With a view to the sparing of time and trouble, which is the
great object of modern life (sparing, that is, in order to waste in other
ways), cards might be printed as forms of invitation are, leaving only a
few blanks to be filled up; or there might be a public signal-book in
which the phrases most likely to be useful might be represented by
numbers.

The abandonment of letter-writing between friends is the more to be
regretted that, unless our friends are public persons, we receive no news
of them indirectly; therefore, when we leave their neighborhood, the
separation is of that complete kind which resembles temporary death. "No
word comes from the dead," and no word comes from those silent friends. It
is a melancholy thought in leaving a friend of this kind, when you shake
hands at the station and still hear the sound of his voice, that in a few
minutes he will be dead to you for months or years. The separation from a
corresponding friend is shorn of half its sorrows. You know that he will
write, and when he writes it requires little imagination to hear his voice
again.

To write, however, is not all. For correspondence to reach its highest
value, both friends must have the natural gift of friendly letter-writing,
which may be defined as the power of talking on paper in such a manner as
to represent their own minds with perfect fidelity in their friendly
aspect.

This power is not common. A man may be a charming companion, full of humor
and gayety, a well of knowledge, an excellent talker, yet his
correspondence may not reveal the possession of these gifts. Some men are
so constituted that as soon as they take a pen their faculties freeze. I
remember a case of the same congelation in another art. A certain painter
had exuberant humor and mimicry, with a marked talent for strong effects
in talk; in short, he had the gifts of an actor, and, as Pius VII. called
Napoleon I., he was both _commediante_ and _tragediante_. Any one who knew
him, and did not know his paintings, would have supposed at once that a
man so gifted must have painted the most animated works; but it so
happened (from some cause in the deepest mysteries of his nature) that
whenever he took up a brush or a pencil his humor, his tragic power, and
his love of telling effects all suddenly left him, and he was as timid,
slow, sober, and generally ineffectual in his painting as he was full of
fire and energy in talk. So it is in writing. That which ought to be the
pouring forth of a man's nature often liberates only a part of his nature,
and perhaps that part which has least to do with friendship. Your friend
delights you by his ease and affectionate charm of manner, by the
happiness of his expressions, by his wit, by the extent of his
information, all these being qualities that social intercourse brings out
in him as colors are revealed by light. The same man, in dull solitude at
his desk, may write a letter from which every one of these qualities may
be totally absent, and instead of them he may offer you a piece of
perfunctory duty-writing which, as you see quite plainly, he only wanted
to get done with, and in which you do not find a trace of your friend's
real character. Such correspondence as that is worth having only so far
as it informs you of your friend's existence and of his health.

Another and a very different way in which a man may represent himself
unfairly in correspondence, so that his letters are not his real self, is
when he finds that he has some particular talent as a writer, and
unconsciously cultivates that talent when he holds a pen, whereas his real
self has many other qualities that remain unrepresented. In this way humor
may become the dominant quality in the letters of a correspondent whose
conversation is not dominantly humorous.

Habits of business sometimes produce the effect that the confirmed
business correspondent will write to his friend willingly and promptly on
any matter of business, and will give him excellent advice, and be glad of
the opportunity of rendering him a service, but he will shrink from the
unaccustomed effort of writing any other kind of letter.

There is a strong temptation to blame silent friends and praise good
correspondents; but we do not reflect that letter-writing is a task to
some and a pleasure to others, and that if people may sometimes be justly
blamed for shirking a _corvée_ they can never deserve praise for indulging
in an amusement. There is a particular reason why, when friendly
letter-writing is a task, it is more willingly put off than many other
tasks that appear far heavier and harder. It is either a real pleasure or
a feigned pleasure, and feigned pleasures are the most wearisome things in
life, far more wearisome than acknowledged work. For in work you have a
plain thing to do and you see the end of it, and there is no need for
ambages at the beginning or for a graceful retiring at the close; but a
feigned pleasure has its own observances that must be gone through whether
one has any heart for them or not. The groom who cleans a rich man's
stable, and whistles at his work, is happier than the guest at a state
dinner who is trying to look other than what he is,--a wearied victim of
feigned and formal pleasure with a set false smile upon his face. In
writing a business letter you have nothing to affect; but a letter of
friendship, unless you have the real inspiration for it, is a narrative of
things you have no true impulse to narrate, and the expression of feelings
which (even if they be in some degree existent) you do not earnestly
desire to utter.

The sentiment of friendship is in general rather a quiet feeling of regard
than any lively enthusiasm. It may be counted upon for what it is,--a
disposition to receive the friend with a welcome or to render him an
occasional service, but there is not, commonly, enough of it to be a
perennial warm fountain of literary inspiration. Therefore the worst
mistake in dealing with a friend is to reproach him for not having been
cordial and communicative enough. Sometimes this reproach is made,
especially by women, and the immediate effect of it is to close whatever
communicativeness there may be. If the friend wrote little before being
reproached he will write less after.

The true inspiration of the friendly letter is the perfect faith that all
the concerns of the writer will interest his friend. If James, who is
separated by distance from John, thinks that John will not care about what
James has been doing, hoping, suffering, the fount of friendly
correspondence is frozen at its source. James ought to believe that John
loves him enough to care about every little thing that can affect his
happiness, even to the sickness of his old horse or the accident that
happened to his dog when the scullery-maid threw scalding water out of the
kitchen window; then there will be no lack, and James will babble on
innocently through many a page, and never have to think.

The believer in friendship, he who has the true undoubting faith, writes
with perfect carelessness about great things and small, avoiding neither
serious interests, as a wary man would, nor trivial ones that might be
passed over by a writer avaricious of his time. William of Orange, in his
letters to Bentinck, appears to have been the model of friendly
correspondents; and he was so because his letters reflected not a part
only of his thinking and living, but the whole of it, as if nothing that
concerned him could possibly be without interest for the man he loved.
Familiar as it must be to many readers, I cannot but quote a passage from
Macaulay:

    "The descendants of Bentinck still preserve many letters written by
    William to their master, and it is not too much to say that no person
    who has not studied those letters can form a correct notion of the
    Prince's character. He whom even his admirers generally accounted the
    most frigid and distant of men here forgets all distinctions of rank,
    and pours out all his thoughts with the ingenuousness of a schoolboy.
    He imparts without reserve secrets of the highest moment. He explains
    with perfect simplicity vast designs affecting all the governments of
    Europe. Mingled with his communications on such subjects are other
    communications of a very different but perhaps not of a less
    interesting kind. All his adventures, all his personal feelings, his
    long runs after enormous stags, his carousals on St. Hubert's Day, the
    growth of his plantations, the failure of his melons, the state of his
    stud, his wish to procure an easy pad-nag for his wife, his vexation
    at learning that one of his household, after ruining a girl of good
    family, refused to marry her, his fits of sea-sickness, his coughs,
    his headaches, his devotional moods, his gratitude for the Divine
    protection after a great escape, his struggles to submit himself to
    the Divine will after a disaster, are described with an amiable
    garrulity hardly to have been expected from the most discreetly sedate
    statesman of his age. Still more remarkable is the careless effusion
    of his tenderness, and the brotherly interest which he takes in his
    friend's domestic felicity."

Friendly letters easily run over from sheet to sheet till they become
ample and voluminous. I received a welcome epistle of twenty pages
recently, and have seen another from a young man to his comrade which
exceeded fifty; but the grandest letter that I ever heard of was from
Gustave Doré to a very old lady whom he liked. He was travelling in
Switzerland, and sent her a letter eighty pages long, full of lively
pen-sketches for her entertainment. Artists often insert sketches in their
letters,--a graceful habit, as it adds to their interest and value.

The talent for scribbling friendly letters implies some rough literary
power, but may coexist with other literary powers of a totally different
kind, and, as it seems, in perfect independence of them. There is no
apparent connection between the genius in "Childe Harold," "Manfred,"
"Cain," and the talent of a lively letter-writer, yet Byron was the best
careless letter-writer in English whose correspondence has been published
and preserved. He said "dreadful is the exertion of letter-writing," but
by this he must have meant the first overcoming of indolence to begin the
letter, for when once in motion his pen travelled with consummate
naturalness and ease, and the exertion is not to be perceived. The length
and subject of his communications were indeterminate. He scribbled on and
on, every passing mood being reflected and fixed forever in his letters,
which complete our knowledge of him by showing us the action of his mind
in ordinal times as vividly as the poems display its power in moments of
highest exaltation. We follow his mental phases from minute to minute. He
is not really in one state and pretending to be in another for form's
sake, so you have all his moods, and the letters are alive. The
transitions are quick as thought. He darts from one topic to another with
the freedom and agility of a bird, dwelling on each just long enough to
satisfy his present need, but not an instant longer, and this without any
reference to the original subject or motive of the letter. He is one of
those perfect correspondents _qui causent avec la plume_. Men, women, and
things, comic and tragic adventures, magnificent scenery, historical
cities, all that his mind spontaneously notices in the world, are touched
upon briefly, yet with consummate power. Though the sentences were written
in the most careless haste and often in the strangest situations, many a
paragraph is so dense in its substance, so full of matter, that one could
not abridge it without loss. But the supreme merit of Byron's letters is
that they record his own sensations with such fidelity. What do I, the
receiver of a letter, care for second-hand opinions about anything? I can
hear the fashionable opinions from echoes innumerable. What I _do_ want is
a bit of my friend himself, of his own peculiar idiosyncrasy, and if I get
_that_ it matters nothing that his feelings and opinions should be
different from mine; nay, the more they differ from mine the more
freshness and amusement they bring me. All Byron's correspondents might be
sure of getting a bit of the real Byron. He never describes anything
without conveying the exact effect upon himself. Writing to his publisher
from Rome in 1817, he gives in a single paragraph a powerful description
of the execution of three robbers by the guillotine (rather too terrible
to quote), and at the end of it comes the personal effect:--

    "The pain seems little, and yet the effect to the spectator and the
    preparation to the criminal are very striking and chilling. The first
    turned me quite hot and thirsty, and made me shake so that I could
    hardly hold the opera-glass (I was close, but was determined to see as
    one should see everything once, with attention); the second and third
    (which shows how dreadfully soon things grow indifferent), I am
    ashamed to say, had no effect on me as a horror, though I would have
    saved them if I could."

How accurately this experience is described with no affectation of
impassible courage (he trembles at first like a woman) or of becoming
emotion afterwards, the instant that the real emotion ceased! Only some
pity remains,--"I would have saved them if I could."

The bits of frank criticism thrown into his letters, often quite by
chance, were not the least interesting elements in Byron's
correspondence. Here is an example, about a book that had been sent him:--

    "Modern Greece--good for nothing; written by some one who has never
    been there, and, not being able to manage the Spenser stanza, has
    invented a thing of his own, consisting of two elegiac stanzas, an
    heroic line and an Alexandrine, twisted on a string. Besides, why
    _modern_? You may say _modern Greeks_, but surely _Greece_ itself is
    rather more ancient than ever it was."

The carelessness of Byron in letter-writing, his total indifference to
proportion and form, his inattention to the beginning, middle, and end of
a letter, considered as a literary composition, are not to be counted for
faults, as they would be in writings of any pretension. A friendly letter
is, by its nature, a thing without pretension. The one merit of it which
compensates for every defect is to carry the living writer into the
reader's presence, such as he really is, not such as by study and art he
might make himself out to be. Byron was energetic, impetuous, impulsive,
quickly observant, disorderly, generous, open-hearted, vain. All these
qualities and defects are as conspicuous in his correspondence as they
were in his mode of life. There have been better letter-writers as to
literary art,--to which he gave no thought,--and the literary merits that
his letters possess (their clearness, their force of narrative and
description, their conciseness) are not the results of study, but the
characteristics of a vigorous mind.

The absolutely best friendly letter-writer known to me is Victor
Jacquemont. He, too, wrote according to the inspiration of the moment, but
it was so abundant that it carried him on like a steadily flowing tide.
His letters are wonderfully sustained, yet they are not _composed_; they
are as artless as Byron's, but much more full and regular. Many scribblers
have facility, a flux of words, but who has Jacquemont's weight of matter
along with it? The development of his extraordinary epistolary talent was
due to another talent deprived of adequate exercise by circumstances.
Jacquemont was by nature a brilliant, charming, amiable talker, and the
circumstances were various situations in which this talker was deprived of
an audience, being often, in long wanderings, surrounded by dull or
ignorant people. Ideas accumulated in his mind till the accumulation
became difficult to bear, and he relieved himself by talking on paper to
friends at a distance, but intentionally only to one friend at a time. He
tried to forget that his letters were passed round a circle of readers,
and the idea that they would be printed never once occurred to him:--

    "En écrivant aujourd'hui aux uns et aux autres, j'ai cherché à oublier
    ce que tu me dis de l'échange que chacun fait des lettres qu'il reçoit
    de moi. Cette pensée m'aurait retenu la plume, ou du moins, _ne
    l'aurait pas laissée couler assez nonchalamment sur le papier pour en
    noircir, en un jour, cinquante-huit feuilles_, comme je l'ai fait....
    _Je sais et j'aime beaucoup causer à deux; à trois, c'est autre chose;
    il en est de même pour écrire._ Pour parler comme je pense et sans
    blague, _il me faut la persuasion que je ne serai lu que de celui à
    qui j'écris_."

To read these letters, in the four volumes of them which have been happily
preserved, is to live with the courageous observer from day to day, to
share pleasures enjoyed with the freshness of sensation that belongs to
youth and strength, and privations borne with the cheerfulness of a truly
heroic spirit.

This Essay would run to an inordinate length if I even mentioned the best
of the many letter-writers who are known to us; and it is generally by
some adventitious circumstance that they have ever been known at all. A
man wins fame in something quite outside of letter-writing, and then his
letters are collected and given to the world, but perfectly obscure people
may have been equal or superior to him as correspondents. Occasionally the
letters of some obscure person are rescued from oblivion. Madame de
Rémusat passed quietly through life, and is now in a blaze of posthumous
fame. Her son decided upon the publication of her letters, and then it
became at once apparent that this lady had extraordinary gifts of the
observing and recording order, so that her testimony, as an eye-witness of
rare intelligence, must affect all future estimates of the conqueror of
Austerlitz. There may be at this moment, there probably are, persons to
whom the world attributes no literary talent, yet who are cleverly
preserving the very best materials of history in careless letters to their
friends.

It seems an indiscretion to read private letters, even when they are in
print, but it is an indiscretion we cannot help committing. What can be
more private than a letter from a man to his wife on purely family
matters? Surely it is wrong to read such letters; but who could repent
having read that exquisite one from Tasso's father, Bernardo Tasso,
written to his wife about the education of their children during an
involuntary separation? It shows to what a degree a sheet of paper may be
made the vehicle of a tender affection. In the first page he tries, and,
lover-like, tries again and again, to find words that will draw them
together in spite of distance. "Not merely often," he says, "but
continually our thoughts must meet upon the road." He expresses the
fullest confidence that her feelings for him are as strong and true as his
own for her, and that the weariness of separation is painful alike for
both, only he fears that she will be less able to bear the pain, not
because she is wanting in prudence but by reason of her abounding love. At
length the tender kindness of his expressions culminates in one passionate
outburst, "poi ch' io amo voi in quello estremo grado che si possa amar
cosa mortale."

It would be difficult to find a stronger contrast than that between
Bernardo Tasso's warmth and the tranquil coolness of Montaigne, who just
says enough to save appearances in that one conjugal epistle of his which
has come down to us. He begins by quoting a sceptical modern view of
marriage, and then briefly disclaims it for himself, but does not say
exactly what his own sentiments may be, not having much ardor of affection
to express, and honestly avoiding any feigned declarations:--

    "Ma Femme vous entendez bien que ce n'est pas le tour d'vn galand
    homme, aux reigles de ce temps icy, de vous courtiser & caresser
    encore. Car ils disent qu'vn habil homme peut bien prendre femme: mais
    que de l'espouser c'est à faire à vn sot. Laissons les dire: ie me
    tiens de ma part à la simple façon du vieil aage, aussi en porte-ie
    tantost le poil. Et de vray la nouuelleté couste si cher iusqu'à
    ceste heure à ce pauure estat (& si ie ne sçay si nous en sommes à la
    dernière enchere) qu'en tout & par tout i'en quitte le party. Viuons
    ma femme, vous & moy, à la vieille Françoise."

If friendship is maintained by correspondence, it is also liable to be
imperilled by it. Not unfrequently have men parted on the most amiable
terms, looking forward to a happy meeting, and not foreseeing the evil
effects of letters. Something will be written by one of them, not quite
acceptable to the other, who will either remonstrate and cause a rupture
in that way, or take his trouble silently and allow friendship to die
miserably of her wound. Much experience is needed before we entirely
realize the danger of friendly intercourse on paper. It is ten times more
difficult to maintain a friendship by letter than by personal intercourse,
not for the obvious reason that letter-writing requires an effort, but
because as soon as there is the slightest divergence of views or
difference in conduct, the expression of it or the account of it in
writing cannot be modified by kindness in the eye or gentleness in the
tone of voice. My friend may say almost anything to me in his private
room, because whatever passes his lips will come with tones that prove him
to be still my friend; but if he wrote down exactly the same words, and a
postman handed me the written paper, they might seem hard, unkind, and
even hostile. It is strange how slow we are to discover this in practice.
We are accustomed to speak with great freedom to intimate friends, and it
is only after painful mishaps that we completely realize the truth that it
is perilous to permit ourselves the same liberty with the pen. As soon as
we _do_ realize it we see the extreme folly of those who timidly avoid the
oral expression of friendly censure, and afterwards write it all out in
black ink and send it in a missive to the victim when he has gone away. He
receives the letter, feels it to be a cold cruelty, and takes refuge from
the vexations of friendship in the toils of business, thanking Heaven that
in the region of plain facts there is small place for sentiment.



ESSAY XXIV.

LETTERS OF BUSINESS.


The possibilities of intercourse by correspondence are usually
underestimated.

That there are great natural differences of talent for letter-writing is
certainly true; but it is equally true that there are great natural
differences of talent for oral explanation, yet, although we constantly
hear people say that this or that matter of business cannot be treated by
correspondence, we _never_ hear them say that it cannot be treated by
personal interviews. The value of the personal interview is often as much
over-estimated as that of letters is depreciated; for if some men do best
with the tongue, others are more effective with the pen.

It is presumed that there is nothing in correspondence to set against the
advantages of pouring forth many words without effort, and of carrying on
an argument rapidly; but the truth is, that correspondence has peculiar
advantages of its own. A hearer seldom grasps another person's argument
until it has been repeated several times, and if the argument is of a very
complex nature the chances are that he will not carry away all its points
even then. A letter is a document which a person of slow abilities can
study at his leisure, until he has mastered it; so that an elaborate
piece of reasoning may be set forth in a letter with a fair chance that
such a person will ultimately understand it. He will read the letter three
or four times on the day of its arrival, then he will still feel that
something may have escaped him, and he will read it again next day. He
will keep it and refer to it afterwards to refresh his memory. He can do
nothing of all this with what you say to him orally. His only resource in
that case is to write down a memorandum of the conversation on your
departure, in which he will probably make serious omissions or mistakes.
Your letter is a memorandum of a far more direct and authentic kind.

Appointments are sometimes made in order to settle a matter of business by
talking, and after the parties have met and talked for a long time one
says to the other, "I will write to you in a day or two;" and the other
instantly agrees with the proposal, from a feeling that the matter can be
settled more clearly by letter than by oral communication.

In these cases it may happen that the talking has cleared the way for the
letter,--that it has removed subjects of doubt, hesitation, or dispute,
and left only a few points on which the parties are very nearly agreed.

There are, however, other cases, which have sometimes come under my own
observation, in which men meet by appointment to settle a matter, and then
seem afraid to cope with it, and talk about indifferent subjects with a
half-conscious intention of postponing the difficult one till there is no
longer time to deal with it on that day. They then say, when they
separate, "We will settle that matter by correspondence," as if they could
not have done so just as easily without giving themselves the trouble of
meeting. In such cases as these the reason for avoiding the difficult
subject is either timidity or indolence. Either the parties do not like to
face each other in an opposition that may become a verbal combat, or else
they have not decision and industry enough to do a hard day's work
together; so they procrastinate, that they may spread the work over a
larger space of time.

The timidity that shrinks from a personal encounter is sometimes the cause
of hostile letter-writing about matters of business even when personal
interviews are most easy. There are instances of disputes by letter
between people who live in the same town, in the same street, and even in
the same house, and who might quarrel with their tongues if they were not
afraid, but fear drives them to fight from a certain distance, as it
requires less personal courage to fire a cannon at an enemy a league away
than to face his naked sword.

Timidity leads people to write letters and to avoid them. Some timorous
people feel bolder with a pen; others, on the contrary, are extremely
afraid of committing anything to paper, either because written words
remain and may be referred to afterwards, or because they may be read by
eyes they were never intended for, or else because the letter-writer feels
doubtful about his own powers in composition, grammar, or spelling.

Of these reasons against doing business by letter the second is really
serious. You write about your most strictly private affairs, and unless
the receiver of the letter is a rigidly careful and orderly person, it may
be read by his clerks or servants. You may afterwards visit the recipient
and find the letter lying about on a disorderly desk, or stuck on a hook
suspended from a wall, or thrust into a lockless drawer; and as the letter
is no longer your property, and you have not the resource of destroying
it, you will keenly appreciate the wisdom of those who avoid
letter-writing when they can.

The other cause of timidity, the apprehension that some fault may be
committed, some sin against literary taste or grammatical rule, has a
powerful effect as a deterrent from even necessary business
correspondence. The fear which a half-educated person feels that he will
commit faults causes a degree of hesitation which is enough of itself to
produce them; and besides this cause of error there is the want of
practice, also caused by timidity, for persons who dread letter-writing
practise it as little as possible.

The awkwardness of uneducated letter-writers is a most serious cause of
anxiety to people who are compelled to intrust the care of things to
uneducated dependants at a distance. Such care-takers, instead of keeping
you regularly informed of the state of affairs as an intelligent
correspondent would, write rarely, and they have such difficulty in
imagining the necessary ignorance of one who is not on the spot, that the
information they give you is provokingly incomplete on some most important
points.

An uneducated agent will write to you and tell you, for example, that
damage has occurred to something of yours, say a house, a carriage, or a
yacht, but he will not tell you its exact nature or extent, and he will
leave you in a state of anxious conjecture. If you question him by letter,
he will probably miss what is most essential in your questions, so that
you will have great difficulty in getting at the exact truth. After much
trouble you will perhaps have to take the train and go to see the extent
of damage for yourself, though it might have been described to you quite
accurately in a short letter by an intelligent man of business.

Nothing is more wonderful than the mistakes in following written
directions that can be committed by uneducated men. With clear directions
in the most legible characters before their eyes they will quietly go and
do something entirely different, and appear unfeignedly surprised when you
show them the written directions afterwards. In these cases it is probable
that they have unconsciously substituted a notion of their own for your
idea, which is the common process of what the uneducated consider to be
understanding things.

The extreme facility with which this is done may be illustrated by an
example. The well-known French _savant_ and inventor, Ruolz, whose name is
famous in connection with electro-plating, turned his attention to paper
for roofing and, as he perceived the defects of the common bituminous
papers, invented another in which no bitumen was employed. This he
advertised constantly and extensively as the "Carton _non_ bitumé Ruolz,"
consequently every one calls it the "Carton bitumé Ruolz." The reason here
is that the notion of papers for roofs was already so associated in the
French mind with bitumen, that it was absolutely impossible to effect the
disjunction of the two ideas.

Instances have occurred to everybody in which the consequence of warning a
workman that he is not to do some particular thing, is that he goes and
does it, when if nothing had been said on the subject he might, perchance,
have avoided it. Here are two good instances of this, but I have met with
many others. I remember ordering a binder to bind some volumes with red
edges, specially stipulating that he was not to use aniline red. He
therefore carefully stained the edges with aniline. I also remember
writing to a painter that he was to stain some new fittings of a boat with
a transparent glaze of raw sienna, and afterwards varnish them, and that
he was to be careful _not_ to use opaque paint anywhere. I was at a great
distance from the boat and could not superintend the work. In due time I
visited the boat and discovered that a foul tint of opaque paint had been
employed everywhere on the new fittings, without any glaze or varnish
whatever, in spite of the fact that old fittings, partially retained, were
still there, with mellow transparent stain and varnish, in the closest
juxtaposition with the hideous thick new daubing.

It is the evil of mediocrity in fortune to have frequently to trust to
uneducated agents. Rich men can employ able representatives, and in this
way they can inform themselves accurately of what occurs to their
belongings at a distance. Without riches, however, we may sometimes have a
friend on the spot who will see to things for us, which is one of the
kindest offices of friendship. The most efficient friend is one who will
not only look to matters of detail, but will take the trouble to inform
you accurately about them, and for this he must be a man of leisure. Such
a friend often spares one a railway journey by a few clear lines of report
or explanation. Judging from personal experience, I should say that
retired lawyers and retired military officers were admirably adapted to
render this great service efficiently, and I should suppose that a man who
had retired from busy commercial life would be scarcely less useful, but I
should not hope for precision in one who had always been unoccupied, nor
should I expect many details from one who was much occupied still. The
first would lack training and experience; the second would lack leisure.

The talent for accuracy in affairs may be distinct from literary talent
and education, and though we have been considering the difficulty of
corresponding on matters of business with the uneducated, we must not too
hastily infer that because a man is inaccurate in spelling, and inelegant
in phraseology, he may not be an agreeable and efficient business
correspondent. There was a time when all the greatest men of business in
England were uncertain spellers. Clear expression and completeness of
statement are more valuable than any other qualities in a business
correspondent. I sometimes have to correspond with a tradesman in Paris
who rose from an humble origin and scarcely produces what a schoolmaster
would consider a passable letter; yet his letters are models in essential
qualities, as he always removes by plain statements or questions every
possibility of a mistake, and if there is any want of absolute precision
in my orders he is sure to find out the deficiency, and to call my
attention to it sharply.

The habit of _not acknowledging orders_ is one of the worst negative vices
in business correspondence. It is most inconveniently common in France,
but happily much rarer in England. Where this vice prevails you cannot
tell whether the person you wish to employ has read your order or not; and
if you suppose him to have read it, you have no reason to feel sure that
he has understood it, or will execute it in time.

It is a great gain to the writer of letters to be able to make them brief
and clear at the same time, but as there is obscurity in a labyrinth of
many words so there may be another kind of obscurity from their
paucity,--that kind which Horace alluded to with reference to poetry,--

    "Brevis esse laboro
  Obscurus fio."

Sometimes one additional word would spare the reader a doubt or a
misunderstanding. This is likely to become more and more the dominant
fault of correspondence as it imitates the brevity of the telegram.

Observe the interesting use of the word _laboro_ by Horace. You may, in
fact, _labor_ to be brief, although the result is an appearance of less
labor than if you had written at ease. It may take more time to write a
very short letter than one of twice the length, the only gain in this
case being to the receiver.

Letters of business often appear to be written in the most rapid and
careless haste; the writing is almost illegible from its speed, the
composition slovenly, the letter brief. And yet such a letter may have
cost hours of deliberate reflection before one word of it was committed to
paper. It is the rapid registering of a slowly matured decision.

It is a well-known principle of modern business correspondence that if a
letter refers only to one subject it is more likely to receive attention
than if it deals with several; therefore if you have several different
orders or directions to give it is bad policy to write them all at once,
unless you are absolutely compelled to do so because they are all equally
pressing. Even if there is the same degree of urgency for all, yet a
practical impossibility that all should be executed at the same time, it
is still the best policy to give your orders successively and not more
quickly than they can be executed. The only danger of this is that the
receiver of the orders may think at first that they are small matters in
which postponement signifies little, as they can be executed at any time.
To prevent this he should be strongly warned at first that the order will
be rapidly followed by several others. If there is not the same degree of
urgency for all, the best way is to make a private register of the
different matters in the order of their urgency, and then to write several
short notes, at intervals, one about each thing.

People have such a marvellous power of misunderstanding even the very
plainest directions that a business letter never _can_ be made too clear.
It will, indeed, frequently happen that language itself is not clear
enough for the purposes of explanation without the help of drawing, and
drawing may not be clear to one who has not been educated to understand
it, which compels you to have recourse to modelling. In these cases the
task of the letter-writer is greatly simplified, as he has nothing to do
but foresee and prevent any misunderstanding of the drawing or model.

Every material thing constructed by mankind may be explained by the three
kinds of mechanical drawing,--plan, section, and elevation,--but the
difficulty, is that so many people are unable to understand plans and
sections; they only understand elevations, and not always even these. The
special incapacity to understand plans and sections is common in every
rank of society, and it is not uncommon even in the practical trades. All
letter-writing that refers to material construction would be immensely
simplified if, by a general rule in popular and other education, every
future man and woman in the country were taught enough about mechanical
drawing to be able at least to _read_ it.

It is delightful to correspond about construction with any trained
architect or engineer, because to such a correspondent you can explain
everything briefly, with the perfect certainty of being accurately
understood. It is terrible toil to have to explain construction by letter
to a man who does not understand mechanical drawing; and when you have
given great labor to your explanation, it is the merest chance whether he
will catch your meaning or not. The evil does not stop at mechanical
drawing. Not only do uneducated people misunderstand a mechanical plan or
section, but they are quite as liable to misunderstand a perspective
drawing, as the great architect and draughtsman Viollet-le-Duc charmingly
exemplified by the work of an intelligent child. A little boy had drawn a
cat as he had seen it in front with its tail standing up, and this front
view was stupidly misunderstood by a mature _bourgeois_, who thought the
animal was a biped (as the hind-legs were hidden), and believed the erect
tail to be some unknown object sticking out of the nondescript creature's
head. If you draw a board in perspective (other than isometrical) a
workman is quite likely to think that one end of it is to be narrower than
the other.

Business correspondence in foreign languages is a very simple matter when
it deals only with plain facts, and it does not require any very extensive
knowledge of the foreign tongue to write a common order; but if any
delicate or complicated matter has to be explained, or if touchy
sensitiveness in the foreigner has to be soothed by management and tact,
then a thorough knowledge of the shades of expression is required, and
this is extremely rare. The statement of bare facts, or the utterance of
simple wants, is indeed only a part of business correspondence, for men of
business, though they are not supposed to display sentiment in affairs,
are in reality just as much human beings as other men, and consequently
they have feelings which are to be considered. A correspondent who is able
to write a foreign language with delicacy and tact will often attain his
object when one with a ruder and more imperfect knowledge of the language
would meet with certain failure, though he asked for exactly the same
thing.

It is surety possible to be civil and even polite in business
correspondence without using the deplorable commercial slang which exists,
I believe, in every modern language. The proof that such abstinence is
possible is that some of the most efficient and most active men of
business never have recourse to it at all. This commercial slang consists
in the substitution of conventional terms originally intended to be more
courteous than plain English, French, etc., but which, in fact, from their
mechanical use, become wholly destitute of that best politeness which is
personal, and does not depend upon set phrases that can be copied out of a
tradesman's model letter-writer. Anybody but a tradesman calls your letter
a letter; why should an English tradesman call it "your favor," and a
French one "_votre honorée_"? A gentleman writing in the month of May
speaks of April, May, and June, when a tradesman carefully avoids the
names of the months, and calls them _ultimo_, _courant_, and _proximo_;
whilst instead of saying "by" or "according to," like other Englishmen, he
says _per_. This style was touched upon by Scott in Provost Crosbie's
letter to Alexander Fairford: "Dear Sir--Your _respected favor_ of 25th
_ultimo_, _per_ favor of Mr. Darsie Latimer, reached me in safety." This
is thought to be a finished commercial style. One sometimes meets with the
most astonishing and complicated specimens of it, which the authors are
evidently proud of as proofs of their high commercial training. I regret
not to have kept some fine examples of these, as their perfections are far
beyond all imitation. This is not surprising when we reflect that the very
worst commercial style is the result of a striving by many minds, during
several generations, after a preposterous ideal.

Tradesmen deserve credit for understanding the one element of courtesy in
letter-writing which has been neglected by gentlemen. They value legible
handwriting, and they print clear names and addresses on their
letter-paper, by which they spare much trouble.

Before closing this chapter let me say something about the reading of
business letters as well as the writing of them. It is, perhaps, a harder
duty to read such letters with the necessary degree of attention than to
compose them, for the author has his head charged with the subject, and
writing the letter is a relief to him; but to the receiver the matter is
new, and however lucid may be the exposition it always requires some
degree of real attention on his part. How are you, being at a distance, to
get an indolent man to bestow that necessary attention? He feels secure
from a personal visit, and indulges his indolence by neglecting your
concerns, even when they are also his own. Long ago I heard an English
Archdeacon tell the following story about his Bishop. The prelate was one
of that numerous class of men who loathe the sight of a business letter;
and he had indulged his indolence in that respect to such a degree that,
little by little, he had arrived at the fatal stage where one leaves
letters unopened for days or weeks. At one particular time the Archdeacon
was aware of a great arrear of unopened letters, and impressed his
lordship with the necessity for taking some note of their contents.
Yielding to a stronger will, the Bishop began to read; and one of the
first communications was from a wealthy man who offered a large sum for
church purposes (I think for building), but if the offer was not accepted
within a certain lapse of time he declared his intention of making it to
that which a Bishop loveth not--a dissenting community. The prelate had
opened the letter too late, and he lost the money. I believe that the
Archdeacon's vexation at the loss was more than counterbalanced by
gratification that his hierarchical superior had received such a lesson
for his neglect. Yet he did but imitate Napoleon, of whom Emerson says,
"He directed Bourrienne to leave all letters unopened for three weeks, and
then observed with satisfaction how large a part of the correspondence had
disposed of itself and no longer required an answer." This is a very
unsafe system to adopt, as the case of the Bishop proves. Things may
"dispose of themselves" in the wrong way, like wine in a leaky cask,
which, instead of putting itself carefully into a sound cask, goes
trickling into the earth.

The indolence of some men in reading and answering letters of business
would be incredible if they did not give clear evidence of it. The most
remarkable example that ever came under my notice is the following. A
French artist, not by any means in a condition of superfluous prosperity,
exhibited a picture at the _Salon_. He waited in Paris till after the
opening of the exhibition and then went down into the country. On the day
of his departure he received letters from two different collectors
expressing a desire to purchase his work, and asking its price. Any real
man of business would have seized upon such an opportunity at once. He
would have answered both letters, stayed in town, and contrived to set the
two amateurs bidding against each other. The artist in question was one of
those unaccountable mortals who would rather sacrifice all their chances
of life than indite a letter of business, so he left both inquiries
unanswered, saying that if the men had really wanted the picture they
would have called to see him. He never sold it, and some time afterwards
was obliged to give up his profession, quite as much from the lack of
promptitude in affairs as from any artistic deficiency.

Sometimes letters of business are _read_, but read so carelessly that it
would be better if they were thrown unopened into the fire. I have seen
some astounding instances of this, and, what is most remarkable, of
repeated and incorrigible carelessness in the same person or firm,
compelling one to the conclusion that in corresponding with that person or
that firm the clearest language, the plainest writing, and the most
legible numerals, are all equally without effect. I am thinking
particularly of one case, intimately known to me in all its details, in
which a business correspondence of some duration was finally abandoned,
after infinite annoyance, for the simple reason that it was impossible to
get the members of the firm, or their representatives, to attend to
written orders with any degree of accuracy. Even whilst writing this very
Essay I have given an order with regard to which I foresaw a probable
error. Knowing by experience that a probable error is almost certain if
steps are not taken energetically to prevent it, I requested that this
error might not be committed, and to attract more attention to my request
I wrote the paragraph containing it in red ink,--a very unusual
precaution. The foreseen error was accurately committed.



ESSAY XXV.

ANONYMOUS LETTERS.


Probably few of my mature readers have attained middle age without
receiving a number of anonymous letters. Such letters are not always
offensive, sometimes they are amusing, sometimes considerate and kind, yet
there is in all cases a feeling of annoyance on receiving them, because
the writer has made himself inaccessible to a reply. It is as if a man in
a mask whispered a word in your ear and then vanished suddenly in a crowd.
You wish to answer a calumny or acknowledge a kindness, and you may talk
to the winds and streams.

Anonymous letters of the worst kind have a certain value to the student of
human nature, because they afford him glimpses of the evil spirit that
disguises itself under the fair seemings of society. You believe with
childlike simplicity and innocence that, as you have never done any
intentional injury to a human being, you cannot have a human enemy, and
you make the startling discovery that somewhere in the world, perhaps even
amongst the smiling people you meet at dances and dinners, there are
creatures who will have recourse to the foulest slanders if thereby they
may hope to do you an injury. What _can_ you have done to excite such
bitter animosity? You may both have done much and neglected much. You may
have had some superiority of body, mind, or fortune; you may have
neglected to soothe some jealous vanity by the flattery it craved with a
tormenting hunger.

The simple fact that you seem happier than Envy thinks you ought to be is
of itself enough to excite a strong desire to diminish your offensive
happiness or put an end to it entirely. That is the reason why people who
are going to be married receive anonymous letters. If they are not really
happy they have every appearance of being happy, which is not less
intolerable. The anonymous letter-writer seeks to put a stop to such a
state of things. He might go to one of the parties and slander the other
openly, but it would require courage to do that directly to his face. A
letter might be written, but if name and address were given there would
come an inconvenient demand for proofs. One course remains, offering that
immunity from consequences which is soothing to the nerves of a coward.
The envious or jealous man can throw his vitriol in the dark and slip away
unperceived--_he can write an anonymous letter_.

Has the reader ever really tried to picture to himself the state of that
man's or woman's mind (for women write these things also) who can sit
down, take a sheet of paper, make a rough draft of an anonymous letter,
copy it out in a very legible yet carefully disguised hand, and make
arrangements for having it posted at a distance from the place where it
was written? Such things are constantly done. At this minute there are a
certain number of men and women in the world who are vile enough to do
all that simply in order to spoil the happiness of some person whom they
regard with "envy, hatred, malice, and all uncharitableness." I see in my
mind's eye the gentleman--the man having all the apparent delicacy and
refinement of a gentleman--who is writing a letter intended to blast the
character of an acquaintance. Perhaps he meets that acquaintance in
society, and shakes hands with him, and pretends to take an interest in
his health. Meanwhile he secretly reflects upon the particular sort of
calumny that will have the greatest degree of verisimilitude. Everything
depends upon his talent in devising the most _credible_ sort of
calumny,--not the calumny most likely to meet general credence, but that
which is most likely to be believed by the person to whom it is addressed,
and most likely to do injury when believed. The anonymous calumniator has
the immense advantage on his side that most people are prone to believe
evil, and that good people are unfortunately the most prone, as they hate
evil so intensely that even the very phantom of it arouses their anger,
and they too frequently do not stop to inquire whether it is a phantom or
a reality. The clever calumniator is careful not to go too far; he will
advance something that might be or that might have been; he does not love
_le vrai_, but he is a careful student of _le vraisemblable_. He will
assume an appearance of reluctance, he will drop hints more terrible than
assertions, because they are vague, mysterious, disquieting. When he
thinks he has done enough he stops in time; he has inoculated the drop of
poison, and can wait till it takes effect.

It must be rather an anxious time for the anonymous letter-writer when he
has sent off his missive. In the nature of things he cannot receive an
answer, and it is not easy for him to ascertain very soon what has been
the result of his enterprise. If he has been trying to prevent a marriage
he does not know immediately if the engagement is broken off, and if it is
not broken off he has to wait till the wedding-day before he is quite sure
of his own failure, and to suffer meanwhile from hope deferred and
constantly increasing apprehension. If the rupture occurs he has a moment
of Satanic joy, but it _may_ be due to some other cause than the success
of his own calumny, so that he is never quite sure of having himself
attained his object.

It is believed that most people who are engaged to be married receive
anonymous letters recommending them to break off the match. Not only are
such letters addressed to the betrothed couple themselves, but also to
their relations. If there is not a doubt that the statements in such
letters are purely calumnious, the right course is to destroy them
immediately and never allude to them afterwards; but if there is the
faintest shadow of a doubt--if there is the vaguest feeling that there may
be _some_ ground for the attack--then the only course is to send the
letter to the person accused, and to say that this is done in order to
afford him an opportunity for answering the anonymous assailant. I
remember a case in which this was done with the best results. A
professional man without fortune was going to marry a young heiress; I do
not mean a great heiress, but one whose fortune might be a temptation.
Her family received the usual anonymous letters, and in one of them it was
stated that the aspirant's father, who had been long dead, had dishonored
himself by base conduct with regard to a public trust in a certain town
where he occupied a post of great responsibility towards the municipal
authorities. The letter was shown to the son, and he was asked if he knew
anything of the matter, and if he could do anything to clear away the
imputation. Then came the difficulty that the alleged betrayal of trust
was stated to have occurred twenty years before, and that the Mayor was
dead, and probably most of the common councillors also. What was to be
done? It is not easy to disprove a calumny, and the _onus_ of proof ought
always to be thrown upon the calumniator, but this calumniator was
anonymous and intangible, so the son of the victim was requested to repel
the charge. By a very unusual and most fortunate accident, his father had
received on quitting the town in question a letter from the Mayor of a
most exceptional character, in which he spoke with warm and grateful
appreciation of services rendered and of the happy relations of trust and
confidence that had subsisted between himself and the slandered man down
to the very termination of their intercourse. This letter, again by a most
lucky accident, had been preserved by the widow, and by means of it one
dead man defended the memory of another. It removed the greatest obstacle
to the marriage; but another anonymous writer, or the same in another
handwriting, now alleged that the slandered man had died of a disease
likely to be inherited by his posterity. Here, again, luck was on the
side of the defence, as the physician who had attended him was still
alive, so that this second invention was as easily disposed of as the
first. The marriage took place; it has been more than usually happy, and
the children are pictures of health.

The trouble to which anonymous letter-writers put themselves to attain
their ends must sometimes be very great. I remember a case in which some
of these people must have contrived by means of spies or agents to procure
a private address in a foreign country, and must have been at great pains
also to ascertain certain facts in England which were carefully mingled
with the lies in the calumnious letter. The nameless writer was evidently
well informed, possibly he or she may have been a "friend" of the intended
victim. In this case no attention was paid to the attack, which did not
delay the marriage by a single hour. Long afterwards the married pair
happened to be talking about anonymous letters, and it then appeared that
each side had received several of these missives, coarsely or ingeniously
concocted, but had given them no more attention than they deserved.

An anonymous letter is sometimes written in collaboration by two persons
of different degrees of ability. When this is done one of the slanderers
generally supplies the basis of fact necessary to give an appearance of
knowledge, and the other supplies or improves the imaginative part of the
common performance and its literary style. Sometimes one of the two may be
detected by the nature of the references to fact, or by the supposed
writer's personal interest in bringing about a certain result.

It is very difficult at the first glance entirely to resist the effect of
a clever anonymous letter, and perhaps it is only men of clear strong
sense and long experience who at once overcome the first shock. In a very
short time, however, the phantom evil grows thin and disappears, and the
motive of the writer is guessed at or discerned.

The following brief anonymous letter or one closely resembling it (I quote
from memory) was once received by an English gentleman on his travels.

    "DEAR SIR,--I congratulate you on the fact that you will be a
    grandfather in about two months. I mention this as you may like to
    purchase baby-linen for your grandchild during your absence. I am,
    Sir, yours sincerely,

        "A WELL-WISHER."

The receiver had a family of grown-up children of whom not one was
married. The letter gave him a slight but perceptible degree of
disquietude which he put aside to the best of his ability. In a few days
came a signed letter from one of his female servants confessing that she
was about to become a mother, and claiming his protection as the
grandfather of the child. It then became evident that the anonymous letter
had been written by the girl's lover, who was a tolerably educated man
whilst she was uneducated, and that the pair had entered into this little
plot to obtain money. The matter ended by the dismissal of the girl, who
then made threats until she was placed in the hands of the police. Other
circumstances were recollected proving her to be a remarkably audacious
liar and of a slanderous disposition.

The torture that an anonymous letter may inflict depends far more on the
nature of the person who receives it than on the circumstances it relates.
A jealous and suspicious nature, not opened by much experience or
knowledge of the world, is the predestined victim of the anonymous
torturer. Such a nature jumps at evil report like a fish at an artificial
fly, and feels the anguish of it immediately. By a law that seems really
cruel such natures seize with most avidity on those very slanders that
cause them the most pain.

A kind of anonymous letter of which we have heard much in the present
disturbed state of European society is the letter containing threats of
physical injury. It informs you that you will be "done for" or "disabled"
in a short time, and exhorts you in the meanwhile to prepare for your
awful doom. The object of these letters is to deprive the receiver of all
feeling of security or comfort in existence. His consolation is that a
real intending murderer would probably be thinking too much of his own
perilous enterprise to indulge in correspondence about it, and we do not
perceive that the attacks on public men are at all proportionate in number
to the menaces addressed to them.

As there are malevolent anonymous letters intended to inflict the most
wearing anxiety, so there are benevolent ones written to save our souls.
Some theologically minded person, often of the female sex, is alarmed for
our spiritual state because she fears that we have doubts about the
supernatural, and so she sends us books that only make us wonder at the
mental condition for which such literature can be suitable. I remember one
of my female anonymous correspondents who took it for granted that I was
like a ship drifting about without compass or rudder (a great mistake on
her part), and so she offered me the safe and spacious haven of
Swedenborgianism! Others will tell you of the "great pain" with which they
have read this or that passage of your writings, to which an author may
always reply that as there is no Act of Parliament compelling British
subjects to read his books the sufferers have only to let them alone in
order to spare themselves the dolorous sensations they complain of.

Some kind anonymous correspondents write to console us for offensive
criticism by maintaining the truth of our assertions as supported by their
own experience. I remember that when the novel of "Wenderholme" was
published, and naturally attacked for its dreadful portraiture of the
drinking habits of a past generation, a lady wrote to me anonymously from
a locality of the kind described bearing mournful witness to the veracity
of the description.[33] In this case the employment of the anonymous form
was justified by two considerations. There was no offensive intention, and
the lady had to speak of her own relations whose names she desired to
conceal. Authors frequently receive letters of gently expressed criticism
or remonstrance from readers who do not give their names. The only
objection to these communications, which are often interesting, is that it
is rather teasing and vexatious to be deprived of the opportunity for
answering them. The reader may like to see one of these gentle anonymous
letters. An unmarried lady of mature age (for there appears to be no
reason to doubt the veracity with which she gives a slight account of
herself) has been reading one of my books and thinks me not quite just to
a most respectable and by no means insignificant class in English society.
She therefore takes me to task,--not at all unkindly.

    "DEAR SIR,--I have often wished to thank you for the intense pleasure
    your books have given me, especially the 'Painter's Camp in the
    Highlands,' the word-pictures of which reproduced the enjoyment,
    intense even to pain, of the Scottish scenery.

    "I have only now become acquainted with your 'Intellectual Life,'
    which has also given me great pleasure, though of another kind. Its
    general fairness and candor induce me to protest against your judgment
    of a class of women whom I am sure you underrate from not having a
    sufficient acquaintance with their capabilities.

    "'_Women who are not impelled by some masculine influence are not
    superior, either in knowledge or in discipline of the mind, at the age
    of fifty to what they were at twenty-five.... The best illustration of
    this is a sisterhood of three or four rich old maids.... You will
    observe that they invariably remain, as to their education, where they
    were left by their teachers many years before.... Even in what most
    interests them--theology, they repeat but do not extend their
    information._'

    "My circle of acquaintance is small, nevertheless I know many women
    between twenty-five and forty whose culture is always steadily
    progressing; who keep up an acquaintance with literature for its own
    sake, and not 'impelled' thereto 'by masculine influence;' who, though
    without creative power, yet have such capability of reception that
    they can appreciate the best authors of the day; whose theology is not
    quite the fossil you represent it, though I confess it is for but a
    small number of my acquaintance that I can claim the power of
    judicially estimating the various schools of theology.

    "Without being specialists, the more thoughtful of our class have such
    an acquaintance with current literature that they are able to enter
    into the progress of the great questions of the day, and may even
    estimate the more fairly a Gladstone or a Disraeli for being
    spectators instead of actors in politics.

    "I have spoken of my own acquaintances, but they are such as may be
    met within any middle-class society. For myself, I look back to the
    painful bewilderment of twenty-five and contrast it with satisfaction
    with the brighter perceptions of forty, finding out 'a little more,
    and yet a little more, of the eternal order of the universe.' One
    reason for your underrating us may be that our receptive powers only
    are in constant use, and we have little power of expression. I dislike
    anonymous letters as a rule, but as I write as the representative of a
    class, I beg to sign myself,

        "Yours gratefully,
            "ONE OF THREE OR FOUR RICH OLD MAIDS.

    "_November 13, 1883._"

Letters of this kind give no pain to the receiver, except when they compel
him to an unsatisfactory kind of self-examination. In the present case I
make the best amends by giving publicity and permanence to this clearly
expressed criticism. Something may be said, too, in defence of the
passages incriminated. Let me attempt it in the form of a letter which may
possibly fall under the eye of the Rich Old Maid.

    DEAR MADAM,--Your letter has duly reached me, and produced feelings of
    compunction. Have I indeed been guilty of injustice towards a class so
    deserving of respect and consideration as the Rich Old Maids of
    England? It has always seemed to me one of the privileges of my native
    country that such a class should flourish there so much more amply and
    luxuriantly than in other lands. Married women are absorbed in the
    cares and anxieties of their own households, but the sympathies of old
    maids spread themselves over a wider area. Balzac hated them, and
    described them as having souls overflowing with gall; but Balzac was a
    Frenchman, and if he was just to the rare old maids of his native
    country (which I cannot believe) he knew nothing of the more numerous
    old maids of Great Britain. I am not in Balzac's position. Dear
    friends of mine, and dearer relations, have belonged to that kindly
    sisterhood.

    The answer to your objection is simple. "The Intellectual Life" was
    not published in 1883 but in 1873. It was written some time before,
    and the materials had been gradually accumulating in the author's mind
    several years before it was written. Consequently your criticism is of
    a much later date than the work you criticise, and as you are forty in
    1883 you were a young maid in the times I was thinking of when
    writing. It is certainly true that many women of the now past
    generation, particularly those who lived in celibacy, had a remarkable
    power of remaining intellectually in the same place. This power is
    retained by some of the present generation, but it is becoming rarer
    every day because the intellectual movement is so strong that it is
    drawing a constantly increasing number of women along with it; indeed
    this movement is so accelerated as to give rise to a new anxiety, and
    make us look back with a wistful regret. We are now beginning to
    perceive that a certain excellent old type of Englishwomen whom we
    remember with the greatest affection and respect will soon belong as
    entirely to the past as if they had lived in the days of Queen
    Elizabeth. From the intellectual point of view their lives were hardly
    worth living, but we are beginning to ask ourselves whether their
    ignorance (I use the plain term) and their prejudices (the plain term
    again) were not essential parts of a whole that commanded our respect.
    Their simplicity of mind may have been a reason why they had so much
    simplicity of purpose in well-doing. Their strength of prejudice may
    have aided them to keep with perfect steadfastness on the side of
    moral and social order. Their intellectual restfulness in a few clear
    settled ideas left a degree of freedom to their energy in common
    duties that may not always be possible amidst the bewildering theories
    of an unsettled and speculative age.

        Faithfully yours,
            THE AUTHOR OF "THE INTELLECTUAL LIFE."



ESSAY XXVI.

AMUSEMENTS.


One of the most unexpected discoveries that we make on entering the
reflective stage of existence is that amusements are social obligations.

The next discovery of this kind is that the higher the rank of the person
the more obligatory and the more numerous do his so-called "amusements"
become, till finally we reach the princely life which seems to consist
almost exclusively of these observances.

Why should it ever be considered obligatory upon a man to amuse himself in
some way settled by others? There appear to be two principal reasons for
this. The first is, that when amusements are practised by many persons in
common it appears unsociable and ungracious to abstain. Even if the
amusement is not interesting in itself it is thought that the society it
leads us into ought to be a sufficient reason for following it.

The second reason is that, like all things which are repeated by many
people together, amusements soon become fixed customs, and have all the
weight and authority of customs, so that people dare not abstain from
observing them for fear of social penalties.

If the amusements are expensive they become not only a sign of wealth but
an actual demonstration and display of it, and as nothing in the world is
so much respected as wealth, or so efficient a help to social position,
and as the expenditure which is visible produces far more effect upon the
mind than that which is not seen, it follows that all costly amusements
are useful for self-assertion in the world, and become even a means of
maintaining the political importance of great families.

On the other hand, not to be accustomed to expensive amusements implies
that one has lived amongst people of narrow means, so that most of those
who have social ambition are eager to seize upon every opportunity for
enlarging their experience of expensive amusements in order that they may
talk about them afterwards, and so affirm their position as members of the
upper class.

The dread of appearing unsociable, of seeming rebellious against custom,
or inexperienced in the habits of the rich, are reasons quite strong
enough for the maintenance of customary amusements even when there is very
little real enjoyment of them for their own sake.

But, in fact, there are always _some_ people who practise these amusements
for the sake of the pleasure they give, and as these people are likely to
excel the others in vivacity, activity, and skill, as they have more
_entrain_ and gayety, and talk more willingly and heartily about the
sports they love, so they naturally come to lead opinion upon the subject
and to give it an appearance of earnestness and warmth that is beyond its
real condition. Hence the tone of conversation about amusements, though it
may accurately represent the sentiments of those who enjoy them, does not
represent all opinion fairly. The opposite side of the question found a
witty exponent in Sir George Cornewall Lewis, when he uttered that
immortal saying by which his name will endure when the recollection of his
political services has passed away,--"How tolerable life would be were it
not for its pleasures!" There you have the feeling of the thousands who
submit and conform, but who would have much to say if it were in good
taste to say anything against pleasures that are offered to us in
hospitality.

Amusements themselves become work when undertaken for an ulterior purpose
such as the maintenance of political influence. A great man goes through a
certain regular series of dinners, balls, games, shooting and hunting
parties, races, wedding-breakfasts, visits to great houses, excursions on
land and water, and all these things have the outward appearance of
amusement, but may, in reality, be labors that the great man undertakes
for some purpose entirely outside of the frivolous things themselves. A
Prime Minister scarcely goes beyond political dinners, but what an endless
series of engagements are undertaken by a Prince of Wales! Such things are
an obligation for him, and when the obligation is accepted with unfailing
patience and good temper, the Prince is not only working, but working with
a certain elegance and grace of art, often involving that prettiest kind
of self-sacrifice which hides itself under an appearance of enjoyment.
Nobody supposes that the social amusements so regularly gone through by
the eldest son of Queen Victoria can be, in all cases, very entertaining
to him; we suppose them to be accepted as forms of human intercourse that
bring him into personal relations with his future subjects. The difference
between this Prince and King Louis II. of Bavaria is perhaps the most
striking contrast in modern royal existences. Prince Albert Edward is
accessible to everybody, and shares the common pleasures of his
countrymen; the Bavarian sovereign is never so happy as when in one of his
romantic and magnificent residences, surrounded by the sublimity of nature
and the embellishments of art, he sits alone and dreams as he listens to
the strains of exquisite music. Has he not erected his splendid castle on
a rock, like the builder of "The Palace of Art"?

  "A huge crag-platform, smooth as burnish'd brass
       I chose. The ranged ramparts bright
   From level meadow-bases of deep grass
       Suddenly scaled the light.

  "Thereon I built it firm. Of ledge or shelf
       The rock rose clear, or winding stair.
   My soul would live alone unto herself
       In her high palace there."

The life of the King of Bavaria, sublimely serene in its independence, is
a long series of tranquil omissions. There may be a wedding-feast in one
of his palaces, but such an occurrence only seems to him the best of all
reasons why he should be in another. He escapes from the pleasures and
interests of daily life, making himself an earthly paradise of
architecture, music, and gardens, and lost in his long dream, assuredly
one of the most poetical figures in the biographies of kings, and one of
the most interesting, but how remote from men! This remoteness is due, in
great part, to a sincerity of disposition which declines amusements that
do not amuse, and desires only those real pleasures which are in perfect
harmony with one's own nature and constitution. We like the sociability,
the ready human sympathy, of the Prince of Wales; we think that in his
position it is well for him to be able to keep all that endless series of
engagements, but has not King Louis some claim upon our indulgence even in
his eccentricity? He has refused the weary round of false amusements and
made his choice of ideal pleasure. If he condescended to excuse himself,
his _Apologia pro vitâ sua_ might take a form somewhat resembling this. He
might say, "I was born to a great fortune and only ask leave to enjoy it
in my own way. The world's amusements are an infliction that I consider
myself at liberty to avoid. I love musical or silent solitude, and the
enchantments of a fair garden and a lofty dwelling amidst the glorious
Bavarian mountains. Let the noisy world go its way with its bitter
wranglings, its dishonest politics, its sanguinary wars! I set up no
tyranny. I leave my subjects to enjoy their brief human existence in their
own fashion, and they let me dream my dream."

These are not the world's ways nor the world's view. The world considers
it essential to the character of a prince that he should be at least
apparently happy in those pleasures which are enjoyed in society, that he
should seem to enjoy them along with others to show his fellow-feeling
with common men, and not sit by himself, like King Louis in his theatre,
when "Tannhauser" is performed for the royal ears alone.

Of the many precious immunities that belong to humble station there are
none more valuable than the freedom from false amusements. A poor man is
under one obligation, he must work, but his work itself is a blessed
deliverance from a thousand other obligations. He is not obliged to shoot,
and hunt, and dance against his will, he is not obliged to affect interest
and pleasure in games that only weary him, he has not to receive tiresome
strangers in long ceremonious repasts when he would rather have a simple
short dinner with his wife. Béranger sang the happiness of beggars with
his sympathetic humorous philosophy, but in all seriousness it might be
maintained that the poor are happier than they know. They get their easy
unrestrained human intercourse by chance meetings, and greetings, and
gossipings, and they are spared all the acting, all the feigning, that is
connected with the routine of imposed enjoyments.

Avowed work, even when uncongenial, is far less trying to patience than
feigned pleasure. You dislike accounts and you dislike balls, but though
your dislike may be nearly equal in both cases you will assuredly find
that the time hangs less heavily when you are resolutely grappling with
the details of your account-books than when you are only wishing that the
dancers would go to bed. The reason is that any hard work, whatever it is,
has the qualities of a mental tonic, whereas unenjoyed pleasures have an
opposite effect, and even though work may be uncongenial you see a sort
of result, whilst a false pleasure leaves no result but the extreme
fatigue that attends it,--a kind of fatigue quite exceptional in its
nature, and the most disagreeable that is known to man.

The dislike for false amusements is often misunderstood to be a
puritanical intolerance of all amusement. It is in this as in all things
that are passionately enjoyed,--the false thing is most disliked by those
who best appreciate the true.

What may be called the truth or falsehood of amusements is not in the
amusements themselves, but in the relation between one human idiosyncrasy
and them. Every idiosyncrasy has its own strong mysterious affinities,
generally distinguishable in childhood, always clearly distinguishable in
youth. We are like a lute or a violin, the tuned strings vibrate in answer
to certain notes but not in answer to others.

To convert amusements into social customs or obligations, to make it a
man's duty to shoot birds or ride after foxes because it is agreeable to
others to discharge guns and gallop across fields, is an infringement of
individual liberty which is less excusable in the case of amusements than
it is in more serious things. For in serious things, in politics and
religion, there is always the plausible argument that the repression of
the individual conscience is good for the unity of the State; whereas
amusements are supposed to exist for the recreation of those who practise
them, and when they are not enjoyed they are not amusements but something
else. There is no single English word that exactly expresses what they
are, but there is a French one, the word _corvée_, which means forced
labor, labor under dictation, all the more unpleasant in these cases that
it must assume the appearance of enjoyment.[34]

Surely there is nothing in which the independence of the individual ought
to be so absolute, so unquestioned, as in amusements. What right have I,
because a thing is a pleasant pastime to me, to compel my friend or my son
to do that thing when it is a _corvée_ to him? No man can possibly amuse
himself in obedience to a word of command, the most he can do is to
submit, to try to appear amused, wishing all the time that the weary task
was over.

To mark the contrast clearly I will describe some amusements from the
opposite points of view of those who enjoy them naturally, and those to
whom they would be indifferent if they were not imposed, and hateful if
they were.

Shooting is delightful to genuine sportsmen in many ways. It renews in
them the sensations of the vigorous youth of humanity, of the tribes that
lived by the chase. It brings them into contact with nature, gives a zest
and interest to hard pedestrian exercise, makes the sportsmen minutely
acquainted with the country, and leads to innumerable observations of the
habits of wild animals that have the interest without the formal
pretensions of a science. Shooting is a delightful exercise of skill,
requiring admirable promptitude and perfect nerve, so that any success in
it is gratifying to self-esteem. Sir Samuel Baker is always proud of
being such a good marksman, and frankly shows his satisfaction. "I had
fired three _beautifully correct_ shots with No. 10 bullets, and seven
drachms of powder in each charge; these were so nearly together that they
occupied a space in her forehead of about three inches." He does not aim
at an animal in a general way, but always at a particular and penetrable
spot, recording each hit, and the special bullet used. Of course he loves
his guns. These modern instruments are delightful toys on account of the
highly developed art employed in their construction, so that they would be
charming things to possess, and handle, and admire, even if they were
never used, whilst the use of them gives a terrible power to man. See a
good marksman when he takes a favorite weapon in his hand! More
redoubtable than Roland with the sword Durindal, he is comparable rather
to Apollo with the silver bow, or even to Olympian Zeus himself grasping
his thunders. Listen to him when he speaks of his weapon! If he thinks you
have the free-masonry of the chase, and can understand him, he talks like
a poet and lover. Baker never fails to tell us what weapon he used on each
occasion, and how beautifully it performed, and due honor and
advertisement are kindly given to the maker, out of gratitude.

    "I accordingly took my trusty little Fletcher double rifle No. 24, and
    running knee-deep into the water to obtain a close shot I fired
    exactly between the eyes near the crown of the head. At the reports of
    the little Fletcher the hippo disappeared."

Then he adds an affectionate foot-note about the gun, praising it for
going with him for five years, as if it had had a choice about the matter,
and could have offered its services to another master. He believes it to
be alive, like a dog.

    "This excellent and handy rifle was made by Thomas Fletcher, of
    Gloucester, and accompanied me like a faithful dog throughout my
    journey of nearly five years to the Albert Nyanza, and returned with
    me to England as good as new."

In the list of Baker's rifles appears his bow of Ulysses, his Child of a
Cannon, familiarly called the Baby, throwing a half-pound explosive shell,
a lovely little pet of a weapon with a recoil that broke an Arab's
collar-bone, and was not without some slight effect even upon that mighty
hunter, its master.

    "Bang went the Baby; round I spun like a weather-cock with the blood
    flowing from my nose, as the recoil had driven the top of the hammer
    deep into the bridge. My Baby not only screamed but kicked viciously.
    However I knew the elephant would be bagged, as the half-pound shell
    had been aimed directly behind the shoulder."

We have the most minute descriptions of the effects of these projectiles
in the head of a hippopotamus and the body of an elephant. "I was quite
satisfied with my explosive shells," says the enthusiastic sportsman, and
the great beasts appear to have been satisfied too.

Now let me attempt to describe the feelings of a man not born with the
natural instinct of a sportsman. We need not suppose him to be either a
weakling or a coward. There are strong and brave men who can exercise
their strength and prove their courage without willingly inflicting wounds
or death upon any creature. To some such men a gun is simply an
encumbrance, to wait for game is a wearisome trial of patience, to follow
it is aimless wandering, to slaughter it is to do the work of a butcher or
a poulterer, to wound it is to incur a degree of remorse that is entirely
destructive of enjoyment. The fact that somewhere on mountain or in forest
poor creatures are lying with festering flesh or shattered bones to die
slowly in pain and hunger, and the terrible thirst of the wounded, and all
for the pleasure of a gentleman,--such a fact as that, when clearly
realized, is not to be got over by anything less powerful than the genuine
instinct of the sportsman who is himself one of Nature's own born
destroyers, as panthers and falcons are. The feeling of one who has not
the sporting instinct has been well expressed as follows by Mr. Lewis
Morris, in "A Cynic's Day-dream:"--

  "Scant pleasure should I think to gain
   From endless scenes of death and pain;
   'Twould little profit me to slay
   A thousand innocents a day;
   I should not much delight to tear
   With wolfish dogs the shrieking hare;
   With horse and hound to track to death
   A helpless wretch that gasps for breath;
   To make the fair bird check its wing,
   And drop, a dying, shapeless thing;
   To leave the joy of all the wood
   A mangled heap of fur and blood,
   Or else escaping, but in vain,
   To pine, a shattered wretch, in pain;
   Teeming, perhaps, or doomed to see
   Its young brood starve in misery."

Hunting may be classed with shooting and passed over, as the instinct is
the same for both, with this difference only that the huntsman has a
natural passion for horsemanship that may be wanting to the pedestrian
marksman. An amusement entirely apart from every other, and requiring a
special instinct, is that of sailing.

If you have the nautical passion it was born with you, and no reasoning
can get it out of you. Every sheet of navigable water draws you with a
marvellous attraction, fills you with an indescribable longing. Miles away
from anything that can be sailed upon, you cannot feel a breeze upon your
cheek without wishing to be in a sailing-boat to catch it in a spread of
canvas. A ripple on a duck-pond torments you with a teazing reminder of
larger surfaces, and if you had no other field for navigation you would
want to be on that duck-pond in a tub. "I would rather have a plank and a
handkerchief for a sail," said Charles Lever, "than resign myself to give
up boating." You have pleasure merely in being afloat, even without
motion, and all the degrees of motion under sail have their own peculiar
charm for you, from an insensible gliding through glassy waters to a fight
against opposite winds and raging seas. You have a thorough, intimate, and
affectionate knowledge of all the details of your ship. The constant
succession of little tasks and duties is an unfailing interest, a
delightful occupation. You enjoy the manual labor, and acquire some skill
not only as a sailor but as ship's carpenter and painter. You take all
accidents and disappointments cheerfully, and bear even hardship with a
merry heart. Nautical exercise, though on the humble scale of the modest
amateur, has preserved or improved your health and activity, and brought
you nearer to Nature by teaching you the habits of the winds and waters
and by displaying to you an endless variety of scenes, always with some
fresh interest, and often of enchanting beauty.

Now let us suppose that you are simple enough to think that what pleases
you, who have the instinct, will gratify another who is destitute of it.
If you have power enough to make him accompany you, he will pass through
the following experiences.

Try to realize the fact that to him the sailing-boat is only a means of
locomotion, and that he will refer to his watch and compare it with other
means of locomotion already known to him, not having the slightest
affectionate prejudice in its favor or gentle tolerance of its defects. If
you could always have a steady fair wind he would enjoy the boat as much
as a coach or a very slow railway train, but he will chafe at every delay.
None of the details that delight you can have the slightest interest for
him. The sails, and particularly the cordage, seem to him an irritating
complication which, he thinks, might be simplified, and he will not give
any mental effort to master them. He cares nothing about those qualities
of sails and hull which have been the subject of such profound scientific
investigation, such long and passionate controversy. You cannot speak of
anything on board without employing technical terms which, however
necessary, however unavoidable, will seem to him a foolish and useless
affectation by which an amateur tries to give himself nautical airs. If
you say "the mainsheet" he thinks you might have said more rationally and
concisely "the cord by which you pull towards you that long pole which is
under the biggest of the sails," and if you say "the starboard quarter,"
he thinks you ought to have said, in simple English, "that part of the
vessel's side that is towards the back end of it and to your right hand
when you are standing with your face looking forwards." If you happen to
be becalmed he suffers from an infinite _ennui_. If you have to beat to
windward he is indifferent to the wonderful art and vexed with you
because, as his host, you have not had the politeness and the forethought
to provide a favorable breeze. If you are a yachtsman of limited means and
your guest has to take a small share in working the vessel, he will not
perform it with any cheerful alacrity, but consider it unfit for a
gentleman. If this goes on for long it is likely that there will be
irritation on both sides, snappish expressions, and a quarrel. Who is in
fault? Both are excusable in the false situation that has been created,
but it ought not to have been created at all. You ought not to have
invited a man without nautical instincts, or he ought not to have accepted
the invitation. He was a charming companion on land, and that misled you
both. Meet him on land again, receive him hospitably at your house. I
would say "forgive him!" if there were anything to forgive, but it is not
any fault of his or any merit of yours if, by the irrevocable fate of
congenital idiosyncrasy, the amusement that you were destined to seek and
enjoy is the _corvée_ that he was destined to avoid.

I find no language strong enough to condemn the selfishness of those who,
in order that they may enjoy what is a pleasure to themselves,
deliberately and knowingly inflict a _corvée_ upon others. This objection
does not apply to paid service, for that is the result of a contract.
Servants constantly endure the tedium of waiting and attendance, but it is
their form of work, and they have freely undertaken it. Work of that kind
is not a _corvée_, it is not forced labor. Real _corvées_ are inflicted by
heads of families on dependent relations, or by patrons on humble friends
who are under some obligation to them, and so bound to them as to be
defenceless. The father or patron wants, let us say, his nightly game at
whist; he must and will have it, if he cannot get it he feels that the
machine of the universe is out of gear. He singles out three people who do
not want to play, perhaps takes for his partner one who thoroughly
dislikes the game, but who has learned something of it in obedience to his
orders. They sit down to their board of green cloth. The time passes
wearily for the principal victim, who is thinking of something else and
makes mistakes. The patron loses his temper, speaks with increasing
acerbity, and finally either flies into a passion and storms (the
old-fashioned way), or else adopts, with grim self-control, a tone of
insulting contempt towards his victim that is even more difficult to
endure. And this is the reward for having been unselfish and obliging,
these are the thanks for having sacrificed a happy evening!

If this is often done by individuals armed with some kind of power and
authority, it is done still more frequently by majorities. The tyranny of
majorities begins in our school-days, and the principal happiness of
manhood is in some measure to escape from it. Many a man in after-life
remembers with bitterness the weary hours he had to spend for the
gratification of others in games that he disliked. The present writer has
a vivid recollection of what, to him, was the infinite dulness of cricket.
He was not by any means an inactive boy, but it so happened that cricket
never had the slightest interest for him, and to this day he cannot pass a
cricket-ground without a feeling of strong antipathy to its level surface
of green, and of thankfulness that he is no longer compelled to go through
the irksome old _corvée_ of his youth. One of the many charms, to his
taste, of a rocky mountain-side in the Highlands is that cricket is
impossible there. At the same time he quite believes and admits everything
that is so enthusiastically claimed for cricket by those who have a
natural affinity for the game.

There are not only sports and pastimes, but there is the long
reverberating echo of every sport in endless conversations. Here it may be
remarked that the lovers of a particular amusement, when they happen to be
a majority, possess a terrible power of inflicting _ennui_ upon others,
and they often exercise it without mercy. Five men are dining together,
and three are fox-hunters. Evidently they ought to keep fox-hunting to
themselves in consideration for the other two, but this requires an almost
superhuman self-discipline and politeness, so there is a risk that the
minority may have to submit in silence to an inexhaustible series of
details about horses and foxes and dogs. Indeed you are never safe from
this kind of conversation, even when you have numbers on your side.
Sporting talk may be inflicted by a minority when that minority is
incapable of any other conversation and strong in its own incapacity. Here
is a case in point that was narrated to me by one of the three _convives_.
The host was a country gentleman of great intellectual attainments, one
guest was a famous Londoner, and the other was a sporting squire who had
been invited as a neighbor. Fox-hunting was the only subject of talk,
because the squire was garrulous and unable to converse about any other
topic.

Ladies are often pitiable sufferers from this kind of conversation.
Sometimes they have the instinct of masculine sport themselves, and then
the subject has an interest for them; but an intelligent woman may find
herself in a wearisome position when she would rather avoid the subject of
slaughter, and all the men around her talk of nothing but killing and
wounding.

It is natural that men should talk much about their amusements, because
the mere recollection of a true amusement (that for which we have an
affinity) is in itself a renewal of it in imagination, and an immense
refreshment to the mind. In the midst of a gloomy English winter the
yachtsman talks of summer seas, and whilst he is talking he watches,
mentally, his well-set sails, and hears the wash of the Mediterranean
wave.

There are three pleasures in a true amusement, first anticipation, full of
hope, which is

  "A feast for promised triumph yet to come,"

often the best banquet of all. Then comes the actual fruition, usually
dashed with disappointments that a true lover of the sport accepts in the
most cheerful spirit. Lastly, we go through it all over again, either with
the friends who have shared our adventures or at least with those who
could have enjoyed them had they been there, and who (for vanity often
claims her own delights) know enough about the matter to appreciate our
own admirable skill and courage.

In concluding this Essay I desire to warn young readers against a very
common mistake. It is very generally believed that literature and the fine
arts can be happily practised as amusements. I believe this to be an error
due to the vulgar notion that artists and literal people do not work but
only display talent, as if anybody could display talent without toil.
Literary and artistic pursuits are in fact _studies_ and not amusements.
Too arduous to have the refreshing quality of recreation, they put too
severe a strain upon the faculties, they are too troublesome in their
processes, and too unsatisfactory in their results, unless a natural gift
has been developed by earnest and long-continued labor. It does indeed
occasionally happen that an artist who has acquired skill by persistent
study will amuse himself by exercising it in sport. A painter may make
idle sketches as Byron sometimes broke out into careless rhymes, or as a
scholar will playfully compose doggerel in Greek, but these gambols of
accomplished men are not to be confounded with the painful efforts of
amateurs who fancy that they are going to dance in the Palace of Art and
shortly discover that the muse who presides there is not a smiling
hostess but a severe and exigent schoolmistress. An able French painter,
Louis Leloir, wrote thus to a friend about another art that he felt
tempted to practise:--

    "Etching tempts me much. I am making experiments and hope to show you
    something soon. Unhappily life is too short; we do a little of
    everything and then perceive that each branch of art would of itself
    consume the life of a man, to practise it very imperfectly after
    all.... We get angry with ourselves and struggle, but too late. It was
    at the beginning that we ought to have put on blinkers to hide from
    ourselves everything that is not art."

If we mean to amuse ourselves let us avoid the painful wrestling against
insuperable difficulties, and the humiliation of imperfect results. Let us
shun all ostentation, either of wealth or talent, and take our pleasures
happily like poor children, or like the idle angler who stands in his old
clothes by the purling stream and watches the bobbing of his float, or the
glancing of the fly that his guileful industry has made.



INDEX.


  Absinthe, French use, 273.

  Absurdity, in languages, 157.

  Academies, in a university, 275.

  Accidents, Divine connection with (Essay XV.), 218-222.

  Acquaintances: new and humble, 21, 22;
    chance, 23-26;
    met in travelling (Essay XVII.), 239-252 _passim_.

  Adaptability: a mystery, 9;
    in life's journey, 44;
    to unrefined people, 72.

  Adultery, overlooked in princes, 168.

  Affection: not blinding to faults, 10;
    how to obtain filial, 98;
    in the beginning of letters, 316.

  Affinities, mysterious, 288.

  Age: affecting human intercourse, ix;
    outrun by youth, 86-93 _passim_;
    affecting friendship, 112;
    senility hard to convince, 293, 294;
    middle and old, 302;
    kind letter to an old lady, 345.

  Agnosticism, affecting filial relations, 93.

  Agriculture: under law, 228;
    and Radicals, 282.

  Albany, Duke of, his associations, 5.

  Albert Nyanza, Baker's exploits, 392.

  Alexis, Prince, sad relations to his father, 95, 96.

  Alps: first sight, 235;
    grandeur, 271.

  Americans: artistic attraction, 8;
    inequalities of wealth, 248;
    behaviour towards strangers, 249;
    treated as ignorant by the English, 277;
    under George III., 279;
    use of ruled paper, 328.

  Amusements: pursuit of, 27;
    sympathy with youthful, 88;
    out-door, 302, 303;
    praise for indulgence not deserved, 342;
    in general (Essay XXVI.), 383-401;
    obligatory, 383;
    expensive and pleasurable, 384;
    laborious, 385;
    princely enjoyments, 386, 387;
    poverty not compelled to practise, 388;
    feigned, 388, 389;
    converted into customs, 389;
    should be independent in, 390;
    shooting, 391-393;
    boating, 394-396;
    selfish compulsion, 397;
    tyranny of majorities, 398;
    conversational echoes, 398, 399;
    ladies not interested, 399;
    three stages of pleasure, 399, 400;
    artistic gambols, 400;
    to be taken naturally and happily, 401.

  Analysis: important to prevent confusion (Essay XX.), 280-294 _passim_;
    analytical faculty wanting, 280, 292-294.

  Ancestry: aristocratic, 123;
    boast, 130;
    home, 138;
    less religion, 214.

  Angels, and the arts, 191.

  Anglicanism, and Russian Church, 257, 258.

  Angling, pleasure of, 401.

  Animals, feminine care, 177.

  Annuities, affecting family ties, 68, 69.

  Answers to letters, 334, 335.

  Anticipation, pleasure of, 399, 400.

  Antiquarianism, author's, 323.

  Apollo, a sportsman compared to, 391.

  Arabs: use of telegraph, 323;
    collar-bone broken, 392.

  Archæology: a friend's interest, x;
    affected by railway travel, 14.

  Architecture: illustration, vii, xii;
    studies in France, 17, 23, 24;
    connection with religion, 189, 190, 192;
    ignorance about English, 265;
    common mistakes, 291;
    letters about, 365.

  Aristocracy: French rural, 18, 19;
    English laws of primogeniture, 66;
    English instance, 123, 124;
    discipline, 128;
    often poor, 135, 136;
    effect of deference, 146, 147;
    a mark of? 246, 247;
    Norman influence, 251, 252;
    antipathy, to Dissent, 256, 257;
    sent to Eton, 277;
    and Bohemianism, 309;
    dislike of scholarship, 331, 332.
    (See _Rank_.)

  Aristophilus, fictitious character, 146.

  Armies: national ignorance, 277-279;
    monopoly of places in French, 283.
    (See _War_.)

  Art: detached from religion, xii;
    affecting friendship, 6, 8;
    Claude and Turner, 13;
    chance acquaintances, 23, 24;
    purposes lowered, 28, 29;
    penetrated by love, 42, 43;
    affecting fraternity, 64;
    friendship, 113, 114;
    lifts above mercenary motives, 132;
    literary, 154;
    adaptability of Greek language, 158;
    preferences of artists rewarded, 165;
    affecting relations of Priests and Women (Essay XIII. part II.),
        187-195, _passim_;
    exaggeration and diminution, both admissible, 232, 233;
    result of selection, 253;
    French ignorance of English, 265, 266, 267;
    antagonized by Philistinism, 285, 286, 301;
    not mere amusement, 400.
    (See _Painting_, _Sculpture_, _Turner_, etc.)

  Asceticism, tinges both the Philistine and Bohemian, 299, 300.
    (See _Priesthood_, _Roman Catholicism_, etc.)

  Association: pleasurable or not, 3;
    affected by opinions, 5, 6;
    by tastes, 7, 8;
    London, 20;
    of a certain French painter, 28;
    between Priests and Women (Essay XIII. part III.), 195-204 _passim_;
    among travellers (Essay XVII.), 239-252;
    leads to misapprehension of opinions, 287, 288.
    (See _Companionship_, _Friendship_, _Society_, etc.)

  Atavism, puzzling to parents, 88.

  Atheism: reading prayers, 163;
    apparent, 173;
    confounded with Deism, 257.
    (See _God_, _Religion_, etc.)

  Attention: how directed in the study of language, 154;
    want of, 197.

  Austerlitz, battle, 350.
    (See _Napoleon I._)

  Austria, Empress, 180.

  Authority, of fathers (Essay VI.), 78-98 _passim_.
    (See _Priests_.)

  Authors: illustration, 9;
    indebtedness to humbler classes, 22, 23;
    relations of several to women, 46 _et seq._;
    sensitiveness to family indifference, 74;
    in society and with the pen, 237, 238;
    a procrastinating correspondent, 317;
    anonymous letters, 378.
    (See _Hamerton_, etc.)

  Authorship, illustrating interdependence, 12.
    (See _Literature_, etc.)

  Autobiographies, revelations of faithful family life, 65.

  Autumn tints, 233.

  Avignon, France, burial-place of Mill, 53.


  Bachelors: independence, 26;
    dread of a wife's relations, 73;
    lonely hearth, 76;
    friendship destroyed by marriage, 115, 116;
    reception into society, 120;
    eating-habits, 244.
    (See _Marriage_, _Wives_, etc.)

  Baker, Sir Samuel, shooting, 390-392.

  Balzac, his hatred of old maids, 381.

  Baptism, religious influence, 184, 185.
    (See _Priesthood_.)

  Baptists: in England, 170;
    ignorance about, 257.
    (See _Religion_.)

  Barbarism, emerging from, 161.
    (See _Civilization_.)

  Baronius, excerpts by Prince Alexis, 95.

  Barristers, mercenary motives, 132, 133.

  Bavaria, king of, 385-387.

  Bazaar, charity, 188.

  Beard, not worn by priests, 202.

  Beauty: womanly attraction, 38, 39;
    sought by wealth, 299.

  Bedford, Duke of, knowledge of French, 151.

  Belgium, letters written at the date of Waterloo, 153.

  Beljame, his knowledge of English, 152.

  Bell, Umfrey, in old letter, 323.

  Benevolence, priestly and feminine association therein, 195, 196.
    (See _Priests_, etc.)

  Ben Nevis, and other Scotch heights, 271.

  Bentinck, William, letters to, 344, 345.

  Betham-Edwards, Amelia, her description of English bad manners, 240, 245.

  Bible: faith in, 6;
    allusion to Proverbs and Canticles, 41;
    reading, 123;
    Babel, 159;
    commentaries studied, authority, 206;
    examples, 208;
    narrow limits, 211, 212;
    commentaries and sermons, 302.
    (See _Religion_, etc.)

  Bicycle, illustration, 15.

  Birds, in France, 272.

  Birth, priestly connection with, 184, 185.
    (See _Priests_, _Women_.)

  Black cap, illustration, 204.

  Blake, William, quotation about Folly and Wisdom, 31.

  Blasphemy, royal, 167.
    (See _Immorality_, etc.)

  Boating: affected by railways, 14;
    French river, 128;
    rich and poor, 138, 139;
    comparison, 154;
    Lever's experience, 260;
    mistaken judgments, 292, 293;
    not enjoyed, 302;
    sleeping, 307;
    on the Thames, 335;
    painting a boat, 359;
    amusement, 394-396.
    (See _Yachts_, etc.)

  Boccaccio, quotation about pestilence, 222.

  Bohemianism: Noble (Essay XXI.), 295-314;
    unjust opinions, 295;
    lower forms, 296;
    social vices, 297;
    sees the weakness of Philistinism, 298;
    how justifiable, 299;
    imagination and asceticism, 300;
    intimacy with nature, 302;
    estimate of the desirable, 303;
    living illustration, 304;
    furniture, mental and material, 305;
    an English Bohemian's enjoyment, 306;
    contempt for comfort, uselessness, 307;
    self-sacrifice, 308;
    higher sort, 309;
    of Goldsmith, 309, 310;
    Corot, Wordsworth, 311;
    Palmer, 312, 313;
    part of education, 313, 314;
    a painter's, 314.
    (See _Philistinism_.)

  Bonaparte Family, criminality of, 168.
    (See _Napoleon I._)

  Books: how far an author's own, 13;
    in hospitality, 142;
    refusal to read, 195;
    indifference to, 286, 287;
    cheap and dear, 304, 305;
    Wordsworth's carelessness, 311;
    binding, 359.
    (See _Literature_, etc.)

  Bores, English dread of, 245.
    (See _Intrusion_.)

  Borrow, George, on English houses, 145.

  Botany, allusion, 166.

  Bourbon Family, criminality of, 168.

  Bourrienne, Fauvelet de, Napoleon's secretary, 367.

  Boyton, Captain, swimming-apparatus, 290.

  Boys: French, 23, 24;
    English fraternal jealousies, 66;
    education, and differences with older people, 78-98 _passim_;
    roughened by play, 100;
    friendships, 111.
    (See _Brothers_, _Fathers_, _Sons_, etc.)

  Brassey, Sir Thomas, his yacht, 138, 139.

  Brevity, in correspondence, 324-331, 361.

  Bright, John, his fraternity, 68.

  British Museum: ignorance about, 266;
    library, 287;
    confused with other buildings, 291.
    (See _London_.)

  Brontë, Charlotte, her St. John, in Jane Eyre, 196.

  Brothers: divided by incompatibility, 10;
    English divisions, 63;
    idiosyncrasy, 64;
    petty jealousy, 65, 66;
    love and hatred illustrated, 67;
    the Brights, 68;
    money affairs, 69;
    generosity and meanness, 70;
    refinement an obstacle, 71;
    lack of fraternal interest, 74;
    riches and poverty, 77.
    (See _Boys_, _Friendship_, _Sons_, etc.)

  Buffon, Georges Louis Leclerc de, his noble life, 209, 210.

  Buildings, literary illustration, vii.

  Bulgaria, lost to Turkey, 278.

  Bull-fights, women's presence, 180.
    (See _Cruelty_.)

  Bunyan, John: choice in religion, 173;
    imprisoned, 181.

  Business: affecting family ties, 64, 67;
    affecting letter-writing, 342, 343;
    Letters of (Essay XXIV.), 354-369;
    orally conducted or written, 354-357;
    stupid agents, 358, 359;
    talent for accuracy, 360;
    acknowledging orders, 361;
    apparent carelessness, one subject best, 362;
    knowledge of drawing important to explanations on paper, 363, 364;
    acquaintance with languages a help, 364;
    commercial slang, 365;
    indolence in letter-reading has disastrous results, 366-369.
    (See _Correspondence_.)

  Byron, Lord: on Friendship, 30;
    Haidée, 39;
    marriage relations, 46, 48-50, 55-57;
    as a letter-writer, 345-349;
    careless rhymes, 400.


  Calumny: caused by indistinct ideas, 292;
    in letters, 370-377.

  Cambridge University, 275, 276.

  Camden Society, publication, 318.

  Cannes, anecdote, 235.

  Cannon-balls, national intercourse, 160.
    (See _Wars_.)

  Canoe, illustration, 15.

  Card-playing: incident, 128, 129;
    French habit, 273;
    kings, 289;
    laborious, 397.

  Carelessness, causing wrong judgments, 293.

  Caste: as affecting friendship, 4;
    not the uniting force, 9;
    French rites, 16;
    English prejudice, 19;
    sins against, 22;
    among authors, 46-56;
    kinship of ideas, 67;
    ease with lower classes, 64;
    really existent, 124, 125;
    loss through poverty, 136;
    among English travellers, 240-242, 245, 246.
    (See _Classes_, _Rank_, _Titles_, etc.)

  Cat, drawing by a child, 364.

  Cathedrals: drawing a French, 23, 24;
    imposing, 189, 190, 192.

  Celibacy: Shelley's experience, 34;
    in Catholic Church, 120;
    clerical, 198-201;
    of old maids, 379-382.
    (See _Clergy_, _Priests_, _Wives_, etc.)

  Censure, dangerous in letters, 352, 353.

  Ceremony: dependent on prosperity, 125, 126;
    fondness of women for, 197, 198;
    also 187-195 _passim_.
    (See _Manners_, _Rank_, etc.)

  Chamberlain, the title, 137.

  Chambord, Count de, restoration possible, 254, 255.

  Channel, British, illustration, 14.

  Charles II., women's influence during his reign, 181.

  Charles XII., his hardiness, 308.

  Chaucer, Geoffrey, on birds, 272.

  Cheltenham, Eng., treatment of Dissenters, 19.

  Chemistry, illustration, 3.

  Cheshire, Eng., a case of generosity, 68.

  Children: recrimination with parents, 75;
    as affecting parental wealth, 119;
    social reception, 120;
    keenly alive to social distinctions, 121;
    imprudent marriages, 123;
    a poor woman's, 139;
    interruptions, 140, 141;
    ignorance of foreign language makes us seem like, 151;
    feminine care, 177;
    of clergy, 200, 201;
    cat picture, 364;
    pleasures of poor, 401.
    (See _Boys_, _Brothers_, _Marriage_, _Sons_, etc.)

  Chinese mandarins, 130.

  Chirography, in letters, 331-333.

  Christ: his divinity a past issue, 6;
    Church instituted, 178, 179;
    Dr. Macleod on, 186;
    limits of knowledge in Jesus' day, 213.
    (See _Church_, _Religion_, etc.)

  Christianity: as affecting intercourse, 5, 6;
    its early disciples, 142;
    preferment for adherence, 162, 163;
    morality a part of, 168, 169;
    state churches, 170;
    in poetry, 198;
    early ideal, 206.
    (See _Roman Catholicism_, etc.)

  Christmas: decorations, 188;
    in Tennyson, 198.
    (See _Clergy_, _Priesthood_, _Women_.)

  Church: attendance of hypocrites, 163;
    compulsory, 172;
    instituted by God in Christ, 178, 179;
    influence at all stages of life, 183-186;
    æsthetic industry, 188;
    dress, 189;
    buildings, 190;
    menaces, 193;
    partisanship, 194;
    power of custom, 198;
    authority, 203.
    (See _Religion_, _Roman Catholicism_, etc.)

  Church of England: as affecting friendship, 6;
    freedom of members in their own country, instance of Dissenting
        tyranny, 164;
    dangers of forsaking, 165;
    bondage of royalty, 166, 168;
    adherence of nobility, 169, 170, 173;
    of working-people, 170, 171;
    compulsory attendance, liberality, 172, 173;
    ribaldry sanctioned by its head, 181;
    priestly consolation, 183;
    the _legal_ church, 185;
    ritualistic art, 188-190;
    a bishop's invitation to a discussion, 192;
    story of a bishop's indolence, 366, 367;
    French ignorance of, 275.
    (See _England_, _Christ_, etc.)

  Cipher, in letters, 326.

  Civility. (See _Hospitality_.)

  Civilization: liking for, xiii;
    antagonism to nature in love-matters, 41;
    lower state, 72;
    affected by hospitality, 100;
    material adjuncts, 253;
    physical, 298;
    duty to further, 299;
    forsaken, 310.
    (See _Barbarism_, _Bohemianism_, _Philistinism_, etc.)

  Classes: Differences of Rank (Essay X.), 130-147 _passim_;
    affected by religion (Essay XII.), 161-174;
    limits, 250;
    in connection with Gentility (Essay XVIII.), 253-263 _passim_.
    (See _Caste_, _Ceremonies_, _Rank_, etc.)

  Classics, study of, in the Renaissance, 212.

  Claude, helps Turner. (See _Painters_, etc.)

  Clergy: mercenary motives, 132, 133;
    more tolerant of immorality than of heresy, 168;
    belief in natural law, 221;
    dangers of association with, 287.
    (See _Priesthood_, _Religion_, etc.)

  Clergywomen, 200, 201.

  Clerks, their knowledge an aid to national intercourse, 149, 150.
    (See _Business_, _Languages_, etc.)

  Coats-of-arms: usurped, 135;
    in letters, 326, 327.
    (See _Rank_.)

  Cockburn, Sir Alexander, knowledge of French, 151.

  Cock Robin, boat, 138.
    (See _Boating_.)

  Coffee, satire on trade, 133, 134.

  Cologne Cathedral, 190.

  Colors, in painting, 232, 233.

  Columbus, Voltaire's allusion, 274.

  Comet, in Egyptian war, 229.
    (See _Superstition_.)

  Comfort, pursuit of, 27, 298, 299.
    (See _Philistinism_.)

  Commerce, affected by language, 148-150, 159, 160.
    (See _Business_, _Languages_, etc.)

  Communism, threats, 377.

  Como, Italy, solitude, 31.

  Companionship: how decided, 4;
    affected by opinions, 5, 6;
    by tastes, 7, 8;
    in London, 20;
    with the lower classes, 21-23;
    chance, 24-26;
    intellectual exclusiveness, 27, 28;
    books, 29;
    nature, 30;
    in Marriage (Essay IV.), 44-62;
    travelling, absence, 44;
    intellectual, 45;
    instances of unlawful, 46, 47;
    failures not surprising, 48;
    of Byron, 49, 50;
    Goethe, 51, 52;
    Mill, 53, 54;
    discouraging examples, 55, 56;
    difficulties of extraordinary minds, 57;
    artificial, 58;
    hopelessness of finding ideal associations, 59;
    indications and realizations, 60;
    trust, 61, 62;
    hindered by refinement, 71, 72;
    affected by cousinship, 73;
    parents and children (Essay VI.), 78-98 _passim_;
    Death of Friendship (Essay VIII.), 110-118;
    affected by wealth and poverty (Essays IX. and X.), 119-147 _passim_;
    between Priests and Women (Essay XIII.), 175-204.
    (See _Association_, _Friendship_, etc.)

  Comradeship, difficult between parents and children, 89.
    (See _Association_, etc.)

  Concession: weakening the mind, 147;
    national, 148;
    feminine liking, 175.

  Confessional, the: influencing women, 201-203;
    a supposititious compulsion, 281.
    (See _Religion_, etc.)

  Confirmation, priestly connection with, 185.
    (See _Women_.)

  Confusion: (Essay XX.), 280-294;
    masculine and feminine, 280;
    political, 280-284;
    rebels and reformers, 280;
    private and public liberty, 281;
    Radicals, 282;
    _égalité_, 283;
    religious, 284, 285;
    Philistines and Bohemians, 285-287;
    confounding people with their associates, 287, 288;
    vocations, 288, 289;
    persons, 290;
    foreign buildings, 291;
    inducing calumny, 292;
    caused by insufficient analysis, 292, 293;
    about inventions, 293;
    result of carelessness, indolence, or senility, 293, 294.

  Consolation, of clergy, 179-183.
    (See _Religion_.)

  Construing, different from reading, 154.
    (See _Languages_.)

  Continent, the: family ties, 63;
    friendship broken by marriage, 116;
    religious liberality, 173;
    marriage, 184;
    flowers, 188, 189;
    confessional, 202, 203;
    exaggeration, 234, 235;
    table-manners of travellers, 240-252 _passim_;
    drinking-places, 262.
    (See _France_, etc.)

  Controversy, disliked, xiii.

  Conventionality: affecting personality, 15-17;
    genteel ignorance engendered by, 260-262.
    (See _Courtesy_, _Manners_, etc.)

  Conversation: chance, 26;
    compared with literature, 29;
    study of languages, 156;
    at _table d'hôte_, 239-249;
    among strangers, 247-252 _passim_;
    useless to quote, 291;
    Goldsmith's enjoyment, 309.

  Convictions, our own to be trusted, iii, iv.

  Copenhagen, battle, 327.

  Cornhill Magazine, Lever's article, 259, 260.

  Corot (Jean Baptiste Camille), his Bohemianism, 310, 311.

  Correspondence: akin to periodicals, 30;
    Belgian letters, 153;
    Courtesy of Epistolary Communication (Essay XXII.), 315-335;
    introductions and number of letters, 316;
    promptness, 317, 318;
    Plumpton Letters, 318-323;
    brevity, 324;
    telegraphy and abbreviations, 325;
    sealing, 326, 327;
    peculiar stationery, 328;
    post-cards, 329;
    _un mot à la poste_, 330;
    brevity and hurry, 331;
    handwriting, 332;
    crossed lines, ink, type-writers, 333;
    dictation, outside courtesy, 334;
    to reply or not reply? 335;
    Letters of Friendship (Essay XXIII.), 336-353;
    a supposed gain to friendship, 336;
    neglected, 337;
    impediments, 338;
    French cards, 339;
    abandonment to be regretted, 340;
    letter-writing a gift, 341;
    real self wanted in letters, 342;
    letters of business and friendship, 343;
    familiarity best, 344;
    lengthy letters, 345;
    Byron's, 346-348;
    Jacquemont's, 349;
    the Rémusat letters, 350;
    Bernardo Tasso's, Montaigne's, 350;
    perils of plain speaking, 352, 353;
    Letters of Business (Essay XXIV.), 354-369;
    differences of talent, 354;
    repeated perusals, 355;
    refuge of timidity, 356;
    letters exposed, literary faults, omissions, 357;
    directions misunderstood, 358, 359;
    acknowledging orders, 361;
    slovenly writing, one subject in each letter, 362;
    misunderstanding through ignorance, 363;
    in foreign languages, 364;
    conventional slang, 365;
    careful reading necessary, 366;
    unopened letters, 367;
    epistles half-read, 368;
    a stupid error, 369;
    Anonymous Letters (Essay XXV.), 370-382;
    common, 370;
    slanderous, 371;
    vehicle of calumny, 372;
    written to betrothed lovers, 373;
    story, 374;
    written in collaboration and with pains, 375;
    an expected grandchild, 376;
    torture and threats, 377;
    kindly and critical, 378-382.

  Corvée: allusion, 342;
    definition, 389, 390, 396, 397.
    (See _Amusements_.)

  Cottage, love in a, 35, 36.

  Court-circulars, 166, 167.

  Courtesy: its forms, 127-129;
    idioms, 157;
    in Epistolary Communication (Essay XXII.), 315-335;
    in what courtesy consists, 315;
    the act of writing, phrases, 316;
    promptitude, 317;
    instance of procrastination, 317, 318;
    illustrations, in the Plumpton Correspondence, of ancient courtesy,
        318-323, 331;
    consists in modern brevity, 324;
    foreign forms, 325;
    by telegraph, 326;
    in little things, 327;
    in stationery, 328;
    affected by postal cards, 329, 330;
    in chirography, 331, 332;
    affected by type-writers, 333;
    for show merely, 334;
    requiring answers, 335.
    (See _Manners_, _Classes_, etc.)

  Cousins: French proverb, general relationship, 72;
    lack of friendly interest, 74.
    (See _Brothers_, etc.)

  Creuzot, French foundry, 272.

  Cricket: not played in France, 272;
    author's dislike, 398.
    (See _Amusements_.)

  Crimean War, caused by ignorance, 278.
    (See _War_.)

  Criticism: intolerant of certain features in books, 89;
    in Byron's letters, 347;
    in anonymous letters, 379;
    explained by a date, 381.

  Cromwell, Oliver, contrasted with his son, 96.

  Culture and Philistinism, 285-287.

  Customs: upheld by clergy, 197, 198;
    amusements changed into, 383, 384, 389.
    (See _Ceremonies_, _Courtesy_, _Rank_, etc.)


  Daily News, London, illustration of natural law _vs._ religion, xii.

  Dancing: French quotation about, 31;
    religious aversion, 123;
    not compulsory to the poor, 388.
    (See _Amusements_, etc.)

  Dante, his subjects, 192.

  Daughters, their respectful and impertinent letters, 319-321.
    (See _Fathers_, _Sons_, _Women_, etc.)

  Death: termination of intercourse, x, xi;
    from love, 39;
    Byron's lines, 50;
    ingratitude expressed in a will, 69;
    of wife's relations, 73;
    of Friendship (Essay VIII.), 110-118;
    not personal, 110;
    of a French gentleman, 182;
    priestly connection with, 184-186, 203;
    of absent friends, 338;
    French customs, 339;
    silence, 340.
    (See _Priests_, _Religion_.)

  Debauchery, destructive of love, 34.

  Deference, why liked, 122.
    (See _Rank_, etc.)

  Deism, confounded with Atheism, 257.
    (See _God_, _Religion_, etc.)

  Delos, oracle of, 229.

  Democracies, illustration of broken friendships, 114, 115.

  Democracy: accusation of, 131;
    confounded with Dissent, 257.
    (See _Nationality_, etc.)

  Denmark, the crown-prince of, 327.

  Dependence, of one upon all, 12.

  De Saussure, Horace Benedict, his life study, 230, 231.

  Despotism, provincial and social, 17.
    (See _Tyranny_.)

  De Tocqueville, Alexis Charles Henri Clerel: allusion, 147;
    translation, 152;
    on English unsociability (Essay XVII.), 239-252 _passim_.

  Devil: priestly opposition, 195;
    belief in agency, 224;
    God's relation to, 228.
    (See _Clergy_, _Superstition_, _Religion_, etc.)

  Devonshire, Eng., its beauty, 270.

  Dickens, Charles: his middle-class portraitures, 20;
    his indebtedness to the poor, 22;
    humor, 72.

  Dictionary, references, 155.
    (See _Languages_.)

  Diderot, Denis, Goldsmith's interview, 309.

  Dignity, to be maintained in middle-life, 117.

  Diminution, habit in art and life (Essay XVI.), 232-238.
    (See _Exaggeration_.)

  Diogenes, his philosophy, 127.

  Discipline: of children, 78-98 _passim_;
    delegated, 83;
    mental, 208;
    of self, 308.

  Discord, the result of high taste, 6.

  Dishonesty, part of Bohemianism, 296.

  Disraeli, Benjamin, female estimate, 380.

  Dissenters: French estimate, 18, 19;
    English exclusion, 19, 256;
    liberty in religion, 164, 165;
    position not compulsory, 170;
    small towns, 171-173.
    (See _Church of England_, etc.)

  Dissipation: among working-men, 124;
    in France, 272, 273.
    (See _Wine_, etc.)

  Distinctions forgotten (Essay XX.), 280-294 _passim_.
    (See _Confusion_.)

  Divorce, causes of, 38.
    (See _Marriage_, _Women_, etc.)

  Dobell, Sidney, social exclusion, 19.

  Dog, rifle compared to, 392.
    (See _Amusements_.)

  Dominicans, dress, 189.
    (See _Religion_, etc.)

  Dominoes in France, 273.
    (See _Amusements_.)

  Don Quixote, illustration of paternal satire, 97.

  Doré, Gustave, his kind and long letter, 345.

  Double, Léopold, home, 142.

  Dover Straits, 337.

  Drama: power of adaptation, 72;
    amateur actors, 143.

  Drawing: a French church, 23, 24;
    aid to business letters, 363, 364.
    (See _Painters_, etc.)

  Dreams, outgrown, 60.

  Dress: connection with manners, 126, 127;
    ornaments to indicate wealth, 131;
    feminine interest, 187;
    clerical vestments, 187, 188, 198;
    sexless, 202, 203;
    of the Philistines, 297, 298;
    Bohemian, 304-307, 313, 314.
    (See _Women_.)

  Driving, sole exercise, 302.

  Drunkenness: part of Bohemianism, 296;
    in best society, 297.
    (See _Table_, _Wine_, etc.)

  Duelling, French, 273.

  Du Maurier, George, his satire on coffee-dealers, 133, 134.

  Dupont, Pierre, song about wine, 268, 269, 272.


  Ear, learning languages by, 156.
    (See _Languages_.)

  Easter: allusion, 198;
    confession, 281.

  Eccentricity: high intellect, 56;
    in an artist, 307;
    claims indulgence, 387.

  Eclipse, superstitious view, 215-217, 229.

  Economy, necessitated by marriage, 26.
    (See _Wealth_.)

  Edinburgh Review, editor, 152.

  Editor, a procrastinating correspondent, 317.

  Education: similarity, 10;
    affecting idiosyncrasy, 13;
    conventional, 15;
    effect upon humor, 20;
    literary, derived from the poor, 22;
    affected by change in filial obedience, 80-88;
    home, 81 _et seq._;
    authority of teachers, 81, 83;
    divergence of parental and filial, 84;
    special efforts, 85;
    divergent, 90-92;
    profound lack of, 91;
    never to be thrown off, 92;
    of hospitality, 99, 100;
    the effect on all religion (Essay XV.), 215-231 _passim_;
    knowledge of languages, 245;
    of Tasso family, 350, 351.
    (See _Languages_, etc.)

  Egypt: Suez Canal, xii;
    illustration of school tasks, 85;
    war of 1882, 222-224, 229.

  Eliot, George: hints from the poor, 22;
    her peculiar relation to Mr. Lewes, 45, 46, 55, 56;
    often confounded with other writers, 290.

  Elizabeth, Queen: order about the marriage of clergy, 200;
    her times, 381.
    (See _Celibacy_.)

  Emerson, Ralph Waldo: the dedication, iii, iv;
    anecdote of Napoleon, 367.

  England: newspaper reports, 41;
    a French woman's knowledge of, 107;
    respect for rank, 136;
    title-worship, 137;
    estimate of wealth, 144-146;
    slavery to houses, 145;
    French ideas slowly received, 150;
    religious freedom, 164-168, 172;
    two religions for the nobility, 169, 170, 173;
    a most relentless monarch, 180;
    women during reign of Charles II., 181;
    marriage rites, 184, 185;
    aristocracy, 246;
    A Remarkable Peculiarity (Essay XVII.), 239-252;
    meeting abroad, 239;
    reticence in each other's company, 240;
    anecdotes, 241, 242;
    dread of intrusion, 243, 244;
    freedom with foreigners and with compatriots, 245;
    not a mark of aristocracy, 246;
    fear of meddlers, 247;
    interest in rank, 248;
    reticence outgrown, 249;
    Lever's illustration, 250;
    exceptions, 251;
    Saxon and Norman influence, 251, 252;
    Dissenters ignored, 256, 257;
    general information, 263;
    French ignorance of art and literature in, 265-267, 269;
    game, 268;
    mountains, 270, 271;
    landscapes, 270;
    Church, 275;
    supposed law about attending the Mass, 281;
    homes longed for, 286;
    the architectural blunders of tourists, 291;
    Philistine lady, 304;
    painter and Philistine, 306;
    letters in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, 318-321;
    use of telegraph, 323;
    letters shortened, 325;
    letter-paper 328;
    post-cards, 329, 330;
    communication with France, 337;
    trade habits, 361, 365;
    reading of certain books not compulsory, 378;
    old maids, 381;
    winter, 399.
    (See _Church of England_, _France_, etc.)

  English Language: ignorance of, a misfortune, 149, 150;
    familiar knowledge unusual in France, 151-153;
    forms of courtesy, 157;
    conversation abroad, 240;
    _Bohemian_, 295;
    literature, 305;
    bad spelling, 360, 361;
    no synonym for _corvée_, 389;
    nautical terms, 396.
    (See _England_, etc.)

  English People: Continental repulsion, 7;
    artistic attraction, 8;
    undervaluation of chance conversations, 26;
    looseness of family ties, 63;
    ashamed of sentiment, 82;
    feeling about heredity, 93;
    one lady's empty rooms, 104;
    another's incivility, 106;
    a merchant's loss of wealth, 121, 122;
    deteriorated aristocrat, 123;
    letters by ladies, 153;
    no consoling power, 182;
    gentlewomen of former generation, 205, 206;
    where to find inspiriting models, 208;
    companions of Prince Imperial, 225;
    understatement a habit, 234-238;
    a lady's ignorant remark about servants, 258, 259;
    ignorance of French mountains, etc., 270-271;
    fuel and iron, 272;
    universities, 275, 276;
    patronage of Americans, 277;
    anonymous letter to a gentleman, 376.

  Ennui: banished by labor, 32;
    on shipboard, 396.

  Enterprise, affecting individualism, 14.

  Envy, expressed in anonymous letters, 371.

  Epiphany, annual Egyptian ceremony, xii.
    (See _Science_, _Superstition_, etc.)

  Epithets, English, 235.

  Equality: affecting intercourse, 246;
    _égalité_, 282, 283.
    (See _Rank_, _Ignorance_.)

  Equestrianism, affected by railways, 14.

  Etching, Leloir's fondness for, 401.

  Etheredge, Sir George, his ribaldry, 181.

  Eton College, allusion, 277.

  Eugénie, Empress: her influence over her husband, 176;
    his regard, 225.

  Europe: vintages, 133;
    influence of Littré, 210;
    Southern, 240;
    allusion, 254;
    Turkey nearly expelled, 278;
    latest thought, 306;
    cities, 309;
    William of Orange, on complications, 344;
    communistic disturbances, 377.
    (See _England_, _France_, etc.)

  Evangelicism, English peculiarities, 123.
    (See _Dissenters_, etc.)

  Evans, Marian. (See _George Eliot_.)

  Evolution, theory of, 176.

  Exaggeration, the habit in art and life (Essay XVI.), 232-238.
    (See _Diminution_.)

  Exercise: love of, 14;
    in the young and the old, 86, 87.
    (See _Amusements_.)

  Experience: value, 30;
    needed to avoid dangers in letter-writing, 352.

  Extravagance: part of Bohemianism, 295;
    Goldsmith's, 310.


  Family: Ties (Essay V.), 63-77;
    looseness in England, 63;
    brotherly coolness, 64;
    domestic jealousies, 65;
    laws of primogeniture, 66;
    instances of strong attachment, 67;
    illustrations of kindness, 68;
    pecuniary relations, 69;
    parsimony, 70;
    discomfort of refinement, 71;
    cousins, 72;
    wife's relations, 73;
    indifference to the achievements of kindred, 74;
    aid from relatives, domestic rudeness, 75;
    brutality, misery, 76;
    home privations, 77;
    Fathers and Sons (Essay VI.), 78-98;
    intercourse, to be distinguished from individual, 119, 120;
    rich friends, 121;
    false, 122;
    children's marriages, 123;
    old, 135, 136;
    clerical, 199, 200;
    subjects of letters, 205;
    regard of Napoleon III., 225.
    (See _Brothers_, _Sons_, etc.)

  Fashion, transient, 307.

  Fathers: separated from children by incompatibility, 10;
    by irascibility, 75;
    by brutality of tongue, 76;
    and Sons (Essay VI.), 78-98;
    unsatisfactory relation, interregnum, 78;
    old and new feelings and customs, 79;
    commanding, 80;
    exercise of authority, 81;
    Mill's experience, 82;
    abdication of authority, 83;
    personal education of sons, 84, 85;
    mistakes of middle-age, 86;
    outstripped by sons, 87;
    intimate friendship impossible, 88;
    differences of age, 89;
    divergences of education and experience, 90, 91;
    opinions not hereditary, 92, 93;
    the attempted control of marriage, 94;
    Peter the Great and Alexis, 95;
    other illustrations of discord, 96;
    satire and disregard of personality, 97;
    true foundation of paternal association, 98;
    death of a French parent, 182;
    a letter, 319-322.

  Favor, fear of loss, 147.

  Ferdinand and Isabella, religious freedom in their reign, 164.

  Fiction: love in French, 41;
    absorbing theme, 42;
    in a library, 305.

  Fletcher, Thomas, firearms made by, 391, 392.

  Florence, Italy, pestilence, 222.

  Flowers: illustration, 179;
    church use, 188;
    Flower Sunday, 189.
    (See _Women_, etc.)

  Fly, artificial, 377.

  Fog, English, 270.

  Foreigners: associations with, 7;
    view of English family life, 63;
    in travelling-conditions (Essay XVII.), 239-252 _passim_;
    association leads to misapprehension, 287;
    in England, 291.

  Fox-hunting, 180, 398, 399.
    (See _Amusements_, _Sports_, etc.)

  France: a peasant's outlook, xii;
    social despotism in small cities, 17-19;
    pleasant associations in a cathedral city, 23, 24;
    political criticism, 115;
    noisy card-players, 128, 129;
    disregard of titles, 136, 137;
    adage about riches, 145;
    English ideas slowly received, 150;
    travel in Southern, 150;
    religious freedom, 165;
    marriage, 184;
    railway accident, 218-220;
    the Imperialists, 225;
    feudal fashions, 246;
    obstinacy of the old régime, 254-256;
    mountains, 271;
    vigor of young men, 272, 273;
    universities, 275, 276;
    equality attained by Revolution, 283;
    bourgeois complaint of newspapers, 286;
    mineral oil, 288;
    confusion of tourists, 291;
    Goldsmith's travels, 309, 310;
    landscape painter, 310;
    end of Plumpton family, 323;
    use of telegraph, 323;
    letters shortened, 325;
    letter-paper, 328;
    post-cards, 330;
    chirography, 332;
    New Year's cards, 339;
    _carton non bitumé_, 358, 359;
    habits of tradesmen, 360, 361, 365;
    the _Salon_, 367;
    old maids, 381;
    a _corvée_, 389, 390;
    Leloir the painter, 401.
    (See _Continent_, etc.)

  Fraternity, _fraternité_, 282, 283.
    (See _Brothers_.)

  Freedom: national, 279;
    public and private liberty confounded, 281, 282.

  French Language: teaching, 85;
    ignorance a misfortune, 149, 150;
    rare knowledge of, by Englishmen, 151, 152;
    letters by English ladies, 153;
    forms of courtesy, 157;
    prayers, 158;
    as the universal tongue, 158, 159;
    English knowledge of, 245;
    _univers_, 273, 274.
    (See _Languages_.)

  French People: excellence in painting, and relations to Americans and
        English, 7;
    an ideal of _good form_, 15;
    old conventionality, 16-18;
    love in fiction, 41;
    family ties, 63;
    proverb about cousins, 72;
    unbelieving sons, 93;
    bourgeois table manners formerly, 101, 102;
    state apartments, 105;
    incivility towards, at an English table, 106;
    girls, 106;
    a woman's clever retort, 107;
    literature condemned by wholesale, 147;
    royal daily life, 167;
    power of consolation, 182;
    examples of virtue, 208;
    old nobility, 209;
    Buffon and Littré, 209-211;
    _hazard providentiel_, 227;
    painters, 232, 233;
    overstatement, 234, 235;
    sociability with strangers contrasted with the English want of it
        (Essay XVII.), 239-252 _passim_;
    a widow and suite, 242, 243;
    discreet social habits, 247, 248;
    a disregard of titles, 248;
    a weak question about fortune, 259;
    ignorance of English matters, 265-270;
    wine-song, 268, 269;
    fuel and iron, 271, 272;
    seeming vanity of language, 273, 274;
    conceit cured by war, 278;
    communist dreamers, 284;
    proverb, 287;
    confusion of persons, 290.

  Friendship: supposed impossible in a given case, viii, ix;
    real, x;
    how formed, 4;
    not confined to the same class, 5;
    affected by art and religion, 6;
    by taste and nationality, 7, 8;
    by likeness, 8;
    with those with whom we have not much in common, 9, 10;
    affected by incompatibility, 10;
    Byron's comparison, 30;
    affecting illicit love, 41;
    akin to marriage, 48;
    elective affinity, 75;
    Death of (Essay VIII.), 110-118;
    sad subject, no resurrection, definition, 110;
    boyish alliances, growth, 111;
    personal changes, 112;
    differences of opinion, 113;
    of prosperity, financial, professional, political, 114;
    habits, marriage, 115;
    neglect, poor and rich, 116;
    equality not essential, acceptance of kindness, new ties, 117;
    intimacy easily destroyed, 118;
    affected by wealth (Essays IX., X.), 119-147 _passim_;
    by language, 149;
    between Priests and Women (Essay XIII.), 175-204 _passim_;
    formed with strangers, 251;
    leads to misunderstood opinions, 287, 288;
    disturbed by procrastination, 317;
    Letters of, (Essay XXIII.), 336-353;
    infrequency, 336;
    obstacles, 337;
    the sea a barrier, 338;
    aid of a few words at New Year's, 339;
    death-like silence, 340;
    charm of manner not always carried into letters, 341;
    excluded by business, 342;
    cooled by reproaches, 343;
    all topics interesting to a friend, 344;
    affection overflows in long letters, 345-351;
    fault-finding dangerous, 352, 353;
    journeys saved, 360.
    (See _Association_, _Companionship_, _Family_, etc.)

  Fruit, ignorance about English, 269, 270.

  Fruition, pleasure of, 400.

  Fuel, French, 272.

  Furniture: feminine interest in, 187;
    regard and disregard (Essay XXI.), 295-314 _passim_;
    Goldsmith's extravagance, 310.
    (See _Women_.)


  Gambetta, his death, 225.

  Game: in England, 267, 268, 270;
    elephant and hippopotamus, 392.
    (See _Sports_.)

  Games, connection with amusement, 385, 397.
    (See _Cards_, etc.)

  Garden, illustration, 9.

  Gascoyne, William, letters, 318, 319.

  Generosity: affecting family ties, 69, 70;
    of a Philistine, 301.

  Geneva Lake, as seen by different eyes, 230, 231.

  Genius, enjoyment of, 303.

  Gentility: Genteel Ignorance (Essay XVIII.), 253-263;
    an ideal condition, 253;
    misfortune, 254;
    French noblesse, 255;
    ignores differing forms of religion, 256, 257;
    poverty, 258;
    inferior financial conditions, 259, 260;
    real differences, 261;
    genteel society avoided, 262;
    because stupid, 263.

  Geography: London Atlas, 274;
    work of Reclus, 291.
    (See _Ignorance_.)

  Geology, allusion, 166.
    (See _Science_.)

  George III., colonial tenure, 279.

  Germany: models of virtue, 208;
    hotel fashions, 244;
    a Bohemian and scholar, 304-306.

  German Language, English knowledge, 245.

  Gladstone, William E.: the probable effect of a French training, 17, 18;
    indebtedness to trade, 135;
    _Lord_, 137;
    foreign troubles ending in inkshed, 150;
    allusion, 241;
    use of post-cards, 335;
    female estimate, 380.

  Glasgow, steamer experience, 25.

  Gloucester, Eng., manufactory of rifles, 391, 392.

  God: of the future, 177;
    personal care, 178, 179;
    against wickedness, 180;
    Divine love, 178-181, 186, 187;
    interference with law (Essay XV.), 215-231 _passim_;
    human motives, 228.
    (See _Religion_, etc.)

  Gods: our valors the best, 177;
    siege of Syracuse, 215-217.
    (See _Superstition_.)

  Godwin, Mary, relations to Shelley, 46-48.

  Goethe: Faust's Margaret, 39;
    relation to women, 46, 50, 56, 57;
    Life, 244.

  Gold: in embroidery to indicate wealth, 131;
    color, 232, 233.

  Goldsmith, Oliver, his Bohemianism, 309, 310.

  Gormandizing, 103.
    (See _Table_.)

  Government: feminine, 176;
    scientific, 229.

  Grammar: French knowledge of, 152;
    rival of literature, 154;
    in correspondence, 356, 357.
    (See _Languages_, etc.)

  Gratitude: a sister's want of, 69;
    hospitality not reciprocated, 122.

  Greece: Byron's enthusiasm, 50, 57;
    story of Nikias, 215-217;
    advance of knowledge, 230;
    Byron's notice of a book, 348.

  Greek Church: Czar's headship, 168;
    the only true, 258.
    (See _Church of England_, etc.)

  Greek Language: teaching, 84;
    fitness as the universal language, 158, 159;
    in the Renaissance, 212;
    professorship and library, 287;
    doggerel, 400.
    (See _Languages_.)

  Groom, true happiness in a stable, 343.

  Guests: Rights of (Essay VII.), 99-109;
    respect, exclusiveness, 99;
    two views, 100;
    conformity insisted upon, 101;
    left to choose for himself, 102;
    duties towards a host, generous entertainment, 103;
    parsimonious treatment, 104;
    illustrations, ideas to be respected, 105;
    nationality also, 107;
    a host the ally of his guests, 107;
    discourtesy towards a host, 108;
    illustration, 109;
    among rich and poor, 140-144.

  Guiccioli, Countess, her relations to Byron, 49, 50.

  Guillotine, Byron's description, 347.

  Gulliver's Travels, allusion, 261.

  Gymnastics: by young Frenchmen, 272;
    aristocratic monopoly, 283.
    (See _Amusements_, etc.)


  Habits: in language, 157;
    French discretion, 247, 248.

  Hamerton, Philip Gilbert: indebtedness to Emerson, iii, iv;
    plan of the book, vii-ix;
    omissions, ix;
    the pleasures of friendship, x;
    on death, x, xi;
    a liking for civilization and all its amenities, xii;
    thoughts in French travel, 17 _et seq._;
    pleasant experience in studying French architecture, 23, 24;
    conversation in Scotland, 24, 25;
    in a steamer, 25, 26;
    acquaintance with a painter, 28;
    belief in Nature's promises, 60 _et seq._;
    what a sister said, 65;
    the love of two brothers, 67;
    delightful experience with wife's relations, 73;
    experience of hospitable tyranny, 100 _et seq._;
    Parisian dinner, 107;
    experience with friendship, 113;
    noisy French farmers, 128, 129;
    Scotch dinner, 131;
    country incident, 139, 140;
    questioning a Parisian lady, 152;
    Waterloo letters, 156;
    how Italian seems to him, 155;
    incident of Scotch travel, 173;
    visit to a bereaved French lady, 182;
    travel in France, 219;
    lesson from a painter, 232;
    snubbed at a hotel, 240-242;
    a French widow on her travels, 242, 243;
    a lady's ignorance about religious distinctions, 257;
    personal anecdotes about ignorance between the English and French,
        265-279 _passim_;
    translations into French, 267;
    Puseyite anecdote, 284, 285;
    conversations heard, 291;
    boat incident, 292, 293;
    life-portraits, 300-308;
    experience with procrastinators, 317, 318;
    residence in Lancashire, 318;
    interest in Plumpton family, 323, 324;
    telegraphing a letter, 326;
    experience with _un mot à la poste_, 330;
    his boat wrongly painted, 359;
    his Parisian correspondent, 360, 361;
    efforts to ensure accuracy, 368, 369;
    a strange lady's anxiety for his religious condition, 378;
    his Wenderholme, 378;
    anonymous letter answered, 379-382;
    dislike of cricket, 398.

  Harewood, Earl of, 323.

  Haste, connection with refinement and wealth, 125, 126.
    (See _Leisure_.)

  Hastings, Marquis of, his elopement, 321.

  Haweis, H. R., sermon on Egyptian war, 224.

  Hedges: English, 270, 271;
    sleeping under, 307.

  Hell, element in oratory, 192, 193.
    (See _Priests_.)

  Heredity, opinions not always hereditary, 92-97.

  Heresy: banishment for, 161;
    disabilities, 162 _et seq._;
    punishment by fire, 180;
    pulpit attack, 192;
    shades in, 257, 258;
    resistance to God, 284.
    (See _Roman Catholicism_, etc.)

  Highlanders, their rowing, 154.

  Hirst, Eng., letters from, 320, 321.

  History, French knowledge of, 152.

  Holland, Goldsmith's travels, 309.

  Home: Family Ties (Essay V.), 62-77;
    a hell, 76;
    crowded, 77;
    absence affecting friendship, 111;
    French, 142;
    English (Essay X.), 130-147 _passim_;
    the confessional, 202;
    nostalgia, 286.

  Homer: indebtedness to the poor, 22;
    on the appetite, 103.

  Honesty, at a discount, 162, 163, 170.

  Honor, in religious conformity, 162.

  Horace: familiarity with, 155;
    quoted, 289, 361.

  Horneck, Mrs., Goldsmith's friend, 310.

  Horseback: illustration, 168, 260;
    luxury, 298.

  Hospitality: (Essay VII.), 99-109;
    help to liberty, 99;
    an educator for right or wrong, 100;
    opposite views, 100;
    tyranny over guests, 101;
    reaction against old customs, 102;
    a host's rights, some extra effort to be expected, 103;
    disregard of a guest's comfort, 104;
    instances, opinions to be respected, 105;
    host should protect a guest's rights, 106;
    anecdote, 107;
    invasion of rights, 108;
    glaring instance, 109;
    affected by wealth, 140-144;
    excuse by a procrastinator, 318.
    (See _Guests_.)

  Hosts, rights and duties (Essay VII.), 99-109 _passim_.
    (See _Hospitality_.)

  Houghton, Lord, his knowledge of French, 151, 152.

  Housekeeping: ignorance of cost, 258, 259;
    cares, 381.

  Houses: effect of living in the same, ix;
    big, 145;
    evolution of dress, 189;
    movable, 261, 262;
    damage, 358.

  Hugo, Victor, use of a word, 273, 274.

  Humanity: obligations to, 12;
    future happiness dependent upon a knowledge of languages, 148 _et seq._

  Humor: in different classes, 20;
    lack of it, 72;
    in using a foreign language, 157, 158;
    not carried into letters and pictures, 340-342.

  Hungarians, their sociability, 249.

  Hurry, to be distinguished from brevity in letter-writing, 331.

  Husbands: narration of experience, 25, 26;
    unsuitable, 40;
    relations of noted men to wives, 44-62 _passim_;
    compulsory unions, 94-98;
    old-fashioned letter, 322;
    use of post-cards, 329, 330;
    privacy of letters, 350;
    Montaigne's letter, 351, 352.
    (See _Wives_, etc.)

  Hut: suggestions of a, 261, 262;
    for an artist, 314.

  Huxley, Thomas Henry, on natural law, 217, 219.

  Hypocrisy: to be avoided, xi-xiii;
    in religion (Essay XII.), 161-174 _passim_;
    not a Bohemian vice, 296.


  Ibraheem, lost at sea, 226.

  Ideas, their interchange dependent upon language, 148.

  Idiosyncrasy: its charm, 9;
    in art and authorship, 12, 13;
    nullified by travel, 14, 15;
    affecting marital happiness, 48-62 _passim_;
    affecting family ties, 64;
    wanted in letters, 347;
    in amusements, 389;
    congenital, 396.

  Ignorance: Genteel (Essay XVIII.), 253-263;
    among French royalists, 254, 255;
    in religion, 256, 257;
    in regard to pecuniary conditions, 258, 259;
    of likeness and unlikeness, 260, 261;
    disadvantages, 262;
    drives people from society, 263;
    Patriotic (Essay XIX.), 264-279;
    a narrow satisfaction, 264;
    French ignorance of English art, 265, 267;
    of English game, 268;
    of English fruit, 269;
    English errors as to mountains, 270, 271;
    fuel, manly vigor, 272, 273;
    word _universal_, 274;
    universities, 275, 276;
    literature, 277;
    leads to war, 277, 278;
    not the best patriotism, 279;
    unavoidable, 301;
    contented, 302;
    of gentlewomen, 381, 382.
    (See _Nationality_, etc.)

  Imagination, a luxury, 300.

  Immorality: too easily forgiven in princes, 168;
    considered essential to Bohemianism, 295.
    (See _Vice_.)

  Immortality: connection with music, 191;
    menaces and rewards, 193.
    (See _Priests_, etc.)

  Impartiality, not shown by clergy, 194.

  Impediments, to national intercourse (Essay XI.), 148-160.

  Impertinence, ease of manner mistaken for, 250.

  Incompatibility: inexplicable, 10;
    one of two great powers deciding intercourse, 11.
    (See _Friendship_, etc.)

  Independence: (Essay II.), 12-32;
    illusory and real, influence of language, 12;
    illustrations, 13;
    railway travel destructive to, 14;
    conventionality and French ideas of _good form_, 15;
    social repressions and London life, 16;
    local despotism, 17;
    the French rural aristocracy, 18;
    illustrations and social exclusion, 19;
    humor and domestic anxiety, society not essential, 20;
    palliations to solitude, outside of society, absolute solitude, 21;
    rural illustrations, 22;
    incident in a French town, 23;
    one in Scotland, 24;
    on a steamer, 25;
    English reticence, 26;
    an evil of solitude, pursuits in common, 27;
    illustration from Mill, deterioration of an artist, 28;
    patient endurance, the refreshment of books, 29;
    companionship of nature, 30;
    consolation of labor, 31;
    an objection to this relief, 32;
    a fault, 69;
    of Philistines and Bohemians (Essay XXI.), 295-314 _passim_.
    (See _Society_, etc.)

  Independents, the, in England, 170.

  India: a brother's cold farewell, 67;
    relations of England, 279.

  Indians, their Bohemian life, 298, 306.

  Individualism, affected by railways, 13-15.

  Individuality, reliance upon our own, iv.

  Indolence: destroying friendship, 116;
    stupid, 197;
    causes wrong judgment, 293;
    part of Bohemianism, 295;
    in business, 356;
    in reading letters, 366-369.

  Indulgences, affecting friendship, 115.

  Industry: to be respected, 132;
    professional work, 196;
    Buffon's and Littré's, 209, 210;
    ignorance about English, 265, 266;
    of a Philistine, 300;
    in letter-writing, 356.

  Inertia, in middle-life, 302.

  Infidelity: affecting political rights, 162, 163;
    withstood by Dissent, 257.

  Ink: dilution to save expense, 333;
    red, 369.

  Inquisition, the, in Spain, 180.

  Inspiration, in Jacquemont's letters, 348.

  Intellectuality: a restraint upon passion, 38;
    affecting family ties, 73, 74;
    its pursuits, 127;
    denied to England, 265, 266, 267;
    ambition for, 283;
    the accompaniment of wealth, 297;
    outside of, 301;
    enjoyed, 306.

  Intelligence: the supreme, 176, 177;
    connection with leisure, 197.

  Intercession, feminine fondness for, 175, 176.

  Intercourse. (This subject is so interwoven with the whole work that
        special references are impossible.)

  Interdependence, illustrated by literary work, 12.

  Interviews, compared with letters, 354-357.

  Intimacy: mysteriously hindered, 10;
    with nature, 302.

  Intolerance, of amusements, 389.

  Intrusion, dreaded by the English, 243, 247.

  Inventions, why sometimes misjudged, 292, 293.

  Irascibility, in parents, 75, 76.

  Iron, in France, 272.

  Irving, Washington, on Goldsmith, 310.

  Isolation: affecting study, 28, 29;
    alleviations, 29-31.
    (See _Independence_.)

  Italian Language: Latin naturalized, 155;
    merriment in using, 158.

  Italy: Byron's sojourn, 50;
    Goethe's, 51,
    titles and poverty, 136;
    overstatement a habit, 234;
    papal government, 255, 256;
    travelling-vans, 261,
    allusion, 271;
    why live there, 285, 286;
    tourists, 291;
    Goldsmith's travels, 309;
    forms in letter-writing, 325.


  Jacquemont, Victor, his letters, 348-350.

  James, an imaginary friend, 343, 344.

  Jardin des Plantes, Buffon's work, 209.

  Jealousy: national, 7;
    domestic, 65,
    youthful, effect of primogeniture, 66;
    between England and France, 150;
    Greece need not awaken, 159,
    excited by the confessional, 202, 203;
    in anonymous letters, 371.

  Jerusalem, the Ark lost, 229.

  Jewelry: worn by priests, 202;
    enjoyment of, 297.

  Jews: not the only subjects of useful study, 207, 208, 211;
    God of Battles, 224;
    advance of knowledge, 230.
    (See _Bible_.)

  John, an imaginary friend, 344, 345.

  Jones, an imaginary gentleman, 130.

  Justice: feminine disregard, 180;
    connection with priesthood, 194.


  Keble, John, Christian Year, 198.

  Kempis, Thomas à, his great work, 95.

  Kenilworth, anecdote, 277.

  Kindness, how to be received, 117.

  Kindred: affected by incompatibility, 10;
    Family Ties (Essay V.), 63, 77;
    given by Fate, 75.
    (See _Sons_, etc.)

  Kings: divine right, 255;
    on cards, 289;
    courtesy in correspondence, 317;
    a poetic figure, 386, 387.
    (See _Rank_, etc.)

  Knarsbrugh, Eng., 320.

  Knyghton, Henry, quotation, 251.


  Lakes, English, 270.

  Lancashire, Eng.: all residents not in cotton-trade, 288;
    residence, 318,
    drinking-habits, 378.

  Land-ownership, 131.

  Landscape: companionship, 31;
    ignorance about the English, 270.

  Languages: as affecting friendship, 7;
    similarity, 10;
    influences interdependence, 12;
    study of foreign, 29, 84, 85;
    ignorance of, an Obstacle (Essay XI.), 148-160;
    impediment to national intercourse, 148;
    mutual ignorance of the French and English, 149;
    commercial advantages, American kinship, 150;
    an imperfect knowledge induces reticence, 151;
    rarity of full knowledge, 152;
    illustrations, first stage of learning a tongue, 153;
    second, 154;
    third, fourth, 155;
    fifth, learning by ear, 156;
    absurdities, idioms, forms of politeness, 157;
    a universal speech, 158;
    Greek commended, 159;
    advantages, 160;
    one enough, 301, 305;
    acquaintance with six, 304;
    foreign letters, 364, 365.

  Latin: teaching, 84;
    construction unnatural, 155;
    in the Renaissance, 212;
    church, 258;
    proverb, 287;
    poetry, 289;
    in telegrams, 324;
    Horace, 361;
    _corrogata_, 390.

  Laws: difficult to ascertain, viii;
    human resignation to, xi;
    of Human Intercourse (Essay I.), 3-11;
    fixed knowledge difficult, 3,
    common belief, 4;
    similarity of interest, 5;
    may breed antagonism, 6;
    national prejudices, 7;
    likeness begets friendship, 8;
    idiosyncrasy and adaptability, 9;
    intimacy slow, 10;
    law of the pleasure of human intercourse still hidden, 11;
    fixed, 179;
    feminine disregard, 184;
    quiet tone, 193;
    regularity and interference (Essay XV.), 215-231 _passim_;
    legal distinctions, 280, 281.

  Laymen, contrasted with clergy, 181, 182.

  Lectures, one-sided, 29.

  Legouvé, M.: on filial relations, 78;
    religious question, 93;
    anecdote of chirography, 332.

  Leisure: its connection with refinement, 125, 126;
    varying in different professions, 196, 197.

  Leloir, Louis, fondness for etching, 401.

  Lent, allusion, 198.

  Letters. (See _Correspondence_.)

  Lever, Charles: quotation from That Boy of Norcott's, 249, 250;
    finances misunderstood, 259, 260;
    boating, 259, 394.

  Lewes, George Henry: relation to Marian Evans, 45;
    quotation from Life of Goethe, 244.

  Lewis, Sir George Cornewall, immortal saying, 385.

  L'Honneur et l'Argent, quotation, 304, 335.

  Liberality: French lack of, 18, 19;
    induced by hospitality, 99, 100;
    apparent, 173.

  Liberty: in religion (Essay XII.), 161-174;
    private and public, 281, 282;
    _liberté_, 282, 283;
    with friends in letters, 353.

  Libraries: value, 286, 287;
    narrow specimens, 302.

  Lies, at a premium, 162, 163.

  Life: companionship for, 44-62;
    enjoyed in different ways, 306.

  Likeness, the secret of companionship, 8.

  Limpet, an illustration of incivility, 108.

  Literature: conventional, 15;
    influence of the humbler classes, 22, 23;
    softens isolation, 29, 31;
    deaths from love, 39;
    affecting fraternity, 64;
    youthful nonsense not tolerated in books, 89;
    superiority to mercenary motives, 132;
    advantages of mutual national knowledge, 149-153;
    rivals in its own domain, 154;
    not necessarily religious, 198;
    English periodical, 237;
    ignorance about English, 267;
    and Philistinism, 286, 287;
    singleness of aim, 289;
    English, 305;
    not an amusement, 400.

  Littré, Maximilien Paul Émile, his noble life, 209-211.

  Livelihood, anxiety about, 20.

  London: mental independence, 16-18;
    solitude needless, 20;
    Mill's rank, 56;
    old but new, 136;
    Flower Sunday, 189;
    pestilence improbable, 222;
    The Times, 244;
    centre of English literature, 267;
    business time contrasted with that of Paris, 273;
    buildings, 291;
    Palmer leaving, 310;
    cabman, 335;
    a famous Londoner, 399.

  Lottery, illustrative of kinship, 75.

  Louis II., amusements, 386-388.

  Louis XVIII., impiety, 167.

  Louvre: English art excluded, 267;
    confounded with other buildings, 291.

  Love: of nature, 30;
    Passionate (Essay III.), 33-43;
    nature, blindness, 33;
    not the monopoly of youth, debauchery, 34;
    permanence not assured, 35;
    "in a cottage," perilous to happiness, socially limited, 36;
    restraints, higher and lower, 37;
    varieties, selfishness, in intellectual people, 38;
    poetic subject, dying for, 39;
    old maids, unlawful in married people, 40;
    French fiction, early marriage repressed by civilization, 41;
    passion out of place, the endless song, 42;
    natural correspondences and Shelley, 43;
    in marriage, 44-62;
    some family illustrations, 63-77;
    wife's relations, 73;
    paternal and filial (Essay VI.), 78-98 _passim_;
    between friends (Essay VIII.), 110-118;
    divine, 178, 179;
    family, 205.
    (See _Brothers_, _Family_, etc.)

  Lowell, James Russell, serious humor, 20.

  Lower Classes, the: English rural, 22;
    rudeness, 75;
    religious privileges, 170, 171.

  Luxury, material, 298.
    (See _Philistinism_.)

  Lyons, France, the Academy, 275.


  Macaulay, T. B., quotations, 181, 200, 224, 344, 345.

  Macleod, Dr. Norman, his sympathy, 186, 187.

  Magistracy, French, 283.

  Mahometanism, as affecting intercourse, 5.

  Malice: harmless, 269;
    in letters, 371-377.

  Manchester, Eng., life there, 31.

  Manners: affected by wealth, 125-129;
    by leisure, 197;
    by aristocracy, 246.
    (See _Courtesy_, etc.)

  Manufactures: under fixed law, 228;
    ignorance about English, 265, 266, 268.

  Marriage: responsibility increased, 25, 26;
    or celibacy? 34;
    Shelley's, does not assure love, 35;
    following love, 36;
    irregular, 37;
    restraints of superior intellects, 38;
    love outside of, 40;
    early marriage restrained by civilization, 41;
    philosophy of this, 42;
    Companionship in (Essay IV.), 44-62;
    life-journey, 44;
    alienations for the sake of intellectual companionship, 45;
    illustrations, 46, 47;
    mistakes not surprising, 48;
    Byron, 49, 50;
    Goethe, 51, 52;
    Mill, 53, 54;
    difficulty in finding true mates, 55;
    exceptional cases not discouraging, 56;
    easier for ordinary people, 57;
    inequality, 58;
    hopeless tranquillity, 59;
    youthful dreams dispelled, 60;
    Nature's promises, how fulfilled, 61;
    "I thee worship," 62;
    wife's relations, 73;
    filial obedience, 94-97;
    destroying friendship, 115;
    affecting personal wealth, 119;
    social treatment, 120;
    of children, 123;
    effect of royal religion, 166;
    and of lower-class, 171;
    civil and religious, 184, 185;
    clerical, 196, 198-201;
    of absent friends, 338;
    French customs, 339;
    Montaigne's sentiments, 351, 352;
    slanderous attempts to prevent, 371-375;
    household cares, 381;
    breakfasts, 385, 386.
    (See _Women_, etc.)

  Mask, a simile, 370.

  Mediocrity, dead level of, 236.

  Mediterranean Sea, allusion, 399.

  Meissonier, Jean Ernest Louis, his talent, 284.

  Melbourne, Bishop of, 221.

  Men, choose for themselves, 197.
    (See _Marriage_, _Sons_, _Women_, etc.)

  Mephistopheles, allusion, 235.

  Merchants, connection with national peace, 149, 150.

  Mérimée, Prosper, Correspondence, 321.

  Metallurgy, under fixed law, 228.

  Methodists, the: in England, 170;
    hymns, 257.

  Michelet, Jules: on the Church, 189, 190;
    on the confessional, 202, 203.

  Middle Classes: Dickens's descriptions, 20;
    rank of some authors, 56;
    domestic rudeness, 75;
    table customs, 103;
    religious freedom, 170;
    clerical inferences, 183.
    (See _Classes_, _Lower Class_, etc.)

  Mignet, François Auguste Marie: friendship with Thiers, 120;
    condition, 121.

  Military Life: illustration, 21;
    filial obedience, 80;
    religion, 123;
    religious conformity, 169;
    antagonistic to toleration, 173, 174;
    French, 272;
    allusion, 300, 307.

  Mill, John Stuart: social affinities, 20;
    aversion to unintellectual society, 27, 28;
    relations to women, 53-55;
    social rank, 56;
    education by his father, 81-84;
    on friendship, 112, 113;
    on sneering depreciation, 237;
    on English conduct towards strangers, 245;
    on social stupidity, 263.

  Milnes, Richard Monckton. (See _Lord Houghton_.)

  Milton, John, Palmer's constant interest, 313.

  Mind, weakened by concession, 147.

  Misanthropy, appearance of, 27.

  Montaigne, Michel: marriage, 59;
    letter to wife, 351, 352.

  Montesquieu, Baron, allusion, 147.

  Months, trade terms for, 365.

  Morris, Lewis, A Cynic's Day-dream, 393.

  Mothers, "loud-tongued," 75.
    (See _Children_, _Women_, etc.)

  Mountains: climbing affected by railways, 14;
    quotation from Byron, 30;
    in pictures, 43;
    glory in England and France, 270, 271;
    Mont Blanc, where situated, 271.

  Mozart, Johann Chrysostom Wolfgang Amadeus, allusion, 289.

  Muloch, Dinah Maria, confounded with George Eliot, 290.

  Music: detached from religion, xii, xiii;
    voice of love, 42;
    affecting fraternity, 64;
    connection with religion, 191;
    illustration of harmony, 389.


  Nagging, by parents, 76.

  Napoleon I.: and the Universe, 273, 274;
    privations, 308;
    _mot_ of the Pope, 341;
    Rémusat letters, 350.

  Napoleon III.: death, son, 225;
    ignorance of German power, 278;
    losing Sedan, 308.

  Nationality: prejudices, 7;
    to be respected at table, 106, 107;
    different languages an obstacle to intercourse (Essay XI.), 148-160;
    mutual ignorance (Essay XIX.), 264-279 _passim_.

  National Gallery, London, 291.

  Nature: compensations, iv;
    causes, xii;
    laws not deducible from single cases, 4;
    inestimable gifts, 26;
    beauty an alleviation of solitude, loyalty, 30, 31;
    opposed to civilization in love-matters, 41;
    universality of love, 42, 43;
    promises fulfilled, 60-62;
    revival of study, 212;
    laws fixed (Essay XV.), 215-231 _passim_;
    De Saussure's study, 230, 231;
    expressed in painting, 232, 233;
    nearness, 303-314 _passim_;
    her destroyers, 393.

  Navarre, King Henry of, 224.

  Navy, a young officer's acquaintance, 25, 26.

  Neglect, destroys friendship, 116.

  Nelson, Lord: the navy in his time, 279;
    letter in battle, 327, 328.

  Nerves, affected by rudeness, 128, 129.

  New England, a blond native, 240.

  Newspapers: on nature and the supernatural, xii;
    adultery reports in English, 41;
    personal interest, 124;
    regard for titles, 137;
    quarrels between English and American, 150;
    reading, 156;
    on royalty, 166, 167;
    deaths in, 225;
    English and French subservience to rank, 248;
    a bourgeois complaint, 286;
    crossing the seas, 337, 338.

  New Year's, French customs, 339.

  Niagara Rapids, 290.

  Night, Palmer's watches, 312.

  Nikias, a military leader, his superstition, 215-217, 229.

  Nineteenth Century, earlier half, 205, 206.

  Nobility: the English have two churches to choose from, 169-171, 173;
    opposition to Dissent, 256, 257.

  Nonconformity, English, 256, 257.
    (See _Dissent_, etc.)

  Normans, influence of the Conquest, 251, 252.


  Oaths, no obstacle to hypocrisy, 162.

  Obedience, filial (Essay VI.), 78-98.

  Observation, cultivated, 290, 291.

  Obstacles: of Language, between nations (Essay XI.), 148-160;
    of Religion (Essay XII.), 161-174.

  Occupations, easily confused, 288, 289.

  Oil, mineral, 288.

  Old Maids, defence, 379-382.

  Olympus, unbelief in its gods, 162.

  Oman, sea of, 226.

  Opinions: not the result of volition, xiii;
    of guests to be respected, 105, 106;
    changes affecting friendship, 112, 113.

  Orange, William of, correspondence, 344, 345.

  Oratory, connection with religion, xii, 191-195.

  Order of the Universe, to be trusted, iii.

  Originality: seen in authorship, 12;
    how hindered and helped, 13, 14;
    French estimate, 15.

  Orthodoxy, placed on a level with hypocrisy, 162, 163.

  Ostentation, to be shunned in amusements, 401.

  Oxford: opinion of a learned doctor about Christ's divinity, 6;
    Shelley's expulsion, 96;
    its antiquity, 275, 276.


  Paganism: hypocrisy, and preferment, 162;
    gods and wars, 224.

  Paget, Lady Florence, curt letter, 321.

  Pain, feminine indifference to, 180.

  Painters: taste in travel, 14;
    deterioration of a, 28;
    discovering new beauties, 60;
    Corot, 310, 311;
    Palmer, 312;
    one in adversity, 314;
    gayety not in pictures, 341;
    sketches in letters, 345;
    of boats, 359;
    lack of business in French painter, 367, 368;
    idle sketches, 400;
    Leloir, 401.

  Painter's Camp in the Highlands, 379.

  Painting: fondness for it a cause of discord, 6;
    French excellence, 8;
    interdependence, 13;
    high aims, 28;
    palpitating with love, 43;
    affecting fraternity, 64;
    none in heaven, 191;
    not necessarily religious, 198;
    copies, 203;
    two methods, 232, 233;
    convenient building, 261;
    ignorance about English, 265-267;
    not merely an amusement, 400.
    (See _Art_, etc.)

  Paleontology, allusion, 206.

  Palgrave, Gifford, saved from shipwreck, 226-228.

  Palmer, George, a speech, 223.

  Palmer, Samuel, his Bohemianism, 312, 313.

  Palmer, William, in Russia, 257, 258.

  Paper, used in correspondence, 328.

  Paradise: the arts in, 191;
    affecting pulpit oratory, 193.
    (See _Priests_.)

  Paris: an artistic centre, 8;
    incivility at a dinner, 107;
    effect of wealth, 121;
    elegant house, 142;
    English residents, 150;
    a lady's reply about English knowledge of French language, 152;
    Notre Dame, 190;
    Jardin des Plantes, 209;
    hotel incident, 240-242;
    not a desert, 242;
    light of the world, 266, 267, 274;
    resting after _déjeûner_, 273;
    confusion about buildings, 291;
    an illiterate tradesman, 360, 361;
    the _Salon_, 367.

  Parliament: illustration of heredity, 93;
    indebtedness of members to trade, 135;
    infidelity in, 162;
    superiority of pulpit, 191;
    George Palmer, 223;
    questions in, 241;
    Houses, 291.

  Parsimony: affecting family ties, 70;
    in hospitality, 104, 105.

  Patriotism: obligations, 12;
    Littré's, 210;
    Patriotic Ignorance (Essay XIX.), 264-279;
    places people in a dilemma, 264;
    anecdotes of French and English errors, about art, literature,
        mountains, landscapes, fuel, ore, schools, language, 265-277;
    ignorance leading to war, 277-279;
    suspected of lacking, 287-288.

  Peace, affected by knowledge of, languages, 148-150, 160.

  Peculiarity, of English people towards each other (Essay XVII.), 239-252.

  Pedagogues, their narrowness, 154.

  Pedestrianism: as affected by railways, 14;
    in France, 272, 273;
    not enjoyed, 302.

  Peel, Arthur, his indebtedness to trade, 135.

  Pencil, use, when permissible, 333.

  Periodicals, akin to correspondence, 30.

  Persecution, feminine sympathy with, 80, 181.

  Perseverance, Buffon's and Littré's, 209, 210.

  Personality: its "abysmal deeps," 11;
    repressed by conventionality, 15;
    accompanies independence, 17;
    affecting family ties, 63-77 _passim_;
    paternal and filial differences, 78-98 _passim_;
    its frank recognition, 98;
    confused, anecdotes, 289, 290.

  Persuasion, feminine trust in, 175.

  Pestilence, God's anger in, 222.

  Peter the Great, sad relations to his son, 95, 96.

  Philistinism: illustrative stories, 285, 286;
    defined, 297;
    passion for comfort, 298;
    asceticism and indulgence, 299, 300;
    a life-portrait, 300-303;
    estimate of life, 303;
    an English lady's parlor, 304, 305;
    contrast, 306;
    avoidance of needless exposure, 313.

  Philology: a rival of literature, 154;
    favorable to progress in language, 155.

  Philosophy: detached from religion, xii;
    rational tone, 193.

  Photography: a French experience, 24;
    under fixed law, 228.

  Physicians: compared with priests, 186;
    rational, 193;
    Littré's service, 210.

  Picturesque, regard for the, 7.

  Piety: and law (Essay XV.), 215-231 _passim_;
    shipwreck, 226, 227.

  Pitt, William, foreign disturbances in his day, 150.

  Pius VII., on Napoleon, 341.

  Play, boyish friendship in, 111.

  Pleasures, three in amusements, 399, 400.

  Plebeians, in England, 251, 252.

  Plumpton Correspondence, 318-323, 331.

  Poetry: detached from religion, xii;
    of love, 42;
    dulness to, 47;
    Shelley's, 47;
    Byron's, 50, 345-349;
    Goethe's, 51;
    and science, 57;
    Tennyson on Brotherhood, 67;
    lament, 73;
    art, 154;
    music in heaven, 191;
    Keble, 198;
    Battle of Ivry, 224;
    French, 268, 269;
    Latin, loyalty of Tennyson, 289;
    French couplet, 304;
    in a library, 305;
    "If I be dear," 325;
    Horace, 361;
    Palace of Art, 386;
    quotation from Morris, 393;
    line about anticipation, 399.

  Poets: ideas about the harmlessness of love, 36;
    avoidance of practical difficulties, 39;
    love in natural scenery, 43.

  Politics: conventional, 15;
    French narrowness, 18, 19;
    coffee-house, 28;
    inherited opinions, 93;
    opinions of guests to be respected, 105, 106;
    affecting friendship, 113-115;
    affected by ignorance of language, 148, 150, 160;
    adaptation of Greek language, 158;
    disabilities arising from religion, 161-174;
    divine government, 229;
    genteel ignorance, 254-256;
    votes sought, 257;
    affected by national ignorance, 277-279;
    distinctions confounded, 280-284;
    verses on letter-writing, 335.

  Ponsard, François, quotations, 304, 335.

  Popes: their infidelity, 162;
    temporal power, 255, 256.
    (See _Roman Catholicism_, etc.)

  Popular Notions, often wrong, 292.

  Postage, cheap, 336.

  Postal Union, a forerunner, 159.

  Post-cards, affecting correspondence, 329, 330, 335.

  Poverty: allied with shrewdness, 22;
    affecting friendship (Essay IX.), 116, 119-129;
    priestly visits, 183;
    Littré's service, 210;
    ignorance about, 258-260;
    French rhyme, 304;
    not always the concomitant of Bohemianism, 309;
    not despised, 314;
    in epistolary forms, 317.

  Prayers: reading in French, 158;
    averting calamities, 220-231 _passim_.

  Prejudices: about great men, 4;
    national, 7;
    of English gentlewomen, 382.

  Pride: of a wife, 59;
    in family wealth, 66;
    refusal of gifts, 68;
    in shooting, 390.

  Priesthood: Priests and Women (Essay XIII.), 175-204;
    meeting feminine dependence, 178;
    affectionate interest, 179;
    representing God, 182;
    sympathy, 183;
    marriages and burials, 184;
    baptism and confirmation, 185;
    death, 186;
    Queen Victoria's reflections, 186, 187;
    æsthetic interest, 188;
    vestments, 189;
    architecture, 190;
    music, 191;
    oratory and dignity, 192;
    heaven and hell, 193;
    partisanship, 194;
    association in benevolence, 195;
    influence of leisure, 196;
    custom and ceremony, 197;
    holy seasons, 198;
    celibacy, 199;
    marriage in former times, 200;
    sceptical sons, 201;
    confessional, 202;
    assumption of superiority, 203;
    perfunctory goodness, 204.

  Primogeniture, affecting family ties, 66.

  Privacy: of a host, to be respected, 109;
    in letters, 350, 357.

  Procrastination: in correspondence, 318, 319, 356;
    anecdotes, 366-369.

  Profanity, definition, 208.

  Professions, contrasted with trades, 132, 133.

  Progress, five stages in the study of language, 153-157.

  Promptness: in correspondence, 316, 317, 329;
    in business, 368.

  Propriety, cloak for vice, 297.

  Prose: an art, 154;
    eschewed by Tennyson, 289.

  Prosody, rival of literature, 154.

  Protestantism: in France, 19, 165, 256;
    Prussian tyranny, 173;
    exclusion of music, 191;
    clerical marriages, 200, 201;
    auricular confession, 201-203;
    liberty infringed, 281.

  Providence and Law (Essay XV.), 215-231 _passim_.

  Prussia: Protestant tyranny, 173;
    a soldier's cloak, 189;
    military strength, 278.

  Public Men, wrong judgment about, 4.

  Punch's Almanack, quoted, 133.

  Pursuits, similarity in, 10.

  Puseyism, despised, 284, 285.

  Puzzle, language regarded as a, 153, 154.


  Rabelais, quotation, 165.

  Racehorses, illustration, 65.

  Radicalism, definition, 282, 283.

  Railways: affecting independence, 13-15;
    meditations in a French, 17;
    story in illustration of rudeness, 108, 109;
    distance from, 116;
    French accident, 218-220;
    moving huts, 261, 262;
    Stephenson's locomotive, 293;
    allusion, 309;
    journeys saved, 360;
    compared to sailing, 395.

  Rain: cause of accident, 219;
    prayers for, 221.

  Rank: a power for good, 5;
    conversation of French people of, 16;
    pursuit of, 27;
    discrimination in hospitality, 104;
    affecting friendship, 116;
    Differences (Essay X.), 130-147;
    social precedence, 130;
    land and money, 131;
    trades and professions, 132-135;
    unreal distinctions, 135;
    to be ignored, 136;
    English and Continental views, 136, 137;
    family without title, 138;
    affecting hospitality, 139-145;
    price, deference, 145-147;
    English admiration, 241, 242, 248, 249-252;
    connection with amusement, 383-401 _passim_.

  Rapidity, in letter-writing, 324, 325.

  Reading, in a foreign language, 154-158.

  Reading, Eng., speech, 223, 224.

  Reasoning, in letters, 384, 385.

  Rebels, contrasted with reformers, 280.

  Recreation, the purpose of amusement, 389.

  Reeve, Henry, knowledge of French, 152.

  Reformers, and rebels, 280, 281.

  Refinement: affecting family harmony, 64;
    companionship, 71;
    enhanced by wealth, 125, 126.

  Religion: affecting human intercourse, xi-xiii;
    detached from the arts, xii;
    affecting friendship, 5, 6;
    conventional, 15;
    Cheltenham prejudice, 19;
    formal in England, 63;
    affecting fraternity, 64;
    affecting family regard, 74;
    clergyman's son, 90, 91;
    family differences, 93, 94;
    to be respected in guests, 105, 106;
    destroying friendship, 113;
    Evangelical, 123;
    personal deterioration, 124;
    mercenary motives, 132, 133;
    title-worship, 137;
    an Obstacle (Essay XII.), 161-174;
    the dominant, 161;
    a hindrance to honest people, 162;
    dissimulation, 163;
    apparent liberty, 164;
    social penalties, 165;
    no liberty for princes, 166;
    French illustration, 167;
    royal liberty in morals, 168;
    official conformity, 169;
    greater freedom in the lower ranks, 170;
    less in small communities, 171;
    liberty of rejection and dissent, 172;
    false position, 173;
    enforced conformity, 174;
    Priests and Women (Essay XIII.), 175-204;
    of love, 178, 179;
    Why we are Apparently becoming Less Religious (Essay XIV.), 205-214;
    meditations of ladies of former generation, 205;
    trust in Bible, 206;
    idealization, 207;
    Nineteenth Century inquiries, 208;
    Buffon as an illustration, 209;
    Littré, 210;
    compared with Bible characters, 211;
    the Renaissance, 212;
    boundaries outgrown, 213;
    less theology, 214;
    How we are Really becoming Less Religious (Essay XV.), 215-231;
    superstition, 215;
    supernatural interference, 216, 217;
    idea of law diminishes emotion, 218;
    railway accident, 219;
    prayers and accidents, 220;
    future definition, 221;
    penitence and punishment, 222;
    war and God, 223;
    natural order, 224;
    Providence, 225;
    salvation from shipwreck, 226;
    _un hazard providentiel_, 227;
    _irreligion_, 228;
    less piety, 229;
    devotion and science, 230;
    wise expenditure of time, 231;
    feuds, 240;
    genteel ignorance of established churches, 255-258;
    French ignorance of English Church, 275;
    distinctions confounded, 281, 282;
    intolerance mixed with social contempt, 284, 285;
    activity limited to religion and riches, 301;
    in old letters, 320, 321, 323;
    female interest in the author's welfare, 377, 378;
    in theology, 379, 380.
    (See _Church of England_, _Methodism_, _Protestantism_, etc.)

  Rémusat, Mme. de, letters, 350.

  Renaissance, expansion of study in the, 212.

  Renan, Ernest, one objection to trade, 132.

  Republic, French, 254, 283, 284.

  Residence, affecting friendship, 116.

  Respect: the road to filial love, 98;
    why liked, 122;
    in correspondence, 316.

  Restraints, of marriage and love, 36, 37.

  Retrospection, pleasures of, 400.

  Revolution, French, 209, 246, 283.
    (See _France_.)

  Riding, Lever's difficulties, 260.

  Rifles: in hunting, 391-393;
    names, 392.

  Rights. (See different heads, such as _Hospitality_, _Sons_, etc.)

  Robinson Crusoe, illustration, 21.

  Rock, simile, 251.

  Roland, his sword Durindal, 391.

  Roman Camp, site, 14.

  Roman Catholicism: its effect on companionship, 6;
    seen in rural France, 19;
    illustration of the Pope, 87;
    infidel sons, 93;
    wisdom of celibacy, 120;
    infidel dignitaries, 162;
    liberty in Spain, 164;
    royalty hearing Mass, 167;
    military salute to the Host, 169;
    recognition in England, 169, 170, 173;
    Continental intolerance, 172, 173;
    a conscientious traveller, 173;
    oppression in Prussia, 173;
    tradesmen compelled to hear Mass, 174;
    Madonna's influence, 176;
    priestly consolation, 183;
    use of art, 188-190;
    Dominican dress, 189;
    cathedrals, the Host, 190;
    astuteness, celibacy, 199;
    female allies, 200;
    confessional, 201, 202;
    feudal tenacity, 255;
    Protestantism ignored, 256;
    Romanism ignored by the Greek Church, 258;
    compulsory attendance, 282.
    (See _Priesthood_, _Religion_, etc.)

  Romance: like or dislike for, 7;
    glamour of love, 42.

  Rome: people not subjected to the papacy, 255, 256;
    Byron's letter, 347.

  Rossetti, on Mrs. Harriett Shelley, 46.

  Rouen Cathedral, 190.

  Royal Academy, London, 266, 276.

  Royal Society, London, 274.

  Royalty, its religious bondage, 166-169, 171.

  Rugby, residence of a father, 84.

  Ruolz, the inventor, his bituminous paper, 358, 359.

  Russell, Lord Arthur, his knowledge of French, 152.

  Russia: religious position of the Czar, 168;
    orthodoxy, 257, 258;
    war with Turkey, 278.
    (See _Greek Church_.)


  Sabbath, its observance, 123.

  Sacredness, definition of, 208.

  Sacrifices: demanded by courtesy, 315, 316;
    in letter-writing, 329-331;
    to indolence, 368.

  Sahara, love-simile, 60.

  Saint Bernard, qualities, 230, 231.

  Saint Hubert's Day, carousal, 345.

  Saints, in every occupation, 209.

  Salon, French, 266, 276, 367.

  Sarcasm: lasting effects, 66;
    brutal and paternal, 97.

  Satire. (See _Sarcasm_.)

  Savagery, return to, 298.
    (See _Barbarism_, _Civilization_.)

  Saxons, influence in England, 251, 252.

  Scepticism: and religious rites, 184, 185;
    in clergymen's sons, 201.
    (See _Heresy_.)

  Schools, prejudice against French, 106.

  Schuyler's Life of Peter the Great, 96.

  Science: study affected by isolation, 29;
    and poetry, 57;
    superiority to mercenary motives, 132;
    in language, 154;
    adaptation of Greek language to, 158;
    illustration, 166;
    cold, 176, 178, 190;
    disconnected with religion, 198;
    affecting Bible study, 206;
    connection with religion (Essay XV.), 215-231 _passim_.

  Scolding, 75, 76.

  Scotland: a chance acquaintance, 25, 26;
    gentleman's sacrifice for his son, 84;
    incident in a country-house, 131;
    religious incident in travel, 173;
    a painter's hint, 232;
    the Highlands, 271;
    scenery, 379;
    cricket impossible, 398.

  Scott, Sir Walter: indebtedness to the poor, 22;
    Lucy of Lammermoor, 39, 143, 144;
    Jeanie Deans, 175;
    supposed American ignorance of, 277;
    quotation from Waverley, 327;
    Provost's letter, 365.

  Sculpture: warmed by love, 42, 43;
    none in heaven, 191;
    ignorance about English, 265.
    (See _Art_, etc.)

  Seals on letters, 326-328.

  Secularists: in England, 171;
    tame oratory, 193.

  Sedan, cause of lost battle, 308.

  Seduction, how restrained, 38.

  Self-control, grim, 397.

  Self-esteem, effect of benevolence in developing, 196.

  Self-examination, induced by letters, 380.

  Self-indulgence, of opposite kinds, 299, 300.

  Self-interest: affecting friendship, 116;
    at the confessional, 202.

  Selfishness: affected by marriage, 26;
    desire for comfort, 27;
    affecting passion, 38;
    in hosts, 101, 102;
    in a letter, 334;
    in amusements, 397.

  Sensuality, connection with Bohemianism, 296.

  Sentences, reading, 156.

  Sentiment, none in business, 353, 364.

  Separations: between friends, 111-118;
    letter-writing during, 338;
    Tasso family, 350, 351.

  Sepulchre, whited, 297.

  Sermons: one-sided, 29;
    in library, 302.

  Servants: marriage to priests, 200;
    often needful, 259;
    concomitants of wealth, 297, 298;
    none, 307;
    in letters, 324;
    anonymous letter, 376;
    hired to wait, 397.

  Severn River, 270.

  Sexes: pleasure in association, 3;
    passionate love, 34;
    relations socially limited, 36, 37;
    antagonism of nature and civilization, 41;
    in natural scenery, 43;
    inharmony in marriages, 44-62 _passim_;
    sisters and brothers, 65;
    connection with confession, 201-204;
    lack of analysis, 280;
    Bohemian relations, 296, 297.

  Shakspeare: indebtedness to the poor, 22;
    Juliet, 39;
    portraiture of youthful nonsense, 88;
    allusion by Grant White, 277;
    Macbeth and Hamlet confused, 290;
    Polonius's advice applied to Goldsmith, 310.

  Shelley, Percy Bysshe: his study of past literature, 13;
    passionate love, 34;
    marriages, 35, 46-48, 55, 56;
    quotation, 43;
    disagreement with his father, 96, 97.

  Ships: passing the Suez canal, xii;
    interest of Peter the Great, and dislike of his son, 85;
    at siege of Syracuse, 215;
    of war, 277, 278;
    as affecting correspondence, 337;
    drifting, 378;
    fondness for details, 394.

  Shoeblack, illustration, 335.

  Shyness, English, 245.

  Siamese Twins, allusion, 290.

  Silence, golden, 85.

  Sin, affecting pulpit oratory, 193.

  Sir, the title, 137.

  Sisters: affection, 63-77 _passim_;
    jealousy of admiration, 65;
    pecuniary obligations, how regarded, 69.

  Slander: by rich people, 146, 147;
    in anonymous letters, 370-377.

  Slang, commercial, 365.

  Slovenliness, part of Bohemianism, 296.

  Smith, an imaginary gentleman, 130.

  Smith, Jane, an imaginary character, 178.

  Smoking: affecting friendship, 115;
    Bohemian practice, 305.

  Snobbery, among English travellers, 240-242.

  Sociability: affecting the appetite, 102;
    English want of (Essay XVII.), 239-252;
    in amusements, 383, 384.

  Society: good, in France, 15, 16;
    eccentricity no barrier in London, 16-18;
    exclusion, 21, 22;
    unexpectedly found, 23-26;
    alienation from common pursuits, 27, 28;
    aid to study, 29-31;
    restraints upon love, 36, 37;
    laws set aside by George Eliot, 45, 46, 55;
    Goethe's defiance, 52, 56, 57;
    rights of hospitality, illustrated (Essay VII.), 99-109;
    aristocratic, 124;
    affected by rank and wealth (Essay X.), 130-147 _passim_;
    and by religion (Essay XII.), 161-174 _passim_;
    ruled by women, 176;
    tyranny, 181;
    clerical leisure, 196, 197;
    inimical to Littré, 210;
    absent air in, 237;
    affected by Gentility (Essay XVIII.), 253-263;
    secession of thinkers, 262, 263;
    intellectual, 303;
    usages, 304;
    outside of, 307.

  Socrates, allusion, 204.

  Solicitors, their industry, 196.

  Solitude: social, 19;
    dread, 21;
    pleasant reliefs, 22-26;
    serious evil, 27;
    sometimes demoralizing, 28;
    affecting study, 29;
    mitigations, 29-31;
    preferred, 31;
    forgotten in labor, 31, 32;
    picture of, 43;
    Shelley's fondness, 47;
    free space necessary, 77;
    dislike prompting to hospitality (_q. v._), 143.

  Sons: separated from fathers by incompatibility, 10;
    escape from paternal brutality, 76;
    Fathers and (Essay VI.), 78-98;
    change of circumstances, 78;
    former obedience, 79;
    orders out of fashion, 80;
    outside education, 81;
    education by the father, 82-85;
    rapidity of youth, 86, 87;
    lack of paternal resemblance, 88;
    differing tastes, 89;
    fathers outgrown, 90;
    changes in culture, 91;
    reservations, 92;
    differing opinions, 93;
    oldtime divisions, 94;
    an imperial son, 95;
    other painful instances, 96;
    wounded by satire, 97;
    right basis of sonship, 98.
    (See _Family_, _Fathers_, etc.)

  Sorbonne, the, professorship of English, 152.

  Southey, Robert, Life of Nelson, 327.

  Spain: religious freedom, 164;
    heretics burned, 180.

  Speculation, compared with experience, 30.

  Speech, silvern, 85.

  Spelling, inaccurate, 360.
    (See _Languages_, etc.)

  Spencer, Herbert: made the cover for an assault upon a guest's opinions,
        106;
    on display of wealth, 145;
    confidence in nature's laws, 227.

  Spenser, Edmund, his poetic stanza, 384.

  Sports: often comparatively unrestrained, 36;
    affecting fraternity, 64;
    youth fitted for, 86;
    roughening influence, 100;
    affecting friendship, 115;
    aristocratic, 124;
    among the rich, 143;
    ignorance about English, 267, 268;
    concomitant of wealth, 297;
    not enjoyed, 302;
    William of Orange's, 345;
    connection with amusement, 385-401 _passim_.

  Springtime of love, 34.

  Stanford's London Atlas, 274.

  Stars, illustration of crowds, 77.

  Steam, no help to friendship, 337.

  Stein, Baroness von, relations to Goethe, 51-53.

  Stephenson, George, his locomotive not a failure, 293.

  Stowe, Harriet Beecher, her works confounded with George Eliot's, 290.

  Strangers, treatment of by the English and others (Essay XVII.), 239-252
        _passim_.

  Stream, illustration from the impossibility of upward flow, 98.

  Strength, accompanied with exercise, 302.

  Studies: affecting friendship, 111;
    literary and artistic, 400, 401.

  Subjugation, the motive of display of wealth, 145.

  Suez Canal, and superstition, xii.

  Sunbeam, yacht, 138, 139.

  Sunday: French incident, 128, 129;
    allusion, 198;
    supposed law, 281.
    (See _Sabbath_.)

  Sunset, allusion, 31.

  Supernaturalism (Essay XV.), 215-231 _passim_;
    doubts about, 377, 378.

  Superstition and religion (Essay XV.), 215-231 _passim_.

  Surgeon, an artistic, 289.

  Sweden, king of, 308.

  Swedenborgianism, commended to the author, 378.

  Swift, Jonathan, Gulliver's box, 261.

  Swimming: affected by railways, 14;
    in France, 272.

  Switzerland: epithets applied to, 235;
    tourists, 240;
    Alps, 271;
    Goldsmith's travels, 309;
    Doré's travels, 345.

  Sympathy: with an author, 9;
    one of two great powers deciding human intercourse, 11;
    of a married man with a single, 25, 26;
    between parents and children (Essay VI.), 78-98 _passim_;
    between Priests and Women (Essay XIII. part I.), 175-186 _passim_.

  Symposium, antique, allusion, 29.

  Syracuse, siege, 215-217, 229.


  Table: its pleasures comparatively unrestrained, 36;
    former tyranny of hospitality, 101, 102;
    modern customs, appetite affected by sociability, 102;
    excess not required by hospitality, 103;
    French fashion, 105;
    instances of bad manners, 106, 107, 126-128;
    rules of precedence, 130, 131;
    matrons occupied with cares, 140, 141;
    among the rich, 143;
    tyranny, 172;
    English manners towards strangers contrasted with those of other
        nations (Essay XVII.), 239-252;
    _déjeûner_, 273;
    among the rich, 297;
    talk about hunting, 398, 399.

  Talking, contrasted with writing, 354-357.

  Tasso, Bernardo, father of the poet, his letters, 350, 351.

  Taylor, Mrs., relations to Mill, 53-55.

  Telegraphy: under fixed law, 228;
    affecting letters, 324, 325, 331, 361;
    anecdote, 326.

  Telephone, illustration, 336.

  Temper, destroys friendship, 112, 118.

  Temperance, sometimes at war with hospitality, 102-104.

  Tenderness, in letters, 320, 322.

  Tennyson: study of past literature, 13;
    line about brotherhood, 67;
    religious sentiment of In Memoriam, 198;
    loyalty to verse, 289;
    Palace of Art, 386, 400.

  Thackeray, William Makepeace: Rev. Honeyman in The Newcomes, 203;
    Book of Snobs, 242.

  Thames River, 270, 335.

  Theatre: avoidance, 123;
    English travellers like actors, 242;
    gifts of a painter, 341.

  Thélème, Abbaye de, its motto, 165.

  Thierry, Augustin, History of Norman Conquest, 251, 252.

  Thiers, Louis Adolphe, friendship with Mignet, 120, 121.

  Time, forgotten in labor, 31, 32.

  Timidity, taking refuge in correspondence, 356, 357.

  Titles: table precedence, 130;
    estimate in England and on the Continent, 136, 137;
    British regard, 241, 242, 248-252 _passim_;
    French disregard, 248.

  Tolerance: induced by hospitality, 99;
    of amusements, 389.

  Towneley Hall, library, 318.

  Trade: English and social exclusion, 19;
    foolish distinctions, 132-135;
    connection with national peace, 150;
    adaptation of Greek language, 158;
    interference of religion, 171, 174;
    ignorance about English, 265, 266, 268;
    Lancashire, 288;
    careless tradesmen, 360, 361;
    slang, 365.

  Translations: disliked, 154;
    of Hamerton into French, 267.

  Transubstantiation: private opinion and outward form, 169;
    poetic, 190.
    (See _Roman Catholicism_, etc.)

  Trappist, freedom of an earnest, 164, 165.

  Travel: railway illustration, 13-15;
    marriage simile, 44;
    affecting fraternity, 64;
    affecting friendship, 111;
    facilitated, 160;
    in Arabia, 226;
    unsociability (Essay XVII.), 239-252;
    in vans, 261, 262;
    confusion of places, 291;
    dispensing with luxury, 300;
    an untravelled man, 301;
    not cared for, 302;
    cheap conveyances, 304;
    books of, 305;
    Goldsmith's, 309.

  Trees, and Radicals, 282, 283.

  Trinity, denial of, 257.

  Truth, violations (Essay XVI.), 232-238.

  Tudor Family: Mary's reign, 164;
    criminality, 168;
    Mary's persecution, 180.

  Turkey, war with Russia, 278.

  Turner, Joseph Mallord William, aided by Claude, 13.

  Type-writers, effect on correspondence, 333.

  Tyranny: of religion (Essay XII.), 161-174;
    meanest form, 172, 174;
    of majorities, 398.


  Ulysses: literary simile, 29;
    Bow of, 392.

  Understatement. (See _Untruth_.)

  Union of languages and peoples, 148-150.

  Unitarianism: no European sovereign dare profess, 167, 168;
    difficulty with creeds, 172;
    ignorance about, 257.

  United States, advantage of having the same language as England, 150.

  Universe, _univers_, 273-275.

  Universities: degrees, 91;
    French and English, 275, 276;
    Radical members, 284.

  Untruth: an Unrecognized Form of (Essay XVI.), 232-238;
    two methods in painting, 232;
    exaggeration and diminution, 233;
    self-misrepresentation, 234;
    overstatement and understatement illustrated in travelling epithets,
        235;
    dead mediocrity in conversation, 236;
    inadequacy, 237;
    illustration, 238.


  Vanity: national (Essay XIX.), 264-279 _passim_;
    taking offence, 279;
    absence, 301.

  Vice: of classes, 124, 125;
    devilish, 195;
    part of Bohemianism, 295, 296;
    of best society, 297.

  Victoria, Queen: quotation from her diary, 186, 187;
    her oldest son, 385.

  Violin, illustration, 389.

  Viollet-le-Duc, anecdote, 364.

  Virgil, Palmer's constant companion, 313.
    (See _Latin_.)

  Virgin Mary, her influence, 176.
    (See _Eugénie_, etc.)

  Virtue: of classes, 124, 125;
    priestly adherence, 195;
    definition, 208;
    Buffon's and Littré's, 211.

  Visiting, with rich and poor, 139-144.

  Vitriol, in letters, 371.

  Vituperation, priestly, 194.

  Vivisection, feminine dislike, 180.

  Voltaire: quotation about Columbus, 274;
    Goldsmith's interview, 309.

  Vulpius, Christiane, relations to Goethe, 52, 53.


  Wagner, Richard, his Tannhaüser, 388.

  Wales, Prince of, laborious amusements, 385-387.

  Warcopp, Robert, in Plumpton letters, 323, 331.

  Wars: affected by study of languages, 148-150, 151, 160;
    Eugénie's influence, 176;
    divine connection, 215-224;
    caused by national ignorance, 277, 278.

  Waterloo, battle, 153.

  Wave, simile, 251.

  Wealth: affecting fraternity, 66;
    affecting domestic harmony, 77;
    destroying friendship, 114, 116;
    Flux of (Essay IX.), 119-129;
    property variable, influence of changes, 119;
    access of bachelors and the married to society, 120;
    instances of friendship affected by poverty, 121;
    false friends, 122;
    imprudent marriages, 123;
    middle-class instances of contentment, 124;
    aid to refinement, 125;
    dress, 126;
    cards, and other forms of courtesy, superfluities, 127;
    discipline of courtesy, 128;
    rural manners in France, 129;
    Differences (Essay X.), 130-147;
    social precedence, 130;
    land-ownership, 131;
    trade, 132-134;
    _nouveau riche_ and ancestry, 135;
    titles, 136, 137;
    varied enjoyments, 138, 139;
    hospitality, 140-144;
    English appreciation, 144-146;
    undue deference, 146, 147;
    overstatement and understatement, 234;
    assumption, 242;
    plutocracy, 246, 247;
    American inequalities, 248;
    genteel ignorance, 258-260;
    two great advantages, 297, 298;
    small measure, 298;
    connection with Philistinism and Bohemianism, 299-314;
    employs better agents, 359, 360;
    connection with amusements, 383-401.
    (See _Poverty_, etc.)

  Webb, Captain, lost at Niagara, 290.

  Weeds, illustration of Radicalism, 282.

  Weimar: Goethe's home, 52, 57;
    Duke of, 57.

  Wenderholme, Hamerton's story, 378.

  Wesley, John, choice in religion, 173.
    (See _Methodism_.)

  Westbrook, Harriett, relation to Shelley, 46, 47, 97.

  Westminster Abbey, mistaken for another building, 291.

  White, Richard Grant, story, 277.

  Whist, selfishness in, 397.

  William, emperor of Germany, table customs, 103.

  Wine: connection with hospitality, 101-103, 121;
    traders in considered superior, 133;
    ignorance about English use, 268, 269, 270;
    port, 273;
    concomitant of wealth, 297, 298;
    simile, 367.
    (See _Table_, etc.)

  Wives: a pitiful confession, 41;
    George Eliot's position, 45, 46;
    relations to noted husbands, 47-62;
    dread of a wife's kindred, 73;
    unions made by parents, 94-98;
    destroying friendship, 115, 116;
    tired, 144;
    regard of Napoleon III., 225;
    old letters, 322;
    gain from post-cards, 329, 330;
    privacy of letters, 350;
    Montaigne's letter, 251, 252.
    (See _Marriage_, _Women_, etc.)

  Wolf, priestly, 203.

  Wolseley, Sir Garnet, victory, 222, 223, 229.

  Wood, French use of, 272.

  Women: friendship between two, viii, ix;
    absorption in one, 33;
    beauty's attraction, 33, 38, 39;
    passion long preserved, 40;
    relations to certain noted men, 44-62 _passim_;
    sisterly jealousy, 65;
    governed by sentiment, 69;
    adding to home discomfort, 75, 76;
    English incivility, 106;
    French incivility to English, and defence, 106;
    social acuteness, 130;
    Priests and Women (Essay XIII.), 175-204;
    dislike of fixed rules, 175;
    persuasive powers, ruling society, 176;
    dependence, advisers, 177;
    _love_, 178;
    gentleness, 179;
    sympathy with persecution, 180;
    harm of both frivolity and seriousness, 181;
    injustice of female sex, anxiety for sympathy, 182;
    sensitiveness, 183;
    services desired at special times, 184;
    motherhood, 185;
    consolation, 186;
    æsthetic nature, 187;
    fondness for show, 188;
    dress, 189;
    churches, 190;
    worship in music, 191;
    eloquence, 192;
    eager for the right, 194;
    obstinacy, 195;
    association in benevolence, 196;
    love of ceremony, 197;
    festivals, 198;
    confidence in a clergyman, 199;
    marriage formerly disapproved, _clergywomen_, 200;
    relief in confession, 201, 202;
    gentlewomen's letters, 205, 206;
    French, among strangers, 242, 243;
    want of analysis, 280;
    strong theological interest, 377-380;
    old maids, 379-382;
    gentlewomen, 381, 382;
    not interested in sporting talk, 399.
    (See _Marriage_, _Wives_, etc.)

  Word, power of a, 118.

  Wordsworth: indebtedness to the poor, 22;
    on Nature's loyalty, 30;
    instance of his uncleanness, 311.

  Work, softens solitude, 31, 32.

  Working-men. (See _Lower Classes_.)

  World, possible enjoyment of, 303.

  Worship: word in wedding-service, 62;
    limited by locality, 171-174;
    musical, 191;
    expressions in letters, 321.

  Writing, a new discovery supposed, 336.

  Wryghame, message by, 320.

  Wycherley, William, his ribaldry, 181.


  Yachting, 258, 259, 292, 358.
    (See _Boating_.)

  York: Minster, 190;
    archbishop, 222;
    diocese, 275.

  Yorkshire, letter to, 320.

  Youth: contrasted with age, 87-89;
    nonsense reproduced by Shakspeare, 89;
    insult, 107;
    in friendship, 111, 112;
    acceptance of kindness, 117;
    semblance caused by ignorance of a language, 151.


  Zeus, a hunter compared to, 391.


THE END.

University Press: John Wilson & Son, Cambridge.



FOOTNOTES:

[1] An expression used to me by a learned Doctor of Oxford.

[2] The causes of this curious repulsion are inquired into elsewhere in
this volume.

[3] The exact degree of blame due to Shelley is very difficult to
determine. He had nothing to do with the suicide, though the separation
was the first in a train of circumstances that led to it. It seems clear
that Harriett did not desire the separation, and clear also that she did
nothing to assert her rights. Shelley ought not to have left her, but he
had not the patience to accept as permanent the consequences of a mistaken
marriage.

[4] Lewes's "Life of Goethe."

[5] Only a poet can write of his private sorrows. In prose one cannot
sing,--

  "A dirge for her, the doubly dead, in that she died so young."

[6] Schuyler's "Peter the Great."

[7] That valiant enemy of false pretensions, Mr. Punch, has often done
good service in throwing ridicule on unreal distinctions. In "Punch's
Almanack" for 1882 I find the following exquisite conversation beneath one
of George Du Maurier's inimitable drawings:

    _Grigsby._ Do you know the Joneses?

    _Mrs. Brown._ No, we--er--don't care to know _Business_ people, as a
    rule, although my husband's in business; but then he's in the _Coffee_
    business,--and they're all GENTLEMEN in the _Coffee_ business, you
    know!

    _Grigsby_ (who always suits himself to his company). _Really_, now!
    Why, that's more than can be said of the Army, the Navy, the Church,
    the Bar, or even the _House of Lords_! I don't _wonder_ at your being
    rather _exclusive_!

[8] I am often amused by the indignant feelings of English journalists on
this matter. Some French newspaper calls an Englishman a lord when he is
not a lord, and our journalists are amazed at the incorrigible ignorance
of the French. If Englishmen cared as little about titles they would be
equally ignorant, and two or three other things are to be said in defence
of the French journalist that English critics _never_ take into account.
They suppose that because Gladstone is commonly called Mr. a Frenchman
ought to know that he cannot be a lord. That does not follow. In France a
man may be called Monsieur and be a baron at the same time. A Frenchman
may answer, "If Gladstone is not a lord, why do you call him one? English
almanacs not only say that Gladstone is a lord, but that he is the very
First Lord of the Treasury. Again, why am I not to speak of Sir
Chamberlain? I have seen a printed letter to him beginning with 'Sir,'
which is plain evidence that your 'Sir' is the equivalent of our
_Monsieur_." A Frenchman is surely not to be severely blamed if he is not
aware that the First Lord of the Treasury is not a lord at all, and that a
man who is called a "Sir" inside every letter addressed to him has no
right to that title on the envelope.

[9] That of M. Léopold Double.

[10] I need hardly say that this is not intended as a description of poor
men's hospitality generally, but only of the effects of poverty on
hospitality in certain cases. The point of the contrast lies in the
difference between this uncomfortable hospitality, which a lover of
pleasant human intercourse avoids, with the easy and agreeable hospitality
that the very same people would probably have offered if they had
possessed the conveniences of wealth.

[11] Italian, to me, seems Latin made natural.

[12] So far as the State and society generally are concerned; but there
are private situations in which even a member of the State Church does not
enjoy perfect religious liberty. Suppose the case (I am describing a real
case) of a lady left a widow and in poverty. Her relations are wealthy
Dissenters. They offer to provide for her handsomely if she will renounce
the Church of England and join their own sect. Does she enjoy religious
liberty? The answer depends upon the question whether she is able to earn
her own living or not. If she is, she can secure religious freedom by
incessant labor; if she is unable to earn her living she will have no
religious freedom, although she belongs, in conscience, to the most
powerful religion in the State. In the case I am thinking of, the lady had
the honorable courage to open a little shop, and so remained a member of
the Church of England; but her freedom was bought by labor and was
therefore not the same thing as the best freedom, which is unembittered by
sacrifice.

[13] The phrase adopted by Court journalists in speaking of such a
conversion is, "The Princess has received instruction in the religion
which she will adopt on her marriage," or words to that effect, just as if
different and mutually hostile religions were not more contradictory of
each other than sciences, and as if a person could pass from one religion
to another with no more twisting and wrenching of previous beliefs than he
would incur in passing from botany to geology.

[14] The word "generally" is inserted here because women do apparently
sometimes enjoy the infliction of undeserved pain on other creatures. They
grace bull-fights with their presence, and will see horses disembowelled
with apparent satisfaction. It may be doubted, too, whether the Empress of
Austria has any compassion for the sufferings of a fox.

[15] I have purposely omitted from the text another cause for feminine
indifference to the work of persecutors, but it may be mentioned
incidentally. At certain times those women whose influence on persons in
authority might have been effectively employed in favor of the oppressed
were too frivolous or even too licentious for their thoughts to turn
themselves to any such serious matter. This was the case in England under
Charles II. The contrast between the occupations of such women as these
and the sufferings of an earnest man has been aptly presented by
Macaulay:--

    "The ribaldry of Etherege and Wycherley was, in the presence and under
    the special sanction of the head of the Church, publicly recited by
    female lips in female ears, while the author of the 'Pilgrim's
    Progress' languished in a dungeon, for the crime of proclaiming the
    gospel to the poor."

This is deplorable enough; but on the whole I do not think that the
frivolity of light-minded women has been so harmful to noble causes as the
readiness with which serious women place their immense influence at the
service of constituted authorities, however wrongfully those authorities
may act. Ecclesiastical authorities especially may quietly count upon this
kind of support, and they always do so.

[16] Since this Essay was written I have met with the following passage in
Her Majesty's diary, which so accurately describes the consolatory
influence of clergymen, and the natural desire of women for the
consolation given by them, that I cannot refrain from quoting it. The
Queen is speaking of her last interview with Dr. Norman Macleod:--

    "He dwelt then, as always, on the love and goodness of God, and on his
    conviction that God would give us, in another life, the means to
    perfect ourselves and to improve gradually. No one ever felt so
    convinced, and so anxious as he to convince others, that God was a
    loving Father who wished all to come to Him, and to preach of a living
    personal Saviour, One who loved us as a brother and a friend, to whom
    all could and should come with trust and confidence. No one ever
    raised and strengthened one's faith more than Dr. Macleod. His own
    faith was so strong, his heart so large, that all--high and low, weak
    and strong, the erring and the good--_could alike find sympathy, help,
    and consolation from him_."

    "_How I loved to talk to him, to ask his advice, to speak to him of my
    sorrows and anxieties._"

A little farther on in the same diary Her Majesty speaks of Dr. Macleod's
beneficial influence upon another lady:--

    "He had likewise a marvellous power of winning people of all kinds,
    and of sympathizing with the highest and with the humblest, and of
    soothing and comforting the sick, the dying, the afflicted, the
    erring, and the doubting. _A friend of mine told me that if she were
    in great trouble, or sorrow, or anxiety, Dr. Norman Macleod was the
    person she would wish to go to._"

The two points to be noted in these extracts are: first, the faith in a
loving God who cares for each of His creatures individually (not acting
only by general laws); and, secondly, the way in which the woman goes to
the clergyman (whether in formal confession or confidential conversation)
to hear consolatory doctrine from his lips in application to her own
personal needs. The faith and the tendency are both so natural in women
that they could only cease in consequence of the general and most
improbable acceptance by women of the scientific doctrine that the Eternal
Energy is invariably regular in its operations and inexorable, and that
the priest has no clearer knowledge of its inscrutable nature than the
layman.

[17] These quotations (I need hardly say) are from Macaulay's History,
Chapter III.

[18] The difference of interest as regards people of rank may be seen by a
comparison of French and English newspapers. In an English paper, even on
the Liberal side, you constantly meet with little paragraphs informing you
that one titled person has gone to stay with another titled person; that
some old titled lady is in poor health, or some young one going to be
married; or that some gentleman of title has gone out in his yacht, or
entertained friends to shoot grouse,--the reason being that English people
like to hear about persons of title, however insignificant the news may be
in itself. If paragraphs of the same kind were inserted in any serious
French newspaper the subscribers would wonder how they got there, and what
possible interest for the public there could be in the movements of
mediocrities, who had nothing but titles to distinguish them.

[19] Since this Essay was written I have come upon a passage quoted from
Henry Knyghton by Augustin Thierry in his "History of the Norman
Conquest:"--

    "It is not to be wondered at if the difference of nationality (between
    the Norman and Saxon races) produces a difference of conditions, or
    that there should result from it an excessive distrust of natural
    love; and that the separateness of blood should produce a broken
    confidence in mutual trust and affection."

Now, the question suggests itself, whether the reason why Englishman shuns
Englishman to-day may not be traceable, ultimately, to the state of
feeling described by Knyghton as a result of the Norman Conquest. We must
remember that the avoidance of English by English is quite peculiar to us;
no other race exhibits the same peculiarity. It is therefore probably due
to some very exceptional fact in English history. The Norman Conquest was
exactly the exceptional fact we are in search of. The results of it may be
traceable as follows:--

1. Norman and Saxon shun each other.

2. Norman has become aristocrat.

3. Would-be aristocrat (present representative of Norman) shuns possible
plebeian (present representative of Saxon).

[20] It so happens that I am writing this Essay in a rough wooden hut of
my own, which is in reality a most comfortable little building, though
"stuffy luxury" is rigorously excluded.

[21] At present it is most inadequately represented by a few unimportant
gifts. The donors have desired to break the rule of exclusion, and have
succeeded so far, but that is all.

[22] These, of course, are only examples of vulgar patriotic ignorance. A
few Frenchmen who have really _seen_ what is best in English landscape are
delighted with it; but the common impression about England is that it is
an ugly country covered with _usines_, and on which the sun never shines.

[23] The French word _univers_ has three or four distinct senses. It may
mean all that exists, or it may mean the solar system, or it may mean the
earth's surface, in whole or in part. Voltaire said that Columbus, by
simply looking at a map of our _univers_, had guessed that there must be
another, that is, the western hemisphere. "Paris est la plus belle ville
de l'univers" means simply that Paris is the most beautiful city in the
world.

[24] A French critic recently observed that his countrymen knew little of
the tragedy of "Macbeth" except the familiar line "To be or not to be,
that is the question!"

[25] I never make a statement of this kind without remembering instances,
even when it does not seem worth while to mention them particularly. It is
not of much use to quote what one has heard in conversation, but here are
two instances in print. Reclus, the French geographer, in "La Terre à Vol
d'Oiseau," gives a woodcut of the Houses of Parliament and calls it
"L'Abbaye de Westminster." The same error has even occurred in a French
art periodical.

[26] Rodolphe, in "L'Honneur et l'Argent."

[27] In the library at Towneley Hall in Lancashire.

[28] In Prosper Mérimée's "Correspondence" he gives the following as the
authentic text of the letter in which Lady Florence Paget announced her
elopement with the last Marquis of Hastings to her father:--

    "Dear Pa, as I knew you would never consent to my marriage with Lord
    Hastings, I was wedded to him to-day. I remain yours, etc."

[29] For those who take an interest in such matters I may say that the
last representative of the Plumptons died in France unmarried in 1749, and
Plumpton Hall was barbarously pulled down by its purchaser, an ancestor of
the present Earls of Harewood. The history of the family is very
interesting, and the more so to me that it twice intermarried with my own.
Dorothy Plumpton was a niece of the first Sir Stephen Hamerton.

[30] Sir Walter Scott had sympathy enough with the courtesy of old time to
note its minutiæ very closely:--

    "After inspecting the cavalry, Sir Everard again conducted his nephew
    to the library, where he produced a letter, _carefully folded,
    surrounded by a little stripe of flox-silk, according to ancient
    form_, and sealed with _an accurate impression_ of the Waverley
    coat-of-arms. It was addressed, _with great formality_, 'To Cosmo
    Comyne Bradwardine, Esq., of Bradwardine, at his principal mansion of
    Tully-Veolan, in Perthshire, North Britain. These--by the hands of
    Captain Edward Waverley, nephew of Sir Everard Waverley, of
    Waverley-Honour, Bart.'"--_Waverley_, chap. vi.

I had not this passage in mind when writing the text of this Essay, but
the reader will notice how closely it confirms what I have said about
deliberation and care to secure a fair impression of the seal.

[31] A very odd but very real objection to the employment of these
missives is that the receiver does not always know how to open them, and
may burn them unread. I remember sending a short letter in this shape from
France to an English lady. She destroyed my letter without opening it; and
I got for answer that "if it was a French custom to send blank post-cards
she did not know what could be the signification of it." Such was the
result of a well-meant attempt to avoid the non-courteous post-card!

[32] Besides which, in the case of a French friend, you are sure to have
notice of such events by printed _lettres de faire part_.

[33] I need hardly say that there has been immense improvement in this
respect, and that such descriptions have no application to the Lancashire
of to-day; indeed, they were never true, in that extreme degree, of
Lancashire generally, but only of certain small localities which were at
one time like spots of local disease on a generally vigorous body.

[34] Littré derives _corvée_ from the Low-Latin _corrogata_, from the
Latin _cum_ and _rogare_.





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