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´╗┐Title: Lectures and Essays
Author: Smith, Goldwin
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Lectures and Essays" ***

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Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions.





These papers have been reprinted for friends who sometimes ask for the
back numbers of periodicals in which they appeared. The great public is
sick of reprints, and with good reason.

The volume might almost have been called Contributions to Canadian
Literature, for of the papers not originally published in Canada several
were reproduced in Canadian journals. Political subjects have been
excluded both to keep a volume intended for friends free from anything
of a party character and because the writer looks forward to putting the
thoughts scattered over his political essays and reviews into a more
connected form.

The papers on 'The Early Years of the Conqueror of Quebec,' 'A
Wirepuller of Kings,' 'A True Captain of Industry' and 'Early Years of
Abraham Lincoln' can hardly pretend to be more than accounts of books to
which they relate, but they interested some of their readers at the time
and there are probably not many copies of the books in Canada. All the
papers have been revised, so that they do not appear here exactly as
they were in the periodicals from which they are reprinted.

TORONTO, Feb. 16, 1881


THE GREATNESS OF THE ROMANS (_Contemporary Review_)

THE GREATNESS OF ENGLAND (_Contemporary Review._)


THE LAMPS OF FICTION (_A Speech on the Centenary of the Birth of Sir
Walter Scott_)


THE ASCENT OF MAN (_Macmillan's Magazine._)


THE LABOUR MOVEMENT (_Canadian Monthly._)

WHAT IS CULPABLE LUXURY? (_Canadian Monthly._)

A TRUE CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY (_Canadian Monthly._)

A WIREPULLER OF KINGS (_Canadian Monthly._)


FALKLAND AND THE PURITANS (_Contemporary Review._)


ALFREDUS REX FUNDATOR (_Canadian Monthly_)



PATTISON'S MILTON (_New York Nation_)



Rome was great in arms, in government, in law. This combination was the
talisman of her august fortunes. But the three things, though blended in
her, are distinct from each other, and the political analyst is called
upon to give a separate account of each. By what agency was this State,
out of all the States of Italy, out of all the States of the world,
elected to a triple pre-eminence, and to the imperial supremacy of
which, it was the foundation? By what agency was Rome chosen as the
foundress of an empire which we regard almost as a necessary step in
human development, and which formed the material, and to no small extent
the political matrix of modern Europe, though the spiritual life of our
civilization is derived from another source? We are not aware that this
question has ever been distinctly answered, or even distinctly
propounded. The writer once put it to a very eminent Roman antiquarian,
and the answer was a quotation from Virgil--

  "Hoc nemus, hunc, inquit, frondoso vertice clivum
  Quis deus incertum est, habitat Deus; Arcades ipsum
  Credunt se vidisae Jovem cum saepe nigrantem
  AEgida concuteret dextra nimbosque cieret."

This perhaps was the best answer that Roman patriotism, ancient or
modern, could give; and it certainly was given in the best form. The
political passages of Virgil, like some in Lucan and Juvenal, had a
grandeur entirely Roman with which neither Homer nor any other Greek has
anything to do. But historical criticism, without doing injustice to the
poetical aspect of the mystery, is bound to seek a rational solution.
Perhaps in seeking the solution we may in some measure supply, or at
least suggest the mode of supplying, a deficiency which we venture to
think is generally found in the first chapters of histories. A national
history, as it seems to us, ought to commence with a survey of the
country or locality, its geographical position, climate, productions,
and other physical circumstances as they bear on the character of the
people. We ought to be presented, in short, with a complete description
of the scene of the historic drama, as well as with an account of the
race to which the actors belong. In the early stages of his development,
at all events, man is mainly the creature of physical circumstances; and
by a systematic examination of physical circumstances we may to some
extent cast the horoscope of the infant nation as it lies in the arms of

That the central position of Rome, in the long and narrow peninsula of
Italy, was highly favourable to her Italian dominion, and that the
situation of Italy was favourable to her dominion over the countries
surrounding the Mediterranean, has been often pointed out. But we have
yet to ask what launched Rome in her career of conquest, and still more,
what rendered that career so different from those of ordinary
conquerors? What caused the Empire of Rome to be so durable? What gives
it so high an organization? What made it so tolerable, and even in some
cases beneficent to her subjects? What enabled it to perform services so
important in preparing the way for a higher civilization?

About the only answer that we get to these questions is _race_. The
Romans, we are told, were by nature a peculiarly warlike race. "They
were the wolves of Italy," says Mr. Merivale, who may be taken to
represent fairly the state of opinion on this subject. We are presented
in short with the old fable of the Twins suckled by the She-wolf in a
slightly rationalized form. It was more likely to be true, if anything,
in its original form, for in mythology nothing is so irrational as
rationalization. That unfortunate She-wolf with her Twins has now been
long discarded by criticism as a historical figure; but she still
obtrudes herself as a symbolical legend into the first chapter of Roman
history, and continues to affect the historian's imagination and to give
him a wrong bias at the outset. Who knows whether the statue which we
possess is a real counterpart of the original? Who knows what the
meaning of the original statue was? If the group was of great antiquity,
we may be pretty sure that it was not political or historic, but
religious; for primaeval art is the handmaid of religion; historic
representation and political portraiture belong generally to a later
age. We cannot tell with certainty even that the original statue was
Roman: it may have been brought to Rome among the spoils of some
conquered city, in which case it would have no reference to Roman
history at all. We must banish it entirely from our minds, with all the
associations and impressions which cling to it, and we must do the same
with regard to the whole of that circle of legends woven out of
misinterpreted monuments or customs, with the embellishments of pure
fancy, which grouped itself round the apocryphal statues of the seven
kings in the Capitol, aptly compared by Arnold to the apocryphal
portraits of the early kings of Scotland in Holyrood and those of the
mediaeval founders of Oxford in the Bodleian. We must clear our minds
altogether of these fictions; they are not even ancient: they came into
existence at a time when the early history of Rome was viewed in the
deceptive light of her later achievements; when, under the influence of
altered circumstances, Roman sentiment had probably undergone a
considerable change; and when, consequently, the national imagination no
longer pointed true to anything primaeval.

Race, when tribal peculiarities are once formed, is a most important
feature in history; those who deny this and who seek to resolve
everything, even in advanced humanity, into the influence of external
circumstances or of some particular external circumstance, such as food,
are not less one-sided or less wide of the truth than those who employ
race as the universal solution. Who can doubt that between the English
and the French, between the Scotch and the Irish, there are differences
of character which have profoundly affected and still affect the course
of history? The case is still stronger if we take races more remote from
each other, such as the English and the Hindoo. But the further we
inquire, the more reason there appears to be for believing that
peculiarities of race are themselves originally formed by the influence
of external circumstances on the primitive tribe; that, however marked
and ingrained they may be, they are not congenital and perhaps not
indelible. Englishmen and Frenchmen are closely assimilated by
education; and the weaknesses of character supposed to be inherent in
the Irish gradually disappear under the more benign influences of the
New World. Thus, by ascribing the achievements of the Romans to the
special qualities of their race, we should not be solving the problem,
but only stating it again in other terms.

But besides this, the wolf theory halts in a still more evident manner.
The foster-children of the she-wolf, let them have never so much of
their foster-mother's milk in them, do not do what the Romans did, and
they do precisely what the Romans did not. They kill, ravage, plunder--
perhaps they conquer and even for a time retain their conquests--but
they do not found highly organized empires, they do not civilize, much
less do they give birth to law. The brutal and desolating domination of
the Turk, which after being long artificially upheld by diplomacy, is at
last falling into final ruin, is the type of an empire founded by the
foster-children of the she-wolf. Plunder, in the animal lust of which
alone it originated, remains its law, and its only notion of imperial
administration is a coarse division, imposed by the extent of its
territory, into satrapies, which, as the central dynasty, enervated by
sensuality, loses its force, revolt, and break up the empire. Even the
Macedonian, pupil of Aristotle though he was, did not create an empire
at all comparable to that created by the Romans. He overran an immense
extent of territory, and scattered over a portion of it the seed of an
inferior species of Hellenic civilization, but he did not organize it
politically, much less did he give it, and through it the world, a code
of law. It at once fell apart into a number of separate kingdoms, the
despotic rulers of which were Sultans with a tinge of Hellenism, and
which went for nothing in the political development of mankind.

What if the very opposite theory to that of the she-wolf and her foster-
children should be true? What if the Romans should have owed their
peculiar and unparalleled success to their having been at first not more
warlike, but less warlike than their neighbours? It may seem a paradox,
but we suspect in their imperial ascendency is seen one of the earliest
and not least important steps in that gradual triumph of intellect over
force, even in war, which has been an essential part of the progress of
civilization. The happy day may come when Science in the form of a
benign old gentleman with a bald head and spectacles on nose, holding
some beneficent compound in his hand, will confront a standing army and
the standing army will cease to exist. That will be the final victory of
intellect. But in the meantime, our acknowledgments are due to the
primitive inventors of military organization and military discipline.
They shivered Goliath's spear. A mass of comparatively unwarlike
burghers, unorganized and undisciplined, though they may be the hope of
civilization from their mental and industrial qualities, have as little
of collective as they have of individual strength in war; they only get
in each other's way, and fall singly victims to the prowess of a
gigantic barbarian. He who first thought of combining their force by
organization, so as to make their numbers tell, and who taught them to
obey officers, to form regularly for action, and to execute united
movements at the word of command, was, perhaps, as great a benefactor of
the species as he who grew the first corn, or built the first canoe.

What is the special character of the Roman legends, so far as they
relate to war? Their special character is, that they are legends not of
personal prowess but of discipline. Rome has no Achilles. The great
national heroes, Camillus, Cincinnatus, Papirius, Cursor, Fabius
Maximus, Manlius are not prodigies of personal strength and valour, but
commanders and disciplinarians. The most striking incidents are
incidents of discipline. The most striking incident of all is the
execution by a commander of his own son for having gained a victory
against orders. "_Disciplinam militarem_," Manlius is made to say,
"_qua stetit ad hanc diem Romana res._" Discipline was the great
secret of Roman ascendency in war. It is the great secret of all
ascendency in war. Victories of the undisciplined over the disciplined,
such as Killiecrankie and Preston Pans, are rare exceptions which only
prove the rule. The rule is that in anything like a parity of personal
prowess and of generalship discipline is victory. Thrice Rome
encountered discipline equal or superior to her own. Pyrrhus at first
beat her, but there was no nation behind him, Hannibal beat her, but his
nation did not support him; she beat the army of Alexander, but the army
of Alexander when it encountered her, like that of Frederic at Jena, was
an old machine, and it was commanded by a man who was more like Tippoo
Sahib than the conqueror of Darius.

But how came military discipline to be so specially cultivated by the
Romans? We can see how it came to be specially cultivated by the Greeks:
it was the necessity of civic armies, fighting perhaps against warlike
aristocracies; it was the necessity of Greeks in general fighting
against the invading hordes of the Persian. We can see how it came to be
cultivated among the mercenaries and professional soldiers of Pyrrhus
and Hannibal. But what was the motive power in the case of Rome?
Dismissing the notion of occult qualities of race, we look for a
rational explanation in the circumstances of the plain which was the
cradle of the Roman Empire.

It is evident that in the period designated as that of the kings, when
Rome commenced her career of conquest, she was, for that time and
country, a great and wealthy city. This is proved by the works of the
kings, the Capitoline Temple, the excavation for the Circus Maximus, the
Servian Wall, and above all the Cloaca Maxima. Historians have indeed
undertaken to give us a very disparaging picture of the ancient Rome,
which they confidently describe as nothing more than a great village of
shingle-roofed cottages thinly scattered over a large area. We ask in
vain what are the materials for this description. It is most probable
that the private buildings of Rome under the kings were roofed with
nothing better than shingle, and it is very likely that they were mean
and dirty, as the private buildings of Athens appear to have been, and
as those of most of the great cities of the Middle Ages unquestionably
were. But the Cloaca Maxima is in itself conclusive evidence of a large
population, of wealth, and of a not inconsiderable degree of
civilization. Taking our stand upon this monument, and clearing our
vision entirely of Romulus and his asylum, we seem dimly to perceive the
existence of a deep prehistoric background, richer than is commonly
supposed in the germs of civilization,--a remark which may in all
likelihood be extended to the background of history in general. Nothing
surely can be more grotesque than the idea of a set of wolves, like the
Norse pirates before their conversion to Christianity, constructing in
their den the Cloaca Maxima.

That Rome was comparatively great and wealthy is certain. We can hardly
doubt that she was a seat of industry and commerce, and that the theory
which represents her industry and commerce as having been developed
subsequently to her conquests is the reverse of the fact. Whence, but
from industry and commerce, could the population and the wealth have
come? Peasant farmers do not live in cities, and plunderers do not
accumulate. Rome had around her what was then a rich and peopled plain;
she stood at a meeting-place of nationalities; she was on a navigable
river, yet out of the reach of pirates; the sea near her was full of
commerce, Etruscan, Greek, and Carthaginian. Her first colony was Ostia,
evidently commercial and connected with salt-works, which may well have
supplied the staple of her trade. Her patricians were financiers and
money-lenders. We are aware that a different turn has been given to this
part of the story, and that the indebtedness has been represented as
incurred not by loans of money, but by advances of farm stock. This,
however, completely contradicts the whole tenor of the narrative, and
especially what is said about the measures for relieving the debtor by
reducing the rate of interest and by deducting from the principal debt
the interest already paid. The narrative as it stands, moreover, is
supported by analogy. It has a parallel in the economical history of
ancient Athens, and in the "scaling of debts," to use the American
equivalent for _Seisachtheia_, by the legislation of Solon. What
prevents our supposing that usury, when it first made its appearance on
the scene, before people had learned to draw the distinction between
crimes and defaults, presented itself in a very coarse and cruel form?
True, the currency was clumsy, and retained philological traces of a
system of barter; but without commerce there could have been no currency
at all.

Even more decisive is the proof afforded by the early political history
of Rome. In that wonderful first decade of Livy there is no doubt enough
of Livy himself to give him a high place among the masters of fiction.
It is the epic of a nation of politicians, and admirably adapted for the
purposes of education as the grand picture of Roman character and the
richest treasury of Roman sentiment. But we can hardly doubt that in the
political portion there is a foundation of fact; it is too
circumstantial, too consistent in itself, and at the same time too much
borne out by analogy, to be altogether fiction. The institutions which
we find existing in historic times must have been evolved by some such
struggle between the orders of patricians and plebeians as that which
Livy presents to us. And these politics, with their parties and sections
of parties, their shades of political character, the sustained interest
which they imply in political objects, their various devices and
compromises, are not the politics of a community of peasant farmers,
living apart each on his own farm and thinking of his own crops: they
are the politics of the quick-witted and gregarious population of an
industrial and commercial city. They are politics of the same sort as
those upon which the Palazzo Vecchio looked down in Florence. That
ancient Rome was a republic there can be no doubt. Even the so-called
monarchy appears clearly to have been elective; and republicanism may be
described broadly with reference to its origin, as the government of the
city and of the artisan, while monarchy and aristocracy are the
governments of the country and of farmers.

The legend which ascribes the assembly of centuries to the legislation
of Servius probably belongs to the same class as the legend which
ascribes trial by jury and the division of England into shires to the
legislation of Alfred. Still the assembly of centuries existed; it was
evidently ancient, belonging apparently to a stratum of institutions
anterior to the assembly of tribes; and it was a constitution
distributing political power and duties according to a property
qualification which, in the upper grades, must, for the period, have
been high, though measured by a primitive currency. The existence of
such qualifications, and the social ascendency of wealth which the
constitution implies, are inconsistent with the theory of a merely
agricultural and military Rome. Who would think of framing such a
constitution, say, for one of the rural districts of France?

Other indications of the real character of the prehistoric Rome might be
mentioned. The preponderance of the infantry and the comparative
weakness of the cavalry is an almost certain sign of democracy, and of
the social state in which democracy takes its birth--at least in the
case of a country which did not, like Arcadia or Switzerland, preclude
by its nature the growth of a cavalry force, but on the contrary was
rather favourable to it. Nor would it be easy to account for the strong
feeling of attachment to the city which led to its restoration when it
had been destroyed by the Gauls, and defeated the project of a migration
to Veii, if Rome was nothing but a collection of miserable huts, the
abodes of a tribe of marauders. We have, moreover, the actual traces of
an industrial organization in the existence of certain guilds of
artisans, which may have been more important at first than they were
when the military spirit had become thoroughly ascendant.

Of course when Rome had once been drawn into the career of conquest, the
ascendency of the military spirit would be complete; war, and the
organization of territories acquired in war, would then become the great
occupation of her leading citizens; industry and commerce would fall
into disesteem, and be deemed unworthy of the members of the imperial
race. Carthage would no doubt have undergone a similar change of
character, had the policy which was carried to its greatest height by
the aspiring house of Barcas succeeded in converting her from a trading
city into the capital of a great military empire. So would Venice, had
she been able to carry on her system of conquest in the Levant and of
territorial aggrandisement on the Italian mainland. The career of Venice
was arrested by the League of Cambray. On Carthage the policy of
military aggrandisement, which was apparently resisted by the sage
instinct of the great merchants while it was supported by the
professional soldiers and the populace, brought utter ruin; while Rome
paid the inevitable penalty of military despotism. Even when the Roman
nobles had become a caste of conquerors and proconsuls, they retained
certain mercantile habits; unlike the French aristocracy, and
aristocracies generally, they were careful keepers of their accounts,
and they showed a mercantile talent for business, as well as a more than
mercantile hardness, in their financial exploitation of the conquered
world. Brutus and his contemporaries were usurers like the patricians of
the early times. No one, we venture to think, who has been accustomed to
study national character, will believe that the Roman character was
formed by war alone: it was manifestly formed by war combined with

To what an extent the later character of Rome affected national
tradition, or rather fiction, as to her original character, we see from
the fable which tells us that she had no navy before the first Punic
war, and that when compelled to build a fleet by the exigencies of that
war, she had to copy a Carthaginian war galley which had been cast
ashore, and to train her rowers by exercising them on dry land. She had
a fleet before the war with Pyrrhus, probably from the time at which she
took possession of Antium, if not before; and her first treaty with
Carthage even if it is to be assigned to the date to which Mommsen, and
not to that which Polybius assigns it, shows that before 348 B.C. she
had an interest in a wide sea-board, which must have carried with it
some amount of maritime power.

Now this wealthy, and, as we suppose, industrial and commercial city was
the chief place, and in course of time became the mistress and
protectress, of a plain large for that part of Italy, and then in such a
condition as to be tempting to the spoiler. Over this plain on two sides
hung ranges of mountains inhabited by hill tribes, Sabines, AEquians,
Volscians, Hernicans, with the fierce and restless Samnite in the rear.
No doubt these hill tribes raided on the plain as hill tribes always do;
probably they were continually being pressed down upon it by the
migratory movements of other tribes behind them. Some of them seem to
have been in the habit of regularly swarming, like bees, under the form
of the _Ver Sacrum_. On the north, again, were the Etruscan hill
towns, with their lords, pirates by sea, and probably marauders by land;
for the period of a more degenerate luxury and frivolity may be regarded
as subsequent to their subjugation by the Romans; at any rate, when they
first appear upon the scene they are a conquering race. The wars with
the AEqui and Volsci have been ludicrously multiplied and exaggerated by
Livy; but even without the testimony of any historian, we might assume
that there would be wars with them and with the other mountaineers, and
also with the marauding Etruscan chiefs. At the same time, we may be
sure that, in personal strength and prowess, the men of the plain and of
the city would be inferior both to the mountaineers and to those
Etruscan chiefs whose trade was war. How did the men of the plain and of
the city manage to make up for this inferiority, to turn the scale of
force in their favour, and ultimately to subdue both the mountaineers
and Etruscans? In the conflict with the mountaineers, something might be
done by that superiority of weapons which superior wealth would afford.
But more would be done by military organization and discipline. To
military organization and discipline the Romans accordingly learnt to
submit themselves, as did the English Parliamentarians after the
experience of Edgehill, as did the democracy of the Northern States of
America after the experience of the first campaign. At the same time the
Romans learned the lesson so momentous, and at the same time so
difficult for citizen soldiers, of drawing the line between civil and
military life. The turbulent democracy of the former, led into the
field, doffed the citizen, donned the soldier; and obeyed the orders of
a commander whom as citizens they detested, and whom when they were led
back to the forum at the end of the summer campaign they were ready
again to oppose and to impeach. No doubt all this part of the history
has been immensely embellished by the patriotic imagination, the heroic
features have been exaggerated, the harsher features softened though not
suppressed. Still it is impossible to question the general fact. The
result attests the process. The Roman legions were formed in the first
instance of citizen soldiers, who yet had been made to submit to a rigid
discipline, and to feel that in that submission lay their strength.
When, to keep up the siege of Veii, military pay was introduced, a step
was taken in the transition from a citizen soldiery to a regular army,
such as the legions ultimately became, with its standing discipline of
the camp; and that the measure should have been possible is another
proof that Rome was a great city, with a well-supplied treasury, not a
collection of mud huts. No doubt the habit of military discipline
reacted on the political character of the people, and gave it the
strength and self-control which were so fatally wanting in the case of

The line was drawn, under the pressure of a stern necessity, between
civil and military life, and between the rights and duties of each. The
power of the magistrate, jealously limited in the city, was enlarged to
absolutism for the preservation of discipline in the field. But the
distinction between the king or magistrate and the general, and between
the special capacities required for the duties of each, is everywhere of
late growth. We may say the same of departmental distinctions
altogether. The executive, the legislative, the judicial power, civil
authority and military command, all lie enfolded in the same primitive
germ. The king, or the magistrate who takes his place, is expected to
lead the people in war as well as to govern them in peace. In European
monarchies this idea still lingers, fortified no doubt by the personal
unwillingness of the kings to let the military power go out of their
hands. Nor in early times is the difference between the qualifications
of a ruler and those of a commander so great as it afterwards became;
the business of the State is simple, and force of character is the main
requisite in both cases. Annual consulships must have been fatal to
strategical experience, while, on the other hand, they would save the
Republic from being tied to an unsuccessful general. But the storms of
war which broke on Rome from all quarters soon brought about the
recognition of special aptitude for military command in the appointment
of dictators. As to the distinction between military and naval ability,
it is of very recent birth: Blake, Prince Rupert, and Monk were made
admirals because they had been successful as generals, just as Hannibal
was appointed by Antiochus to the command of a fleet.

At Preston Pans, as before at Killiecrankie, the line of the Hanoverian
regulars was broken by the headlong charge of the wild clans, for which
the regulars were unprepared. Taught by the experience of Preston Pans,
the Duke of Cumberland at Culloden formed in three lines, so as to
repair a broken front. The Romans in like manner formed in three lines--
_hastati_, _principes_, and _triarii_--evidently with the
same object. Our knowledge of the history of Roman tactics does not
enable us to say exactly at what period this formation began to
supersede the phalanx, which appears to have preceded it, and which is
the natural order of half-disciplined or imperfectly armed masses, as we
see in the case of the army formed by Philip out of the Macedonian
peasantry, and again in the case of the French Revolutionary columns. We
cannot say, therefore, whether this formation in three lines is in any
way traceable to experience dearly bought in wars with Italian
highlanders, or to a lesson taught by the terrible onset of the Gaul.
Again, the punctilious care in the entrenchment of the camp, even for a
night's halt, which moved the admiration of Pyrrhus and was a material
part of Roman tactics, was likely to be inculcated by the perils to
which a burgher army would be exposed in carrying on war under or among
hills where it would be always liable to the sudden attack of a swift,
sure-footed, and wily foe. The habit of carrying a heavy load of
palisades on the march would be a part of the same necessity.

Even from the purely military point of view, then, the She-wolf and the
Twins seem to us not appropriate emblems of Roman greatness. A better
frontispiece for historians of Rome, if we mistake not, would be some
symbol of the patroness of the lowlands and their protectress against
the wild tribes of the highlands. There should also be something to
symbolize the protectress of Italy against the Gauls, whose irruptions
Rome, though defeated at Allia, succeeded ultimately in arresting and
hurling back, to the general benefit of Italian civilization which, we
may be sure, felt very grateful to her for that service, and remembered
it when her existence was threatened by Hannibal, with Gauls in his
army. Capua, though not so well situated for the leadership of Italy,
might have played the part of Rome; but the plain which she commanded,
though very rich, was too small, and too closely overhung by the fatal
hills of the Samnite, under whose dominion she fell. Rome had space to
organize a strong lowland resistance to the marauding highland powers.
It seems probable that her hills were not only the citadel but the
general refuge of the lowlanders of those parts, when forced to fly
before the onslaught of the highlanders, who were impelled by successive
wars of migration to the plains. The Campagna affords no stronghold or
rallying point but those hills, which may have received a population of
fugitives like the islands of Venice. The city may have drawn part of
its population and some of its political elements from this source. In
this sense the story of the Asylum may possibly represent a fact, though
it has itself nothing to do with history.

Then, as to imperial organization and government. Superiority in these
would naturally flow from superiority in civilization, and in previous
political training, the first of which Rome derived from her comparative
wealth and from the mental characteristics of a city population; the
second she derived from the long struggle through which the rights of
the plebeians were equalized with those of the patricians, and which
again must have had its ultimate origin in geographical circumstance
bringing together different elements of population. Cromwell was a
politician and a religious leader before he was a soldier; Napoleon was
a soldier before he was a politician: to this difference between the
moulds in which their characters were cast may be traced, in great
measure, the difference of their conduct when in power, Cromwell
devoting himself to political and ecclesiastical reform, while Napoleon
used his supremacy chiefly as the means of gratifying his lust for war.
There is something analogous in the case of imperial nations. Had the
Roman, when he conquered the world been like the Ottoman, like the
Ottoman he would probably have remained. His thirst for blood slaked, he
would simply have proceeded to gratify his other animal lusts; he would
have destroyed or consumed everything, produced nothing, delivered over
the world to a plundering anarchy of rapacious satraps, and when his
sensuality had overpowered his ferocity, he would have fallen in his
turn before some horde whose ferocity was fresh, and the round of war
and havoc would have commenced again. The Roman destroyed and consumed a
good deal; but he also produced not a little: he produced, among other
things, first in Italy, then in the world at large, the Peace of Rome
indispensable to civilization, and destined to be the germ and precursor
of the Peace of Humanity.

In two respects, however, the geographical circumstances of Rome appear
specially to have prepared her for the exercise of universal empire. In
the first place, her position was such as to bring her into contact from
the outset with a great variety of races. The cradle of her dominion was
a sort of ethnological microcosm. Latins, Etruscans, Greeks, Campanians,
with all the mountain races and the Gauls, make up a school of the most
diversified experience, which could not fail to open the minds of the
future masters of the world. How different was this education from that
of a people which is either isolated, like the Egyptians, or comes into
contact perhaps in the way of continual border hostility with a single
race! What the exact relations of Rome with Etruria were in the earliest
times we do not know, but evidently they were close; while between the
Roman and the Etruscan character the difference appears to have been as
wide as possible. The Roman was pre-eminently practical and business-
like, sober-minded, moral, unmystical, unsacerdotal, much concerned with
present duties and interests, very little concerned about a future state
of existence, peculiarly averse from human sacrifices and from all wild
and dark superstitions. The Etruscan, as he has portrayed himself to us
in his tombs, seems to have been, in his later development at least, a
mixture of Sybaritism with a gloomy and almost Mexican religion, which
brooded over the terrors of the next world, and sought in the constant
practice of human sacrifice a relief from its superstitious fear. If the
Roman could tolerate the Etruscans, be merciful to them, and manage them
well, he was qualified to deal in a statesmanlike way with the
peculiarities of almost any race, except those whose fierce nationality
repelled all management whatever. In borrowing from the Etruscans some
of their theological lore and their system of divination, small as the
value of the things borrowed was, the Roman, perhaps, gave an earnest of
the receptiveness which led him afterwards, in his hour of conquest, to
bow to the intellectual ascendency of the conquered Greek, and to become
a propagator of Greek culture, though partly in a Latinized form, more
effectual than Alexander and his Orientalized successors.

In the second place, the geographical circumstances of Rome, combined
with her character, would naturally lead to the foundation of colonies
and of that colonial system which formed a most important and beneficent
part of her empire. We have derived the name colony from Rome; but her
colonies were just what ours are not, military outposts of the empire,
_propugnacula imperii_. Political depletion and provision for needy
citizens were collateral, but it would seem, in early times at least,
secondary objects. Such outposts were the means suggested by Nature,
first of securing those parts of the plain which were beyond the
sheltering range of the city itself, secondly of guarding the outlets of
the hills against the hill tribes, and eventually of holding down the
tribes in the hills themselves. The custody of the passes is especially
marked as an object by the position of many of the early colonies. When
the Roman dominion extended to the north of Italy, the same system was
pursued, in order to guard against incursions from the Alps. A
conquering despot would have planted mere garrisons under military
governors, which would not have been centres of civilization, but
probably of the reverse. The Roman colonies, bearing onwards with them
the civil as well as the military life of the Republic, were, with the
general system of provincial municipalities of which they constituted
the core, to no small extent centres of civilization, though doubtless
they were also to some extent instruments of oppression. "Where the
Roman conquered he dwelt," and the dwelling of the Roman was, on the
whole, the abode of a civilizing influence. Representation of
dependencies in the sovereign assembly of the imperial country was
unknown, and would have been impracticable. Conquest had not so far put
off its iron nature. In giving her dependencies municipal institutions
and municipal life, Rome did the next best thing to giving them
representation. A Roman province with its municipal life was far above a
satrapy, though far below a nation.

Then how came Rome to be the foundress and the great source of law?
This, as we said before, calls for a separate explanation. An
explanation we do not pretend to give, but merely a hint which may
deserve notice in looking for the explanation. In primitive society, in
place of law, in the proper sense of the term, we find only tribal
custom, formed mainly by the special exigencies of tribal self-
preservation, and confined to the particular tribe. When Saxon and Dane
settle down in England side by side under the treaty made between Alfred
and Guthurm, each race retains the tribal custom which serves it as a
criminal law. A special effort seems to be required in order to rise
above this custom to that conception of general right or expediency
which is the germ of law as a science. The Greek, sceptical and
speculative as he was, appears never to have quite got rid of the notion
that there was something sacred in ancestral custom, and that to alter
it by legislation was a sort of impiety. We in England still conceive
that there is something in the breast of the judge, and the belief is a
lingering shadow of the tribal custom, the source of the common law. Now
what conditions would be most favourable to this critical effort, so
fraught with momentous consequences to humanity? Apparently a union of
elements belonging to different tribes such as would compel them, for
the preservation of peace and the regulation of daily intercourse, to
adopt some common measure of right. It must be a union, not a conquest
of one tribe by another, otherwise the conquering tribe would of course
keep its own customs, as the Spartans did among the conquered people of
Laconia. Now it appears likely that these conditions were exactly
fulfilled by the primaeval settlements on the hills of Rome. The hills
are either escarped by nature or capable of easy escarpment, and seem
originally to have been little separate fortresses, by the union of
which the city was ultimately formed. That there were tribal differences
among the inhabitants of the different hills is a belief to which all
traditions and all the evidence of institutions point, whether we
suppose the difference to have been great or not and whatever special
theory we may form as to the origin of the Roman people. If the germ of
law, as distinguished from custom, was brought into existence in this
manner, it would be fostered and expanded by the legislative exigencies
of the political and social concordat between the two orders, and also
by those arising out of the adjustment of relations with other races in
the course of conquest and colonization.

Roman law had also, in common with Roman morality, the advantage of
being comparatively free from the perverting influences of tribal
superstition. [Footnote: From religious perversion Roman law was
eminently free: but it could not be free from perverting influences of a
social kind; so that we ought to be cautious, for instance, in borrowing
law on any subject concerning the relations between the sexes from the
corrupt society of the Roman Empire.] Roman morality was in the main a
rational rule of duty, the shortcomings and aberrations of which arose
not from superstition, but from narrowness of perception, peculiarity of
sphere, and the bias of national circumstance. The auguries, which were
so often used for the purposes of political obstruction or intrigue,
fall under the head rather of trickery than of superstition.

Roman law in the same manner was a rule of expediency, rightly or
wrongly conceived, with comparatively little tincture of religion. In
this again we probably see the effect of a fusion of tribes upon the
tribal superstitions. "Rome," it has been said, "had no mythology." This
is scarcely an overstatement; and we do not account for the fact by
saying that the Romans were unimaginative, because it is not the
creative imagination that produces a mythology, but the impression made
by the objects and forces of nature on the minds of the forefathers of
the tribe.

A more tenable explanation, at all events, is that just suggested, the
disintegration of mythologies by the mixture of tribes. A part of the
Roman religion--the worship of such abstractions as Fides, Fortuna,
Salus, Concordia, Bellona, Terminus--even looks like a product of the
intellect posterior to the decay of the mythologies, which we may be
pretty sure were physical. It is no doubt true that the formalities
which were left--hollow ceremonial, auguries, and priesthoods which were
given without scruple, like secular offices, to the most profligate men
of the world--were worse than worthless in a religious point of view.
But historians who dwell on this fail to see that the real essence of
religion, a belief in the power of duty and of righteousness, that
belief which afterwards took the more definite form of Roman Stoicism,
had been detached by the dissolution of the mythologies, and exerted its
force, such as that force was, independently of the ceremonial, the
sacred chickens, and the dissipated high priests. In this sense the
tribute paid by Polybius to the religious character of the Romans is
deserved; they had a higher sense of religious obligation than the
Greeks; they were more likely than the Greeks, the Phoenicians, or any
of their other rivals, to swear and disappoint not, though it were to
their own hindrance; and this they owed, as we conceive, not to an
effort of speculative intellect, which in an early stage of society
would be out of the question, but to some happy conjunction of
circumstances such as would be presented by a break-up of tribal
mythologies, combined with influences favourable to the formation of
strong habits of political and social duty. Religious art was
sacrificed; that was the exclusive heritage of the Greek; but superior
morality was on the whole the heritage of the Roman, and if he produced
no good tragedy himself, he furnished characters for Shakespeare and

Whatever set the Romans free, or comparatively free, from the tyranny of
tribal religion may be considered as having in the same measure been the
source of the tolerance which was so indispensable a qualification for
the exercise of dominion over a polytheistic world. They waged no war on
"the gods of the nations," or on the worshippers of those gods as such.
They did not set up golden images after the fashion of Nebuchadnezzar.
In early times they seem to have adopted the gods of the conquered, and
to have transported them to their own city. In later times they
respected all the religions except Judaism and Druidism, which assumed
the form of national resistance to the empire, and worships which they
deemed immoral or anti-social, and which had intruded themselves into

Another grand step in the development of law is the severance of the
judicial power from the legislative and the executive, which permits the
rise of jurists, and of a regular legal profession. This is a slow
process. In the stationary East, as a rule, the king has remained the
supreme judge. At Athens, the sovereign people delegated its judicial
powers to a large committee, but it got no further; and the judicial
committee was hardly more free from political passion, or more competent
to decide points of law, than the assembly itself. In England the House
of Lords still, formally at least, retains judicial functions. Acts of
attainder were a yet more primitive as well as more objectionable relic
of the times in which the sovereign power, whether king, assembly, or
the two combined, was ruler, legislator, and judge all in one. We shall
not attempt here to trace the process by which this momentous separation
of powers and functions was to a remarkable extent accomplished in
ancient Rome. But we are pretty safe in saying that the _praetor
peregrinus_ was an important figure in it, and that it received a
considerable impulse from the exigencies of a jurisdiction between those
who as citizens came under the sovereign assembly and the aliens or
semi-aliens who did not.

Whether the partial explanations of the mystery of Roman greatness which
we have here suggested approve themselves to the reader's judgment or
not, it may at least be said for them that they are _verae causae_,
which is not the case with the story of the foster-wolf, or anything
derived from it, any more than with the story of the prophetic
apparitions of Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill.

With regard to the public morality of the Romans, and to their conduct
and influence as masters of the world, the language of historians seems
to us to leave something to be desired. Mommsen's tone, whenever
controverted questions connected with international morality and the law
of conquest arise, is affected by his Prussianism; it betokens the
transition of the German mind from the speculative and visionary to the
practical and even more than practical state; it is premonitory not only
of the wars with Austria and France, but of a coming age in which the
forces of natural selection are again to operate without the restraints
imposed by religion, and the heaviest fist is once more to make the law.
In the work of Ihne we see a certain recoil from Mommsen, and at the
same time an occasional inconsistency and a want of stability in the
principle of judgment. Our standard ought not to be positive but
relative. It was the age of force and conquest, not only with the Romans
but with all nations; _hospes_ was _hostis_. A perfectly
independent development of Greeks, Romans, Etruscans, Phoenicians, and
all the other nationalities, might perhaps have been the best thing for
humanity. But this was out of the question; in that stage of the world's
existence contact was war, and the end of war was conquest or
destruction, the first of which was at all events preferable to the
second. What empire then can we imagine which would have done less harm
or more good than the Roman? Greek intellect showed its superiority in
speculative politics as in all other departments of speculation, but as
a practical politician the Greek was not self-controlled or strong, and
he would never have bestowed on the provinces of his empire local self-
government and municipal life; besides, the race, though it included
wonderful varieties in itself, was, as a race, intensely tribal, and
treated persistently all other races as barbarians. It would have
deprived mankind of Roman law and politics, as well as of that vast
extension of the Roman aedileship which covered the world with public
works beneficent in themselves and equally so as examples; whereas the
Roman had the greatness of soul to do homage to Greek intellect, and,
notwithstanding an occasional Mummius, preserved all that was of the
highest value in Greek civilization, better perhaps than it would have
been preserved by the tyrants and condottieri of the Greek decadence. As
to a Semitic Empire, whether in the hands of Syrians or Carthaginians,
with their low Semitic craft, their Moloch-worships and their
crucifixions,--the very thought fills us with horror. It would have
been a world-wide tyranny of the strong box, into which all the products
of civilization would have gone. _Parcere subjectis_ was the rule
of Rome as well as _debellare superbos_; and while all conquest is
an evil, the Roman was the most clement and the least destructive of
conquerors. This is true of him on the whole, though he sometimes was
guilty of thoroughly primaeval cruelty. He was the great author of the
laws of war as well as of the laws of peace. That he not seldom, when
his own interest was concerned, put the mere letter of the social law in
place of justice, and that we are justly revolted on these occasions by
his hypocritical observance of forms, is very true: nevertheless, his
scrupulosity and the language of the national critics in these cases
prove the existence of at least a rudimentary conscience. No compunction
for breach of international law or justice we may be sure ever visited
the heart of Tiglath-Pileser. Cicero's letter of advice to his brother
on the government of a province may seem a tissue of truisms now, though
Warren Hastings and Sir Elijah Impey would hardly have found it so, but
it is a landmark in the history of civilization. That the Roman Republic
should die, and that a colossal and heterogeneous empire should fall
under the rule of a military despot, was perhaps a fatal necessity; but
the despotism long continued to be tempered, elevated, and rendered more
beneficent by the lingering spirit of the Republic; the liberalism of
Trajan and the Antonines was distinctly republican nor did Sultanism
finally establish itself before Diocletian. Perhaps we may number among
the proofs of the Roman's superiority the capacity shown so far as we
know first by him of being touched by the ruin of a rival. We may be
sure that no Assyrian conqueror even affected to weep over the fall of a
hostile city however magnificent and historic. On the whole it must be
allowed that physical influences have seldom done better for humanity
than they did in shaping the imperial character and destinies of Rome.


[Footnote: The writer some time ago gave a lecture before the Royal
Institution on "The Influence of Geographical Circumstances on Political
Character," using Rome and England as illustrations. It may perhaps be
right to say that the present paper, which touches here and there on
matters of political opinion, is not identical with the latter portion
of that lecture.]

Two large islands lie close to that Continent which has hitherto been
selected by Nature as the chief seat of civilization. One island is much
larger than the other, and the larger island lies between the smaller
and the Continent. The larger island is so placed as to receive primaeval
immigration from three quarters--from France, from the coast of Northern
Germany and the Low Countries, and from Scandinavia, the transit being
rendered somewhat easier in the last case by the prevailing winds and by
the little islands which Scotland throws out, as resting-places and
guides for the primaeval navigator, into the Northern Sea. The smaller
island, on the other hand, can hardly receive immigration except through
the larger, though its southern ports look out, somewhat ominously to
the eye of history, towards Spain. The western and northern parts of the
larger island are mountainous, and it is divided into two very unequal
parts by the Cheviot Hills and the mosses of the Border. In the larger
island are extensive districts well suited for grain. The climate of
most of the smaller is too wet for grain and good only for pasture. The
larger island is full of minerals and coal, of which the smaller island
is almost destitute. These are the most salient features of the scene of
English history, and, with a temperate climate, the chief physical
determinants of English destiny.

What, politically speaking, are the special attributes of an island? In
the first place, it is likely to be settled by a bold and enterprising
race. Migration by land under the pressure of hunger or of a stronger
tribe, or from the mere habit of wandering, calls for no special effort
of courage or intelligence on the part of the nomad. Migration by sea
does: to go forth on a strange element at all, courage is required; but
we can hardly realize the amount of courage required to go voluntarily
out of sight of land. The first attempts at ship-building also imply
superior intelligence, or an effort by which the intelligence will be
raised. Of the two great races which make up the English nation, the
Celtic had only to pass a channel which you can see across, which
perhaps in the time of the earliest migration did not exist. But the
Teutons, who are the dominant race and have supplied the basis of the
English character and institutions, had to pass a wider sea. From
Scandinavia, especially, England received, under the form of
freebooters, who afterwards became conquerors and settlers, the very
core and sinews of her maritime population, the progenitors of the
Blakes and Nelsons. The Northman, like the Phoenician, had a country too
narrow for him, and timber for ship-building at hand. But the land of
the Phoenician was a lovely land, which bound him to itself; and
wherever he moved his heart still turned to the pleasant abodes of
Lebanon and the sunlit quays of Tyre. Thus he became a merchant, and the
father of all who have made the estranging sea a highway and a bond
between nations, more than atoning by the service thus rendered to
humanity, for his craft, his treachery, his cruelty, and his Moloch-
worship. The land of the Scandinavian was not a lovely land, though it
was a land suited to form strong arms, strong hearts, chaste natures,
and, with purity, strength of domestic affection. He was glad to
exchange it for a sunnier dwelling-place, and thus, instead of becoming
a merchant, he became the founder of Norman dynasties in Italy, France,
and England. We are tempted to linger over the story of these primaeval
mariners, for nothing equals it in romance. In our day Science has gone
before the most adventurous barque, limiting the possibilities of
discovery, disenchanting the enchanted Seas, and depriving us for ever
of Sinbad and Ulysses. But the Phoenician and the Northman put forth
into a really unknown world. The Northman, moreover, was so far as we
know the first ocean sailor. If the story of the circumnavigation of
Africa by the Phoenicians is true, it was an astonishing enterprise, and
almost dwarfs modern voyages of discovery. Still it would be a coasting
voyage, and the Phoenician seems generally to have hugged the land. But
the Northman put freely out into the wild Atlantic, and even crossed it
before Columbus, if we may believe a legend made specially dear to the
Americans by the craving of a new country for antiquities. It has been
truly said, that the feeling of the Greek, mariner as he was, towards
the sea, remained rather one of fear and aversion, intensified perhaps
by the treacherous character of the squally AEgean; but the Northman
evidently felt perfectly at home on the ocean, and rode joyously, like a
seabird, on the vast Atlantic waves.

Not only is a race which comes by sea likely to be peculiarly vigorous,
self-reliant, and inclined, when settled, to political liberty, but the
very process of maritime migration can scarcely fail to intensify the
spirit of freedom and independence. Timon or Genghis Khan, sweeping on
from land to land with the vast human herd under his sway, becomes more
despotic as the herd grows larger by accretion, and the area of its
conquests is increased. But a maritime migration is a number of little
joint stock enterprises implying limited leadership, common counsels,
and a good deal of equality among the adventurers. We see in fact that
the Saxon immigration resulted in the foundation of a number of small
communities which, though they were afterwards fused into seven or eight
petty kingdoms and ultimately into one large kingdom, must, while they
existed, have fostered habits of local independence and self-government.
Maritime migration would also facilitate the transition from the tribe
to the nation, because the ships could hardly be manned on purely tribal
principles; the early Saxon communities in England appear in fact to
have been semi-tribal, the local bond predominating over the tribal,
though a name with a tribal termination is retained. Room would scarcely
be found in the ships for a full proportion of women; the want would be
supplied by taking the women of the conquered country; and thus tribal
rules of exclusive intermarriage, and all barriers connected with them,
would be broken down.

Another obvious attribute of an island is freedom from invasion. The
success of the Saxon invaders may be ascribed to the absence of strong
resistance. The policy of Roman conquest, by disarming the natives, had
destroyed their military character, as the policy of British conquest
has done in India, where races which once fought hard against the
invader under their native princes, such as the people of Mysore, are
now wholly unwarlike. Anything like national unity, or power of co-
operation against a foreign enemy, had at the same time been extirpated
by a government which divided that it might command. The Northman in his
turn owed his success partly to the want of unity among the Saxon
principalities, partly and principally to the command of the sea which
the Saxon usually abandoned to him, and which enabled him to choose his
own point of attack, and to baffle the movements of the defenders. When
Alfred built a fleet, the case was changed.

William of Normandy would scarcely have succeeded, great as his armament
was, had it not been for the diversion effected in his favour by the
landing of the Scandinavian pretender in the North, and the failure of
provisions in Harold's Channel fleet, which compelled it to put into
port. Louis of France was called in as a deliverer by the barons who
were in arms against the tyranny of John; and it is not necessary to
discuss the Tory description of the coming of William of Orange as a
conquest of England by the Dutch. Bonaparte threatened invasion, but
unhappily was unable to invade: unhappily we say, because if he had
landed in England he would assuredly have there met his doom; the
Russian campaign would have been antedated with a more complete result,
and all the after-pages in the history of the Arch-Brigand would have
been torn from the book of fate. England is indebted for her political
liberties in great measure to the Teutonic character, but she is also in
no small measure indebted to this immunity from invasion which has
brought with it a comparative immunity from standing armies. In the
Middle Ages the question between absolutism and that baronial liberty
which was the germ and precursor of the popular liberty of after-times
turned in great measure upon the relative strength of the national
militia and of the bands of mercenaries kept in pay by overreaching
kings. The bands of mercenaries brought over by John proved too strong
for the patriot barons, and would have annulled the Great Charter, had
not national liberty found a timely and powerful, though sinister,
auxiliary in the ambition of the French. Prince Charles I. had no
standing army, the troops taken into pay for the wars with Spain and
France had been disbanded before the outbreak of the Revolution; and on
that occasion the nation was able to overthrow the tyranny without
looking abroad for assistance. But Charles II. had learned wisdom from
his father's fate; he kept up a small standing army; and the Whigs,
though at the crisis of the Exclusion Bill they laid their hands upon
their swords, never ventured to draw them, but allowed themselves to be
proscribed, their adherents to be ejected from the corporations, and
their leaders to be brought to the scaffold. Resistance was in the same
way rendered hopeless by the standing army of James II., and the
patriots were compelled to stretch their hands for aid to William of
Orange. Even so, it might have gone hard with them if James's soldiers,
and above all Churchill, had been true to their paymaster. Navies are
not political; they do not overthrow constitutions; and in the time of
Charles I. it appears that the leading seamen were Protestant, inclined
to the side of the Parliament. Perhaps Protestantism had been rendered
fashionable in the navy by the naval wars with Spain.

A third consequence of insular position, especially in early times, is
isolation. An extreme case of isolation is presented by Egypt, which is
in fact a great island in the desert. The extraordinary fertility of the
valley of the Nile produced an early development, which was afterwards
arrested by its isolation, the isolation being probably intensified by
the jealous exclusiveness of a powerful priesthood which discouraged
maritime pursuits. The isolation of England, though comparatively
slight, has still been an important factor in her history. She underwent
less than the Continental provinces the influence of Roman Conquest.
Scotland and Ireland escaped it altogether, for the tide of invasion,
having flowed to the foot of the Grampians, soon ebbed to the line
between the Solway and the Tyne. Britain has no monuments of Roman power
and civilization like those which have been left in Gaul and Spain, and
of the British Christianity of the Roman period hardly a trace,
monumental or historical, remains. By the Saxon conquest England was
entirely severed for a time from the European system. The missionary of
ecclesiastical Rome recovered what the legionary had lost. Of the main
elements of English character political and general, five were brought
together when Ethelbert and Augustine met on the coast of Kent. The king
represented Teutonism; the missionary represented Judaism, Christianity,
imperial and ecclesiastical Rome. We mention Judaism as a separate
element, because, among other things, the image of the Hebrew monarchy
has certainly entered largely into the political conceptions of
Englishmen, perhaps at least as largely as the image of Imperial Rome. A
sixth element, classical Republicanism, came in with the Reformation,
while the political and social influence of science is only just
beginning to be felt. Still, after the conversion of England by
Augustine, the Church, which was the main organ of civilization, and
almost identical with it in the early Middle Ages, remained national;
and to make it thoroughly Roman and Papal, in other words to assimilate
it completely to the Church of the Continent, was the object of
Hildebrand in promoting the enterprise of William. Roman and Papal the
English Church was made, yet not so thoroughly so as completely to
destroy its insular and Teutonic character. The Archbishop of Canterbury
was still _Papa alterius orbis_; and the struggle for national
independence of the Papacy commenced in England long before the struggle
for doctrinal reform. The Reformation broke up the confederated
Christendom of the Middle Ages, and England was then thrown back into an
isolation very marked, though tempered by her sympathy with the
Protestant party on the Continent. In later times the growth of European
interests, of commerce, of international law, of international
intercourse, of the community of intellect and science, has been
gradually building again, on a sounder foundation than that of the Latin
Church, the federation of Europe, or rather the federation of mankind.
The political sympathy of England with Continental nations, especially
with France, has been increasing of late in a very marked manner, the
French Revolution of 1830 told at once upon the fortunes of English
Reform, and the victory of the Republic over the reactionary attempt of
May was profoundly felt by both parties in England. Placed too close to
the Continent not to be essentially a part of the European system,
England has yet been a peculiar and semi-independent part of it. In
European progress she has often acted as a balancing and moderating
power. She has been the asylum of vanquished ideas and parties. In the
seventeenth century, when absolutism and the Catholic reaction prevailed
on the Continent, she was the chief refuge of Protestantism and
political liberty. When the French Revolution swept Europe, she threw
herself into the anti-revolutionary scale. The tricolor has gone nearly
round the world, at least nearly round Europe; but on the flag of
England still remains the religious symbol of the era before the

The insular arrogance of the English character is a commonplace joke. It
finds, perhaps, its strongest expression in the saying of Milton that
the manner of God is to reveal things first to His Englishmen. It has
made Englishmen odious even to those who, like the Spaniards, have
received liberation or protection from English hands. It stimulated the
desperate desire to see France rid of the "Goddams" which inspired Joan
of Arc. For an imperial people it is a very unlucky peculiarity, since
it precludes not only fusion but sympathy and almost intercourse with
the subject races. The kind heart of Lord Elgin, when he was Governor-
General of India, was shocked by the absolute want of sympathy or bond
of any kind, except love of conquest, between the Anglo-Indian and the
native, and the gulf apparently, instead of being filled up, now yawns
wider than ever.

It is needless to dwell on anything so obvious as the effect of an
insular position in giving birth to commerce and developing the
corresponding elements of political character. The British Islands are
singularly well placed for trade with both hemispheres; in them, more
than in any other point, may be placed the commercial centre of the
world. It may be said that the nation looked out unconsciously from its
cradle to an immense heritage beyond the Atlantic. France and Spain
looked the same way, and became competitors with England for ascendancy
in the New World, but England was more maritime, and the most maritime
was sure to prevail. Canada was conquered by the British fleet. To the
commerce and the maritime enterprise of former days, which were mainly
the results of geographical position, has been added within the last
century the vast development of manufactures produced by coal and steam,
the parents of manufactures, as well as the expansion of the iron trade
in close connection with manufactures. Nothing can be more marked than
the effect of industry on political character in the case of England.
From being the chief seat of reaction, the North has been converted by
manufactures into the chief seat of progress. The Wars of the Roses were
not a struggle of political principle; hardly even a dynastic struggle;
they had their origin partly in a patriotic antagonism to the foreign
queen and to her foreign councils; but they were in the main a vast
faction-fight between two sections of an armed and turbulent nobility
turned into buccaneers by the French wars, and, like their compeers all
over Europe, bereft, by the decay of Catholicism, of the religious
restraints with which their morality was bound up. Yet the Lancastrian
party, or rather the party of Margaret of Anjou and her favourites, was
the more reactionary, and it had the centre of its strength in the
North, whence Margaret drew the plundering and devastating host which
gained for her the second battle of St. Albans and paid the penalty of
its ravages in the merciless slaughter of Towton. The North had been
kept back in the race of progress by agricultural inferiority, by the
absence of commerce with the Continent, and by border wars with
Scotland. In the South was the seat of prosperous industry, wealth, and
comparative civilization, and the banners of the Southern cities were in
the armies of the House of York. The South accepted the Reformation,
while the North was the scene of the Pilgrimage of Grace. Coming down to
the Civil War in the time of Charles I., we find the Parliament strong
in the South and East, where are still the centres of commerce and
manufactures, even the iron trade, which has its smelting works in
Sussex. In the North the feudal tie between landlord and tenant, and the
sentiment of the past, preserve much of their force, and the great power
in those parts is the Marquis of Newcastle, at once great territorial
lord of the Middle Ages and elegant _grand seigneur_ of the
Renaissance, who brings into the field a famous regiment of his own
retainers. In certain towns, such as Bradford and Manchester, there are
germs of manufacturing industry, and these form the sinews of the
Parliamentarian party in the district which is headed by the Fairfaxes.
But in the Reform movement which extended through the first half of the
present century, the geographical position of parties was reversed; the
swarming cities of the North were then the great centres of Liberalism
and the motive power of Reform; while the South, having by this time
fallen into the hands of great landed proprietors, was Conservative. The
stimulating effect of populous centres on opinion is a very familiar
fact; even in the rural districts it is noticed by canvassers at
elections that men who work in gangs are generally more inclined to the
Liberal side than those who work separately.

In England, however, the agricultural element always has been and
remains a full counterpoise to the manufacturing and commercial element.
Agricultural England is not what Pericles called Attica, a mere suburban
garden, the embellishment of a queenly city. It is a substantive
interest and a political power. In the time of Charles I. it happened
that, owing to the great quantity of land thrown into the market in
consequence of the confiscation of the monastic estates, which had
slipped through the fingers of the spendthrift courtiers to whom they
were at first granted, small freeholders were very numerous in the
South, and these men like the middle class in the towns, being strong
Protestants, went with the Parliament against the Laudian reaction in
religion. But land in the hands of great proprietors is Conservative,
especially when it is held under entails and connected with hereditary
nobility; and into the hands of great proprietors the land of England
has now entirely passed. The last remnant of the old yeomen freeholders
departed in the Cumberland Statesmen, and the yeoman freeholder in
England is now about as rare as the other. Commerce has itself assisted
the process by giving birth to great fortunes, the owners of which are
led by social ambition to buy landed estates, because to land the odour
of feudal superiority still clings, and it is almost the necessary
qualification for a title. The land has also actually absorbed a large
portion of the wealth produced by manufactures, and by the general
development of industry; the estates of Northern landowners especially
have enormously increased in value, through the increase of population,
not to mention the not inconsiderable appropriation of commercial wealth
by marriage. Thus the Conservative element retains its predominance, and
it even seems as though the land of Milton, Vane, Cromwell, and the
Reformers of 1832, might after all become, politically as well as
territorially, the domain of a vast aristocracy of landowners, and the
most reactionary instead of the most progressive country in Europe.

Before the repeal of the Corn Laws there was a strong antagonism of
interest between the landowning aristocracy and the manufacturers of the
North, but that antagonism is now at an end; the sympathy of wealth has
taken its place; the old aristocracy has veiled its social pride and
learned to conciliate the new men, who on their part are more than
willing to enter the privileged circle. This junction is at present the
great fact of English politics, and was the main cause of the overthrow
of the Liberal Government in 1874. The growth of the great cities itself
seems likely, as the number of poor householders increases, to furnish
Reaction with auxiliaries in the shape of political Lazzaroni capable of
being organized by wealth in opposition to the higher order of workmen
and the middle class. In Harrington's "Oceana," there is much nonsense,
but it rises at least to the level of Montesquieu in tracing the
intimate connection of political power, even under elective
institutions, with wealth in land.

Hitherto, the result of the balance between the landowning and
commercial elements has been steadiness of political progress, in
contrast on the one hand to the commercial republics of Italy, whose
political progress was precocious and rapid but shortlived, and on the
other hand to great feudal kingdoms where commerce was comparatively
weak. England, as yet, has taken but few steps backwards. It remains to
be seen what the future may bring under the changed conditions which we
have just described. English commerce, moreover, may have passed its
acme. Her insular position gave Great Britain during the Napoleonic
wars, with immunity from invasion, a monopoly of manufactures and of the
carrying trade. This element of her commercial supremacy is transitory,
though others, such as the possession of coal, are not.

Let us now consider the effects of the division between the two islands
and of those between different parts of the larger island. The most
obvious effect of these is tardy consolidation, which is still indicated
by the absence of a collective name for the people of the three
kingdoms. The writer was once rebuked by a Scotchman for saying
"England" and "English," instead of saying "Great Britain" and
"British." He replied that the rebuke was just, but that we must say
"British and Irish." The Scot had overlooked his poor connections.

We always speak of Anglo-Saxons and identify the extension of the
Colonial Empire with that of the Anglo-Saxon race. But even if we assume
that the Celts of England and of the Scotch Lowlands were exterminated
by the Saxons, taking all the elements of Celtic population in the two
islands together, they must bear a very considerable proportion to the
Teutonic element. That large Irish settlements are being formed in the
cities of Northern England is proved by election addresses coquetting
with Home Rule. In the competition of the races on the American
Continent the Irish more than holds its own. In the age of the steam-
engine the Scotch Highlands, the mountains of Cumberland and
Westmoreland, of Wales, of Devonshire, and Cornwall, are the asylum of
natural beauty, of poetry and hearts which seek repose from the din and
turmoil of commercial life. In the primaeval age of conquest they, with
seagirt Ireland, were the asylum of the weaker race. There the Celt
found refuge when Saxon invasion swept him from the open country of
England and from the Scotch Lowlands. There he was preserved with his
own language, indicating by its variety of dialects the rapid flux and
change of unwritten speech; with his own Christianity, which was that of
Apostolic Britain; with his un-Teutonic gifts and weaknesses, his
lively, social, sympathetic nature, his religious enthusiasm,
essentially the same in its Calvinistic as in its Catholic guise, his
superstition, his clannishness, his devotion to chiefs and leaders, his
comparative indifference to institutions, and lack of natural aptitude
for self-government.

The further we go in these inquiries the more reason there seems to be
for believing that the peculiarities of races are not congenital, but
impressed by primaeval circumstance. Not only the same moral and
intellectual nature, but the same primitive institutions, are found in
all the races that come under our view; they appear alike in Teuton,
Celt, and Semite. That which is not congenital is probably not
indelible, so that the less favoured races, placed under happier
circumstances, may in time be brought to the level of the more favoured,
and nothing warrants inhuman pride of race. But it is surely absurd to
deny that peculiarities of race, when formed, are important factors in
history. Mr. Buckle, who is most severe upon the extravagances of the
race theory, himself runs into extravagances not less manifest in a
different direction. He connects the religious character of the
Spaniards with the influence of apocryphal volcanoes and earthquakes,
whereas it palpably had its origin in the long struggle with the Moors.
He, in like manner, connects the theological tendencies of the Scotch
with the thunderstorms which he imagines (wrongly, if we may judge by
our own experience) to be very frequent in the Highlands, whereas Scotch
theology and the religious habits of the Scotch generally were formed in
the Lowlands and among the Teutons, not among the Celts.

The remnant of the Celtic race in Cornwall and West Devon was small, and
was subdued and half incorporated by the Teutons at a comparatively
early period; yet it played a distinct and a decidedly Celtic part in
the Civil War of the seventeenth century. It played a more important
part towards the close of the following century by giving itself almost
in a mass to John Wesley. No doubt the neglect of the remote districts
by the Bishops of Exeter and their clergy left Wesley a clear field; but
the temperament of the people was also in his favour. Anything fervent
takes with the Celt, while he cannot abide the religious compromise
which commends itself to the practical Saxon.

In the Great Charter there is a provision in favour of the Welsh, who
were allied with the Barons in insurrection against the Crown. The
Barons were fighting for the Charter, the Welshmen only for their
barbarous and predatory independence. But the struggle for Welsh
independence helped those who were struggling for the Charter; and the
remark may be extended in substance to the general influence of Wales on
the political contest between the Crown and the Barons. Even under the
House of Lancaster, Llewellyn was faintly reproduced in Owen Glendower.
The powerful monarchy of the Tudors finally completed the annexation.
But isolation survived independence. The Welshman remained a Celt and
preserved his language and his clannish spirit, though local magnates,
such as the family of Wynn, filled the place in his heart once occupied
by the chief. Ecclesiastically he was annexed, but refused to be
incorporated, never seeing the advantage of walking in the middle path
which the State Church of England had traced between the extremes of
Popery and Dissent. He took Methodism in a Calvinistic and almost wildly
enthusiastic form. In this respect his isolation is likely to prove far
more important than anything which Welsh patriotism strives to
resuscitate by Eisteddfodds. In the struggle, apparently imminent,
between the system of Church Establishments and religious equality,
Wales furnishes a most favourable battle-ground to the party of

The Teutonic realm of England was powerful enough to subdue, if not to
assimilate, the remnants of the Celtic race in Wales and their other
western hills of refuge. But the Teutonic realm of Scotland was not
large or powerful enough to subdue the Celts of the Highlands, whose
fastnesses constituted in geographical area the greater portion of the
country. It seems that in the case of the Highlands, as in that of
Ireland, Teutonic adventurers found their way into the domain of the
Celts and became chieftains, but in becoming chieftains they became
Celts. Down to the Hanoverian times the chain of the Grampians which
from the Castle of Stirling is seen rising like a wall over the rich
plain, divided from each other two nationalities, differing totally in
ideas, institutions, habits, and costume, as well as in speech, and the
less civilized of which still regarded the more civilized as alien
intruders, while the more civilized regarded the less civilized as
robbers. Internally, the topographical character of the Highlands was
favourable to the continuance of the clan system, because each clan
having its own separate glen, fusion was precluded, and the progress
towards union went no further than the domination of the more powerful
clans over the less powerful. Mountains also preserve the general
equality and brotherhood which are not less essential to the
constitution of the clan than devotion to the chief, by preventing the
use of that great minister of aristocracy, the horse. At Killiecrankie
and Prestonpans the leaders of the clan and the humblest clansman still
charged on foot side by side. Macaulay is undoubtedly right in saying
that the Highland risings against William III. and the first two Georges
were not dynastic but clan movements. They were in fact the last raids
of the Gael upon the country which had been wrested from him by the
Sassenach. Little cared the clansman for the principles of Filmer or
Locke, for the claims of the House of Stuart or for those of the House
of Brunswick. Antipathy to the Clan Campbell was the nearest approach to
a political motive. Chiefs alone, such as the unspeakable Lovat, had
entered as political _condottieri_ into the dynastic intrigues of
the period, and brought the claymores of their clansmen to the standard
of their patron, as Indian chiefs in the American wars brought the
tomahawks of their tribes to the standard of France or England. Celtic
independence greatly contributed to the general perpetuation of anarchy
in Scotland, to the backwardness of Scotch civilization, and to the
abortive weakness of the Parliamentary institutions. Union with the more
powerful kingdom at last supplied the force requisite for the taming of
the Celt. Highlanders, at the bidding of Chatham's genius, became the
soldiers, and are now the pet soldiers, of the British monarchy. A
Hanoverian tailor with improving hand shaped the Highland plaid, which
had originally resembled the simple drapery of the Irish kern, into a
garb of complex beauty, well suited for fancy balls. The power of the
chiefs and the substance of the clan system were finally swept away,
though the sentiment lingers, even in the Transatlantic abodes of the
clansmen, and is prized, like the dress, as a remnant of social
picturesqueness in a prosaic and levelling age. The hills and lakes--at
the thought of which even Gibbon shuddered--are the favourite retreats
of the luxury which seeks in wildness refreshment from civilization.
After Culloden, Presbyterianism effectually made its way into the
Highlands, of which a great part had up to that time been little better
than heathen; but it did not fail to take a strong tinge of Celtic
enthusiasm and superstition.

Of all the lines of division in Great Britain, the most important
politically has been that which is least clearly traced by the hand of
nature. The natural barriers between England and Scotland were not
sufficient to prevent the extension of the Saxon settlements and
kingdoms across the border. In the name of the Scotch capital we have a
monument of a union before that of 1603. That the Norman Conquest did
not include the Saxons of the Scotch Lowlands was due chiefly to the
menacing attitude of Danish pretenders, and the other military dangers
which led the Conqueror to guard himself on the north by a broad belt of
desolation. Edward I., in attempting to extend his feudal supremacy over
Scotland, may well have seemed to himself to have been acting in the
interest of both nations, for a union would have put an end to border
war, and would have delivered the Scotch in the Lowlands from the
extremity of feudal oppression, and the rest of the country from a
savage anarchy, giving them in place of those curses by far the best
government of the time. The resistance came partly from mere barbarism,
partly from Norman adventurers, who were no more Scotch than English,
whose aims were purely selfish, and who would gladly have accepted
Scotland as a vassal kingdom from Edward's hand. But the annexation
would no doubt have formidably increased the power of the Crown, not
only by extending its dominions, but by removing that which was a
support often of aristocratic anarchy in England, but sometimes of
rudimentary freedom. Had the whole island fallen under one victorious
sceptre, the next wielder of that sceptre, under the name of the great
Edward's wittold son, would have been Piers Gaveston. But what no
prescience on the part of any one in the time of Edward I. could
possibly have foreseen was the inestimable benefit which disunion and
even anarchy indirectly conferred on the whole island in the shape of a
separate Scotch Reformation. Divines, when they have exhausted their
reasonings about the rival forms of Church government, will probably
find that the argument which had practically most effect in determining
the question was that of the much decried but in his way sagacious James
I., "No bishop, no king!" In England the Reformation was semi-Catholic;
in Sweden it was Lutheran; but in both countries it was made by the
kings, and in both Episcopacy was retained. Where the Reformation was
the work of the people, more popular forms of Church government
prevailed. In Scotland the monarchy, always weak, was at the time of the
Reformation practically in abeyance, and the master of the movement was
emphatically a man of the people. As to the nobles, they seem to have
thought only of appropriating the Church lands, and to have been willing
to leave to the nation the spiritual gratification of settling its own
religion. Probably they also felt with regard to the disinherited
proprietors of the Church lands that "stone dead had no fellow." The
result was a democratic and thoroughly Protestant Church, which drew
into itself the highest energies, political as well as religious, of a
strong and great-hearted people, and by which Laud and his confederates,
when they had apparently overcome resistance in England, were as Milton
says, "more robustiously handled." If the Scotch auxiliaries did not win
the decisive battle of Marston Moor, they enabled the English
Parliamentarians to fight and win it. During the dark days of the
Restoration, English resistance to tyranny was strongly supported on the
ecclesiastical side by the martyr steadfastness of the Scotch till the
joint effort triumphed in the Revolution. It is singular and sad to find
Scotland afterwards becoming one vast rotten borough managed in the time
of Pitt by Dundas, who paid the borough-mongers by appointments in
India, with calamitous consequences to the poor Hindoo. But the
intensity of the local evil perhaps lent force to the revulsion, and
Scotland has ever since been a distinctly Liberal element in British
politics, and seems now likely to lead the way to a complete measure of
religious freedom.

Nature to a great extent fore-ordained the high destiny of the larger
island, to at least an equal extent she fore-ordained the sad destiny of
the smaller island. Irish history, studied impartially, is a grand
lesson in political charity; so clear is it that in these deplorable
annals the more important part was played by adverse circumstance, the
less important by the malignity of man. That the stronger nation is
entitled by the law of force to conquer its weaker neighbour and to
govern the conquered in its own interest is a doctrine which civilized
morality abhors; but in the days before civilized morality, in the days
when the only law was that of natural selection, to which philosophy, by
a strange counter-revolution seems now inclined to return, the smaller
island was almost sure to be conquered by the possessors of the larger,
more especially as the smaller, cut off from the Continent by the
larger, lay completely within its grasp. The map, in short, tells us
plainly that the destiny of Ireland was subordinated to that of Great
Britain. At the same time, the smaller island being of considerable size
and the channel of considerable breadth, it was likely that the
resistance would be tough and the conquest slow. The unsettled state of
Ireland, and the half-nomad condition in which at a comparatively late
period its tribes remained, would also help to protract the bitter
process of subjugation; and these again were the inevitable results of
the rainy climate, which, while it clothed the island with green and
made pasture abundant, forbade the cultivation of grain. Ireland and
Wales alike appear to have been the scenes of a precocious civilization,
merely intellectual and literary in its character, and closely connected
with the Church, though including also a bardic element derived from the
times before Christianity, the fruits of which were poetry, fantastic
law-making, and probably the germs of scholastic theology, combined, in
the case of Ireland, with missionary enterprise and such ecclesiastical
architecture as the Round Towers. But cities there were none, and it is
evident that the native Church with difficulty sustained her higher life
amidst the influences and encroachments of surrounding barbarism. The
Anglo-Norman conquest of Ireland was a supplement to the Norman conquest
of England; and, like the Norman conquest of England, it was a religious
as well as a political enterprise. As Hildebrand had commissioned
William to bring the national Church of England into complete submission
to the See of Rome, so Adrian, by the Bull which is the stumbling-block
of Irish Catholics, granted Ireland to Henry upon condition of his
reforming, that is, Romanizing, its primitive and schismatic Church.
Ecclesiastical intrigue had already been working in the same direction,
and had in some measure prepared the way for the conqueror by disposing
the heads of the Irish clergy to receive him as the emancipator of the
Church from the secular oppression and imposts of the chiefs. But in the
case of England, a settled and agricultural country, the conquest was
complete and final; the conquerors formed everywhere a new upper class
which, though at first alien and oppressive, became in time a national
nobility, and ultimately blended with the subject race. In the case of
Ireland, though the Septs were easily defeated by the Norman soldiery,
and the formal submission of their chiefs was easily extorted, the
conquest was neither complete nor final. In their hills and bogs the
wandering Septs easily evaded the Norman arms. The Irish Channel was
wide; the road lay through North Wales, long unsubdued, and, even when
subdued, mutinous, and presenting natural obstacles to the passage of
heavy troops; the centre of Anglo-Norman power was far away in the
south-east of England, and the force of the monarchy was either
attracted to Continental fields or absorbed by struggles with baronial
factions. Richard II., coming to a throne which had been strengthened
and exalted by the achievements of his grandfather, seems in one of his
moods of fitful ambition to have conceived the design of completing the
conquest of Ireland, and he passed over with a great power; but his fate
showed that the arm of the monarchy was still too short to reach the
dependency without losing hold upon the imperial country. As a rule, the
subjugation of Ireland during the period before the Tudors was in effect
left to private enterprise, which of course confined its efforts to
objects of private gain, and never thought of undertaking the systematic
subjugation of native fortresses in the interest of order and
civilization. Instead of a national aristocracy the result was a
military colony or Pale, between the inhabitants of which and the
natives raged a perpetual border war, as savage as that between the
settlers at the Cape and the Kaffirs, or that between the American
frontierman and the Red Indian. The religious quarrel was and has always
been secondary in importance to the struggle of the races for the land.
In the period following the conquest it was the Pale that was
distinctively Romanist; but when at the Reformation the Pale became
Protestant the natives, from antagonism of race, became more intensely
Catholic, and were drawn into the league of Catholic powers on the
Continent, in which they suffered the usual fate of the dwarf who goes
to battle with the giant. By the strong monarchy of the Tudors the
conquest of Ireland was completed with circumstances of cruelty
sufficient to plant undying hatred in the breasts of the people. But the
struggle for the land did not end there, instead of the form of conquest
it took that of confiscation, and was waged by the intruder with the
arms of legal chicane. In the form of eviction it has lasted to the
present hour; and eviction in Ireland is not like eviction in England,
where great manufacturing cities receive and employ the evicted; it is
starvation or exile. Into exile the Irish people have gone by millions,
and thus, though neither maritime nor by nature colonists, they have had
a great share in the peopling of the New World. The cities and railroads
of the United States are to a great extent the monuments of their
labour. In the political sphere they have retained the weakness produced
by ages of political serfage, and are still the _debris_ of broken
clans, with little about them of the genuine republican, apt blindly to
follow the leader who stands to them as a chief, while they are
instinctively hostile to law and government as their immemorial
oppressors in their native land. British statesmen, when they had
conceded Catholic emancipation and afterwards Disestablishment, may have
fancied that they had removed the root of the evil. But the real root
was not touched till Parliament took up the question of the land, and
effected a compromise which may perhaps have to be again revised before
complete pacification is attained.

In another way geography has exercised a sinister influence on the
fortunes of Ireland. Closely approaching Scotland, the northern coast of
Ireland in course of time invited Scotch immigration, which formed as it
were a Presbyterian Pale. If the antagonism between the English
Episcopalian and the Irish Catholic was strong, that between the Scotch
Presbyterian and the Irish Catholic was stronger. To the English
Episcopalian the Irish Catholic was a barbarian and a Romanist; to the
Scotch Presbyterian he was a Canaanite and an idolater. Nothing in
history is more hideous than the conflict in the north of Ireland in the
time of Charles I. This is the feud which has been tenacious enough of
its evil life to propagate itself even in the New World, and to renew in
the streets of Canadian cities the brutal and scandalous conflicts which
disgrace Belfast. On the other hand, through the Scotch colony, the
larger island has a second hold upon the smaller. Of all political
projects a federal union of England and Ireland with separate
Parliaments under the same Crown seems the most hopeless, at least if
government is to remain parliamentary; it may be safely said that the
normal relation between the two Parliaments would be collision, and
collision on a question of peace or war would be disruption. But an
independent Ireland might be a feasible as well as natural object of
Irish aspiration if it were not for the strength, moral as well as
numerical, of the two intrusive elements. How could the Catholic
majority be restrained from legislation which the Protestant minority
would deem oppressive? And how could the Protestant minority, being as
it is more English or Scotch than Irish, be restrained from stretching
its hands to England or Scotland for aid? It is true that if scepticism
continues to advance at its present rate, the lines of religious
separation may be obliterated or become too faint to exercise a great
practical influence, and the bond of the soil may then prevail. But the
feeling against England which is the strength of Irish Nationalism is
likely to subside at the same time.

Speculation on unfulfilled contingencies is not invariably barren. It is
interesting at all events to consider what would have been the
consequences to the people of the two islands, and humanity generally,
if a Saxon England and a Celtic Ireland had been allowed to grow up and
develop by the side of each other untouched by Norman conquest. In the
case of Ireland we should have been spared centuries of oppression which
has profoundly reacted, as oppression always does, on the character of
the oppressor; and it is difficult to believe that the Isle of Saints
and of primitive Universities would not have produced some good fruits
of its own. In the Norman conquest of England historical optimism sees a
great political and intellectual blessing beneath the disguise of
barbarous havoc and alien tyranny. The Conquest was the continuation of
the process of migratory invasions by which the nations of modern Europe
were founded, from restless ambition and cupidity, when it had ceased to
be beneficent. It was not the superposition of one primitive element of
population on another, to the ultimate advantage, possibly, of the
compound; but the destruction of a nationality, the nationality of
Alfred and Harold, of Bede and AElfric. The French were superior in
military organization; that they had superior gifts of any kind, or that
their promise was higher than that of the native English, it would not
be easy to prove. The language, we are told, is enriched by the
intrusion of the French element. If it was enriched it was shattered;
and the result is a mixture so heterogeneous as to be hardly available
for the purposes of exact thought, while the language of science is
borrowed from the Greek, and as regards the unlearned mass of the people
is hardly a medium of thought at all. There are great calamity in
history, though their effects may in time be worked off, and they may be
attended by some incidental good. Perhaps the greatest calamity in
history were the wars of Napoleon, in which some incidental good may
nevertheless be found.

To the influences of geographical position, soil, and race is to be
added, to complete the account of the physical heritage, the influence
of climate. But in the case of the British Islands we must speak not of
climate, but of climates, for within the compass of one small realm are
climates moist and comparatively dry, warm and cold, bracing and
enervating, the results of special influences the range of which is
limited. Civilized man to a great extent makes a climate for himself;
his life in the North is spent mainly indoors, where artificial heat
replaces the sun. The idea which still haunts us, that formidable vigour
and aptitude for conquest are the appanage of Northern races, is a
survival from the state in which the rigour of nature selected and
hardened the destined conquerors of the Roman Empire. The stoves of St.
Petersburg are as enervating as the sun of Naples, and in the struggle
between the Northern and Southern States of America not the least
vigorous soldiers were those who came from Louisiana. In the barbarous
state the action of a Northern climate as a force of natural selection
must be tremendous. Of the races which peopled the British Islands the
most important had already undergone that action in their original
abodes. They would, however, still feel the beneficent influence of a
climate on the whole eminently favourable to health and to activity;
bracing, yet not so rigorous as to kill those tender plants of humanity
which often bear in them the most precious germs of civilization,
neither confining the inhabitant too much to the shelter of his
dwelling, nor, as the suns of the South are apt to do, drawing him too
much from home. The climate and the soil together formed a good school
for the character of the young nation, as they exacted the toil of the
husbandman and rewarded it. Of the varieties of temperature and weather
within the island the national character still bears the impress, though
in a degree always decreasing as the assimilating agencies of
civilization make their way. Irrespectively of the influence of special
employments, and perhaps even of peculiarity of race, mental vigour,
independence, and reasoning power are always ascribed to the people of
the North. Variety, in this as in other respects, would naturally
produce a balance of tendencies in the nation conductive to moderation
and evenness of progress.

The islands are now the centre of an Empire which to some minds seems
more important than the islands themselves. An empire it is called, but
the name is really applicable only to India. The relation of England to
her free colonies is not in the proper sense of the term imperial, while
her relation to such dependencies as Gibraltar and Malta is military
alone. Colonization is the natural and entirely beneficent result of
general causes, obvious enough and already mentioned, including that
power of self-government, fostered by the circumstances of the
colonizing country, which made the character and destiny of New England
so different from those of New France.

Equally natural was the choice of the situation for the original
colonies on the shore of the New World. The foundation of the Australian
Colonies, on the other hand, was determined by political accident,
compensation for the loss of the American Colonies being sought on the
other side of the globe. It will perhaps be thought hereafter that the
quarrel with New England was calamitous in its consequences as well as
in itself, since it led to the diversion of British emigration from
America, where it supplied, in a democracy of mixed but not uncongenial
races, the necessary element of guidance and control, to Australia,
where, as there must be a limit to its own multiplication, it may
hereafter have to struggle for mastery with swarming multitudes of
Chinese, almost as incurable of incorporation with it as the negro.
India and the other conquered dependencies are the fruits of strength as
a war power at sea combined with weakness on land. Though not so
generally noticed, the second of these two factors has not been less
operative than the first. Chatham attacked France in her distant
dependencies when he had failed to make any impression on her own
coasts. Still more clearly was Chatham's son, the most incapable of war
ministers, driven to the capture of sugar islands by his inability to
take part, otherwise than by subsidies, in the decisive struggle on the
Continental fields. This may deserve the attention of those who do not
think it criminal to examine the policy of Empire. Outlying pawns picked
up by a feeble chessplayer merely because he could not mate the king do
not at first sight necessarily commend themselves as invaluable
possessions. Carthage and Venice were merely great commercial cities,
which, when they entered on a career of conquest, were compelled at once
to form armies of mercenaries, and to incur all the evil consequences by
which the employment of those vile and fatal instruments of ambition is
attended. England being, not a commercial city, but a nation, and a
nation endowed with the highest military qualities, has escaped the fell
necessity except in the case of India; and India, under the reign of the
Company, and even for some time after its legal annexation to the Crown,
was regarded and treated almost as a realm in another planet, with an
army, a political system, and a morality of its own. But now it appears
that the wrongs of the Hindoo are going to be avenged, as the wrongs of
the conquered have often been, by their moral effect upon the conqueror.
A body of barbarian mercenaries has appeared upon the European scene as
an integral part of the British army, while the reflex influence of
Indian Empire upon the political character and tendencies of the
imperial nation is too manifest to be any longer overlooked. England now
stands where the paths divide, the one leading by industrial and
commercial progress to increase of political liberty; the other, by a
career of conquest, to the political results in which such a career has
never yet failed to end. At present the influences in favour of taking
the path of conquest seemed to preponderate, [Footnote: Written in
1878.] and the probability seems to be that the leadership of political
progress, which has hitherto belonged to England and has constituted the
special interest of her history, will, in the near future, pass into
other hands.


[Footnote: In this lecture free use has been made of recent writers--
Mitchell, Chapman, Vehse, Freytag and Ranke, as well as of the older
authorities. To Chapman's excellent Life of Gustavus Adolphus we are
under special obligations. In some passages it has been closely
followed. Colonel Mitchell has also supplied some remarks and touches,
such as are to be found only in a military writer.]


The Thirty Years' War is an old story, but its interest has been
recently revived. The conflict between Austria and German Independence
commenced in the struggle of the Protestant Princes against Charles V.,
and, continued on those battle-fields, was renewed and decided at
Sadowa. At Sadowa Germany was fighting for unity as well as for
independence. But in the Thirty Years' War it was Austria that with her
Croats, the Jesuits who inspired her councils, and her Spanish allies,
sought to impose a unity of death, against which Protestant Germany
struggled, preserving herself for a unity of life which, opened by the
victories of Frederick the Great, and, more nobly promoted by the great
uprising of the nation against the tyranny of Napoleon, was finally
accomplished at Sadowa, and ratified against French jealousy at Sedan.
Costly has been the achievement; lavish has been the expenditure of
German blood, severe the sufferings of the German people. It is the lot
of all who aspire high--no man or nation ever was dandled into

The Thirty Years' War was a real world-contest. Austria and Spain drew
after them all the powers of reaction; all the powers of liberty and
progress were arrayed on the other side. The half-barbarous races that
lay between civilized Europe and Turkey mingled in the conflict: Turkey
herself was drawn diplomatically into the vortex. In the mines of Mexico
and Peru the Indian toiled to furnish both the Austrian and Spanish
hosts. The Treaty of Westphalia, which concluded the struggle, long
remained the Public Law of Europe.

Half religious, half political, in its character, this war stands midway
between the religious wars of the sixteenth century, and the political
wars of the eighteenth. France took the political view; and, while she
crushed her own Huguenots at home, supported the German Protestants
against the House of Austria. Even the Pope, Urban VIII., more
politician than churchman, more careful of Peter's patrimony than of
Peter's creed, went with France to the Protestant side. With the
princes, as usual, political motives were the strongest, with the people
religious motives. The politics were to a sad extent those of
Machiavelli and the Jesuit; but above the meaner characters who crowd
the scene rise at least two grand forms.

In a military point of view, the Thirty Years' War will bear no
comparison with that which has just run its marvellous course. The
armies were small, seldom exceeding thirty thousand. Tilly thought forty
thousand the largest number which a general could handle, while Von
Moltke has handled half a million. There was no regular commissariat,
there were no railroads, there were no good roads, there were no
accurate maps, there was no trained staff. The general had to be
everything and to do everything himself. The financial resources of the
powers were small: their regular revenues soon failed; and they had to
fly for loans to great banking houses, such as that of the Fuggers at
Augsburgh, so that the money power became the arbiter even of Imperial
elections. The country on which the armies lived was soon eaten up by
their rapine. Hence the feebleness of the operations, the absence of
anything which Von Moltke would call strategy: and hence again the cruel
length of the war, a whole generation of German agony.

But if the war was weak, not so were the warriors. On the Imperial side
especially, they were types of a class of men, the most terrible
perhaps, as well as the vilest, who ever plied the soldier's trade: of
those mercenary bands, _soldados_, in the literal and original
sense of the term, free companions, _condottieri_, lansquenets, who
came between the feudal militia and the standing armies of modern times.
In the wars of Italy and the Low Countries, under Alva and Parma and
Freundsberg, these men had opened new abysses of cruelty and lust in
human nature. They were the lineal representatives of the Great
Companies which ravaged France in the time of Edward III. They were near
of kin to the buccaneers, and Scott's Bertram Risingham is the portrait
of a lansquenet as well as of a rover of the Spanish Main. Many of them
were Croats, a race well known through all history in the ranks of
Austrian tyranny, and Walloons, a name synonymous with that of hired
butcher and marauder.

But with Croats and Walloons were mingled Germans, Spaniards, Italians,
Englishmen, Scotchmen, Irishmen, outcasts of every land, bearing the
devil's stamp on faces of every complexion, blaspheming in all European
and some non-European tongues. Their only country was the camp; their
cause booty; their king the bandit general who contracted for their
blood. Of attachment to religious principle they had usually just enough
to make them prefer murdering and plundering in the name of the Virgin
to murdering and plundering in the name of the Gospel, but outcasts of
all nominal creeds were found together in their camps. Even the dignity
of hatred was wanting to their conflicts, for they changed sides without
scruple, and the comrade of yesterday was the foeman of to-day, and
again the comrade of the morrow. The only moral salt which kept the
carcass of their villainy from rotting was a military code of honour,
embodying the freemasonry of the soldier's trade and having as one of
its articles the duel with all the forms--an improvement at any rate
upon assassination. A stronger contrast there cannot be than that
between these men and the citizen soldiers whom Germany the other day
sent forth to defend their country and their hearths. The soldier had a
language of his own, polyglot as the elements of the band, and garnished
with unearthly oaths: and the void left by religion in his soul was
filled with wild superstitions, bullet charming and spells against
bullets, the natural reflection in dark hearts of the blind chance which
since the introduction of firearms seemed to decide the soldier's fate.
Having no home but the camp, he carried with him his family, a she wolf
and her cubs, cruel and marauding as himself; and the numbers and
unwieldiness of every army were doubled by a train of waggons full of
women and children sitting on heaps of booty. It was not, we may guess,
as ministering angels that these women went among the wounded after a
battle. The chiefs made vast fortunes. Common soldiers sometimes drew a
great prize; left the standard for a time and lived like princes; but
the fiend's gold soon found its way back to the giver through the Jews
who prowled in the wake of war, or at the gambling table which was the
central object in every camp. When fortune smiled, when pay was good,
when a rich city had been stormed, the soldier's life was in its way a
merry one; his camp was full of roystering revelry; he, his lady and his
charger glittered with not over-tasteful finery, the lady sometimes with
finery stripped from the altars. Then, glass in hand he might joyously
cry, "The sharp sword is my farm and plundering is my plough; earth is
my bed, the sky my covering, this cloak is my house, this wine my
paradise;" or chant the doggerel stave which said that "when a soldier
was born three boors were given him, one to find him food, another to
find him a comely lass, a third to go to perdition in his stead." But
when the country had been eaten up, when the burghers held the city
stoutly, when the money-kings refused to advance the war kings any more
gold, the soldier shared the miseries which he inflicted, and, unless he
was of iron, sank under his hardships, unpitied by his stronger
comrades; for the rule of that world was woe to the weak. Terrible then
were the mutinies. Fearful was the position of the commander. We cannot
altogether resist the romance which attaches to the life of these men,
many a one among whom could have told a tale as wild as that with which
Othello, the hero of their tribe, won his Desdemona, in whose love he
finds the countercharm of his wandering life. But what sort of war such
a soldiery made, may be easily imagined. Its treatment of the people and
the country wherever it marched, as minutely described by trustworthy
witnesses, was literally fiendish. Germany did not recover the effects
for two hundred years.

A century had passed since the first preaching of Luther. Jesuitism,
working from its great seminary at Ingoldstadt, and backed by Austria,
had won back many, especially among the princes and nobility, to the
Church of Rome; but in the main the Germans, like the other Teutons,
were still Protestant even in the hereditary domains of the House of
Austria. The rival religions stood facing each other within the nominal
unity of the Empire, in a state of uneasy truce and compromise,
questions about ecclesiastical domains and religious privileges still
open; formularies styled of concord proving formularies of discord; no
mediating authority being able to make church authority and liberty of
private judgment, Reaction and Progress, the Spirit of the Past and the
Spirit of the Future lie down in real peace together. The Protestants
had formed an Evangelical Union, their opponents a Catholic League, of
which Maximilian, Elector of Bavaria, a pupil of the Jesuits, was chief.
The Protestants were ill prepared for the struggle. There was fatal
division between the Lutherans and the Calvinists, Luther himself having
said in his haste that he hated a Calvinist more than a Papist. The
great Protestant princes were lukewarm and weak-kneed: like the Tudor
nobility of England, they clung much more firmly to the lands which they
had taken from the Catholics than to the faith in the name of which the
lands were taken; and as powers of order, naturally alarmed by the
disorders which attended the great religious revolution, they were
politically inclined to the Imperial side. The lesser nobility and
gentry, staunch Protestants for the most part, had shown no capacity for
vigorous and united action since their premature attempt under Arnold
Von Sickingen. On the peasantry, also staunch Protestants, still weighed
the reaction produced by the Peasants' war and the excesses of the
Anabaptists. In the free cities there was a strong burgher element ready
to fight for Protestantism and liberty; but even in the free cities
wealth was Conservative, and to the Rothschilds of the day the cause
which offered high interest and good security was the cause of Heaven.

The smouldering fire burst into a flame in Bohemia, a kingdom of the
House of Austria, and a member of the Empire, but peopled by hot,
impulsive Sclavs, jealous of their nationality, as well as of their
Protestant faith--Bohemia, whither the spark of Wycliffism had passed
along the electric chain of common universities by which mediaeval
Christendom was bound, and where it had kindled first the martyr fire of
John Huss and Jerome of Prague, then the fiercer conflagration of the
Hussite war. In that romantic city by the Moldau, with its strange, half
Oriental beauty, where Jesuitism now reigns supreme, and St. John
Nepemuch is the popular divinity, Protestantism and Jesuitism then lay
in jealous neighbourhood, Protestantism supported by the native
nobility, from anarchical propensity as well as from religious
conviction; Jesuitism patronized and furtively aided by the intrusive
Austrian power. From the Emperor Rudolph II., the Protestants had
obtained a charter of religious liberties. But Rudolph's successor,
Ferdinand II., was the Philip II. of Germany in bigotry, though not in
cruelty. In his youth, after a pilgrimage to Loretto, he had vowed at
the feet of the Pope to restore Catholicism at the hazard of his life.
He was a pupil of the Jesuits, almost worshipped priests, was
passionately devoted to the ceremonies of his religion, delighting even
in the functions of an acolyte, and, as he said, preferred a desert to
an empire full of heretics. He had, moreover, before his accession to
the throne, come into collision with Protestantism where it was
triumphant, and had found in its violence too good an excuse for his
bigotry. It was inevitable that as King of Bohemia he should attempt to
narrow the Protestant liberties. The hot Czech blood took fire, the
fierceness of political turbulence mingled with that of religious zeal,
and at a council held at Prague, in the old palace of the Bohemian
kings, Martiniz and Slavata, the most hated of Ferdinand's creatures,
were thrown out of a window in what was called good Bohemian fashion,
and only by a marvellous accident escaped with their lives. The first
blow was struck, the signal was given for thirty years of havoc.
Insurrection flamed up in Bohemia. At the head of the insurgents, Count
Thurn rushed on Vienna. The Emperor was saved only by a miracle, as
Jesuitism averred,--as Rationalism says, by the arrival of Dampierre's
Imperial horse. He suffered a fright which must have made him more than
ever prefer a desert to an empire full of heretics. By a vote of the
States of Bohemia the crown was taken from Ferdinand and offered to
Frederic, Elector Palatine. Frederic was married to the bright and
fascinating Princess Elizabeth of England, the darling of Protestant
hearts; other qualifications for that crown of peril he had none. But in
an evil hour he accepted the offer. Soon his unfitness appeared. A
foreigner, he could not rein the restive and hard mouthed Czech
nobility, a Calvinist and a pupil of the Huguenots, he unwisely let
loose Calvinist iconoclasm among a people who clung to their ancient
images though they had renounced their ancient faith. Supinely he
allowed Austria and the Catholic League to raise their Croats and
Walloons with the ready aid, so valuable in that age of unready finance,
of Spanish gold. Supinely he saw the storm gather and roll towards him.
Supinely he lingered in his palace, while on the White Hill, a name
fatal in Protestant annals, his army, filled with his own
discouragement, was broken by the combined forces of the Empire, under
Bucquoi, and of the Catholic League, under Count Tilly. Still there was
hope in resistance, yet Frederic fled. He was in great danger, say his
apologists. It was to face a great danger, and show others how to face
it, that he had come there. Let a man, before he takes the crown of
Bohemia, look well into his own heart. Then followed a scaffold scene
like that of Egmont and Horn, but on a larger scale. Ferdinand, it
seems, hesitated to shed blood, but his confessor quelled his scruples.
Before the City Hall of Prague, and near the Thein Church, bearing the
Hussite emblems of the chalice and sword, amidst stern military pomp,
the Emperor presiding in the person of his High Commissioner, twenty-
four victims of high rank were led forth to death. Just as the
executions commenced a bright rainbow spanned the sky. To the victims it
seemed an assurance of Heaven's mercy. To the more far-reaching eye of
history it may seem to have been an assurance that, dark as the sky then
was, the flood of Reaction should no more cover the earth. But dark the
sky was: the counter-reformation rode on the wings of victory, and with
ruthless cruelty, through Bohemia, through Moravia, through Austria
Proper, which had shown sympathy with the Bohemian revolt. The lands of
the Protestant nobility were confiscated, the nobility itself crushed;
in its place was erected a new nobility of courtiers, foreigners,
military adventurers devoted to the Empire and to Catholicism, the seed
of the Metternichs.

For ten years the tide ran steadily against Protestantism and German
Independence. The Protestants were without cohesion, without powerful
chiefs. Count Mansfeldt was a brilliant soldier, with a strong dash of
the robber. Christian of Brunswick was a brave knight errant, fighting,
as his motto had it, for God and for Elizabeth of Bohemia. But neither
of them had any great or stable force at his back, and if a ray of
victory shone for a moment on their standards, it was soon lost in
gloom. In Frederick, ex-king of Bohemia, was no help; and his charming
queen could only win for him hearts like that of Christian of Brunswick.
The great Protestant Princes of the North, Saxony and Brandenburgh, twin
pillars of the cause that should have been, were not only lukewarm,
timorous, superstitiously afraid of taking part against the Emperor, but
they were sybarites, or rather sots, to whose gross hearts no noble
thought could find its way. Their inaction was almost justified by the
conduct of the Protestant chiefs, whose councils were full of folly and
selfishness, whose policy seemed mere anarchy, and who too often made
war like buccaneers. The Evangelical Union, in which Lutheranism and
political quietism prevailed, refused its aid to the Calvinist and
usurping King of Bohemia. Among foreign powers, England was divided in
will, the nation being enthusiastically for Protestantism and Elizabeth
of Bohemia, while the Court leant to the side of order and hankered
after the Spanish marriage. France was not divided in will: her single
will was that of Richelieu, who, to weaken Austria, fanned the flame of
civil war in Germany, as he did in England, but lent no decisive aid.
Bethlem Gabor, the Evangelical Prince of Transylvania, led semi-
barbarous hosts, useful as auxiliaries, but incapable of bearing the
main brunt of the struggle; and he was trammelled by his allegiance to
his suzerain, the Sultan. The Catholic League was served by a first-rate
general in the person of Tilly; the Empire by a first-rate general and
first-rate statesman in the person of Wallenstein. The Palatinate was
conquered, and the Electorate was transferred by Imperial fiat to
Maximilian of Bavaria, the head of the Catholic League, whereby a
majority was given to the Catholics in the hitherto equally-divided
College of Electors. An Imperial Edict of Restitution went forth,
restoring to Catholicism all that it had lost by conversion within the
last seventy years. Over all Germany, Jesuits and Capuchins swarmed with
the mandates of reaction in their hands. The King of Denmark tardily
took up arms only to be overthrown by Tilly at Lutter, and again at
Wolgast by Wallenstein. The Catholic and Imperial armies were on the
northern seas. Wallenstein, made Admiral of the Empire, was preparing a
basis of maritime operations against the Protestant kingdoms of
Scandinavia, against the last asylum of Protestantism and Liberty in
Holland. Germany, with all its intellect and all its hopes, was on the
point of becoming a second Spain. Teutonism was all but enslaved to the
Croat. The double star of the House of Austria seemed with baleful
aspect to dominate in the sky, and to threaten with extinction European
liberty and progress. One bright spot alone remained amidst the gloom.
By the side of the brave burghers who beat back the Prince of Parma from
the cities of Holland, a place must be made in history for the brave
burghers who beat back Wallenstein from Stralsund, after he had sworn,
in his grand, impious way, that he would take it though it were bound by
a chain to Heaven. The eyes of all Protestants were turned, says
Richelieu, like those of sailors, towards the North. And from the North
a deliverer came. On Midsummer day, 1630, a bright day in the annals of
Protestantism, of Germany, and, as Protestants and Germans must believe,
of human liberty and progress, Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, landed
at Penemunde, on the Pomeranian coast, and knelt down on the shore to
give thanks to God for his safe passage; then showed at once his
knowledge of the art of war and of the soldier's heart, by himself
taking spade in hand, and commencing the entrenchment of his camp.
Gustavus was the grandson of that Gustavus Vasa who had broken at once
the bonds of Denmark and of Rome, and had made Sweden independent and
Lutheran. He was the son of that Charles Vasa who had defeated the
counter-reformation. Devoted from his childhood to the Protestant cause,
hardily trained in a country where even the palace was the abode of
thrift and self-denial, his mind enlarged by a liberal education, in
regard for which, amidst her poverty, as in general character and habits
of her people, his Sweden greatly resembled Scotland; his imagination
stimulated by the wild scenery, the dark forests, the starry nights of
Scandinavia; gifted by nature both in mind and body; the young king had
already shown himself a hero. He had waged grim war with the powers of
the icy north; he bore several scars, proofs of a valour only too great
for the vast interests which depended on his life; he had been a
successful innovator in tactics, or rather a successful restorer of the
military science of the Romans. But the best of his military innovations
were discipline and religion. His discipline redeemed the war from
savagery, and made it again, so far as war, and war in that iron age
could be, a school of humanity and self-control. In religion he was
himself not an ascetic saint, there is one light passage at least in his
early life: and at Augsburg they show a ruff plucked from his neck by a
fair Augsburger at the crisis of a very brisk flirtation. But he was
devout, and he inspired his army with his devotion. The traveller is
still struck with the prayer and hymn which open and close the march of
the soldiers of Gustavus. Schools for the soldiers' children were held
in his camp. It is true that the besetting sin of the Swedes, and of all
dwellers in cold countries, is disclosed by the article in his military
code directed against the drunkenness of army chaplains.

Sir Thomas Roe, the most sagacious of the English diplomatists of that
age, wrote of Gustavus to James I.--"The king hath solemnly protested
that he will not depose arms till he hath spoken one word for your
majesty in Germany (that was his own phrase), and glory will contend
with policy in his resolution; for he hath unlimited thoughts, and is
the likeliest instrument for God to work by in Europe. We have often
observed great alterations to follow great spirits, as if they were
fitted for the times. Certainly, _ambit fortunam Caesaris_: he
thinks the ship cannot sink that carries him, and doth thus oblige

Gustavus justified his landing in Germany by a manifesto setting forth
hostile acts of the Emperor against him in Poland. No doubt there was a
technical _casus belli_. But, morally, the landing of Gustavus was
a glorious breach of the principle of non-intervention. He came to save
the world. He was not the less a fit instrument for God to work by
because it was likely that he would rule the world when he had saved it.

"A snow king!" tittered the courtiers of Vienna, "he will soon melt
away." He soon began to prove to them, both in war and diplomacy, that
his melting would be slow. Richelieu at last ventured on a treaty of
alliance. Charles I., now on the throne of England, and angry at having
been jilted by Spain, also entered into a treaty, and sent British
auxiliaries, who, though soon reduced in numbers by sickness, always
formed a substantial part of the armies of Gustavus, and in battle and
storm earned their full share of the honour of his campaigns. Many
British volunteers had already joined the standard of Mansfeldt and
other Protestant chiefs; and if some of these men were mere soldiers of
the Dugald Dalghetty type, some were the Garibaldians of their day, and
brought back at once enthusiasm and military skill from German
battlefields to Marston and Naseby. Diplomacy, aided by a little gentle
pressure, drew Saxony and Brandenburgh to the better cause, now that the
better cause was so strong. But while they dallied and haggled one more
great disaster was added to the sum of Protestant calamity. Magdeburgh,
the queen of Protestant cities, the citadel of North German liberty,
fell--fell with Gustavus and rescue near--and nameless atrocities were
perpetrated by the ferocious bands of the Empire on innocents of all
ages and both sexes, whose cry goes up against bloodthirsty fanaticism
for ever. A shriek of horror rang through the Protestant world, not
without reproaches against Gustavus, who cleared himself by words, and
was soon to clear himself better by deeds.

Count Tilly was now in sole command on the Catholic and Imperial side.
Wallenstein had been dismissed. A military Richelieu, an absolutist in
politics, an indifferentist in religion, caring at least for the
religious quarrel only as it affected the political question, he aimed
at crushing the independence of all the princes, Catholic as well as
Protestant, and making the Emperor, or rather Wallenstein in the name of
the Imperial devotee, as much master of Germany as the Spanish king was
of Spain. But the disclosure of this policy, and the towering pride of
its author had alarmed the Catholic princes, and produced a reaction
similar to that caused by the absolutist encroachments of Charles V.
Aided by the Jesuits, who marked in Wallenstein a statesman whose policy
was independent of theirs, and who, if not a traitor to the faith, was
at least a bad persecutor, Maximilian and his confederates forced the
Emperor to remove Wallenstein from command. The great man received the
bearers of the mandate with stately courtesy, with princely hospitality,
showed them that he had read in the stars the predominance of Maximilian
over Ferdinand, slightly glanced at the Emperor's weakness, then
withdrew to that palace at Prague, so like its mysterious lord, so regal
and so fantastic in its splendour, yet so gloomy, so jealously guarded,
so full of the spirit of dark ambition, so haunted by the shadow of the
dagger. There he lay, watching the storm that gathered in the North,
scanning the stars and waiting for his hour.

When the Swedes and Saxons, under Gustavus and the Elector of Saxony,
drew near to the Imperial army under Tilly, in the neighbourhood of
Leipsic, there was a crisis, a thrill of worldwide expectation, as when
the Armada approached the shores of England; as when the allies met the
forces of Louis XIV. at Blenheim, as when, on those same plains of
Leipsic, the uprisen nations advanced to battle against Napoleon. Count
Tilly's military genius fell short only of the highest. His figure was
one which showed that war had become a science, and that the days of the
Paladins were past. He was a little old man, with a broad wrinkled
forehead, hollow cheeks, a long nose and projecting chin, grotesquely
attired in a slashed doublet of green satin, with a peaked hat and a
long red feather hanging down behind. His charger was a grey pony, his
only weapon a pistol, which it was his delight to say he had never fired
in the thirty pitched fields which he had fought and won. He was a
Walloon by birth, a pupil of the Jesuits, a sincere devotee, and could
boast that he had never yielded to the allurements of wine or women, as
well as that he had never lost a battle. His name was now one of horror,
for he was the captor of Magdeburg, and if he had not commanded the
massacre, or, as it was said, jested at it, he could not be acquitted of
cruel connivance. That it was the death of his honour to survive the
butchery which he ought to have died, if necessary, in resisting sword
in hand, is a soldier's judgment on his case. At his side was
Pappenheim, another pupil of the Jesuits, the Dundee of the thirty
years' war, with all the devotion, all the loyalty, all the ferocity of
the Cavalier, the most fiery and brilliant of cavalry officers, the
leader of the storming column at Magdeburg.

In those armies the heavy cavalry was the principal arm. The musket was
an unwieldy matchlock fired from a rest, and without a bayonet, so that
in the infantry regiments it was necessary to combine pikemen with the
musketeers. Cannon there were of all calibres and with a whole
vocabulary of fantastic names, but none capable of advancing and
manoeuvring with troops in battle. The Imperial troops were formed in
heavy masses. Gustavus, taking his lesson from the Roman legion, had
introduced a more open order--he had lightened the musket, dispensed
with the rest, given the musketeer a cartridge box instead of the
flapping bandoleer. He had trained his cavalry, instead of firing their
carbines and wheeling, to charge home with the sword. He had created a
real field artillery of imperfect structure, but which told on the
Imperial masses.

The harvest had been reaped, and a strong wind blew clouds of dust over
the bare autumn fields, when Count Tilly formed the victorious veterans
of the Empire, in what was called Spanish order--infantry in the centre,
cavalry on the flanks--upon a rising ground overlooking the broad plain
of Breitenfeldt. On him marched the allies in two columns--Gustavus with
the Swedes upon the right, the Elector with his Saxons on the left. As
they passed a brook in front of the Imperial position, Pappenheim dashed
upon them with his cavalry, but was driven back, and the two columns
deployed upon the plain. The night before the battle Gustavus had dreamt
that he was wrestling with Tilly, and that Tilly bit him in the left
arm, but that he overpowered Tilly with his right arm. That dream came
through the Gate of Horn, for the Saxons who formed the left wing were
raw troops, but victory was sure to the Swede. Soldiers of the old
school proudly compare the shock of charging armies at Leipsic with
modern battles, which they call battles of skirmishers with armies in
reserve. However this may be, all that day the plain of Breitenfeldt was
filled with the fierce eddies of a hand-to-hand struggle between mail-
clad masses, their cuirasses and helmets gleaming fitfully amidst the
clouds of smoke and dust, the mortal shock of the charge and the deadly
ring of steel striking the ear with a distinctness impossible in modern
battle. Tilly with his right soon shattered the Saxons, but his centre
and left were shattered by the unconquerable Swede. The day was won by
the genius of the Swedish king, by the steadiness with which his troops
manoeuvred, and the promptness with which they formed a new front when
the defeat of the Saxons exposed their left, by the rapidity of their
fire and by the vigour with which their cavalry charged. The victory was
complete. At sunset four veteran Walloon regiments made a last stand for
the honour of the Empire, and with difficulty bore off their redoubtable
commander from his first lost field. Through all Protestant Europe flew
the tidings of a great deliverance and the name of a great deliverer.

On to Vienna cried hope and daring then. On to Vienna; history still
regretfully repeats the cry. Gustavus judged otherwise--and whatever his
reason was we may be sure it was not weak. Not to the Danube therefore
but to the Main and Rhine the tide of conquest rolled. The Thuringian
forest gleams with fires that guide the night march of the Swede.
Frankfort the city of empire opens her gates to him who will soon come
as the hearts of all men divine not as a conqueror in the iron garb of
war but as the elect of Germany to put on the imperial crown. In the
cellars of the Prince Bishop of Bamberg and Wurtzburg the rich wine is
broached for heretic lips. Protestantism everywhere uplifts its head,
the Archbishop of Mainz, chief of the Catholic persecutors becomes a
fugitive in his turn. Jesuit and Capuchin must cower or fly. All
fortresses are opened by the arms of Gustavus, all hearts are opened by
his gracious manner, his winning words, his sunny smile. To the people
accustomed to a war of massacre and persecution he came as from a better
world a spirit of humanity and toleration. His toleration was politic no
doubt but it was also sincere. So novel was it that a monk finding
himself not butchered or tortured thought the king's faith must be weak
and attempted his conversion. His zeal was repaid with a gracious smile.
Once more on the Lech Tilly crossed the path of the thunderbolt.
Dishonoured at Magdeburg, defeated at Leipsic, the old man seems to have
been weary of life, his leg shattered by a cannon hall he was borne
dying from the field and left the Imperial cause headless as well as
beaten. Gustavus is in Augsburgh, the queen of German commerce, the city
of the Fuggers with their splendid and romantic money kingdom, the city
of the Confession. He is in Munich, the capital of Maximilian and the
Catholic League. His allies the Saxons are in Prague. A few marches more
and he will dictate peace at Vienna with all Germany at his back. A few
marches more the Germans will be a Protestant nation under a Protestant
chief and many a dark page will be torn from the book of fate.

Ferdinand and Maximilian had sought counsel of the dying Tilly. Tilly
had given them counsel bitter but inevitable. Dissembling their hate and
fear they called like trembling necromancers when they invoke the fiend
upon the name of power. The name of Wallenstein gave new life to the
Imperial cause under the very ribs of death. At once he stood between
the Empire and destruction with an army of 50,000 men, conjured, as it
were, out of the earth by the spell of his influence alone. All whose
trade was war came at the call of the grand master of their trade. The
secret of Wallenstein's ambition is buried in his grave, but the man
himself was the prince of adventurers, the ideal chief of mercenary
bands, the arch contractor for the hireling's blood. His character was
formed in a vast political gambling house, a world given up to pillage
and the strong hand, an Eldorado of confiscations. Of the lofty dreamer
portrayed in the noble dramatic poem of Schiller, there is little trace
in the intensely practical character of the man. A scion of a good
Bohemian house, poor himself, but married to a rich wife, whose wealth
was the first step in the ladder of his marvellous fortunes, Wallenstein
had amassed immense domains by the purchase of confiscated estates, a
traffic redeemed from meanness only by the vastness of the scale on
which he practised it, and the loftiness of the aim which he had in
view. Then he took to raising and commanding mercenary troops, improving
on his predecessors in that trade by doubling the size of his army, on
the theory, coolly avowed by him, that a large army would subsist by its
command of the country, where a small army would starve. But all was
subservient to his towering ambition, and to a pride which has been
called theatrical, and which often wore an eccentric garb, but which his
death scene proves to have been the native grand infirmity of the man.
He walked in dark ways and was unscrupulous and ruthless when on the
path of his ambition; but none can doubt the self sustaining force of
his lonely intellect, his power of command, the spell which his
character cast over the fierce and restless spirits of his age. Prince-
Duke of Friedland, Mecklenburgh, and Sagan, Generalissimo of the armies
of the House of Austria,--to this height had the landless and obscure
adventurer risen, in envy's despite, as his motto proudly said, not by
the arts of a courtier or a demagogue, but by strength of brain and
heart, in a contest with rivals whose brains and hearts were strong.
Highest he stood among the uncrowned heads of Europe, and dreaded by the
crowned. We wonder how the boisterous soldiers can have loved a chief
who was so far from being a comrade, a being so disdainful and reserved,
who at the sumptuous table kept by his officers never appeared, never
joined in the revelry, even in the camp lived alone, punished intrusion
on his haughty privacy as a crime. But his name was victory and plunder;
he was lavishly munificent, as one who knew that those who play a deep
game must lay down heavy stakes, his eye was quick to discern, his hand
prompt to reward the merit of the buccaneer; and those who followed his
soaring fortunes knew that they would share them. If he was prompt to
reward, he was also stern in punishment, and a certain arbitrariness
both in reward and punishment made the soldier feel that the commander's
will was law. If Wallenstein was not the boon companion of the
mercenaries, he was their divinity, and he was himself essentially one
of them--even his superstition was theirs, and filled the same void of
faith in his as in their hearts; though, while the common soldier raised
the fiend to charm bullets, or bought spells and amulets of a quack at
Nuremburg or Augsburg, Seni, the first astrologer of the age, explored
the sympathizing stars for the august destiny of the Duke of Friedland.
Like Uriel and Satan in Paradise Lost, Gustavus and Wallenstein stood
opposed to each other. On one side was the enthusiast, on the other the
mighty gamester, playing the great game of his life without emotion, by
intensity of thought alone. On one side was the crusader, on the other
the indifferentist, without faith except in his star. On the one side
was as much good, perhaps, as has ever appeared in the form of a
conqueror, on the other side the majesty of evil. Gustavus was young,
his frame was vigorous and active, though inclined to corpulence, his
complexion fair, his hair golden, his eye blue and merry, his
countenance frank as day, and the image of a heart which had felt the
kindest influences of love and friendship. Wallenstein was past his
prime, his frame was tall, spare, somewhat bowed by pain, his complexion
dark, his eye black and piercing, his look that of a man who trod
slippery paths with deadly rivals at his side, and of whose many letters
not one is to a friend. But, opposites in all else, the two champions
were well matched in power. Perhaps there is hardly such another duel in
history. Such another there would have been if Strafford had lived to
encounter Cromwell.

The market for the great adventurer's services having risen so high, the
price which he asked was large--a principality in hand, a province to be
conquered, supreme command of the army which he had raised. The court
suggested that if the emperor's son, the King of Hungary, were put over
Wallenstein's head, his name would be a tower of strength, but
Wallenstein answered with a blasphemous frankness which must have made
the ears of courtiers tingle. He would be emperor of the army; he would
be emperor in the matter of confiscations. The last article shows how he
won the soldier's heart. Perhaps in framing his terms, he gave something
to his wounded pride. If he did, the luxury cost him dear, for here he
trod upon the serpent that stung his life.

The career of Gustavus was at once arrested, and he took shelter against
the storm in an entrenched camp protected by three hundred cannon under
the walls of Nuremberg--Nuremberg the eldest daughter of the German
Reformation, the Florence of Germany in art, wealth and freedom, then
the beautiful home of early commerce, now its romantic tomb. The
desolation of her grass-grown streets dates from that terrible day. The
Swedish lines were scarcely completed when Wallenstein appeared with all
his power, and sweeping past, entrenched himself four miles from his
enemy in a position the key of which were the wooded hill and old castle
of the Altenberg. Those who chance to visit that spot may fancy there
Wallenstein's camp as it is in Schiller, ringing with the boisterous
revelry of its wild and motley bands. And they may fancy the sudden
silence, the awe of men who knew no other awe, as in his well-known
dress, the laced buff coat with crimson scarf, and the grey hat with
crimson plume, Wallenstein rode by. Week after week and month after
month these two heavy clouds of war hung close together, and Europe
looked for the bursting of the storm. But famine was to do Wallenstein's
work; and by famine and the pestilence, bred by the horrible state of
the camp, at last his work was done. The utmost limit of deadly inaction
for the Swedes arrived. Discipline and honour gave way, and could
scarcely be restored by the passionate eloquence of Gustavus. Oxenstiern
brought large reinforcements; and on the 24th August Wallenstein saw--
with grim pleasure he must have seen--Gustavus advancing to attack him
in his lines. By five hundred at a time--there was room for no more in
the narrow path of death--the Swedes scaled the flashing and thundering
Altenberg. They scaled it again and again through a long summer's day.
Once it was all but won. But at evening the Nurembergers saw their hero
and protector retiring, for the first time defeated, from the field. Yet
Gustavus had not lost the confidence of his soldiers. He had shared
their danger and had spared their blood. In ten hours' hard fighting he
had lost only 2,000 men. But Wallenstein might well shower upon his
wounded soldiers the only balm for the wounds of men fighting without a
country or a cause. He might well write to the emperor: "The King of
Sweden has blunted his horns a good deal. Henceforth the title of
Invincible belongs not to him, but to your Majesty." No doubt Ferdinand
thought it did.

Gustavus now broke up and marched on Bavaria, abandoning the great
Protestant city, with the memory of Magdeburg in his heart. But
Nuremberg was not to share the fate of Magdeburg. The Imperial army was
not in a condition to form the siege. It had suffered as much as that of
Gustavus. That such troops should have been held together in such
extremity proves their general's power of command. Wallenstein soon
gladdened the eyes of the Nurembergers by firing his camp, and declining
to follow the lure into Bavaria, marched on Saxony, joined another
Imperial army under Pappenheim and took Leipsic.

To save Saxony Gustavus left Bavaria half conquered. As he hurried to
the rescue, the people on his line of march knelt to kiss the hem of his
garment, the sheath of his delivering sword, and could scarcely be
prevented from adoring him as a god. His religious spirit was filled
with a presentiment that the idol in which they trusted would be soon
laid low. On the 14th of November he was leaving a strongly entrenched
camp, at Naumberg, where the Imperialists fancied, the season being so
far advanced, he intended to remain, when news reached his ear like the
sight which struck Wellington's eye as it ranged over Marmont's army on
the morning of Salamanca. [Footnote: We owe the parallel, we believe, to
an article by Lord Ellesmere, in the _Quarterly Review_.] The
impetuous Pappenheim, ever anxious for separate command, had persuaded
an Imperial council of war to detach him with a large force against
Halle. The rest of the Imperialists, under Wallenstein, were quartered
in the villages around Lutzen, close within the king's reach, and
unaware of his approach. "The Lord," cried Gustavus, "has delivered him
into my hand," and at once he swooped upon his prey.

"Break up and march with every man and gun. The enemy is advancing
hither. He is already at the pass by the hollow road." So wrote
Wallenstein to Pappenheim. The letter is still preserved, stained with
Pappenheim's life-blood. But, in that mortal race, Pappenheim stood no
chance. Halle was a long day's march off, and the troopers, whom
Pappenheim could lead gallantly, but could not control, after taking the
town had dispersed to plunder. Yet the Swede's great opportunity was
lost. Lutzen, though in sight, proved not so near as flattering guides
and eager eyes had made it. The deep-banked Rippach, its bridge all too
narrow for the impetuous columns, the roads heavy from rain, delayed the
march. A skirmish with some Imperial cavalry under Isolani wasted
minutes when minutes were years; and the short November day was at an
end when the Swede reached the plain of Lutzen.

No military advantage marks the spot where the storm overtook the Duke
of Friedland. He was caught like a traveller in a tempest off a
shelterless plain, and had nothing for it but to bide the brunt. What
could be done with ditches, two windmills, a mud wall, a small canal, he
did, moving from point to point during the long night; and before
morning all his troops, except Pappenheim's division, had come in and
were in line.

When the morning broke a heavy fog lay on the ground. Historians have
not failed to remark that there is a sympathy in things, and that the
day was loath to dawn which was to be the last day of Gustavus. But if
Nature sympathized with Gustavus, she chose a bad mode of showing her
sympathy, for while the fog prevented the Swedes from advancing, part of
Pappenheim's corps arrived. After prayers, the king and all his army
sang Luther's hymn, "Our God is a strong tower"--the Marseillaise of the
militant Reformation. Then Gustavus mounted his horse, and addressed the
different divisions, adjuring them by their victorious name, by the
memory of the Breitenfeld, by the great cause whose issue hung upon
their swords, to fight well for that cause, for their country and their
God. His heart was uplifted at Lutzen, with that Hebrew fervour which
uplifted the heart of Cromwell at Dunbar. Old wounds made it irksome to
him to wear a cuirass. "God," he said, "shall be my armour this day".

Wallenstein has been much belied if he thought of anything that morning
more religious than the order of battle, which has been preserved, drawn
up by his own hand, and in which his troops are seen still formed in
heavy masses, in contrast to the lighter formations of Gustavus. He was
carried down his lines in a litter being crippled by gout, which the
surgeons of that day had tried to cure by cutting into the flesh. But
when the action began, he placed his mangled foot in a stirrup lined
with silk, and mounted the small charger, the skin of which is still
shown in the deserted palace of his pride. We may be sure that
confidence sat undisturbed upon his brow; but in his heart he must have
felt that though he had brave men around him, the Swedes, fighting for
their cause under their king, were more than men; and that in the
balance of battle then held out, his scale had kicked the beam. There
can hardly be a harder trial for human fortitude than to command in a
great action on the weaker side. Villeneuve was a brave man, though an
unfortunate admiral, but he owned that his heart sank within him at
Trafalgar when he saw Nelson bearing down.

"God with us," was the Swedish battle cry. On the other side the words
"Jesu-Maria" passed round, as twenty-five thousand of the most godless
and lawless ruffians the world ever saw, stood to the arms which they
had imbrued in the blood not of soldiers only, but of women and children
of captured towns. Doubtless many a wild Walloon and savage Croat, many
a fierce Spaniard and cruel Italian, who had butchered and tortured at
Magdeburg, was here come to bite the dust. These men were children of
the camp and the battlefield, long familiar with every form of death,
yet, had they known what a day was now before them, they might have felt
like a recruit on the morning of his first field. Some were afterwards
broken or beheaded for misconduct before the enemy; others earned rich
rewards. Most paid, like men of honour, the price for which they were
allowed to glut every lust and revel in every kind of crime.

At nine the sky began to clear, straggling shots told that the armies
were catching sight of each other, and a red glare broke the mist, where
the Imperialists had set fire to Lutzen to cover their right. At ten
Gustavus placed himself at the head of his cavalry. War has now changed;
and the telescope is the general's sword. Yet we cannot help feeling
that the gallant king, who cast in his own life with the lives of the
peasants he had drawn from their Swedish homes, is a nobler figure than
the great Emperor who, on the same plains, two centuries afterwards,
ordered to their death the masses of youthful valour sent by a ruthless
conscription to feed the vanity of a heart of clay. The Swedes, after
the manner of war in that fierce and hardy age, fell at once with their
main force on the whole of the Imperial line. On the left, after a
murderous struggle, they gained ground and took the enemy's guns. But on
the right the Imperialists held firm, and while Gustavus was carrying
victory with him to that quarter, Wallenstein restored the day upon the
right. Again Gustavus hurried to that part of the field. Again the
Imperialists gave way, and Gustavus, uncovering his head, thanked God
for his victory. At this moment it seems the mist returned. The Swedes
were confused and lost their advantage. A horse, too well known, ran
riderless down their line, and when their cavalry next advanced, they
found the stripped and mangled body of their king. According to the most
credible witness, Gustavus who had galloped forward to see how his
advantage might be best followed up, got too near the enemy, was shot
first in the arm, then in the back, and fell from his horse. A party of
Imperial cuirassiers came up, and learning from the wounded man himself
who he was, finished the work of death. They then stripped the body for
proofs of their great enemy's fate and relics of the mighty slain. Dark
reports of treason were spread abroad, and one of these reports followed
the Duke of Saxe-Lauenburg, who was with Gustavus that day, through his
questionable life to his unhappy end. In those times a great man could
scarcely die without suspicion of foul play, and in all times men are
unwilling to believe that a life on which the destiny of a cause or a
nation hangs can be swept away by the blind, indiscriminate hand of
common death.

Gustavus dead, the first thought of his officers was retreat; and that
thought was his best eulogy. Their second thought was revenge. Yet so
great was the discouragement that one Swedish colonel refused to
advance, and Bernard of Saxe-Weimar cut him down with his own hand.
Again the struggle began, and with all the morning's fury. Wallenstein
had used his respite well. He knew that his great antagonist was dead,
and that he was now the master-spirit on the field. And with friendly
night near, and victory within his grasp, he directed in person the most
desperate combat, prodigal of the life on which, according to his
enemies, his treasonable projects hung. Yet the day was again going
against him, when the remainder of Pappenheim's corps arrived, and the
road was once more opened to victory by a charge which cost Pappenheim
his own life. At four o'clock the battle was at its last gasp. The
carnage had been fearful on both sides, and as fearful was the
exhaustion. For six hours almost every man in both armies had borne the
terrible excitement of mortal combat with pike and sword; and four times
that excitement had been strained by general charges to its highest
pitch. The Imperialists held their ground, but confused and shattered;
their constancy sustained only by that commanding presence which still
moved along their lines, unhurt, grazed and even marked by the storm of
death through which he rode. Just as the sun was setting, the Swedes
made the supreme effort which heroism alone can make. Then Wallenstein
gave the signal for retreat, welcome to the bravest, and as darkness
fell upon the field, the shattered masses of the Imperialists drew off
slowly and sullenly into the gloom. Slowly and sullenly they drew off,
leaving nothing to the victor except some guns of position; but they had
not gone far when they fell into the disorganization of defeat.

The judgment of a cause by battle is dreadful. Dreadful it must have
seemed to all who were within sight or hearing of the field of Lutzen
when that battle was over. But it is not altogether irrational and
blind. Providence does not visibly interpose in favour of the right. The
stars in their courses do not now fight for the good cause. At Lutzen
they fought against it. But the good cause is its own star. The strength
given to the spirit of the Swedes by religious enthusiasm, the strength
given to their bodies by the comparative purity of their lives, enabled
them, when the bravest and hardiest ruffians were exhausted in spirit
and body, to make that last effort which won the day.

_Te Deum_ was sung at Vienna and Madrid, and with good reason. For
Vienna and Madrid the death of Gustavus was better than any victory. For
humanity, if the interests of humanity were not those of Vienna and
Madrid, it was worse than any defeat. But for Gustavus himself, was it
good to die glorious and stainless, but before his hour? Triumph and
empire, it is said, might have corrupted the soul which up to that time
had been so pure and true. It was, perhaps, well for him that he was
saved from temptation. A deeper morality replies that what was bad for
Gustavus' cause and for his kind, could not be good for Gustavus; and
that whether he were to stand or fall in the hour of temptation, he had
better have lived his time and done his work. We, with our small
philosophy, can make allowance for the greater dangers of the higher
sphere; and shall we arrogate to ourselves a larger judgment and ampler
sympathies than we allow to God? Yet Gustavus was happy. Among soldiers
and statesmen, if there is a greater, there is hardly a purer name. He
had won not only honour but love, and the friend and comrade was as much
bewailed as the deliverer and the king. In him his Sweden appeared for
the first and last time with true glory on the scene of universal
history. In him the spirit of the famous house of Vasa rose to the first
heroic height. It was soon to mount to madness in Christina and Charles

Not till a year had passed could Sweden bring herself to consign the
remains of her Gustavus to the dust. Then came a hero's funeral, with
pomp not unmeaning, with trophies not unbecoming the obsequies of a
Christian warrior, and for mourners the sorrowing nations. In early
youth Gustavus had loved the beautiful Ebba Brahe, daughter of a Swedish
nobleman, and she had returned his love. But etiquette and policy
interposed, and Gustavus married Eleanor, a princess of Brandenburg,
also renowned for beauty. The widowed Queen of Gustavus, though she had
loved him with a fondness too great for their perfect happiness,
admitted his first love to a partnership in her grief, and sent Ebba
with her own portrait the portrait of him who was gone where, if love
still is, there is no more rivalry in love.

The death of Gustavus was the death of his great antagonist. Gustavus
gone, Wallenstein was no longer indispensable, and he was far more
formidable than ever. Lutzen had abated nothing either of his pride or
power. He went forth again from Prague to resume command in almost
imperial pomp. The army was completely in his hands. He negotiated as an
independent power, and was carrying into effect a policy of his own,
which seems to have been one of peace for the empire with amnesty and
toleration, and which certainly crossed the policy of the Jesuits and
Spain, now dominant in the Imperial councils. No doubt the great
adventurer also intended that his own grandeur should be augmented and
secured. Whether his proceedings gave his master just cause for alarm
remains a mystery. The word, however, went forth against him, and in
Austrian fashion, a friendly correspondence being kept up with him when
he had been secretly deposed and his command transferred to another.
Finding himself denounced and outlawed, he resolved to throw himself on
the Swedes. He had arrived at Eger, a frontier fortress of Bohemia. It
was a night apt for crime, dark and stormy, when Gordon, a Scotch
Calvinist, in the Imperial service (for Wallenstein's camp welcomed
adventurers of all creeds), and commandant of Eger, received the most
faithful of Wallenstein's officers, Terzka, Kinsky, Illo and Neumann, at
supper in the citadel. The social meal was over, the wine cup was going
round; misgiving, if any misgiving there was, had yielded to comradeship
and good cheer, when the door opened and death, in the shape of a party
of Irish troopers, stalked in. The conspirators sprang from the side of
their victims, and shouting, "Long live the Emperor," ranged themselves
with drawn swords against the wall, while the assassins overturned the
table and did their work. Wallenstein, as usual, was not at the banquet.
He was, indeed, in no condition for revelry. Gout had shattered his
stately form, reduced his bold handwriting to a feeble scrawl, probably
shaken his powerful mind, though it could rally itself, as at Lutzen,
for a decisive hour; and, perhaps, if his enemies could have waited, the
course of nature might have spared them the very high price which they
paid for his blood. He had just dismissed his astrologer, Seni, into
whose mouth the romance of history does not fail to put prophetic
warnings, his valet was carrying away the golden salver, on which his
night draught had been brought to him, and he was about to lie down,
when he was drawn to the window by the noise of Butler's regiment
surrounding his quarters, and by the shrieks of the Countesses Terzka
and Kinsky, who were wailing for their murdered husbands. A moment
afterwards the Irish Captain Devereux burst into the room, followed by
his fellow-assassins shouting, "Rebels, rebels!" Devereux himself, with
a halbert in his hand, rushed up to Wallenstein, and cried, "Villain,
you are to die!" True to his own majesty the great man spread out his
arms, received the weapon in his breast, and fell dead without a word.
But as thought at such moments is swift, no doubt he saw it all--saw the
dark conclave of Italians and Spaniards sitting at Vienna--knew that the
murderer before him was the hand and not the head--read at once his own
doom and the doom of his grand designs for Germany and Friedland. His
body was wrapped in a carpet, carried in Gordon's carriage to the
citadel, and there left for a day with those of his murdered friends in
the court-yard, then huddled into a hastily constructed coffin, the legs
of the corpse being broken to force it in. Different obsequies from
those of Gustavus, but perhaps equally appropriate, at least equally
characteristic of the cause which the dead man served.

Did Friedland desire to be more than Friedland, to unite some shadow of
command with the substance, to wear some crown of tinsel, as well as the
crown of power? We do not know, we know only that his ways were dark,
that his ambition was vast, and that he was thwarting the policy of the
Jesuits and Spain. Great efforts were made in vain to get up a case
against his memory; recourse was had to torture, the use of which always
proves that no good evidence is forthcoming; absurd charges were
included in the indictment, such as that of having failed to pursue and
destroy the Swedish army after Lutzen. The three thousand masses which
Ferdinand caused to be sung for Wallenstein's soul, whether they
benefited his soul or not, have benefited his fame, for they seem like
the weak self-betrayal of an uneasy conscience, vainly seeking to stifle
infamy and appease the injured shade. Assassination itself condemns all
who take part in it or are accomplices in it, and Ferdinand, who
rewarded the assassins of Wallenstein, was at least an accomplice after
the fact. Vast as Wallenstein's ambition was, even for him age and gout
must have begun to close the possibilities of life, and he cannot have
been made restless by the pangs of abortive genius, for he had played
the grandest part upon the grandest stage. He had done enough, it would
seem, to make repose welcome, and his retirement would not have been
dull. Often in his letters his mind turns from the camp and council to
his own domains, his rising palaces, his farms, his gardens, his
schools, his manufactures, the Italian civilization which the student of
Padua was trying to create in Bohemian wilds, the little empire in the
administration of which he showed that he might have been a good Emperor
on a larger scale. Against his Imperial master he is probably entitled
at least to a verdict of not proven, and to the sympathy due to vast
services requited by murder. Against accusing humanity his plea is far
weaker, or rather he has no plea but one of extenuation. If there is a
gloomy majesty about him the fascination of which we cannot help owning,
if he was the noblest spirit that served evil, still it was evil that he
served. The bandit hordes which he led were the scourges of the
defenceless people, and in making war support war he set the evil
example which was followed by Napoleon on a greater scale, and perhaps
with more guilt, because in a more moral age. If in any measure he fell
a martyr to a policy of toleration, his memory may be credited with the
sacrifice. His toleration was that of indifference, not that of a
Christian; yet the passages of his letters in which he pleads for milder
methods of conversion, and claims for widows an exemption from the
extremities of persecution, seem preserved by his better angel to shed a
ray of brightness on his lurid name. Of his importance in history there
can be no doubt. Take your stand on the battle field of Lutzen. To the
North all was rescued by Gustavus, to the South all was held till
yesterday by the darker genius of Wallenstein.

Like the mystic bark in the Mort d'Arthur, the ship which carried the
remains of Gustavus from the German shore bore away heroism as well as
the hero. Gustavus left great captains in Bernard of Weimar, Banner,
Horn, Wrangel and Tortensohn; in the last, perhaps, a captain equal to
himself. He left in Oxenstierna the greatest statesman and diplomatist
of the age. But the guiding light, the grand aim, the ennobling
influence were gone. The Swedes sank almost to the level of the vile
element around, and a torture used by the buccaneers to extract
confessions of hidden treasure bore the name of the Swedish draught. The
last grand figure left the scene in Wallenstein. Nothing remained but
mean ferocity and rapine, coarse filibustering among the soldiers, among
the statesmen and diplomatists filibustering a little more refined. All
high motives and interests were dead. The din of controversy which at
the outset accompanied the firing of the cannon, and proved that the
cannon was being fired in a great cause, had long since sunk into
silence. Yet for fourteen years after the death of Wallenstein this
soulless, aimless drama of horror and agony dragged on. Every part of
Germany was repeatedly laid under heavy war contributions, and swept
through by pillage, murder, rape and arson. For thirty years all
countries, even those of the Cossack and the Stradiot, sent their worst
sons to the scene of butchery and plunder. It may be doubted whether
such desolation ever fell upon any civilized and cultivated country.
When the war began Germany was rich and prosperous, full of smiling
villages, of goodly cities, of flourishing universities, of active
industry, of invention and discovery, of literature and learning, of
happiness, of progress, of national energy and hope. At its close she
was a material and moral wilderness. In a district, selected as a fair
average specimen of the effects of the war, it is found that of the
inhabitants three-fourths, of the cattle four-fifths had perished. For
thirty years the husbandman never sowed with any confidence that he
should reap; the seed-corn was no doubt often consumed by the reckless
troopers or the starving peasantry; and if foreign countries had been
able to supply food there were no railroads to bring it. The villages
through whole provinces were burnt or pulled down to supply materials
for the huts of the soldiery; the people hid themselves in dens and
caves of the earth, took to the woods and mountains, where many of them
remained swelling the multitude of brigands. When they could they
wreaked upon the lansquenets a vengeance as dreadful as what they had
suffered, and were thus degraded to the same level of ferocity. Moral
life was broken up. The Germany of Luther with its order and piety and
domestic virtue, with its old ways and customs, even with its fashions
of dress and furniture, perished almost as though it had been swallowed
by an earthquake. The nation would hardly have survived had it not been
for the desperate tenacity with which the peasant clung to his own soil,
and the efforts of the pastors, men of contracted views, of dogmatic
habits of mind, and of a somewhat narrow and sour morality, but staunch
and faithful in the hour of need, who continued to preach and pray
amidst blackened ruins to the miserable remnants of their flocks, and
sustained something of moral order and of social life.

Hence in the succeeding centuries, the political nullity of the German
nation, the absence of any strong popular element to make head against
the petty despotism of the princes, and launch Germany in the career of
progress. Hence the backwardness and torpor of the Teutonic race in its
original seat, while elsewhere it led the world. Hence, while England
was producing Chathams and Burkes, Germany was producing the great
musical composers. Hence when the movement came it was rather
intellectual than political, rather a movement of the universities than
of the nation.

At last, nothing being left for the armies to devour, the masters of the
armies began to think of peace. The diplomatists went to work, and in
true diplomatic fashion. Two years they spent in formalities and
haggling, while Germany was swarming with disbanded lansquenets. It was
then that old Oxenstierna said to his son, who had modestly declined an
ambassadorship on the ground of inexperience, "Thou knowest not, my son,
with how little wisdom the world is governed." The object of all the
parties to the negotiations was acquisition of territory at the expense
of their neighbours, and the treaty of Westphalia, though, as we have
said, it was long the Public Law of Europe, was an embodiment, not of
principles of justice or of the rights of nations, but of the relative
force and cunning of what are happily called the powers. France
obtained, as the fruit of the diplomatic skill with which she had
prolonged the agony of Germany, a portion of the territory which she has
recently disgorged. The independence of Germany was saved; and though it
was not a national independence, but an independence of petty
despotisms, it was redemption from Austrian and Jesuit bondage for the
present, with the hope of national independence in the future. When
Gustavus broke the Imperial line at Lutzen, Luther and Loyola might have
turned in their graves. Luther had still two centuries and a half to
wait, so much difference in the course of history, in spite of all our
philosophies and our general laws, may be made by an arrow shot at a
venture, a wandering breath of pestilence, a random bullet, a wreath of
mist lingering on one of the world's battlefields. But Luther has
conquered at last. Would that he had conquered by other means than war--
war with all its sufferings, with all its passions, with the hatred, the
revenge, the evil pride which it leaves behind it. But he has conquered,
and his victory opens a new and, so far as we can see, a happier era for


_Spoken on the Centenary of the Birth of Sir Walter Scott_

Ruskin has lighted seven lamps of Architecture, to guide the steps of
the architect in the worthy practice of his art. It seems time that some
lamps should be lighted to guide the steps of the writer of Fiction.
Think what the influence of novelists now is, and how some of them use
it! Think of the multitudes who read nothing but novels, and then look
into the novels which they read! I have seen a young man's whole library
consisting of thirty or forty of those paper-bound volumes, which are
the bad tobacco of the mind. In England, I looked over three railway
book-stalls in one day. There was hardly a novel by an author of any
repute on one of them. They were heaps of nameless garbage, commended by
tasteless, flaunting woodcuts, the promise of which was no doubt well
kept within. Fed upon such food daily, what will the mind of a nation
be? I say that there is no flame at which we can light the Lamp of
Fiction purer or brighter than the genius of him in honour to whose
memory we are assembled here to-day. Scott does not moralize. Heaven be
praised that he does not. He does not set a moral object before him, nor
lay down moral rules. But his heart, brave, pure and true, is a law to
itself; and by studying what he does we may find the law for all who
follow his calling. If seven lamps have been lighted for architecture,
Scott will light as many for fiction.

I. _The Lamp of Reality_.--The novelist must ground his work in
faithful study of human nature. There was a popular writer of romances,
who, it was said, used to go round to the fashionable watering-places to
pick up characters. That was better than nothing. There is another
popular writer who, it seems, makes voluminous indices of men and
things, and draws on them for his material. This also is better than
nothing. For some writers, and writers dear to the circulating libraries
too, might, for all that appeals in their works, lie in bed all day, and
write by night under the excitement of green tea. Creative art, I
suppose, they call this, and it is creative with a vengeance. Not so,
Scott. The human nature which he paints, he had seen in all its phases,
gentle and simple, in burgher and shepherd, Highlander, Lowlander,
Borderer, and Islesman; he had come into close contact with it, he had
opened it to himself by the talisman of his joyous and winning presence;
he had studied it thoroughly with a clear eye and an all-embracing
heart. When his scenes are laid in the past, he has honestly studied the
history. The history of his novels is perhaps not critically accurate,
not up to the mark of our present knowledge, but in the main it is sound
and true--sounder and more true than that of many professed historians,
and even than that of his own historical works, in which he sometimes
yields to prejudice, while in his novels he is lifted above it by his
loyalty to his art.

II. _The Lamp of Ideality_.--The materials of the novelist must be
real; they must be gathered from the field of humanity by his actual
observation. But they must pass through the crucible of the imagination;
they must be idealized. The artist is not a photographer, but a painter.
He must depict not persons but humanity, otherwise he forfeits the
artist's name, and the power of doing the artist's work in our hearts.
When we see a novelist bring out a novel with one or two good
characters, and then, at the fatal bidding of the booksellers, go on
manufacturing his yearly volume, and giving us the same character or the
same few characters over and over again, we may be sure that he is
without the power of idealization. He has merely photographed what he
has seen, and his stock is exhausted. It is wonderful what a quantity of
the mere lees of such writers, more and more watered down, the libraries
go on complacently circulating, and the reviews go on complacently
reviewing. Of course, this power of idealization is the great gift of
genius. It is that which distinguishes Homer, Shakespeare, and Walter
Scott, from ordinary men. But there is also a moral effort in rising
above the easy work of mere description to the height of art. Need it be
said that Scott is thoroughly ideal as well as thoroughly real? There
are vague traditions that this man and the other was the original of
some character in Scott. But who can point out the man of whom a
character in Scott is a mere portrait? It would be as hard as to point
out a case of servile delineation in Shakespeare. Scott's characters are
never monsters or caricatures. They are full of nature; but it is
universal nature. Therefore they have their place in the universal
heart, and will keep that place for ever. And mark that even in his
historical novels he is still ideal. Historical romance is a perilous
thing. The fiction is apt to spoil the fact, and the fact the fiction;
the history to be perverted and the romance to be shackled: daylight to
kill dreamlight, and dreamlight to kill daylight. But Scott takes few
liberties with historical facts and characters; he treats them, with the
costume and the manners of the period, as the background of the picture.
The personages with whom he deals freely, are the Peverils and the
Nigels; and these are his lawful property, the offspring of his own
imagination, and belong to the ideal.

III. _The Lamp of Impartiality_.--The novelist must look on
humanity without partiality or prejudice. His sympathy, like that of the
historian, must be unbounded, and untainted by sect or party. He must
see everywhere the good that is mixed with evil, the evil that is mixed
with good. And this he will not do, unless his heart is right. It is in
Scott's historical novels that his impartiality is most severely tried
and is most apparent; though it is apparent in all his works.
Shakespeare was a pure dramatist; nothing but art found a home in that
lofty, smooth, idealistic brow. He stands apart not only from the
political and religious passions but from the interests of his time,
seeming hardly to have any historical surroundings, but to shine like a
planet suspended by itself in the sky. So it is with that female
Shakespeare in miniature, Miss Austen. But Scott took the most intense
interest in the political struggles of his time. He was a fiery
partisan, a Tory in arms against the French Revolution. In his account
of the coronation of George IV. a passionate worship of monarchy breaks
forth, which, if we did not know his noble nature, we might call
slavish. He sacrificed, ease, and at last life, to his seignorial
aspirations. On one occasion he was even carried beyond the bounds of
propriety by his opposition to the Whig chief. The Cavalier was his
political ancestor, the Covenanter the ancestor of his political enemy.
The idols which the Covenanting iconoclast broke were his. He would have
fought against the first revolution under Montrose, and against the
second under Dundee. Yet he is perfectly, serenely just to the opposite
party. Not only is he just, he is sympathetic. He brings out their
worth, their valour, such grandeur of character as they have, with all
the power of his art, making no distinction in this respect between
friend and foe. If they have a ridiculous side he uses it for the
purposes of his art, but genially, playfully, without malice. If there
was a laugh left in the Covenanters, they would have laughed at their
own portraits as painted by Scott. He shows no hatred of anything but
wickedness itself. Such a novelist is a most effective preacher of
liberality and charity; he brings our hearts nearer to the Impartial
Father of us all.

IV. _The Lamp of Impersonality_.--Personality is lower than
partiality. Dante himself is open to the suspicion of partiality: it is
said, not without apparent ground, that he puts into hell all the
enemies of the political cause, which, in his eyes, was that of Italy
and God. A legend tells that Leonardo da Vinci was warned that his
divine picture of the Last Supper would fade, because he had introduced
his personal enemy as Judas, and thus desecrated art by making it serve
personal hatred. The legend must be false, Leonardo had too grand a
soul. A wretched woman in England, at the beginning of the last century,
Mrs. Manley, systematically employed fiction as a cover for personal
libel; but such an abuse of art as this could be practiced or
countenanced only by the vile. Novelists, however, often debase fiction
by obtruding their personal vanities, favouritisms, fanaticisms and
antipathies. We had, the other day, a novel, the author of which
introduced himself almost by name as a heroic character, with a
description of his own personal appearance, residence, and habits as
fond fancy painted them to himself. There is a novelist, who is a man of
fashion, and who makes the age of the heroes in his successive novels
advance with his own, so that at last we shall have irresistible
fascination at seven score years and ten. But the commonest and the most
mischievous way in which personality breaks out is pamphleteering under
the guise of fiction. One novel is a pamphlet against lunatic asylums,
another against model prisons, a third against the poor law, a fourth
against the government offices, a fifth against trade unions. In these
pretended works of imagination facts are joined in support of a crotchet
or an antipathy with all the license of fiction; calumny revels without
restraint, and no cause is served but that of falsehood and injustice. A
writer takes offence at the excessive popularity of athletic sports;
instead of bringing out an accurate and conscientious treatise to
advocate moderation, he lets fly a novel painting the typical boating
man as a seducer of confiding women, the betrayer of his friend, and the
murderer of his wife. Religious zealots are very apt to take this method
of enlisting imagination, as they think, on the side of truth. We had
once a high Anglican novel in which the Papist was eaten alive by rats,
and the Rationalist and Republican was slowly seethed in molten lead,
the fate of each being, of course, a just judgment of heaven on those
who presumed to differ from the author. Thus the voice of morality is
confounded with that of tyrannical petulance and self-love. Not only is
Scott not personal, but we cannot conceive his being so. We cannot think
it possible that he should degrade his art by the indulgence of egotism,
or crotchets, or petty piques. Least of all can we think it possible
that his high and gallant nature should use art as a cover for striking
a foul blow.

V. _The Lamp of Purity_--I heard Thackeray thank Heaven for the
purity of Dickens. I thanked Heaven for the purity of a greater than
Dickens--Thackeray himself. We may all thank Heaven for the purity of
one still greater than either, Sir Walter Scott. I say still greater
morally, as well as in power as an artist, because in Thackeray there is
cynicism, though the more genial and healthy element predominates; and
cynicism, which is not good in the great writer, becomes very bad in the
little reader. We know what most of the novels were before Scott. We
know the impurity, half-redeemed, of Fielding, the unredeemed impurity
of Smollett, the lecherous leer of Sterne, the coarseness even of Defoe.
Parts of Richardson himself could not be read by a woman without a
blush. As to French novels, Carlyle says of one of the most famous of
the last century that after reading it you ought to wash seven times in
Jordan; but after reading the French novels of the present day, in which
lewdness is sprinkled with sentimental rosewater, and deodorized, but by
no means disinfected, your washings had better be seventy times seven.
There is no justification for this; it is mere pandering, under whatever
pretence, to evil propensities; it makes the divine art of Fiction
"procuress to the Lords of Hell," If our established morality is in any
way narrow and unjust, appeal to Philosophy, not to Comus; and remember
that the mass of readers are not philosophers. Coleridge pledges himself
to find the deepest sermons under the filth of Rabelais; but Coleridge
alone finds the sermons while everybody finds the filth. Impure novels
have brought and are bringing much misery on the world. Scott's purity
is not that of cloistered innocence and inexperience, it is the manly
purity of one who had seen the world, mingled with men of the world,
known evil as well as good; but who, being a true gentleman, abhorred
filth, and teaches us to abhor it too.

VI. _The Lamp of Humanity_.--One day we see the walls placarded
with the advertising woodcut of a sensation novel, representing a girl
tied to a table and a man cutting off her feet into a tub. Another day
we are allured by a picture of a woman sitting at a sewing-machine and a
man seizing her behind by the hair, and lifting a club to knock her
brains out. A French novelist stimulates your jaded palate by
introducing a duel fought with butchers' knives by the light of
lanterns. One genius subsists by murder, as another does by bigamy and
adultery. Scott would have recoiled from the blood as well as from the
ordure, he would have allowed neither to defile his noble page. He knew
that there was no pretence for bringing before a reader what is merely
horrible, that by doing so you only stimulate passions as low as
licentiousness itself--the passions which were stimulated by the
gladiatorial shows in degraded Rome, which are stimulated by the bull-
fights in degraded Spain, which are stimulated among ourselves by
exhibitions the attraction of which really consists in their imperilling
human life. He knew that a novelist had no right even to introduce the
terrible except for the purpose of exhibiting human heroism, developing
character, awakening emotions which when awakened dignify and save from
harm. It is want of genius and of knowledge of their craft that drives
novelists to outrage humanity with horrors. Miss Austen can interest and
even excite you as much with the little domestic adventures of Emma as
some of her rivals can with a whole Newgate calendar of guilt and gore.

VII. _The Lamp of Chivalry_.--Of this briefly. Let the writer of
fiction give us humanity in all its phases, the comic as well as the
tragic, the ridiculous as well as the sublime; but let him not lower the
standard of character or the aim of life. Shakespeare does not. We
delight in his Falstaffs and his clowns as well as in his Hamlets and
Othellos, but he never familiarizes us with what is base and mean. The
noble and chivalrous always holds its place as the aim of true humanity
in his ideal world. Perhaps Dickens is not entirely free from blame in
this respect; perhaps Pickwickianism has in some degree familiarized the
generation of Englishmen who have been fed upon it with what is not
chivalrous, to say the least, in conduct, as it unquestionably has with
slang in conversation. But Scott, like Shakespeare, wherever the thread
of his fiction may lead him, always keeps before himself and us the
highest ideal which he knew, the ideal of a gentleman. If anyone says
these are narrow bounds wherein to confine fiction I answer there has
been room enough within them for the highest tragedy, the deepest
pathos, the broadest humour, the widest range of character, the most
moving incident, that the world has ever enjoyed. There has been room
within them for all the kings of pure and healthy fiction--for Homer,
Shakespeare, Cervantes, Moliere, Scott. "Farewell Sir Walter," says
Carlyle at the end of his essay, "farewell Sir Walter, pride of all
Scotchmen. Scotland has said farewell to her mortal son. But all
humanity welcomes him as Scotland's noblest gift to her and crowns him
as on this day one of the heirs of immortality."



You will not expect me, in complying with the custom which requires your
Chairman to address a few words to you before distributing the prizes,
to give you instruction about Art or Science. One who was educated, as I
was, under the old system, can hardly see without a pang the improvement
that has been made in education since his time. In a public school, in
my day, you learned nothing of Science, Art, or Music. Having received
nothing, I have nothing to give. Fortunately, the only thing of
importance to be said this evening can be said without technical
knowledge of any kind. The School of Art needs better accommodation. The
financial details will be explained to you by those who are more
conversant with them than I am. I will only say that parsimony in this
matter on the part of the government or other public bodies will, in my
humble opinion, be unwise. I am not for a lavish expenditure of public
money, even on education. It would be a misfortune if parental duty were
to be cast on the State, and parents were to be allowed to forget that
they are bound to provide their children with education as well as with
bread. But it seems that at this moment the soundest and even the most
strictly commercial policy would counsel liberality in providing for the
National Schools of Art and Science. England is labouring under
commercial depression. Of the works in the manufacturing districts, many
are running half time, and some, I fear, are likely, if things do not
mend, to stop. When I was there the other day gloom was on all faces.
Some people seem to think that the bad time will pass away of itself,
and that a good time will come again like a new moon. It is a
comfortable but a doubtful doctrine. And suppose the good time does not
come again, the outlook for those masses and their employers is dark. A
friend of mine, who is a manufacturer, said to me the other day that he
had been seeing the ruins of a feudal castle, and that the sight set him
thinking if factories should ever, like feudal castles, fall into decay,
what their ruins would be like? They would be unromantic no doubt, even
by moonlight. But much worse than the ruins of buildings would be the
ruin among the people. Imagine these swarming multitudes, or any large
proportion of them, left by the failure of employment without bread. It
would be something like a chronic Indian famine. The wealth of England
is unparalleled, unapproached in commercial history. Add Carthage to
Tyre, Venice to Carthage, Amsterdam to Venice, you will not make
anything like a London. Ten thousand pounds paid for a pair of china
vases. A Roman noble under the Empire might have rivalled this, but the
wealth of the Roman nobles was not the fruit of industry, it was the
plunder of the world. You can hardly imagine how those who come fresh
from a new country like Canada, or parts of the United States--a land
just redeemed from the wilderness, with all its untrimmed roughness, its
fields half tilled and full of stumps, its snake fences, and the charred
pines which stand up gaunt monuments of forest fires--are impressed, I
might almost say ravished, by the sight of the lovely garden which
unlimited wealth expended on a limited space has made of England. This
country, too, has an immense capital invested in the funds and
securities of foreign nations, and in this way draws tribute from the
world, though, unhappily, we are being made sensible of the fact that
money lent to a foreign government is lent to a debtor on whom you
cannot distrain. But the sources of this fabulous prosperity, are they
inexhaustible? In part, we may hope they are. A maritime position,
admirably adapted for trading with both hemispheres, a race of first-
rate seamen, masses of skilled labour, vast accumulations of machinery
and capital--these are advantages not easily lost. And there is still in
England good store of coal and iron. Not so stable, however, is the
advantage given to England by the effects of the Napoleonic war, which
for the time crushed all manufactures and mercantile marines but hers.
Now, the continental nations are developing manufactures and mercantile
marines of their own. You go round asking them to alter their tariffs,
so as to enable you to recover their markets, and almost all of them
refuse; about the only door you have really succeeded in getting opened
to you is that of France, and this was opened, not by the nation, but by
an autocrat, who had diplomatic purposes of his own. The _Times_,
indeed, in a noteworthy article the other day, undertook to prove that a
great manufacturing and trading nation might lose its customers without
being much the worse for it, but this seems too good to be true; I fancy
Yorkshire and Lancashire would say so. Is it not that very margin of
profit of which _The Times_ speaks so lightly, which, being
accumulated, has created the wealth of England? Your manufacturers are
certainly under the impression that they want markets, and the loss of
the great American market seems to them a special matter of concern. It
is doubtful whether that market would be restored to them even by an
alteration of the tariff. The coal in the great American coal fields is
much nearer the surface, and consequently more cheaply worked, than the
coal in England; iron is as plentiful, and it is near the coal; labour,
which has been much dearer there, is now falling to the English level.
Tariff or no tariff, America will probably keep her own market for the
heavier and coarser goods. But there is still a kind of goods, in the
production of which the old country will long have a great advantage. I
mean the lighter, finer, and more elegant goods, the products of
cultivated taste and of trained skill in design--that very kind of
goods, in short, the character of which these Schools of Art are
specially intended to improve. Industry and invention the new world has
in as ample a measure as the old; invention in still ampler measure, for
the Americans are a nation of inventors; but cultivated taste and its
special products will long be the appanage of old countries. It will be
long before anything of that kind will pass current in the new world
without the old world stamp. Adapt your industry in some degree to
changed requirements; acquire those finer faculties which the Schools of
Design aim at cultivating, but which, in the lucrative production of the
coarser goods, have hitherto been comparatively neglected, and you may
recover a great American market; it is doubtful whether you will in any
other way. Therefore, I repeat, to stint the Art and Science Schools
would seem bad policy. I may add that it would be specially bad policy
here in Oxford, where, under the auspices of a University which is now
extending its care to Art as well as Science, it would seem that the
finer industries, such as design applied to furniture, decoration of all
kinds, carving, painted glass, bookbinding, ought in time to do
particularly well. If you wish to prosper, cultivate your speciality;
the rule holds good for cities as well as for men.

There are some, perhaps, who dislike to think of Art in connection with
anything like manufacture. Let us, then, call it design, and keep the
name of art for the higher pursuit. Your Instructor presides, I believe,
with success, and without finding his duties clash, over a school, the
main object of which is the improvement of manufactures, and another
school dedicated to the higher objects of aesthetic cultivation. The name
manufacture reminds you of machines, and you may dislike machines and
think there is something offensive to artists in their products. Well, a
machine does not produce, or pretend to produce, poetry or sculpture; it
pretends to clothe thousands of people who would otherwise go naked. It
is itself often a miracle of human intellect. It works unrestingly that
humanity may have a chance to rest. If it sometimes supersedes higher
work, it far more often, by relieving man of the lowest work, sets him
free for the higher. Those heaps of stones broken by the hammer of a
poor wretch who bends over his dull task through the weary day by the
roadside, scantily clad, in sharp frost perhaps or chilling showers, are
they more lovely to a painter's eye than if they had been broken,
without so much human labour and suffering, by a steam stone-crusher? No
one doubts the superior interest belonging to any work however
imperfect, of individual mind; but if we were not to use a pair of tongs
that did not bear the impress of individual mind, millionaires might
have tongs, but the rest of us would put on coals with our fingers.
After all, what is a machine but a perfect tool? The Tyrian loom was a
machine, though it was worked by hand and not by steam; and if the
Tyrian had known the power loom, depend upon it he would have used it.
Without machines, the members of this School might all be grinding their
corn with hand mills, instead of learning Art. Common humanity must use
manufactured articles; even uncommon humanity will find it difficult to
avoid using them, unless it has the courage of its convictions to the
same extent as George Fox, the Quaker, who encased himself in an entire
suit of home-made leather, bearing the impress of his individual mind;
and defied a mechanical and degenerate world. The only practical
question is whether the manufactures shall be good or bad, well-designed
or ill; South Kensington answers, that if training can do it, they shall
be good and well designed.

There are the manufacturing multitudes of England; they must have work,
and find markets for their work; if machines and the Black Country are
ugly, famine would be uglier still. I have no instruction to give you,
and you would not thank me for wasting your time with rhetorical praise
of art, even if I had all the flowers of diction at my command. To me,
as an outer barbarian, it seems that some of the language on these
subjects is already pretty high pitched. I have thought so even in
reading that one of Mr. Addington Symond's most attractive volumes about
Italy which relates to Italian art. Art is the interpreter of beauty,
and perhaps beauty, if we could penetrate to its essence, might reveal
to us something higher than itself. But Art is not religion, nor is
connoisseurship priesthood. To happiness Art lends intensity and
elevation; but in affliction, in ruin, in the wreck of affection how
much can Phidias and Raphael do for you? A poet makes Goethe say to a
sceptical and perplexed world, "Art still has truth, take refuge there."
It would be a poor refuge for most of us; it was so even for the great
Goethe; for with all his intellectual splendour, his character never
rose above a grandiose and statuesque self-love; he behaved ill to his
country, ill to women. Instead of being religion, Art seems, for its own
perfection, to need religion--not a system of dogma, but a faith. This,
probably, we all feel when we look at the paintings in the Church of
Assisi or in the Arena Chapel at Padua. Perhaps those paintings also
gain something by being in the proper place for religious art, a Church.
Since the divorce of religious art from religion, it has been common to
see a Crucifixion hung over a sideboard. That age was an age of faith;
and so most likely was the glorious age of Greek art in its way. Ours is
an age of doubt, an age of doubt and of strange cross currents and
eddies of opinion, ultra scepticism penning its books in the closet
while the ecclesiastical forms of the Middle Ages stalk the streets. Art
seems to feel the disturbing influence like the rest of life. Poetry
feels it less than other arts, because there is a poetry of doubt and
Tennyson is its poet. Art is expression, and to have high expression you
must have something high to express. In the pictures at our exhibitions
there may be great technical skill; I take it for granted there is; but
in the subject surely there is a void, an appearance of painful seeking
for something to paint, and finding very little. When you come to a
great picture of an Egyptian banquet in the days of the Pharaohs, you
feel that the painter must have had a long way to go for something to
paint. Certainly this age is not indifferent to beauty. The art movement
is in every house; everywhere you see some proof of a desire to possess
not mere ornament but something really rare and beautiful. The influence
transmutes children's picture books and toys. I turned up the other day
a child's picture book of the days of my childhood; probably it had been
thought wonderfully good in its time; and what a thing it was. Some day
our doubts may be cleared up; our beliefs may be settled; faith may come
again; life may recover its singleness and certainty of aim; poetry may
gush forth once more as fresh as Homer, and the art of the future may
appear. What is most difficult to conceive, perhaps, is the sculpture of
the future; because it is hardly possible that the moderns should ever
have such facilities as the ancients had for studying the human form. In
presence of the overwhelming magnificence of the sculpture in the
museums of Rome and Naples, one wonders how Canova and Co. can have
looked with any complacency on their own productions. There seems reason
by the way to think that these artists worked not each by himself, but
in schools and brotherhoods with mutual aid and sympathy; and this is an
advantage equally within the reach of modern art. Meantime, though the
Art of the future delays to come, modern life is not all hideous. There
are many things, no doubt, such as the Black Country and the suburbs of
our cities, on which the eye cannot rest with pleasure. But Paris is not
hideous. There may be in the long lines of buildings too much of the
autocratic monotony of the Empire, but the city, as a whole, is the
perfect image of a brilliant civilization. From London beauty is almost
banished by smoke and fog, which deny to the poor architect ornament,
colour, light and shadow, leaving him nothing but outline. No doubt
besides the smoke and fog there is a fatality. There is a fatality which
darkly impels us to place on our finest site, and one of the finest in
Europe, the niggard facade and inverted teacup dome of the National
Gallery; to temper the grandeurs of Westminster by the introduction of
the Aquarium, with Mr. Hankey's Tower of Babel in the near distance; to
guard against any too-imposing effect which the outline of the Houses of
Parliament might have by covering them with minute ornament, sure to be
blackened and corroded into one vast blotch by smoke; to collect the art
wonders of Pigtail Place; to make the lions in Trafalgar Square lie like
cats on a hearth-rug, instead of supporting themselves on a slope by
muscular action, like the lions at Genoa; to perch a colossal equestrian
statue of the Duke of Wellington, arrayed in his waterproof cape, and
mounted on a low-shouldered hack instead of a charger, on the top of an
arch, by way of perpetual atonement to France for Waterloo; and now to
think of planting an obelisk of the Pharaohs on a cab-stand. An obelisk
of the Pharaohs in ancient Rome was an august captive, symbolizing the
university of the Roman Empire, but an obelisk of the Pharaohs in London
symbolizes little more than did the Druidical ring of stones which an
English squire of my acquaintance purchased in one of the Channel
Islands and set up in his English park. As to London we must console
ourselves with the thought that if life outside is less poetic than it
was in the days of old, inwardly its poetry is much deeper. If the house
is less beautiful the home is more so. Even a house in what Tennyson
calls the long unlovely street is not utterly unlovely when within it
dwell cultivated intellect, depth of character and tenderness of
affection. However the beauty of English life is in the country and
there it may challenge that of Italian palaces. America is supposed to
be given over to ugliness. There are a good many ugly things there and
the ugliest are the most pretentious. As it is in society so it is in
architecture. America is best when she is content to be herself. An
American city with its spacious streets all planted with avenues of
trees with its blocks of buildings far from unimpeachable probably in
detail yet stately in the mass with its wide spreading suburbs where
each artizan has his neat looking house in his own plot of ground and
light and air and foliage with its countless church towers and spires
far from faultless yet varying the outline might not please a painters
eye but it fills your mind with a sense of well rewarded industry of
comfort and even opulence shared by the toiling man of a prosperous,
law-loving, cheerful, and pious life. I cannot help fancying that
Turner, whose genius got to the soul of everything, would have made
something of even in American city. The cities of the Middle Ages were
picturesquely huddled within walls for protection from the violence of
the feudal era, the cities of the New World spread wide in the security
of an age of law and a continent of peace. At Cleveland in Ohio there is
a great street called Euclid Avenue, lined with villas each standing in
its own grounds and separated from each other and from the street only
by a light iron fencing instead of the high brick wall with which the
Briton shuts out his detested kind. The villas are not vast or
suggestive of over-grown plutocracy, they are suggestive of moderate
wealth, pleasant summers, cheerful winters and domestic happiness. I
hardly think you would call Euclid Avenue revolting. I say it with the
diffidence of conscious ignorance but I should not be much afraid to
show you one or two buildings that our Professor of Architecture at
Cornell University has put up for us on a bluff over Cayuga Lake, on a
site which you would certainly admit to be magnificent. If I could have
ventured on any recommendation concerning Art, I should have pleaded
before the Royal Commission for a Chair of Architecture here. It might
endow us with some forms of beauty; it might at all events endow us with
rules for building a room in which you can be heard, one in which you
can breathe, and a chimney which would not smoke. I said that in America
the most pretentious buildings were the worst. Another source of failure
in buildings, in dress, and not in these alone, is servile imitation of
Europe. In northern America the summer is tropical, the winter is
arctic. A house ought to be regular and compact in shape, so as to be
easily warmed from the centre, with a roof of simple construction, high
pitched, to prevent the snow from lodging, and large eaves to throw it
off,--this for the arctic winter, for the tropical summer you want ample
verandas, which, in fact, are the summer sitting rooms. An American
house built in this way is capable at least of the beauty which belongs
to fitness. But as you see Parisian dresses under an alien sky, so you
see Italian villas with excrescences which no stove can warm, and Tudor
mansions with gables which hold all the snow. It is needless to say what
is the result, when the New World undertakes to reproduce not only the
architecture of the Old World, but that of classical Greece and Rome, or
that of the Middle Ages. Jefferson, who was a classical republican,
taught a number of his fellow citizens to build their homes like Doric
temples, and you may imagine what a Doric temple freely adapted to
domestic purposes must be. But are these attempts to revive the past
very successful anywhere? We regard as a decided mistake the revived
classicism of the last generation. May not our revived mediaevalism be
regarded as a mistake by the generation that follows us? We could all
probably point to some case in which the clashing of mediaeval beauties
with modern requirements has produced sad and ludicrous results. There
is our own museum; the best, I suppose, that could be done in the way of
revival; the work of an architect whom the first judges deemed a man of
genius. In that, ancient form and modern requirements seem everywhere at
cross purposes. Nobody can deny that genius is impressed upon the upper
part of the front, which reminds one of a beautiful building in an
Italian city, though the structure at the side recalls the mind to
Glastonbury, and the galaxy of chimneys has certainly no parallel in
Italy. The front ought to stand in a street, but as it stands in a field
its flanks have to be covered by devices which are inevitably weak. What
is to be done with the back always seems to me one of the darkest
enigmas of the future. The basement is incongruously plain and bare, in
the street it would perhaps be partly hidden by the passengers. Going
in, you find a beautiful mediaeval court struggling hard for its life
against a railway station and a cloister, considerately offering you a
shady walk or shelter from the weather round a room. Listen to the
multitudinous voices of Science and you will hear that the conflict
extends to practical accommodation. We all know it was not the fault of
the architect, it was the fault of adverse exigencies which came into
collision with his design, but this only strengthens the moral of the
building against revivals. Two humble achievements, if we had chosen
were certainly within our reach,--perfect adaptation to our object and
inoffensive dignity. Every one who has a heart, however ignorant of
architecture he may be, feels the transcendent beauty and poetry of the
mediaeval churches. For my part I look up with admiration, as fervent as
any one untrained in art can, to those divine creations of old religion
which soar over the smoke and din of our cities into purity and
stillness and seem to challenge us, with all our wealth and culture and
science and mechanical power, to produce their peer till the age of
faith shall return. Not Greek Art itself springing forth in its
perfection from the dark background of primaeval history, seems to me a
greater miracle than these. How poor beside the lowliest of them in
religious effect in romance, in everything but size and technical skill,
is any pile of neo-paganism even I will dare to say, St. Peter's. Yet
for my part, deeply as I am moved by the religious architecture of the
Middle Ages, I cannot honestly say that I ever felt the slightest
emotion in any modern Gothic church. I will even own that, except where
restoration rids us of the unchristian exclusiveness of pews, I prefer
the unrestored churches, with something of antiquity about them, to the
restored. There is a spell in mediaeval Art which has had power to
bewitch some people into trying, or wishing to try, or fancying that
they wish to try or making believe to fancy that they wish to try, to
bring back the Middle Ages. You may hear pinings for the return of an
age of force from gentle aestheticists, who, if the awe of force did
return, would certainly be crushed like eggshells. There is a well-known
tale by Hans Andersen, that great though child-like teacher, called the
"Overshoes of Fortune." A gentleman, at an evening party, has been
running down modern society and wishing he were in the heroic Middle
Ages. In going away he unwittingly puts on the fairy overshoes, which
have the gift of transporting the wearer at once to any place and time
where he wishes to be. Stepping out he finds his own wish fulfilled--he
is in the Middle Ages. There is no gas, the street is pitch dark, he is
up to his ankles in mud, he is nearly knocked into the kennel by a
mediaeval bishop returning from a revel with his roystering train, when
he wants to cross the river there is no bridge; and after vainly
inquiring his way in a tavern full of very rough customers, he wishes
himself in the moon, and to the moon appropriately he goes. Mediaevalism
can hardly be called anything but a rather enfeebling dream. If it were
a real effort to live in the Middle Ages, your life would be one
perpetual prevarication. You would be drawn by the steam engine to
lecture against steam; you would send eloquent invectives against
printing to the press, and you would be subsisting meanwhile on the
interest of investments which the Middle Ages would have condemned as
usury. If you were like some of the school, you would praise the golden
silence of the Dark Ages and be talking all the time. And surely the
hourly failure to act up to your principles, the hourly and conscious
apostacy from your ideal, could beget nothing in the character but
hollowness and weakness. No student of history can fail to see the moral
interest of the Middle Ages, any more than an artist can fail to see
their aesthetic interest. There were some special types of noble
character then, of which, when they were done with, nature broke the
mould. But the mould is broken, and it is broken for ever. Through
aesthetic pining for a past age, we may become unjust to our own, and
thus weaken our practical sense of duty, and lessen our power of doing
good. I will call the age bad when it makes me so, is a wise saying, and
worth all our visionary cynicism, be it never so eloquent. To say the
same thing in other words, our age will be good enough for most of us,
if there is genuine goodness in ourselves. Rousseau fancied he was
soaring above his age, not into the thirteenth century, but into the
state of nature, while he was falling miserably below his own age in all
the common duties and relations of life; and he was a type, not of
enthusiasts, for enthusiasm leads to action, but of mere social
dreamers. Where there is duty, there is poetry, and tragedy too, in
plenty, though it be in the most prosaic row of dingy little brick
houses with clothes hanging out to dry, or rather to be wetted, behind
them, in all Lancashire. We have commercial fraud now, too much of it;
and the declining character of English goods is a cause of their
exclusion from foreign markets, as well as hostile tariffs; so that
everything South Kensington can do to uphold good and genuine work will
be of the greatest advantage to the English trade. But if anyone
supposes that there was no commercial fraud in the Middle Ages, let him
study the commercial legislation of England for that period, and his
mind will be satisfied, if he has a mind to be satisfied and not only a
fancy to run away with him. There was fraud beneath the cross of the
Crusader, and there was forgery in the cell of the Monk. In comparing
the general quality of work we must remember that it is the best work of
those times that has survived. I think I could prove from history that
mediaeval floors sometimes gave way even when there was no St. Dunstan
there. You will recollect that the floor miraculously fell in at a
synod, and killed all St. Dunstan's opponents; but sceptics, who did not
easily believe in miracles, whispered that the Saint from his past
habits, knew how to handle tools. We are told by those whose creed is
embodied in "Past and Present" that this age is one vast anarchy,
industrial and social; and that nothing but military discipline--that is
the perpetual cry--will restore us to anything like order as workers or
as men. Well, there are twenty thousand miles of railway in the three
kingdoms, forming a system as complex as it is vast. I am told that at
one junction, close to London, the trains pass for some hours at the
rate of two in five minutes. Consider how that service is done by the
myriads of men employed, and this in all seasons and weathers in
overwhelming heat, in numbing cold, in blinding storm, in midnight
darkness. Is not this an army pretty well disciplined, though its object
is not bloodshed? If we see masses full of practical energy and good
sense, but wanting in culture, let us take our culture to them, and
perhaps they will give us some of their practical energy and good sense
in return. Without that Black Country industry, all begrimed and sweaty,
our fine culture could not exist. Everything we use, nay, our veriest
toy represents lives spent for us in delving beneath the dark and
perilous mine, in battling with the wintry sea, in panting before the
glowing forge, in counting the weary hours over the monotonous and
unresting loom, lives of little value, one could think, if there were no
hereafter. Let us at least be kind. I go to Saltaire. I find a noble
effort made by a rich man who kept his heart above wealth, Titus Salt--
he was a baronet, but we will spare him, as we spare Nelson, the
derogatory prefix--to put away what is dark and evil in factory life. I
find a little town, I should have thought not unpleasant to the eye, and
certainly not unpleasant to the heart, where labour dwells in pure air,
amidst beautiful scenery, with all the appliances of civilization, with
everything that can help it to health, morality, and happiness. I find a
man, who might, if he pleased, live idly in the lap of luxury, working
like a horse in the management of this place, bearing calmly not only
toil and trouble, but perverseness and ingratitude. Surely, aesthetic
culture would be a doubtful blessing if it made us think or speak
unsympathetically and rudely of Saltaire. Four hundred thousand people
at Manchester are without pure water. They propose to get it from
Thirlmere. For this they are denounced in that sort of language which is
called strong, but the use of which is a sure proof of weakness, for
irritability was well defined by Abernethy as debility in a state of
excitement. Let us spare, whenever they can be spared, history and
beauty; they are a priceless part of the heritage of a great industrial
nation, and one which lost can never be restored. The only difference I
ever had with my fellow-citizens in Oxford during a pretty long
residence, arose out of my opposition to a measure which would have
marred the historic character and the beauty of our city, while I was
positively assured on the best authority that it was commercially
inexpedient. If Thirlmere can be spared, spare Thirlmere; but if it is
really needed to supply those masses with a necessary of life, the
loveliest lake by which poet or artist ever wandered could not be put to
a nobler use. I am glad in this to follow the Bishop of Manchester, who
is not made of coarse clay, though he cares for the health as well as
for the religion of his people. A schism between aesthetic Oxford and
industrial Lancashire would be a bad thing for both; and South
Kensington, which, while it teaches art, joins hands with industry,
surely does well. It is needless to debate before this audience the
question whether there is any essential antagonism between art or
esthetic culture, and the tendencies of an age of science. An accidental
antagonism there may be, an essential antagonism there cannot be. What
is science but truth, and why should not truth and beauty live together?
Is an artist a worse painter of the human body from being a good
anatomist? Then why should he be a worse painter of nature generally,
because he knows her secrets, or because they are being explored in his
time? Would he render moonlight better if he believed the moon was a
green cheese? Art and Science dwelt together well enough in the minds of
Leonardo da Vinci and Michael Angelo. In the large creative mind there
is room for both; though the smaller and merely perceptive mind being
fixed on one may sometimes not have room for the other. True, the
perfect concord of art and science, like that of religion and science,
may be still to come, and come, we hope, both concords will. One word
more before we distribute the prizes. A system of prizes is a system of
competition, and to competition some object. We can readily sympathise
with their objection. Work done from love of the subject, or from a
sense of duty, is better than work done for a prize, and, moreover, we
cherish the hope that co-operation, not competition, will be the
ultimate principle of industry, and the final state of man. But nothing
hinders that, in working for a prize as in working for your bread, you
may, at the same time, be working from sense of duty and love of the
subject, and though co-operation may be our final state, competition is
our present. Here the competition is at least fair. There can hardly be
any doubt that the prize system often calls into activity powers of
doing good work which would otherwise have lain dormant, and if it does
this it is useful to the community, though the individual needs to be on
his guard against its drawbacks in himself. In reading the Life of Lord
Althorp the other day I was struck with the fact, for a fact, I think,
it evidently was, that England had owed one of her worthiest and most
useful statesmen to a college competition, which aroused him to a sense
of his own powers, and of the duty of using them, whereas he would
otherwise never have risen above making betting books and chronicling
the performances of foxhounds. Perhaps about the worst consequence of
the prize system, against which, I have no doubt, your Instructor
guards, is undue discouragement on the part of those who do not win the
prize. And now, Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish you were to receive your
rewards from a hand which would lend them any additional value. But
though presented by me they have been awarded by good judges; and as
they have been awarded to you, I have no doubt you have deserved them


Science and criticism have raised the veil of the Mosaic cosmogony and
revealed to us the physical origin of man. We see that, instead of being
created out of the dust of the earth by Divine fiat, he has in all
probability been evolved out of it by a process of development through a
series of intermediate forms.

The discovery is, of course, unspeakably momentous. Among other things
it seems to open to us a new view of morality, and one which, if it is
verified by further investigation, can hardly fail to produce a great
change in philosophy. Supposing that man has ascended from a lower
animal form, there appears to be ground at least for surmising that
vice, instead of being a diabolical inspiration or a mysterious element
of human nature, is the remnant of the lower animal not yet eliminated;
while virtue is the effort, individual and collective, by which that
remnant is being gradually worked off. The acknowledged connection of
virtue with the ascendency of the social over the selfish desires and
tendencies seems to correspond with this view; the nature of the lower
animals being, so far as we can see, almost entirely selfish, and
admitting no regard even for the present interests of their kind, much
less for its interests in the future. The doubtful qualities, and "last
infirmities of noble minds," such as ambition and the love of fame, in
which the selfish element is mingled with one not wholly selfish, and
which commend themselves at least by their refinement, as contrasted
with the coarseness of the merely animal vices, may perhaps be regarded
as belonging to the class of phenomena quaintly designated by some
writers as "pointer facts," and as marking the process of transition. In
what morality consists, no one has yet succeeded in making clear. Mr.
Sidgwick's recent criticism of the various theories leads to the
conviction that not one of them affords a satisfactory basis for a
practical system of ethics. If our lower nature can be traced to an
animal origin, and can be shown to be in course of elimination, however
slow and interrupted, this at all events will be a solid fact, and one
which must be the starting-point of any future system of ethics. Light
would be at once thrown by such a discovery on some parts of the subject
which have hitherto been involved in impenetrable darkness. Of the vice
of cruelty for example no rational account, we believe, has yet been
given; it is connected with no human appetite, and seems to gratify no
human object of desire; but if we can be shown to have inherited it from
animal progenitors, the mystery of its existence is at least in part
explained. In the event of this surmise being substantiated, moral
phantasms, with their mediaeval trappings, would for ever disappear;
individual responsibility would be reduced within reasonable limits; the
difficulty of the question respecting free will would shrink to
comparatively narrow proportions; but it does not seem likely that the
love of virtue and the hatred of vice would be diminished; on the
contrary, it seems likely that they would be practically intensified,
while a more practical direction would certainly be given to the science
of ethics as a system of moral training and a method of curing moral

It is needless to say how great has been the influence of the doctrine
of Evolution, or rather perhaps of the method of investigation to which
it has given birth, upon the study of history, especially the history of
institutions. Our general histories will apparently have to be almost
rewritten from that point of view. It is only to be noted, with regard
to the treatment of history, that the mere introduction of a physical
nomenclature, however elaborate and apparently scientific, does not make
anything physical which before was not so, or exclude from human
actions, of which history is the aggregate, any element not of a
physical kind. We are impressed, perhaps, at first with a sense of new
knowledge when we are told that human history is "an integration of
matter and concomitant dissipation of motion; during which the matter
passes from an indefinite incoherent homogeneity to a definite coherent
heterogeneity, and during which the retained motion undergoes a parallel
transformation." But a little reflection suggests to us that such a
philosophy is vitiated by the assumption involved in the word "matter,"
and that the philosophy of history is in fact left exactly where it was
before. The superior complexity of high civilization is a familiar
social fact which gains nothing in clearness by the importation of
mechanical or physiological terms.

We must also be permitted to bear in mind that evolution, though it may
explain everything else, cannot explain itself. What is the origin of
the movement, and by what power the order of development is prescribed,
are questions yet unsolved by physical science. That the solution, if it
could be supplied, would involve anything arbitrary, miraculous, or at
variance with the observed order of things, need not be assumed; but it
might open a new view of the universe, and dissipate for ever the merely
mechanical accounts of it. In the meantime we may fairly enter a caveat
against the tacit insinuation of an unproved solution. Science can
apparently give no reason for assuming that the first cause, and that
which gives the law to development, is a blind force rather than an
archetypal idea. The only origination within our experience is that of
human action, where the cause is an idea. Science herself, in fact,
constantly assumes an analogous cause for the movements of the universe
in her use of the word "law," which necessarily conveys the notion, not
merely of observed co-existence and sequence, but of the intelligent and
consistent action of a higher power, on which we rely in reasoning from
the past to the future, as we do upon consistency in the settled conduct
of a man.

Unspeakably momentous, however, we once more admit, the discovery is,
and great is the debt of gratitude due to its illustrious authors. Yet
it seems not unreasonable to ask whether in some respects we are not too
much under its immediate influence, and whether the revolution of
thought, though destined ultimately to be vast, may not at present have
somewhat overpassed its bounds. Is it not possible that the physical
origin of man may be just now occupying too large a space in our minds
compared with his ulterior development and his final destiny? With our
eyes fixed on the "Descent," newly disclosed to us, may we not be losing
sight of the _Ascent_ of man?

There seems in the first place, to be a tendency to treat the origin of
a being as finally decisive of its nature and destiny. From the language
sometimes used, we should almost suppose that rudiments alone were real,
and that all the rest was mere illusion. An eminent writer on the
antiquities of jurisprudence intimates his belief that the idea of human
brotherhood is not coeval with the race, and that primitive communities
were governed by sentiments of a very different kind. His words are at
once pounced upon as a warrant for dismissing the idea of human
brotherhood from our minds, and substituting for it some other social
principles, the character of which has not yet been definitely
explained, though it is beginning in some quarters pretty distinctly to
appear. But surely this is not reasonable. There can be no reason why
the first estate of man, which all allow to have been his lowest estate,
should claim the prerogative of furnishing his only real and
indefeasible principles of action. Granting that the idea of human
brotherhood was not aboriginal--granting that it came into the world at
a comparatively late period, still it has come, and having come, it is
as real and seems as much entitled to consideration as inter-tribal
hostility and domestic despotism were in their own day. That its advent
has not been unattended by illusions and aberrations is a fact which
does not cancel its title to real existence under the present
conditions, and with the present lights of society, any more than in
annuls the great effects upon the actions of men and the course of
history which the idea has undeniably produced. Human brotherhood was
not a part of a primaeval revelation; it may not have been an original
institution; but it seems to be a real part of a development, and it may
be a part of a plan. That the social principles of certain anti-
philanthropic works are identical with those which governed the actions
of mankind in a primaeval and rudimentary state, when man had only just
emerged from the animal, and have been since worked off by the foremost
races in the course of development, is surely rather an argument against
the paramount and indefeasible authority of those principles than in
favour of it. It tends rather to show that their real character is that
of a relapse, or, as the physiologists call it, a reversion. When there
is a vast increase of wealth, of sensual enjoyment, and of the
selfishness which is apt to attend them, it is not marvellous that such
reversions should occur.

Another eminent writer appears to think that he has put an end to
metaphysical theology, and perhaps to metaphysics and theology
altogether, by showing that "being," and the cognate words, originally
denoted merely physical perceptions. But so, probably, did all language.
So did "spirit," so did "geist," so did "power," so did even "sweet
reasonableness," and "the not us which makes for righteousness." Other
perceptions or ideas have gradually come, and are now denoted by the
words which at first denoted physical perceptions only. Why have not
these last comers as good a claim to existence as the first? Suppose the
intellectual nature of man has unfolded, and been brought, as it
conceivably may, into relations with something in the universe beyond
the mere indications of the five bodily senses--why are we bound to
mistrust the results of this unfolding? We might go still further back,
and still lower, than to language denoting merely physical perceptions.
We might go back to inarticulate sounds and signs; but this does not
invalidate the reality of the perceptions afterwards expressed in
articulate language. It seems not very easy to distinguish, in point of
trustworthiness of source, between the principles of metaphysics and the
first principles of mathematics, or to say, if we accept the deductions
in one case, why we should not accept them in the other. It is
conceivable at least, we venture to repeat, that the development of
man's intellectual nature may have enabled him to perceive other things
than those which he perceives by means of his five bodily senses; and
metaphysics, once non-existent, may thus have come into legitimate
existence. Man, if the doctrine of evolution is true, was once a
creature with only bodily senses; nay, at a still earlier stage, he was
matter devoid even of bodily sense; now he has arrived--through the
exercise of his bodily senses it may be--at something beyond bodily
sense, at such notions as _being, essence, existence_: he reasons
upon these notions, and extends the scope of his once merely physical
vocabulary so as to comprehend them. Why should he not? If we are to be
anchored hard and fast to the signification of primaeval language, how
are we to obtain an intellectual basis for "the not us which makes for
righteousness?" Do not the anti-metaphysicists themselves unconsciously
metaphysicize? Does not their fundamental assumption--that the knowledge
received through our bodily senses alone is trustworthy--involve an
appeal to a mental necessity as much as anything in metaphysics, whether
the mental necessity in this case be real or not?

Again, the great author of the Evolution theory himself, in his
_Descent of Man_, has given us an account of morality which
suggests a remark of the same kind. He seems to have come to the
conclusion that what is called our moral sense is merely an indication
of the superior permanency of social compared with personal impressions.
Morality, if we take his explanation as complete and final, is reduced
to tribal self-preservation subtilized into etiquette; an etiquette
which, perhaps, a sceptical voluptuary, wishing to remove the obstacles
to a life of enjoyment, might think himself not unreasonable in treating
as an illusion. This, so far as appears, is the explanation offered of
moral life, with all its beauty, its tenderness, its heroism, its self-
sacrifice; to say nothing of spiritual life with its hopes and
aspirations, its prayers and fanes. Such an account even of the origin
of morality seems rather difficult to receive. Surely, even in their
most rudimentary condition, virtue and vice must have been distinguished
by some other characteristic than the relative permanency of two
different sets of impressions. There is a tendency, we may venture to
observe, on the part of eminent physicists, when they have carefully
investigated and explained what seems to them the most important and
substantial subjects of inquiry, to proffer less careful explanations of
matters which to them seem secondary and less substantial, though
possibly to an intelligence surveying the drama of the world from
without the distinctly human portion of it might appear more important
than the rest. Eminent physicists have been known, we believe, to
account summarily for religion as a surviving reminiscence of the
serpent which attacked the ancestral ape and the tree which sheltered
him from the attack, so that Newton's religious belief would be a
concomitant of his remaining trace of a tail. It was assumed that
primaeval religion was universally the worship of the serpent and of the
tree. This assumption was far from being correct; but, even if it had
been correct, the theory based on it would surely have been a very
summary account of the phenomena of religious life.

However, supposing the account of the origin of the moral sense and of
moral life, given in _The Descent of Man_, to be true, it is an
account of the origin only. Though profoundly significant, as well as
profoundly interesting, it is not more significant, compared with the
subsequent development, than is the origin of physical life compared
with the subsequent history of living beings. Suppose a mineralogist or
a chemist were to succeed in discovering the exact point at which
inorganic matter gave birth to the organic; his discovery would be
momentous and would convey to us a most distinct assurance of the method
by which the governing power of the universe works: but would it qualify
the mineralogist or the chemist to give a full account of all the
diversities of animal life, and of the history of man? Heroism, self-
sacrifice, the sense of moral beauty, the refined affections of
civilized men, philanthropy, the desire of realizing a high moral ideal,
whatever else they may be, are not tribal self-preservation subtilized
into etiquette; nor are they adequately explained by reference to the
permanent character of one set of impressions and the occasional
character of another set. Between the origin of moral life and its
present manifestation has intervened something so considerable as to
baffle any anticipation of the destiny of humanity which could have been
formed for a mere inspection of the rudiments. We may call this
intervening force circumstance, if we please, provided we remember that
calling it circumstance does not settle its nature, or exclude the
existence of a power acting through circumstance as the method of
fulfilling a design.

Whatever things may have been in their origin, they are what they are,
both in themselves and in regard to their indications respecting other
beings or influences the existence of which may be implied in theirs.
The connection between the embryo and the adult man, with his moral
sense and intelligence, and all that these imply, is manifest, as well
as the gradual evolution of the one out of the other, and a conclusive
argument is hence derived against certain superstitions or fantastic
beliefs; but the embryo is not a man, neither is the man an embryo. A
physiologist sets before us a set of plates showing the similarity
between the embryo of Newton and that of his dog Diamond. The inference
which he probably expects us to draw is that there is no essential
difference between the philosopher and the dog. But surely it is at
least as logical to infer, that the importance of the embryo and the
significance of embryological similarities may not be so great as the
physiologist is disposed to believe.

So with regard to human institutions. The writer on legal antiquities
before mentioned finds two sets of institutions which are now directly
opposed to each other, and between the respective advocates of which a
controversy has been waged. He proposes to terminate that controversy by
showing that though the two rival systems in their development are so
different, in their origin they were the same. This seems very clearly
to bring home to us the fact that, important as the results of an
investigation of origins are, there is still a limit to their

Again, while we allow no prejudice to stand in the way of our acceptance
of Evolution, we may fairly call upon Evolution to be true to itself. We
may call upon it to recognise the possibility of development in the
future as well as the fact of development in the past, and not to shut
up the hopes and aspirations of our race in a mundane egg because the
mundane egg happens to be the special province of the physiologist. The
series of developments has proceeded from the inorganic to the organic,
from the organic upwards to moral and intellectual life. Why should it
be arrested there? Why should it not continue its upward course and
arrive at a development which might be designated as spiritual life?
Surely the presumption is in favour of a continued operation of the law.
Nothing can be more arbitrary than the proceeding of Comte, who, after
tracing humanity, as he thinks, through the Theological and Metaphysical
stages into the Positive, there closes the series and assumes that the
Positive stage is absolutely final. How can he be sure that it will not
be followed, for example, by one in which man will apprehend and commune
with the Ruler of the Universe, not through mythology or dogma, but
through Science? He may have had no experience of such a phase of human
existence, nor may he be able at present distinctly to conceive it. But
had he lived in the Theological or the Metaphysical era he would have
been equally without experience of the Positive, and have had the same
difficulty in conceiving its existence. His finality is an assumption
apparently without foundation.

By Spiritual Life we do not mean the life of a disembodied spirit, or
anything supernatural and anti-scientific, but a life the motives of
which are beyond the world of sense, and the aim of which is an ideal,
individual and collective, which may be approached but cannot be
attained under our present conditions, and the conception of which
involves the hope of an ulterior and better state. The Positivists
themselves often use the word "spiritual," and it may be assumed that
they mean by it something higher in the way of aspiration than what is
denoted by the mere term moral, though they may not look forward to any
other state of being than this.

We do not presume, of course, in these few pages to broach any great
question, our only purpose being to point out a possible aberration or
exaggeration of the prevailing school of thought. But it must surely be
apparent to the moral philosopher, no less than to the student of
history, that at the time of the appearance of Christianity, a crisis
took place in the development of humanity which may be not unfitly
described as the commencement of Spiritual Life. The change was not
abrupt. It had been preceded and heralded by the increasing spirituality
of the Hebrew religion, especially in the teachings of the prophets, by
the spiritualization of Greek philosophy, and perhaps by the sublimation
of Roman duty; but it was critical and decided. So much is admitted even
by those who deplore the advent of Christianity as a fatal historical
catastrophe, which turned away men's minds from the improvement of their
material condition to the pursuit of a chimerical ideal. Faith, Hope,
and Charity, by which the Gospel designates the triple manifestation of
spiritual life, are new names for new things; for it is needless to say
that in classical Greek the words have nothing like their Gospel
signification. It would be difficult, we believe, to find in any Greek
or Roman writer an expression of hope for the future of humanity. The
nearest approach to such a sentiment, perhaps, is in the political
Utopianism of Plato. The social ideal is placed in a golden age which
has irretrievably passed away. Virgil's Fourth Eclogue, even if it were
a more serious production than it is, seems to refer to nothing more
than the pacification of the Roman Empire and the restoration of its
material prosperity by Augustus. But Christianity, in the Apocalypse, at
once breaks forth into a confident prediction of the ultimate triumph of
good over evil, and of the realization of the ideal.

The moral aspiration--the striving after an ideal of character, personal
and social, the former in and through the latter--seems to be the
special note of the life, institutions, literature, and art of
Christendom. Christian Fiction, for example, is pervaded by an interest
in the development and elevation of character for which we look in vain
in the _Arabian Nights_, where there is no development of
character, nothing but incident and adventure. Christian sculpture,
inferior perhaps in workmanship to that of Phidias, derives its superior
interest from its constant suggestion of a spiritual ideal. The
Christian lives, in a manner, two lives, an outward one of necessary
conformity to the fashions and ordinances of the present world; an inner
one of protest against the present world and anticipation of an ideal
state of things; and this duality is reproduced in the separate
existence of the spiritual society or Church, submitting to existing
social arrangements, yet struggling to transcend them, and to transmute
society by the realization of the Christian's social ideal. With this is
necessarily connected a readiness to sacrifice present to future good,
and the interests of the present to future good, and the interests of
the present world to those of the world of hope. Apart from this, the
death of Christ (and that of Socrates also), instead of being an
instance of "sweet reasonableness," would be out of the pale of reason

It is perhaps the absence of an ideal that prevents our feeling
satisfied with Utilitarianism. The Utilitarian definition of morality
has been so much enlarged, and made to coincide so completely with
ordinary definitions in point of mere extent, that the difference
between Utilitarianism and ordinary Moral Philosophy seems to have
become almost verbal. Yet we feel that there is something wanting. There
is no ideal of character. And where there is no ideal of character there
can hardly be such a thing as a sense of moral beauty. A Utilitarian
perhaps would say that perfect utility is beauty. But whatever may be
the case with material beauty, moral beauty at all events seems to
contain an element not identical with the satisfaction produced by the
appearance of perfect utility, but suggestive of an unfulfilled ideal.

Suppose spiritual life necessarily implies the expectation of a Future
State, has physical science anything to say against that expectation?
Physical Science is nothing more than the perceptions of our five bodily
senses registered and methodized. But what are these five senses?
According to physical science itself, nerves in a certain stage of
evolution. Why then should it be assumed that their account of the
universe, or of our relations to it, is exhaustive and final? Why
should it be assumed that these are the only possible organs of
perception, and that no other faculties or means of communication with
the universe can ever in the course of evolution be developed in man?
Around us are animals absolutely unconscious, so far as we can discern,
of that universe which Science has revealed to us. A sea anemone, if it
can reflect, probably feels as confident that it perceives everything
capable of being perceived as the man of science. The reasonable
supposition, surely, is that though Science, so far as it goes, is real,
and the guide of our present life, its relation to the sum of things is
not much more considerable than that of the perceptions of the lower
orders of animals. That our notions of the universe have been so vastly
enlarged by the mere invention of astronomical instruments is enough in
itself to suggest the possibility of further and infinitely greater
enlargement. To our bodily senses, no doubt, and to physical science,
which is limited by them, human existence seems to end with death; but
if there is anything in our nature which tells us, with a distinctness
and persistency equal to those of our sensible perceptions, that hope
and responsibility extend beyond death, why is this assurance not as
much to be trusted as that of the bodily sense itself? There is
apparently no ultimate criterion of truth, whether physical or moral,
except our inability, constituted as we are to believe otherwise; and
this criterion seems to be satisfied by a universal and ineradicable
moral conviction as well as by a universal and irresistible impression
of sense.

We are enjoined, some times with a vehemence approaching that of
ecclesiastical anathema, to refuse to consider anything which lies
beyond the range of experience. By experience is meant the perceptions
of our bodily senses, the absolute completeness and finality of which,
we must repeat, is an assumption, the warrant for which must at all
events be produced from other authority than that of the senses
themselves. On this ground we are called upon to discard, as worthy of
nothing but derision, the ideas of eternity and infinity. But to
dislodge these ideas from our minds is impossible; just as impossible as
it is to dislodge any idea that has entered through the channels of the
senses; and this being so, it is surely conceivable that they may not be
mere illusions, but real extensions of our intelligence beyond the
domain of mere bodily sense, indicating an upward progress of our
nature. Of course if these ideas correspond to reality, physical
science, though true as far as it goes, cannot be the whole truth, or
even bear any considerable relation to the whole truth, since it
necessarily presents Being as limited by space and time.

Whither obedience to the dictates of the higher part of our nature will
ultimately carry us, we may not be able, apart from Revelation, to say;
but there seems no substantial reason for refusing to believe that it
carries us towards a better state. Mere ignorance, arising from the
imperfection of our perceptive powers, of the mode in which we shall
pass into that better state, or of its precise relation to our present
existence, cannot cancel an assurance, otherwise valid, of our general
destiny. A transmutation of humanity, such as we can conceive to be
brought about by the gradual prevalence of higher motives of action, and
the gradual elimination thereby of what is base and brutish, is surely
no more incredible than the actual development of humanity, as it is
now, out of a lower animal form or out of inorganic matter.

What the bearing of the automatic theory of human nature would be upon
the hopes and aspirations of man, or on moral philosophy generally, it
might be difficult, no doubt, to say. But has any one of the
distinguished advocates of the automatic theory ever acted on it, or
allowed his thoughts to be really ruled by it for a moment? What can be
imagined more strange than an automaton suddenly becoming conscious of
its own automatic character, reasoning and debating about it
automatically, and coming automatically to the conclusion that the
automatic theory of itself is true? Nor is there any occasion here to
entangle ourselves in the controversy about Necessarianism. If the race
can act progressively on higher and more unselfish motives, as history
proves to be the fact, there can be nothing in the connection between
our actions and their antecedents inconsistent with the ascent of man.
Jonathan Edwards is undoubtedly right in maintaining that there is a
connection between every human action and its antecedents. But the
nature of the connection remains a mystery. We learn its existence not
from inspection, but from consciousness, and this same consciousness
tells us that the connection is not such as to preclude the existence of
liberty of choice, moral aspiration, moral effort, moral responsibility,
which are the contradictories of Necessarianism. The terms _cause and
effect_, and others of that kind, which the imperfection of
psychological language compels us to use in speaking of the mental
connection between action and its antecedents, are steeped from their
employment in connection with physical science, in physical association,
and the import with them into the moral sphere the notion of physical
enchainment, for which the representations of consciousness, the sole
authority, afford no warrant whatever.

Another possible source of serious aberration, we venture to think, will
be found in the misapplication of the doctrine of _survivals_. Some
lingering remains of its rudimentary state in the shape of primaeval
superstitions or fancies continue to adhere to a developed, and matured
belief; and hence it is inferred, or at least the inference is
suggested, that the belief itself is nothing but a "survival," and
destined in the final triumph of reason to pass away. The belief in the
immortality of the soul, for example, is found still connected in the
lower and less advanced minds with primaeval superstitions and fancies
about ghosts and other physical manifestations of the spirit world, as
well as with funeral rites and modes of burial indicating irrational
notions as to the relations of the body to the spirit. But neither these
nor any special ideas as to the nature of future rewards and punishments
or the mode of transition from the present to the future state, are
really essential parts of the belief. They are the rudimentary
imaginations and illusions of which the rational belief is gradually
working itself clear. The basis of the rational belief in the
immortality of the soul, or, to speak more correctly, in the continuance
of our spiritual existence after death is the conviction, common, so far
as we know, to all the higher portions of humanity, and apparently
ineradicable, that our moral responsibility extends beyond the grave;
that we do not by death terminate the consequences of our actions, or
our relations to those to whom we have done good or evil; and that to
die the death of the righteous is better than to have lived a life of
pleasure even with the approbation of an undiscerning world. So far from
growing weaker, this conviction appears to grow practically stronger
among the most highly educated and intelligent of mankind, though they
may have cast off the last remnant of primitive or medieval
superstition, and though they may have ceased to profess belief in any
special form of the doctrine. The Comtists certainly have not got rid of
it, since they have devised a subjective immortality with a retributive
distinction between the virtuous and the wicked; to say nothing of their
singular proposal that the dead should be formally judged by the
survivors, and buried, according to the judgment passed upon them, in
graves of honour or disgrace.

With regard to religion generally there is the same tendency to
exaggerate the significance of "survivals," and to neglect, on the other
hand, the phenomena of disengagement. Because the primitive fables and
illusions which long adhere to religion are undeniably dying out, it is
asserted, or suggested, that religion itself is dying. Religion is
identified with mythology. But mythology is merely the primaeval matrix
of religion. Mythology is the embodiment of man's childlike notions as
to the universe in which he finds himself, and the powers which for good
or evil influence his lot; and, when analysed, it is found beneath all
its national variations to be merely based upon a worship of the sun,
the moon, and the forces of Nature. Religion is the worship and service
of a moral God and a God who is worshipped and served by virtue. We can
distinctly see, in Greek literature for instance, religion disengaging
itself from mythology. In Homer the general element is mythology,
capable of being rendered more or less directly into simple nature-
worship, childish, non-moral, and often immoral. But when Hector says
that he holds omens of no account, and that the best omen of all is to
fight for one's country, he shows an incipient reliance on a Moral
Power. The disengagement of religion from mythology is of course much
further advanced and more manifest when we come to Plato; while the
religious faith, instead of being weaker, has become infinitely
stronger, and is capable of supporting the life and the martyrdom of
Socrates. When Socrates and Plato reject the Homeric mythology, it is
not because they are sceptics but because Homer is a child.

But it is in the Old Testament that the process of disengagement and the
growth of a moral out of a ceremonial religion are most distinctly

  "'Wherewith shall I come before Jahveh,
  And bow myself down before God on high?
  Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
  With the sacrifice of calves of a year old?
  --Will Jahveh be pleased with thousands of rams,
  With ten thousands of rivers of oil?
  Shall I give my first-born for my transgression,
  The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?'
  '--He hath showed thee, O man, what is good,
  And what Jahveh doth require of thee;
  What but to do justly to love mercy,
  And to walk humbly with thy God?'"

Here no doubt is a belief in the efficacy of sacrifice, even of human
sacrifice, even of the sacrifice of the first-born. But it is a receding
and dying belief; while the belief in the power of justice, mercy,
humility, moral religion in short, is prevailing over it and taking its

So it is again in the New Testament with regard to spiritual life and
the miraculous. Spiritual life commenced in a world full of belief in
the miraculous, and it did not at once break with that belief. But it
threw the miraculous into the background and anticipated its decline,
presaging that it would lose its importance and give place finally to
the spiritual. "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels,
and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling
cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all
mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I
could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.... Charity
never faileth; but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether
there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall
vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that
which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done
away." Clearly the writer of this believes in prophecies, in tongues, in
mysteries. But clearly, also, he regards them as both secondary and
transient, while he regards charity as primary and eternal.

It may be added that the advent of spiritual life did at once produce a
change in the character of the miraculous itself, divested it of its
fantastic extravagance, and infused into it a moral element. The Gospel
miracles, almost without exception, have a moral significance, and can
without incongruity be made the text of moral discourses to this day. An
attempt to make Hindoo or Greek miracles the text of moral discourses
would produce strange results.

Compared with the tract of geological, and still more with that of
astronomical time, spiritual life has not been long in our world; and we
need not wonder if the process of disengagement from the environments of
the previous state of humanity is as yet far from complete Political
religions and persecution, for instance, did not come into the world
with Christ; they are survivals of an earlier stage of human progress.
The Papacy, the great political Church of mediaeval Europe, is the
historical continuation of the State religion of Rome and the
Pontificate of the Roman emperors. The Greek Church is the historical
continuation of the Eastern offset of the same system. The national
State Churches are the historical continuations of the tribal religions
and priesthoods of the Northern tribes. We talk of the conversion of the
Barbarians, but in point of fact it was the chief of the tribe that was
converted, or rather that changed his religious allegiance, sometimes by
treaty (as in the case of Guthrum), and carried his tribe with him into
the allegiance of the new God. Hence the new religion, like the old, was
placed upon the footing of a tribal, and afterwards of a state,
religion; heresy was treason; and the state still lent the aid of the
secular arm to the national priesthood for the repression of rebellion
against the established faith. But since the Reformation the process of
disengagement has been rapidly going on; and in the North American
communities, which are the latest developments of humanity, the
connection between Church and State has ceased to exist, without any
diminution of the strength of the religious sentiment

Whether there is anything deserving of attention in these brief remarks
or not, one thing may safely be affirmed: it is time that the question
as to the existence of a rational basis for religion and the reality of
spiritual life should be studied, not merely with a view of overthrowing
the superstitions of the past, but of providing, if possible, a faith
for the present and the future. The battle of criticism and science
against superstition has been won, as every open-minded observer of the
contest must be aware, though the remnants of the broken host still
linger on the field. It is now time to consider whether religion must
perish with superstition, or whether the death of superstition may not
be the new birth of religion. Religion survived the fall of Polytheism;
it is surely conceivable that it may survive the fall of
Anthropomorphism, and that the desperate struggle which is being waged
about the formal belief in "Personality," may be merely the sloughing
off of something that when it is gone, will be seen to have not been
vital to religion.

There are some who would deter us from inquiring into anything beyond
the range of sensible experience, and especially from any inquiry into
the future existence of the soul, which they denounce as utterly
unpractical, and compare with obsolete and fruitless inquiries into the
state of the soul before birth. We have already challenged the exclusive
claim of the five bodily senses to be the final sources of knowledge;
and we may surely add that it is at least as practical to inquire into
the destiny as it is to inquire into the origin of man.

If the belief in God and in a Future State is true, it will prevail. The
cloud will pass away and the sun will shine out again. But in the
meantime society may have "a bad quarter of an hour." Without
exaggerating the influence of the belief in Future Reward and
Punishment, or of any form of it, on the actions of ordinary men, we may
safely say that the sense of responsibility to a higher power, and of
the constant presence of an all-seeing Judge, has exercised an
influence, the removal of which would be greatly felt. Materialism has
in fact already begun to show its effects on human conduct and on
society. They may perhaps be more visible in communities where social
conduct depends greatly on individual conviction and motive, than in
communities which are more ruled by tradition and bound together by
strong class organizations; though the decay of morality will perhaps be
ultimately more complete and disastrous in the latter than in the
former. God and future retribution being out of the question, it is
difficult to see what can restrain the selfishness of an ordinary man,
and induce him, in the absence of actual coercion, to sacrifice his
personal desires to the public good. The service of Humanity is the
sentiment of a refined mind conversant with history; within no
calculable time is it likely to overrule the passions and direct the
conduct of the mass. And after all, without God or spirit, what is
"Humanity"? One school of science reckons a hundred and fifty different
species of man. What is the bond of unity between all these species and
wherein consists the obligation to mutual love and help? A zealous
servant of science told Agassiz that the age of real civilization would
have begun when you could go out and shoot a man for scientific
purposes. _Apparent dirae facies_. We begin to perceive, looming
through the mist, the lineaments of an epoch of selfishness compressed
by a government of force.


There appears to be a connection between the proposed substitutes for
religion and the special training of their several authors. Historians
tender us the worship of Humanity, professors of physical science tender
us Cosmic Emotion. Theism might almost retort the apologue of the
specter of the Brocken.

The only organized cultus without a God, at present before us, is that
of Comte. This in all its parts--its high priesthood, its hierarchy, its
sacraments, its calendar, its hagiology, its literary canon, its
ritualism, and we may add, in its fundamentally intolerant and
inquisitorial character--is an obvious reproduction of the Church of
Rome, with humanity in place of God, great men in place of the saints,
the Founder of Comtism in place of the Founder of Christianity, and even
a sort of substitute for the Virgin in the shape of womanhood typified
by Clotilde de Vaux. There is only just the amount of difference which
would be necessary in order to escape servile imitation. We have
ourselves witnessed a case of alternation between the two systems which
testified to the closeness of their affinity. The Catholic Church has
acted on the imagination of Comte at least as powerfully as Sparta acted
on that of Plato. Nor is Comtism, any more than Plato's _Republic_
and other Utopias, exempt from the infirmity of claiming finality for a
flight of the individual imagination. It would shut up mankind for ever
in a stereotyped organization which is the vision of a particular
thinker. In this respect it seems to us to be at a disadvantage compared
with Christianity, which, as presented, in the Gospels, does not pretend
to organize mankind ecclesiastically or politically, but simply supplies
a new type of character, and a new motive power, leaving government,
ritual and organization of every kind to determine themselves from age
to age. Comte's prohibition of inquiry into the composition of the
stars, which his priesthood, had it been installed in power, would
perhaps have converted into a compulsory article of faith, is only a
specimen of his general tendency (the common tendency, as we have said,
of all Utopias) to impose on human progress the limits of his own mind.
Let his hierarchy become masters of the world, and the effect would
probably be like that produced by the ascendency of a hierarchy
(enlightened no doubt for its time) in Egypt, a brief start forward
followed by consecrated immobility for ever.

Lareveillere Lepaux, a member of the French Directory, invented a new
religion of Theo-philanthropy which seems in fact to have been an
organized Rousseauism. He wished to impose it on France but finding that
in spite of his passionate endeavours he made but little progress he
sought the advice of Talleyrand. "I am not surprised" said Talleyrand
"at the difficulty you experience. It is no easy matter to introduce a
new religion. But I will tell you what I recommend you to do. I
recommend you to be crucified and to rise again on the third day." We
cannot say whether Lareveillere made any proselytes but if he did their
number cannot have been much smaller than the reputed number of the
religious disciples of Comte. As a philosophy, Comtism has found its
place and exercised its share of influence among the philosophies of the
time but as a religious system it appears to make little way. It is the
invention of a man not the spontaneous expression of the beliefs and
feelings of mankind. Any one with a tolerably lively imagination might
produce a rival system with as little practical effect. Roman
Catholicism was at all events a growth not an invention.

Cosmic Emotion, though it does not affect to be an organized system, is
the somewhat sudden creation of individual minds set at work apparently
by the exigencies of a particular situation and on that account
suggestive _prima facie_ of misgivings similar to those suggested
by the invention of Comte.

Now is the worship of Humanity or Cosmic Emotion really a substitute for
religion? That is the only question which we wish in these few pages to
ask. We do not pretend here to inquire what is or what is not true in

Religion teaches that we have our being in a Power whose character and
purposes are indicated to us by our moral nature, in whom we are united
and by the union made sacred to each other, whose voice conscience
however generated, is whose eye is always upon us, sees all our acts,
and sees them as they are morally, without reference to worldly success
or to the opinion of the world, to whom at death we return, and our
relations to whom, together with his own nature, are an assurance that
according as we promote or fail to promote his design by self
improvement and the improvement of our kind, it will be well or ill for
us in the sum of things. This is a hypothesis evidently separable from
belief in a revelation, and from any special theory respecting the next
world, as well as from all dogma and ritual. It may be true or false in
itself, capable of demonstration or incapable. We are concerned here
solely with its practical efficiency, compared with that of the proposed
substitutes. It is only necessary to remark, that there is nothing about
the religious hypothesis as here stated, miraculous, supernatural, or
mysterious, except so far as those epithets may be applied to anything
beyond the range of bodily sense, say the influence of opinion or
affection. A universe self-made, and without a God, is at least as great
a mystery as a universe with a God; in fact the very attempt to conceive
it in the mind produces a moral vertigo which is a bad omen for the
practical success of Cosmic Emotion.

For this religion are the service and worship of Humanity likely to be a
real equivalent in any respect, as motive power, as restraint, or as
comfort? Will the idea of life in God be adequately replaced by that of
an interest in the condition and progress of Humanity, as they may
affect us and be influenced by our conduct, together with the hope of
human gratitude and fear of human reprobation after death, which the
Comtists endeavor to organize into a sort of counterpart of the Day of

It will probably be at once conceded that the answer must be in the
negative as regards the immediate future and the mass of mankind. The
simple truths of religion are intelligible to all, and strike all minds
with equal force, though they may not have the same influence with all
moral natures. A child learns them perfectly at its mother's knee.
Honest ignorance in the mine, on the sea, at the forge, striving to do
its coarse and perilous duty, performing the lowliest functions of
humanity, contributing in the humblest way to human progress, itself
scarcely sunned by a ray of what more cultivated natures would deem
happiness, takes in as fully as the sublimest philosopher the idea of a
God who sees and cares for all, who keeps account of the work well done
or the kind act, marks the secret fault, and will hereafter make up to
duty for the hardness of its present lot. But a vivid interest--such an
interest as will act both as a restraint and as a comfort--in the
condition and future of humanity can surely exist only in those who have
a knowledge of history sufficient to enable them to embrace the unity of
the past, and an imagination sufficiently cultivated to glow with
anticipation of the future. For the bulk of mankind the humanity
worshippers point of view seems unattainable at least within any
calculable time.

As to posthumous reputation good or evil it is and always must be the
appendage of a few marked men. The plan of giving it substance by
instituting separate burial places for the virtuous and the wicked is
perhaps not very seriously proposed. Any such plan involves the fallacy
of a sharp division where there is no clear moral line besides
postulating not only an unattainable knowledge of men's actions but a
knowledge still more manifestly unattainable of their hearts. Yet we
cannot help thinking that on the men of intellect to whose teaching the
world is listening this hope of posthumous reputation, or to put it more
plainly, of living in the gratitude and affection of their kind by means
of their scientific discoveries and literary works exercises an
influence of which they are hardly conscious, it prevents them from
fully feeling the void which the annihilation of the hope of future
existence leaves in the hearts of ordinary men.

Besides so far as we are aware no attempt has yet been made to show us
distinctly what humanity is and wherein its holiness consists. If the
theological hypothesis is true and all men are united in God, humanity
is a substantial reality, but otherwise we fail to see that it is any
thing more than a metaphysical abstraction converted into an actual
entity by philosophers who are not generally kind to metaphysics. Even
the unity of the species is far from settled, science still debates
whether there is one race of men or whether there are more than a
hundred. Man acts on man no doubt, but he also acts on other animals,
and other animals on him. Wherein does the special unity or the special
bond consist? Above all what constitutes the holiness? Individual men
are not holy, a large proportion of them are very much the reverse. Why
is the aggregate holy? Let the unit be a complex phenomenon, an organism
or whatever name science may give it, what multiple of it will be a
rational object of worship?

For our own part we cannot conceive worship being offered by a sane
worshipper to any but a conscious being, in other words to a person. The
fetish worshipper himself probably invests his fetish with a vague
personality such as would render it capable of propitiation. But how
can we invest with a collective personality the fleeting generations of
mankind? Even the sum of mankind is never complete, much less are the
units blended into a personal whole, or as it has been called a colossal

There is a gulf here, as it seems to us, which cannot be bridged, and
can barely be hidden from view by the retention of religious
phraseology. In truth, the anxious use of that phraseology betrays
weakness, since it shows that you cannot do without the theological
associations which cling inseparably to religious terms.

You look forward to a closer union, a more complete brotherhood of man,
an increased sacredness of the human relation. Some things point that
way; some things point the other way. Brotherhood has hardly a definite
meaning without a father; sacredness can hardly be predicated without
anything which consecrates. We can point to an eminent writer who tells
you that he detests the idea of brotherly love altogether; that there
are many of his kind whom, so far from loving, he hates, and that he
would like to write his hatred with a lash upon their backs. Look again
at the severe Prussianism which betrays itself in the New Creed of
Strauss. Look at the oligarchy of enlightenment and enjoyment which
Renan, in his _Moral Reform of France_, proposes to institute for
the benefit of a select circle, with sublime indifference to the lot of
the vulgar, who, he says, "must subsist on the glory and happiness of
others." This does not look much like a nearer approach to a brotherhood
of man than is made by the Gospel. We are speaking, of course, merely of
the comparative moral efficiency of religion and the proposed
substitutes for it, apart from the influence exercised over individual
conduct by the material needs and other non-theological forces of

For the immortality of the individual soul, with the influences of that
belief, we are asked to substitute the immortality of the race. But
here, in addition to the difficulty of proving the union and
intercommunion of all the members, we are met by the objection that
unless we live in God, the race, in all probability, is not immortal.
That our planet and all it contains will come to an end appears to be
the decided opinion of science. This "holy" being, our relation to which
is to take the place of our relation to an Eternal Father, by the
adoration of which we are to be sustained and controlled, if it exist at
all, is as ephemeral compared with eternity as a fly. We shall be told
that we ought to be content with an immortality extending through tens
of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of years. To the
_argumentum ad verecundiam_ there is no reply. But will this banish
the thought of ultimate annihilation? Will it prevent a man, when he is
called upon to make some great sacrifice for the race, from saying to
himself, that, whether he makes the sacrifice or not, one day all will
end in nothing?

Evidently these are points which must be made quite clear before you
can, with any prospect of success, call upon men either to regard
Humanity with the same feelings with which they have regarded God, or to
give up their own interest or enjoyment for the future benefit of the
race. The assurance derived from the fondness felt by parents for their
offspring, and the self-denying efforts made for the good of children,
will hardly carry us very far, even supposing it certain that parental
love would remain unaffected by the general change. It is evidently a
thing apart from the general love of Humanity. Nobody was ever more
extravagantly fond of his children, or made greater efforts for them,
than Alexander Borgia.

It has been attempted, however, with all the fervour of conviction, and
with all the force of a powerful style, to make us see not only that we
have this corporal immortality as members of the "colossal man," but
that we may look forward to an actual though impersonal existence in the
shape of the prolongation through all future time of the consequences of
our lives. It might with equal truth be said that we have enjoyed an
actual though impersonal existence through all time past in our
antecedents. But neither in its consequences nor in its antecedents can
anything be said to live except by a figure. The characters and actions
of men surely will never be influenced by such a fanciful use of
language as this! Our being is consciousness; with consciousness our
being ends, though our physical forces may be conserved, and traces of
our conduct--traces utterly indistinguishable--may remain. That with
which we are not concerned cannot affect us either presently or by
anticipation; and with that of which we shall never be conscious, we
shall never feel that we are concerned. Perhaps if the authors of this
new immortality would tell us what they understand by non-existence, we
might be led to value more highly by contrast the existence which they
propose for a soul when it has ceased to think or feel, and for an
organism when it has been scattered to the winds.

They would persuade us that their impersonal and unconscious immortality
is a brighter hope than an eternity of personal and conscious existence,
the very thought of which they say is torture. This assumes, what there
seems to be no ground for assuming, that eternity is an endless
extension of time; and, in the same way, that infinity is a boundless
space. It is more natural to conceive of them as emancipation
respectively from time and space, and from the conditions which time and
space involve; and among the conditions of time may apparently be
reckoned the palling of pleasure or of existence by mere temporal
protraction. Even as we are, sensual pleasure palls; so does the merely
intellectual: but can the same be said of the happiness of virtue and
affection? It is urged, too, that by exchanging the theological
immortality for one of physical and social consequences, we get rid of
the burden of self, which otherwise we should drag for ever. But surely
in this there is a confusion of self with selfishness. Selfishness is
another name for vice. Self is merely consciousness. Without a self, how
can there be self-sacrifice? How can the most unselfish motive exist if
there is nothing to be moved? "He that findeth his life, shall lose it;
and he that loseth his life, shall find it," is not a doctrine of
selfishness, but it implies a self. We have been rebuked in the words of
Frederick to his grenadiers--"Do you want to live for ever?" The
grenadiers might have answered, "Yes; and therefore we are ready to

It is not when we think of the loss of anything to which a taint of
selfishness can adhere--it is not even when we think of intellectual
effort cut short for ever by death just as the intellect has ripened and
equipped itself with the necessary knowledge--that the nothingness of
this immortality of conservated forces is most keenly felt: it is when
we think of the miserable end of affection. How much comfort would it
afford anyone bending over the deathbed of his wife to know that forces
set free by her dissolution will continue to mingle impersonally and
indistinguishably with forces set free by the general mortality?
Affection, at all events, requires personality. One cannot love a group
of consequences, even supposing that the filiation could be distinctly
presented to the mind. Pressed by the hand of sorrow craving for
comfort, this Dead Sea fruit crumbles into ashes, paint it with
eloquence as you will.

Humanity, it seems to us, is a fundamentally Christian idea, connected
with the Christian view of the relations of men to their common Father
and of their spiritual union in the Church. In the same way the idea of
the progress of Humanity seems to us to have been derived from the
Christian belief in the coming of the Kingdom of God through the
extension of the Church, and to that final triumph of good over evil
foretold in the imagery of the Apocalypse. At least the founders of the
Religion of Humanity will admit that the Christian Church is the matrix
of theirs so much their very nomenclature proves and we would fain ask
them to review the process of disengagement and see whether the essence
has not been left behind.

No doubt there are influences at work in modern civilisation which tend
to the strengthening of the sentiment of humanity by making men more
distinctly conscious of their position as members of a race. On the
other hand the unreflecting devotion of the tribesman which held
together primitive societies dies. Man learns to reason and calculate
and when he is called upon to immolate himself to the common interest of
the race he will consider what the common interest of the race when he
is dead and gone will be to him and whether he will ever be repaid for
his sacrifice.

Of Cosmic Emotion it will perhaps be fair to say that it is proposed as
a substitute for religious emotion rather than as a substitute for
religion since nothing has been said about embodying it in a cult. It
comes to us commended by glowing quotations from Mr. Swinburne and Walt
Whitman and we cannot help admitting that for common hearts it stands in
need of the commendation. The transfer of affection from an all loving
Father to an adamantine universe is a process for which we may well seek
all the aid that the witchery of poetry can supply. Unluckily we are
haunted by the consciousness that the poetry itself is blindly ground
out by the same illimitable mill of evolution which grinds out Virtue
and affection. We are by no means sure that we understand what Cosmic
Emotion is even after leading an exposition of its nature by no ungifted
hand. Its symbola so to speak are the feelings produced by the two
objects of Kant's peculiar reverence--the stars of heaven and the moral
faculty of man. But after all these are only like anything else
aggregations of molecules in a certain stage of evolution. To the
unscientific eye they may be awful because they are mysterious, but let
science analyse them and then awfulness disappears. If the interaction
of all parts of the material universe is complete we fail to see why one
object or one feeling is more cosmic than another. However we will not
dwell on that which as we have already confessed we do not feel sure
that we rightly apprehend. What we do clearly see is that to have cosmic
emotion or cosmic anything you must have a cosmos. You must be assured
that the universe is a cosmos and not a chaos. And what assurance of
this can materialism or any non theological system give? Law is a
theological term, it implies a lawgiver or a governing intelligence of
some kind. Science can tell us nothing but facts, single or accumulated
as experience, which would not make a law though they had been observed
through myriads of years. Law is a theological term, and cosmos is
equally so, if it may not rather be said to be a Greek name for the
aggregate of laws. For order implies intelligent selection and
arrangement. Our idea of order would not be satisfied by a number of
objects falling by mere chance into a particular figure, however
intricate and regular. All the arguments which have been used against
design seem to tell with equal force against order. We have no other
universe wherewith we can compare this, so as to assure ourselves that
this universe is not a chaos, but a cosmos. Both on the earth and in the
heavens we see much that is not order, but disorder; not cosmos, but
acosmia. If we divine, nevertheless, that order reigns, and that there
is design beneath the seemingly undesigned, and good beneath the
appearance of evil, it is by virtue of something not dreamed of in the
philosophy of materialism.

Have we really come to this, that the world has no longer any good
reason for believing in a God or a life beyond the grave? If so, it is
difficult to deny that with regard to the great mass of mankind up to
this time Schopenhauer and the Pessimists are right, and existence has
been a cruel misadventure. The number of those who have suffered
lifelong oppression, disease, or want, who have died deaths of torture
or perished miserably by war, is limited though enormous; but probably
there have been few lives in which the earthly good has not been
outweighed by the evil. The future may bring increased means of
happiness, though those who are gone will not be the better for them;
but it will bring also increase of sensibility, and the consciousness of
hopeless imperfection and miserable futility will probably become a
distinct and growing cause of pain. It is doubtful even whether, after
such a raising of Mokanna's veil, faith in everything would not expire
and human effort cease. Still we must face the situation: there can be
no use in self-delusion. In vain we shall seek to cheat our souls and to
fill a void which cannot be filled by the manufacture of artificial
religions and the affectation of a spiritual language to which, however
persistently and fervently it may be used, no realities correspond. If
one of these cults could get itself established, in less than a
generation it would become hollower than the hollowest of
ecclesiasticisms. Probably not a few of the highest natures would
withdraw themselves from the dreary round of self mockery by suicide,
and if a scientific priesthood attempted to close that door by
sociological dogma or posthumous denunciation the result would show the
difference between the practical efficacy of a religion with a God and
that of a cult of "Humanity" or "Space."

Shadows and figments, as they appear to us to be in themselves these
attempts to provide a substitute for religion are of the highest
importance, as showing that men of great powers of mind, who have
thoroughly broken loose not only from Christianity but from natural
religion and in some cases placed themselves in violent antagonism to
both, are still unable to divest themselves of the religious sentiment
or to appease its craving for satisfaction. There being no God, they
find it necessary, as Voltaire predicted it would be, to invent one, not
for the purposes of police (they are far above such sordid Jesuitism),
but as the solution of the otherwise hopeless enigma of our spiritual
nature. Science takes cognizance of all phenomena, and this apparently
ineradicable tendency of the human mind is a phenomenon like the rest.
The thoroughgoing Materialist, of course, escapes all these
philosophical exigencies, but he does it by denying Humanity as well as
God and reducing the difference between the organism of the human animal
and that of any other animal to a mere question of complexity. Still,
even in this quarter, there has appeared of late a disposition to make
concessions on the subject of human volition hardly consistent with
Materialism. Nothing can be more likely than that the impetus of great
discoveries has carried the discoverers too far.

Perhaps with the promptings of the religious sentiment there is combined
a sense of the immediate danger with which the failure of the religious
sanction threatens social order and morality. As we have said already,
the men of whom we specially speak are far above anything like social
Jesuitism. We have not a doubt but they would regard with abhorrence any
schemes of oligarchic illuminism for guarding the pleasures of the few
by politic deception of the multitude. But they have probably begun to
lay to heart the fact that the existing morality, though not dependent
on any special theology, any special view of the relations between soul
and body, or any special theory of future rewards and punishments, is
largely dependent on a belief in the indefeasible authority of
conscience, and in that without which conscience can have no
indefeasible authority--the presence of a just and all-seeing God. It
may be true that in primaeval society these beliefs are found only in the
most rudimentary form, and, as social sanctions, are very inferior in
force to mere gregarious instincts or the pressure of tribal need. But
man emerges from the primaeval state, and when he does, he demands a
reason for his submission to moral law. That the leaders of the anti-
theological movement in the present day are immoral, nobody but the most
besotted fanatic would insinuate; no candid antagonist would deny that
some of them are in every respect the very best of men. The fearless
love of truth is usually accompanied by other high qualities; and
nothing could be more unlikely than that natures disposed to virtue,
trained under good influences, peculiarly sensitive to opinion and
guarded by intellectual tastes, would lapse into vice as soon as the
traditional sanction was removed. But what is to prevent the withdrawal
of the traditional sanction from producing its natural effect upon the
morality of the mass of mankind? The commercial swindler or the
political sharper, when the divine authority of conscience is gone, will
feel that he has only the opinion of society to reckon with, and he
knows how to reckon with the opinion of society. If Macbeth is ready,
provided he can succeed in this world, to "jump the life to come," much
more ready will villainy be to "jump" the bad consequences of its
actions to humanity when its own conscious existence shall have closed.
Rate the practical effect of religious beliefs as low and that of social
influences as high as you may, there can surely be no doubt that
morality has received some support from the authority of an inward
monitor regarded as the voice of God. The worst of men would have wished
to die the death of the righteous; he would have been glad, if he could,
when death approached, to cancel his crimes; and the conviction, or
misgiving, which this implied, could not fail to have some influence
upon the generality of mankind, though no doubt the influence was
weakened rather than strengthened by the extravagant and incredible form
in which the doctrine of future retribution was presented by the
dominant theology.

The denial of the existence of God and of a Future State, in a word, is
the dethronement of conscience; and society will pass, to say the least,
through a dangerous interval before social science can fill the vacant
throne. Avowed scepticism is likely to be disinterested and therefore to
be moral; it is among the unavowed sceptics and conformists to political
religions that the consequences of the change may be expected to appear.

But more than this, the doctrines of Natural Selection and the Survival
of the Fittest are beginning to generate a morality of their own, with
the inevitable corollary that the proof of superior fitness is to
survive--to survive either by force or cunning, like the other animals
which by dint of force or cunning have come out victorious from the
universal war and asserted for themselves a place in nature. The
"irrepressible struggle for empire" is formally put forward by public
writers of the highest class as the basis and the rule of the conduct of
this country towards other nations; and we may be sure that there is not
an entire absence of connection between the private code of a school and
its international conceptions. The feeling that success covers
everything seems to be gaining ground and to be overcoming, not merely
the old conventional rules of honour, but moral principle itself. Both
in public and private there are symptoms of an approaching failure of
the motive power which has hitherto sustained men both in self-
sacrificing effort and in courageous protest against wrong, though as
yet we are only at the threshold of the great change, and established
sentiment long survives, in the masses, that which originally gave it
birth. Renan says, probably with truth, that had the Second Empire
remained at peace, it might have gone on forever; and in the history of
this country the connection between political effort and religion has
been so close that its dissolution, to say the least, can hardly fail to
produce a critical change in the character of the nation. The time may
come, when, as philosophers triumphantly predict, men, under the
ascendancy of science, will act for the common good, with the same
mechanical certainty as bees; though the common good of the human hive
would perhaps not be easy to define. But in the meantime mankind, or
some portions of it, may be in danger of an anarchy of self-interest,
compressed for the purpose of political order, by a despotism of force.

That science and criticism, acting--thanks to the liberty of opinion won
by political effort--with a freedom never known before, have delivered
us from a mass of dark and degrading superstitions, we own with
heartfelt thankfulness to the deliverers, and in the firm conviction
that the removal of false beliefs, and of the authorities or
institutions founded on them, cannot prove in the end anything but a
blessing to mankind. But at the same time the foundations of general
morality have inevitably been shaken, and a crisis has been brought on
the gravity of which nobody can fail to see, and nobody but a fanatic of
Materialism can see without the most serious misgiving.

There has been nothing in the history of man like the present situation.
The decadence of the ancient mythologies is very far from affording a
parallel. The connection of those mythologies with morality was
comparatively slight. Dull and half-animal minds would hardly be
conscious of the change which was partly veiled from them by the
continuance of ritual and state creeds; while in the minds of Plato and
Marcus Aurelius it made place for the development of a moral religion.
The Reformation was a tremendous earthquake: it shook down the fabric of
mediaeval religion, and as a consequence of the disturbance in the
religious sphere filled the world with revolutions and wars. But it left
the authority of the Bible unshaken, and men might feel that the
destructive process had its limit, and that adamant was still beneath
their feet. But a world which is intellectual and keenly alive to the
significance of these questions, reading all that is written about them
with almost passionate avidity, finds itself brought to a crisis the
character of which any one may realize by distinctly presenting to
himself the idea of existence without a God.


_(This Lecture was delivered before the Mechanics' Institute of
Montreal, and the Literary Society of Sherbrooke, and published in the
CANADIAN MONTHLY, December, 1872. The allusions to facts and events must
be read with reference to the date.)_

We are in the midst of an industrial war which is extending over Europe
and the United States, and has not left Canada untouched. It is not
wonderful that great alarm should prevail, or that, in panic-stricken
minds, it should assume extravagant forms. London deprived of bread by a
bakers' strike, or of fuel by a colliers' strike, is a serious prospect;
so is the sudden stoppage of any one of the wheels in the vast and
complicated machine of modern industry. People may be pardoned for
thinking that they have fallen on evil times, and that they have a dark
future before them. Yet, those who have studied industrial history know
that the present disturbance is mild compared with the annals of even a
not very remote past. The study of history shows us where we are, and
whither things are tending. Though it does not diminish the difficulties
of the present hour, it teaches us to estimate them justly, to deal with
them calmly and not to call for cavalry and grapeshot because one
morning we are left without hot bread.

One of the literary janissaries of the French Empire thought to prove
that the working class had no rights against the Bonapartes, by showing
that the first free labourers were only emancipated slaves. One would
like to know what he supposed the first Bonapartes were. However though
his inference was not worth much, except against those who are pedantic
enough, to vouch parchment archives for the rights and interests of
humanity, he was in the right as to the fact. Labour first appears in
history as a slave, treated like a beast of burden, chained to the door-
post of a Roman master, or lodged in the underground manstables
(ergastula) on his estate, treated like a beast, or worse than a beast,
recklessly worked out and then cast forth to die, scourged, tortured,
flung in a moment of passion to feed the lampreys, crucified for the
slightest offence or none. "Set up a cross for the slave," cries the
Roman matron, in, Juvenal. "Why, what has the slave done?" asks her

One day labour strikes; finds a leader in Spartacus, a slave devoted as
a gladiator to the vilest of Roman pleasures; wages a long and terrible
servile war. The revolt is put down at last, after shaking the
foundations of the state. Six thousand slaves are crucified along the
road from Rome to Capua. Labour had its revenge, for slavery brought the
doom of Rome.

In the twilight of history, between the fall of Rome and the rise of the
new nationalities, we dimly see the struggle going on. There is a great
insurrection of the oppressed peasantry, under the name of Bagaudae, in
Gaul. When the light dawns, a step has been gained. Slavery has been
generally succeeded by serfdom. But serfdom is hard. The peasantry of
feudal Normandy conspire against their cruel lords, hold secret
meetings, the ominous name _commune_ is heard. But the conspiracy
is discovered and suppressed with the fiendish ferocity with which panic
inspires a dominant class, whether in Normandy or Jamaica. Amidst the
religious fervour of the Crusades again breaks out a wild labour
movement, that of the Pastoureaux, striking for equality in the name of
the Holy Spirit, which, perhaps, they had as good a right to use as some
who deemed their use of it profane. This is in the country, among the
shepherds and ploughmen. In the cities labour has congregated numbers,
mutual intelligence, union on its side; it is constantly reinforced by
fugitives from rural serfdom; it builds city walls, purchases or extorts
charters of liberty. The commercial and manufacturing cities of Italy,
Germany, Flanders, become the cradles of free industry, and, at the same
time, of intellect, art, civilization. But these are points of light
amidst the feudal darkness of the rural districts. In France, for
example, the peasantry are cattle; in time of peace crushed with forced
labour, feudal burdens, and imposts of all kinds; in time of war driven,
in unwilling masses, half-armed and helpless, to the shambles.
Aristocratic luxury, gambling, profligate wars--Jacques Bonhomme pays
for them all. At Crecy and Poictiers, the lords are taken prisoners;
have to provide heavy ransoms, which, being debts of honour, like
gambling debts, are more binding than debts of honesty. But Jacques
Bonhomme's back is broad, it will bear everything. Broad as it is, it
will not bear this last straw. The tidings of Flemish freedom have,
perhaps, in some way reached his dull ear, taught him that bondage is
not, as his priest, no doubt, assures him it is, a changeless ordinance
of God, that the yoke, though strong, may be broken. He strikes, arms
himself with clubs, knives, ploughshares, rude pikes, breaks out into a
Jacquerie, storms the castles of the oppressor, sacks, burns, slays with
the fury of a wild beast unchained. The lords are stupefied. At last
they rally and bring their armour, their discipline, their experience in
war, the moral ascendency of a master-class to bear. The English
gentlemen, in spite of the hostilities, only half suspended, between the
nations, join the French gentlemen against the common enemy. Twenty
thousand peasants are soon cut down, but long afterwards the butchery
continues. Guillaume Callet, the leader of the Jacquerie, a very crafty
peasant, as he is called by the organs of the lords, is crowned with a
circlet of red-hot iron.

In England, during the same period serfdom, we know not exactly how, is
breaking up. There is a large body of labourers working for hire. But in
the midst of the wars of the great conqueror, Edward III., comes a
greater conqueror, the plague called the Black Death, which sweeps away,
some think, a third of the population of Europe. The number of labourers
is greatly diminished. Wages rise. The feudal parliament passes an Act
to compel labourers, under penalties, to work at the old rates. This Act
is followed by a train of similar Acts, limiting wages and fixing in the
employers' interest the hours of work, which, in the pages of
imaginative writers, figure as noble attempts made by legislators of a
golden age to regulate the relations between employer and employed on
some higher principle than that of contract. The same generous spirit,
no doubt, dictated the enactment prohibiting farm labourers from
bringing up their children to trades, lest hands should be withdrawn
from the land-owner's service. Connected with the Statutes of Labourers,
are those bloody vagrant laws, in which whipping, branding, hanging are
ordained as the punishment of vagrancy by lawgivers, many of whom were
themselves among the idlest and most noxious vagabonds in the country,
and the authors of senseless wars which generated a mass of vagrancy, by
filling the country with disbanded soldiers. In the reign of Richard
II., the poll tax being added to other elements of class discord, labour
strikes, takes arms under Wat Tyler, demands fixed rents, tenant right
in an extreme form, and the total abolition of serfage. A wild religious
communism bred of the preachings of the more visionary among the
Wycliffites mingles in the movement with the sense of fiscal and
industrial wrong. "When Adam delved and Eve span, where was then the
gentleman?" is the motto of the villeins, and it is one of more
formidable import than any utterance of peasant orators at Agricultural
Labourers' meetings in the present day. Then come fearful scenes of
confusion, violence and crime. London is in the power of hordes
brutalized by oppression. High offices of state, high ecclesiastics are
murdered. Special vengeance falls on the lawyers, as the artificers who
forged the cunning chains of feudal iniquity. The rulers, the troops,
are paralyzed by the aspect of the sea of furious savagery raging round
them. The boy king, by a miraculous exhibition of courageous self-
possession, saves the State; but he is compelled to grant general
charters of manumission, which, when the danger is over, the feudal
parliament forces him by a unanimous vote to repudiate. Wholesale
hanging of serfs, of course, follows the landlords' victory.

The rising under Jack Cade, in the reign of Henry VI., was rather
political than industrial. The demands of the insurgents, political
reform and freedom of suffrage, show that progress had been made in the
condition and aspirations of the labouring class. But with the age of
the Tudors came the final breakup in England of feudalism, as well as of
Catholicism, attended by disturbances in the world of labour, similar to
those which have attended the abolition of slavery in the Southern
States. This is the special epoch of the sanguinary vagrancy laws, the
most sanguinary of which was framed by the hand of Henry VIII. The new
nobility of courtiers and upstarts, who had shared with the king the
plunder of the monasteries, were hard landlords of course; they robbed
the people of their rights of common, and swept away homesteads and
cottages, to make room for sheep farms, the wool trade being the great
source of wealth in those days. By the spoliation of the monasteries,
the great alms-houses of the Middle Ages, the poor had also been left
for a time without the relief, which was given them again in a more
regular form by the Poor Law of Elizabeth. Hence in the reign of Edward
VI., armed strikes again, in different parts of the kingdom. In the
West, the movement was mainly religious; but in the Eastern countries,
under Kett of Norfolk, it was agrarian. Kett's movement after a brief
period of success, during which the behaviour of the insurgents and
their leader was very creditable, was put down by the disciplined
mercenaries under the command of the new aristocracy, and its
suppression was of course followed by a vigorous use of the gallows. No
doubt the industrial conservatives of those days were as frightened, as
angry, and as eager for strong measures as their successors are now: but
the awkwardness of the newly liberated captive, in the use of his limbs
and eyes, is due not to his recovered liberty, but to the narrowness and
darkness of the dungeon in which he has been immured.

In Germany, at the same epoch, there was not merely a local rising, but
a wide-spread and most terrible peasants' war. The German peasantry had
been ground down beyond even an hereditary bondsman's power of endurance
by their lords generally, and by the Prince Bishop and other spiritual
lords in particular. The Reformation having come with a gospel of truth,
love, spiritual brotherhood, the peasants thought it might also have
brought some hope of social justice. The doctors of divinity had to
inform them that this was a mistake. But they took the matter into their
own hands and rose far and wide, the fury of social and industrial war
blending with the wildest fanaticism, the most delirious ecstacy, the
darkest imposture. Once more there are stormings and burnings of feudal
castles, massacring of their lords. Lords are roasted alive, hunted like
wild beasts in savage revenge for the cruelty of the game laws. Munzer,
a sort of peasant Mahomet, is at the head of the movement. Under him it
becomes Anabaptist, Antinomian, Communist. At first he and his followers
sweep the country with a whirlwind of terror and destruction: but again
the lords rally, bring up regular troops. The peasants are brought to
bay on their last hill side, behind a rampart formed of their waggons.
Their prophet assures them that the cannon-balls will fall harmless into
his cloak. The cannon-balls take their usual course: a butchery, then a
train of torturings and executions follows, the Prince Bishop, among
others, adding considerably to the whiteness of the Church's robe.
Luther is accused of having incited the ferocity of the lords against
those, who, it is alleged, had only carried his own principles to an
extreme. But in the first place Luther never taught Anabaptism or
anything that could logically lead to it; and in the second place,
before he denounced the peasants, he tried to mediate and rebuke the
tyranny of the lords. No man deserves more sympathy than a great
reformer, who is obliged to turn against the excesses of his own party.
He becomes the object of fierce hatred on one side, of exulting derision
on the other; yet he is no traitor, but alone loyal to his conscience
and his cause.

The French Revolution was a political movement among the middle class in
the cities, but among the peasantry in the country it was an agrarian
and labour movement, and the dismantling of chateaux, and chasing away
of their lords which then took place were a renewal of the struggle
which had given birth to the Jacquerie, the insurrection of Wat Tyler,
and the Peasants' War. This time the victory remained with the peasant,
and the lord returned no more.

In England, long after the Tudor period, industrial disturbances took
place, and wild communistic fancies welled up from the depths of a
suffering world of labour, when society was stirred by political and
religious revolution. Under the Commonwealth, communists went up on the
hill side, and began to break ground for a poor man's Utopia; and the
great movement of the Levellers, which had in it an economical as well
as a political element, might have overturned society, if it had not
been quelled by the strong hand of Cromwell. But in more recent times,
within living memory, within the memory of many here there were labour
disturbances in England, compared with which the present industrial war
is mild. [Footnote: For the following details, see Martineau's "History
of the Peace."] In 1816, there were outbreaks among the suffering
peasantry which filled the governing classes with fear. In Suffolk
nightly fires of incendiaries blazed in every district, thrashing
machines were broken or burnt in open day, mills were attacked. At
Brandon large bodies of workmen assembled to prescribe a maximum price
of grain and meat, and to pull down the houses of butchers and bakers.
They bore flags with the motto, "Bread or Blood". Insurgents from the
Fen Country, a special scene of distress, assembled at Littleport,
attacked the house of a magistrate in the night, broke open shops,
emptied the cellars of public-houses, marched on Ely, and filled the
district for two days and nights with drunken rioting and plunder. The
soldiery was called in; there was an affray in which blood flowed on
both sides, then a special commission and hangings to close the scene.
Distressed colliers in Staffordshire and Wales assembled by thousands,
stopped works, and were with difficulty diverted from marching to
London. In 1812, another stain of blood was added to the sanguinary
criminal code of those days by the Act making death the penalty for the
destruction of machinery. This was caused by the Luddite outrages, which
were carried on in the most systematic manner, and on the largest scale
in Nottingham and the adjoining counties. Bodies of desperadoes, armed
and disguised, went forth under a leader, styled General Ludd, who
divided them into bands, and aligned to each band its work of
destruction. Terror reigned around; the inhabitants were commanded to
keep in their houses and put out their lights on pain of death. In the
silence of night houses and factories were broken open, machines
demolished, unfinished work scattered on the highways. The extent and
secrecy of the conspiracy baffled the efforts of justice and the death
penalty failed to put the system down. Even the attempts made to relieve
distress became new sources of discontent and a soup kitchen riot at
Glasgow led to a two days conflict between the soldiery and the mob. In
1818, a threatening mass of Manchester spinners, on strike came into
bloody collision with the military. Then there were rick burnings,
farmers patrolling all night long, gibbets erected on Pennenden heath,
and bodies swinging on them, bodies of boys, eighteen or nineteen years
old. Six labourers of Dorsetshire, the most wretched county in England,
were sentenced to seven years' transportation nominally for
administering an illegal oath, really for Unionism. Thereupon all the
trades made a menacing demonstration, marched to Westminster, thirty
thousand strong, with a petition for the release of the labourers.
London was in an agony of fear, the Duke of Wellington prepared for a
great conflict, pouring in troops and bringing up artillery from
Woolwich. In 1840, again there were formidable movements, and society
felt itself on the crust of a volcano. Threatening letters were sent to
masters, rewards offered for firing mills, workmen were beaten, driven
out of the country, burned with vitriol, and, there was reason to fear,
murdered. Great masses of operatives collected for purposes of
intimidation, shopkeepers were pillaged, collisions again took place
between the people and the soldiery. Irish agrarianism meanwhile
prevailed, in a far more deadly form than at present. And these
industrial disturbances were connected with political disturbances
equally formidable, with Chartism, Socialism, Cato Street conspiracies,
Peterloo massacres, Bristol riots.

Now the present movement even in England, where there is so much
suffering and so much ignorance, has been marked by a comparative
absence of violence, and comparative respect for law. Considering what
large bodies of men have been out on strike, how much they have endured
in the conflict, and what appeals have been made to their passions, it
is wonderful how little of actual crime or disturbance there has been.
There were the Sheffield murders the disclosure of which filled all the
friends of labour with shame and sorrow, all the enemies of labour with
malignant exultation. But we should not have heard so much of the
Sheffield murders if such things had been common. Sheffield is an
exceptional place; some of the work there is deadly, life is short and
character is reckless. Even at Sheffield, a very few, out of the whole
number of trades, were found to have been in any way implicated. The
denunciation of the outrages by the trades through England generally,
was loud and sincere; an attempt was made, of course, to fix the guilt
on all the Unions, but this was a hypocritical libel. It was stated, in
one of our Canadian journals, the other day, that Mr. Roebuck had lost
his seat for Sheffield, by protesting against Unionist outrage. Mr.
Roebuck lost his seat for Sheffield by turning Tory. The Trades'
candidate, by whom Mr. Roebuck was defeated, was Mr. Mundella, a
representative of whom any constituency may be proud, a great employer
of labour, and one who has done more than any other man of his class in
England to substitute arbitration for industrial war, and to restore
kindly relations between the employers and the employed. To Mr. Mundella
the support of Broadhead and the criminal Unionists was offered, and by
him it was decisively rejected.

The public mind has been filled with hideous fantasies, on the subject
of Unionism, by sensation novelists like Mr. Charles Reade and Mr.
Disraeli, the latter of whom has depicted the initiation of a working
man into a Union with horrid rites, in a lofty and spacious room, hung
with black cloth and lighted with tapers, amidst skeletons, men with
battle axes, rows of masked figures in white robes, and holding torches;
the novice swearing an awful oath on the Gospel, to do every act which
the heads of the society enjoin, such as the chastisement of "nobs," the
assassination of tyrannical masters, and the demolition of all mills
deemed incorrigible by the society. People may read such stuff for the
sake of amusement and excitement, if they please; but they will fall
into a grave error if they take it for a true picture of the Amalgamated
Carpenters or the Amalgamated Engineers. Besides, the Sheffield outrages
were several years old at the time of their discovery. They belong,
morally, to the time when the unions of working men being forbidden by
unfair laws framed in the masters' interest were compelled to assume the
character of conspiracies; when, to rob a union being no theft,
unionists could hardly be expected to have the same respect as the
better protected interests for public justice; when, moreover, the
mechanics, excluded from political rights, could scarcely regard
Government as the impartial guardian of their interests, or the
governing classes as their friends. Since the legalization of the
unions, the extension of legal security to their funds and the admission
of the mechanics to the suffrage there has been comparatively little of
unionist crime.

I do not say that there has been none. I do not say that there is none
now. Corporate selfishness of which Trade Unions after all are
embodiments seldom keeps quite clear of criminality. But the moral
dangers of corporate selfishness are the same in all associations and in
all classes. The Pennsylvanian iron master who comes before our
Commissions of Inquiry to testify against Unionist outrage in
Pennsylvania where a very wild and roving class of workmen are managed
by agents who probably take little thought for the moral condition of
the miner--this iron master I say is himself labouring through his paid
organs in the press, through his representatives in Congress, and by
every means in his power to keep up hatred of England and bad relations
between the two countries at the constant risk of war because it suits
the interest of his Protectionist Ring. The upper classes of Europe in
the same spirit applauded what they called the salvation of society by
the _coup d'etat_, the massacre on the Boulevards and the lawless
deportation of the leaders of the working men in France. In the main
however I repeat the present movement has been legal and pacific and so
long as there is no violence, so long as no weapons but those of
argument are employed, so long as law and reason reign, matters are sure
to come right in the end. The result may not be exactly what we wish
because we may wish to take too much for ourselves and to give our
fellow men too little, but it will be just and we cannot deliberately
desire more. If the law is broken by the Unionists, if violence or
intimidation is employed by them instead of reason, let the Government
protect the rights of the community and let the community strengthen the
hands of the Government for that purpose.

Perhaps you will say that I have forgotten the International and the
Commune. There is undoubtedly a close connection between the labour
movement and democracy, between the struggle for industrial and the
struggle for political emancipation, as there is a connection between
both and Secularism, the frank form assumed among the working men by
that which is concealed and conformist Scepticism among the upper class.
In this respect the present industrial crisis resembles those of the
past which as we have seen were closely connected with religious and
political revolutions. In truth the whole frame of humanity generally
moves at once. With the International, however, as an organ of political
incendiarism, labour had very little to do. The International was, in
its origin, a purely industrial association, born of Prince Albert's
International Exhibition, which held a convention at Geneva, where
everybody goes pic-nicing, for objects which, though chimerical, were
distinctly economical, and free from any taint of petroleum. But a band
of political conspirators got hold of the organization and used it, or
at least, so much of it as they could carry with them, for a purpose
entirely foreign to the original intent. Mark, too, that it was not so
much labour or even democracy that charged the mine which blew up Paris,
as the reactionary Empire, which, like reaction in countries more nearly
connected with us than France, played the demagogue for its own ends,
set the labourers against the liberal middle class, and crowded Paris
with operatives, bribed by employment on public works. I detest all
conspiracy, whether it be that of Ignatius Loyola, or that of Karl Marx-
-not by conspiracy, not by dark and malignant intrigue, is society to be
reformed, but by open, honest and kindly appeals to the reason and
conscience of mankind. Yet, let us be just, even to the Commune. The
destruction of the column at the Place Vendome was not a good act; but
if it was in any measure the protest of labour against war, it was a
better act than ever was done by the occupant of that column. On that
column it was that, when Napoleon's long orgy of criminal glory was
drawing to a close, the hand of misery and bereavement wrote "Monster,
if all the blood you have shed could be collected in this square, you
might drink without stooping." Thiers is shooting the Communists;
perhaps justly, though humanity will be relieved when the gore ceases to
trickle, and vengeance ends its long repast. But Thiers has himself been
the literary arch-priest of Napoleon and of war: of all the incendiaries
in France, he has been the worst.

The Trade Unions are new things in industrial history. The guilds of the
Middle Ages, with which the unions are often identified, were
confederations of all engaged in the trade, masters as well as men,
against outsiders. The Unions are confederations of the men against the
masters. They are the offspring of an age of great capitalists,
employing large bodies of hired workmen. The workmen, needy, and obliged
to sell their labour without reserve, that they might eat bread, found
themselves, in their isolation, very much at the mercy of their masters,
and resorted to union as a source of strength. Capital, by collecting in
the centres of manufacture masses of operatives who thus became
conscious of their number and their force, gave birth to a power which
now countervails its own. To talk of a war of labour against capital
generally would, of course, be absurd. Capital is nothing but the means
of undertaking any industrial or commercial enterprise, of setting up an
Allan line of steamships or setting up a costermonger's cart. We might
as well talk of a war of labour against water power.

Capital is the fruit of labour past, the condition of labour present,
without it no man could do a stroke of work, at least of work requiring
tools or food for him who uses them. Let us dismiss from our language
and our minds these impersonations, which though mere creatures of fancy
playing with abstract nouns end by depraving our sentiments and
misdirecting our actions, let us think and speak of capital impersonally
and sensibly as an economical force and as we would think and speak of
the force of gravitation. Relieve the poor word of the big _c_,
which is a greatness thrust upon it, its tyranny, and the burning hatred
of its tyranny will at once cease. Nevertheless, the fact remains that a
working man standing alone, and without a breakfast for himself or his
family, is not in a position to obtain the best terms from a rich
employer, who can hold out as long as he likes or hire other labour on
the spot. Whether Unionism has had much effect in producing a general
rise of wages is very doubtful. Mr. Brassey's book, "Work and Wages,"
goes far to prove that it has not, and that while, on the one hand, the
unionists have been in a fool's paradise, the masters, on the other,
have been crying out before they were hurt. No doubt the general rise of
wages is mainly and fundamentally due to natural causes: the
accumulation of capital, the extension of commercial enterprise, and the
opening up of new countries, which have greatly increased the
competition for labour, and consequently, raised the price, while the
nominal price of labour as well as of all other commodities has been
raised by the influx of gold. What Unionism, as I think, has evidently
effected, is the economical emancipation of the working man. It has
rendered him independent instead of dependent, and, in some cases almost
a serf, as he was before. It has placed him on an equal footing with his
employer, and enabled him to make the best terms for himself in every
respect. There is no employer who does not feel that this is so, or whom
Mr. Brassey's statistics, or any statistics, would convince that it is

Fundamentally, value determines the price the community will give for
any article, or any kind of work, just so much as it is worth. But there
is no economical deity who, in each individual case, exactly adjusts the
price to the value; we may make a good or a bad bargain, as many of us
know to our cost. One source of bad bargains is ignorance. Before
unions, which have diffused the intelligence of the labour market, and
by so doing have equalized prices, the workman hardly knew the rate of
wages in the next town. If this was true of the mechanic, it was still
more true of the farm labourer. Practically speaking, the farm labourers
in each parish of England, ignorant of everything beyond the parish,
isolated and, therefore, dependent, had to take what the employers chose
to give them. And what the employers chose to give them over large
districts was ten shillings a week for themselves and their families,
out of which they paid, perhaps, eighteen-pence for rent. A squire the
other day, at a meeting of labourers, pointed with pride, and no doubt,
with honest pride, to a labourer who had brought up a family of twelve
children on twelve shillings a week I will venture to say the squire
spent as much on any horse in his stables. Meat never touched the
peasant's lips, though game, preserved for his landlord's pleasure, was
running round his cottage. His children could not be educated, because
they were wanted, almost from their infancy, to help in keeping the
family from starving, as stonepickers, or perambulating scarecrows. His
abode was a hovel, in which comfort, decency, morality could not dwell;
and it was mainly owing to this cause that, as I have heard an
experienced clergyman say, even the people in the low quarters of cities
were less immoral than the rural poor. How the English peasants lived on
such wages as they had, was a question which puzzled the best informed.
How they died was clear enough; as penal paupers in a union workhouse.
Yet Hodge's back, like that of Jacques Bonhomme, in France, bore
everything, bore the great war against Republican France; for the
squires and rectors, who made that war for class purposes, got their
taxes back in increased rents and tithes. How did the peasantry exist,
what was their condition in those days when wheat was at a hundred, or
even a hundred and thirty shillings? They were reduced to a second
serfage. They became in the mass parish paupers, and were divided, like
slaves, among the employers of each parish. Men may be made serfs, and
even slaves by other means than open force, in a country where, legally,
all are free, where the impossibility of slavery is the boast of the
law. Of late benevolence has been, abroad in the English parish,
almsgiving and visiting have increased, good landlords have taken up
cottage improvements. There have been harvest-homes, at which the young
squires have danced with cottagers. But now Hodge has taken the matter
into his own hands, and it seems not without effect. In a letter which I
have seen, a squire says, "Here the people are all contented; we (the
employers) have seen the necessity of raising their wages." Conservative
journals begin to talk of measures for the compulsory improvement of
cottages, for limiting ground game, giving tenant right to farmers,
granting the franchise to rural householders. Yes, in consequence,
partly, at least of this movement, the dwellings and the general
conditions of the English peasantry will be improved, the game laws will
be abolished; the farmers pressed upon from below, and in their turn
pressing upon those above, will demand and obtain tenant right; and the
country, as well as the city householders will be admitted to the
franchise, which, under the elective system, is at once the only
guarantee for justice to him and for his loyalty to the State. And when
the country householder has the suffrage there will soon be an end of
those laws of primogeniture and entail, which are deemed so
Conservative, but are in fact most revolutionary, since they divorce the
nation from its own soil. And then there will be a happier and a more
United England in country as well as in town: the poor law, the hateful,
degrading, demoralizing poor law will cease to exist; the huge poor-
house will no longer darken the rural landscape with its shadow, in
hideous contrast with the palace. Suspicion and hatred will no more
cower and mutter over the cottage hearth, or round the beer-house fire:
the lord of the mansion will no longer be like the man in Tennyson
slumbering while a lion is always creeping nearer. Lord Malmesbury is
astonished at this disturbance. He always thought the relation between
the lord and the pauper peasant was the happiest possible; he cannot
conceive what people mean by proposing a change. But then Lord
Malmesbury was placed at rather a delusive point of view. If he knew the
real state of Hodge's heart he would rejoice in the prospect of a
change, not only for Hodge's sake, but, as he is no doubt a good man,
for his own. England will be more religious, too, as well as happier and
more harmonious, let the clergy be well assured of it. Social injustice
especially when backed by the Church, is unfavourable to popular

The general rise of wages may at first bring economical disturbance and
pressure on certain classes, but, in the end, it brings general
prosperity, diffused civilization, public happiness, security to
society, which can never be secure while the few are feasting and the
many are starving. In the end, also, it brings an increase of
production, and greater plenty. Not that we can assent, without reserve,
to the pleasant aphorism, that increase of wages, in itself, makes a
better workman, which is probably true only where the workman has been
under-fed, as in the case of the farm labourers of England. But the
dearness of labour leads to the adoption of improved methods of
production, and especially to the invention of machinery, which gives
back to the community what it has paid in increased wages a hundred or a
thousand fold. In Illinois, towards the close of the war, a large
proportion of the male population had been drafted or volunteered,
labour had become scarce and wages had risen, but the invention of
machinery had been so much stimulated that the harvest that year was
greater than it had ever been before. Machinery will now be used to a
greater extent on the English farms; more will be produced by fewer
hands, labourers will be set free for the production of other kinds,
perhaps for the cultivation of our North-West, and the British peasant
will rise from the industrial and intellectual level of a mere labourer
to that of the guider of a machine. Machinery worked by relays of men
is, no doubt, one of the principal solutions of our industrial problems,
and of the social problems connected with them. Some seem to fancy that
it is the universal solution; but we cannot run reaping machines in the
winter or in the dark.

High wages, and the independence of the labourers, compel economy of
labour. Economize labour, cries Lord Derby, the cool-headed mentor of
the rich; we must give up our second under-butler. When the labourer is
dependent, and his wages are low, the most precious of commodities, that
commodity the husbanding of which is the chief condition of increased
production, and of the growth of national wealth, is squandered with
reckless prodigality. Thirty years the labourers of Egypt wrought by
gangs of a hundred thousand at a time to build the great Pyramid which
was to hold a despot's dust. Even now, when everybody is complaining of
the dearness of labour, and the insufferable independence of the working
class, a piece of fine lace, we are told, consumes the labour of seven
persons, each employed on a distinct portion of the work; and the
thread, of exquisite fineness, is spun in dark rooms underground, not
without injury, we may suppose, to the eyesight or health of those
employed. So that the labour movement does not seem to have yet trenched
materially even on the elegancies of life. Would it be very detrimental
to real civilization if we were forced, by the dearness of labour, to
give up all the trades in which human life or health is sacrificed to
mere fancy? In London, the bakers have struck. They are kept up from
midnight to noon, sometimes far even into the afternoon, sleepless, or
only snatching broken slumbers, that London may indulge its fancy for
hot bread, which it would be much better without. The result of the
strike probably will be, besides relief to the bakers themselves, which
has already been in part conceded, a more wholesome kind of bread, such
as will keep fresh and palatable through the day, and cleaner baking;
for the wretchedness of the trade has made it vile and filthy, as is the
case in other trades besides that of the bakers. Many an article of mere
luxury, many a senseless toy, if our eyes could be opened, would be seen
to bear the traces of human blood and tears. We are like the Merchant
Brothers in Keats:--

  "With her two brothers this fair lady dwelt,
  Enriched from ancestral merchandize,
  And for them many a weary hand did swelt
  In torch-lit mines and noisy factories,
  And many once proud-quivered loins did melt
  In blood from stinging whip; with hollow eyes
  Many all day in dazzling river stood
  To take the rich-ored driftings of the flood."

  "For them the Ceylon diver held his breath,
  And went all naked to the hungry shark;
  For them his ears gushed blood; for them in death
  The seal on the cold ice with piteous bark
  Lay pierced with darts; for them alone did seethe
  A thousand men in troubles wide and dark:
  Half ignorant, they turned an easy wheel
  That set sharp racks at work, to pinch and peel."

Among other economies of labour, if this movement among the English
peasantry succeeds and spreads to other countries, then will come an
economy of soldiers' blood. Pauperism has been the grand recruiting
serjeant. Hodge listed and went to be shot or scourged within an inch of
his life for sixpence a day, because he was starving; but he will not
leave five shillings for sixpence. Even in former days, the sailor,
being somewhat better off than the peasant, could only be forced into
the service by the press gang, a name the recollection of which ought to
mitigate our strictures on the encroaching tendencies of the working
class. There will be a strike, or a refusal of service equivalent to a
strike in this direction also. It will be requisite to raise the
soldier's pay; the maintenance of standing armies will become a costly
indulgence. I have little faith in international champagne, or even in
Geneva litigation as a universal antidote to war: war will cease or be
limited to necessary occasions, when the burden of large standing armies
becomes too great to be borne.

The strike of the English colliers again, though it causes great
inconvenience, may have its good effect. It may be a strong indication
that mining in England is getting very deep, and that the nation must
exorcise a strict economy in the use of coal, the staple of its wealth
and greatness. The lot of the colliers, grubbling all day underground
and begrimed with dirt, is one of the hardest; the sacrifice of their
lives by accidents is terribly large; and we may well believe that the
community needs a lesson in favour of these underground toilers, which
could be effectually taught only by some practical manifestation of
their discontent.

To the labour movement, mainly, we owe those efforts to establish better
relations between the employer and the employed, which are known by the
general name of co-operation. The Comtists, in the name of their
autocrat, denounce the whole co-operative system as rotten. Their plan,
if you get to the bottom of it, is in fact a permanent division of the
industrial world into capitalists. And workmen; the capitalists
exercising a rule controlled only by the influence of philosophers; the
workmen remaining in a perpetual state of tutelage, not to say of
babyhood. A little acquaintance with this continent would probably
dissipate notions of a permanent division of classes, or a permanent
tutelage of any class. It is true that great commercial enterprises
require the guidance of superior intelligence with undivided counsels as
well as a large capital, and that co-operative mills have failed or
succeeded only in cases where very little policy and very little capital
were required. As to co-operative stores, they are co-operative only in
a very different sense: combinative would be a more accurate term; and
the department in which they seem likely to produce an alteration, is
that of retail trade, an improvement in the conditions of which,
economical and moral, is assuredly much needed. But if we are told that
it is impossible to give the workmen an interest in the enterprise, so
as, to make him work more willingly avoid waste and generally identify
him self with his employer the answer is that the thing has been done
both in England and here. An artisan working for him self and selling
the produce of his individual skill has an interest and a pride in his
work for which it would seem desirable to find if possible some
substitute in the case of factory hands whose toil otherwise is mere
weariness. The increased scale of commercial enterprise however is in
itself advantageous in this respect. In great works where an army of
workmen is employed at Saltaire or in the Platt works at Oldham there
must be many grades of promotion and many subordinate places of trust
and emolument to which the workmen may rise by industry and probity
without capital of his own.

The general effect of the labour movement has been as I have said the
industrial emancipation of the workmen. It has perhaps had an effect
more general still. Aided by the general awakening of social sentiment
and of the feeling of social responsibility, it has practically opened
our eyes to the fact that a nation and humanity at large is a community
the good things of which all are entitled to share while all must share
the evil things. It has forcibly dispelled the notion in which the rich
indolently acquiesced that enjoyment leisure culture refined affection
high civilization are the destined lot of the few while the destined lot
of the many is to support the privileged existence of the few by
unremitting coarse and jobless toil. Society has been taught that it
must at least endeavour to be just. The old ecclesiastical props of
privilege are gone. There is no use any longer in quoting or misquoting
Scripture to prove that God wills the mass of mankind to be always poor
and always dependent on the rich. The very peasant has now broken that
spell and will no longer believe the rector if he tells him that this
world belongs to the squire and that justice is put off to the next. The
process of mental emancipation has been assisted by the bishop who was
so rash as to suggest that rural agitators should be ducked in a horse
pond. Hodge has determined to find out for himself by a practical
experiment what the will of God really is. No doubt this is an imperfect
world and is likely to remain so for our time at least; we must all work
on in the hope that if we do our duty it will be well for us in the sum
of things and that when the far off goal of human effort is at last
reached, every faithful servant of humanity will have his part in the
result; if it were not so, it would be better to be a brute, with no
unfulfilled aspirations, than a man. But I repeat, the religion of
privilege has lost its power to awe or to control, and if society wishes
to rest on a safe foundation, it must show that it is at least trying to
be just.

Wealth, real wealth, has hardly as yet much reason to complain of any
encroachment of the labour movement on its rights. When did it command
such means and appliances of pleasure, such satisfaction for every
appetite and every fancy, as it commands now? When did it rear such
enchanted palaces of luxury as it is rearing in England at the present
day? Well do I remember one of those palaces, the most conspicuous
object for miles round. Its lord was, I daresay, consuming the income of
some six hundred of the poor labouring families round him. The thought
that you are spending on yourself annually the income of six hundred
labouring families seems to me about as much as a man with a heart and a
brain can bear. Whatever the rich man desires, the finest house, the
biggest diamond, the reigning beauty for his wife, social homage, public
honours, political power, is ready at his command. Does he fancy a seat
in the British House of Commons, the best club in London, as it has been
truly called? All other claims, those of the public service included, at
once give way. I remember a question arising about a nomination for a
certain constituency (a working man's constituency, by the way), which
was cut short by the announcement that the seat was wanted by a local
millionaire. When the name of the millionaire was mentioned, surprise
was expressed. Has he, it was asked, any political knowledge or
capacity, any interest in public affairs, any ambition? The answer was
"None." "Then why does he want the seat?" "He does not want it." "Then
why does he take it?" "Because his wife does." Cleopatra, as the story
goes, displayed her mad prodigality by melting a pearl in a cup, out of
which she drank to Antony. But this modern money-queen could throw into
her cup of pleasure, to give it a keener zest, a share in the government
of the greatest empire in the world.

If the movement, by transferring something from the side of profits to
that of wages, checks in any measure the growth of these colossal
fortunes, it will benefit society and diminish no man's happiness. I say
it without the slightest feeling of asceticism, and in the conviction
that wealth well made and well spent is as pure as the rill that runs
from the mountain side.

Real chiefs of industry have generally a touch of greatness in them and
no nobleman of the peerage clings more to his tinsel than do nature's
noblemen to simplicity of life. Mr. Brassey with his millions never
could be induced to increase his establishment his pride and pleasure
were in the guidance of industry and the accomplishment of great works.
But in the hands of the heirs of these men colossal fortunes become
social nuisances waste labour breed luxury create unhappiness by
propagating factitious wants too often engender vice and are injurious
for the most part to real civilization. The most malignant feelings
which enter into the present struggle have been generated especially in
England by the ostentation of idle wealth in contrast with surrounding
poverty. No really high nature covets such a position as that of a
luxurious and useless millionaire. Communism as a movement is a mistake
but there is a communism which is deeply seated in the heart of every
good man and which makes him feel that the hardest of all labour is
idleness in a world of toil and that the bitterest of all bread is that
which is eaten by the sweat of another man's brow.

The pressure is hardest not on those who are really rich but on those
who have hitherto on account of their education and the intellectual
character of their callings been numbered with the rich and who are
still clinging to the skirts of wealthy society. The best thing which
those who are clinging to the skirts of wealthy society can do is to let
go. They will find that they have not far to fall and they will rest on
the firm ground of genuine respectability and solid comfort. By keeping
up then culture they will preserve their social grade far better than by
struggling for a precarious footing among those whose habits they cannot
emulate and whose hospitalities they cannot return. Then income will be
increased by the whole cost of the efforts which they now make it the
sacrifice of comforts and often of necessaries to maintain the
appearances of wealth. British grandees may be good models for our
millionaires but what most of us want are models of the art of enjoying
life thoroughly and nobly without ostentation and at a moderate cost. It
is by people of the class of which I am speaking that the servant
difficulty that doleful but ever recurring theme is most severely felt.
Nor would I venture to hold out much hope that the difficulty will
become less. It is not merely industrial out social. There is a growing
repugnance to anything like servitude which makes the female democracy
prefer the independence of the factory to the subordination of the
kitchen, however good the wages and however kind the mistress may be. We
must look to inventions for saving labour, which might be adopted in
houses to a greater extent than they are now. Perhaps when the work has
been thus lightened and made less coarse, families may find "help," in
the true sense, among their relatives, or others in need of a home, who
would be members of the family circle. Homes and suitable employment
might thus be afforded to women who are now pining in enforced idleness,
and sighing for Protestant nunneries, while the daily war with Bridget
would be at an end.

I would not make light of these inconveniences or of the present
disturbance of trade. The tendency of a moment may be good, and yet it
may give society a very bad quarter of an hour. Nor would I attempt to
conceal the errors and excesses of which the unions have been guilty,
and into which, as organs of corporate selfishness, they are always in
danger of running. Industrial history has a record against the
workingman as well as against the master. The guilds of the Middle Ages
became tyrannical monopolies and leagues against society, turned
callings open to all into mysteries confined to a privileged few, drove
trade and manufactures from the cities where they reigned to places free
from their domination. This probably was the cause of the decay of
cities which forms the burden of complaint in the preambles to Acts of
Parliament, in the Tudor period. Great guilds oppressed little guilds:
strong commercial cities ruled by artisans oppressed their weaker
neighbours of the same class. No one agency has done so much to raise
the condition of the workingman as machinery; yet the workingman
resisted the introduction of machinery, rose against it, destroyed it,
maltreated its inventors. There is a perpetual warning in the name of
Hargreaves, the workingman who, by his inventive genius, provided
employment for millions of his fellows, and was by them rewarded with
outrage and persecution.

Flushed with confidence at the sight of their serried phalanxes and
extending lines, the unionists do like most people invested with
unwonted power; they aim at more than is possible or just. They fancy
that they can put the screw on the community, almost without limit. But
they will soon find out their mistake. They will learn it from those
very things which are filling the world with alarm--the extension of
unionism, and the multiplication of strikes. The builder strikes against
the rest of the community, including the baker, then the baker strikes
against the builder and the collier strikes against them both. At first
the associated trades seem to have it all their own way. But the other
trades learn the secret of association. Everybody strikes against
everybody else, the price of all articles rises as much as anybody's
wages, and thus when the wheel has come full circle, nobody is much the
gainer. In fact long before the wheel has come full circle the futility
of a universal strike will be manifest to all. The world sees before it
a terrible future of unionism ever increasing in power and tyranny, but
it is more likely that in a few years unionism as an instrument for
forcing up wages will have ceased to exist. In the meantime the working
classes will have impressed upon themselves by a practical experiment
upon the grandest scale and of the most decisive kind the fact that they
are consumers as well as producers, payers of wages as well as receivers
of wages, members of a community as well as workingmen.

The unionists will learn also after a few trials that the community
cannot easily be cornered, at least that it cannot easily be cornered
more than once by unions any more than by gold rings at New York or pork
rings at Chicago. It may apparently succumb once being unable to do
without its bread or its newspapers or to stop buildings already
contracted for and commenced, but it instinctively prepares to defend
itself against a repetition of the operation. It limits consumption or
invents new modes of production, improves machinery, encourages non
union men, calls in foreigners, women, Chinese. In the end the corner
results in loss. Cornering on the part of workingmen is not a bit worse
than cornering on the part of great financiers; in both cases alike it
is as odious as anything can be, which is not actually criminal; but
depend upon it a bad time is coming for corners of all kinds.

I speak of the community as the power with which the strikers really
have to deal. The master hires or organizes the workmen, but the
community purchases their work; and though the master when hard pressed
may in his desperation give more for the work than it is worth rather
than at once take his capital out of the trade the community will let
the trade go to ruin without compunction rather than give more for the
article than it can afford. Some of the colliers in England, we are
informed, have called upon the masters to reduce the price of coal,
offering at the same time to consent to a reduction of their own wages.
A great fact has dawned upon their minds. Note too that democratic
communities have more power of resistance to unionist extortion than
others, because they are more united, have a keener sense of mutual
interest, and are free from political fear. The way in which Boston,
some years ago, turned to and beat a printers' strike, was a remarkable
proof of this fact.

Combination may enable, and, as I believe, has enabled the men in
particular cases to make a fairer bargain with the masters, and to get
the full market value of their labour, but neither combination nor any
other mode of negotiating can raise the value of labour or of any other
article to the consumer, and that which cannot raise the value cannot
permanently raise the price.

All now admit that strikes peaceably conducted are lawful. Nevertheless,
they may sometimes be anti-social and immoral. Does any one doubt it?
Suppose by an accident to machinery, or the falling in of a mine, a
number of workmen have their limbs broken. One of their mates runs for
the surgeon, and the surgeon puts his head out of the window and says--
"the surgeons are on strike." Does this case much differ from that of
the man who, in his greed, stops the wheel of industry which he is
turning, thereby paralysing the whole machine, and spreading not only
confusion, but suffering, and perhaps starvation among multitudes of his
fellows? Language was held by some unionist witnesses, before the Trades
Union Commission, about their exclusive regard for their own interests,
and their indifference to the interests of society, which was more frank
than philanthropic, and more gratifying to their enemies than to their
friends. A man who does not care for the interests of society will find,
to his cost, that they are his own, and that he is a member of a body
which cannot be dismembered. I spoke of the industrial objects of the
International as chimerical. They are worse than chimerical. In its
industrial aspect, the International was an attempt to separate the
interests of a particular class of workers throughout the world from
those of their fellow workers, and to divide humanity against itself.
Such attempts can end only in one way.

There are some who say, in connection with this question, that you are
at liberty to extort anything you can from your fellow men, provided you
do not use a pistol; that you are at liberty to fleece the sailor who
implores you to save him from a wreck, or the emigrant who is in danger
of missing his ship. I say that this is a moral robbery, and that the
man would say so himself if the same thing were done to him.

A strike is a war, so is a lock out, which is a strike on the other
side. They are warrantable, like other wars, when justice cannot be
obtained, or injustice prevented by peaceful means, and in such cases
only. Mediation ought always to be tried first and it will often be
effectual, for the wars of carpenters and builders, as well as the wars
of emperors, often arise from passion more than from interest, and
passion may be calmed by mediation. Hence the magnitude of the unions,
formidable as it seems, has really a pacific effect; passion is commonly
personal or local, and does not affect the central government of a union
extending over a whole nation. The governments of great unions have
seldom recommended strikes. A strike or lock-out, I repeat, is an
industrial war, and when the war is over there ought to be peace.
Constant bad relations between the masters and the men, a constant
attitude of mutual hostility and mistrust, constant threats of striking
upon one side, and of locking out upon the other, are ruinous to the
trade, especially if it depends at all upon foreign orders, as well as
destructive of social comfort. If the state of feeling and the bearing
of the men toward the masters, remain what they now are in some English
trades, kind-hearted employers who would do their best to improve the
condition of the workman, and to make him a partaker in their
prosperity, will be driven from the trade, and their places will be
taken by men with hearts of flint who will fight the workman by force
and fraud, and very likely win. We have seen the full power of
associated labour, the full power of associated capital has yet to be
seen. We shall see it when instead of combinations of the employers in a
single trade, which seldom hold together, employers in all trades learn
to combine.

We must not forget that industrial wars, like other wars, however just
and necessary, give birth to men whose trade is war, and who, for the
purpose of their trade are always inflaming the passions which lead to
war. Such men I have seen on both sides of the Atlantic, and most
hateful pests of industry and society they are. Nor must we forget that
Trade Unions, like other communities, whatever their legal constitutions
may be, are apt practically to fall into the hands of a small minority
of active spirits, or even into those of a single astute and ambitious

Murder, maiming and vitriol throwing are offences punishable by law. So
are, or ought to be, rattening and intimidation. But there are ways less
openly criminal of interfering with the liberty of non-union men. The
liberty of non-union men, however, must be protected. Freedom of
contract is the only security which the community has against systematic
extortion; and extortion, practised on the community by a Trade Union,
is just as bad as extortion practised by a feudal baron in his robber
hold. If the unions are not voluntary they are tyrannies, and all
tyrannies in the end will be overthrown.

The same doom awaits all monopolies and attempts to interfere with the
free exercise of any lawful trade or calling, for the advantage of a
ring of any kind, whether it be a great East India Company, shutting the
gates of Eastern commerce on mankind, or a little Bricklayers' Union,
limiting the number of bricks to be carried in a hod. All attempts to
restrain or cripple production in the interest of a privileged set of
producers; all trade rules preventing work from being done in the best,
cheapest and most expeditious way; all interference with a man's free
use of his strength and skill on pretence that he is beating his mates,
or on any other pretence, all exclusions of people from lawful callings
for which they are qualified; all apprenticeships not honestly intended
for the instruction of the apprentice, are unjust and contrary to the
manifest interests of the community, including the misguided monopolists
themselves. All alike will, in the end, be resisted and put down. In
feudal times the lord of the manor used to compel all the people to use
his ferry, sell on his fair ground, and grind their corn at his mill. By
long and costly effort humanity has broken the yoke of old Privilege,
and it is not likely to bow its neck to the yoke of the new.

Those who in England demanded the suffrage for the working man, who
urged, in the name of public safety, as well as in that of justice, that
he should be brought within the pale of the constitution, have no reason
to be ashamed of the result. Instead of voting for anarchy and public
pillage, the working man has voted for economy, administrative reform,
army reform, justice to Ireland, public education. But no body of men
ever found political power in their hands without being tempted to make
a selfish use of it. Feudal legislatures, as we have seen, passed laws
compelling workmen to give more work, or work that was worth more, for
the same wages. Working men's legislatures are now disposed to pass laws
compelling employers, that is, the community, to give the same wages for
less work. Some day, perhaps, the bakers will get power into their hands
and make laws compelling us to give the same price for a smaller loaf.
What would the Rochdale pioneers, or the owners of any other co-
operative store, with a staff of servants say if a law were passed
compelling them to give the same wages for less service? This is not
right, and it cannot stand. Demagogues who want your votes will tell you
that it can stand, but those who are not in that line must pay you the
best homage in their power by speaking the truth. And if I may venture
to offer advice never let the cause of labour be mixed up with the game
of politicians. Before you allow a man to lead you in trade questions be
sure that he has no eye to your votes. We have a pleasing variety of
political rogues but perhaps, there is hardly a greater rogue among them
than the working man's friend.

Perhaps you will say as much or more work is done with the short hours.
There is reason to hope that it in some cases it may be so. But then the
employer will see his own interest, free contract will produce the
desired result, there will be no need of compulsory law.

I sympathize heartily with the general object of the nine hours
movement, of the early closing movement, and all movements of that kind.
Leisure well spent is a condition of civilization, and now we want all
to be civilized, not only a few. But I do not believe it possible to
regulate the hours of work by law with any approach to reason or
justice. One kind of work is more exhausting than another, one is
carried on in a hot room, another in a cool room, one amidst noise
wearing to the nerves, another in stillness. Time is not a common
measure of them all. The difficulty is increased if you attempt to make
one rule for all nations disregarding differences of race and climate.
Besides how in the name of justice, can we say that the man with a wife
and children to support, shall not work more if he pleases than the
unmarried man who chooses to be content with less pay and to have more
time for enjoyment? Medical science pronounces, we are told, that it is
not good for a man to work more than eight hours. But supposing this to
be true and true of all kinds of work, this as has been said before is
an imperfect world and it is to be feared that we cannot guarantee any
man against having more to do than his doctor would recommend. The small
tradesman, whose case receives no consideration because he forms no
union, often perhaps generally has more than is good for him of anxiety,
struggling and care as well as longer business hours, than medical
science would prescribe. Pressure on the weary brain is, at least, as
painful as pressure on the weary muscle; many a suicide proves it; yet
brains must be pressed or the wheels of industry and society would stand
still. Let us all, I repeat, get as much leisure as we fairly and
honestly can; but with all due respect for those who hold the opposite
opinion, I believe that the leisure must be obtained by free arrangement
in each ease, as it has already in the case of early closing, not by
general law.

I cannot help regarding industrial war in this new world, rather as an
importation than as a native growth. The spirit of it is brought over by
British workmen, who have been fighting the master class in their former
home. In old England, the land of class distinctions, the masters are a
class, economically as well as socially, and they are closely allied
with a political class, which till lately engrossed power and made laws
in the interest of the employer. Seldom does a man in England rise from
the ranks, and when he does, his position in an aristocratic society is
equivocal, and he never feels perfectly at home. Caste runs from the
peerage all down the social scale. The bulk of the land has been
engrossed by wealthy families, and the comfort and dignity of freehold
proprietorship are rarely attainable by any but the rich. Everything
down to the railway carriages, is regulated by aristocracy; street cars
cannot run because they would interfere with carriages, a city cannot be
drained because a park is in the way. The labourer has to bear a heavy
load of taxation, laid on by the class wars of former days. In this new
world of ours, the heel taps of old-world flunkeyism are sometimes
poured upon us, no doubt; as, on the other hand, we feel the reaction
from the old-world servility in a rudeness of self assertion on the part
of the democracy which is sometimes rather discomposing, and which we
should be glad to see exchanged for the courtesy of settled self-
respect. But on the whole, class distinctions are very faint. Half,
perhaps two-thirds, of the rich men you meet here have risen from the
ranks, and they are socially quite on a level with the rest. Everything
is really open to industry. Every man can at once invest his savings in
a freehold. Everything is arranged for the convenience of the masses.
Political power is completely in the hands of the people. There are no
fiscal legacies of an oligarchic past. If I were one of our emigration
agents, I should not dwell so much on wages, which in fact are being
rapidly equalized, as on what wages will buy in Canada--the general
improvement of condition, the brighter hopes, the better social
position, the enlarged share of all the benefits which the community
affords. I should show that we have made a step here at all events
towards being a community indeed. In such a land I can see that there
may still be need of occasional combinations among the working men to
make better bargains with their employers, but I can see no need for the
perpetual arraying of class against class or for a standing apparatus of
industrial war.

There is one more point which must be touched with tenderness but which
cannot be honestly passed over in silence. It could nowhere be mentioned
less invidiously than under the roof of an institution which is at once
an effort to create high tastes in working men and a proof that such
tastes can be created. The period of transition from high to low wages
and from incessant toil to comparative leisure must be one of peril to
masses whom no Mechanics Institute or Literary Society as yet counts
among its members. It is the more so because there is abroad in all
classes a passion for sensual enjoyment and excitement produced by the
vast development of wealth and at the same time as I suspect by the
temporary failure of those beliefs which combat the sensual appetites
and sustain our spiritual life. Colliers drinking champagne. The world
stands aghast. Well, I see no reason why a collier should not drink
champagne if he can afford it as well as a Duke. The collier wants and
perhaps deserves it more if he has been working all the week underground
and at risk of his life. Hard labour naturally produces a craving for
animal enjoyment and so does the monotony of the factory unrelieved by
interest in the work. But what if the collier cannot afford the
champagne or if the whole of his increase of wages is wasted on it while
his habitation remains a hovel, everything about him is still as filthy,
comfortless and barbarous as ever and (saddest of all) his wife and
children are no better off, perhaps are worse off than before? What if
his powers of work are being impaired by debauchery and he is thus
surely losing the footing which he has won on the higher round of the
industrial ladder and lapsing back into penury and despair? What if
instead of gaining he is really losing in manhood and real independence?
I see nothing shocking in the fact that a mechanic's wages are now equal
to those of a clergyman, or an officer in the army who has spent perhaps
thousands of dollars on his education. Every man has a right to whatever
his labour will fetch. But I do see something shocking in the appearance
of the highly paid mechanic, whenever hard times come, as a mendicant at
the door of a man really poorer than himself. Not only that English
poor-law, of which we spoke, but all poor-laws, formal or informal, must
cease when the labourer has the means, with proper self-control and
prudence, of providing for winter as well as summer, for hard times as
well as good times, for his family as well as for himself. The tradition
of a by-gone state of society must be broken. The nominally rich must no
longer be expected to take care of the nominally poor. The labourer has
ceased to be in any sense a slave. He must learn to be, in every sense,
a man.

It is much easier to recommend our neighbours to change their habits
than to change our own, yet we must never forget, in discussing the
question between the working man and his employer, or the community,
that a slight change in the habits of the working men, in England at
least, would add more to their wealth, their happiness and their hopes,
than has been added by all the strikes, or by conflicts of any kind. In
the life of Mr. Brassey, we are told that the British workman in
Australia has great advantages, but wastes them all in drink. He does
this not in Australia alone. I hate legislative interference with
private habits, and I have no fancies about diet. A citizen of Maine,
who has eaten too much pork, is just as great a transgressor against
medical rules, and probably just as unamiable, as if he had drunk too
much whisky. But when I have seen the havoc--the ever increasing havoc--
which drink makes with the industry, the vigour, the character of the
British workman, I have sometimes asked myself whether in that case
extraordinary measures might not be justified by the extremity of its

The subject is boundless. I might touch upon perils distinct from
Unionism, which threaten industry, especially that growing dislike of
manual labour which prevails to an alarming extent in the United States,
and which some eminent economists are inclined to attribute to errors in
the system of education in the common schools. I might speak of the
duties of government in relation to these disturbances, and of the
necessity, for this as well as other purposes, of giving ourselves a
government of all and for all, capable of arbitrating impartially
between conflicting interests as the recognised organ of the common
good. I might speak, too, of the expediency of introducing into popular
education a more social element, of teaching less rivalry and
discontent, more knowledge of the mutual duties of different members of
the community and of the connection of those duties with our happiness.
But I must conclude. If I have thrown no new light upon the subject, I
trust that I have at least tried to speak the truth impartially, and
that I have said nothing which can add to the bitterness of the
industrial conflict, or lead any of my hearers to forget that above all
Trade Unions, and above all combinations of every kind, there is the
great union of Humanity.


A phrase in a lecture on "The Labour Movement," published in the
_Canadian Monthly_, has been the inconsiderable cause of a
considerable controversy in the English press and notably of a paper by
the eminent economist and moralist Mr. W.R. Greg, entitled "What is
Culpable Luxury?" in the _Contemporary Review_.

The passage of the lecture in which the phrase occurred was: "Wealth,
real wealth, has hardly as yet much reason to complain of any
encroachment of the Labour Movement on its rights. When did it command
such means and appliances of pleasure, such satisfaction for every
appetite and every fancy, as it commands now? When did it rear such
enchanted palaces of luxury as it is rearing in England at the present
day? Well do I remember one of those palaces, the most conspicuous
object for miles round. _Its lord was I dare say consuming the income
of some six hundred of the poor labouring families round him_. The
thought that you are spending on yourself annually the income of six
hundred labouring families seems to me about as much as a man with a
heart and a brain can bear. Whatever the rich man desires, the finest
house, the biggest diamond, the reigning beauty for his wife, social
homage, public honour, political power, is ready at his command" &c, &c.

The words in italics have been separated from the context and taken as
an attack on wealth. But the whole passage is a defence of labour
against the charge of encroachment brought against it by wealth. I argue
that, if the labouring man gets rather more than he did, the
inequalities of fortune and the privileges of the rich are still great
enough. In the next paragraph I say that "wealth well made and well
spent is as pure as the rill that runs from the mountain side." An
invidious turn has also been given to the expression "the income of six
hundred labouring families," as though it meant that the wealthy idler
is robbing six hundred labouring families of their income. It means no
more than that the income which he is spending on himself is as large as
six hundred of their incomes put together.

Mr. Greg begins with what he calls a retort courteous. He says that if
the man with L30 000 is doing this sad thing so is the man with L3000 or
L300 and everyone who allows himself anything beyond the necessaries of
life; nay, that the labouring man when he lights his pipe or drinks his
dram is as well as the rest consuming the substance of one poorer than
himself. This argument appears to its framer irrefutable and a retort to
which there can be no rejoinder. I confess my difficulty is not so much
in refuting it as in seeing any point in it at all. What parallel can
there be between an enormous and a very moderate expenditure or between
prodigious luxury and ordinary comfort? If a man taxes me with having
squandered fifty dollars on a repast is it an irrefutable retort to tell
him that he has spent fifty cents? The limited and rational expenditure
of an industrious man produces no evils economical, social or moral. I
contend in the lecture that the unlimited and irrational expenditure of
idle millionaires does; that it wastes labour, breeds luxury, creates
unhappiness by propagating factitious wants, too often engenders vice
and is injurious for the most part to real civilization. I have
observed and I think with truth that the most malignant feelings which
enter into the present struggle between classes have been generated by
the ostentation of idle wealth in contrast with surrounding poverty. It
would of course be absurd to say this of a man living on a small income
in a modest house and in a plain way.

If I had said that property or all property beyond a mere sustenance is
theft there would be force in Mr. Greg's retort, but as I have said or
implied nothing more than that extravagant luxury is waste and
contrasted with surrounding poverty grates on the feelings, especially
when those who waste are idle and those who want are the hardest working
labourers in the world, I repeat that I can see no force in the retort
at all.

Mr. Greg proceeds to analyse the expenditure of the millionaire and to
maintain that its several items are laudable.

First he defends pleasure grounds, gardens, shrubberies and deer parks.
But he defends them on the ground that they are good things for the
community and thereby admits my principle. It is only against wasteful
self indulgence that I have anything to say. No doubt, says Mr. Greg,
if the land of a country is all occupied and cultivated, and if no more
land is easily accessible, and if the produce of other lands is not
procurable in return for manufactured articles of exchange, then a
proprietor who shall employ a hundred acres in growing wine for his own
drinking, which might or would otherwise be employed in growing wheat or
other food for twenty poor families who can find no other field for
their labour, may fairly be said to be consuming, spending on himself,
the sustenance of those families. If, again, he, in the midst of a
swarming population unable to find productive or remunerative
occupation, insists upon keeping a considerable extent of ground in
merely ornamental walks and gardens, and, therefore, useless as far as
the support of human life is concerned, he may be held liable to the
same imputation--even though the wages he pays to the gardeners in the
one case, and the vine-dressers in the other, be pleaded in mitigation
of the charge. Let the writer of this only allow, as he must, that the
moral, social and political consequences of expenditure are to be taken
into account as well as the economical consequences, and he will be
entirely at one with the writer whom he supposes himself to be
confuting. I have never said, or imagined, that "all land ought to be
producing food." I hold that no land in England is better employed than
that of the London parks and the gardens of the Crystal Palace, though I
could not speak so confidently with regard to a vast park from which all
are excluded but its owner. Mr. Greg here again takes up what seems to
me the strange position that to condemn excess is to condemn moderation.
He says that whatever is said against the great parks and gardens of the
most luxurious millionaire may equally be said against a tradesman's
little flower-garden, or the plot of ornamental ground before the
cottage windows of a peasant. I must again say that, so far from
regarding this argument as irrefutable, I altogether fail to discover
its cogency. The tradesman's little bit of green, the peasant's flower-
bed, are real necessities of a human soul. Can the same thing be said of
a pleasure-ground which consumes the labour of twenty men, and of which
the object is not to refresh the weariness of labour but to distract the
vacancy of idleness?

Mr. Greg specially undertakes the defence of deer-parks. But his ground
is that the deer-forests which were denounced as unproductive have been
proved to be the only mode of raising the condition and securing the
well-being of the ill-fed population. If so, "humanitarians" are ready
to hold up both hands in favour of deer-forests. Nay, we are ready to do
the same if the pleasure yielded by the deer-forests bears any
reasonable proportion to the expense and the agricultural sacrifice,
especially if the sportsman is a worker recruiting his exhausted brain,
not a sybarite killing time.

From parks and pleasure-grounds Mr. Greg goes on to horses; and here it
is the same thing over again. The apologist first sneers at those who
object to the millionaire's stud, then lets in the interest of the
community as a limiting principle, and ends by saying: "We may then
allow frankly and without demur, that if he (the millionaire) maintains
more horses than he needs or can use, his expenditure thereon is
strictly pernicious and indefensible, precisely in the same way as it
would be if he burnt so much hay and threw so many bushels of oats into
the fire. He is destroying human food." Now Mr. Greg has only to
determine whether a man who is keeping a score or more of carriage and
saddle horses, is "using" them or not. If he is, "humanitarians" are
perfectly satisfied.

Finally Mr. Greg comes to the case of large establishments of servants.
And here, having set out with intentions most adverse to my theory, he
"blesses it altogether." "Perhaps," he says, "of all the branches of a
wealthy nobleman's expenditure, that which will be condemned with most
unanimity, and defended with most difficulty, is the number of
ostentatious and unnecessary servants it is customary to maintain. For
this practice I have not a word to say. It is directly and indirectly
bad. It is bad for all parties. Its reflex action on the masters
themselves is noxious; it is mischievous to the flunkies who are
maintained in idleness, and in enervating and demoralizing luxury; it is
pernicious to the community at large, and especially to the middle and
upper middle classes, whose inevitable expenditure in procuring fit
domestic service--already burdensomely great--is thereby oppressively
enhanced, till it has become difficult not only to find good household
servants at moderate wages, but to find servants who will work
diligently and faithfully for any wages at all."

How will Mr. Greg keep up the palaces, parks, and studs, when he has
taken away the retinues of servants? If he does not take care, he will
find himself wielding the bosom of sumptuary reform in the most sweeping
manner before he is aware of it. But let me respectfully ask him, who
can he suppose objects to any expenditure except on the ground that it
is directly and indirectly bad; bad for all parties, noxious to the
voluptuary himself, noxious to all about him, and noxious to the
community? So long as a man does no harm to himself or to anyone else, I
for one see no objection to his supping like a Roman Emperor, on
pheasants' tongues, or making shirt-studs of Koh-i-noors.

"It is charity," says Mr. Greg, hurling at the system of great
establishments his last and bitterest anathema--"It is charity, and
charity of the bastard sort--charity disguised as ostentation. It feeds,
clothes, and houses a number of people in strenuous and pretentious
laziness. If almshouses are noxious and offensive to the economic mind,
then, by parity of reasoning, superfluous domestics are noxious also."
And so it would seem, by parity of reasoning, or rather _a
fortiori_, as being fed, clothed, and housed far more expensively,
and in far more strenuous and pretentious laziness, are the superfluous
masters of flunkeys. The flunkey does some work, at all events enough to
prevent him from becoming a mere fattened animal. If he is required to
grease and powder his head, he does work, as it seems to me, for which
he may fairly claim a high remuneration.

As I have said already, let Mr. Greg take in the moral, political, and
social evils of luxury, as well as the material waste, and I flatter
myself that there will be no real difference between his general view of
the responsibilities of wealth and mine. He seems to be as convinced as
I am that there is no happiness in living in strenuous and pretentious
laziness by the sweat of other men's brows.

Nor do I believe that even the particular phrase which has been deemed
so fraught with treason to plutocracy would, if my critic examined it
closely, seem to him so very objectionable. His own doctrine, it is
true, sounds severely economical. He holds that "the natural man and the
Christian" who should be moved by his natural folly and Christianity to
forego a bottle of champagne in order to relieve a neighbour in want of
actual food, would do a thing "distinctly criminal and pernicious."
Still I presume he would allow, theoretically, as I am very sure he
would practically, a place to natural sympathy. He would not applaud a
banquet given in the midst of a famine, although it might be clearly
proved that the money spent by the banqueters was their own, that those
who were perishing of famine had not been robbed of it, that their
bellies were none the emptier because those of the banqueters were full,
and that the cookery gave a stimulus to gastronomic art. He would not,
even, think it wholly irrational that the gloom of the work-house
should cast a momentary shadow on the enjoyments of the palace. I should
also expect him to understand the impression that a man of "brain," even
one free from any excessive tenderness of "heart," would not like to see
a vast apparatus of luxury, and a great train of flunkeys devoted to his
own material enjoyment--that he would feel it as a slur on his good
sense, as an impeachment of his mental resources, and of his command of
nobler elements of happiness, and even as a degradation of his manhood.
There was surely something respectable in the sentiment which made Mr.
Brassey refuse, however much his riches might increase, to add to his
establishment. There is surely something natural in the tendency, which
we generally find coupled with greatness, to simplicity of life. A
person whom I knew had dined with a millionaire _tete-a-tete_, with
six flunkeys standing round the table. I suspect that a man of Mr.
Greg's intellect and character, in spite of his half-ascetic hatred of
plush, would rather have been one of the six than one of the two.

While, however, I hope that my view of these matters coincides
practically with that of Mr. Greg far more than he supposes, I must
admit that there may be a certain difference of sentiment behind. Mr.
Greg describes the impressions to which I have given currency as a
confused compound of natural sympathy, vague Christianity, and dim
economic science. Of the confusion, vagueness and dimness of our views,
of course we cannot be expected to be conscious; but I own that I defer,
in these matters, not only to natural feeling, but to the ethics of
rational Christianity. I still adhere to the Christian code for want of
a better, the Utilitarian system of morality being, so far as I can see,
no morality at all, in the ordinary sense of the term, as it makes no
appeal to our moral nature, our conscience, or whatever philosophers
choose to call the deepest part of humanity. Of course, therefore, I
accept as the fundamental principle of human relations, and of all
science concerning them, the great Christian doctrine that "we are every
one members one of another" As a consequence of this doctrine I hold
that the wealth of mankind is morally a common store; that we are
morally bound to increase it as much, and to waste it as little, as we
can, that of the two it is happier to be underpaid than to be overpaid;
and that we shall all find it so in the sum of things. There is nothing
in such a view in the least degree subversive of the legal rights of
property, which the founders of Christianity distinctly recognised in
their teaching, and strengthened practically by raising the standard of
integrity; nothing adverse to active industry or good business habits;
nothing opposed to economic science as the study of the laws regulating
the production and distribution of wealth; nothing condemnatory of
pleasure, provided it be pleasure which opens the heart, as I suppose
was the case with the marriage feast at Cana, not the pleasure which
closes the heart, as I fear was the case with the "refined luxury" of
the Marquis of Steyne.

If this is superstition, all that I can say is that I have read Strauss,
Renan, Mr. Greg on the "Creed of Christendom," and all the eminent
writers I could hear of on that side, and that I am not conscious of any
bias to the side of orthodoxy, at least I have not given satisfaction to
the orthodox classes.

Christianity, of course, in common with other systems, craves a
reasonable construction. Plato cannot afford to have his apologues
treated as histories. In "Joshua Davidson," a good man is made to turn
away from Christianity because he finds that his faith will not
literally remove a mountain and cast it into the sea. But he had omitted
an indispensable preliminary. He ought first to have exactly compared
the bulk of his faith with that of a grain of Palestinian mustard seed.
Mr. Greg makes sport of the text "He that hath two coats let him impart
to him that hath none," which he says he heard in his youth, but without
ever considering its present applicability. Yet in the next paragraph
but one he gives it a precise and a very important application by
pronouncing that a man is not at liberty to grow wine for himself on
land which other people need for food. I fail to see how the principle
involved in this passage, and others of a similar tendency which I have
quoted from Mr. Greg's paper, differ from that involved in Gospel texts
which, if I were to quote them would grate strangely upon his ear. The
texts comprise a moral sanction; but Mr. Greg must have some moral
sanction when he forbids a man to do that which he is permitted to do by
law. Christianity, whatever its source and authority, was addressed at
first to childlike minds, and what its antagonists have to prove is not
that its forms of expression or even of thought are adapted to such
minds, but that its principles, when rationally applied to a more
advanced state of society, are unsound. Rightly understood it does not
seem to me to enjoin anything eccentric or spasmodic, to bid you enact
primitive Orientalism in the streets of London, thrust fraternity upon
writers in the _Pall Mall Gazette_, or behave generally as if the
"Kingdom of God" were already come. Your duty as a Christian is done if
you help its coming according to the circumstances of your place in
society and the age in which you live.

Of course, in subscribing to the Christian code of ethics, one lays
oneself open to "retorts corteous" without limit. But so one does in
subscribing to any code, or accepting any standard, whether moral or of
any other kind.

I do not see on what principle Mr. Greg would justify, if he does
justify, any sort of charitable benefactions. Did not Mr. Peabody give
his glass of champagne to a man in need? He might have spent all his
money on himself if he had been driven to building Chatsworths, and
hanging their walls with Raffaelles. How will he escape the reproach of
having done what was criminal and pernicious? And what are we to say of
the conduct of London plutocrats who abetted his proceedings by their
applause though they abstained from following his example? Is there any
apology for them at all but one essentially Christian? Not that
Christianity makes any great fuss over munificence, or gives political
economy reasonable ground for apprehension on that score. Plutocracy
deifies Mr. Peabody; Christianity measures him and pronounces his
millions worth less than the widow's mite.

In my lecture I have applied my principles, or tried to apply them,
fairly to the mechanic as well as to the millionaire. I have deprecated,
as immoral, a resort to strikes solely in the interest of the strikers,
without regard to the general interests of industry and of the community
at large. What has my critic to say, from the moral point of view, to
the gas stokers who leave London in the dark, or the colliers who, in
struggling to raise their own wages, condemn the ironworkers to "clamm"
for want of coal?

I would venture to suggest that Mr. Greg somewhat overrates in his paper
the beneficence of luxury as an agent in the advancement of
civilization. "Artificial wants," he says, "what may be termed
extravagant wants, the wish to possess something beyond the bare
necessaries of existence; the taste for superfluities and luxuries
first, the desire for refinements and embellishments next; the craving
for the higher enjoyments of intellect and art as the final stage--these
are the sources and stimulants of advancing civilization. It is these
desires, these needs, which raise mankind above mere animal existence,
which, in time and gradually, transform the savage into the cultured
citizen of intelligence and leisure. Ample food once obtained, he begins
to long for better, more varied, more succulent food; the richer
nutriment leads on to the well-stored larder and the well-filled cellar,
and culminates in the French cook." The love of truth, the love of
beauty, the effort to realize a high type of individual character, and a
high social ideal, surely these are elements of progress distinct from
gastronomy, and from that special chain of gradual improvement which
culminates in the French cook. It may be doubted whether French cookery
does always denote the acme of civilization. Perhaps in the case of the
typical London Alderman, it denotes something like the acme of
barbarism, for the barbarism of the elaborate and expensive glutton
surely exceeds that of the child of nature who gorges himself on the
flesh which he has taken in hunting: not to mention that the child of
nature costs humanity nothing, whereas the gourmand devours the labour
of the French cook and probably that of a good many assistants and

The greatest service is obviously rendered by any one who can improve
human food. "The man is what he eats," is a truth though somewhat too
broadly stated. But then the improvement must be one ultimately if not
immediately accessible to mankind in general. That which requires a
French cook is accessible only to a few.

Again, in setting forth the civilizing effects of expenditure, Mr. Greg,
I think, rather leaves out of sight those of frugality. The Florentines,
certainly the leaders of civilization in their day, were frugal in their
personal habits, and by that frugality accumulated the public wealth
which produced Florentine art, and sustained a national policy eminently
generous and beneficent for its time.

Moreover, in estimating the general influence of great fortunes, Mr.
Greg seems to take a rather sanguine view of the probable character and
conduct of their possessors. He admits that a broad-acred peer or
opulent commoner "may spend his L30,000 a year in such a manner as to be
a curse, a reproach, and an object of contempt to the community,
demoralizing and disgusting all around him, doing no good to others, and
bringing no real enjoyment to himself." But he appears to think that the
normal case, and the one which should govern our general views and
policy upon the subject, is that of a man "of refined taste and
intellect expanded to the requirements of his position, managing his
property with care and judgment, so as to set a feasible example to less
wealthy neighbours; prompt to discern and to aid useful undertakings, to
succour striving merit, unearned suffering, and overmatched energy."
"Such a man," he says, in a concluding burst of eloquence, "if his
establishment in horses and servants is not immoderate, although he
surrounds himself with all that art can offer to render life beautiful
and elegant though he gathers round him the best productions of the
intellect of all countries and ages, though his gardens and his park are
models of curiosity and beauty, though he lets his ancestral trees rot
in their picturesque mutility instead of converting them into profitable
timber, and disregards the fact that his park would be more productive
if cut up into potato plots though, in fine he lives in the very height
of elegant, refined and tasteful luxury--I should hesitate to denounce
as consuming on himself the incomes of countless labouring families, and
I should imagine that he might lead his life of temperate and thoughtful
joy quietly conscious that his liberal expenditure enabled scores of
these families as well as artists and others to exist in comfort and
without either brain or heart giving way under the burdensome

It must be by a slip of the pen such as naturally occurs amidst the glow
of an enthusiastic description that the writer speaks of people as
enabling others to subsist by their expenditure. It is clear that people
can furnish subsistence to themselves or others only by production. A
rich idler may appear to give bread to an artist or opera girl but the
bread really comes not from the idler but from the workers who pay his
rents; the idler is at most the channel of distribution. The munificence
of monarchs who generously lavish the money of the taxpayer is a
familiar case of the same fallacy. This is the illusion of the Irish
peasant whose respect for the spendthrift "gentleman" and contempt for
the frugal "sneak" Mr. Greg honours with a place among the serious
elements of an economical and social problem.

But not to dwell on what is so obvious how many let me ask, of the
possessors of inherited wealth in England or in any other country,
fulfil or approach Mr. Greg's ideal? I confess that, as regards the mass
of the English squires the passage seems to me almost satire. Refined
taste and expanded intellect, promptness to discern and aid striving
merit and unearned suffering, life surrounded with all that art can do
to render it beautiful and elegant, the best productions of intellect
gathered from all intellects and ages--I do not deny that Mr. Greg has
seen all this, but I can hardly believe that he has seen it often, and I
suspect that there are probably people not unfamiliar with the abodes of
great landowners who have never seen it at all. Not to speak of artists
and art, what does landed wealth do for popular education? It appears
from the Popular Education Report of 1861 (p. 77) that in a district
taken as a fair specimen, the sum of L4,518, contributed by voluntary
subscription towards the support of 168 schools, was derived from the
following sources:

169 clergymen contributed L1,782 or L10 10 0 each
399 landowners    "        2,127 "    5  6 0  "
2l7 occupiers     "          200 "      18 6  "
102 householders  "          181 "    1 15 6  "
141 other persons "          228 "    1 12 4  "

The rental of the 399 landowners was estimated at, L650,000 a year.
Judging from the result of my own observations, I should not have been
at all surprised if a further analysis of the return had shown that not
only the contributions of the clergy but those of retired professional
men and others with limited incomes were, in proportion, far greater
than those of the leviathans of wealth.

To play the part of Mr. Greg's ideal millionaire, a man must have not
only a large heart but a cultivated mind; and how often are educators
successful in getting work out of boys or youths who know that they have
not to make their own bread?

In my lecture I have drawn a strong distinction, though Mr. Greg has not
observed it, between hereditary wealth and that which, however great,
and even, compared with the wages of subordinate producers, excessive,
is earned by industry. Wealth earned by industry is, for obvious
reasons, generally much more wisely and beneficially spent than
hereditary wealth. The self-made millionaire must at all events, have an
active mind. The late Mr. Brassey was probably one man in a hundred even
among self-made millionaires; among hereditary millionaires he would
have been one in a thousand. Surely we always bestow especial praise on
one who resists the evil influences of hereditary wealth, and surely our
praise is deserved.

The good which private wealth has done in the way of patronizing
literature and art is, I am convinced, greatly overrated. The beneficent
patronage of Lorenzo di Medici is, like that of Louis XIV., a
chronological and moral fallacy. What Lorenzo did was, in effect, to
make literature and art servile and in some cases to taint them with the
propensities of a magnificent debauchee. It was not Lorenzo, nor any
number of Lorenzos, that made Florence, with her intellect and beauty,
but the public spirit, the love of the community, the intensity of civic
life, in which the interest of Florentine history lies. The decree of
the Commune for the building of the Cathedral directs the architect to
make a design "of such noble and extreme magnificence that the industry
and skill of men shall be able to invent nothing grander or more
beautiful," since it had been decided in Council that no plan should be
accepted "unless the conception was such as to render the work worthy of
an ambition which had become very great, inasmuch as it resulted from
the continued desires of a great number of citizens united in one sole

I believe, too, that the munificence of a community is generally wiser
and better directed than that of private benefactors. Nothing can be
more admirable than the munificence of rich men in the United States.
But the drawback in the way of personal fancies and crochets is so great
that I sometimes doubt whether future generations will have reason to
thank the present, especially as the reverence of the Americans for
property is so intense that they would let a dead founder breed any
pestilence rather than touch the letter of his will.

Politically, no one can have lived in the New World without knowing that
a society in which wealth is distributed rests on an incomparably safer
foundation than one in which it is concentrated in the hands of a few.
British plutocracy has its cannoneer; but if the cannoneer happens to
take fancies into his head the "whiff of grapeshot" goes the wrong way.

Socially, I do not know whether Mr. Greg has been led to consider the
extent to which artificial desires, expensive fashions, and conventional
necessities created by wealth, interfere with freedom of intercourse and
general happiness. The _Saturday Review_ says:

"All classes of Her Majesty's respectable subjects are always doing
their best to keep up appearances, and a very hard struggle many of us
make of it. Thus a mansion in Belgrave Square ought to mean a corpulent
hall-porter, a couple of gigantic footmen, a butler and an under-butler
at the very least, if the owner professes to live op to his social
dignities. If our house is in Baker or Wimpole street, we must certainly
have a manservant in sombre raiment to open our door, with a hobbledehoy
or a buttons to run his superior's messages. In the smart, although
somewhat dismal, small squares in South Kensington and the Western
suburbs, the parlourmaid must wear the freshest of ribbons and trimmest
of bows, and be resplendent in starch and clean coloured muslins. So it
goes on, as we run down the gamut of the social scale; our ostentatious
expenditure must be in harmony throughout with the stuccoed facade
behind which we live, or the staff of domestics we parade. We are aware,
of course, as our incomes for the most part are limited, and as we are
all of us upon our mettle in the battle of life that we must pinch
somewhere if appearances are to be kept up. We do what we can in secret
towards balancing the budget. We retrench on our charities, save on our
coals, screw on our cabs, drink the sourest of Bordeaux instead of more
generous vintages, dispense with the cream which makes tea palatable,
and systematically sacrifice substantial comforts that we may swagger
successfully in the face of a critical and carping society. But with
the most of us if our position is an anxious one; it is of our own
making and if we dared to be eccentrically rational it might be very

Nor is this the worst. The worst is the exclusion from society of the
people who do not choose to torture and degrade themselves in order to
keep up appearances and who are probably the best people of all. The
interference of wealth and its exigencies with social enjoyment is I
suspect a heavy set off against squirearchical patronage of intellect
and art.

Those who believe that the distribution of wealth is more favourable to
happiness and more civilizing than its concentration will of course vote
against laws which tend to artificial concentration of wealth such as
those of primogeniture and entail. This they may do without advocating
public plunder though it suits plutocratic writers to confound the two.
For my own part I do not feel bound to pay to British plutocracy a
respect which British plutocracy does not pay to humanity. Some of its
organs are beginning to preach doctrines revolting to a Christian and to
any man who has not banished from his heart the love of his kind and we
have seen it when its class passions were excited show a temper as cruel
as that of any Maratist or Petroleuse. But so far from attacking the
institution of property [Footnote: The _Saturday Review_ some time
ago charged me with proposing to confiscate the increase in the value of
land. I never said anything of the kind nor anything I believe that
could easily be mistaken for it.] I have as great a respect for it as
any millionaire can have and as sincerely accept and uphold it as the
condition of our civilization. There is nothing inconsistent with this
in the belief that among the better part of the race property is being
gradually modified by duty or in the surmise that before humanity
reaches its distant goal property and duty will alike be merged in


The vast works of the railway and steamboat age called into existence,
besides the race of great engineers, a race of great organizers and
directors of industry, who may be generally termed Contractor. Among
these no figure was more conspicuous than that of Mr. Brassey, a life of
whom has just been published by Messrs. Bell and Daldy. Its author is
Mr. Helps, whose name is a guarantee for the worthy execution of the
work. And worthily executed it is, in spite of a little Privy Council
solemnity in the reflections, and a little "State Paper" in the style.
The materials were collected in an unusual way--by examining the
persons who had acted under Mr. Brassey, or knew him well, and taking
down their evidence in shorthand. The examination was conducted by Mr.
Brassey, jun., who prudently declined to write the biography himself,
feeling that a son could not speak impartially of his father. The result
is that we have materials for a portrait, which not only is very
interesting in itself but, by presenting the image of beneficence in an
employer, may help to mediate between capital and labour in a time of
industrial war.

Mr. Helps had been acquainted with Mr. Brassey, and had once received a
visit from him on official business of difficulty and importance. He
expected, he says, to see a hard, stern, soldierly sort of person,
accustomed to sway armies of working-men in an imperious fashion.
Instead of this he saw an elderly gentleman of very dignified appearance
and singularly graceful manners--"a gentleman of the old school." "He
stated his case, no, I express myself wrongly; he did _not_ state
his case, he _understated_ it; and there are few things more
attractive in a man than that he should be inclined to understate rather
than overstate his own case." Mr. Brassey was also very brief, and when
he went away, Mr. Helps, knowing well the matter in respect to which his
visitor had a grievance, thought that, if it had been his own case, he
should hardly have been able to restrain himself so well, and speak with
so little regard to self-interest, as Mr. Brassey had done. Of all the
persons whom Mr. Helps had known, he thought Mr. Brassey most resembled
that perfect gentleman and excellent public man, Lord Herbert of Lea.

Mr. Helps commences his work with a general portrait. According to this
portrait, the most striking feature in Mr. Brassey's character was
trustfulness, which he carried to what might appear an extreme. He chose
his agents with care, but, having chosen them, placed implicit
confidence in them, trusting them for all details, and judging by
results. He was very liberal in the conduct of business. His temperament
was singularly calm and equable, not to be discomposed by success or
failure, easily throwing off the burden of care, and, when all had been
done that could be done, awaiting the result with perfect equanimity. He
was very delicate in blaming, his censure being always of the gentlest
kind, evidently reluctant, and on that account going more to the heart.
His generosity made him exceedingly popular with his subordinates and
work-men, who looked forward to his coming among them as a festive
event; and, when any disaster occurred in the works, the usual parts of
employer and employed were reversed--the employer it was who framed the
excuses and comforted the employed. He was singularly courteous, and
listened to everybody with respect; so that it was a marked thing when
he went so far as to say of a voluble and empty chatterer, that "the
peas were overgrowing the stick." His presence of mind was great; he had
in an eminent degree, as his biographer remarks, what Napoleon called
"two o'clock in the morning courage," being always ready, if called up
in the middle of the night, to meet any urgent peril; and his faculties
were stimulated, not overcome, by danger. He had a perfect hatred of
contention, and would not only refuse to take any questionable
advantage, but would rather even submit to be taken advantage of--a
generosity which turned to his account. In the execution of any
undertaking, his anxiety was that the work should be done quickly and
done well. Minor questions, unprovided for by specific contract, he left
to be settled afterwards. In his life he had only one regular law-suit.
It was in Spain, about the Mataro line, and into this he was drawn by
his partner against his will. He declared that he would never have
another, "for in nineteen cases out of twenty you either gain nothing at
all, or what you do gain does not compensate you for the worry and
anxiety the lawsuit occasions you." In case of disputes between his
agents and the engineers, he quietly settled the question by reference
to the "gangers."

In order to find the key to Mr. Brassey's character, his biographer took
care to ascertain what was his "ruling passion." He had none of the
ordinary ambitions for rank, title, or social position. "His great
ambition--his ruling passion--was to win a high reputation for skill,
integrity, and success in the difficult vocation of a contractor for
public works; to give large employment to his fellow-countrymen; by
means of British labour and British skill to knit together foreign
countries; and to promote civilization, according to his view of it,
throughout the world." "Mr. Brassey," continues Mr. Helps, "was, in
brief, a singularly trustful, generous, large-hearted, dexterous, ruling
kind of personage; blessed with a felicitous temperament for bearing the
responsibility of great affairs." In the military age he might have been
a great soldier, a Turenne or a Marlborough, if he could have broken
through the aristocratic barrier which confined high command to the
privileged few; in the industrial age he found a more beneficent road to
distinction, and one not limited to the members of a caste.

Mr. Brassey's family is stated by his biographer to have come over with
the Conqueror. If Mr. Brassey attached any importance to his pedigree
(of which there is no appearance) it is to be hoped that he was able to
make it out more clearly than most of those who claim descent from
companions of the Conqueror. Long after the Conquest--so long, indeed,
as England and Normandy remained united under one crown--there was a
constant flow of Norman immigration into England, and England swarms
with people bearing Norman or French names, whose ancestors were
perfectly guiltless of the bloodshed of Hastings, and made their
entrance into the country as peaceful traders, and, perhaps, in even
humbler capacities. What is certain is that the great contractor sprang
from a line of those small landed proprietors, once the pillars of
England's strength, virtue and freedom, who, in the old country have
been "improved off the face of the earth" by the great landowners, while
they live again on the happier side of the Atlantic. A sound morality,
freedom from luxury, and a moderate degree of culture, are the heritage
of the scion of such a stock. Mr. Brassey was brought up at home till he
was twelve years old, when he was sent to school at Chester. At sixteen
he was articled to a surveyor, and as an initiation into great works, he
helped, as a pupil, to make the surveys for the then famous Holyhead
road. His master, Mr. Lawton, saw his worth, and ultimately took him
into partnership. The firm set up at Birkenhead, then a very small
place, but destined to a greatness which, it seems, Mr. Lawton had the
shrewdness to discern. At Birkenhead Mr. Brassey did well, of course;
and there, after a time, he was brought into contact with George
Stephenson, and by him at once appreciated and induced to engage in
railways. The first contract which he obtained was for the Pembridge
Viaduct, between Stafford and Wolverhampton, and for this he was enabled
to tender by the liberality of his bankers, whose confidence, like that
of all with whom he came into contact, he had won. Railway-making was at
that time a new business, and a contractor was required to meet great
demands upon his organizing power; the system of sub-contracts, which so
much facilitates the work, being then only in its infancy. From George
Stephenson Mr. Brassey passed to Mr. Locke, whose great coadjutor he
speedily became. And now the question arose whether he should venture to
leave his moorings at Birkenhead and launch upon the wide sea of
railroad enterprise. His wife is said, by a happy inspiration, to have
decided him in favour of the more important and ambitious sphere. She
did so at the sacrifice of her domestic comfort; for in the prosecution
of her husband's multifarious enterprises they changed their residence
eleven times in the next thirteen years, several times to places abroad;
and little during those years did his wife and family see of Mr.

A high place in Mr. Brassey's calling had now been won, and it had been
won not by going into rings or making corners, but by treading steadily
the steep path of honour. Mr. Locke was accused of unduly favouring Mr.
Brassey. Mr. Helps replies that the partiality of a man like Mr. Locke
must have been based on business grounds. It was found that when Mr.
Brassey had undertaken a contract, the engineer-in-chief had little to
do in the way of supervision. Mr. Locke felt assured that the bargain
would be not only exactly but handsomely fulfilled, and that no excuse
would be pleaded for alteration or delay. After the fall of a great
viaduct it was suggested to Mr. Brassey that, by representing his case,
he might obtain a reduction of his loss. "No," was his reply, "I have
contracted to make and maintain the road, and nothing shall prevent
Thomas Brassey from being as good as his word."

As a contractor on a large scale, and especially as a contractor for
foreign railroads, Mr. Brassey was led rapidly to develop the system of
sub-contracting. His mode of dealing with his sub-contractors, however,
was peculiar. They did not regularly contract with him, but he appointed
them their work, telling them what price he should give for it. They
were ready to take his word, knowing that they would not suffer by so
doing. The sub-contractor who had made a bad bargain, and found himself
in a scrape, anxiously looked for the coming of Mr. Brassey. "Mr.
Brassey," says one of the witnesses examined for this biography, "came,
saw how matters stood, and invariably satisfied the man. If a cutting
taken to be clay turned out after a very short time to be rock, the sub-
contractor would be getting disheartened, yet he still persevered,
looking to the time when Mr. Brassey should come. He came, walking along
the line as usual with a number of followers, and on coming to the
cutting he looked round, counted the number of waggons at the work,
scanned the cutting, and took stock of the nature of the stuff. "This is
very hard," said he to the sub-contractor. "Yes, it is a pretty deal
harder than I bargained for." Mr. Brassey would linger behind, allowing
the others to go on, and then commence the following conversation: "What
is your price for this cutting?" "So much a yard, Sir." "It is very
evident you are not getting it out for that price. Have you asked for
any advance to be made to you for this rock?" "Yes, sir, but I can make
no sense of them." "If you say that your price is so much, it is quite
clear that you do not do it for that. I am glad that you have persevered
with it; but I shall not alter your price, it must remain as it is; but
the rock must be measured for you twice. Will that do for you?" "Yes,
very well indeed, and I am very much obliged to you, Sir." "Very well,
go on; you have done very well in persevering, and I shall look to you
again." One of these tours of inspection would often cost Mr. Brassey a
thousand pounds."

Mr. Brassey, like all men who have done great things in the practical
world, knew his way to men's hearts. In his tours along the line he
remembered even the navvies, and saluted them by their names.

He understood the value of the co-operative principle as a guarantee for
hearty work. His agents were made partakers in his success, and he
favoured the butty-gang system--that of letting work to a gang of a
dozen men, who divide the pay, allowing something extra to the head of
the gang.

Throughout his life it was a prime object with him to collect around him
a good staff of well-tried and capable men. He chose well, and adhered
to his choice. If a man failed in one line, he did not cast him off, but
tried him in another. It was well known in the labour market that be
would never give a man up if he could help it. He did not even give men
up when they had gone to law with him. In the appendix is a letter
written by him to provide employment for a person who "had by some means
got into a suit or reference against him," but whom he described as
"knowing his work well." In hard times he still kept his staff together
by subdividing the employment.

Those social philosophers who delight in imagining that there is no
engineering skill, or skill of any kind, in England, have to account for
the fact that a large proportion of the foreign railways are of British
construction. The lines built by Mr. Brassey form an imposing figure not
only on the map of England, but on those of Europe, North and South
America, and Australia. The Paris and Rouen Railway was the first of the
series. In passing to the foreign scene of action new difficulties had
to be encountered, including that of carrying over, managing and housing
large bodies of British navvies; and Mr. Brassey's administrative powers
were further tried and more conspicuously developed. The railway army,
under its commander-in-chief, was now fully organized. "If," says Mr.
Helps, "we look at the several persons and classes engaged, they may be
enumerated thus:--There were the engineers of the company or of the
government who were promoters of the line. There were the principal
contractors, whose work had to satisfy these engineers; and there were
the agents of the contractors to whom were apportioned the several
lengths of the line. These agents had the duties, in some respects, of a
commissary-general in an army; and for the work to go on well, it was
necessary that they should be men of much intelligence and force of
character. Then there were the various artizans, such as bricklayers and
masons, whose work, of course, was principally that of constructing the
culverts, bridges, stations, tunnels and viaducts, to which points of
the work the attention of the agents had to be carefully directed.
Again, there were the sub-contractors, whose duties I have enumerated,
and under them were the gangers, the corporals, as it were, in this
great army, being the persons who had the control of small bodies of
workmen, say twenty or more. Then came the great body of navvies, the
privates of the army, upon whose endurance and valour so much depended."

There is a striking passage in one of the Erckmann-Chatrian novels,
depicting the French army going into action, with its vast bodies of
troops of all arms moving over the whole field, marshalled by perfect
discipline and wielded by the single will of Napoleon. The army of
industry when in action also presented a striking appearance in its way.
I think, says one of Mr. Brassey's time keepers with professional
enthusiasm, as fine a spectacle as any man could witness who is
accustomed to look at work is to see a cutting in full operation with
about twenty waggons being filled, every man at his post, and every man
with his shirt open working in the heat of the day, the ganger walking
about and everything going like clockwork. Such an exhibition of
physical power attracted many French gentlemen who came on to the
cuttings at Paris and Rouen and looking at the English workmen with
astonishment said _Mon Dieu, les Anglais comme ils travaillent!_
Another thing that called forth remark was the complete silence that
prevailed amongst the men. It was a fine sight to see the Englishmen
that were there with their muscular arms and hands hairy and brown.

The army was composed of elements as motley as ever met under any
commander. On the Paris and Rouen Railway eleven languages were spoken--
English, Erse, Gaelic, Welsh, French, German, Belgian (Flemish), Dutch,
Piedmontese, Spanish, and Polish. A common lingo naturally sprang up
like the Pigeon English of China. But in the end it seems many of the
navvies learnt to speak French pretty well. We are told that at first
the mode in which the English instructed the French was of a very
original character. They pointed to the earth to be moved or the waggon
to be filled said the word d--n emphatically, stamped their feet and
somehow or other their instructions thus conveyed were generally
comprehended by the foreigners. It is added however that this form of
instruction was only applicable in very simple cases.

The English navvy was found to be the first workman in the world. Some
navvies utterly distanced in working power the labourers of all other
countries. The French at first earned only two francs a day to the
Englishman's four and a half, but with better living, more instruction,
and improved tools (for the French tools were very poor at first) the
Frenchmen came to earn four francs. In the severe and dangerous work of
mining, however the Englishman maintained his superiority in nerve and
steadiness. The Piedmontese were very good hands especially for cutting
rock and at the same time well conducted, sober and saving. The
Neapolitans would not take any heavy work, but they seem to have been
temperate and thrifty. The men from Lucca ranked midway between the
Piedmontese and the Neapolitans. The Germans proved less enduring than
the French; those employed, however, were mostly Bavarians. The Belgians
were good labourers. In the mode of working, the foreign labourers had
of course much to learn from the English, whose experience in railway-
making had taught them the most compendious processes for moving earth.

Mr. Hawkshaw, the engineer, however says, as to the relative cost of
unskilled labour in different countries: "I have come to the conclusion
that its cost is much the same in all. I have had personal experience in
South America, in Russia, and in Holland, as well as in my own country,
and, as consulting engineer to some of the Indian and other foreign
railways. I am pretty well acquainted with the value of Hindoo and other
labour; and though an English labourer will do a larger amount of work
than a Creole or a Hindoo, yet you have to pay them proportionately
higher wages. Dutch labourers are, I think, as good as English, or
nearly so; and Russian workmen are docile and easily taught, and readily
adopt every method shown to them to be better than their own."

The "navvies," though rough, seem not to have been unmanageable. There
are no trades' unions among them, and they seldom strike. Brandy being
cheap in France, they were given to drink, which was not the French
habit: but their good nature, and the freedom with which they spent
their money, made them popular, and even the _gendarmes_ soon found
out the best way of managing them. They sometimes, but not generally,
got unruly on pay day. They came to their foreign work without wife or
family. The unmarried often took foreign wives. It is pleasant to hear
that those who had wives and families in England sent home money
periodically to them; and that they all sent money often to their
parents. They sturdily kept their English habits and their English
dress, with the high-low boots laced up, if they could possibly get them

The multiplicity of schemes now submitted to Mr. Brassey brought out his
powers of calculation and mental arithmetic, which appear to have been
very great. After listening to a multitude of complicated details, he
would arrive mentally in a few seconds at the approximate cost of a
line. He made little use of notes, trusting to his memory, which,
naturally strong, was strengthened by habit. Dealing with hundreds of
people, he kept their affairs in his head and at every halt in his
journeys even for a quarter of an hour at a railway station he would sit
down and write letters of the clearest kind. His biographer says that he
was one of the greatest letter writers ever known.

If he ever got into serious difficulties it was not from miscalculation
but from financial embarrassment which in 1866 pressed upon him in such
a manner and with such severity that his property of all kinds was
largely committed and he weathered the storm only by the aid of the
staunch friends whom his high qualities and honourable conduct had
wedded to his person and his fortunes. In the midst of his difficulties
he pushed on his works to their conclusion with his characteristic
rapidity. His perseverance supported his reputation and turned the
wavering balance in his favour. The daring and vigorous completion of
the Lemberg and Czarnovitz works especially had this good effect and an
incident in connection with them showed the zeal and devotion which Mr.
Brassey's character inspired. The works were chiefly going on at Lemberg
five hundred miles from Vienna and the difficulty was, how to get the
money to pay the men from Vienna to Lemberg, the intervening country
being occupied by the Austrian and Prussian armies. Mr. Brassey's
coadjutor and devoted friend Mr. Ofenheim, Director General of the
Company, undertook to do it. He was told there was no engine but he
found an old engine in a shed. Next he wanted an engine driver and he
found one but the man said that he had a wife and children and that he
would not go. His reluctance was overcome by the promise of a high
reward for himself and a provision in case of death for his wife and
family. The two jumped on the old engine and got up steam. They then
started and ran at the rate of forty or fifty miles an hour between the
sentinels of the opposing armies who were so surprised, Mr. Ofenheim
says, that they had not time to shoot him. His only fear was that there
might be a rail up somewhere. But he got to Lemberg and paid the men who
would otherwise have gone home, leaving the line unfinished for the
winter. The Emperor of Austria might well ask, Who is this Mr. Brassey,
the English contractor for whom men are to be found who work with such
zeal and risk their lives? In recognition of a power which the Emperor
had reason to envy he sent Mr. Brassey the Cross of the Iron Crown.

It was only in Spain, the land where two and two make five, that Mr.
Brassey's powers of calculation failed him. He and his partners lost
largely upon the Bilbao railway. It seems that there was a mistake as to
the nature of the soil, and that the climate proved wetter than was
expected. But the firm also forgot to allow for the ecclesiastical
calendar, and the stoppage of work on the numberless fete days. There
were, however, other difficulties peculiarly Spanish,--antediluvian
finance, antediluvian currency, the necessity of sending pay under a
guard of clerks armed with revolvers, and the strange nature of the
people whom it was requisite to employ--one of them, a Carlist chief,
living in defiance of the Government with a tail of ruffians like
himself, who, when you would not transact business as he wished,
"bivouacked" with his tail round your office and threatened to "kill you
as he would a fly." Mr. Brassey managed notwithstanding to illustrate
the civilizing power of railways by teaching the Basques the use of
paper money.

Minor misfortunes of course occurred, such as the fall of the Barentin
Viaduct on the Rouen and Havre railway, a brick structure one hundred
feet high and a third of a mile in length, which had just elicited the
praise of the Minister of Public Works. Rapid execution in bad weather,
and inferior mortar, were the principal causes of this accident. By
extraordinary effort the viaduct was built in less than six months, a
display of energy and resource which the company acknowledged by an
allowance of L1,000. On the Bilbao railway some of the works were
destroyed by very heavy rains. The agent telegraphed to Mr. Brassey to
come at once, as a bridge had been washed down. There hours afterwards
came a telegraph announcing that a large bank was carried away, and next
morning another saying that the rain continued and more damage had been
done. Mr. Brassey, turning to a friend, said, laughing: "I think I had
better wait till I hear that the wind has ceased, so that when I do go I
may see what is _left_ of the works, and estimate all the disasters
at once, and so save a second journey."

Mr. Brassey's business rapidly developed to an immense extent, and,
instead of being contractor for one or two lines, he became a sort of
contractor-in-chief, and a man to be consulted by all railway
proprietors. In thirty-six years be executed no less than one hundred
and seventy railway and other contracts. In his residence, as in his
enterprises, he now became cosmopolitan, and lived a good deal on the
rail. He had the physical power to bear this life. His brother-in-law
says, "I have known him come direct from France to Rugby having left
Havre the night before--he would have been engaged in the office the
whole day." He would then come down to Rugby by the mail train at
twelve o'clock, and it was his common practice to be on the works by six
o'clock the next morning. He would frequently walk from Rugby to
Nuneaton, a distance of sixteen miles. Having arrived at Nuneaton in the
afternoon he would proceed the same night by road to Tamworth, and the
next morning he would be out on the road so soon that he had the
reputation among his staff of being the first man on the works. He used
to proceed over the works from Tamworth to Stafford, walking the greater
part of the distance, and would frequently proceed that same evening to
Lancaster in order to inspect the works there in progress, under the
contract which he had for the execution of the railway from Lancaster to

In constructing the Great Northern Railway the difficulties of the Fen
Country were met and surmounted. Mr. Brassey's chief agent in this was
Mr. Ballard, a man self raised from the ranks of labour but indebted for
the eminence which he ultimately attained to Mr. Brassey's
discrimination in selecting him for the arduous undertaking. He has
borne interesting testimony to his superior's comprehensiveness and
rapidity of view, the directness with which he went to the important
point, disregarding secondary matters and economizing his time and

The Italian Railway enterprises of Mr. Brassey owed their origin to the
economical genius of Count Cavour and their execution drew from the
Count the declaration that Mr. Brassey was one of the most remarkable
men he knew; clear-headed, cautious, yet very enterprising and
fulfilling his engagements faithfully. "We never," said the Count, "had
a difficulty with him." And he added that Mr. Brassey would make a
splendid minister of public works. Mr. Brassey took shares gallantly,
and, when their value had risen most generously resigned them with a
view to enabling the government to interest Piedmontese investors in the
undertaking. So far was he from being a maker of corners. It is justly
remarked that these Piedmontese railroads constructed by English
enterprise were a most important link in the chain of events which
brought about the emancipation and unification of Italy.

Mr. Brassey has left on record the notable remark that the railway from
Turin to Novara was completed for about the same money as was spent in
obtaining the Bill for the railway from London to York. If the history
of railway bills in the British Parliament, of which this statement
gives us an inkling, could be disclosed, it would probably be one of the
most scandalous revelations in commercial history. The contests which
led to such ruinous expense and to so much demoralization, both of
Parliament and of the commercial world, were a consequence of adopting
the system of uncontrolled competition in place of that of government
control. Mr. Brassey was in favour of the system of government control.
"He was of opinion that the French policy, which did not admit the
principle of free competition, was not only more calculated to serve the
interests of the shareholders, but more favourable to the public. He
moreover considered that a multiplicity of parallel lines of
communication between the same termini, and the uncontrolled competition
in regard to the service of trains, such as exists in England, did not
secure so efficient a service for the public as the system adopted in
France." Mr. Thomas Brassey says that he remembers that his father, when
travelling in France, would constantly point out the superiority of the
arrangements, and express his regret that the French policy had not been
adopted in England. "He thought that all the advantage of cheap service
and of sufficiently frequent communication, which were intended to be
secured for the British public under a system of free competition, would
have been equally well secured by adopting the foreign system, and
giving a monopoly to the interest of railway communication in a given
district to one company; and then limiting the exercise of that monopoly
by watchful supervision on the part of the State in the interests of the
public." With regard to extensions, he thought that the government might
have secured sufficient compulsory powers. There can be no sort of doubt
that this sort of policy would have saved England an enormous amount of
pecuniary loss, personal distress and public demoralization. It is a
policy, it will be observed, of government regulation, not of government
subsidies or construction by government. It of course implies the
existence of an administration capable of regulating a railway system,
and placed above the influence of jobbery and corruption.

For the adoption of the policy of free competition Sir Robert Peel was
especially responsible. He said, in his own defence, that he had not at
his command power to control those undertakings. Mr. Helps assumes
rather characteristically that he meant official power, and draws a
moral in favour of the extension of the civil service. But there is no
doubt that Peel really meant Parliamentary power. The railway men in the
Parliament were too strong for him and compelled him to throw overboard
the scheme of government control framed by his own committee under the
presidency of Lord Dalhousie. The moral to be drawn therefore is not
that of civil service extension, but that of the necessity of guarding
against Parliamentary rings in legislation concerning public works.

Of all Mr. Brassey's undertakings not one was superior in importance to
that with which Canadians are best acquainted--the Grand Trunk Railway,
with the Victoria Bridge. It is needless here to describe this
enterprise, or to recount the tragic annals of the loss brought on
thousands of shareholders, which financially speaking was its calamitous
sequel. The severest part of the undertaking was the Victoria Bridge.
"The first working season there," says one of the chief agents, "was a
period of difficulty, trouble and disaster." The agents of the
contractors had no experience of the climate. There were numerous
strikes among the workmen. The cholera committed dreadful ravages in the
neighbourhood. In one case, out of a gang of two hundred men, sixty were
sick at one time, many of whom ultimately died. The shortness of the
working season in this country involved much loss of time. It was seldom
that the setting of the masonry was fairly commenced before the middle
of August, and it was certain that all work must cease at the end of
November. Then there were the shoving of the ice at the beginning and
breaking up of the frosts, and the collisions between floating rafts 250
feet long and the staging erected for putting together the tubes. Great
financial difficulties were experienced in consequence of the Crimean
war. The mechanical difficulties were also immense, and called for
extraordinary efforts both of energy and invention. The bridge, however,
was completed, as had been intended, in December, 1859 and formally
opened by the Prince of Wales in the following year. "The devotion and
energy of the large number of workmen employed," says Mr. Hodges, "can
hardly be praised too highly. Once brought into proper discipline, they
worked as we alone can work against difficulties. They have left behind
them in Canada an imperishable monument of British skill, pluck, science
and perseverance in this bridge, which they not only designed, but

The whole of the iron for the tubes was prepared at Birkenhead, but so
well prepared that, in the centre tube, consisting of no less than
10,309 pieces, in which nearly half a million of holes were punched, not
one plate required alteration, neither was there a plate punched wrong.
The faculty of invention, however, was developed in the British
engineers and workmen by the air of the New World. A steam-traveller was
made and sent out by one of the most eminent firms in England, after two
years of experiments and an outlay of some thousands of pounds, which
would never do much more than move itself about, and at last had to be
laid aside as useless. But the same descriptions and drawings having
been shown to Mr. Chaffey, one of the sub-contractors, who "had been in
Canada a sufficient length of time to free his genius from the cramped
ideas of early life," a rough and ugly machine was constructed, which
was soon working well. The same increase of inventiveness, according to
Mr. Hodges, was visible in the ordinary workman, when transferred from
the perfect but mechanical and cramping routine of British industry, to
a country where he has to mix trades and turn his hands to all kinds of
work. "In England he is a machine, but as soon as he gets out to the
United States he becomes an intellectual being." Comparing the German
with the British mechanic, Mr. Hodges says, "I do not think that a
German is a better man than an Englishman; but I draw this distinction
between them, that when a German leaves school he begins to educate
himself, but the Englishman does not, for, as soon as he casts off the
thraldom of school, he learns nothing more unless he is forced to do it,
and if he is forced to do it, he will then beat the German. An
Englishman acts well when he is put under compulsion by circumstances."

Labour being scarce, a number of French-Canadians were, at Mr.
Brassey's suggestion, brought up in organized gangs, each having an
Englishman or an American as their leader. We are told, however, that
they proved useless except for very light work. "They could ballast, but
they could not excavate. They could not even ballast as the English
navvy does, continuously working at filling for the whole day. The only
way in which they could be useful was by allowing them to fill the
waggons, and then ride out with the ballast train to the place where the
ballast was tipped, giving them an opportunity of resting. Then the
empty waggon went back again to be filled and so alternately resting
during the work; in that way, they did very much more. They would work
fast for ten minutes and then they were 'done.' This was not through
idleness but physical weakness. They are small men, and they are a class
who are not well fed. They live entirely on vegetable food, and they
scarcely ever taste meat." It is natural to suppose that the want of
meat is the cause of their inefficiency. Yet the common farm labourer in
England, who does a very hard and long day's work, hardly tastes meat,
in many counties, the year round.

In the case of the Crimean railway, private enterprise came, in a
memorable manner, to the assistance of a government overwhelmed by
administrative difficulties. A forty years peace had rusted the
machinery of the war department, while the machinery of railway
construction was in the highest working order. Sir John Burgoyne, the
chief of the engineering staff, testified that it was impossible to
overrate the services rendered by the railway, or its effects in
shortening the time of the siege, and alleviating the fatigues and
sufferings of the troops. The disorganization of the government
department was accidental and temporary, as was subsequently proved by
the success of the Abyssinian expedition, and, indeed, by the closing
period of the Crimean war itself, when the British army was well
supplied, while the French administration broke down. On the other hand
the resources of private industry, on which the embarrassed government
drew, are always there; and their immense auxiliary power would be at
once manifested if England should become involved in a dangerous war. It
should be remembered, too, that the crushing war expenditure in time of
peace, which alarmists always advocate, would prevent the growth of
those resources, and deprive England of the "sinews of war."

The Danish railways brought the British navvy again into comparison with
his foreign rivals. Mr. Rowan, the agent of Messrs. Peto and Brassey,
was greatly pleased with his Danish labourers, but, on being pressed,
said, "No man is equal to the British navvy; but the Dane, from his
steady, constant labour, is a good workman, and a first-class one will
do nearly as much work in a day as an Englishman." The Dane takes time:
his habit is in summer to begin work at four in the morning, and
continue till eight in the evening, taking five intervals of rest.

The Danish engineers, in Mr. Rowan's judgment, are over-educated, and,
as a consequence, wanting in decisiveness. "They have been in the habit
of applying to their masters for everything, finding out nothing for
themselves; the consequence is that they are children, and cannot form a
judgment. It is the same in the North of Germany; the great difficulty
is that you cannot get them to come to a decision. They want always to
inquire and to investigate, and they never come to a result." This
evidence must have been given some years ago, for of late it has been
made pretty apparent that the investigations and inquiries of the North
Germans do not prevent their coming to a decision, or that decision from
leading to a result. Mr. Helps seizes the opportunity for a thrust at
the system of competitive examination, which has taken from the heads of
departments the power of "personal selection." The answer to him is
Sedan. A bullet through your heart is the strongest proof which logic
can afford that the German, from whose rifle it comes, was not prevented
by his knowledge of the theory of projectiles from marking his man with
promptness and taking a steady aim. That over-exertion of the intellect
in youth does a man harm, is a true though not a very fruitful
proposition; but knowledge does not destroy decisiveness: it only turns
it from the decisiveness of a bull into the decisiveness of a man. Which
nations do the great works? The educated nations, or Mexico and Spain?

The Australian railways brought out two facts, one gratifying, the other
the reverse. The gratifying fact was that the unlimited confidence which
Mr. Brassey reposed in his agents was repaid by their zeal and fidelity
in his service. The fact which was the reverse of gratifying was, that
the great advantage which the English Labourer gains in Australia, from
the higher wages and comparative cheapness of living, is counteracted by
his love of drink.

The Argentine Railway had special importance and interest, in opening up
a vast and most fruitful and salubrious region to European emigration.
Those territories offer room and food for myriads. "The population of
Russia, that hard-featured country, is about 75,000,000, the population
of the Argentine Republic, to which nature has been so bountiful, and in
which she is so beautiful, is about 1,000,000." If ever government in
the South American States becomes more settled, we shall find them
formidable rivals.

The Indian Railways are also likely to be a landmark in the history of
civilization. They unite that vast country and its people, both
materially and morally, break down caste, bring the natives from all
parts to the centres of instruction, and distribute the produce of the
soil evenly and rapidly, so as to mitigate famines. The Orissa famine
would never have occurred, had Mr. Brassey's works been there. What
effect the railways will ultimately have on British rule is another
question. They multiply the army by increasing the rapidity of
transport, but, on the other hand, they are likely to diminish that
division among the native powers on which the Empire is partly based.
Rebellion may run along the railway line as well as command.

There were periods in Mr. Brassey's career during which he and his
partners were giving employment to 80,000 persons, upon works requiring
seventeen millions of capital for their completion. It is also
satisfactory to know, that in the foreign countries and colonies over
which his operations extended, he was instrumental in raising the wages
and condition of the working class, as well as in affording to the
_elite_ of that class opportunities for rising to higher positions.

His remuneration for all this, though in the aggregate very large, was
by no means excessive. Upon seventy-eight millions of money laid out in
the enterprises which he conducted, he retained two millions and a half,
that is as nearly as possible three per cent. The rest of his fortune
consisted of accumulations. Three per cent. was not more than a fair
payment for the brain-work, the anxiety and the risk. The risk, it must
be recollected, was constant, and there were moments at which, if Mr.
Brassey had died, he would have been found comparatively poor. His
fortune was made, not by immoderate gains upon any one transaction, but
by reasonable profits in a business which was of vast extent, and owed
its vast extent to a reputation, fairly earned by probity, energy and
skill. We do not learn that he figured in any lobby, or formed a member
of any ring. Whether he was a Norman or not, he was too much a
gentleman, in the best sense of the term, to crawl to opulence by low
and petty ways. He left no stain on the escutcheon of a captain of

Nor when riches increased did he set his heart upon them. His heart was
set on the work rather than on the pay. The monuments and enterprise of
his skill were more to him than the millions. He seems even to have been
rather careless in keeping his accounts. He gave away freely--as much as
L200,000, it is believed--in the course of his life. His accumulations
arose not from parsimony but from the smallness of his personal
expenses. He hated show and luxury, and kept a moderate establishment,
which the increase of his wealth never induced him to extend. He seems
to have felt a singular diffidence as to his capacity for aristocratic
expenditure. The conversation turning one day on the immense fortunes of
certain noblemen, he said, "I understand it is easy and natural enough
for those who are born and brought up to it, to spend L50,000 or even
L150,000 a year; but I should be very sorry to have to undergo the
fatigue of even spending L30,000 a year. I believe such a job as that
would drive me mad." He felt an equally strange misgiving as to his
capacity for aristocratic idleness. "It requires a special education,"
he said, "to be idle, or to employ the twenty-four hours, in a rational
way, without any calling or occupation. To live the life of a gentleman,
one must have been brought up to it. It is impossible for a man who has
been engaged in business pursuits the greater part of his life to
retire; if he does so, he soon discovers that he has made a great
mistake. I shall not retire, but if for some good reason, I should be
obliged to do so, it would be to a farm. There I would bring up stock
which I would cause to be weighed every day, ascertaining at the same
time their daily cost, as against the increasing weight. I should then
know when to sell and start again with another lot."

Of tinsel, which sometimes is as corrupting to vulgar souls as money,
this man seems to have been as regardless as he was of pelf. He received
the Cross of the Iron Crown from the Emperor of Austria. He accepted
what was graciously offered, but he said that, as an Englishman, he did
not know what good Crosses were to him. The circumstance reminded him
that he had received other Crosses, but he had to ask his agent what
they were, and where they were. He was told that they were the Legion of
Honour of France, and the Chevaliership of Italy; but the Crosses could
not be found. Duplicates were procured to be taken to Mrs. Brassey, who,
her husband remarked, would be glad to possess them all.

Such millionaires would do unmixed good in the world; but unfortunately
they are apt to die and leave their millions, and the social influence
which the millions confer, to "that unfeathered two-legged thing, a
son." This is by no means said with a personal reference. On the
contrary, it is evident that Mr. Brassey was especially fortunate in his
heir. We find some indication of this in a chapter towards the close of
Mr. Helps' volume, in which are thrown together the son's miscellaneous
recollections of the father. The chapter affords further proof that the
great contractor was not made of the same clay as the Fisks and
Vanderbilts--that he was not a mere market-rigger and money-grubber--but
a really great man, devoted to a special calling. He is represented by
his son as having taken a lively interest in a wide and varied range of
subjects--engineering subjects especially as a matter of course, but not
engineering subjects alone. He studied countries and their people,
evincing the utmost interest in Chicago, speculating on the future
industrial prosperity of Canada, and imparting the results of his
observations admirably when he got home. Like all great men, he had a
poetic element in his character. He loved the beauties of nature, and
delighted in mountain scenery. He was a great sight-seer, and when he
visited a city on business, went through its churches, public buildings,
and picture-galleries, as assiduously as a tourist. For half an hour he
stood gazing with delight on the Maison Carree, at Nismes. For sculpture
and painting he had a strong taste, and the Venus of Milo "was a joy to
him." He had a keen eye for beauty, shapeliness and comeliness
everywhere, in porcelain, in furniture, in dress, in a well built yacht,
in a well appointed regiment of horse. Society, too, he liked, in spite
of his simplicity of habits; loved to gather his friends around his
board, and was always a genial host. For literature he had no time, but
he enjoyed oratory, and liked to hear good reading. He used to test his
son's progress in reading, at the close of each half year, by making him
read aloud a chapter of the Bible. His good sense confined his ambition
to his proper sphere, and prevented him from giving ear to any
solicitations to go into politics, which he had not leisure to study,
and which he knew ought not to be handled by ignorance. His own leanings
were Conservative; but his son, who is a Liberal, testifies that his
father never offered him advice on political matters, or remonstrated
with him on a single vote which he gave in the House of Commons. It is
little to the discredit of a man so immersed in business that he should
have been fascinated, as he was, by the outward appearance of perfect
order presented by the French Empire and by the brilliancy of its
visible edifice, not discerning the explosive forces which its policy
was all the time accumulating in the dark social realms below; though
the fact that he, with all his natural sagacity, did fall into this
tremendous error, is a warning to railway and steamboat politicians.

Mr. Brassey's advice was often sought by parents who had sons to start
in the world. "As usual, a disposition was shewn to prefer a career
which did not involve the apparent degradation of learning a trade
practically, side by side with operatives in a workshop. But my father,
who had known, by his wide experience, the immense value of a technical
knowledge of a trade or business as compared with general educational
advantages of the second order, and who knew how much more easy it is to
earn a living as a skilful artisan than as a clerk, possessing a mere
general education, always urged those who sought his advice to begin by
giving to their sons a practical knowledge of a trade."

"My father," says Mr. Brassey, junior, "ever mindful of his own
struggles and efforts in early life, evinced at all times the most
anxious disposition to assist young men to enter upon a career. The
small loans which he advanced for this purpose, and the innumerable
letters which he wrote in the hope of obtaining for his young clients
help or employment in other quarters, constitute a bright and most
honourable feature in his life." His powers of letter-writing were
enormous, and, it seems to us, were exercised even to excess. So much
writing would, at least, in the case of any ordinary man, have consumed
too much of the energy which should be devoted to thought. His
correspondence was brought with his luncheon basket when he was shooting
on the moors. After a long day's journey he sat down in the coffee room
of the hotel, and wrote thirty-two letters before he went to bed. He
never allowed a letter, even a begging letter, to remain unanswered;
and, says his son, "the same benignity and courtesy which marked his
conduct in every relation of life, pervaded his whole correspondence."
"In the many volumes of his letters which are preserved, I venture to
affirm that there is not the faintest indication of an ungenerous or
unkindly sentiment--not a sentence which is not inspired by the spirit
of equity and justice, and by universal charity to mankind."

By the same authority we are assured that "Mr. Brassey was of a
singularly patient disposition in dealing with all ordinary affairs of
life. We know how, whenever a hitch occurs in a railway journey, a great
number of passengers become irritated, almost to a kind of foolish
frenzy. He always took these matters most patiently. He well knew that
no persons are so anxious to avoid such detentions as the officials
themselves, and never allowed himself to altercate with a helpless guard
or distracted station-master."

The only blemish which the son can recollect in the father's character,
is a want of firmness in blaming when blame was due, and an incapacity
of refusing a request or rejecting a proposal strongly urged by others.
The latter defect was, in his son's judgment, the cause of the greatest
disasters which he experienced as a man of business. Both defects were
closely allied to virtues--extreme tenderness of heart and consideration
for the feelings of others.

"He was graceful," says Mr. Brassey, junior, in conclusion, "in every
movement, always intelligent in observation, with an excellent command
of language, and only here and there betrayed, by some slight
provincialisms, in how small a degree he had in early life enjoyed the
educational advantages of those with whom his high commercial position
in later years placed him in constant communication. But these things
are small in comparison to the greater points of character by which he
seemed to me to be distinguished. In all he said or did, he showed
himself to be inspired by that chivalry of heart and mind which must
truly ennoble him who possesses it, and without which one cannot be a
perfect gentleman."

Mention has been made of his great generosity. One of his old agents
having lost all his earnings, Mr. Brassey gave him several new missions,
that be might have a chance of recovering himself. But the agent died
suddenly, and his wife nearly at the same time, leaving six orphan
children without provision. Mr. Brassey gave up, in their favour, a
policy of insurance which he held as security for several thousands,
and, in addition, headed a subscription list for them with a large sum.
It seems that his delicacy in giving was equal to his generosity; that
of his numberless benefactions, very few were published in subscription
lists, and that his right hand seldom knew what his left hand did.

His refinement was of the truly moral kind, and of the kind that tells
on others. Not only was coarse and indecent language checked in his
presence, but the pain he evinced at all outbreaks of unkind feeling,
and at manifestation of petty jealousies, operated strongly in
preventing any such displays from taking place before him. As one who
was the most intimate with him observed, "his people seemed to enter
into a higher atmosphere when they were in his presence, conscious, no
doubt, of the intense dislike which he had of everything that was mean,
petty, or contentious."

Mr. Helps tells us that the tender-heartedness which pervaded Mr.
Brassey's character was never more manifested than on the occasion of
any illness of his friends. At the busiest period of his life he would
travel hundreds of miles to be at the bedside of a sick or dying friend.
In his turn he experienced, in his own last illness, similar
manifestations of affectionate solicitude. Many of the persons, we are
told, who had served him in foreign countries and at home, came from
great distances solely for the chance of seeing once more their old
master whom they loved so much. They were men of all classes, humble
navvies as well as trusted agents. They would not intrude upon his
illness, but would wait for hours in the hall, in the hope of seeing him
borne to his carriage, and getting a shake of the hand or a sign of
friendly recognition. "The world," remarks Mr. Helps, "is after all not
so ungrateful as it is sometimes supposed to be; those who deserve to be
loved generally are loved, having elicited the faculty of loving which
exists to a great extent in all of us."

"Mr. Brassey," we are told, "had ever been a very religious man. His
religion was of that kind which most of us would desire for ourselves--
utterly undisturbed by doubts of any sort, entirely tolerant, not built
upon small or even upon great differences of belief. He clung resolutely
and with entire hopefulness to that creed, and abode by that form of
worship, in which he had been brought up as a child." The religious
element in his character was no doubt strong, and lay at the root of his
tender-heartedness and his charity as well as of the calm resignation
with which he met disaster, and his indifference to gain. At the time of
a great panic, when things were at the worst, he only said: "Never mind,
we must be content with a little less, that is all." This was when he
supposed himself to have lost a million. The duty of religious inquiry,
which he could not perform himself, he would no doubt have recognised in
those to whose lot it falls to give their fellow-men assurance of
religious truth.

Mr. Brassey's wife said of him that "he was a most unworldly man." This
may seem a strange thing to say of a great contractor and a millionaire.
Yet, in the highest sense, it was true. Mr. Brassey was not a monk; his
life was passed in the world, and in the world's most engrossing, and,
as it proves in too many cases, most contaminating business. Yet, if the
picture of him presented to us be true, he kept himself "unspotted from
the world."

His character is reflected in the portrait which forms the frontispiece
to the biography, and on which those who pursue his calling will do well
sometimes to look.


[Footnote: Memoirs of Baron Stockmar. By his son, Baron E. Von Stockmar.
Translated from the German by G. A. M. Edited by F. Max Muller. In two
volumes. London: Longman's, Green and Co.]

Some of our readers will remember that there was at one time a great
panic in England about the unconstitutional influence of Prince Albert,
and that, connected with Prince Albert's name in the invectives of a
part of the press, was that of the intimate friend, constant guest, and
trusted adviser of the Royal Family, Baron Stockmar. The suspicion was
justified by the fact in both cases; but in the case of Baron Stockmar,
as well as in that of Prince Albert, the influence appears to have been
exercised on the whole for good. Lord Aberdeen, who spoke his mind with
the sincerity and simplicity of a perfectly honest man, said of
Stockmar; "I have known men as clever, as discreet, as good, and with as
good judgment; but I never knew any one who united all these qualities
as he did." Melbourne was jealous of his reputed influence, but
testified to his sense and worth. Palmerston disliked, we may say hated,
him; but he declared him the only disinterested man of the kind he had
ever known.

Stockmar was a man of good family, who originally pursued the profession
of medicine, and having attracted the notice of Prince Leopold of Saxe
Coburg, the husband of Princess Charlotte, and afterwards king of the
Belgians, was appointed physician in ordinary to that Prince upon his
marriage. When, in course of time, he exchanged the functions of
physician in ordinary for those of wirepuller in ordinary, he found that
the time passed in medical study had not been thrown away. He said
himself, "It was a clever stroke to have originally studied medicine;
without the knowledge thus acquired, without the psychological and
physiological experiences thus obtained, my _savoir faire_ would
often have gone a-begging." It seems also that he practised politics on
medical principles, penetrating a political situation, or detecting a
political disease, by the help of single expressions or acts, after the
manner of medical diagnosis, and in his curative treatment endeavouring
to remove as far as possible every pathological impediment, so that the
healing moral nature might be set free, and social and human laws resume
their restorative power. He might have graduated as a politician in a
worse school.

He was not able to cure himself of dyspepsia and affections of the eye,
which clung to him through life, the dyspepsia producing fluctuation of
spirits, and occasional hypochondria, which, it might have been thought,
would seriously interfere with his success as a court favourite. "At one
time he astonished the observer by his sanguine, bubbling, provoking,
unreserved, quick, fiery or humorous, cheerful, even unrestrainedly gay
manner, winning him by his hearty open advances where he felt himself
attracted and encouraged to confidence; at other times he was all
seriousness, placidity, self-possession, cool circumspection, methodical
consideration, prudence, criticism, even irony and scepticism." Such is
not the portrait which imagination paints of the demeanour of a court
favourite. But Stockmar had one invaluable qualification for the part--
he had conscientiously made up his mind that it is a man's duty in life
to endure being bored.

The favour of a Prince of Saxe Coburg would not in itself have been
fortune. A certain Royal Duke was, as everybody who ever had the honour
of being within earshot of him knew, in the habit of thinking aloud. It
was said that at the marriage of a German prince with an English
princess, at which the Duke was present, when the bridegroom pronounced
the words: "With all my worldly goods I thee endow," a voice from the
circle responded, "The boots you stand in are not paid for." But as it
was sung of the aggrandizement of Austria in former days--

  "Let others war, do thou, blest Austria, wed,"

so the house of Saxe Coburg may be said in later days to have been
aggrandized by weddings. The marriage of his patron with the presumptive
heiress to the Crown of England was the beginning of Stockmar's
subterranean greatness.

The Princess Charlotte expressed herself to Stockmar with regard to the
character of her revered parents in the following "pithy" manner:--"My
mother was bad, but she could not have become as bad as she was if my
father had not been infinitely worse." The Regent was anxious to have
the Princess married for two reasons, in the opinion of the judicious
author of this memoir--because he wanted to be rid of his daughter, and
because when she married she would form less of a link between him and
his wife. Accordingly, when she was eighteen, hints were given her
through the court physician, Sir Henry Halford (such is the course of
royal love), that if she would have the kindness to fix her affections
on the hereditary Prince of Orange (afterwards King William II. of the
Netherlands), whom she had never seen, it would be exceedingly
convenient. The Prince came over to England, and, by the help of a
"certain amount of artful precipitation on the part of the father," the
pair became formally engaged. The Princess said at first that she did
not think her betrothed "by any means so disagreeable as she had
expected." In time, however, this ardour of affection abated. The Prince
was a baddish subject, and he had a free-and-easy manner, and wanted
tact and refinement. He returned to London from some races seated on the
outside of a coach, and in a highly excited state. Worst of all, he
lodged at his tailor's. The engagement was ultimately broken off by a
difficulty with regard to the future residence of the couple, which
would evidently have become more complicated and serious if the Queen of
the Netherlands had ever inherited the Crown of England. The Princess
was passionately opposed to leaving her country. The Regent and his
ministers tried to keep the poor girl in the dark, and get her into a
position from which there would be no retreat. But she had a temper and
a will of her own; and her recalcitration was assisted by the
Parliamentary Opposition, who saw in the marriage a move of Tory policy,
and by her mother, who saw in it something agreeable to her husband. Any
one who wishes to see how diplomatic lovers quarrel will find
instruction in these pages.

The place left vacant by the rejected William was taken by Prince
Leopold, with whom Stockmar came to England. In Stockmar's Diary of May
5th, 1806, is the entry:--"I saw the sun (that of royalty we presume,
not the much calumniated sun of Britain) for the first time at Oatlands.
Baron Hardenbroek, the Prince's equerry, was going into the breakfast-
room. I followed him, when he suddenly signed to me with his hand to
stay behind; but she had already seen me and I her. '_Aha,
docteur_,' she said, '_entrez_.' She was handsomer than I had
expected, with most peculiar manners, her hands generally folded behind
her, her body always pushed forward, never standing quiet, from time to
time stamping her foot, laughing a great deal and talking still more. I
was examined from head to foot, without, however, losing my countenance.
My first impression was not favourable. In the evening she pleased me
more. Her dress was simple and in good taste." The Princess took to the
doctor, and, of course, he took to her. A subsequent entry in his Diary
is:--"The Princess is in good humour, and then she pleases easily. I
thought her dress particularly becoming; dark roses in her hair, a short
light blue dress without sleeves, with a low round collar, a white
puffed out Russian chemisette, the sleeves of lace. I have never seen
her in any dress which was not both simple and in good taste." She seems
to have improved under the influence of her husband, whom his physician
calls "a manly prince and a princely man." In her manners there was some
room for improvement, if we may judge from her treatment of Duke Prosper
of Aremburg, who was one of the guests at a great dinner recorded in the
Diary:--"Prosper is a hideous little mannikin, dressed entirely in
black, with a large star. The Prince presented him to the Princess, who
was at the moment talking to the Minister Castlereagh. She returned the
duke's two profound continental bows by a slight nod of the head,
without looking at him or saying a word to him, and brought her elbow so
close to him that he could not move. He sat looking straight before him
with some, though not very marked, embarrassment. He exchanged now and
then a few words in French with the massive and mighty Lady Castlereagh,
by whose side he looked no larger than a child. When he left, the
Princess dismissed him in the same manner in which she had welcomed him,
and broke into a loud laugh before he was fairly out of the room."

Stockmar's position in the little court was not very flattering or
agreeable. The members of the household hardly regarded the poor German
physician as their equal; and if one or two of the men were pleasant,
the lady who constituted their only lawful female society, Mrs.
Campbell, Lady-in-Waiting to the Princess, was, in her ordinary moods,
decidedly the reverse. Stockmar, however, in drawing a piquant portrait
of her, has recorded the extenuating circumstances that she had once
been pretty, that she had had bitter experiences with men, and that, in
an illness during a seven months' sea-voyage, she had been kept alive
only on brandy and water. Col. Addenbrooke, the equerry to the Princess,
is painted in more favourable colours, his only weak point being "a weak
stomach, into which he carefully crams a mass of the most incongruous
things, and then complains the next day of fearful headache." What a
power of evil is a man who keeps a diary!

Greater personages than Mrs. Campbell and Colonel Addenbrooke passed
under the quick eye of the humble medical attendant, and were
photographed without being aware of it.

"_The Queen Mother_ (Charlotte, wife of George III.). 'Small and
crooked, with a true mulatto face.'

"_The Regent._ 'Very stout, though of a fine figure; distinguished
manners; does not talk half as much as his brothers; speaks tolerably
good French. He ate and drank a good deal at dinner. His brown scratch
wig not particularly becoming.'

"_The Duke of York_, the eldest son of the Regent's brothers.
'Tall, with immense _embonpoint_, and not proportionately strong
legs; he holds himself in such a way that one is always afraid he will
tumble over backwards; very bald, and not a very intelligent face: one
can see that eating, drinking, and sensual pleasure are everything to
him. Spoke a good deal of French, with a bad accent.'

"_Duchess of York_, daughter of Frederick William II. of Prussia.
'A little animated woman, talks immensely, and laughs still more. No
beauty, mouth and teeth bad. She disfigures herself still more by
distorting her mouth and blinking her eyes. In spite of the Duke's
various infidelities, their matrimonial relations are good. She is quite
aware of her husband's embarrassed circumstances, and is his prime
minister and truest friend; so that nothing is done without her help. As
soon as she entered the room, she looked round for the Banker Greenwood,
who immediately came up to her with the confidentially familiar manner
which the wealthy go-between assumes towards grand people in embarrassed
circumstances. At dinner the Duchess related that her royal father had
forced her as a girl to learn to shoot, as he had observed she had a
great aversion to it. At a grand _chasse_ she had always fired with
closed eyes, because she could not bear to see the sufferings of the
wounded animals. When the huntsmen told her that in this way she ran the
risk of causing the game more suffering through her uncertain aims, she
went to the King and asked if he would excuse her from all sport in
future if she shot a stag dead. The King promised to grant her request
if she could kill two deer, one after the other, with out missing; which
she did.'

"_Duke of Clarence_ (afterwards King William IV.). 'The smallest
and least good-looking of the brothers, decidedly like his mother; as
talkative as the rest.'

"_Duke of Kent_ (father of Queen Victoria). 'A large, powerful man;
like the King, and as bald as any one can be. The quietest of all the
Dukes I have seen; talks slowly and deliberately; is kind and

"_Duke of Cumberland_ (afterwards King Ernest Augustus of Hanover).
'A tall, powerful man, with a hideous face; can't see two inches before
him; one eye turned quite out of its place.'

"_Duke of Cambridge_ (the youngest son of George III.). 'A good-
looking man, with a blonde wig; is partly like his father, partly like
his mother. Speaks French and German very well, but like English, with
such rapidity, that he carries off the palm in the family art.'

"_Duke of Gloucester._ 'Prominent, meaningless eyes; without being
actually ugly, a very unpleasant face, with an animal expression; large
and stout, but with weak, helpless legs. He wears a neckcloth thicker
than his head.'

"_Wellington_, 'Middle height, neither stout nor thin; erect
figure, not stiff, not very lively, though more so than I expected, and
yet in every movement repose. Black hair, simply cut, strongly mixed
with grey: not a very high forehead, immense hawk's nose, tightly
compressed lips, strong massive under jaw. After he had spoken for some
time in the anteroom with the Royal Family, he came straight to the two
French singers, with whom he talked in a very friendly manner, and then
going round the circle, shook hands with all his acquaintance. He was
dressed entirely in black, with the Star of the Order of the Garter and
the Maria Theresa Cross. He spoke to all the officers present in an open
friendly way, though but briefly. At table he sat next the Princess. He
ate and drank moderately, and laughed at times most heartily, and
whispered many things to the Princess' ear, which made her blush and

"_Lord Anglesea_, (the General). 'Who lost a leg at Waterloo; a
tall, well-made man; wild, martial face, high forehead, with a large
hawk's nose, which makes a small deep angle where it joins the forehead.
A great deal of ease in his manners. Lauderdale [Footnote: Lord
Lauderdale, d. 1339; the friend of Fox; since 1807, under the Tories, an
active member of the Opposition.] told us later that it was he who
brought Lady Anglesea the intelligence that her husband had lost his leg
at Waterloo. Contrary to his wishes she had been informed of his
arrival, and, before he could say a word, she guessed that he had
brought her news of her husband, screamed out, "He is dead!" and fell
into hysterics. But when he said, "Not in the least; here is a letter
from him," she was so wonderfully relieved that she bore the truth with
great composure. He also related that, not long before the campaign,
Anglesea was having his portrait taken, and the picture was entirely
finished except one leg. Anglesea sent for the painter and said to him,
"You had better finish the leg now. I might not bring it back with me."
He lost that very leg.'

"_The Minister. Lord Castlereagh_. 'Of middle height; a very
striking and at the same time handsome face; his manners are very
pleasant and gentle, yet perfectly natural. One misses in him a certain
culture which one expects in a statesman of his eminence. He speaks
French badly, in fact execrably, and not very choice English. [Footnote:
Lord Byron, in the introduction to the sixth and the eighth cantos of
"Don Juan" says, "It is the first time since the Normans that England
has been insulted by a minister (at least) who could not speak English,
and that Parliament permitted itself to be dictated to in the language
of Mrs. Malaprop."] The Princess rallied him on the part he played in
the House of Commons as a bad speaker, as against the brilliant orators
of the Opposition, which he acknowledged merrily, and with a hearty
laugh. I am sure there is a great deal of thoughtless indifference in
him, and that this has sometimes been reckoned to him as statesmanship
of a high order.'"

In proof of Castlereagh's bad French we are told in a note that, having
to propose the health of the ladies at a great dinner, he did it in the
words--"Le bel sexe partoutte dans le monde."

Though looked down upon at the second table, Stockmar had thoroughly
established himself in the confidence and affection of the Prince and
Princess. He had become the Prince's Secretary, and in Leopold's own
words "the most valued physician of his soul and body"--wirepuller, in
fact, to the destined wirepuller of Royalty in general.

Perhaps his gratification at having attained this position may have lent
a roseate tint to his view of the felicity of the Royal couple, which he
paints in rapturous terms, saying that nothing was so great as their
love--except the British National Debt. There is, however, no reason to
doubt that the union of Leopold and Charlotte was one of the happy
exceptions to the general character of Royal marriages. Its tragic end
plunged a nation into mourning. Stockmar, with a prudence on which
perhaps he reflects with a little too much satisfaction, refused to have
anything to do with the treatment of the Princess from the commencement
of her pregnancy. He thought he detected mistakes on the part of the
English physicians, arising from the custom then prevalent in England of
lowering the strength of the expectant mother by bleeding, aperients,
and low diet, a regimen which was carried on for months. The Princess,
in fact, having been delivered of a dead son after a fifty hours'
labour, afterwards succumbed to weakness. It fell to Stockmar's lot to
break the news to the Prince, who was overwhelmed with sorrow. At the
moment of his desolation Leopold exacted from Stockmar a promise that he
would never leave him. Stockmar gave the promise, indulging at the same
time his sceptical vein by expressing in a letter to his sister his
doubt whether the Prince would remain of the same mind. This scepticism
however did not interfere with his devotion. "My health is tolerable,
for though I am uncommonly shaken, and shall be yet more so by the
sorrow of the Prince, still I feel strong enough, even stronger than I
used to be. I only leave the Prince when obliged by pressing business. I
dine alone with him and sleep in his room. Directly he wakes in the
night I get up and sit talking by his bedside till he falls asleep
again. I feel increasingly that unlooked for trials are my portion in
life, and that there will be many more of them before life is over. I
seem to be here more to care for others than for myself, and I am well
content with this destiny."

Sir Richard Croft, the accoucheur of the Princess, overwhelmed by the
calamity, committed suicide. "Poor Croft," exclaims the cool and
benevolent Stockmar, "does not the whole thing look like some malicious
temptation, which might have overcome even some one stronger than you?
The first link in the chain of your misery was nothing but an especially
honourable and desirable event in the course of your profession. You
made a mistake in your mode of treatment; still, individual mistakes are
here so easy. Thoughtlessness and excessive reliance on your own
experience, prevented you from weighing deeply the course to be followed
by you. When the catastrophe had happened, doubts, of course, arose in
your mind as to whether you ought not to have acted differently, and
these doubts, coupled with the impossibility of proving your innocence
to the public, even though you were blameless, became torture to you.
Peace to thy ashes, on which no guilt rests save that thou wert not
exceptionally wise or exceptionally strong."

Leopold was inclined to go home, but remained in England by the advice
of Stockmar, who perceived that, in the first place, there would be
something odious in the Prince's spending his English allowance of
L50,000 a year on the Continent, and in the second place, that a good
position in England would be his strongest vantage ground in case of any
new opening presenting itself elsewhere.

About this time another birth took place in the Royal Family under
happier auspices. The Duke of Kent was married to the widowed Princess
of Leiningen, a sister of Prince Leopold. The Duke was a Liberal in
politics, on bad terms with his brothers, and in financial difficulties
which prevented his living in England. Finding, however, that his
Duchess was likely to present him with an heir who would also be the
heir to the Crown, and being very anxious that the child should be born
in England, he obtained the means of coming home through friends, after
appealing to his brothers in vain. Shortly after his return "a pretty
little princess, plump as a partridge," was born. In the same year the
Duke died. His widow, owing to his debts, was left in a very
uncomfortable position. Her brother Leopold enabled her to return to
Kensington, where she devoted herself to the education of her child--
Queen Victoria.

The first opening which presented itself to Leopold was the Kingdom of
Greece, which was offered him by "The Powers." After going pretty far he
backed out, much to the disgust of "The Powers," who called him "Marquis
Peu-a-peu" (the nickname given him by George IV.) and said that "he had
no colour," and that he wanted the English Regency. The fact seems to be
that he and his Stockmar, on further consideration of the enterprise,
did not like the look of it. Neither of them, especially Stockmar,
desired a "crown of thorns," which their disinterested advisers would
have had them take on heroic and ascetic principles. Leopold was rather
attracted by the poetry of the thing: Stockmar was not. "For the poetry
which Greece would have afforded, I am not inclined to give very much.
Mortals see only the bad side of things they have, and the good side of
the things they have not. That is the whole difference between Greece
and Belgium, though I do not mean to deny that when the first King of
Greece shall, after all manner of toils, have died, his life may not
furnish the poet with excellent matter for an epic poem." The
philosophic creed of Stockmar was that "the most valuable side of life
consists in its negative conditions,"--in other words in freedom from
annoyance, and in the absence of "crowns of thorns."

The candidature of Leopold for the Greek Throne coincided with the
Wellington Administration, and the active part taken by Stockmar gave
him special opportunities of studying the Duke's political character
which he did with great attention. His estimate of it is low.

"The way in which Wellington would preserve and husband the rewards of
his own services and the gifts of fortune, I took as the measure of the
higher capabilities of his mind. It required no long time, however, and
no great exertion, to perceive that the natural sobriety of his
temperament, founded upon an inborn want of sensibility, was unable to
withstand the intoxicating influence of the flattery by which he was
surrounded. The knowledge of himself became visibly more and more
obscured. The restlessness of his activity, and his natural lust for
power, became daily more ungovernable.

"Blinded by the language of his admirers, and too much elated to
estimate correctly his own powers, he impatiently and of his own accord
abandoned the proud position of the victorious general to exchange it
for the most painful position which a human being can occupy--viz., the
management of the affairs of a great nation with insufficient mental
gifts and inadequate knowledge. He had hardly forced himself upon the
nation as Prime Minister, intending to add the glory of a statesman to
that of a warrior when he succeeded, by his manner of conducting
business, in shaking the confidence of the people. With laughable
infatuation he sedulously employed every opportunity of proving to the
world the hopeless incapacity which made it impossible for him to seize
the natural connection between cause and effect. With a rare
_naivete_ he confessed publicly and without hesitation the mistaken
conclusions he had come to in the weightiest affairs of State; mistakes
with the commonest understanding could have discovered, which filled the
impartial with pitying astonishment, and caused terror and consternation
even among the host of his flatterers and partisans. Yet, so great and
so strong was the preconceived opinion of the people in his favour, that
only the irresistible proofs furnished by the man's own actions could
gradually shake this opinion. It required the full force and obstinacy
of this strange self-deception in Wellington, it required the full
measure of his activity and iron persistency, in order at last, by a
perpetual reiteration of errors and mistakes, to create in the people
the firm conviction that the Duke of Wellington was one of the least
adroit and most mischievous Ministers that England ever had."

Stockmar formed a more favourable opinion afterwards, when the Duke had
ceased to be a party leader, and become the Nestor of the State. But it
must be allowed that Wellington's most intimate associates and warmest
friends thought him a failure as a politician. To the last he seemed
incapable of understanding the position of a constitutional minister,
and talked of sacrificing his convictions in order to support the
Government, as though he were not one of the Government that was to be
supported. Nor did he ever appreciate the force of opinion or the nature
of the great European movement with which he had to deal.

It seems clear from Stockmar's statement, that Wellington used his
influence over Charles X to get the Martignac Ministry, which was
moderately liberal, turned out and Polignac made Minister. In this he
doubly blundered. In the first place Polignac was not friendly but
hostile to England, and at once began to intrigue against her; in the
second place he was a fool, and by his precipitate rashness brought on
the second French Revolution, which overthrew the ascendency of the
Duke's policy in Europe, and had no small influence in overthrowing the
ascendency of his party in England. It appears that the Duke was as much
impressed with the "honesty" of Talleyrand, as he was with the "ability"
of Polignac.

A certain transitional phase of the European Revolution created a brisk
demand for kings who would "reign without governing." Having backed out
of Greece, Leopold got Belgium. And here we enter, in these Memoirs, on
a series of chapters giving the history of the Belgian Question, with
all its supplementary entanglements, as dry as saw-dust, and scarcely
readable, we should think, at the present day, even to diplomatists,
much less to mortal men. Unfortunately the greater part of the two
volumes is taken up with similar dissertations on various European
questions, while the personal touches, and details which Stockmar could
have given us in abundance, are few and far between. We seldom care much
for his opinions on European questions even when the questions
themselves are still alive and the sand-built structures of diplomacy
have not been swept away by the advancing tide of revolution. The
sovereigns whose wirepuller he was were constitutional, and themselves
exercised practically very little influence on the course of events.

In the Belgian question however, he seems to have really played an
active part. We get from him a strong impression of the restless vanity
and unscrupulous ambition of France. We learn also that Leopold
practised very early in the day the policy which assured him a quiet
reign--that of keeping his trunk packed and letting the people
understand that if they were tired of him he was ready to take the next
train and leave them to enjoy the deluge.

Stockmar found employment especially suited to him in settling the
question of Leopold's English annuity, which was given up on the Price's
election to the Crown of Belgium, but with certain reservations, upon
which the Radicals made attacks, Sir Samuel Whalley, a physician leading
the van. In the course of the struggle Stockmar received a
characteristic letter from Palmerston.

"March 9,1834

"MY DEAR BARON,--I have many apologies to make to you for not having
sooner acknowledged the receipt of the papers you sent me last week, and
for which I am much obliged to you. The case seems to me as clear as day
and without meaning to question the omnipotence of Parliament, which it
is well known can do anything but turn men into women and women into
men, I must and shall assert that the House of Commons have no more
right to enquire into the details of those debts and engagements, which
the King of the Belgians considers himself bound to satisfy before he
begins to make his payments into the Exchequer, than they have to ask
Sir Samuel Whalley how he disposed of the fees which his mad patients
used to pay him before he began to practise upon the foolish
constituents who have sent him to Parliament. There can be no doubt
whatever that we must positively resist any such enquiry, and I am very
much mistaken in my estimate of the present House of Commons if a large
majority do not concur in scouting so untenable a proposition.

"My dear Baron,

"Yours sincerely,


"The Baron de Stockmar"

That the House of Commons cannot turn women into men is a position not
so unquestioned now as it was in Palmerston's day.

Stockmar now left England for a time, but he kept his eye on English
affairs, to his continued interest in which we owe it seems, the
publication of a rather curious document, the existence of which in
manuscript was, however, well known. It is a Memoir of King William IV.,
purporting to be drawn up by himself, and extending over the eventful
years of 1830-35 'King William's style,' says the uncourtly biographer,
"abounds to overflowing in what is called in England Parliamentary
circumlocution, in which, instead of direct, simple expressions,
bombastic paraphrases are always chosen, which become in the end
intolerably prolix and dull, and are enough to drive a foreigner to
despair." The style is indeed august; but the real penman is not the
King, whose strong point was not grammatical composition, but some
confidant, very likely Sir Herbert Taylor, who was employed by the King
to negotiate with the "waverers" in the House of Lords, and get the
Reform Bill passed without a swamping creation of peers. The Memoir
contains nothing of the slightest historical importance. It is
instructive only as showing how completely a constitutional king may be
under the illusion of his office--how complacently he may fancy that he
is himself guiding the State, when he is in fact merely signing what is
put before him by his advisers, who are themselves the organs of the
majority in Parliament. Old William, Duke of Gloucester, the king's
uncle, being rather weak in intellect, was called "Silly Billy." When
King William IV. gave his assent to the Reform Bill, the Duke, who knew
his own nickname, cried "Who's Silly Billy now?" It would have been more
difficult from the Conservative point of view to answer that question if
the King had possessed the liberty of action which in his Memoir he
imagines himself to possess.

The year 1836 opened a new field to the active beneficence of Stockmar.
"The approaching majority, and probably not distant accession to the
throne, of Princess Victoria of England, engaged the vigilant and far-
sighted care of her uncle, King Leopold. At the same time he was already
making preparations for the eventual execution of a plan, which had long
formed the subject of the wishes of the Coburg family, to wit, the
marriage of the future Queen of England with his nephew, Prince Albert
of Coburg." Stockmar was charged with the duty of standing by the
Princess, as her confidential adviser, at the critical moment of her
coming of age, which might also be that of her accession to the throne.
Meanwhile King Leopold consulted with him as to the manner in which
Prince Albert should make acquaintance with his cousin, and how he
"should be prepared for his future vocation." This is pretty broad, and
a little lets down the expressions of intense affection for the Queen
and unbounded admiration of Prince Albert with which Stockmar overflows.
However, a feeling may be genuine though its source is not divine.

Stockmar played his part adroitly. He came over to England, slipped into
the place of private Secretary to the Queen, and for fifteen months
"continued his noiseless, quiet activity, without any publicly defined
position." The marriage was brought about and resulted, as we all know,
in perfect happiness till death entered the Royal home.

Stockmar was evidently very useful in guiding the Royal couple through
the difficulties connected with the settlement of the Prince's income
and his rank, and with the Regency Bill. His idea was that questions
affecting the Royal family should be regarded as above party, and in
this he apparently induced the leaders of both parties to acquiesce,
though they could not perfectly control their followers. The connection
with the Whigs into which the young Queen had been drawn by attachment
to her political mentor, Lord Melbourne, had strewn her path with
thorns. The Tory party was bitterly hostile to the Court. If Sir Charles
Dilke and Mr. Odger wish to provide themselves with material for retorts
to Tory denunciations of their disloyalty, they cannot do better than
look up the speeches and writings of the Tory party during the years
1835-1841. What was called the Bedchamber Plot, in 1839, had rendered
the relations between the Court and the Conservative leaders still more
awkward, and Stockmar appears to have done a real service in smoothing
the way for the formation of the Conservative Ministry in 1841.

Stockmar, looking at Peel from the Court point of view, was at first
prejudiced against him, especially on account of his having, in
deference probably to the feelings of his party against the Court, cut
down the Prince Consort's allowance. All the more striking is the
testimony which, after long acquaintance, the Baron bears to Peel's
character and merits as a statesman.

"Peel's mind and character rested on moral foundations, which I have not
seen once shaken, either in his private or his public life. From these
foundations rose that never-failing spring of fairness, honesty,
kindness, moderation and regard for others, which Peel showed to all
men, and under all circumstances. On these foundations grew that love of
country which pervaded his whole being, which knew of but one object--
the true welfare of England of but one glory and one reward for each
citizen, viz., to have contributed something towards that welfare. Such
love of country admits of but one ambition, and hence the ambition of
that man was as pure as his heart. To make every sacrifice for that
ambition, which the fates of his country demand from everyone, he
considered his most sacred duty, and he has made these sacrifices,
however difficult they might have been to him. Wherein lay the real
difficulty of those sacrifices will perhaps hereafter be explained by
those who knew the secret of the political circumstances and the
personal character of the men with whom he was brought in contact; and
who would not think of weighing imponderable sacrifices on the balance
of vulgar gain.

"The man whose feelings for his own country rested on so firm a
foundation could not be dishonest or unfair towards foreign countries.
The same right understanding, fairness, and moderation, which he evinced
in his treatment of internal affairs, guided Peel in his treatment of
all foreign questions. The wish frequently expressed by him, to see the
welfare of all nations improved, was thoroughly sincere. He knew France
and Italy from his own observation, and he had studied the political
history of the former with great industry. For Germany he had a good
will, nay, a predilection, particularly for Prussia.

"In his private life, Peel was a real pattern. He was the most loving,
faithful, conscientious husband, father, and brother, unchanging and
indulgent to his friends, and always ready to help his fellow-citizens
according to his power.

"Of the vulnerable parts of his character his enemies may have many
things to tell. What had been observed by all who came into closer
contact with him, could not escape my own observation. I mean his too
great prudence, caution, and at times, extreme reserve, in important as
well as in unimportant matters, which he showed, not only towards more
distant, but even towards his nearer acquaintances. If he was but too
often sparing of words, and timidly cautious in oral transactions, he
was naturally still more so in his written communications. The fear
never left him that he might have to hear an opinion once expressed, or
a, judgment once uttered by him, repeated by the wrong man, and in the
wrong place, and misapplied. His friends were sometimes in despair over
this peculiarity. To his opponents it supplied an apparent ground for
suspicion and incrimination. It seemed but too likely that there was a
doubtful motive for such reserve, or that it was intended to cover
narrowness and weakness of thought and feeling, or want of enterprise
and courage. To me also this peculiarity deemed often injurious to
himself and to the matter in hand; and I could not help being sometimes
put out by it, and wishing from the bottom of my heart that he could
have got rid of it. But when one came to weigh the acts of the man
against his manner, the disagreeable impression soon gave way. I quickly
convinced myself, that this, to me, so objectionable a trait was but an
innate peculiarity; and that in a sphere of activity where thoughtless
unreserve and _laisser aller_ showed themselves in every possible
form, Peel was not likely to find any incentive, or to form a resolution
to overcome, in this point, his natural disposition.

"I have been told, or I have read it somewhere, that Peel was the most
successful type of political mediocrity. In accepting this estimate of
my departed friend as perfectly true, I ask Heaven to relieve all
Ministers, within and without Europe, of their superiority, and to endow
them with Peel's mediocrity: and I ask this for the welfare of all
nations, and in the firm conviction that ninety-nine hundredths of the
higher political affairs can be properly and successfully conducted by
such Ministers only as possess Peel's mediocrity: though I am willing to
admit that the remaining hundredth may, through the power and boldness
of a true genius, be brought to a particularly happy, or, it may be, to
a particularly unhappy, issue."

Of the late Lord Derby, on the other hand, Stockmar speaks with the
greatest contempt, calling him "a frivolous aristocrat who delighted in
making mischief. "It does not appear whether the two men ever came into
collision with each other, but if they did, Lord Derby was likely enough
to leave a sting.

Stockmar regularly spent a great part of each year with the English
Royal Family. Apartments were appropriated to him in each of the Royal
residences, and he lived with the Queen and Prince on the footing of an
intimate, or rather of a member, and almost the father, of the family.
Indeed, he used a familiarity beyond that of any friend or relative.
Having an objection to taking leave, he was in the habit of disappearing
without notice, and leaving his rooms vacant when the fancy took him.
Then we are told, letters complaining of his faithlessness would follow
him, and in course of time others urging his return. Etiquette, the
highest of all laws, was dispensed within his case. After dining with
the Queen, when Her Majesty had risen from table, and after holding a
circle had sat down again to tea, Stockmar would generally be seen
walking straight through the drawing-room and returning to his
apartment, there to study his own comfort. More than this, when Mordecai
became the King's favorite, he was led forth on the royal steed,
apparelled in the royal robe, and with the royal crown upon his head. A
less demonstrative and picturesque, but not less signal or significant,
mark of Royal favor was bestowed on Stockmar. In his case tights were
dispensed with, and he was allowed to wear trousers, which better suited
his thin legs. We believe this exemption to be without parallel, though
we have heard of a single dispensation being granted, after many
searchings of heart, in a case where the invitation had been sudden, and
the mystic garment did not exist, and also of a more melancholy case, in
which the garment was split in rushing down to dinner, and its wearer
was compelled to appear in the forbidden trousers, and very late,
without the possibility of explaining what had occurred.

Notwithstanding the enormous power indicated by his privileged nether
limbs, Stockmar remained disinterested. A rich Englishman, described as
an author, and member of Parliament, called upon him one day, and
promised to give him L10,000 if he would further his petition to the
Queen for a peerage. Stockmar replied, "I will now go into the next
room, in order to give you time. If upon my return I still find you
here, I shall have you turned out by the servants."

We are told that the Baron had little intercourse with any circles but
those of the court--a circumstance which was not likely to diminish any
bad impressions that might prevail with regard to his secret influence.
Among his intimate friends in the household was his fellow-countryman
Dr. Pratorius, "who ever zealously strengthened the Prince's
inclinations in the sense which Stockmar desired, and always insisted
upon the highest moral considerations." Nature, in the case of the
doctor; had not been so lavish of personal beauty as of moral
endowments. The Queen was once reading the Bible with her daughter, the
little Princess Victoria. They came to the passage, "God created man in
his own image, in the image of God created He him." "O Mamma," cried the
Princess, "not Dr. Pratorius!"

Stockmar's administrative genius effected a reform in the Royal
household, and as appears from his memorandum, not before there was
occasion for it. "The housekeepers, pages, housemaids, etc., are under
the authority of the Lord Chamberlain; all the footmen, livery-porters
and under-butlers, by the strangest anomaly, under that of Master of the
Horse, at whose office they are clothed and paid; and the rest of the
servants, such as the clerk of the kitchen, the cooks, the porters,
etc., are under the jurisdiction of the Lord Steward. Yet these
ludicrous divisions extend not only to persons, but likewise to things
and actions. The Lord Steward, for example, finds the fuel and lays the
fire, and the Lord Chamberlain lights it. It was under this state of
things that the writer of this paper, having been sent one day by Her
present Majesty to Sir Frederick Watson, then the Master of the
Household, to complain that the dining-room was always cold, was gravely
answered: 'You see, properly speaking, it is not our fault, for the Lord
Steward lays the fire only, and the Lord Chamberlain lights it.' In the
same manner the Lord Chamberlain provides all the lamps, and the Lord
Steward must clean, trim and light them. If a pane of glass or the door
in a cupboard in the scullery requires mending, it cannot now be done
without the following process: A requisition is prepared and signed by
the chief cook, it is then countersigned by the clerk of the kitchen,
then it is taken to be signed by the Master of the Household, thence it
is taken to the Lord Chamberlain's office, where it is authorized, and
then laid before the Clerk of the Works under the office of Woods and
Forests; and consequently many a window and cupboard have remained
broken for months" Worse than this--"There is no one who attends to the
comforts of the Queen's guests on their arrival at the Royal residence.
When they arrive at present there is no one prepared to show them to or
from their apartments; there is no gentleman in the palace who even
knows where they are lodged, and there is not even a servant who can
perform this duty, which is attached to the Lord Chamberlain's
department. It frequently happens at Windsor that some of the visitors
are at a loss to find the drawing-room, and, at night, if they happen to
forget the right entrance from the corridor, they wander for an hour
helpless, and unassisted. There is nobody to apply to in such a case,
for it is not in the department of the Master of the Household, and the
only remedy is to send a servant, if one can be found, to the porter's
lodge, to ascertain the apartment in question." People were rather
surprised when the boy Jones was discovered, at one o'clock in the
morning, under the sofa in the room adjoining Her Majesty's bedroom. But
it seems nobody was responsible--not the Lord Chamberlain, who was in
Staffordshire, and in whose department the porters were not; not the
Lord Steward, who was in London, and had nothing to do with the pages
and attendants nearest to the royal person; not the Master of the
Household, who was only a subordinate officer in the Lord Steward's
department. So the King of Spain, who was roasted to death because the
right Lord-in-Waiting could not be found to take him from the fire, was
not without a parallel in that which calls itself the most practical of
nations. Stockmar reformed the system by simply inducing each of the
three great officers, without nominally giving up his authority (which
would have shaken the foundations of the Monarchy), to delegate so much
of it as would enable the fire to be laid and lighted by the same power.
We fancy, however, that even since the Stockmarian reconstruction, we
have heard of guests finding themselves adrift in the corridors of
Windsor. There used to be no bells to the rooms, it being assumed that
in the abode of Royalty servants, were always within call, a theory
which would have been full of comfort to any nervous gentleman, who, on
the approach of the royal dinner hour, might happen to find himself left
with somebody else's small clothes.

In 1854 came the outbreak of public feeling against Prince Albert and
Stockmar, as his friend and adviser, to which we have referred at the
beginning of this article. The Prince's lamented death caused such a
reaction of feeling in his favor that it is difficult now to recall to
recollection the degree of unpopularity under which he at one time
laboured. Some of the causes of this unpopularity are correctly stated
by the author of the present memoir. The Prince was a foreigner, his
ways were not those of Englishmen, he did not dress like an Englishman,
shake hands like an Englishman. He was suspected of "Germanizing"
tendencies, very offensive to high churchmen, especially in philosophy
and religion. He displeased the Conservatives by his Liberalism, the
coarser Radicals by his pietism and culture. He displeased the fast set
by his strict morality; they called him slow, because he did not bet,
gamble, use bad language, keep an opera dancer. With more reason he
displeased the army by meddling, under the name of a too courtly
Commander-in-Chief, with professional matters which he could not
understand. But there was a cause of his unpopularity scarcely
appreciable by the German author of this memoir. He had brought with him
the condescending manner of a German Prince. The English prefer a frank
manner; they will bear a high manner in persons of sufficient rank, but
a condescending manner they will not endure; nor will any man or woman
but those who live in a German Court. So it was, however, that the
Prince, during his life, though respected by the people for his virtues,
and by men of intellect for his culture, was disliked and disparaged by
"Society," and especially by the great ladies who are at the head of it.
The Conservatives, male and female, had a further grudge against him as
the reputed friend of Peel, who was the object of their almost demoniac

The part of a Prince Consort is a very difficult one to play. In the
case of Queen Anne's husband, Prince George of Denmark, nature solved
the difficulty by not encumbering his Royal Highness with any brains.
But Prince Albert had brains, and it was morally impossible that he
should not exercise a power not contemplated by the Constitution. He did
so almost from the first, with the full knowledge and approbation of the
Ministers, who had no doubt the sense to see what could not be avoided
had better be recognised and kept under control. But in 1851 the Court
quarrelled with Palmerston, who was dismissed from office, very
properly, for having, in direct violation of a recent order of the
Queen, communicated to the French Ambassador his approval of the coup
d'etat, without the knowledge of Her Majesty or the Cabinet. In 1854
came the rupture with Russia, which led to the Crimean war. Palmerston,
in correspondence with his friend the French Emperor, was working for a
war, with a separate French alliance. Prince Albert, in conjunction with
Aberdeen, was trying to keep the Four Powers together, and by their
combined action to avert a war. Palmerston and his partizans appealed
through the press to the people, among whom the war feeling was growing
strong, against the unconstitutional influence of the Prince Consort and
his foreign advisers. Thereupon arose a storm of insane suspicion and
fury which almost recalled the fever of the Popish Plot. Thousands of
Londoners collected round the Tower to see the Prince's entry into the
State Prison, and dispersed only upon being told that the Queen had said
that if her husband was sent to prison she would go with him. Reports
were circulated of a pamphlet drawn up under Palmerston's eye, and
containing the most damning proofs of the Prince's guilt, the
publication of which it was said the Prince had managed to prevent, but
of which six copies were still in existence. The pamphlet was at last
printed _in extenso_ in the _Times_, and the bottled lightning
proved to be ditchwater. Of course Stockmar, the "spy," the "agent of
Leopold," did not escape denunciation, and though it was proved he had
been at Coburg all the time, people persisted in believing he was
concealed about the Court, coming out only at night. The outcry was led
by the _Morning Post_, Lord Palmerston's personal organ, and the
_Morning Advertiser_, the bellicose and truly British journal of
the Licensed Victuallers; but these were supported by the Conservative
press, and by some Radical papers. A debate in Parliament broke the
waterspout as quickly as it had been formed. The people had complained
with transports of rage that the Prince Consort exercised an influence
unrecognised by the Constitution in affairs of State. They were
officially assured that he _did_; and they at once declared
themselves perfectly satisfied.

Our readers would not thank us for taking them again through the
question of the Spanish marriages, a transaction which Stockmar viewed
in the only way in which the most criminal and the filthiest of
intrigues could be viewed by an honest man and a gentleman; or through
the question of German unity, on which his opinions have been at once
ratified and deprived of their practical interest by events. The last
part of his life he passed in Germany, managing German Royalties,
especially the Prince and Princess Frederick William of Prussia, for
whom he had conceived a profound affection. His presence, we are told,
was regarded by German statesmen and magnates as "uncanny," and Count
K., on being told that it was Stockmar with whom an acquaintance had
just crossed a bridge, asked the acquaintance why he had not pitched the
Baron into the river. That Stockmar did not deserve such a fate, the
testimony cited at the beginning of this paper is sufficient to prove.
He was the unrecognised Minister of Constitutional Sovereigns who
wanted, besides their regular Parliamentary advisers, a personal adviser
to attend to the special interests of royalty. It was a part somewhat
clandestine, rather equivocal, and not exactly such as a very proud man
would choose. But Stockmar was called to it by circumstances, he was
admirably adapted for it, and if it sometimes led him further than he
was entitled or qualified to go, he played it on the whole very well.


A discussion which was raised some time ago by a very pleasant article
of Professor Wilson in the _Canadian Monthly_ disclosed the fact
that Wright's "Life of Wolfe," though it had been published some years,
was still very little known. It is not only the best but the only
complete life of the soldier, so memorable in Canadian annals, whom
Chatham's hand launched on our coast, a thunderbolt of war, and whose
victory decided that the destiny of this land of great possibilities
should be shaped not by French but by British hands. Almost all that is
known about Wolfe is here, and it is well told. Perhaps the biographer
might have enhanced the interest of the figure by a more vivid
presentation of its historic surroundings. It is when viewed in
comparison with an age which was generally one of unbelief, of low aims,
of hearts hardened by vice, of blunted affections, of coarse excesses,
and in the military sphere one of excesses more than usually coarse, of
professional ignorance and neglect of duty among the officers, while the
habits of the rank and file were those depicted in Hogarth's _March to
Finckley_ that the life of this aspiring, gentle, affectionate, pure
and conscientious soldier shines forth against the dark background like
a star.

Squerryes Court, near Westerham, in Kent, is an ample and pleasant
mansion in the Queen Anne style, which has long been in the possession
of the Warde family--they are very particular about the _e_. In
later times it was the abode of a memorable character in his way--old
John Warde, the "Father of Fox-hunting." There it was that the greatest
of all fox-hunters, Asheton Smithe, when on a visit to John Warde, rode
Warde's horse _Blue Ruin_ over a frozen country through a fast run
of twenty-five minutes and killed his fox. On the terrace stands a
monument. It marks the spot where in 1741, James Wolfe, the son of
Lieut-Col. Wolfe, of Westerham, then barely fourteen years of age, was
playing with two young Wardes, when the father of the playmates
approached and handed him a large letter "On His Majesty's Service"
which, on being opened, was found to contain his commission in the army.
We may be sure that the young face flushed with undisguised emotion.
There cannot be a greater contrast than that which the frank, impulsive
features, sanguine complexion, and blue eyes of Wolfe present to the
power expressed in the commanding brow, the settled look, and the evil
eye [Footnote: The late Lord Russell, who had seen Napoleon at Elba,
used to say that there was something very evil in his eye.] of Napoleon.

James Wolfe was a delicate child, and though he grew energetic and
fearless, never grew strong, or ceased to merit the interest which
attaches to a gallant spirit in a weak frame. He escaped a public
school, and without any forfeiture of the manliness which public schools
are supposed exclusively to produce, retained his home affections and
his tenderness of heart. He received the chief part of his literary
education in a school at Greenwich, where his parents resided, and he at
all events learned enough Latin to get himself a dinner, in his first
campaign on the Continent, by asking for it in that language. He is
grateful to his schoolmaster, Mr. Stebbings, and speaks of him with
affection in afterlife. But no doubt his military intelligence, as well
as his military tastes, was gained by intercourse with his father, a
real soldier, who had pushed his way by merit in an age of corrupt
patronage, and was Adjutant-General to Lord Cathcart's forces in 1740.
Bred in a home of military duty, the young soldier saw before him a
worthy example of conscientious attention to all the details of the
profession--not only to the fighting of battles, but to the making of
the soldiers with whom battles are to be fought.

Walpole's reign of peace was over, the "Patriots" had driven the nation
into war, and the trade of Colonel Wolfe and his son was again in
request. Before he got his commission, and when he was only thirteen
years-and a-half old, the boy's ardent spirit led him to embark with his
father as a volunteer in the ill-fated expedition to Carthagena.
Happily, though he assured his mother that he was "in a very good state
of health," his health was so far from being good that they were obliged
to put him on shore at Portsmouth. Thus he escaped that masterpiece of
the military and naval administration of the aristocracy, to the horrors
of which his frail frame would undoubtedly have succumbed. His father
saw the unspeakable things depicted with ghastly accuracy by Smollett,
and warned his son never, if he could help it, to go on joint
expeditions of the two services--a precept which the soldier of an
island power would have found it difficult to observe.

Wolfe's mother had struggled to prevent her boy from going, and appealed
to his love of her. It was a strong appeal, for he was the most dutiful
of sons. The first in the series of his letters is one written to her on
this occasion, assuring her of his affection and promising to write to
her by every ship he meets. She kept all his letters from this one to
the last written from the banks of the St. Lawrence. They are in the
stiff old style, beginning "Dear Madam," and signed "dutiful;" but they
are full of warm feeling, scarcely interrupted by a little jealousy of
temper which there appears to have been on the mother's side.

Wolfe's first commission was in his father's regiment of marines, but he
never served as a marine. He could scarcely have done so, for to the end
of his life, he suffered tortures from sea-sickness. He is now an Ensign
in Duroure's regiment of foot. We see him a tall slender boy of fifteen,
in scarlet coat, folded back from the breast after the old fashion in
broad lapels to display its white or yellow lining, breeches and
gaiters, with his young face surmounted by a wig and a cocked hat edged
with gold lace, setting off, colours in hand, with his regiment for the
war in the Low Countries. If he missed seeing aristocratic management at
Carthagena, he shall see aristocratic and royal strategy at Dettingen.
His brother Ned, a boy still more frail than himself, but emulous of his
military ardour, goes in another regiment on the same expedition.

The regiment was accidentally preceded by a large body of troops of the
other sex, who landing unexpectedly by themselves at Ostend caused some
perplexity to the Quartermaster. The home affections must have been
strong which could keep a soldier pure in those days.

The regiment was at first quartered at Ghent, where, amidst the din of
garrison riot and murderous brawls, we hear the gentle sound of Wolfe's
flute, and where he studies the fortifications, already anxious to
prepare himself for the higher walks of his profession. From Ghent the
army moved to the actual scene of war in Germany, suffering of course on
the march from the badness of the commissariat. Wolfe's body feels the
fatigue and hardship. He "never comes into quarters without aching hips
and thighs." But he is "in the greatest spirits in the world." "Don't
tell me of a constitution" he said afterwards, when a remark was made on
the weakness of a brother officer, "he has good spirits, and good
spirits will carry a man through everything."

All the world knows into what a position His Martial Majesty King George
II., with the help of sundry persons of quality, styling themselves
generals, got the British army at Dettingen, and how the British soldier
fought his way out of the scrape. Wolfe was in the thick of it, and his
horse was shot under him. His first letter is to his mother--"I take the
very first opportunity I can to acquaint you that my brother and self
escaped in the engagement we had with the French, the 16th June last,
and, thank God, are as well as ever we were in our lives, after not only
being canonnaded two hours and three quarters, and fighting with small
arms two hours and one quarter, but lay the two following nights upon
our arms, whilst it rained for about twenty hours in the same time; yet
are ready and as capable to do the same again." But this letter is
followed by one to his father, which seems to us to rank among the
wonders of literature. It is full of fire and yet as calm as a dispatch,
giving a complete, detailed, and masterly account of the battle, and
showing that the boy kept his head, and played the part of a good
officer as well as of a brave soldier in his first field. The cavalry
did indifferently, and there is a sharp soldiery criticism on the cause
of its failure. But the infantry did better.

"The third and last attack was made by the foot on both sides. We
advanced towards one another; our men in high spirits, and very
impatient for fighting, being elated with beating the French Horse, part
of which advanced towards us, while the rest attacked our Horse, but
were soon driven back by the great fire we gave them. The Major and I
(for we had neither Colonel nor Lieutenant-Colonel), before they came
near, were employed in begging and ordering the men not to fire at too
great a distance, but to keep it till the enemy should come near us; but
to little purpose. The whole fired when they thought they could reach
them, which had like to have ruined us. We did very little execution
with it. As soon as the French saw we presented they all fell down, and
when we had fired they got up and marched close to us in tolerable good
order, and gave us a brisk fire, which put us into some disorder and
made us give way a little, particularly ours and two or three more
regiments who were in the hottest of it. However, we soon rallied again,
and attacked them again with great fury, which gained us a complete
victory, and forced the enemy to retire in great haste."

Edward distinguished himself, too. "I sometimes thought I had lost poor
Ned, when I saw arms and legs and heads beat off close by him. He is
called 'The old Soldier,' and very deservedly." Poor "Old Soldier," his
career was as brief as that of a shooting star. Next year he dies, not
by sword or bullet, but of consumption hastened by hardships--dies alone
in a foreign land, "often calling on those who were dear to him;" his
brother, though within reach, being kept away by the calls of duty and
by ignorance of the danger. The only comfort was that he had a faithful
servant, and that as he shared with his brother the gift of winning
hearts, brother officers were likely to be kind. James, writing to their
mother, some time after, shed tears over the letter.

Though only sixteen, Wolfe had acted as Adjutant to his regiment at
Dettingen. He was regularly appointed Adjutant a few days after. His
father, as we have seen, had been an Adjutant-General. Even under the
reign of Patronage there was one chance for merit. Patronage could not
do without adjutants. From this time, Wolfe, following in his father's
footsteps, seems to have given his steady attention to the
administrative and, so far as his very scanty opportunities permitted,
to the scientific part of his profession.

Happily for him, he was not at Fontenoy. But he was at Laffeldt, and saw
what must have been a grand sight for a soldier--the French infantry
coming down from the heights in one vast column, ten battalions in front
and as many deep, to attack the British position in the village. After
all, it was not by the British, but by the Austrians and Dutch, that
Laffeldt was lost. We have no account of the battle from Wolfe's pen.
But he was wounded, and it is stated, on what authority his biographer
does not tell us, that he was thanked by the Commander-in-Chief. Four
years afterwards he said of his old servant, Roland: "He came to me at
the hazard of his life, in the last action, with offers of his service,
took off my cloak, and brought a fresh horse, and would have continued
close by me had I not ordered him to retire. I believe he was slightly
wounded just at that time, and the horse he held was shot likewise. Many
a time has he pitched my tent and made the bed ready to receive me, half
dead with fatigue, and this I owe to his diligence."

But between Dettingen and Laffeldt, Wolfe had been called to serve on a
different scene. The Patriots, in bringing on a European war, had
renewed the Civil War at home. Attached to the army sent against the
Pretender, Wolfe (now major), fought under "Hangman Hawley," in the
blundering and disastrous hustle at Falkirk, and, on a happier day,
under Cumberland at Culloden. Some years afterwards he revisited the
field of Culloden, and he has recorded his opinion that there also
"somebody blundered," though he refrains from saying who. The mass of
the rebel army, he seems to think, ought not to have been allowed to
escape. These campaigns were a military curiosity. The Roman order of
battle, evidently intended to repair a broken front, was perhaps a
lesson taught the Roman tacticians on the day when their front was
broken by the rush of the Celtic clans at Allia. That rush produced the
same effect on troops unaccustomed to it and unprepared for it at
Killiecrankie, and again at Preston Pans and Falkirk. At Culloden the
Duke of Cumberland formed so as to repair a broken front, and when the
rush came, but few of the Highlanders got beyond the second line.
Killiecrankie and Preston Pans tell us nothing against Discipline.

There is an apocryphal anecdote of the Duke's cruelty and of Wolfe's
humanity towards the wounded after the battle,--"Wolfe, shoot me that
Highland scoundrel who thus dares to look on us with such contempt and
insolence." "My commission is at your Royal Highness's disposal, but I
never can consent to become an executioner." The anecdotist adds that
from that day Wolfe declined in the favour and confidence of the
Commander-in-Chief. But it happens that Wolfe did nothing of the kind.
On the other hand, Mr. Wright does not doubt, nor is there any ground
for doubting, the identity of the Major Wolfe who, under orders,
relieves a Jacobite lady, named Gordon, of a considerable amount of
stores and miscellaneous property accumulated in her house, but
according to her own account belonging partly to other people; among
other things, of a collection of pictures to make room for which, as she
said, she had been obliged to send away her son, who was missing at that
critical juncture. The duty was a harsh one, but seems, by Mrs. Gordon's
own account, not to have been harshly performed. If any property that
ought to have been restored was kept, it was kept not by Wolfe but by
"Hangman Hawley." Still one could wish to see Wolfe fighting on a
brighter field than Culloden, and engaged in a work more befitting a
soldier than the ruthless extirpation of rebellion which ensued.

The young soldier is now thoroughly in love with his profession. "A
battle gained," he says, "is, I believe the highest joy mankind is
capable of receiving to him who commands; and his merit must be equal to
his success if it works no change to his disadvantage." He dilates on
the value of war as a school of character. "We have all our passions and
affections roused and exercised, many of which must have wanted their
proper employment had not suitable occasions obliged us to exert them.
Few men are acquainted with the degrees of their own courage till danger
prove them, and are seldom justly informed how far the love of honour
and dread of shame are superior to the love of life." But now peace
comes, the sword is consigned to rust, and in promotion Patronage
resumes its sway. "In these cooler times the parliamentary interest and
weight of particular families annihilate all other pretensions." The
consequence was, of course, that when the hotter times returned they
found the army officered by fine gentlemen, and its path, as Napier
says, was like that of Satan in "Paradise Lost" through chaos to death.

Wolfe would fain have gone abroad (England affording no schools) to
complete his military and general education; but the Duke of
Cumberland's only notion of military education was drill; so Wolfe had
to remain with his regiment. It was quartered in Scotland, and besides
the cankering inaction to which the gallant spirit was condemned, Scotch
quarters were not pleasant in those days. The country was socially as
far from London as Norway. The houses were small, dirty, unventilated,
devoid of any kind of comfort; and habits and manners were not much
better than the habitations. Perhaps Wolfe saw the Scotch society of
those days through an unfavourable medium, at all events he did not find
it charming. "The men here," he writes from Glasgow, "are civil,
designing, and treacherous, with their immediate interest always in
view; they pursue trade with warmth and a necessary mercantile spirit,
arising from the baseness of their other qualifications. The women
coarse, cold and cunning, for ever enquiring after men's circumstances;
they make that the standing of their good breeding." Even the sermons
failed to please. "I do several things in my character of commanding
officer which I should never think of in any other; for instance, I'm
every Sunday at the Kirk, an example justly to be admired. I would not
lose two hours of a day if it would not answer some end. When I say
'lose two hours,' I must complain to you that the generality of Scotch
preachers are excessive blockheads, so truly and obstinately dull, that
they seem to shut out knowledge at every entrance." If Glasgow and Perth
were bad, still worse were dreary Banff and barbarous Inverness. The
Scotch burghers, their ladies, and the preachers are entitled to the
benefit of the remark that the Scotch climate greatly affected Wolfe's
sensitive frame, and that he took a wrong though established method of
keeping out the cold and damp. When there is nothing in the way of
action to lift the soul above the clay his spirits, as he admits rise
and fall with the weather and his impressions vary with them. "I'm sorry
to say that my writings are greatly influenced by the state of my body
or mind at the time of writing and I'm either happy or ruined by my last
night's rest or from sunshine or light and sickly air; such infirmity is
the mortal frame subject to."

Inverness was the climax of discomfort, coarseness and dulness, as well
as a centre of disaffection. Quarters there in those days must have been
something like quarters in an Indian village, with the Scotch climate
superadded. The houses were hovels, worse and more fetid than those at
Perth. Even when it was fine there was no amusement but shooting
woodcocks at the risk of rheumatism. When the rains poured down and the
roads were broken up there was no society, not even a newspaper, nothing
to be done but to eat coarse food and sleep in bad beds. If there was a
laird in the neighbourhood he was apt to be some 'Bumper John' whose
first act of hospitality was to make you drunk. "I wonder how long a man
moderately inclined that way would require in a place like this to wear
out his love for arms and soften his martial spirit. I believe the
passion would be something diminished in less than ten years and the
gentleman be contented to be a little lower than Caesar in the list to
get rid of the encumbrance of greatness."

It is in his dreary quarters at Inverness at the dead of night perhaps
with a Highland tempest howling outside that the future conqueror of
Quebec thus moralizes on his own condition and prospects in a letter to
his mother:

"The winter wears away, so do our years and so does life itself, and it
matters little where a man passes his days and what station he fills or
whether he be great or considerable but it imports him something to look
to his manner of life. This day am I twenty five years of age, and all
that time is as nothing. When I am fifty (if it so happens) and look
back, it will be the same, and so on to the last hour. But it is worth a
moment's consideration that one may be called away on a sudden unguarded
and unprepared, and the oftener these thoughts are entertained the less
will be the dread or fear of death. You will judge by this sort of
discourse that it is the dead of night when all is quiet and at rest,
and one of those intervals wherein men think of what they really are and
what they really should be, how much is expected and how little
performed. Our short duration here and the doubts of the hereafter
should awe the most flagitious, if they reflected on them. The little
taken in for meditation is the best employed in all their lives for if
the uncertainty of our state and being is then brought before us who is
there that will not immediately discover the inconsistency of all his
behaviour and the vanity of all his pursuits? And yet, we are so mixed
and compounded that, though I think seriously this minute, and lie down
with good intentions, it is likely I may rise with my old nature, or
perhaps with the addition of some new impertinence, and be the same
wandering lump of idle errors that I have ever been.

"You certainly advise me well. You have pointed out the only way where
there can be no disappointment, and comfort that will never fail us,
carrying men steadily and cheerfully in their journey, and a place of
rest at the end. Nobody can be more persuaded of it than I am; but
situation, example, the current of things, and our natural weakness,
draw me away with the herd, and only leave me just strength enough to
resist the worst degree of our iniquities. There are times when men fret
at trifles and quarrel with their toothpicks. In one of these ill-habits
I exclaim against the present condition, and think it is the worst of
all; but coolly and temperately it is plainly the best. Where there is
most employment and least vice, there one should wish to be. There is a
meanness and a baseness not to endure with patience the little
inconveniences we are subject to; and to know no happiness but in one
spot, and that in ease, in luxury, in idleness, seems to deserve our
contempt. There are young men amongst us that have great revenues and
high military stations, that repine at three months' service with their
regiments if they go fifty miles from home. Soup and _venaison_ and
turtle are their supreme delight and joy,--an effeminate race of
coxcombs, the future leaders of our armies, defenders and protectors of
our great and free nation!

"You bid me avoid Fort William, because you believe it still worse than
this place. That will not be my reason for wishing to avoid it; but the
change of conversation; the fear of becoming a mere ruffian; and of
imbibing the tyrannical principles of an absolute commander, or, giving
way insensibly to the temptations of power, till I become proud,
insolent and intolerable;--these considerations will make me wish to
leave the regiment before the next winter, and always if it could be so
after eight months duty; that by frequenting men above myself I may know
my true condition, and by discoursing with the other sex may learn some
civility and mildness of carriage, but never pay the price of the last
improvement with the loss of reason. Better be a savage of some use than
a gentle, amorous puppy, obnoxious to all the world. One of the wildest
of wild clans is a worthier being than a perfect Philander."

Wolfe, it must be owned, does not write well. He has reason to envy, as
he does, the grace of the female style. He is not only ungrammatical,
which, in a familiar letter, is a matter of very small consequence, but
somewhat stilted. Perhaps it was like the "Madam," the fashion of the
Johnsonian era. Yet beneath the buckram you always feel that there is a
heart. Persons even of the same profession are cast in very different
moulds; and the mould of Wolfe was as different as possible from that of
the Iron Duke.

Wolfe's dreary garrison leisures in Scotland, however, were not idle.
His books go with him, and he is doing his best to cultivate himself,
both professionally and generally. He afterwards recommends to a friend,
evidently from his own experience, a long list of military histories and
other works ancient and modern. The ancients he read in translations.
His range is wide and he appreciates military genius in all its forms.
"There is an abundance of military knowledge to be picked out of the
lives of Gustavus Adolphus and Charles XII., King of Sweden, and of
Zisca the Bohemian, and if a tolerable account could be got of the
exploits of Scanderbeg, it would be inestimable, for he excels all the
officers ancient and modern in the conduct of a small defensive army."
At Louisburg, Wolfe put in practice, with good effect, a manoeuvre which
he had learned from the Carduchi in Xenophon, showing perhaps by this
reproduction of the tactics employed two thousand years before by a
barbarous tribe, that in the so-called art of war there is a large
element which is not progressive. Books will never make a soldier, but
Wolfe, as a military student, had the advantage of actual experience of
war. Whenever he could find a teacher, he studied mathematics, zealously
though apparently not with delight. "I have read the mathematics till I
am grown perfectly stupid, and have algebraically worked away the little
portion of understanding that was allowed to me. They have not even left
me the qualities of a coxcomb for I can neither laugh nor sing nor talk
an hour upon nothing. The latter of these is a sensible loss, for it
excludes a gentleman from all good company and makes him entirely unfit
for the conversation of the polite world." "I don't know how the
mathematics may assist the judgment, but they have a great tendency to
make men dull. I who am far from being sprightly even in my gaiety, am
the very reverse of it at this time." Certainly to produce sprightliness
is neither the aim nor the general effect of mathematics. That while
military education was carried on, general culture was not wholly
neglected, is proved by the famous exclamation about Gray's Elegy, the
most signal homage perhaps that a poet ever received. At Glasgow, where
there is a University, Wolfe studies mathematics in the morning, in the
afternoon he endeavours to regain his lost Latin.

Nor in training himself did he neglect to train his soldiers. He had
marked with bitterness of heart the murderous consequence to which
neglect of training had led in the beginning of every war. Probably he
had the army of Frederick before his eyes. His words on musketry
practice may still have an interest. "Marksmen are nowhere so necessary
as in a mountainous country; besides, firing at objects teaches the
soldiers to level incomparably, makes the recruit steady, and removes
the foolish apprehension that seizes young soldiers when they first load
their arms with bullets. We fire, first singly, then by files, one, two,
three, or more, then by ranks, and lastly by platoons; and the soldiers
see the effects of their shots, especially at a mark or upon water. We
shoot obliquely and in different situations of ground, from heights
downwards and contrariwise."

Military education and attention to the details of the profession were
not very common under the Duke of Wellington. They were still less
common under the Duke of Cumberland. Before he was thirty, Wolfe was a
great military authority, and what was required of Chatham, in his case,
was not so much the eye to discern latent merit, as the boldness to
promote merit over the head of rank.

In a passage just quoted Wolfe expresses his fear lest command should
make him tyrannical. He was early tried by the temptation of power. He
became Lieut.-Colonel at twenty-five; but in the absence of his Colonel
he had already been in command at Stirling when he was only twenty-
three. This was in quarters where he was practically despotic. He does
not fail in his letters to pour out his heart on his situation.
"Tomorrow Lord George Sackville goes away, and I take upon me the
difficult and troublesome employment of a commander. You can't conceive
how difficult a thing it is to keep the passions within bounds, when
authority and immaturity go together: to endeavour at a character which
has every opposition from within, and that the very condition of the
blood is a sufficient obstacle to. Fancy you see me that must do justice
to good and bad; reward and punish with an equal unbiassed hand; one
that is to reconcile the severity of discipline with the dictates of
humanity, one that must study the tempers and dispositions of many men,
in order to make their situation easy and agreeable to them, and should
endeavour to oblige all without partiality; a mark set up for everybody
to observe and judge of; and last of all, suppose one employed in
discouraging vice, and recommending the reverse, at the turbulent age of
twenty-three, when it is possible I may have as great a propensity that
way as any of the men that I converse with." He had difficulties of
character to contend with, as well as difficulties of age. His temper
was quick; he knew it. "My temper is much too warm, and sudden
resentment forces out expressions and even actions that are neither
justifiable nor excusable, and perhaps I do not conceal the natural heat
so much as I ought to do." He even felt that he was apt to misconstrue
the intentions of those around him, and to cherish groundless
prejudices. "I have that wicked disposition of mind that whenever I know
that people have entertained a very ill opinion, I imagine they never
change. From whence one passes easily to an indifference about them, and
then to dislike, and though I flatter myself that I have the seeds of
justice strong enough to keep from doing wrong, even to an enemy, yet
there lurks a hidden poison in the heart that it is difficult to root
out. It is my misfortune to catch fire on a sudden, to answer letters
the moment I receive them, when they touch me sensibly, and to suffer
passion to dictate my expressions more than my reason. The next day,
perhaps, would have changed this, and earned more moderation with it.
Every ill turn of my life has had this haste and first impulse of the
moment for its cause, and it proceeds from pride." Solitary command and
absence from the tempering influences of general society were, as he
keenly felt, likely to aggravate his infirmities. Yet he proves not only
a successful but a popular commander, and he seems never to have lost
his friends. The "seeds of justice" no doubt were really strong, and the
transparent frankness of his character, its freedom from anything like
insidiousness or malignity, must have had a powerful effect in
dispelling resentment.

His first regimental minute, of which his biographer gives us an
abstract, evinces a care for his men which must have been almost
startling in the days of "Hangman Hawley." He desires to be acquainted
in writing with the men and the companies they belong to, and as soon as
possible with their characters, that he may know the proper objects to
encourage, and those over whom it will be necessary to keep a strict
hand. The officers are enjoined to visit the soldiers' quarters
frequently; now and then to go round between nine and eleven o'clock at
night, and not trust to sergeants' reports. They are also requested to
watch the looks of the privates, and observe whether any of them were
paler than usual, that the reason might be inquired into and proper
means used to restore them to their former vigour. Subalterns are told
that "a young officer should not think he does too much." But firmness,
and great firmness, must have been required, as well as watchfulness and
kindness. His confidential expressions with regard to the state of the
army are as strong as words can make them. "I have a very mean opinion
of the Infantry in general. I know their discipline to be bad and their
valour precarious. They are easily put into disorder and hard to recover
out of it. They frequently kill their officers in their fear and murder
one another in their confusion." "Nothing, I think, can hurt their
discipline--it is at its worst. They shall drink and swear, plunder and
murder, with any troops in Europe, the Cossacks and Calmucks themselves
not excepted." "If I stay much longer with the regiment I shall be
perfectly corrupt; the officers are loose and profligate and the
soldiers are very devils." He brought the 67th, however, into such a
condition that it remained a model regiment for years after he was gone.

Nor were the duties of a commanding officer in Scotland at that period
merely military. In the Highlands especially, he was employed in
quenching the smoking embers of rebellion, and in re-organizing the
country after the anarchy of civil war. Disarming had to be done, and
suppression of the Highland costume, which now marks the Queen's
favourite regiment, but then marked a rebel. This is bad, as well as
unworthy, work for soldiers, who have not the trained self-command which
belongs to a good police, and for which the Irish Constabulary are as
remarkable as they are for courage and vigour. Even Wolfe's sentiments
contracted a tinge of cruelty from his occupation. In one of his
subsequent letters he avows a design which would have led to the
massacre of a whole clan. "Would you believe that I am so bloody?" We do
not believe that he was so bloody, and are confident that the design, if
it was ever really formed, would not have been carried into effect. But
the passage is the most painful one in his letters. The net result of
his military administration, however, was that the people at Inverness
were willing to celebrate the Duke of Cumberland's birthday, though they
were not willing to comply with the insolent demand of Colonel Lord
Bury, who had come down to take the command for a short time, that they
should celebrate it on the anniversary of Culloden. It is a highly
probable tradition that the formation of Highland regiments was
suggested by Wolfe.

In a passage which we have quoted Wolfe glances at the awkward and
perilous position in which a young commander was placed in having to
control the moral habits of officers his equals in age, and to rebuke
the passions which mutinied in his own blood. He could hardly be
expected to keep himself immaculate. But he is always struggling to do
right and repentant when he does wrong. "We use a very dangerous freedom
and looseness of speech among ourselves; this by degrees makes
wickedness and debauchery less odious than it should be, if not
familiar, and sets truth, religion, and virtue at a great distance. I
hear things every day said that would shock your ears, and often say
things myself that are not fit to be repeated, perhaps without any ill
intention, but merely by the force of custom. The best that can be
offered in our defence is that some of us see the evil and wish to avoid
it." Among the very early letters there is one to his brother about
"pretty mantua makers," etc, but it is evidently nothing but a nominal
deference to the military immorality of the age. Once when on a short
visit to London, and away from the restraining responsibilities of his
command, Wolfe, according to his own account, lapsed into debauchery.
"In that short time I committed more imprudent acts than in all my life
before I lived in the idlest, [most] dissolute, abandoned manner that
could be conceived, and that not out of vice, which is the most
extraordinary part of it. I have escaped at length and am once more
master of my reason, and hereafter it shall rule my conduct; at least I
hope so." Perhaps the lapse may have been worse by contrast than in
itself. The intensity of pure affection which pervades all Wolfe's
letters is sufficient proof that he had never abandoned himself to
sensuality to an extent sufficient to corrupt his heart. The age was
profoundly sceptical, and if the scepticism had not spread to the army
the scoffing had. Wolfe more than once talks lightly of going to church
as a polite form; but he appears always to have a practical belief in

It is worthy of remark that a plunge into London dissipation follows
very close upon the disappointment of an honourable passion. Wolfe had a
certain turn of mind which favoured matrimony "prodigiously," and he had
fallen very much in love with Miss Lawson, Maid of Honour to the
Princess of Wales. But the old General and Mrs. Wolfe opposed the match
--apparently on pecuniary grounds. "They have their eye upon one of
L30,000." Miss Lawson had only L12,000. Parents had more authority then
than they have now, Wolfe was exceedingly dutiful, and he allowed the
old people, on whom, from the insufficiency of his pay, he was still
partly dependent, to break off the affair. Such at least seems to have
been the history of its termination. The way in which Wolfe records the
catastrophe, it must be owned, is not very romantic. "This last
disappointment in love has changed my natural disposition to such a
degree that I believe it is now possible that I might prevail upon
myself not to refuse twenty or thirty thousand pounds, if properly
offered. Rage and despair do not commonly produce such reasonable
effects; nor are they the instruments to make a man's fortune by but in
particular cases." It was long, however, before he could think of Miss
Lawson without a pang, and the sight of her portrait, he tells us, takes
away his appetite for some days.

At seven and twenty Wolfe left Scotland, having already to seven years'
experience of warfare added five years' experience of difficult command.
He is now able to move about a little and open his mind, which has been
long cramped by confinement in Highland quarters. He visits an old uncle
in Ireland, and, as one of the victors of Culloden, views with special
interest that field of the Boyne, where in the last generation Liberty
and Progress had triumphed over the House of Stuart. "I had more
satisfaction in looking at this spot than in all the variety that I have
met with; and perhaps there is not another piece of ground in the world
that I could take so much pleasure to observe." Then, though with
difficulty, he obtained the leave of the pipe-clay Duke to go to Paris.
There he saw the hollow grandeur of the decaying monarchy and the
immoral glories of Pompadour. "I was yesterday at Versailles, a cold
spectator of what we commonly call splendour and magnificence. A
multitude of men and women were assembled to bow and pay their
compliments in the most submissive manner to a creature of their own
species." He went into the great world, to which he gains admission with
an ease which shows that he has a good position, and tries to make up
his leeway in the graces by learning to fence, dance, and ride. He
wishes to extend his tour and see the European armies; but the Duke
inexorably calls him back to pipe-clay. It is proposed to him that he
should undertake the tutorship of the young Duke of Richmond on a
military tour through the Low Countries. But he declines the offer. "I
don't think myself quite equal to the task, and as for the pension that
might follow, it is very certain that it would not become me to accept
it. I can't take money from any one but the King, my master, or from
some of his blood."

Back, therefore, to England and two years more of garrison duty there.
Quartered in the high-perched keep of Dover where "the winds rattle
pretty loud" and cut off from the world without, as he says, by the
absence of newspapers or coffee houses, he employs the tedious hours in
reading while his officers waste them in piquet. The ladies in the town
below complain through Miss Brett to Mrs. Wolfe of the unsociality of
the garrison. "Tell Nannie Brett's ladies," Wolfe replies, "that if they
lived as loftily and as much in the clouds as we do, their appetites for
dancing or anything else would not be so keen. If we dress, the wind
disorders our curls; if we walk, we are in danger of our legs; if we
ride, of our necks." Afterwards, however, he takes to dancing to please
the ladies and apparently grows fond of it.

Among the High Tories of Devonshire he has to do a little more of the
work of pacification in which he had been employed in the Highlands. "We
are upon such terms with the people in general that I have been forced
to put on all my address, and employ my best skill to conciliate
matters. It begins to work a little favourably, but not certainly,
because the perverseness of these folks, built upon their disaffection,
makes the task very difficult. We had a little ball last night, to
celebrate His Majesty's birthday--purely military; that is the men were
all officers except one. The female branches of the Tory families came
readily enough, but not one man would accept the invitation because it
was the King's birthday. If it had not fallen in my way to see such an
instance of folly I should not readily be brought to conceive it." He
has once more to sully a soldier's sword by undertaking police duty
against the poor Gloucestershire weavers, who are on strike, and, as he
judges, not without good cause. "This expedition carries me a little out
of my road and a little in the dirt.... I hope it will turn out a good
recruiting party, for the people are so oppressed, so poor and so
wretched, that they will perhaps hazard a knock on the pate for bread
and clothes and turn soldiers through sheer necessity."

Chatham and glory are now at hand; and the hero is ready for the hour--
_Sed mors atra caput nigra, circumvolat umbra_. "Folks are
surprised to see the meagre, decaying, consumptive figure of the son,
when the father and mother preserve such good looks; and people are not
easily persuaded that I am one of the family. The campaigns of 1743, '4,
'5, '6, and '7 stripped me of my bloom, and the winters in Scotland and
at Dover have brought me almost to old age and infirmity, and this
without any remarkable intemperance. A few years more or less are of
very little consequence to the common run of men, and therefore I need
not lament that I am perhaps somewhat nearer my end than others of my
time. I think and write upon these points without being at all moved. It
is not the vapours, but a desire I have to be familiar with those ideas
which frighten and terrify the half of mankind that makes me speak upon
the subject of my dissolution."

The biographer aptly compares Wolfe to Nelson. Both were frail in body,
aspiring in soul, sensitive, liable to fits of despondency, sustained
against all weaknesses by an ardent zeal for the public service, and
gifted with the same quick eye and the same intuitive powers of command.
But it is also a just remark that there was more in Nelson of the love
of glory, more in Wolfe of the love of duty. "It is no time to think of
what is convenient or agreeable; that service is certainly the best in
which we are the most useful. For my part I am determined never to give
myself a moment's concern about the nature of the duty which His Majesty
is pleased to order us upon; and whether it is by sea or by land that we
are to act in obedience to his commands, I hope that we shall conduct
ourselves so as to deserve his approbation. It will be sufficient
comfort to you, too, as far as my person is concerned, at least it will
be a reasonable consolation, to reflect that the Power which has
hitherto preserved me may, if it be his pleasure, continue to do so; if
not, that it is but a few days or a few years more or less, and that
those who perish in their duty and in the service of their country die
honourably. I hope I shall have resolution and firmness enough to meet
every appearance of danger without great concern, and not be over
solicitous about the event." "I have this day signified to Mr. Pitt that
he may dispose of my slight carcass as he pleases, and that I am ready
for any undertaking within the reach and compass of my skill and
cunning. I am in a very bad condition both with the gravel and
rheumatism; but I had much rather die than decline any kind of service
that offers itself: if I followed my own taste it would lead me into
Germany, and if my poor talent was consulted they should place me in the
cavalry, because nature has given me good eyes and a warmth of temper to
follow the first impressions. However, it is not our part to choose but
to obey."

All know that the way in which Mr. Pitt pleased to dispose of the
"slight carcass" was by sending it to Rochefort, Louisburg, Quebec.
Montcalm, when he found himself dying, shut himself up with his
Confessor and the Bishop of Quebec, and to those who came to him for
orders said "I have business that must be attended to of greater moment
than your ruined garrison and this wretched country." Wolfe's last words
were, "Tell Colonel Baxter to march Webb's regiment down to Charles
River, to cut off their retreat from the Bridge. Now, God be praised, I
will die in peace."


[Footnote: Published in the _Contemporary Review_ as a reply to Mr.
Matthew Arnold's Essay on Falkland.]

We have the most unfeigned respect for the memory of Falkland. Carlyle's
sneer at him has always seemed to us about the most painful thing in the
writings of Carlyle. Our knowledge of his public life is meagre, and is
derived mainly from a writer under whose personal influence he acted,
who is specially responsible for the most questionable step that he
took, and on whose veracity, with regard to this portion of the history
not much reliance can be placed. But we cannot doubt his title to our
admiration and our love. Of his character as a friend, as a host, and as
the centre of a literary circle, we have a picture almost peerless in
social history. He seems to have presented in a very attractive form the
combination--rare now, though not rare in that age, especially among the
great Puritan chiefs--of practical activity and military valour with
high culture and a serious interest in great questions. Of his fine
feelings as a man of honour we have more than one proof. We have proof
equally strong of his self-sacrificing devotion to his country; though
in this he stood not alone: with his blood on the field of Newbury
mingled that of many an English yeoman, whose cheeks were as wet when he
left his Puritan home to die for the religion and liberties of England
as were those of Lord Falkland when he left the "lime-trees and violets"
of Great Tew.

Of political moderation, if it means merely steering a middle course
between two extremes, the praise is cheap, and would be shared by
Falkland with many weak and with many dishonest men. It may, without
disparagement, be remarked of him that his rank as a nobleman was almost
sufficient in itself, without any special soundness of understanding or
calmness of temperament, to prevent him from throwing himself headlong
either into an absolutist reaction which was identified with the
ascendency of upstart favourites, and contemners of the old nobility, or
into a popular revolution which soon disclosed its tendency to come into
collision with the privileged order, and which ended its parricidal
career by leaving England, during some of the most glorious years of her
history, destitute of a House of Lords. But as an adherent, and no doubt
a deliberate adherent, of Constitutional Monarchy, Falkland was in that
which in the upshot proved to be the right line of English progress,
though by no means the right line of progress for the whole world. The
Commonwealth is the ideal of America, where it is practicable, and it
alone. Constitutional Monarchy, as Falkland rightly judged, was the
highest attainable ideal for England, at any rate in that day. Of
attaining that ideal, of doing anything considerable towards its
attainment, or towards its defence against the powers of absolutist
reaction whose triumph would have rendered its attainment for ever
impossible, he was no more capable than he was of performing the labours
of Hercules.

In this he bears some resemblance to a man of incomparably greater
intellect than his. The fame of Bacon as a philosopher has eclipsed his
importance as a politician. But his ideal of an enlightened monarchy,
invested with plenary power, but always using its power in conformity
with law, and having a Verulam at its right hand, not only is grand and
worthy of the majestic intelligence from which it sprang, but is
entitled to a good deal of sympathy, when we consider how wanting in
enlightenment, how rough, how uncertain, how provoking to a trained and
instructed statesman the action of parliaments composed of country
gentlemen and meeting at long intervals, in an age when there were no
political newspapers or other general organs of political information,
could not fail sometimes to be. But Bacon, hampered by enfeebling
selfishness, as Falkland was by more generous defects, was incapable of
taking a single step toward the realization of his august vision, and
the result was, a miserable fall from the ethereal height to the feet of
a Somerset and a Buckingham.

As a theologian, Falkland appears to have been a Chillingworth on a very
small scale. It does not seem to us that Principal Tulloch, in his
interesting chapter on him, succeeds in putting him higher. But he
shared, with Chillingworth and Hales, the spirit of liberality and
toleration, for which both were nobly conspicuous, though Hales did not
show himself a very uncompromising champion of his principles when he
accepted preferment from the hands of their arch-enemy, Laud. The
learned men and religious philosophers whom Falkland gathered round him
at Tew, were among the best and foremost thinkers of their age: the
beauty of the group is marred, perhaps, only by the sinister intrusion
of Sheldon.

Mr. Matthew Arnold, in the very graceful sketch of Falkland's life
published by him in aid of the Falkland Memorial, has endowed his
favourite character with gifts far rarer and more memorable than those
of which we have spoken; with an extraordinary largeness and lucidity of
mind, with almost divine superiority to party narrowness and bias, with
conceptions anticipative of the most advanced philosophy of modern
times. He quotes the Dean of Westminster as affirming that "Falkland is
the founder, or nearly the founder, of the best and most enlightening
tendencies of the Church of England"--a statement which breeds
reflection as to the character of the Church of England during the
previous century, in the course of which its creed and liturgy were
formed. The evidence of these transactions lies wide; much of it is
still in the British Museum; and it may be possible to produce something
sufficient to sustain Falkland on the pinnacle on which Mr. Arnold and
the Dean of Westminster have placed him. But we cannot help surmising
that he has in some measure undergone the process which, in an age
prolific in historic fancies as well as pre-eminent in historic
research, has been undergone by almost every character in history--that
of being transmuted by a loving biographer, and converted into a sort of
ventriloquial apparatus through which the biographer preaches to the
present from the pulpit of the past. The philosophy ascribed to Falkland
is, we suspect, partly that of a teacher who was then in the womb of
time. We should not be extreme to mark this, if the praise of Falkland
had not been turned to the dispraise and even to the vilification of men
who are at least as much entitled to reverent treatment at the hands of
Englishmen as he is, and at the same time of a large body of English
citizens at the present day, who are the objects, we venture to think,
of a somewhat fanciful and somewhat unmeasured antipathy. Those who
subscribe to the Falkland Testimonial are collectively set down by Mr.
Arnold as the "amiable"--those who do not subscribe as the "unamiable."
Few, we trust, would be so careful of their money and so careless of
their reputation for moral beauty as to refuse to pay a guinea for a
certificate of amiability countersigned by Mr. Matthew Arnold. Yet even
the amiable might hesitate to take part in erecting a monument to the
honour of Falkland, if it was at the same time to be a monument to the
dishonour, of Luther, Gustavus, Walsingham, Sir John Eliot, Pym,
Hampden, Cromwell, Vane, and Milton. As to the Nonconformists, their
contributions are probably not desired: otherwise, accustomed to not
very courteous treatment though they are, it would still be imprudent to
warn them that their own "hideousness" was to be carved in the same
marble with the beauty of Lord Falkland.

On Luther, Hampden, and Cromwell, Mr. Arnold expressly bestows the name
of "Philistine," and if he bestows it on these he can hardly abstain
from bestowing it on the rest of those we have named. Milton, at all
events, has identified himself with Cromwell as thoroughly as one man
ever identified himself with another, and whatever aspersion is cast on
"Worcester's laureate wreath" must fall equally on the intermingling
bays. We may say this without pretending to know what the exact meaning
of "Philistine" now is. Originally, no doubt, it pointed to some
specific defect on the part of those with regard to whom it was used,
and possibly also on the part of those who used it. But with the fate
which usually attends the cant phrase of a clique, it seems to be
degenerating, by lavish application, into something which irritates
without conveying any definite instruction. As Luther did not live under
the same conditions as Heinrich Heine, perfect ethical identity was
hardly to be expected. "Simpleton" and "savage" have the advantage of
being intelligible to all, and when introduced into discussion with
grace, perhaps they may be urbane.

It is useless to attempt, without authentic materials, to fill in the
faint outline of an historic figure. But judging from such indications
as we have, we should be inclined to say that Falkland, instead of being
a man of extraordinarily serene and well-balanced mind, was rather
excitable and impulsive. His tones and gestures are vehement; where
another man would be content to protest against what he thought an
undeserved act of homage by simply keeping his hat on, Falkland rams his
down upon his head with both his hands. He goes most ardently with the
popular party through the early stages of the revolution; then he
somewhat abruptly breaks away from it, disgusted with its defects,
though they certainly did not exceed those of other parties under the
same circumstances, and feeling in himself no power to control it and
keep it in the right path. He is under the influence of others, first of
Hampden and then of Hyde, to an extent hardly compatible with the
possession of a mind of first-rate power. When he is taxed with
inconsistency for going round upon the Bill for removing the Bishops
from Parliament, his plea is that at the time when he voted for the Bill
"he had been persuaded by that worthy gentleman (Hampden) to believe
many things which he had since found to be untrue, and therefore he had
changed his opinion in many particulars as well to things as persons."
Hampden himself would hardly have been led by anybody's persuasions on
the great question of the day. Clarendon tells us that his friend, from
his experience of the Short Parliament, "contracted such a reverence for
Parliaments that he thought it really impossible they could ever produce
mischief or inconvenience to the kingdom." We always regard with some
suspicion Clarendon's artful touches, otherwise we should say that there
is a pretty brusque change from this unbounded reverence for the Short
Parliament to an appearance in arms against its successor, especially as
the leader and soul of both Parliaments was Pym.

In the prosecution of Strafford, Falkland showed such ardour that, as
Clarendon intimates, those who knew him not ascribed his behaviour to
personal resentment. His lips formulated the very doctrine so fatal to
the great accused, that a number of acts severally not amounting to high
treason might cumulatively support the charge. "How many haires'
breadths makes a tall man and how many makes a little man, noe man can
well say, yet we know a tall man when we see him from a low man; soe
'tis in this,--how many illegal acts make a treason is not certainly
well known, but we well know it when we see." Mr. Arnold says that
"alone amongst his party Falkland raised his voice against pressing
forward Strafford's impeachment with unfair or vindictive haste." That
is to say, when Pym proposed to the House, sitting with closed doors, at
once to carry up the impeachment to the Lords and demand the arrest of
Strafford without delay, Falkland, moved by his great, and, in all
ordinary cases, laudable respect for regularity of proceeding, proposed
first to have the charges formally drawn up by a committee. Falkland's
proposal was almost fatuous; it proves that the grand difference between
him and Pym was that Pym was a great man of action and that he was not.
It would have been about as rational to suggest that the lighted match
should not be taken out of the hand of Guy Fawkes till a committee had
formally reported on the probable effects of gunpowder if ignited in
large quantities beneath the chamber in which the Parliament was
sitting. Strafford would not have respected forms in the midst of what
he must have well known was a revolution. He would probably have struck
at the Commons if they had not struck at him; certainly he would have
placed himself beyond their reach; and the promptness of Pym's decision
saved the party and the country. No practical injustice was done by
wresting the sword out of Strafford's hand and putting him in safe
keeping till the charges could be drawn up in form, as they immediately
were. Falkland himself in proposing a committee avowed his conviction
that the grounds for the impeachment were perfectly sufficient. His name
does not appear among the Straffordians; and had he opposed the Bill of
Attainder it seems morally certain that Clarendon would have told us so.
The strength of this presumption is not impaired by any vague words of
Baxter coupling the name of Falkland with that of Digby as a seceder
from the party on the occasion of the Bill. Had Falkland voted with
Digby, his name would have appeared in the same list. That he felt
qualms and wavered at the last is very likely; but it is almost certain
that he voted for the Bill. There is some reason for believing that he
took the sterner, though probably more constitutional, line, on the
question of allowing the accused to be heard by counsel. But the
evidence is meagre and doubtful; and the difficulty of reading it aright
has been increased by the discovery that Pym and Hampden themselves were
against proceeding by Bill, and in favour of demanding judgment on the
impeachment. It seems certain, however, that Falkland pleaded against
extending the consequences of the Act of Attainder to Strafford's
children, and in this he showed himself a true gentleman.

Again, in the case of Laud, Mr. Arnold wishes to draw a strong line
between the conduct of his favourite and that of the savage "Puritans."
He says that Falkland "refused to concur in Laud's impeachment." If he
did, we must say he acted very inconsistently, for in his speech in
favour of the Bishops' Bill he violently denounced Laud as a
participator in Strafford's treason:--

"We shall find both of them to have kindled and blown the common fire of
both nations, to have both sent and maintained that book (of Canons) of
which the author, no doubt, hath long since wished with Nero, _Utinam
nescissem literas!_ and of which more than one kingdom hath cause to
wish that when he wrote that he had rather burned a library, though of
the value of Ptolemy's. We shall find them to have been the first and
principal cause of the breach, I will not say of, but since, the
pacification of Berwick. We shall find them to have been the almost sole
abettors of my Lord Strafford, whilst he was practising upon another
kingdom that manner of government which he intended to settle in this;
where he committed so many mighty and so manifest enormities and
oppressions as the like have not been committed by any governor in any
government since Verras left Sicily; and after they had called him over
from being Deputy of Ireland to be in a manner Deputy of England (all
things here being goverend by a junctillo and the junctillo goverend by
him) to have assisted him in the giving such counsels and the pursuing
such courses, as it is a hard and measuring cost whether they were more
unwise, more unjust, or more unfortunate, and which had infallibly been
our destruction if by the grace of God their share had not been a small
in the subtilty of serpents as in the innocency of doves."

We are not aware, however, of the existence of any positive proof that
Falkland did "refuse to concur" in the impeachment of Laud. There is
nothing, we believe, but the general statement of Clarendon that his
friend regarded with horror the storm gathering against the archbishop,
which the words of Falkland himself, just quoted, seem sufficient to
disprove. Mr. Arnold tells us that "Falkland disliked Laud; he had a
natural antipathy to his heat, fussiness, and arbitrary temper." He had
an antipathy to a good deal more in Laud than this, and expressed his
dislike in language which showed that he was himself not deficient in
heat when his religious feelings were aroused. He accused Laud and the
ecclesiastics of his party of having "destroyed unity under pretence of
uniformity;" of having "brought in Superstition and Scandal under the
titles of Reverence and Decency;" of having "defiled the Church by
adorning the churches," of having "destroyed as much of the Gospel as
they could without themselves being destroyed by the law." He compared
them to the hen in AEsop, fed too fat to lay eggs, and to dogs in the
manger, who would neither preach nor let others preach. He charged them
with checking instruction in order to introduce that religion which
accounts ignorance the mother of devotion. He endorsed the common belief
that one of them was a Papist at heart, and that only regard for his
salary prevented him from going over to Rome. All this uttered to a
Parliament in such a mood would hardly be in favour of gentle dealing
with the archbishop. But Pym and Hampden, as Clarendon himself admits,
never intended to proceed to extremities against the old man; they were
satisfied with having put him in safe keeping and removed him from the
councils of the King. When they were gone, the Presbyterians, to whom
the leadership of the Revolution then passed, took up the impeachment
and brought Laud to the block.

The parts were distributed among the leaders. To Falkland was entrusted
the prosecution of the Lord Keeper Finch; and this part he performed in
a style which thoroughly identifies him with the other leaders, and with
the general spirit of the movement at this stage of the Revolution. No
man, so far as we can see, did more to set the stone rolling; it was not
likely that, with his slender force, he would be able to stop it at once
in mid career.

In contrasting Falkland's line of conduct with that of the "Puritans,"
on the question of the Bishops' Bill and of the impeachment of Laud, Mr.
Arnold indicates his impression that all Puritans were on principle
enemies, and as a matter of course fanatical enemies, of Episcopacy. But
he will find that at this time many Puritans were Low Church
Episcopalians, wishing only to moderate the pretensions and curb the
authority of the Bishops. Episcopacy is not one of the grievances
protested against in the Millenary Petition Sir John Eliot appears to
have been as strong an Erastian as Mr. Arnold could desire.

It seems to us hardly possible to draw a sharp line of distinction in
any respect, except that of practical ability, between Falkland and
Hampden. Falkland failed to understand, while Hampden understood, the
character of the King and the full peril of the situation; that was the
real difference between the two men. The political and ecclesiastical
ideal of both in all probability was pretty much the same. Mr. Arnold
chooses to describe Hampden as "seeking the Lord about militia or ship-
money," and he undertakes to represent Jesus as "whispering to him with
benign disdain." Sceptics, to disprove the objective reality of the
Deity, allege that every man makes God in his own image. They might
perhaps find an indirect confirmation of their remark in the numerous
lives and portraitures of Christ which have appeared of late years, each
entirely different from the rest, and each stamped clearly enough with
the impress of an individual mind. But where has Hampden spoken of
himself as "seeking the Lord about militia or ship-money?" He appears to
have been a highly-educated man of the world. In one of his few
remaining letters there are recommendations to a friend, who had
consulted him about the education of his sons, which seem to blend
regard for religion with enlightened liberality of view. If he prayed
for support and guidance in his undertakings, surely he did no more than
Mr. Arnold himself practically recommends people to do when he urges
them to join the Established Church of England. Even should Mr. Arnold
light on an authentic instance of Scripture phraseology used by Hampden,
or any other Puritan chief, in a way which would now be against good
taste, his critical and historical sense will readily make allowance for
the difference between the present time and the time when the Bible was
a newly-recovered book, and when its language, on the believer's lips
and to the believer's ears, was still fresh as the dew of the morning.

It would be even more difficult to separate Falkland's general character
from that of Pym, of whose existence Mr. Arnold has shown himself
conscious by once mentioning his name. The political philosophy of Pym's
speeches is most distinctly constitutional, and we do not see that in
point of breadth or dignity they leave much to be desired, while they
unquestionably express, in the fullest manner, the mind of a leader of
the Puritan party.

Whoever contrasts Falkland with the Puritans will have to encounter the
somewhat untoward fact that in his speech against the High Church
Bishops, Falkland, if he does not actually call himself a Puritan, twice
identifies the Puritan cause with his own. Among the bad objects which
he accuses the clergy of advocating in their sermons is "the demolishing
of Puritanism and propriety" Again he cries--

"Alas! they whose ancestors in the darkest times excommunicated the
breakers of Magna Charta do now by themselves, and their adherents, both
write, preach, plot, and act against it, by encouraging Dr. Beale, by
preferring Dr. Mainwaring, appearing forward for monopolies and ship-
money, and if any were slow and backward to comply, blasting both them
and their preferment with the utmost expression of their hatred--the
title of Puritans."

These words may help to make Mr. Arnold aware, when he mows down the
Puritan party with some trenchant epithet, how wide the sweep of his
scythe is, and the same thing will be still more distinctively brought
before him by a perusal (if he has not already perused it) of the
chapter on the subject in Mr. Sandford's "Studies and Illustrations of
the Great Rebellion." It can hardly be necessary to remind him, or any
one else, of the portrait of one who was a most undoubted Puritan, drawn
by Lucy Hutchinson. If this portrait betrays the hand of a wife,
Clarendon's portrait of Falkland betrays the hand of a friend, and even
a beloved husband is not more likely to be the object of exaggerated,
though sincere praise, than the social head and the habitual host of a
circle of literary men. At all events Lucy Hutchinson is painting what
she thought a perfect Puritan would be; and her picture presents to us,
not a coarse, crop-eared, and snuffling fanatic, but a highly
accomplished, refined, gallant, and most "amiable," though religious and
seriously-minded gentleman. The Spencerian school of sentiment seems to
Mr. Arnold very lovely compared with the men of the New Model Army and
their ways. In the general of the New Model Army, Sir Thomas Fairfax, he
has a distinct, and we venture to say very worthy, pupil of that school.

Over the most questionable as well as the most momentous passage in
Falkland's public life, his admirer passes with a graceful literary
movement. Falkland was sworn in as a Privy Councillor three days before,
and as Secretary of State, four days after, the attempt of the King to
seize the Five Members. He was thus, in outward appearance at least,
brought into calamitous connection with an act which, as Clarendon sees,
was the signal for civil war. Clarendon vehemently disclaims for himself
and his two friends any knowledge of the King's design. So far as the
more violent part of the proceeding is concerned, we can easily believe
him; a woman mad with vindictive arrogance inspired it, and nobody
except a madman would have been privy to it; but it is not so easy to
believe him with regard to the impeachment, which was in fact an attempt
to take the lives of the King's enemies by arraigning them before a
political tribunal, hostile to them and favourable to their accuser,
instead of bringing them to a fair and legal trial before a jury. By
accepting the Secretaryship, Falkland at all events assumed a certain
measure of responsibility after the fact for a proceeding which, we
repeat, rendered civil war inevitable, because it must have convinced
the popular leaders that to put faith in Charles with such councillors
as he had about him would be insanity; and that if they allowed
Parliament to rise and the Kong to resume the power of the sword, not
only would all their work of reform be undone, but the fate of Sir John
Eliot would be theirs. Clarendon owns that Hampden's carriage from that
day was changed, implying that up to that day it had been temperate; and
the insinuation that, beneath the cloak of apparent moderation, Hampden
had been secretly breathing counsels of violence into the minds of
others deserves no attention, when it comes from a hostile source. Of
the purity of Falkland's motives we entertain not the shadow of a doubt;
but we venture to think that it is very questionable whether he did
right, and this not only on grounds of technical constitutionalism,
which in the present day would render imperative the retirement of a
Minister whose advice had been so flagrantly disregarded, but on grounds
of the most broadly practical kind. He forfeited for ever, not only any
influence which he might have retained over the popular leaders, and any
access which he might have had to them in their more pacific mood, but
probably all real control over the King. Charles was the very last man
whom you could afford to allow in the slightest degree to tamper with
your honour. It is surely conceivable that the recollection of an
unfortunate step, and the sense of a false position, may have mingled
with the sorrow caused by the public calamities in the melancholy which
drove Falkland to cast away his life.

In the Civil War Falkland was always "ingeminating _Peace, Peace_".
Our hearts are with him, but it was of no use. It is an unhappy part of
civil wars that there can be no real peace till one party has succumbed:
compromise only leads to a renewal of the conflict. There is sense as
well as dignity in the deliberate though mournful acceptance of
necessity, and the determination to play out the part which could not be
declined, expressed in the letter written at the outbreak of the
conflict by the Parliamentarian, Sir William Waller, to a personal
friend in the other camp:

"My affections to you are so unchangeable that hostility itself cannot
violate my friendship to your person; but I must be true to the cause
wherein I serve. The great God, who is the searcher of my heart, knows
with what reluctance I go upon this service, and with what perfect
hatred I look upon a war without an enemy. The God of peace, in His good
time, sent us peace, and in the meantime fit us to receive it! We are
both on the stage, and we must act the parts that are assigned us in
this tragedy. Let us do it in a way of honour, and without personal

A man in this frame of mind, we submit, was likely to get to the end of
a civil war more speedily than a man in the mood, amiable as it was, of

Perhaps, after all, the failure, the inevitable failure of Falkland's
passionate pleadings for peace may have saved him from a worse doom than
death on the field even of civil war. In the case of the Five Members,
the King had shown how little regard he had, at least how little regard
the mistress of his councils had, for the honour of his advisers. The
pair might have used Falkland to lure by the pledge of his high
character the leaders of the Parliament into the acceptance of a treaty?
which the King, with his notions of divine right, and the Queen with her
passionate love of absolute power, would, there can be little doubt,
have violated as soon as the army of the Parliament had been disbanded,
and the power of the sword had returned into the King's hands. Falkland
might have even seen the scaffold erected, through the prostitution of
his own honour, for the men whose ardent associate he had been in the
overthrow of government by prerogative and in the impeachment of

Flinging epithets at Cromwell is a very harmless indulgence of
sentiment. His memory has passed unscathed even through the burning
eloquence which, from the pulpit of the Restoration, denounced him as
"wearing a bad hat, and that not paid for." Since research has placed
him before us as he really was, the opinion has been gaining ground that
he was about the greatest human force ever directed to a moral purpose;
and in that sense, about the greatest man, take him all in all, that
ever trod the scene of history. If his entire devotion to his cause, his
valour, his magnanimity, his clemency, his fidelity to the public
service, his domestic excellence and tenderness are not "conduct," all
we can say is, so much the worse for "conduct." The type to which his
character belonged, in common with the whole series of historic types,
had in it something that was special and transitory, combined with much
that, so far as we see, was universal and will endure for ever. It is in
failing to note the special and transitory element, and the limitations
which it imposed on the hero's greatness, that Carlyle's noble biography
runs into poetry, and departs from historic truth. To supply this defect
is the proper work of rational criticism; but the criticism which begins
with "Philistine" is not likely to be very rational.

The objection urged by Bolingbroke against Cromwell's foreign policy, on
the ground that to unite with France, which was gaining strength,
against Spain, which was beginning to decline, was not the way to
maintain the balance of power in Europe, is once more reproduced as
though it had not been often brought forward and answered. Cromwell was
not bound to trouble his head about such a figment of a special
diplomacy as the balance of power any more than Shakespeare was bound to
trouble his head about Voltaire's rules for the drama. He was the chief
and the defender of Protestantism, and as such he was naturally led to
ally himself with France, which was comparatively liberal, against
Spain, which was the great organ of the Catholic reaction. An alliance
with Spain was a thing impossible for a Puritan. Looking to the narrower
interest of England, much more was to be gained by a war with Spain than
by a war with France, because by a war with Spain an entrance was forced
for English enterprise through the barriers which Spanish monopoly had
raised against commercial enterprise in America. The security of England
appears, in Cromwell's judgment, to have depended on her intrinsic
strength, which no one can doubt that, under extraordinary
disadvantages, he immensely increased, rather than on the maintenance of
a European equilibrium which, as the number of the powers increased,
became palpably impracticable. It may be added, that the incipient
decline of the double-headed House of Austria, if it is visible to our
eyes as we trace back the course of events, can hardly have been visible
to any eye at that time, and, what is still more to the purpose, that
the dangerous ascendency of Louis XIV. resulted in great measure from
the betrayal of England by Charles II., and would have been impossible
had, we will not say a second Cromwell, but a Protestant or patriotic
monarch, sat on the Protector's throne.

Bolingbroke suggests, and Mr. Arnold embraces the suggestion, that
Charles I., by making war on France, showed himself more sagacious with
regard to foreign policy than Cromwell. But Mr. Arnold, in recommending
Bolingbroke's philosophy to a generation which he thinks has too much
neglected it, has discreetly warned us to let his history alone. Charles
I., or rather Buckingham, in whose hands Charles was a puppet, made war
on Spain, though in the most incapable manner, and with a most
ignominious result: he at one time lent the French Government English
ships to be used against the Protestants of Rochelle, whose resistance,
apart from the religious question, was the one great obstacle to the
concentration of the French power; and though he subsequently quarrelled
with France, few will believe--assuredly Clarendon did not believe--that
among the motives for the change, policy of any kind predominated over
the passions and the vanity of the favourite. That Cromwell would have
lent a steady and effective support to the Protestants, and thus have
prevented the concentration of the French power, is as certain as any
unfulfilled contingency can be.

Mr. Arnold is evidently anxious to bring Bolingbroke into fashion. "Hear
Bolingbroke upon the success of Puritanism." Hear Lovelace on Dr.
Johnson; one critic would be about as edifying as the other.
Bolingbroke, a sceptical writer and a scoffer at Anglican doctrine, to
say nothing about his morals, allied himself for party purposes with the
fanatical clergy of the Anglican Establishment, well represented by
Sacheverel, and, to gratify his allies, passed as Minister persecuting
laws, about the last of the series, against Nonconformists. This,
perhaps, is a proof in a certain way, of philosophic largeness of view.
But if Bolingbroke is to be commended to ingenuous youth as a guide
superior to party narrowness or bias, it may be well to remember the
passage of his letter to Sir William Wyndham, in which he very frankly
describes his own aims, and those of his confederates on their accession
to office, admitting that "the principal spring of their actions was to
have the government of the State in their hands, and that their
principal views were the conservation of this power, great employments
to themselves, and great opportunities of rewarding those who had helped
to raise them, and of hurting those who stood in opposition to them;"
though he has the grace to add that with these considerations of party
and private interest were intermingled some which had for their object
the public good. In another place he avows that he and his party
designed "to fill the employments of the kingdom down to the meanest
with Tories," by which they would have anticipated, and, indeed, by
anticipation outdone, the vilest and most noxious proceeding of the
coarsest demagogue who ever climbed to power on the shoulders of faction
in the United States. It may be instructive to compare with this the
principles upon which public employments were distributed by Cromwell.

It would be out of place to discuss the whole question of the
Protector's administration by way of reply to a passing thrust of
antipathy. But when judgment is pronounced on his external policy, his
critics ought not to leave out of consideration the Union of Scotland
and Ireland with England, successfully accomplished by him, repealed by
the Restoration, and, like not a few of his other measures, revived and
ratified by posterity, after a delay fraught with calamitous
consequences in both cases, and which, in the case of Ireland, may
perhaps even yet prove fatal.

We cannot help remarking, however, that the ecclesiastical policy of the
Protectorate was one which it would be most inconsistent on the part of
Mr. Arnold and those who hold the same view with him to decry. It was a
national church (to prevent the hasty abolition of which, seems to have
been Cromwell's main reason for dissolving the Barebones Parliament)
with the largest possible measure of comprehension. To us the weak
points of such a policy appear manifest enough, but by Mr. Arnold and
those of his way of thinking it ought, if we mistake not, to be
respected as an anticipation of their own deal.

Of one great and irretrievable error Cromwell was guilty--he died before
his hour. That his government was taking root is clear from the bearing
of Mazarin and Don Lewis De Haro, sufficiently cool judges, towards the
Stuart Pretender. The Restoration was a reaction not against the
Protectorate but against the military anarchy which ensued. Had Cromwell
lived ten years longer, or had his marshals been true to his successor,
to his cause, and to their own fortunes, there would have been an end of
the struggle against Stuart prerogative, the spirit of Laud would have
been laid for ever; the temporal power of ecclesiastics would have
troubled no more; the Union with Scotland and Ireland would have
remained unbroken; and the genuine representation of the people embodied
in the Instrument of Government would have continued to exist, in the
place of rotten boroughs, the sources of oligarchy and corruption, of
class government and class wars. Let us philosophize about general
causes as much as we will, untoward accidents occur: the loss of Pym and
Hampden in the early part of the Revolution, and that of Cromwell at its
close, may be fairly reckoned as accidents, and they were untoward in
the highest degree.

No doubt, while Falkland fits perfectly into the line of English
progress and takes his place with obvious propriety among the Saints of
Constitutionalism in the vestibule of the House of Commons, while even
Hampden finds admission as the opponent of ship-money, the kind veil of
oblivion being drawn over the part he played as a leader in the
Revolution, Cromwell, though his hold over the hearts of the English
people is growing all the time, remains in an uncovenanted condition.
The problem of his statue is still, and, so far as England is concerned,
seems likely long to be, unsolved. Put him high or low, in the line of
kings or out of it, he is hopelessly incongruous, incommensurable, and
out of place. He is in fact the man of the New World; his institutions
in the main embody the organic principles of New World society: at
Washington, not at Westminster should be his statue.

What Puritanism did for England, and what credit is due to it as an
element of English character, are questions which cannot be settled by
mere assertion, on our side at least. In its highest development, and at
the period of its greatest men, it was militant, and everything militant
is sure to bear evil traces of the battle. For that reason Christianity
has always been in favour of peace and goodwill; let the Regius
Professor of Theology at Oxford, in his Christian philosophy of war, be
as ingenious and as admirable as he may. But sometimes it is necessary
to accept the arbitrament of the sword. It was necessary at Marathon, on
the plain of Tours, on the waters which bore the Armada, at Lutzen, at
Marston, at Leipsic, at Gettysburg. Darius, the Moors, Philip II.,
Wallenstein, Prince Rupert, Bonaparte, the Slave-owners, did not offer
you the opportunity which you would so gladly have embraced, of a
tranquil and amicable discussion among lime-trees and violets. On each
occasion the cause of human progress drew along with it plenty of mud
and slime, nevertheless it was the cause of human progress. On each
occasion the wrong side no doubt had its Falklands, nevertheless it was
the wrong side.

In the beginning of the seventeenth century the Reformation was brought
to the verge of destruction. When Wallenstein sat down before Stralsund
everything was gone but England, Holland, Sweden, and some cantons of
Switzerland. In England the stream of reaction was running strong;
Holland could not have stood by herself; Sweden was nothing as a power,
though it turned out that she had a man. Fortunately the Lambeth Popedom
and the Royal Supremacy prevented the English division of the army of
Reaction from getting into line with the other divisions and compelled
it to accept decisive battle on a separate field against the most
formidable soldiers of the Reformation. These soldiers saved
Protestantism, which was their first object, and they saved English
liberty into the bargain. We who have come after can stand by the
battlefield, pouncet-box in hand, and sniff and sneer as much as we

Great Tew was an anticipation, for ever beautiful and memorable, of the
time when all swords shall be sheathed, and the world shall have entered
into final peace. But in its philosophy there were, as the world then
was, two defects; it did not reach the people, and it was incapable of
protecting its own existence. Laud himself did not care to crush it; he
was an ecclesiastical despot rather than a theological bigot; he had a
genuine respect for learned men; he preferred winning them by gracious
words and preferment to coercing them with the pillory and the shears.
But had Laud's system prevailed, there would soon have been an end of
the philosophy of Great Tew. Mr. Arnold points to the free thought of
Bacon. Nobody in those days scented mischief in the inductive
philosophy, while in politics and religion Bacon was scrupulously
orthodox. Cromwell's faith was a narrower and coarser thing by far than
that of the inmates of the "college in a purer air;" but it brought
religion and morality--not the most genial or rational morality, but
still morality--into the cottage as well as into the manor-house, and it
was able to protect its own existence When it had mounted to power in
the person of its chief, the opinions of Great Tew, and all opinions
that would abstain from trying to overthrow the Government and restore
the tyranny, enjoyed practically larger and more assured liberty than
they had ever enjoyed in England before or were destined to enjoy for
many a year to come. Falkland, says Mr. Arnold, was in the grasp of
_fatality, hence the transcendent interest that attaches to him_.
Cromwell, happily for his cause and for his country, was, or felt
himself to be, not in the grasp of fatality but in the hand of God.

Might we not have done just as well without Puritanism? Might not some
other way have been found of preserving the serious element in English
character and saving English liberty from those who were conspiring for
its destruction? Such questions as these may be asked without end, and
they may be answered by any one who is endowed with a knowledge of men
who were never born, and of events that have never happened. Might not a
way have been found of rescuing the great interests of humanity without
Greek resistance to Persian invasion, or German resistance to the
tyranny of Bonaparte? Suppose in place of the Puritan chiefs there had
been raised up by miracle a set of men at once consummate soldiers and
perfect philosophers, who would have fought and won the battle without
being heated by the conflict. Suppose, to prevent the necessity of any
conflict at all, Charles, Strafford, and Laud had voluntarily abandoned
their designs. As it was, Puritanism did, and alone could do, the work.
What the Renaissance would have been without Puritan morality we can
pretty well guess from the experience of Italy. It would have probably
been like the life of Lorenzo--vice, filthy vice, decorated with art and
with elegant philosophy; an academy under the same roof with a brothel.
There were ages before morality, and there have been ages between the
moralities. There was, in England, an age between the decline of the
Catholic morality and the rise of the Puritan, marked by a laxity of
conduct, public and private, which was partly redeemed but not
neutralized by Elizabethan genius and enterprise. No doubt when the
revival came, there was a High Church as well as a Puritan morality, and
that fact ought always to be borne in mind; but the High Church morality
was inextricably bound up with sacerdotal superstition and with absolute
government; it had no hold on the people; and it found itself
suspiciously at home in the Court of James, in the households of
Somerset and Buckingham, and in the tribunal which lent itself to the
divorce of Essex.

That the Puritan Revolution was followed by a sacerdotal and sensualist
reaction is too true: all revolutions are followed by reactions; it is
one great reason for avoiding them. But let it be remembered, first,
that the disbanded soldiers of the Commonwealth and the other relics of
the Puritan party still remained the most moral and respectable element
in the country; and secondly, that the period of lassitude which follows
great efforts, whether of men or nations, is not altogether the
condemnation of the effort, but partly the weakness of humanity. Nations
as well as men, if they aim high, must sometimes overstrain themselves,
and weariness must ensue. Nor did the Commonwealth of England come to
nothing, though in a society not half emancipated from feudalism it was
premature, and therefore, at the time, a failure. It opened a glimpse of
a new order of things: it was the first example of a great national
republic, the republics of antiquity having been at once city republics
and republics of slave-owners: it not only heralded but, to some extent,
prepared the American and even the French Revolution. In its sublime
death-song, chanted by the great Puritan poet, our ears catch the
accents of a hope that did not die.

The Restoration was the end of the Puritan party, which thenceforth
separated into two portions, the high political element taking the form
of Whiggism, while the more religious element was represented in
subsequent history by the Nonconformists. Under the Marian reaction
Protestantism had been saved, and the errors which it had committed in
its hour of ascendency had been redeemed by the champions, drawn mostly
from the humbler classes, who suffered for it at the stake. Under the
Restoration it was again saved, and the errors which it had once more
committed in the hour of political triumph were once more redeemed by
martyrs of the same class, whose sufferings in the noisome and
pestilential prisons of that day were probably not much less severe than
the pangs of those who died by fire. Both in the Marian and in the
Restoration martyrs of Protestantism there was no doubt much that was
irrational and unattractive; yet the record of their services to
humanity remains, and will remain; let the free-thought of modern times,
for which their self-devoting loyalty to such truth as they knew made
way, be grateful or ungrateful to them as it will.

The relations of Nonconformity, with which we must couple Scotch
Presbyterianism, its partner in fundamental doctrine, its constant ally
in the conflict, and fellow-sufferer in the hour of adversity, to
English religion, morality, industry, education, philanthropy, science,
and to the English civilization in general, would be a most important
and instructive chapter in English history, but we are hardly called
upon to attempt to write it in refutation of jocose charges of
"hideousness" and "immense ennui." A sufficient answer to such quips and
cranks will be found, we believe, within the same covers with Mr.
Arnold's "Falkland," in the shape of an article on the Pulpit, by Mr.
Baldwin Brown, which in tone and culture appears to us a fit companion
for any other paper in the journal.

That Nonconformity has been political is true. Fortunately for the
liberties of England it has had to struggle for civil right in order to
obtain religious freedom. No doubt in the course of the conflict it has
contracted a certain gloominess of character, and shown an unamiable
side. Treat men with persistent and insolent injustice, strip them of
their rights as citizens, put on them a social brand, compel them to pay
for the maintenance of the pulpits from which their religion is
assailed, and you will run a very great risk of souring their tempers.
But without rehearsing disagreeable details, we may say generally that
whoever should undertake to prove that the Established Church had not
been, from the hour of her birth down to the last general election, at
least as political as the Free Churches, and at least as responsible for
the evils which political religion has brought upon the nation, would
show considerable confidence in his powers of dealing with history.
Could he find a parallel on the side of the Established Church to the
magnanimous loyalty to national interests shown by Nonconformists, in
rejecting the bribe offered them by James II., and supporting their
persecutors against an illegal toleration? Could he find a parallel on
the side of the Nonconformists to the conduct of the Established Church,
in turning round, the moment the victory had been won by Nonconformist
aid, and recommencing the persecution of the Nonconformists?

We fully agree with Mr. Arnold, however, in thinking that political
Nonconformity is an evil. There are two known modes of getting rid of
it--the Spanish Inquisition and religious equality. Mr. Arnold seems to
think that there is yet a third--general submission, in matters
theological and ecclesiastical, to the gentle sway of Beau Nash.

Religious equality in the United States may not be perfect unity, it may
not be the height of culture or of grace, but at all events it is peace.
Ultramontanism there, as everywhere else, is aggressive, and a source of
disturbance; and, on the other hand, in the struggle against slavery,
political and religious elements were inevitably intermingled, but as a
rule politics are kept perfectly clear of religion. Saving in the case
of Roman Catholicism, we cannot call to mind a single instance of a
serious appeal in an election to sectarian feeling. Much as we have
heard of the two candidates for the Presidency, we could not at this
moment tell to what Church either of them belongs. Where no Church is
privileged, there can be no cause for jealousy. The Churches dwell side
by side, without disturbing the State with any quarrels; they are all
alike loyal to the government; they unite in supporting a system of
popular education which generally includes a certain element of
unsectarian religion, they combine for social and philanthropic objects;
they testify, by their common celebration of national thanksgivings and
fasts their unity at all events as portions of the same Christian
nation. So far as we know, controversy between them is very rare; there
is more of it within the several Churches between their own more
orthodox and more liberal members. In none does it rage more violently
than in the Episcopal Church, though, under religious equality,
irreconcilable disagreement on religious questions leads to seccession,
not to mutual lawsuits and imprisonments.

Mr. Arnold says in praise of Falkland that "he was profoundly serious."
We presume he means not only that Falkland treated great questions in a
serious way, without unseasonable quizzing, but that he was, in the
words quoted from Clarendon in the next sentence, "a precise lover of
truth, and superior to all possible temptations for its violation." The
temptations, we presume, would have included those of taste or fancy, as
well as those of the more obvious kind; and Falkland's paramount regard
for truth would have extended to all his fellow-men as well as to
himself and his own intellectual circle. He would never, we are
confident, have advised any human being to separate religion from truth,
he would never have suffered himself to intimate that truth was the
property of a select circle, while "poetry" was good enough for the
common people, he would never have encouraged thousands of clergymen,
educated men with sensitive consciences, to go on preaching to their
flocks from the pulpit, on grounds of social convenience, doctrines
which they repudiated in the study, and derided in the company of
cultivated men, he would never have exhorted people to enter from
aesthetic considerations a spiritual society of which, in the same
breath, he proclaimed the creeds to be figments, the priesthood to be an
illusion, the sacred narratives to be myths, and the Triune God to be a
caricature of Lord Shaftesbury multiplied by three. If he had done so,
and if his propagandism had been successful, we suspect he would soon
have produced an anarchy, not only religious but social, compared with
which the most chaotic periods of the Revolution would have been harmony
and order. In the days of the Antonines, to which Gibbon looks back so
wistfully, opinion had little influence; the organic forces of society
were of a more primitive and a coarser kind. In modern times if a writer
could succeed in separating truth from religion, he would shake the
pillars of the moral and social as well as the intellectual world.

That religion is inseparable from truth is the strong and special
tradition of the Nonconformists. Their history has been a long struggle
for the rights of conscience against spurious authority, an authority
which we believe Mr. Arnold holds to be spurious as well as they. This
is not altogether a bad start in the pursuit of the truth for which the
world now craves, and which, we cordially admit, lies beyond the
existing creed of any particular Church. At all events, it would seem
improvident to merge such an element of religious inquiry in that of
which the tradition is submission to spurious authority, whatever
advantages the latter may have in social, literary, and aesthetic
respects. Not a generation has yet passed since the admission of
Nonconformists to the Universities; and more than a generation is needed
in order to attain the highest culture. Give the Free Churches time, and
let us see whether they have not something better to give us in return
than "hideousness" and "immense ennui."


Our readers need not be afraid that we are going to bore them with the
Slavery Question or the Civil War. We deal here not with the Martyr
President, but with Abe Lincoln in embryo, leaving the great man at the
entrance of the grand scene. Mr. Ward H. Lamon has published a biography
[Footnote: The Life of Abraham Lincoln from his Birth to his
Inauguration as President. By Ward H. Lamon. Boston: James R. Osgood &
Co. 1872] which enables us to do this, and which, besides containing a
good deal that is amusing, is a curious contribution to political
science, as illustrating, by a world-renowned instance, the origin of
the species Politician. The materials for it appear to be drawn from the
most authentic sources, and to have been used with diligence, though in
point of form the book leaves something to be desired. We trust it and
the authorities quoted in it for our facts.

After the murder, criticism, of course, was for a time impossible.
Martyrdom was followed by canonization, and the popular heart could not
be blamed for overflowing in hyperbole. The fallen chief "was
Washington, he was Moses, and there were not wanting even those who
likened him to the God and Redeemer of all the earth. These latter
thought they discovered in his early origin, his kindly nature, his
benevolent precepts, and the homely anecdotes in which he taught the
people, strong points of resemblance between him and the Divine Son of
Mary." A halo of myth naturally gathered round the cradle of this new
Moses--for we will not pursue the more extravagant and offensive
parallel which may serve as a set-off against that which was drawn by
English Royalists between the death of Charles I. and the Crucifixion.
Among other fables, it was believed that the President's family had fled
from Kentucky to Indiana to escape the taint of Slavery. Thomas Lincoln,
the father of Abraham, was migratory enough, but the course of his
migrations was not determined by high moral motives, and we may safely
affirm that had he ever found himself among the fleshpots of Egypt, he
would have stayed there, however deep the moral darkness might have
been. He was a thriftless "ne'er do weel," who had very commonplace
reasons for wandering away from the miserable, solitary farm in
Kentucky, on which his child first formed a sad acquaintance with life
and nature, and which, as it happened, was not in the slave-owning
region of the State. His decision appears to have been hastened by a
"difficulty," in which he bit off his antagonist's nose--an incident to
which it would be difficult to find a parallel in the family histories
of Scripture heroes, or even in those of the Sainted Fathers of the
Republic. He drifted to Indiana, and in a spot which was then an almost
untrodden wilderness, built a _casa santa_, which his connection,
Dennis Hanks, calls "that darned little half-faced camp"--a dwelling
enclosed on three sides and open on the fourth, without a floor, and
called a camp, it seems, because it was made of poles, not of logs. He
afterwards exchanged the "camp" for the more ambitious "cabin," but his
cabin, was "a rough, rough log one," made of unhewn timber, and without
floor, door or window. In this "rough, rough," abode, his lanky, lean-
visaged, awkward and somewhat pensive though strong, hearty and patient
son Abraham had a "rough, rough" life, and underwent experiences which,
if they were not calculated to form a Pitt or a Turgot, were calculated
to season an American politician, and make him a winner in the tough
struggle for existence, as well as to identify him with the people,
faithful representation of whose aims, sentiments, tastes, passions and
prejudices was the one thing needful to qualify him for obtaining the
prize of his ambition. "For two years Lincoln (the father) continued to
live alone in the old way. He did not like to farm, and he never got
much of his land under cultivation. His principal crop was corn; and
this, with the game which a rifleman so expert would easily take from
the woods around him, supplied his table." It does not appear that he
employed any of his mechanical skill in completing and furnishing his
own cabin. It has already been stated that the latter had no window,
door or floor. "But the furniture, if it might be called furniture, was
even worse than the house. Three-legged stools served for chairs. A
bedstead was made of poles stuck in the cracks of the logs in one corner
of the cabin, while the other end rested in the crotch of a forked stick
stuck in the earthen floor. On these were laid some boards, and on the
boards a shake-down of leaves, covered with skins and old petticoats.
The table was a hewed puncheon supported by four legs. They had a few
pewter and tin dishes to eat from, but the most minute inventory of
their effects makes no mention of knives or forks. Their cooking
utensils were a Dutch oven and a skillet. Abraham slept in the loft, to
which he ascended by means of pins driven into holes in the wall." Of
his father's disposition, Abraham seems to have inherited at all events
the dislike to labour, though his sounder moral nature prevented him
from being an idler. His tendency to politics came from the same element
of character as his father's preference for the rifle. In after life we
are told his mind "was filled with gloomy forebodings and strong
apprehensions of impending evil, mingled with extravagant visions of
personal grandeur and power." His melancholy, characterized by all his
friends as "terrible," was closely connected with the cravings of his
demagogic ambition, and the root of both was in him from a boy.

In the Indiana cabin Abraham's mother, whose maiden name was Nancy
Hanks, died, far from medical aid, of the epidemic called milk sickness.
She was preceded in death by her relatives, the Sparrows, who had
succeeded the Lincolns in the "camp," and by many neighbours, whose
coffins Thomas Lincoln made out of "green lumber cut with a whip saw."
Upon Nancy's death he took to his green lumber again and made a box for
her. "There were about twenty persons at her funeral. They took her to
the summit of a deeply wooded knoll, about half a mile south-east of the
cabin, and laid her beside the Sparrows. If there were any burial
ceremonies, they were of the briefest. But it happened that a few months
later an itinerant preacher, named David Elkin, whom the Lincolns had
known in Kentucky, wandered into the settlement, and he either
volunteered or was employed to preach a sermon, which should commemorate
the many virtues and pass over in silence the few frailties of the poor
woman who slept in the forest. Many years later the bodies of Levi Hall
and his wife (relatives), were deposited in the same earth with that of
Mr. Lincoln. The graves of two or three children, belonging to a
neighbour's family, are also near theirs. They are all crumbled, sunken
and covered with wild vines in deep and tangled mats. The great trees
were originally cut away to make a small cleared space for this
primitive graveyard; but the young dogwoods have sprung up unopposed in
great luxuriance, and in many instances the names of pilgrims to the
burial place of the great Abraham Lincoln's mother are carved on their
bark. With this exception, the spot is wholly unmarked. The grave never
had a stone, nor even a board, at its head or its foot, and the
neighbours still dispute as to which of these unsightly hollows contains
the ashes of Nancy Lincoln." If Democracy in the New World sometimes
stones the prophets, it is seldom guilty of building their sepulchres.
Out of sight, off the stump, beyond the range of the interviewer, heroes
and martyrs soon pass from the mind of a fast-living people; and weeds
may grow out of the dust of Washington. But in this case what neglect
has done good taste would have dictated; it is well that the dogwoods
are allowed to grow unchecked over the wilderness grave.

Thirteen months after the death of his Nancy, Thomas Lincoln went to
Elizabethtown, Kentucky, and suddenly presented himself to Mrs. Sally
Johnston, who had in former days rejected him for a better match, but
had become a widow. "Well, Mrs. Johnston, I have no wife and you have no
husband, I came a purpose to marry you. I knowed you from a gal and you
knowed me from a boy. I have no time to lose, and if you are willin',
let it be done straight off." "Tommy, I know you well, and have no
objection to marrying you; but I cannot do it straight off, as I owe
some debts that must first be paid." They were married next morning, and
the new Mrs. Lincoln, who owned, among other wondrous household goods, a
bureau that cost forty dollars, and who had been led, it seems, to
believe that her new husband was reformed and a prosperous farmer, was
conveyed with her bureau to the smiling scene of his reformation and
prosperity. Being, however, a sensible Christian woman, she made the
best of a bad bargain, got her husband to put down a floor and hang
doors and windows, made things generally decent, and was very kind to
the children, especially to Abe, to whom she took a great liking, and
who owed to his good stepmother what other heroes have owed to their
mothers. "From that time on," according to his garrulous relative,
Dennis Hanks, "he appeared to lead a new life." It seems to have been
difficult to extract from him "for campaign purposes" the incidents of
his life before it took this happy turn.

He described his own education in a Congressional handbook as
"defective." In Kentucky he occasionally trudged with his little sister,
rather as an escort than as a school-fellow, to a school four miles off,
kept by one Caleb Hazel, who could teach reading and writing after a
fashion, and a little arithmetic, but whose great qualification for his
office lay in his power and readiness "to whip the big boys." So far the
American respect for popular education as the key to success in life
prevailed even in those wilds, and in such a family as that of Thomas

Under the auspices of his new mother, Abraham began attending school
again. The master was one Crawford, who taught not only reading, writing
and arithmetic, but "manners." One of the scholars was made to retire,
and re-enter "as a polite gentleman enters a drawing room," after which
he was led round by another scholar and introduced to all "the young
ladies and gentlemen." The polite gentleman who entered the drawing room
and was introduced as Mr. Abraham Lincoln, is thus depicted: "He was
growing at a tremendous rate, and two years later attained his full
height of six feet four inches. He was long, wiry and strong, while his
big feet and hands and the length of his arms and legs were out of all
proportion to his small trunk and head. His complexion was very swarthy,
and Mr. Gentry says that his skin was shrivelled and yellow even then.
He wore low shoes, buckskin breeches, linsey woolsey shirt, and a cap
made of the skin of an opossum or a coon. The breeches clung close to
his thighs and legs, but parted by a large space to meet the tops of his
shoes. Twelve inches remained uncovered, and exposed that much of
shinbone, sharp, blue and narrow." At a subsequent period, when charged
by a Democratic rival with being "a Whig aristocrat," he gave a minute
and touching description of the breeches. "I had only one pair," he
said, "and they were buckskin. And if you know the nature of buckskin
when wet and dried by the sun they will shrink; and mine kept shrinking
until they left several inches of my legs bare between the tops of my
socks and the lower part of my breeches, and whilst I was growing taller
they were becoming shorter, and so much tighter that they left a blue
streak around my legs, which can be seen to this day."

Mr. Crawford, it seems, was a martinet in spelling, and one day he was
going to punish a whole class for failing to spell _defied_, when
Lincoln telegraphed the right letter to a young lady by putting his
finger with a significant smile to his eye. Many years later, however,
and after his entrance into public life, Lincoln himself spelt
_apology_ with a double p, _planning_ with a single n, and
_very_ with a double r. His schooling was very irregular, his
school days hardly amounting to a year in all, and such education as he
had was picked up afterwards by himself. His appetite for mental food,
however, was always strong, and he devoured all the books, few and not
very select, which could be found in the neighbourhood of "Pigeon
Creek." Equally strong was his passion for stump oratory, the taste for
which pervades the American people, even in the least intellectual
districts, as the taste for church festivals pervades the people of
Spain, or the taste for cricket the people of England. Abe's neighbour,
John Romine, says, "he was awful lazy. He worked for me; was always
reading and thinking; used to get mad at him. He worked for me in 1829,
pulling fodder. I say Abe was awful lazy, he would laugh and talk, and
crack jokes all the time, didn't love work, but did dearly love his
pay." He liked to lie under a shade tree, or up in the loft of the cabin
and read, cipher, or scribble. At night he ciphered by the light of the
fire on the wooden fire shovel. He practised stump oratory by repeating
the sermons, and sometimes by preaching himself to his brothers and
sister. His gifts in the rhetorical line were high; when it was
announced in the harvest field that Abe had taken the stump, work was at
an end. The lineaments of the future politician distinctly appear in the
dislike of manual labour as well as in the rest. We shall presently have
Lincoln's own opinion on that point.

Abe's first written composition appears to have been an essay against
cruelty to animals, a theme the choice of which was at once indicative
of his kindness of heart and practically judicious, since the young
gentlemen in the neighbourhood were in the habit of catching terrapins
and putting hot coals upon their backs. The essay appears not to have
been preserved, and we cannot say whether its author succeeded in
explaining that ethical mystery--the love of cruelty in boys.

In spite of his laziness, Abe was greatly in demand at hog-killing time,
notwithstanding, or possibly in consequence of which, he contracted a
peculiarly tender feeling towards swine, and in later life would get off
his horse to help a struggling hog out of the mire or to save a little
pig from the jaws of an unnatural mother.

Society in the neighbourhood of Pigeon Creek was of the thorough
backwoods type; as coarse as possible, but hospitable and kindly, free
from cant and varnish, and a better school of life than of manners,
though, after all, the best manners are learnt in the best school of
life, and the school of life in which Abe studied was not the worst. He
became a leading favourite, and his appearance, towering above the other
hunting shirts, was always the signal for the fun to begin. His nature
seems to have been, like many others, open alike to cheerful and to
gloomy impressions. A main source of his popularity was the fund of
stories to which he was always adding, and to which in after life, he
constantly went for solace, under depression or responsibility, as
another man would go to his cigar or snuff box. The taste was not
individual but local, and natural to keen-witted people who had no other
food for their wits. In those circles "the ladies drank whiskey-toddy,
while the men drank it straight." Lincoln was by no means fond of drink,
but in this, as in every thing else, he followed the great law of his
life as a politician, by falling in with the humour of the people. One
cold night be and his companions found an acquaintance lying dead-drunk
in a puddle. All but Lincoln were disposed to let him lie where he was,
and freeze to death. But Abe "bent his mighty frame, and taking the man
in his long arms, carried him a great distance to Dennis Hanks' cabin.
There he built a fire, warmed, rubbed and nursed him through the entire
night, his companions having left him alone in his merciful task." His
real kindness of heart is always coming out in the most striking way,
and it was not impaired even by civil war.

Though sallow-faced, Lincoln had a very good constitution, but his frame
hardly bespoke great strength: he was six feet four and large-boned, but
narrow chested, and had almost a consumptive appearance. His strength,
nevertheless, was great. We are told that harnessed with ropes and
straps he could lift a box of stones weighing from a thousand to twelve
hundred pounds. But that he could raise a cask of whiskey in his arms
standing upright, and drink out of the bung-hole, his biographer does
not believe. The story is no doubt a part of the legendary halo which
has gathered round the head of the martyr. In wrestling, of which he was
very fond, he had not his match near Pigeon Creek, and only once found
him anywhere else. He was also formidable as a pugilist. But he was no
bully; on the contrary, he was peaceable and chivalrous in a rough way.
His chivalry once displayed itself in a rather singular fashion. He was
in the habit, among other intellectual exercises, of writing satires on
his neighbours in the form of chronicles, the remains of which, unlike
any known writings of Moses, or even of Washington, are "too indecent
for publication." In one of these he assailed the Grigsbys, who had
failed to invite him to a brilliant wedding. The Grigsby blood took
fire, and a fight was arranged. But when they came to the ring, Lincoln,
deeming the Grigsby champion too much overmatched, magnanimously
substituted for himself his less puissant stepbrother, John Johnston,
who was getting well pounded when Abe, on pretence of foul play,
interfered, seized Grigsby by the neck, flung him off and cleared the
ring. He then "swung a whiskey bottle over his head, and swore that he
was the big buck of the lick,"--a proposition which it seems, the other
bucks of the lick, there assembled in large numbers, did not feel
themselves called upon to dispute.

That Abraham Lincoln should have said, when a bare-legged boy, that he
intended to be President of the United States, is not remarkable. Every
boy in the United States says it; soon, perhaps, every girl will be able
to say it, and then human happiness will be complete. But Lincoln was
really carrying on his political education. Dennis Hanks is asked how he
and Lincoln acquired their knowledge. "We learned," he replies, "by
sight, scent and hearing. We heard all that was said, and talked over
and over the questions heard; wore them slick, greasy and threadbare.
Went to political and other speeches and gatherings, as you do now; we
would hear all sides and opinions, talk them over, discuss them,
agreeing or disagreeing. Abe, as I said before, was originally a
Democrat after the order of Jackson; so was his father, so we all
were.... He preached, made speeches, read for us, explained to us,
&c.... Abe was a cheerful boy, a witty boy; was humorous always,
sometimes would get sad, not very often.... Lincoln would frequently
make political and other speeches; he was calm, logical and clear
always. He attended trials, went to court always, read the Revised
Statutes of Indiana, dated 1824, heard law speeches, and listened to law
trials. Lincoln was lazy, a very lazy man. He was always reading,
scribbling, writing, ciphering, writing poetry, and the like.... In
Gentryville, about one mile west of Thomas Lincoln's farm, Lincoln would
go and tell his jokes and stories, &c., and was so odd, original and
humorous and witty, that all the people in town would gather around him.
He would keep them there till midnight. I would get tired, want to go
home, cuss Abe most heartily. Abe was a good talker, a good reader, and
was a kind of newsboy." One or two articles written by Abe found their
way into obscure journals, to his infinite gratification. His foot was
on the first round of the ladder. It is right to say that his culture
was not solely political, and that he was able to astonish the natives
of Gentryville by explaining that when the sun appeared to set, it "was
we did the sinking and not the sun."

Abe was tired of his home, as a son of Thomas Lincoln might be, without
disparagement to his filial piety; and he was glad to get off with a
neighbour on a commercial trip down the river to New Orleans. The trip
was successful in a small way, and Abe soon after repeated it with other
companions. He shewed his practical ingenuity in getting the boat off a
dam, and perhaps still more signally in quieting some restive hogs by
the simple expedient of sewing up their eyes. In the first trip the
great emancipator came in contact with the negro in a way that did not
seem likely to prepossess him in favour of the race. The boat was
boarded by negro robbers, who were repulsed only after a fray in which
Abe got a scar which he carried to the grave. But he saw with his own
eyes slaves manacled and whipped at New Orleans; and though his
sympathies were not far-reaching, the actual sight of suffering never
failed to make an impression on his mind. "In 1841," he says, in a
letter to a friend, "you and I had together a tedious low-water trip on
a steamboat from Louisville to St. Louis. You may remember, as I well
do, that from Louisville to the mouth of the Ohio, there were on board
ten or a dozen slaves shackled together with irons. That sight was a
continued torment to me, and I see something like it every time I touch
the Ohio or any other slave border." A negrophilist he never became. "I
protest," he said afterwards, when engaged in the slavery controversy,
"against the counterfeit logic which concludes that because I do not
want a black woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife. I
need not have her for either. I can just leave her alone. In some
respects she certainly is not my equal; but in her natural right to eat
the bread which she earns with her own hands she is my equal and the
equal of all others." It would be difficult to put the case better.

While Abraham Lincoln was trading to New Orleans his father, Thomas
Lincoln, was on the move again. This time he migrated to Illinois, and
there again shifted from place to place, gathering no moss, till he died
as thriftless and poor as he had lived. We have, in later years, an
application from him to his son for money, to which the son responds in
a tone which implies some doubt as to the strict accuracy of the ground
on which the old gentleman's request was preferred. Their relations were
evidently not very affectionate, though there is nothing unfilial in
Abe's conduct. Abraham himself drifted to Salem on the Sangamon, in
Illinois, twenty miles north-west of Springfield, where he became clerk
in a new store, set up by Denton Offutt, with whom he had formed a
connection in one of his trips to New Orleans. Salem was then a village
of a dozen houses, and the little centre of a society very like that of
Pigeon Creek and its neighbourhood, but more decidedly western. We are
told that "here Mr. Lincoln became acquainted with a class of men the
world never saw the like of before or since. They were large men,--large
in body and large in mind; hard to whip and never to be fooled. They
were a bold, daring and reckless set of men; they were men of their own
mind,--believed what was demonstrable, were men of great common sense.
With these men Mr. Lincoln was thrown; with them he lived and with them
he moved and almost had his being. They were sceptics all--scoffers
some. These scoffers were good men, and their scoffs were protests
against theology,--loud protests against the follies of Christianity;
they had never heard of theism and the new and better religious thoughts
of this age. Hence, being natural sceptics and being bold, brave men
they uttered their thoughts freely.... They were on all occasions, when
opportunity offered, debating the various questions of Christianity
among themselves; they took their stand on common sense and on their own
souls; and though their arguments were rude and rough, no man could
overthrow their homely logic. They riddled all divines, and not
unfrequently made them sceptics,--disbelievers as bad as themselves.
They were a jovial, healthful, generous, true and manly set of people."
It is evident that W. Herndon, the speaker, is himself a disbeliever in
Christianity, and addicted to the "newer and better thought of this
age." He gives one specimen, which we have omitted for fear of shocking
our readers, of the theological criticism of these redoubtable logicians
of nature; and we are inclined to infer from it that the divines whom
they "riddled" and converted to scepticism must have been children of
nature as well as themselves. The passage, however, is a life-like,
though idealized, portrait of the Western man; and the tendency to
religious scepticism of the most daring kind is as truly ascribed to him
as the rest.

It seems to be proved by conclusive evidence that Mr. Lincoln shared the
sentiments of his companions, and that he was never a member of any
Church, a believer in the divinity of Christ, or a Christian of any
denomination. He is described as an avowed, an open freethinker,
sometimes bordering on atheism, going extreme lengths against Christian
doctrines, and "shocking" men whom it was probably not very easy to
shock. He even wrote a little work on "Infidelity," attacking
Christianity in general, and especially the belief that Jesus was the
Son of God; but the manuscript was destroyed by a prescient friend, who
knew that its publication would ruin the writer in the political market.
There is reason to believe that Burns contributed to Lincoln's
scepticism, but he drew it more directly from Volney, Paine, Hume and
Gibbon. His fits of downright atheism appear to have been transient; his
settled belief was theism with a morality which, though he was not aware
of it, he had really derived from the Gospel. It is needless to say that
the case had never been rationally presented to him, and that his
decision against Christianity would prove nothing, even if his mind had
been more powerful than it was. His theism was not strong enough to save
him from deep depression under misfortune; and we heard, on what we
thought at the time good authority, that after Chancellorsville, he
actually meditated suicide. Like many sceptics, he was liable to
superstition, especially to the superstition of self-consciousness, a
conviction that he was the subject of a special decree made by some
nameless and mysterious power. Even from a belief in apparitions he was
not free. "It was just after my election, in 1860," he said to his
Secretary, John Hay, "when the news had been coming in thick and fast
all day, and there had been a great 'hurrah, boys!' so that I was well
tired, I went home to rest, throwing myself upon a lounge in my chamber.
Opposite to where I lay was a bureau with a swinging glass upon it; and,
on looking in that glass, I saw myself reflected nearly at full length;
but my face, I noticed, had two separate and distinct images, the tip of
the nose of one being about three inches from the tip of the other. I
was a little bothered, perhaps startled, and got up and looked in the
glass; but the illusion vanished. On lying down again I saw it a second
time--plainer, if possible, than before; and then I noticed that one of
the faces was a little paler--say five shades--than the other. I got up
and the thing melted away; and I went off and in the excitement of the
hour forgot all about it,--nearly, but not quite, for the thing would
once in a while come up and give me a little pang, as though something
uncomfortable had happened. When I went home I told my wife about it;
and in a few days afterwards I tried the experiment again, when, sure
enough, the thing came back again; but I never succeeded in bringing the
ghost back after that, though I once tried very industriously, to show
it to my wife, who was worried about it somewhat. She thought it was 'a
sign' that I was to be elected to a second term of office, and that the
paleness of one of the faces was an omen that I should not see life
through the last term." The apparition is, of course, easily explained
by reference to a generally morbid temperament and a specially excited
fancy. The impression which it made on the mind of a sceptic, noted for
never believing in anything which was not actually submitted to his
senses, is an instance of the tendency of superstition to creep into the
void left in the heart by faith, and as such may be classed with the
astrological superstitions of the Roman Empire, and of that later age of
religious and moral infidelity of which the prophet was Machiavelli. But
if Mr. John Hay has faithfully repeated Lincoln's words, a point upon
which we may have our doubts without prejudice to Mr. Hay's veracity,
Mrs. Lincoln's interpretation of the vision is, to say the least, a very
curious coincidence.

The flower of the heroic race in the neighbourhood of Salem, were the
"Clary's Grove boys," whose chief and champion was Jack Armstrong.
"Never," we are assured, "was there a more generous parcel of ruffians
than those over whom Jack held sway." It does not appear, however, that
the term ruffian is altogether misplaced. The boys were in the habit of
"initiating" candidates for admission to society at New Salem. "They
first bantered the gentleman to run a foot race, jump, pitch the mall,
or wrestle; and if none of these propositions seemed agreeable to him,
they would request to know what he would do in case another gentleman
should pull his nose or squirt tobacco juice in his face. If he did not
seem entirely decided in his views as to what should be done in such a
contingency, perhaps he would be nailed in a hogshead and rolled down
New Salem hill, perhaps his ideas would be brightened by a brief ducking
in the Sangamon; or perhaps he would be scoffed, kicked and cuffed by a
great number of persons in concert, until he reached the confines of the
village, and then turned adrift as being unfit company for the people of
that settlement." If the stranger consented to race or wrestle, it was
arranged that there should be foul play, which would lead to a fight; a
proper display of mettle in which was accepted as a proof of the
"gentleman's" fitness for society. Abe escaped initiation, his length
and strength of limb being apparently deemed satisfactory evidence of
his social respectability. But Clary's Grove was at last brought down
upon him by the indiscretion of his friend and admirer, Offutt, who was
already beginning to run him for President, and whose vauntings of his
powers made a trial of strength inevitable. A wrestling match was
contrived between Lincoln and Jack Armstrong, and money, jackknives and
whiskey were freely staked on the result. Neither combatant could throw
the other, and Abe proposed to Jack to "quit." But Jack, goaded on by
his partisans, resorted to a "foul," upon which Abe's righteous wrath
blazed up, and taking the champion of Clary's Grove by the throat he
"shook him like a child." A fight was impending, and Abe, his back
planted against Offutt's store, was facing a circle of foes, when a
mediator appeared. Jack Armstrong was so satisfied of the strength of
Abe's arm, that he at once declared him the best fellow that ever came
into the settlement, and the two thenceforth reigned conjointly over the
roughs and bullies of New Salem. Abe seems always to have used his power
humanely and to have done his best to substitute arbitration for war. A
strange man coming into the settlement, on being beset as usual by
Clary's Grove and insulted by Jack Armstrong, knocked the bully down
with a stick. Jack being as strong as two of him was going to "whip him
badly," when Abe interposed, "Well Jack, what did you say to the man?"
Jack repeated his words. "And what would you do if you were in a strange
place and you were called a d--d liar?" "Whip him, by ---." "Then that
man has done to you no more than you have done to him." Jack
acknowledged the golden rule and "treated" his intended victim. If there
were ever dissensions between the two "Caesars" of Salem, it was because
Jack "in the abundance of his animal spirits" was addicted to nailing
people in barrels and rolling them down the hill, while Abe was always
on the side of mercy.

Abe's popularity grew apace; his ambition grew with it; it is
astonishing how readily and freely the plant sprouts upon that soil. He
was at this time carrying on his education evidently with a view to
public life. Books were not easily found. He wanted to study English
Grammar, considering that accomplishment desirable for a statesman; and,
being told that there was a grammar in a house six miles from Salem, he
left his breakfast at once and walked off to borrow it. He would slip
away into the woods and spend hours in study and thinking. He sat up
late at night, and as light was expensive, made a blaze of shavings in
the cooper's shop. He waylaid every visitor to New Salem who had any
pretence to scholarship, and extracted explanations of things which he
did not understand. It does not appear that the work of Adam Smith, or
any work upon political economy, currency, or any financial subject fell
into the hands of the student who was destined to conduct the most
tremendous operations in the whole history of finance.

The next episode in Lincoln's life which may be regarded as a part of
his training was the command of a company of militia in the "Black Hawk"
war. Black Hawk was an Indian Chief of great craft and power, and,
apparently, of fine character, who had the effrontery to object to being
improved off the face of creation, an offence which he aggravated by an
hereditary attachment to the British. At a muster of the Sangamon
company at Clary's Grove, Lincoln was elected captain. The election was
a proof of his popularity, but he found it rather hard to manage his
constituents in the field. One morning on the march the Captain
commanded his orderly to form the company for parade; but when the
orderly called "parade," the men called "parade" too, but could not fall
into line. They had found their way to the officers' liquor the evening
before. The regiment had to march and leave the company behind. About
ten o'clock the company set out to follow; but when it had marched two
miles "the drunken ones lay down and slept their drink off." Lincoln,
who seems to have been perfectly blameless, was placed under arrest and
condemned to carry a wooden sword; but it does not appear that any
notice was taken of the conduct of that portion of the sovereign people
which lay down drunk on the march when the army was advancing against
the enemy. Something like this was probably the state of things in the
Northern army at the beginning of the civil war, before discipline had
been enforced by disaster. The campaign opened with a cleverly-won
victory on the part of Black Hawk, and a rapid retrograde movement on
the part of the militia, as to which we will be content to say with Mr.
Lamon, "of drunkenness no public account makes any mention, and
individual cowardice is never to be imputed to American troops."
Ultimately, however, Black Hawk was overpowered and most of his men met
their doom in attempting to retreat across the Mississippi. "During this
short Indian campaign," says one who took part in it, "we had some hard
times, often hungry; but we had a great deal of sport, especially at
nights--foot racing, some horse racing, jumping, telling anecdotes, in
which Lincoln beat all, keeping up a constant laughter and good humour
all the time, among the soldiers some card-playing and wrestling in
which Lincoln took a prominent part. I think it safe to say he was never
thrown in a wrestle. While in the army he kept a handkerchief tied
around him all the time for wrestling purposes, and loved the sport as
well as any one could. He was seldom if ever beat jumping. During the
campaign Lincoln himself was always ready for an emergency. He endured
hardships like a good soldier; he never complained, nor did he fear
dangers. When fighting was expected or danger apprehended, Lincoln was
the first to say 'Let's go.' He had the confidence of every man of his
company, and they strictly obeyed his orders at a word. His company was
all young men, and full of sport." The assertion as to the strict and
uniform obedience of the company at its captain's word, requires, as we
have seen, some qualification in a democratic sense. Whether Lincoln was
ever beaten in wrestling is also one of the moot points of history.

In the course of this campaign one Mr. Thompson, whose fame as a
wrestler was great throughout the west, accepted Lincoln's challenge.
Great excitement prevailed, and Lincoln's company and backers "put up
all their portable property and some perhaps not their own, including
knives, blankets, tomahawks, and all the necessary articles of a
soldier's outfit." As soon as Lincoln laid hold of his antagonist he
found that he had got at least his match, and warned his friends of that
unwelcome fact. He was thrown once fairly, and a second time fell with
Thompson on the top of him. "We were taken by surprise," candidly says
Mr. Green, "and being unwilling to put with our property and lose our
bets, got up an excuse as to the result. We declared the fall a kind of
a dog-fall--did so apparently angrily." A fight was about to begin, when
Lincoln rose up and said, "Boys, the man actually threw me once fair,
broadly so; and the second time, this very fall, he threw me fairly,
though not so apparently so." This quelled the disturbance.

On the same authority we are told that Lincoln gallantly interfered to
save the life of a poor old Indian who had thrown himself on the mercy
of the soldiers, and whom, notwithstanding that he had a pass, they were
proceeding to slay. The anecdote wears a somewhat melodramatic aspect;
but there is no doubt of Lincoln's humanity, or of his readiness to
protest against oppression and cruelty when they actually fell under his
notice. It was also in keeping with his character to insist firmly on
the right of his militiamen to the same rations and pay as the regulars,
and to draw the legal line sharply and clearly when the regular officers
exceeded their authority in the exercise of command.

Returning to New Salem, Lincoln, having served his apprenticeship as a
clerk, commenced storekeeping on his own account. An opening was made
for him by the departure of Mr. Radford, the keeper of a grocery, who,
having offended the Clary's Grove boys, they "selected a convenient
night for breaking in his windows and gutting his establishment." From
his ruins rose the firm of Lincoln & Berry. Doubt rests on the great
historic question whether Lincoln sold liquor in his store, and on that
question still more agonizing to a sensitive morality--whether he sold
it by the dram. The points remain, we are told, and will forever remain
undetermined. The only fact in which history can repose with certainty
is that some liquor must have been _given_ away, since nobody in
the neighbourhood of Clary's Grove could keep store without offering the
customary dram to the patrons of the place. When taxed on the platform
by his rival, Douglas, with having sold liquor, Mr. Lincoln replied that
if he figured on one side of the counter, Douglas figured on the other.
"As a storekeeper," says Mr. Ellis, "Mr. Lincoln wore flax and tow linen
pantaloons--I thought about five inches too short in the legs--and
frequently he had but one suspender, no vest or coat. He had a calico
shirt such as he had in the Black Hawk War; coarse brogues, tan-colour;
blue yarn socks, a straw hat, old style, and without a band." It is
recorded that he preferred dealing with men and boys, and disliked to
wait on the ladies. Possibly, if his attire has been rightly described,
the ladies, even the Clary's Grove ladies, may have reciprocated the

In storekeeping, however, Mr. Lincoln did not prosper; neither
storekeeping nor any other regular business or occupation was congenial
to his character. He was born to be a politician. Accordingly he began
to read law, with which he combined surveying, at which we are assured
he made himself "expert" by a six weeks' course of study. They mix
trades a little in the West. We expected on turning the page to find
that Mr. Lincoln had also taken up surgery and performed the Caesarean
operation. The few law books needed for Western practice were supplied
to him by a kind friend at Springfield, and according to a witness who
has evidently an accurate memory for details, "he went to read law in
1832 or 1833 barefooted, seated in the shade of a tree and would grind
around with the shade, just opposite Berry's grocery store, a few feet
south of the door, occasionally lying flat on his back and putting his
feet up the tree." Evidently, whatever he read, especially of a
practical kind, he made thoroughly his own. It is needless to say that
he did not become a master of scientific jurisprudence, but it seems
that he did become an effective Western advocate. What is more, there is
conclusive testimony to the fact that he was--what has been scandalously
alleged to be rare, even in the United States--an honest lawyer. "Love
of justice and fair play," says one of his brothers of the bar, "was his
predominant trait. I have often listened to him when I thought he would
state his case out of Court. It was not in his nature to assume or
attempt to bolster up a false position. He would abandon his case first.
He did so in the case of _Buckmaster for the use of Durham v. Beener &
Arthur_, in our Supreme Court, in which I happened to be opposed to
him. Another gentleman, less fastidious, took Mr. Lincoln's place and
gained the case." His power as an advocate seems to have depended on his
conviction that the right was on his side. "Tell Harris it's no use to
_waste money on me_; in that case, he'll get beat." In a larceny
case he took those who were counsel with him for the defence aside and
said, "If you can say anything for the man do it. I can't. If I attempt
it, the jury will see that I think he is guilty and convict him of
course." In another case he proved an account for his client, who,
though he did not know it, was a rogue. The counsel on the other side
proved a receipt. By the time he had done Lincoln was missing; and on
the Court sending for him, he replied, "Tell the judge I can't come; my
hands are dirty, and I came over to clean them." Mr. Herndon, who
visited Lincoln's office on business, gives the following reminiscence:
--"Mr. Lincoln was seated at his table, listening very attentively to a
man who was talking earnestly in a low tone. After the would-be client
had stated the facts of the case, Mr. Lincoln replied, 'yes, there is no
reasonable doubt but that I can gain your case for you. I can set a
whole neighbourhood at logger heads; I can distress a widowed mother and
her six fatherless children, and thereby get for you six hundred
dollars, which rightly belongs, it appears to me, as much to the woman
and her children as it does to you. You must remember that some things
that are legally right are not morally right. I shall not take your case
but will give you a bit of advice, for which I will charge you nothing.
You seem to be a sprightly, energetic man. I would advise you to try
your hand at making six hundred dollars in some other way.'" On one
occasion, however, Lincoln, we believe it must be admitted, resorted to
sharp practice. William Armstrong, the son of Jack Armstrong, of Clary's
Grove, inheriting, as it seems, the "abundant animal spirits" of his
father, committed, as was universally believed, a very brutal murder at
a camp meeting, and being brought to trial was in imminent peril of the
halter. Lincoln volunteered to defend him. The witness whose testimony
bore hardest on the prisoner swore that he saw the murder committed by
the light of the moon. Lincoln put in an almanac, which, on reference
being made to it showed that at the time stated by the witness there was
no moon. This broke down the witness and the prisoner was acquitted. It
was not observed at the moment that the almanac was one of the year
previous to the murder; and therefore morally a fabrication. Herculean
efforts are made to prove that _two_ almanacs were produced and
that Mr. Lincoln was innocent of any deception. But the best plea, we
conceive, is, that Mr. Lincoln had rocked William Armstrong in the

There is one part of Lincoln's early life which, though scandal may
batten on it, we shall pass over lightly, we mean that part which
relates to his love affairs and his marriage. Criticism, and even
biography, should respect as far as possible the sanctuary of affection.
That a man has dedicated his life to the service of the public is no
reason why the public should be licensed to amuse itself by playing with
his heart-strings. Not only as a storekeeper, but in every capacity, Mr.
Lincoln was far more happy in his relations with men than with women. He
however loved, and loved deeply, Ann Rutledge, who appears to have been
entirely worthy of his attachment, and whose death at the moment when
she would have felt herself at liberty to marry him threw him into a
transport of grief, which threatened his reason and excited the gravest
apprehensions of his friends. In stormy weather especially he would rave
piteously, crying that "he could never be reconciled to have the snow,
rains and storms to beat upon her grave." This first love he seems never
to have forgotten. He next had an affair, not so creditable to him, with
a Miss Owens, of whom, after their rupture, he wrote things which he had
better have left unwritten. Finally, he made a match of which the world
has heard more than enough, though the Western Boy was too true a
gentleman to let it hear anything about the matter from his lips. It is
enough to say that this man was not wanting in that not inconsiderable
element of worth, even of the worth of statesmen, strong and pure

"If ever," said Abraham Lincoln, "American society and the United States
Government are demoralized and overthrown, it will come from the
voracious desire of office--this wriggle to live without toil, from
which I am not free myself." These words ought to be written up in the
largest characters in every schoolroom in the United States. The
confession with which they conclude is as true as the rest. Mr. Lincoln,
we are told, took no part in the promotion of local enterprises,
railroads, schools, churches, asylums. The benefits he proposed for his
fellow men were to be accomplished by political means alone "Politics
were his world--a world filled with hopeful enchantments. Ordinarily he
disliked to discuss any other subject." "In the office," says his
partner, Mr. Herndon, "he sat down or spilt himself (_sic_) on his
lounge, read aloud, told stories, talked politics--never science, art,
literature, railroad gatherings, colleges, asylums, hospitals, commerce,
education, progress--nothing that interested the world generally, except
politics." "He seldom," says his present biographer, "took an active
part in local or minor elections, or wasted his power to advance a
friend. He did nothing out of mere gratitude, and forgot the devotion of
his warmest partisans, as soon as the occasion for their services had
passed. What they did for him was quietly appropriated as the reward of
superior merit, calling for no return in kind." We are told that while
he was "wriggling," he was in effect boarded and clothed for some years
by his friend, Hon. W. Butler, at Springfield, and that, when in power,
he refused to exercise his patronage in favour of his friend. On that
occasion, his biographer tells us, that he considered his patronage a
solemn trust. We give him credit for a conscientiousness above the
ordinary level of his species on this as well as on other subjects. But
his sense of the solemn character of his trust, though it prevented him
from giving a petty place to the old friend who had helped him in the
day of his need, did not prevent him, as President, from sometimes
paying for support by a far more questionable use of the highest
patronage in his gift.

The fact is not that the man was by nature wanting in gratitude or in
any kindly quality, on the contrary, he seems to have abounded in them
all. But the excitement of the game was so intense that it swallowed up
all other considerations and emotions. In a dead season of politics, his
depression was extreme. "He said gloomily, despairingly, sadly, 'How
hard, oh! how hard it is to die and leave one's country no better than
if one had never lived for it. This world is dead to hope, deaf to its
own death-struggle.'" Possibly this is the way in which "wriggling"
politicians generally put the case to themselves.

Lincoln's fundamental principle was devotion to the popular will. In his
address to the people of Sangamon County, he says, "while acting as
their representative I shall be governed by their will on all subjects
upon which I have the means of knowing what their will is, and upon all
others I will do what my own judgment teaches me will advance their
interests." "'It is a maxim,' with many politicians, just to keep along
even with the humour of the people right or wrong." "This maxim," adds
the biographer, "Mr. Lincoln held then, as ever since, in very high
estimation." It may occur to some enquiring minds to ask what, upon
those principles, is the use of having representation at all, and
whether it would not be better to let the people themselves vote
directly on all questions without interposing a representative to
diminish their sense of responsibility, to say nothing of the sacrifice
of the representative's conscience, which, in the cases of the statesmen
here described, was probably not very great. With regard to Slavery,
however, Mr. Lincoln showed forecast, if not conscientious independence.
He stepped forth in advance of the sentiments of his party, and to his
political friends appeared rash in the extreme.

Lincoln's first attempt to get elected to the State Legislature was
unsuccessful. It however brought him the means of "doing something for
his country," and partly averting the "death-struggle of the world," in
the shape of the postmastership of New Salem. The business of the office
was not on a large scale, for it was carried on in Mr. Lincoln's hat--an
integument of which it is recorded, that he refused to give it to a
conjurer to play the egg trick in, "not from respect for his own hat,
but for the conjurer's eggs." The future President did not fail to
signalize his first appearance as an administrator by a sally of the
jocularity which was always struggling with melancholy in his mind. A
gentleman of the place, whose education had been defective, was in the
habit of calling two or three times a day at the post-office, and
ostentatiously inquiring for letters. At last he received a letter,
which, being unable to read himself, he got the postmaster to read for
him before a large circle of friends. It proved to be from a negro lady
engaged in domestic service in the South, recalling the memory of a
mutual attachment, with a number of incidents more delectable than
sublime. It is needless to say that the postmaster, by a slight
extension of the sphere of his office, had written the letter as well as
delivered it.

In a second candidature the aspirant was more successful, and he became
one of nine representatives of Sangamon County, in the State Legislature
of Illinois, who, being all more than six feet high, were called "The
Long Nine." With his Brobdingnagian colleagues Abraham plunged at once
into the "internal improvement system," and distinguished himself above
his fellows by the unscrupulous energy and strategy with which he urged
through the Legislature a series of bubble schemes and jobs. Railroads
and other improvements, especially improvements of river navigation,
were voted out of all proportion to the means or credit of the then
thinly-peopled State. To set these little matters in motion, a loan of
eight millions of dollars was authorized, and to complete the canal from
Chicago to Peru, another loan of four millions of dollars was voted at
the same session, two hundred thousand dollars being given as a gratuity
to those counties which seemed to have no special interest in any of the
foregoing projects. Work on all these roads was to commence, not only at
the same time, but at both ends of each road and at all the river-
crossings. There were as yet no surveys of any route, no estimates, no
reports of engineers, or even unprofessional viewers. "Progress was not
to wait on trifles; capitalists were supposed to be lying in wait to
catch these precious bonds; the money would be raised in a twinkling,
and being applied with all the skill of a hundred De Witt Clintons--a
class of gentlemen at that time extremely numerous and obtrusive--the
loan would build railroads, the railroads would build cities, cities
would create farms, foreign capital would rush in to so inviting a
field, the lands would be taken up with marvellous celerity, and the
land tax going into a sinking fund, that, with some tolls and certain
sly speculations to be made by the State, would pay principal and
interest of debt without even a cent of taxation upon the people. In
short, everybody was to be enriched, while the munificence of the State
in selling its credit and spending the proceeds, would make its empty
coffers overflow with ready money. It was a dark stroke of
statesmanship, a mysterious device in finance, which, whether from being
misunderstood or mismanaged, bore from the beginning fruits the very
reverse of those it had promised." We seem here to be reading the
history of more than one great railway enterprise undertaken by
politicians without the red tape preliminaries of surveying or framing
estimates, progress not deigning to wait upon trifles. This system of
policy gave fine scope for the talents of the "log-roller," here defined
as an especially wily and persuasive person, who could depict the merits
of his scheme with roseate but delusive eloquence, and who was said to
carry a gourd of "possum fat"--wherewith he "greased and swallowed" his
prey. One of the largest of these gourds was carried by "honest Abe,"
who was especially active in "log-rolling" a bill for the removal of the
seat of government from Vandalia to Springfield, at a virtual cost to
the State of about six millions of dollars, which we were told would
have purchased all the real estate in the town three times over. "Thus
by log-rolling on the loud measure, by multiplying railroads, by
terminating these roads at Alton, that Alton might become a great city
in opposition to St. Louis; by distributing money to some of the
counties to be wasted by the County Commissioners, and by giving the
seat of government to Springfield--was the whole State bought up and
bribed to approve the most senseless and disastrous policy which ever
crippled the energies of a young country." We are told, and do not
doubt, that Mr. Lincoln shared the popular delusion; but we are also
told, and are equally sure, that "even if he had been unhappily
afflicted with individual scruples of his own he would have deemed it
but simple duty to obey the almost unanimous voice of his constituency."
In other words, he would have deemed it his duty to pander to the
popular madness by taking a part in financial swindling. Yet he and his
principal confederates obtained afterwards high places of honour and
trust. A historian of Illinois calls them "spared monuments of popular
wrath, evincing how safe it is to be a politician, but how disastrous it
may be to the country to keep along with the present fervour of the
people." It is instructive as well as just to remember that all this
time the man was strictly, nay sensitively, honourable in his private
dealings, that he was regarded by his fellows as a paragon of probity,
that his word was never questioned, that of personal corruption calumny
itself, so far as we are aware, never dared to accuse him. Politics, it
seems, may be a game apart, with rules of its own which supersede

Considering that, as we said before, this man was destined to preside
over the most tremendous operations in the whole history of finance, it
is especially instructive to see what was the state of his mind on
economical subjects. He actually proposed to pass a usury law, having
arrived, it appears, at the sage conviction that while to pay the
current rent for the use of a house or the current fee for the services
of a lawyer is perfectly proper, to pay the current price for money is
to "allow a few individuals to levy a direct tax on the community." But
this is an ordinary illusion. Abraham Lincoln's illusions went far
beyond it. He actually proposed so to legislate that in cases of extreme
necessity there might "always be found means to cheat the law, while in
all other cases it would have its intended effect." He proposed in fact
absurdity qualified by fraud, the established practice of which would,
no doubt, have had a most excellent effect in teaching the citizens to
reverence and the Courts to uphold the law. As President, when told that
the finances were low, he asked whether the printing machine had given
out, and he suggested, as a special temptation to capitalists, the issue
of a class of bonds which should be exempt from seizure for debt. It may
safely be said that the burden of the United States debt was ultimately
increased fifty per cent through sheer ignorance of the simplest
principles of economy and finance on the part of those by whom it was

Lincoln's style, both as a speaker and a writer, ultimately became
plain, terse, and with occasional faults of taste, caused by imperfect
education, pure as well as effective. His Gettysburg address and some of
his State Papers are admirable in their way. Saving one very flat
expression, the address has no superior in literature. But it was
impossible that the oratory of a rising politician, especially in the
West, should be free from spread-eagleism. Scattered through these pages
we find such gems as the following:--

"All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined, with all the
treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest, with a
Bonaparte for a commander, could not, by force, take a drink from the
Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge in a trial of a thousand years!"
... "Accounts of outrages committed by mobs form the every-day news of
the times. They have pervaded the country from New England to Louisiana;
they are neither peculiar to the eternal (?) snows of the former, nor to
the burning sun of the latter." ... "That we improve to the last, that
we revered his name to the last, that during his long sleep we permitted
no hostile foot to pass or desecrate his resting-place, shall be that
which to learn the last trump shall awaken our Washington." Washington's
mind, when he rises from his grave at the Last Day, will be immediately
relieved by the information that no Britisher has ever trodden on his

In debate he was neither bitter nor personal in the bad sense, though he
had a good deal of caustic humour and knew how to make an effective use
of it.

Passing from State politics to those of the Union, and elected to
Congress as a Whig, a party to which he had gradually found his way from
his original position as a "nominal Jackson man," Mr. Lincoln stood
forth in vigorous though discreet and temperate opposition to the
Mexican War.

Some extra charges made by General Cass upon the Treasury for expenses
in a public mission, afforded an opportunity for a hit at the great
Democratic "war-horse." "I have introduced," said Lincoln, "General
Cass's name here chiefly to show the wonderful physical capacity of the
man. They show that he not only did the labour of several men at the
same _time_, but that he often did it at several _places_,
many hundred miles apart _at the same time_. And in eating, too,
his capacities are shown to be quite as wonderful. From October, 1821,
to May, 1822, he ate ten rations a day in Michigan, ten rations a day
here in Washington, and nearly five dollars' worth a day besides, partly
on the road between the two places. And then there is an important
discovery in his example, the art of being paid for what one eats,
instead of having to pay for it. Hereafter if any nice young man should
owe a bill which he cannot pay in any other way, he can just board it
out. Mr. Speaker, we have all heard of the animal standing in doubt
between two stacks of hay, and starving to death. The like of that could
never happen to General Cass. Place the stacks a thousand miles apart,
he would stand stock still midway between them, and eat them both at
once; and the green grass along the line would be apt to suffer some at
the same time. By all means make him President, gentlemen. He will feed
you bounteously, if--if there is any left after he has helped himself."

Great events were by this time beginning to loom on the political
horizon. The Missouri Compromise was broken. Parties commenced slowly
but surely to divide themselves into Pro-slavery and Anti-slavery. The
"irrepressible conflict" was coming on, though none of the American
politicians--not even the author of that famous phrase--distinctly
recognised its advent. Lincoln seems to have been sincerely opposed to
slavery, though he was not an Abolitionist. But he was evidently led
more and more to take anti-slavery ground by his antagonism to Douglas,
who occupied a middle position, and tried to gain at once the support of
the South and that of the waverers at the North, by theoretically
supporting the extension of slavery, yet practically excluding it from
the territories by the doctrine of squatters' sovereignty. Lincoln had
to be very wary in angling for the vote of the Abolitionists, who had
recently been the objects of universal obloquy, and were still offensive
to a large section of the Republican party. On one occasion, the
opinions which he propounded by no means suited the Abolitionists, and
"they required him to change them forthwith. _He thought it would be
wise to do so considering the peculiar circumstances of his case_;
but, before committing himself finally, he sought an understanding with
Judge Logan. He told the judge what he was disposed to do, and said he
would act upon the inclination if the judge would not regard it as
treading on his toes. The judge said he was opposed to the doctrine
proposed, but for the sake of the cause on hand he would cheerfully risk
his toes. _And so the Abolitionists were accommodated._ Mr. Lincoln
quietly made the pledge, and they voted for him." He came out, however,
square enough, and in the very nick of time with his "house divided
against itself" speech, which took the wind out of the sails of Seward
with his "irrepressible conflict." Douglas, whom Lincoln regarded with
intense personal rivalry, was tripped up by a string of astute
interrogations, the answers to which hopelessly embroiled him with the
South. Lincoln's campaign against Douglas for the Senatorship greatly
and deservedly enhanced his reputation as a debater, and he became
marked out as the Western candidate for the Republican nomination to the
Presidency. A committee favourable to his claims sent to him to make a
speech at New York. He arrived "in a sleek and shining suit of new
black, covered with very apparent creases and wrinkles acquired by being
packed too closely and too long in his little valise." Some of his
supporters must have moralized on the strange apparition which their
summons had raised. His speech, however, made before an immense audience
at the Cooper Institute, was most successful. And as a display of
constitutional logic it is a very good speech. It fails, as the speeches
of these practical men one and all did fail, their "common sense" and
"shrewdness" notwithstanding, in clear perception of the great facts
that two totally different systems of society had been formed, one in
the Slave States and the other in the Free, and that political
institutions necessarily conform themselves to the social character of
the people. Whether the Civil War could, by any men or means, have been
arrested, it would be hard to say; but assuredly stump orators, even the
very best of them, were not the men to avert it. At that great crisis no
saviour appeared. On May 10th, in the eventful year 1860, the Republican
State Convention of Illinois, by acclamation, and amidst great
enthusiasm, nominated Lincoln for the Presidency. One who saw him
receive the nomination says, "I then thought him one of the most
diffident and most plagued of men I ever saw." We may depend upon it,
however, that his diffidence of manner was accompanied by no reluctance
of heart. The splendid prize which he had won had been the object of his
passionate desire. In the midst of the proceedings the door of the
wigwam opened, and Lincoln's kinsman, John Hanks, entered, with "two
small triangular 'heart-rails,' surmounted by a banner with the
inscription, 'Two rails from a lot made by Abraham Lincoln and John
Hanks in the Sangamon bottom, in the year 1830'." The bearer of the
rails, we are told, was met "with wild and tumultuous cheers," and "the
whole scene was simply tempestuous and bewildering."

The Democrats, of course, did not share the delight. An old man, out of
Egypt, (the southern end of Illinois) came up to Mr. Lincoln, and said.
"So you're Abe Lincoln?" "That's my name, sir." "They say you're a self-
made man." "Well, yes what there is of me is self-made." "Well, all I
have got to say," observed the old Egyptian, after a careful survey of
the statesman, "is, that it was a d--n bad job." This seems to be the
germ of the smart reply to the remark that Andrew Johnson was a self-
made man, "that relieves the Almighty of a very heavy responsibility."

The nomination of the State Convention of Illinois was accepted after a
very close and exciting contest between Lincoln and Seward by the
convention of the Republican party assembled at Chicago. The proceedings
seem to have been disgraceful. A large delegation of roughs, we are
told, headed by Tom Shyer, the pugilist, attended for Seward. The
Lincoln party, on the other side, spent the whole night in mustering
their "loose fellows," and at daylight the next morning packed the
wigwam, so that the Seward men were unable to get in.

Another politician was there nominally as a candidate, but really only
to sell himself for a seat in the Cabinet. When he claimed the
fulfilment of the bond, Lincoln's conscience, or at least his regard for
his own reputation, struggled hard. "All that I am in the world--the
Presidency and all else--I owe to that opinion of me which the people
express when they call me 'honest old Abe.' Now, what will they think of
their honest Abe when he appoints this man to be his familiar adviser?"
What they might have said with truth was that Abe was still honest but
politics were not.

Widely different was the training undergone for the leadership of the
people by the Pericles of the American Republic from that undergone by
the Pericles of Athens, or by any group of statesmen before him, Greek,
Roman, or European. In this point of view, Mr. Lamon's book is a most
valuable addition to the library of political science. The advantages
and the disadvantages of Lincoln's political education are manifest at a
glance. He was sure to produce something strong, genuine, practical, and
entirely in unison with the thoughts and feelings of a people which,
like the Athenians in the days of Pericles, was to be led, not governed.
On the other hand, it necessarily left the statesman without the special
knowledge necessary for certain portions of his work, such as finance,
which was detestably managed during Lincoln's Presidency, without the
wisdom which flows from a knowledge of the political world and of the
past, without elevation, and comprehensiveness of view. It was fortunate
for Lincoln that the questions with which he had to deal, and with which
his country and the world proclaim him to have dealt, on the whole,
admirably well, though not in their magnitude and importance, were
completely within his ken, and had been always present to his mind.
Reconstruction would have made a heavier demand on the political science
of Clary's Grove. But that task was reserved for other hands.


A few weeks ago an Oxford College celebrated the thousandth anniversary
of its foundation by King Alfred. [Footnote: We keep the common
spelling, though AElfred is more correct. It is impossible, in deference
to antiquarian preciseness, to change the spelling of all these names,
which are now imbedded in the English classics.]

The college which claims this honour is commonly called University
College, though its legal name is _Magna Aula Universitatis_. The
name "University College" causes much perplexity to visitors. They are
with difficulty taught by the friend who is lionizing them to
distinguish it from the University. But the University of Oxford is a
federation of colleges, of which University College is one, resembling
in all respects the rest of the sisterhood, being, like them, under the
federal authority of the University, retaining the same measure of
college right, conducting the domestic instruction and discipline of its
students through its own officers, but sending them to the lecture rooms
of the University Professors for the higher teaching, and to the
University examination rooms to be examined for their degrees. The
college is an ample and venerable pile, with two towered gateways, each
opening into a quadrangle, its front stretching along the High Street,
on the side opposite St. Mary's Church. The darkness of the stone seems
to bespeak immemorial antiquity, but the style, which is the later
Gothic characteristic of Oxford, and symbolical of its history, shows
that the buildings really belong to the time of the Stuarts. "That
building must be very old, Sir," said an American visitor to the master
of the college, pointing to its dark front. "Oh, no," was the master's
reply, "the colour deceives you; that building is not more than two
hundred years old." In invidious contrast to this mass, debased but
imposing in its style, the pedantic mania for pure Gothic which marks
the Neo-catholic reaction in Oxford, and which will perhaps hereafter be
derided as we deride the classic mania of the last century, has led Mr.
Gilbert Scott to erect a pure Gothic library. This building, moreover,
has nothing in its form to bespeak its purpose, but resembles a chapel.
Over the gateway of the larger quadrangle is a statue, in Roman costume,
of James II.; one of the few memorials of the ejected tyrant, who in his
career of reaction visited the college and had two rooms on the east
side of the quadrangle fitted up for the performance of mass. Obadiah
Walker, the master of the college, had turned Papist, and became one of
the leaders of the reaction, in the overthrow of which he was involved,
the fall of his master and the ruin of his party being announced to him
by the boys singing at his window--"Ave Maria, old Obadiah." In the same
quadrangle are the chambers of Shelley, and the room to which he was
summoned by the assembled college authorities to receive, with his
friend Hogg, sentence of expulsion for having circulated an atheistical
treatise. In the ante-chapel is the florid monument of Sir William
Jones. But the modern divinities of the college are the two great legal
brothers, Lord Eldon and Lord Stowell, whose colossal statues
fraternally united are conspicuous in the library, whose portraits hang
side by side in the hall, whose medallion busts greet you at the
entrance to the Common Room. Pass by these medallions, and look into the
Common Room itself, with panelled walls, red curtains, polished mahogany
table, and generally cozy aspect, whither after the dinner in hall the
fellows of the college retire to sip their wine and taste such social
happiness as the rule of celibacy permits. Over that ample fire-place,
round the blaze of which the circle is drawn in the winter evenings, you
will see the marble bust, carved by no mean hand, of an ancient king,
and underneath it are the words _Alfredus Rex Fundator_.

Alas! both traditions--the tradition that Alfred founded the University
of Oxford, and the tradition that he founded University College--are
devoid of historical foundation. Universities did not exist in Alfred's
days. They were developed centuries later out of the monastery schools.
When Queen Elizabeth was on a visit to Cambridge, a scholar delivered
before her an oration, in which he exalted the antiquity of his own
university at the expense of that of the University of Oxford. The
University of Oxford was roused to arms. In that uncritical age any
antiquarian weapon which the fury of academical patriotism could supply
was eagerly grasped, and the reputation of the great antiquary Camden is
somewhat compromised with regard to an interpolation in Asser's Life of
Alfred, which formed the chief documentary support of the Oxford case.
The historic existence of both the English universities dawns in the
reign of the scholar king, and the restorer of order and prosperity
after the ravages of the conquest and the tyranny of Rufus--Henry I. In
that reign the Abbot of Croyland, to gain money for the rebuilding of
his abbey, set up a school where, we are told, Priscian's grammar,
Aristotle's logic with the commentaries of Porphyry and Averroes, Cicero
and Quintilian as masters of rhetoric, were taught after the manner of
the school of Orleans. In the following reign a foreign professor,
Vacarius, roused the jealousy of the English monarchy and baronage by
teaching Roman law in the schools of Oxford. The thirteenth century,
that marvellous and romantic age of mediaeval religion and character,
mediaeval art, mediaeval philosophy, was also the palmy age of the
universities. Then Oxford gloried in Groseteste, at once paragon and
patron of learning, church reformer and champion of the national church
against Roman aggression; in his learned and pious friend, Adam de
Marisco; and in Roger Bacon, the pioneer and proto-martyr of physical
science. Then, with Paris, she was the great seat of that school
philosophy, wonderful in its subtlety as well as in its aridity, which,
albeit it bore no fruit itself, trained the mind of Europe for more
fruitful studies, and was the original product of mediaeval Christendom,
though its forms of thought were taken from the deified Stagyrite, and
it was clothed in the Latin language, though in a form of that language
so much altered and debased from the classical as to become, in fact, a
literary vernacular of the Middle Ages. Then her schools, her church
porches, her very street corners, every spot where a professor could
gather an audience, were thronged with the aspiring youth who had
flocked, many of them begging their way out of the dark prison-house of
feudalism, to what was then, in the absence of printing, the sole centre
of intellectual light. Then Oxford, which in later times became from the
clerical character of the headships and fellowships the great organ of
reaction, was the great organ of progress, produced the political songs
which embodied, with wonderful force, the principles of free government,
and sent her students to fight under the banner of the university in the
army of Simon de Montfort.

It was in the thirteenth century that University College was really
founded. The founder was William of Durham, an English ecclesiastic who
had studied in the University of Paris. The universities were, like the
church, common to all the natives of Latin Christendom, that
ecclesiastical and literary federation of the European States, which,
afterwards broken up by the Reformation, is now in course of
reconstruction through uniting influences of a new kind. William of
Durham bequeathed to the University a fund for the maintenance of
students in theology. The university purchased with the fund a house in
which these students were maintained, and which was styled the Great
Hall of the University, in contra-distinction to the multitude of little
private halls or hospices in which students lived, generally under the
superintendence of a graduate who was their teacher. The hall or college
was under the visitorship of the University; but this visitorship being
irksome, and a dispute having arisen in the early part of the last
century whether it was to be exercised by the University at large, in
convocation, or by the theological faculty only, the college set up a
claim to be a royal foundation of the time of King Alfred, the reputed
founder of the University, and thus exempt from any visitorship but that
of the Crown. It was probably not very difficult to convince a
Hanoverian court of law that the visitorship of an Oxford college ought
to be transferred from the Jacobite university to the Crown; and so it
came to pass that the Court of King's Bench solemnly ratified as a fact
what historical criticism pronounces to be a baseless fable. The case in
favour of William of Durham as the founder is so clear, that the
antiquaries are ready to burst with righteous indignation, and one
almost enjoys the intensity of their wrath.

The Great Hall of the University was not, when first founded, a perfect
college. It was only a house for some eight or ten graduates in arts who
were studying divinity. The first perfect college was founded by Walter
de Merton, the Chancellor of Henry III., to whom is due the conception
of uniting the anti-monastic pursuit of secular learning with monastic
seclusion and discipline, for the benefit of that multitude of young
students who had hitherto dwelt at large in the city under little or no
control, and often showed, by their faction fights and other outrages,
that they contained the quintessence of the nation's turbulence as well
as of its intellectual activity and ambition. The quaint old quadrangle
of Merton, called, nobody seems to know why, "Mob" Quad, may be regarded
as the cradle of collegiate life in England, and indeed in Europe.

Still University College is the oldest foundation of learning now
existing in England; and therefore it may be not inappropriately
dedicated to the memory of the king who was the restorer of our
intellectual life as well as the preserver of our religion and our
institutions. Mr. Freeman, as the stern minister of fact, would, no
doubt, cast down the bust of Alfred from the Common Room chimney-piece
and set up that of William of Durham, if a likeness of him could be
found, in its place. But it may be doubted whether William of Durham, if
he were alive, would do the same.

Marcus Aurelius, Alfred and St. Louis, are the three examples of perfect
virtue on a throne. But the virtue of St. Louis is deeply tainted with
asceticism; and with the sublimated selfishness on which asceticism is
founded, he sacrifices everything and everybody--sacrifices national
interests, sacrifices the lives of the thousands of his subjects whom he
drags with him in his chimerical crusades--to the good of his own soul.
The Reflections of Marcus Aurelius will be read with ever increasing
admiration by all who have learned to study character, and to read it in
its connection with history. Alone in every sense, without guidance or
support but that which he found in his own breast, the imperial Stoic
struggled serenely, though hopelessly, against the powers of evil which
were dragging heathen Rome to her inevitable doom. Alfred was a
Christian hero, and in his Christianity he found the force which bore
him, through calamity apparently hopeless, to victory and happiness.

It must be owned that the materials for the history of the English king
are not very good. His biography by Bishop Asser, his counsellor and
friend, which forms the principal authority, is panegyrical and
uncritical, not to mention that a doubt rests on the authenticity of
some portions of it. But in the general picture there are a consistency
and a sobriety, which, combined with its peculiarity, commend it to us
as historical. The leading acts of Alfred's life are, of course, beyond
doubt. And as to his character, he speaks to us himself in his works,
and the sentiments which he expresses perfectly correspond with the
physiognomy of the portrait.

We have called him a Christian hero. He was the victorious champion of
Christianity against Paganism. This is the real significance of the
struggle and of his character. The Northmen, or, as we loosely term
them, the Danes, are called by the Saxon chroniclers the Pagans. As to
race, the Northman, like the Saxon, was a Teuton, and the institutions,
and the political and social tendencies of both, were radically the

It has been said that Christianity enervated the English and gave them
over into the hands of the fresh and robust sons of nature. Asceticism
and the abuse of monachism enervated the English. Asceticism taught the
spiritual selfishness which flies from the world and abandons it to ruin
instead of serving God by serving humanity. Kings and chieftains, under
the hypocritical pretence of exchanging a worldly for an angelic life,
buried themselves in the indolence, not seldom in the sensuality, of the
cloister, when they ought to have been leading their people against the
Dane. But Christianity formed the bond which held the English together,
and the strength of their resistance. It inspired their patriot martyrs,
it raised up to them a deliverer at their utmost need. The causes of
Danish success are manifest; superior prowess and valour, sustained by
more constant practice in war, of which the Saxon had probably had
comparatively little since the final subjection of the Celt and the
union of the Saxon kingdoms under Egbert; the imperfect character of
that union, each kingdom retaining its own council and its own
interests; and above all the command of the sea, which made the invaders
ubiquitous, while the march of the defenders was delayed, and their
junction prevented, by the woods and morasses of the uncleared island,
in which the only roads worthy of the name were those left by the

It would be wrong to call the Northmen mere corsairs, or even to class
them with piratical states such as Cilicia of old, or Barbary in more
recent times. Their invasions were rather to be regarded as an after-act
of the great migration of the Germanic tribes, one of the last waves of
the flood which overwhelmed the Roman Empire, and deposited the germs of
modern Christendom. They were, and but for the defensive energy of the
Christianized Teuton would have been, to the Saxon what the Saxon had
been to the Celt, whose sole monuments in England now are the names of
hills and rivers, the usual epitaph of exterminated races. Like the
Saxons the Northmen came by sea, untouched by those Roman influences,
political and religious, by which most of the barbarians had been more
or less transmuted before their actual irruption into the Empire. If
they treated all the rest of mankind as their prey, this was the
international law of heathendom, modified only by a politic humanity in
the case of the Imperial Roman, who preferred enduring dominion to blood
and booty. With Christianity came the idea, even now imperfectly
realized, of the brotherhood of man. The Northmen were a memorable race,
and English character, especially its maritime element, received in them
a momentous addition. In their northern abodes they had undergone, no
doubt, the most rigorous process of national selection. The sea-roving
life, to which they were driven by the poverty of their soil, as the
Scandinavian of our day is driven to emigration, intensified in them the
vigour, the enterprise, and the independence of the Teuton. As has been
said before, they were the first ocean sailors; for the Phoenicians,
though adventurous had crept along the shore; and the Greeks and Romans
had done the same. The Northman, stouter of heart than they, put forth
into mid Atlantic. American antiquarians are anxious to believe in a
Norse discovery of America. Norse colonies were planted in Greenland
beyond what is now the limit of human habitation; and when a power grew
up in his native seats which could not be brooked by the Northman's love
of freedom, he founded amidst the unearthly scenery of Iceland a
community which brought the image of a republic of the Homeric type far
down into historic times. His race, widely dispersed in its course of
adventure, and everywhere asserting its ascendancy, sat on the thrones
of Normandy, Apulia, Sicily, England, Ireland, and even Russia, and gave
heroic chiefs to the crusaders. The pirates were not without heart
towards each other, nor without a rudimentary civilization, which
included on the one hand a strong regard for freehold property in land,
and on the other a passionate love of heroic days. Their mythology was
the universal story of the progress of the sun and the changes of the
year, but in a northern version, wild with storms and icebergs, gloomy
with the darkness of Scandinavian winters. Their religion was a war
religion, the lord of their hearts a war god; their only heaven was that
of the brave, their only hell that of the coward; and the joys of
Paradise were a renewal of the fierce combat and the fierce carouse of
earth. Some of them wound themselves up on the eve of battle to a frenzy
like that of a Malay running amuck. But this was, at all events, a
religion of action, not of ceremonial or spell; and it quelled the fear
of death. In some legends of the Norse mythology there is a humorous
element which shows freedom of spirit; while in others, such as the
legend of the death of Balder, there is a pathos not uncongenial to
Christianity. The Northmen were not priest-ridden. Their gods were not
monstrous and overwhelming forces like the hundred-handed idols of the
Hindu, but human forms, their own high qualities idealized, like the
gods of the Greek, though with Scandinavian force in place of Hellenic

Converted to Christianity, the Northman transferred his enthusiasm, his
martial prowess and his spirit of adventure from the service of Odin to
that of Christ, and became a devotee and a crusader. But in his
unconverted state he was an exterminating enemy of Christianity; and
Christianity was the civilization as well as the religion of England.

Scarcely had the Saxon kingdom been united by Egbert, when the barks of
the Northmen appeared, filling the English Charlemagne, no doubt, with
the same foreboding sorrow with which they had filled his Frankish
prototype and master. In the course of the half century which followed,
the swarms of rovers constantly increased, and grew more pertinacious
and daring in their attacks. Leaving their ships they took horses,
extended their incursions inland, and formed in the interior of the
country strongholds, into which they brought the plunder of the
district. At last they in effect conquered the North and Midland, and
set up a satrap king, as the agent of their extortion. They seem, like
the Franks of Clovis, to have quartered themselves as "guests" upon the
unhappy people of the land. The monasteries and churches were the
special objects of their attacks, both as the seats of the hated
religion, and as the centres of wealth; and their sword never spared a
monk. Croyland, Peterborough, Huntingdon and Ely, were turned to blood-
stained ashes. Edmund, the Christian chief of East Anglia, found a
martyrdom, of which one of the holiest and most magnificent of English
abbeys was afterwards the monument. The brave Algar, another East
Anglian chieftain, having taken the holy sacrament with all his
followers on the eve of battle, perished with them in a desperate
struggle, overcome by the vulpine cunning of the marauders. Among the
leaders of the Northmen were the terrible brothers Ingrar and Ubba,
fired, if the Norse legend may be trusted, by revenge as well as by the
love of plunder and horror; for they were the sons of that Ragnar
Lodbrok who had perished in the serpent tower of the Saxon Ella. When
Alfred appeared upon the scene, Wessex itself, the heritage of the house
of Cerdic and the supreme kingdom, was in peril from the Pagans, who had
firmly entrenched themselves at Reading, in the angle between the Thames
and Kennet, and English Christianity was threatened with destruction.

A younger but a favourite child, Alfred was sent in his infancy by his
father to Rome to receive the Pope's blessing. He was thus affiliated,
as it were, to that Roman element, ecclesiastical and political, which,
combined with the Christian and Teutonic elements, has made up English
civilization. But he remained through life a true Teuton. He went a
second time, in company with his father, to Rome, still a child, yet old
enough, especially if he was precocious, to receive some impressions
from the city of historic grandeur, ancient art, ecclesiastical order,
centralized power. There is a pretty legend, denoting the docility of
the boy and his love of learning, or at least of the national lays; but
he was also a hunter and a warrior. From his youth he had a thorn in his
flesh, in the shape of a mysterious disease, perhaps epilepsy, to which
monkish chroniclers have given an ascetic and miraculous turn; and this
enhances our sense of the hero's moral energy in the case of Alfred, as
in that of William III.

As "Crown Prince," to use the phrase of a German writer, Alfred took
part with his elder brother, King Ethelbert, in the mortal struggle
against the Pagans, then raging around Reading and along the rich valley
through which the 'Great Western Railway' now runs, and where a Saxon
victory is commemorated by the White Horse, which forms the subject of a
little work by Thomas Hughes, a true representative, if any there be, of
the liegemen and soldiers of King Alfred. When Ethelbert was showing
that in him at all events Christianity was not free from the ascetic
taint, by continuing to hear mass in his tent when the moment had come
for decisive action, Alfred charged up-hill "like a wild boar" against
the heathen, and began a battle which, his brother at last coming up,
ended in a great victory. The death of Ethelbert, in the midst of the
crisis, placed the perilous crown on Alfred's head. Ethelbert left
infant sons, but the monarchy was elective, though one of the line of
Cerdic was always chosen; and those were the days of the real king, the
ruler judge, and captain of the people, not of what Napoleon called the
_cochon a l'engrais a cinq millions par an_. In pitched battles,
eight of which were fought in rapid succession, the English held their
own; but they were worn out, and at length could no longer be brought
into the field. Whether a faint monkish tradition of the estrangement of
the people by unpopular courses on the part of the young king has any
substance of truth we cannot say.

Utter gloom now settled down upon the Christian king and people. Had
Alfred yielded to his inclinations, he would probably have followed the
example of his brother-in-law, Buhred of Mercia, and sought a congenial
retreat amidst the churches and libraries of Rome; asceticism would have
afforded him a pretext for so doing; but he remained at the post of
duty. Athelney, a little island in the marshes of Somersetshire--then
marshes, now drained and a fruitful plain--to which he retired with the
few followers left him, has been aptly compared to the mountains of
Asturias, which formed the last asylum of Christianity in Spain. A jewel
with the legend in Anglo-Saxon, "Alfred caused me to be made," was found
near the spot, and is now in the University Museum at Oxford. A similar
island in the marshes of Cambridgeshire formed the last rallying point
of English patriotism against the Norman Conquest. Of course, after the
deliverance, a halo of legends gathered around Athelney. The legends of
the king disguised as a peasant in the cottage of the herdsman, and of
the king disguised as a harper in the camp of the Dane, are familiar to
childhood. There is also a legend of the miraculous appearance of the
great Saxon Saint Cuthbert. The king in his extreme need had gone to
fish in a neighbouring stream, but had caught nothing, and was trying to
comfort himself by reading the Psalms, when a poor man came to the door
and begged for a piece of bread. The king gave him half his last loaf
and the little wine left in the pitcher. The beggar vanished; the loaf
was unbroken, the pitcher brimful of wine; and fishermen came in
bringing a rich haul of fish from the river. In the night St. Cuthbert
appeared to the king in a dream and promised him victory. We see at
least what notion the generations nearest to him had of the character of

At last the heart of the oppressed people turned to its king, and the
time arrived for a war of liberation. But on the morrow of victory
Alfred compromised with the Northmen. He despaired, it seems, of their
final expulsion, and thought it better, if possible, to make them
Englishmen and Christians, and, to convert them into a barrier against
their foreign and heathen brethren. We see in this politic moderation at
once a trait of national character and a proof that the exploits of
Alfred are not mythical. By the treaty of Wedmore, the northeastern part
of England became the portion of the Dane, where he was to dwell in
peace with the Saxon people, and in allegiance to their king, but under
his own laws--an arrangement which had nothing strange in it when law
was only the custom of the tribe. As a part of the compact, Guthorm led
over his Northmen from the allegiance of Odin to that of Christ, and was
himself baptized by the Christian name of Athelstan. When religions were
national, or rather tribal, conversions were tribal too. The Northmen of
East Anglia had not so far put off their heathen propensities or their
savage perfidy as to remain perfectly true to their covenant: but, on
the whole, Alfred's policy of compromise and assimilation was
successful. A new section of heathen Teutonism was incorporated into
Christendom, and England absorbed a large Norse population whose
dwelling-place is still marked by the names of places, and perhaps in
some measure by the features and character of the people. In the
fishermen of Whitby, for example, a town with a Danish name, there is a
peculiarity which is probably Scandinavian.

The transaction resembled the cession of Normandy to Rolf and his
followers by the Carlovingian King of France. But the cession of
Normandy marked the dissolution of the Carlovingian monarchy: from the
cession of East Anglia to Guthorm dates a regeneration of the monarchy
of Cerdic.

Alfred had rescued the country. But the country which he had rescued was
a wreck. The Church, the great organ of civilization as well as of
spiritual life, was ruined. The monasteries were in ashes. The monks of
St. Cuthbert were wandering from place to place, with the relics of the
great northern Saint. The worship of Woden seemed on the point of
returning. The clergy had exchanged the missal and censer for the
battle-axe, and had become secularized and brutalized by the conflict.
The learning of the Order was dead. The Latin language, the tongue of
the Church, of literature, of education, was almost extinct. Alfred
himself says that he could not recollect a priest, south of the Thames,
who understood the Latin service or could translate a document from the
Latin when he became king. Political institutions were in an equal state
of disorganization. Spiritual, intellectual, civil life--everything was
to be restored; and Alfred undertook to restore everything. No man in
these days stands alone, or towers in unapproachable superiority above
his fellows. Nor can any man now play all the parts. A division of
labour has taken place in all spheres. The time when the missionaries at
once converted and civilized the forefathers of European Christendom,
when Charlemagne or Alfred was the master spirit in everything, has
passed away, and with it the day of hero-worship, of rational hero-
worship, has departed, at least for the European nations. The more
backward races may still need, and have reason to venerate, a Peter the

Alfred had to do everything almost with his own hands. He was himself
the inventor of the candle-clock which measured his time, so unspeakably
precious, and of the lantern of transparent horn which protected the
candle-clock against the wind in the tent, or the lodging scarcely more
impervious to the weather than a tent, which in those times sheltered
the head of wandering royalty. Far and wide he sought for men, like a
bee in quest of honey, to condense a somewhat prolix trope of his
biographer. An embassy of bishops, priests and religious laymen, with
great gifts, was sent to the Archbishop of Rheims, within whose diocese
the famous Grimbald resided, to persuade him to allow Grimbald to come
to England, and with difficulty the ambassadors prevailed, Alfred
promising to treat Grimbald with distinguished honour during the rest of
his life. It is touching to see what a price the king set upon a good
and able man. "I was called," says Asser, "from the western extremity of
Wales. I was led to Sussex, and first saw the king in the royal mansion
of Dene. He received me with kindness, and amongst other conversation,
earnestly besought me to devote myself to his service, and to become his
companion. He begged me to give up my preferments beyond the Severn,
promising to bestow on me still richer preferments in their place."
Asser said that he was unwilling to quit, merely for worldly honour, the
country in which he had been brought up and ordained. "At least,"
replied the king, "give me half your time. Pass six months of the year
with me and the rest in Wales." Asser still hesitated. The king repeated
his solicitations, and Asser promised to return within half a year; the
time was fixed for his visit, and on the fourth day of their interview
he left the king and went home.

In order to restore civilization, it was necessary above all things to
reform the Church. "I have often thought," says Alfred, "what wise men
there were once among the English people, both clergy and laymen, and
what blessed times those were when the people were governed by kings who
obeyed God and His gospels, and how they maintained peace, virtue and
good order at home, and even extended them beyond their own country; how
they prospered in battle as well as in wisdom, and how zealous the
clergy were in teaching and learning, and in all their sacred duties;
and how people came hither from foreign countries to seek for
instruction, whereas now, when we desire it, we can only obtain it from
abroad." It is clear that the king, unlike the literary devotees of
Scandinavian paganism, looked upon Christianity as the root of the
greatness, and even of the military force, of the nation.

In order to restore the Church again, it was necessary above all things
to refound the monasteries. Afterwards--society having become settled,
religion being established, and the Church herself having acquired fatal
wealth--these brotherhoods sank into torpor and corruption; but while
the Church was still a missionary in a spiritual and material
wilderness, waging a death struggle with heathenism and barbarism, they
were the indispensable engines of the holy war. The re-foundation of
monasteries, therefore, was one of Alfred's first cares; and he did not
fail, in token of his pious gratitude, to build at Athelney a house of
God which was far holier than the memorial abbey afterwards built by the
Norman Conqueror at Battle. The revival of monasticism among the
English, however, was probably no easy task, for their domestic and
somewhat material nature never was well suited to monastic life. The
monastery schools, the germs, as has been already said, of our modern
universities and colleges, were the King's main organs in restoring
education; but he had also a school in his palace for the children of
the nobility and the royal household. It was not only clerical education
that he desired to promote. His wish was "that all the free-born youth
of his people, who possessed the means, might persevere in learning so
long as they had no other work to occupy them, until they could
perfectly read the English scriptures; while such as desired to devote
themselves to the service of the Church might be taught Latin." No doubt
the wish was most imperfectly fulfilled, but still it was a noble wish.
We are told the King himself was often present at the instruction of the
children in the palace school. A pleasant calm after the storms of
battle with the Dane!

Oxford (Ousen-ford, the ford of the Ouse) was already a royal city; and
it may be conjectured that, amidst the general restoration of learning
under Alfred, a school of some sort would be opened there. This is the
only particle of historical foundation for the academic legend which
gave rise to the recent celebration. Oxford was desolated by the Norman
Conquest, and anything that remained of the educational institution of
Alfred was in all probability swept away.

Another measure, indispensable to the civilizer as well as to the church
reformer in those days, was to restore the intercourse with Rome, and
through her with continental Christendom, which had been interrupted by
the troubles. The Pope, upon Alfred's accession, had sent him gifts and
a piece of the Holy Cross. Alfred sent embassies to the Pope, and made a
voluntary annual offering, to obtain favourable treatment for his
subjects at Rome. But, adopted child of Rome, and naturally attached to
her as the centre of ecclesiastical order and its civilizing influences
though he was, and much as he was surrounded by ecclesiastical friends
and ministers, we trace in him no ultramontanism, no servile submission
to priests. The English Church, so far as we can see, remains national,
and the English King remains its head.

Not only with Latin but with Eastern Christendom, Alfred, if we may
trust the contemporary Saxon chronicles, opened communication. As
Charlemagne, in the spirit partly perhaps of piety, partly of ambition,
had sent an embassy with proofs of his grandeur to the Caliph of Bagdad;
as Louis XIV., in the spirit of mere ambition, delighted to receive an
embassy from Siam; so Alfred, in a spirit of piety unmixed, sent
ambassadors to the traditional Church of St. Thomas in India: and the
ambassadors returned, we are told, with perfumes and precious stones as
the memorials of their journey, which were long preserved in the
churches. "This was the first intercourse," remarks Pauli, "that took
place between England and Hindostan."

All nations are inclined to ascribe their primitive institutions to some
national founder, a Lycurgus, a Theseus, a Romulus. It is not necessary
now to prove that Alfred did not found trial by jury, or the frank-
pledge, or that he was not the first who divided the kingdom into
shires, hundreds, or tithings. The part of trial by jury which has been
politically of so much importance, its popular character, as opposed to
arbitrary trial by a royal or imperial officer--that of which the
preservation, amidst the general prevalence of judicial imperialism, has
been the glory of England--was simply Teutonic; so was the frank-pledge,
the rude machinery for preserving law and order by mutual responsibility
in the days before police; so were the hundreds and the tithings,
rudimentary institutions marking the transition from the clan to the
local community or canton. The shires probably marked some stage in the
consolidation of the Saxon settlements; at all events they were ancient
divisions which Alfred can at most only have reconstituted in a revised
form after the anarchy.

He seems, however, to have introduced a real and momentous innovation by
appointing special judges to administer a more regular justice than that
which was administered in the local courts of the earls and bishops, or
even in the national assembly. In this respect he was the imitator,
probably the unconscious imitator, of Charlemagne, and the precursor of
Henry II., the institutor of our Justices in Eyre. The powers and
functions of the legislature, the executive and the judiciary, lie at
first enfolded in the same germ, and are alike exercised by the king,
or, as in the case of the ancient republics, by the national assembly.
It is a great step when the special office of the judiciary is separated
from the rest. It is a great step also when uniformity of justice is
introduced. Probably, however, these judges, like the itinerant justices
of Henry II., were administrative as well as judicial officers; or, in
the terms of our modern polity, they were delegates of the Home Office
as well as of the Central Courts of Law.

In his laws, Alfred, with the sobriety and caution on which the
statesmen of his race have prided themselves, renounces the character of
an innovator, fearing, as he says, that his innovations might not be
accepted by those who would come after him. His code, if so inartificial
a document can be dignified with the name, is mainly a compilation from
the laws of his Saxon predecessors. We trace, however, an advance from
the barbarous system of weregeld, or composition for murder and other
crimes as private wrongs, towards a State system of criminal justice. In
totally forbidding composition for blood, and asserting that
indefeasible sanctity of human life which is the essential basis of
civilization, the code of Moses stands contrasted with other primaeval
codes. Alfred, in fact, incorporated an unusually large amount of the
Mosaic and Christian elements, which blend with Germanic customs and the
relics of Roman law, in different proportions, to make up the various
codes of the early Middle Ages, called the Laws of the Barbarians. His
code opens with the Ten Commandments, followed by extracts from Exodus,
containing the Mosaic law respecting the relations between masters and
servants, murder and other crimes, and the observance of holy days, and
the Apostolic Epistle from Acts xv 23-29. Then is added Matthew vii. 12,
"Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them."
"By this one Commandment," says Alfred, "a man shall know whether he
does right, and he will then require no other law-book." This is not the
form of a modern Act of Parliament, but legislation in those days was as
much preaching as enactment; it often resembled in character the Royal
Proclamation against Vice and Immorality.

Alfred's laws unquestionably show a tendency to enforce loyalty to the
king, and to enhance the guilt of treason, which, in the case of an
attempt on the king's life, is punished with death and confiscation,
instead of the old composition by payment of the royal weregeld. Hence
he has been accused of imperializing and anti-Teutonic tendencies; he
had even the misfortune to be fixed upon as a prototype by Oxford
advocates of the absolutism of Charles I. There is no ground for the
charge, so far at least as Alfred's legislation or any known measure of
his government is concerned. The kingly power was the great source of
order and justice amidst that anarchy, the sole rallying point and bond
of union for the imperilled nation; to maintain it, and protect from
violence the life of its holder, was the duty of a patriot law-giver:
and as the authority of a Saxon king depended in great measure on his
personal character and position, no doubt the personal authority of
Alfred was exceptionally great. But he continued to govern by the advice
of the national council; and the fundamental principles of the Teutonic
polity remained unimpaired by him, and were transmitted intact to his
successors. His writings breathe a sense of the responsibilities of
rulers and a hatred of tyranny. He did not even attempt to carry further
the incorporation of the subordinate kingdoms with Wessex; but ruled
Mercia as a separate state by the hand of his brother-in-law, and left
it to its own national council or witan. Considering his circumstances,
and the chaos from which his government had emerged, it is wonderful
that he did not centralize more. He was, we repeat, a true Teuton, and
entirely worthy of his place in the Germanic Walhalla.

The most striking proof of his multifarious activity of mind, and of the
unlimited extent of the task which his circumstances imposed upon him,
as well as of his thoroughly English character, is his undertaking to
give his people a literature in their own tongue. To do this he had
first to educate himself--to educate himself at an advanced age, after
a life of fierce distraction, and with the reorganization of his
shattered kingdom on his hands. In his boyhood he had got by heart Saxon
lays, vigorous and inspiring, but barbarous; he had learned to read, but
it is thought that he had not learned to write. "As we were one day
sitting in the royal chamber," says Asser, "and were conversing as was
our wont, it chanced that I read him a passage out of a certain book.
After he had listened with fixed attention, and expressed great delight,
he showed me the little book which he always carried about with him, and
in which the daily lessons, psalms and prayers, were written, and begged
me to transcribe that passage into his book." Asser assented, but found
that the book was already full, and proposed to the king to begin
another book, which was soon in its turn filled with extracts. A portion
of the process of Alfred's education is recorded by Asser. "I was
honourably received at the royal mansion, and at that time stayed eight
months in the king's court. I translated and read to him whatever books
he wished which were within our reach; for it was his custom, day and
night, amidst all his afflictions of mind and body, to read books
himself or have them read to him by others." To original composition
Alfred did not aspire; he was content with giving his people a body of
translations of what he deemed the best authors; here again showing his
royal good sense. In the selection of his authors, he showed liberality
and freedom from Roman, ecclesiastical, imperialist, or other bias. On
the one hand he chooses for the benefit of the clergy whom he desired to
reform, the "Pastoral Care" of the good Pope, Gregory the Great, the
author of the mission which had converted England to Christianity; but
on the other hand he chooses the "Consolations of Philosophy," the chief
work of Boethius, the last of the Romans, and the victim of the cruel
jealousy of Theodoric. Of Boethius Hallam says "Last of the classic
writers, in style not impure, though displaying too lavishly that poetic
exuberance which had distinguished the two or three preceding centuries;
in elevation of sentiment equal to any of the philosophers; and mingling
a Christian sanctity with their lessons, he speaks from his prison in
the swan-like tones of dying eloquence. The philosophy which consoled
him in bonds was soon required in the sufferings of a cruel death.
Quenched in his blood, the lamp he had trimmed with a skilful hand gave
no more light; the language of Tully and Virgil soon ceased to be
spoken; and many ages were to pass away before learned diligence
restored its purity, and the union of genius with imitation taught a few
modern writers to 'surpass in eloquence' the Latinity of Boethius."
Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English, the highest product of
that memorable burst of Saxon intellect which followed the conversion,
and a work, not untainted by miracle and legend, yet most remarkable for
its historical qualities as well as for its mild and liberal
Christianity, is balanced in the king's series of translations by the
work of Orosius, who wrote of general and secular history, though with a
religious object. In the translation of Orosius, Alfred has inserted a
sketch of the geography of Germany, and the reports of explorations made
by two mariners under his auspices among the natives dwelling on the
coasts of the Baltic and the North Sea--further proof of the variety of
his interests and the reach of his mind.

In his prefaces, and in his amplifications and interpolations of the
philosophy of Boethius, Alfred comes before us an independent author,
and shows us something of his own mind on theology, on philosophy, on
government, and generally as to the estate of man. To estimate these
passages rightly, we must put ourselves back into the anarchical and
illiterate England of the ninth century, and imagine a writer, who, if
we could see him, would appear barbarous and grotesque, as would all his
equipments and surroundings, and one who had spent his days in a
desperate struggle with wolfish Danes, seated at his literary work in
his rude Saxon mansion, with his candle-clock protected by the horn
lantern against the wind. The utterances of Alfred will then appear
altogether worthy of his character and his deeds. He always emphasizes
and expands passages which speak either of the responsibilities of
rulers or of the nothingness of earthly power; and the reflections are
pervaded by a pensiveness which reminds us of Marcus Aurelius. The
political world had not much advanced when, six centuries after Alfred,
it arrived at Machiavelli.

There is an especial sadness in the tone of some words respecting the
estate of kings, their intrinsic weakness, disguised only by their royal
trains, the mutual dread that exists between them and those by whom they
are surrounded, the drawn sword that always hangs over their heads, "as
to me it ever did." We seem to catch a glimpse of some trials, and
perhaps errors, not recorded by Asser or the chroniclers.

In his private life Alfred appears to have been an example of conjugal
fidelity and manly purity, while we see no traces of the asceticism
which was revered by the superstition of the age of Edward the
Confessor. His words on the value and the claims of a wife, if not up to
the standard of modern sentiment, are at least instinct with genuine

The struggle with the Northmen was not over. Their swarms came again, in
the latter part of Alfred's reign, from Germany, whence they had been
repulsed, and from France, which they had exhausted by their ravages.
But the king's generalship foiled them and compelled them to depart.
Seeing where their strength lay, he built a regular fleet to encounter
them on their own element, and he may be called the founder of the Royal

His victory was decisive. The English monarchy rose from the ground in
renewed strength, and entered on a fresh lease of greatness. A line of
able kings followed Alfred. His son and successor, Edward, inherited his
vigour. His favourite grandson, Athelstan, smote the Dane and the Scot
together at Brunanburgh, and awoke by his glorious victory the last
echoes of Saxon song. Under Edgar the greatness of the monarchy reached
its highest pitch, and it embraced the whole island under its imperial
ascendancy. At last its hour came; but when Canute founded a Danish
dynasty he and his Danes were Christians.

"This I can now truly say, that so long as I have lived I have striven
to live worthily, and after my death to leave my memory to my
descendants in good works." If the king who wrote those words did not
found a university or a polity, he restored and perpetuated the
foundations of English institutions, and he left what is almost as
valuable as any institution--a great and inspiring example of public


"Has humanity such forces at its command wherewith to combat vice and
baseness, that each school of virtue can afford to repel the aid of the
rest, and to maintain that it alone is entitled to the praise of
courage, of goodness, and of resignation?" Such is the rebuke
administered by M. Renan to the Christians who refuse to recognise the
martyrs of Stoicism under the Roman Empire. My eye fell upon the words
when I had just laid down Professor Mommsen's harsh judgment of the last
defenders of the Republic, and they seemed to me applicable to this case

It is needless to say that there has been a curious change of opinion as
to the merits of these men who, a century ago, were political saints of
the Liberal party, but whom in the present day Liberal writers are
emulously striving, with Dante, to thrust down into the nethermost hell.
Dante puts Brutus and Cassius in hell not because he knows the real
history of their acts, or because he is qualified to judge of the moral
and political conditions under which they acted, but simply because he
is a Ghibelin, and they slew the head of the Holy Roman Empire; and the
present change of opinion arises, in the main, not from the discovery of
any new fact, or from the better sifting of those already known, but
from the prevalence of new sentiments--Imperialism of different shades,
Bonapartist or Positivist, and perhaps also hero-worship, which of
course fixes upon Caesar. Positivism and Hero-worship are somewhat
incongruous allies, for Hero-worship is evidently the least scientific,
while Positivism aims at being the most scientific, of all the theories
of history.

We are judging the opponents of Caesar, it seems to me, under the
dominion of exaggerated notions of the beneficence of the Empire which
Caesar founded, of its value as a political model, of its connection with
the life of modern civilization, and of the respect, not to say
devotion, due to the memory of its founder. Let us try to cast off for
an hour the influence of these modern sentiments, and put the whole
group of ancient figures back into its place in ancient history.

The Empire was a necessity at the time when it came--granted. But a
necessity of what sort? Was it a necessity created by an upward effort,
by an elevation of humanity, or by degradation and decline? In the
former case you may pass the same sentence upon those who opposed its
coming which is passed upon those who crucified Christ, or who, like
Philip II., opposed the Reformation in the spirit of bigoted reaction.
But in the latter case they must be charged, not with moral blindness or
depravity, but only with the lack of that clearness of sight which leads
men and parties at the right moment, or even in anticipation of the
right moment, to despair; and such perspicacity, to say the least, is a
highly scientific quality, requiring perhaps, to make it respectable and
safe, a more exact knowledge of historical sequences than we even now
possess. Even now we determine these historical necessities by our
knowledge of the result. It was a necessity, given all the conditions--
the treachery of Ephialtes included--that the Persians should force the
pass of Thermopylae. But the Three Hundred could not know all the
conditions. Even if they had, would they have done right in giving way?
They fell, but their spirits fought again at Salamis.

To me it appears that the Empire was a necessity of the second kind;
that it was an inevitable concession to incurable evil, not a new
development of good. The Roman morality, the morality which had produced
and sustained the Republic, was now in a state of final and irremediable
decay. That morality was narrow and imperfect, or rather it was
rudimentary, a feeble and transient prototype of the sounder and more
enduring morality which was soon to be born into the world. It was the
morality of devotion to a single community, and in fact consisted mainly
of the performance of duty to that community in war. But it was real and
energetic after its measure and its own time. It produced a type of
character, which, if reproduced now, would be out of date and even
odious, but which stands in history dignified and imposing even to the
last. Nor was it without elements of permanent value. It contributed
largely to the patriotism of the seventeenth century, a patriotism which
has now perhaps become obsolete in its turn, and is superseded in our
aspirations by an ideal with less of right and self-assertion, with more
of duty and of social affection, yet did good service against the
Stuarts. The Roman morality, together with dignity of character,
produced as usual simplicity of life. It produced a reverence for the
majesty of law, the voice of the community. It produced relations
between the sexes, and domestic relations generally, far indeed below
the ideal, yet decidedly above those which commonly existed in the pagan
world. It produced a high degree of self-control and of abstinence from
vices which prevailed elsewhere. It produced fruits of intellect, some
original, especially in the political sphere, others merely borrowed
from Greece, yet evincing on the part of the borrower a power of
appreciating the superior excellence of another, and that a conquered
nation, the value of which, as breaking through the iron boundary of
national self-love, has perhaps not received sufficient notice. What was
of most consequence to the world at large and to history, it produced,
though probably not so much in the way of obedience to recognised
principle as of noble instinct, a signal mitigation of Conquest, which
was then the universal habit, but from being extermination and
destruction, at best slavery or forcible transplantation, became under
the Romans a supremacy, imposed indeed by force, and at the cost of much
suffering, yet, in a certain sense civilizing, and not exercised wholly
without regard for the good of the subject races. Thus that political
unity of the nations round the Mediterranean was brought about, which
was the necessary precursor and protector of a union of a better kind. A
measure of the same praise is due to Alexander, who was a conqueror of
the higher order for a similar reason--namely, that though a Macedonian
prince, he was imbued with the ideas and the morality of the Greek
republics. But Alexander was a single man, and he could not accomplish
what was accomplished in a succession of generations by the corporate
energies and virtues of the Roman Senate.

The conditions under which this morality had maintained itself were now
gone. It depended on the circumstances of a small community, long
engaged in a struggle for existence with powerful and aggressive
neighbours, the Latin, the Etruscan, the Samnite, and the Gaul; entering
in turn, when its own safety had been secured, on a career of conquest,
still in a certain sense defensive, since every neighbour was in those
days an enemy; and continuing to task to the utmost the citizen's
devotion to the State, the virtues of command and obedience necessary to
victory, and the frugality necessary to supply the means of great
national efforts; while luxury was kept at bay, though the means of
indulging it had begun to flow in, by the check of national danger and
the counter-attraction of military glory. But all this was at an end
when Carthage and Macedon were overthrown. National danger and the
necessity for national effort being removed, self-devotion failed,
egotism broke loose, and began to revel in the pillage and oppression of
a conquered world. The Roman character was corrupted, as the Spartan
character was corrupted when Sparta, from being a camp in the midst of
hostile Helots, became a dominant power and sent out governors to
subject states; though the corruption in the case of Sparta was far more
rapid, because Spartan excellence was more exclusively military, more
formal and more obsolete. The mass of the Romans ceased to perform
military duty, and there being no great public duty except military duty
to be performed, there remained no school of public virtue. Such public
virtue as there was lingered, though in a degraded form round the eagles
of the standing armies, to which the duties of the citizen-soldier were
now consigned; and the soldiery thus acquired not only the power but the
right of electing the emperors, the best of whom, in fact, after
Augustus, were generally soldiers. The ruling nation became a city
rabble, the vices of which were but little tempered by the fitful
intervention of the enfranchised communities of Italy. Of this rabble,
political adventurers bought the consulships, which led to the
government of provinces, and wrung out of the unhappy provincials the
purchase money and a fortune for themselves besides. These fortunes
begot colossal luxury and a general reign of vice. Violence mingling
with corruption in the elections was breeding a complete anarchy in
Rome. Roman religion, to which, if we believe Polybius, we must ascribe
a real influence in the maintenance of morality, was at the same time
undermined by the sceptical philosophy of Greece, and by contact with
conflicting religions, the spectacle of which had its effect in
producing the scepticism of Montaigne.

The empire itself was on the point of dissolution. In empires founded by
single conquerors, such as those of the East, when corruption has made
the reigning family its prey, the satraps make themselves independent.
The empire of Alexander was divided among his generals. The empire of
the conquering republic of Rome, the republic itself having succumbed to
vices analagous to the corruption of a reigning family, was about to be
broken up by the great military chiefs. Pompey had already, in fact,
carved out for himself a separate kingdom in Spain, which with its
legions he had got permanently into his own hands. Thus the unity of the
civilized portion of humanity, so indispensable to the future of the
race, would have been lost. Nor was there any remedy but one.
Representation of the provinces was out of the question. Supposing it
possible that a single assembly could have been formed out of all these
different races and tongues, the representation of the conquered would
have been the abdication of the conqueror, and abdication was a step for
which the lazzaroni of the so-called democratic party were as little
prepared as the haughtiest aristocrat in Rome. A world of egotism,
without faith or morality, could be held together only by force, which
presented itself in the person of the ablest, most daring, and most
unscrupulous adventurer of the time. If faith should again fail, and the
world again be reduced to a mass of egotism, the same sort of government
will again, be needed. In fact, we are at this moment rather in danger
of something of the kind, and these revivals of Caesarism are not wholly
out of season. But in any other case to propose to society such a model
would be treason to humanity.

The abandonment of military duty by the Roman people had, among other
things, made slavery more immoral than ever, because there was no longer
any semblance of a division of labour: the master could no longer be
said to defend the slave in war while the slave supported him by labour
at home. Becoming more immoral, slavery became more cruel. The six
thousand crosses erected on the road from Capua to Rome after the
Servile War were the terrible proof.

As to the existence of an oligarchy in the bosom of the dominant
republic, this would in itself have been no great evil to the subject
world, to which it mattered little whether its tyrants were a hundred or
a hundred thousand; just as to the unenfranchised in modern communities
it matters little whether the enfranchised class be large or small. In
fact, the broader the basis of a tyranny, the more fearless and
unscrupulous, generally speaking, the tyranny is.

We need not overstate the case. If we do we shall tarnish the laurels of
Caesar, who would have shown no genius in killing the republic had the
republic been already dead. There was still respect for the law and the
constitution. Pompey's hesitation when supreme power was within his
grasp, Caesar's own pause at the Rubicon, are proofs of it. The civil
wars of Marius and Sulla had fearfully impaired, in the eyes of Romans,
but they had not utterly destroyed, the majesty of Rome. There were
still great characters--characters which you may dislike, but of which
you can never rationally speak with contempt--and there must have been
some general element of worth in which these characters were formed. If
the recent administration of the Senate had not been glorious, still,
from a Roman point of view, it had not been disastrous: the revolt of
the slaves and the insurrection in Spain had been quelled; Mithridates
had been conquered; the pirates, though for a time their domination
accused the feebleness of the government, had at length been put down.
The only great military calamity of recent date was the defeat of
Crassus, whose unprovoked and insane invasion of Parthia was the error,
not of the Senate, but of the Triumvirate. Legions were forthcoming for
the conquest of Gaul, and a large reserve of treasure was found in the
sacred treasure-house when it was broken open by Caesar. Bad governors of
provinces, Verres, Fonteius, Gabinius, were impeached and punished.
Lucullus, autocrat and voluptuary as he was, governed his province well.
So did Cicero, if we may take his own word for it. We may, at all
events, take his own word for this, that he was anxious to be thought to
have ruled with purity and justice, which proves that purity and justice
were not quite out of fashion. The old Roman spirit still struggled
against luxury, and we find Cicero suffering from indigestion, caused by
a supper of vegetables at the house of a wealthy friend, whose excellent
cook had developed all the resources of gastronomic art in struggling
with the restrictions imposed by a sumptuary law. There was intellectual
life, and all the civilized tastes and half-moral qualities which the
existence of intellectual life implies. In spite of the sanguinary
anarchy which often broke out in the Roman streets, Cicero, the most
cultivated and the least combative of men, when in exile or in his
province, sighs for the capital as a Frenchman sighs for Paris. In
short, if we consider the case fairly, we shall admit, I believe, that,
besides the force of memory and of old allegiance, there was enough of
worth and of apparent hope left, not only to excuse republican
illusions, but probably to make it a duty to try the issue with fate. I
say probably, and, after all, how can we presume to speak with certainty
of a situation so distant from us in time, and so imperfectly recorded?

The great need of the world was public virtue--the spirit of self-
sacrifice for the common good. This the empire could not possibly call
into being. The public virtue of the ancient world resided in the
nationalities which the conquering republic had broken up, and of which
the empire only sealed the doom. The empire could never call forth even
the lowest form of public virtue, loyalty to the hereditary right of a
royal family, because the empire never presented itself as a right, but
merely as a personal power. The idea of legitimacy, I apprehend never
connected itself with these dynasts who were, in fact, a series of
usurpers, veiling their usurpation under republican forms. When the
spirit which leads man to sacrifice himself to the good of the community
appeared again it appeared in associations and notably in one great
association formed not by the empire but independently of it in
antagonism to its immorality, and in spite of its persecutions.
Accidentally the empire assisted the extension of the great Christian
association by completing the overthrow of the national religions, but
the main part of this work had been done by the republic and it was the
merit neither of the republic nor of the empire.

It is said with confidence that the empire vastly improved the
government of the provinces, and that on this account it was a great
blessing to the world. I do not believe that any nation had then
attained, I do not believe that any nation has now attained, and I doubt
whether any nation ever will attain, such a point of morality as to be
able to govern other nations for the benefit of the governed. I will say
nothing about our Christian policy in India, but let those who rate
French morality so highly, consider what French tutelage is to the
people of Algeria. But supposing the task undertaken, the question which
is the best organ of imperial government--an assembly or an autocrat--is
a curious one. I am disposed to think that, taking the average of
assemblies and the average of autocrats, there is more hope in the
assembly, because in the assembly opinion must have some force. The
autocrat is in a certain sense, raised above the dominant nation and its
interests, but, after all, he is one of that nation, he lives in it, and
subsists by its support. Even in the time of Augustus, if we may trust
Dion Cassius Licinius the Governor of Gaul, was guilty of corruptions
and peculations curiously resembling those of Verres, from whom he seems
to have borrowed the device of tampering with the calendar for the
purpose of fiscal fraud, and when the provinces complained, the Emperor
hushed up the matter, partly to avoid scandal, partly because Licinius
was cunning enough to pretend that his peculations had been intended to
cut the sinews of revolt, and that his spoils were reserved for the
imperial exchequer. The rebellions of Vindex and Civilis seem to prove
that even Caesar's favourite province was not happy. Spain was
misgoverned by the deputies both of Julius and Augustus. In Britain, the
history of the revolt of the Iceni shews that neither the extortions of
Roman usurers, nor the brutalities of Roman officers, had ended with the
republic. The blood tax of the conscription appears also to have been
cruelly exacted. The tribute of largesses and shows which the empire,
though supposed to be lifted high above all partialities, paid to the
Roman populace, was drawn almost entirely from the provinces. Emperors
who coined money with the tongue of the informer and the sword of the
executioner, were not likely to abstain from selling governorships; and,
in fact, Seneca intimates that under bad emperors governorships were
sold. Of course, the tyranny was felt most at Rome, where it was
present; but when Caligula or Caracalla made a tour in the provinces, it
was like the march of the pestilence. The absence of a regular
bureaucracy, practically controlling, as the Russian bureaucracy does,
the personal will of the Emperor, must have made government better under
Trajan, but much worse under Nero. The aggregation of land in the hands
of a few great land-holders evidently continued, and under this system
the garden of Italy became a desert. The decisive fact, however, is that
the provinces decayed, and that when the barbarians arrived, all power
of resistance was gone. That the empire was consciously levelling and
cosmopolitan, surely cannot be maintained. Actium was a Roman victory
over the gods of the nations. Augustus, who must have known something
about the system, avowedly aimed at restoring the number, the purity,
the privileged exclusiveness of the dominant race. His legislation was
an attempt to regenerate old Rome; and the political odes of the court
poet are full of that purpose. That the empire degraded all that had
once been noble in Rome is true; but the degradation of what had once
been noble in Rome was not the regeneration of humanity. The vast slave
population was no more elevated by the ascendency of the freedmen of the
imperial household than the female sex was elevated by the ascendancy of

That intellect declined under the emperors, and that the great writers
of its earlier period, Tacitus included, were really legacies of the
Republic, cannot be denied; and surely it is a pregnant fact. The empire
is credited with Roman law. But the Roman law was ripe for codification
in the time of the first Caesar. The leading principles of the civil law
seem by that time to have been in existence. Unquestionably the great
step had been taken of separating law as a science from consecrated
custom, and of calling into existence regular law courts and what was
tantamount to a legal profession. The mere evolution of the system from
its principles required no transcendant effort; and the idea of
codification must have been something less than divine, or it could not
have been compassed by the intellect of Justinian. The criminal law of
the empire, with its arbitrary courts, its secret procedure, its elastic
law of treason, and its practice of torture, was the scourge of Europe
till it was encountered and overthrown by the jury system, a
characteristic offspring of the Teutonic mind.

Tolerant the empire was, at least if you did not object to having the
statue of Caligula set up in your Holy of Holies, and this toleration
fostered the growth of a new religion. But it is needless to say that,
in this respect, the politicians of the empire only inherited the
negative virtue of those of the republic.

As to private morality, we may surely trust the common authorities--
Juvenal, Suetonius, Petronius Arbiter--supported as they are by the
evidence of the museums. There was one family, at least, whose colossal
vices and crimes afforded a picture in the deepest sense tragic,
considering their tremendous effect on the lot and destinies of

It is a glorious dream, this of an autocrat, the elect of humanity,
raised above all factions and petty interests, armed with absolute power
to govern well, agreeing exactly with all our ideas, giving effect to
all our schemes of beneficence, and dealing summarily with our
opponents; but it does not come through the "horngate" of history, at
least not of the history of the Roman empire.

The one great service which the empire performed to humanity was this:
it held together, as nothing else could have held together, the nations
of the civilized world, and thus rendered possible a higher unity of

I ventured to note, as one of the sources of illusion, a somewhat
exaggerated estimate of the amount and value of the Roman element
transfused by the empire into modern civilization. The theory of
continuity, suggested by the discoveries of physical science, is
prevailing also in history. A historical theory is to me scientific, not
because it is suggested by physical science, but because it fits the
historical facts. It may be true that there are no cataclysms in
history, but still there are great epochs. In fact, there are great
epochs, even in the natural history of the world; there were periods at
which organization and life began to exist. There may have been a time
at which a still further effort was made, and spiritual life also was
brought into being. Things which do not come suddenly or abruptly, may
nevertheless be new. A great sensation has been created by an article in
the _Quarterly_, on "The Talmud," which purports to shew that the
teachings of Christianity were, in fact, only those of Pharisaism. The
organ of orthodoxy, in publishing that article, was rather like our
great mother Eve in Milton, who "knew not eating death." But after all,
Pharisaism crucified Christianity, and probably it was not for
plagiarism. Supposing we adopt the infiltration theory of the Barbarian
conquests, and discard that of a sudden deluge of invasion, it remains
certain, unless all contemporary writers were much mistaken, that some
very momentous change did, after all, occur. Catholicism and Feudalism
were the life of the Middle Ages. Catholicism, though it had grown up
under the Empire, and at last subjugated it, was not of it. As to
Feudalism, it is possible, no doubt, to find lands held on condition of
military service under the Roman empire as well as under the Ottoman
empire, and in other military states. But is it possible to find
anything like the social hierarchy of Feudalism, its code of mutual
rights and duties, or the political and social characters which it

In France and Spain, much of the Roman province survived, but in
England, not the least influential of the group of modern nations, it
was, as we have every reason to believe, completely erased by the Saxon
invaders, who came fresh from the seats of their barbarism, hating
cities and city life, and ignorant of the majesty of Rome. If a Roman
element afterwards found its way into England with the Norman conquest,
it was rather ecclesiastical than imperial, and those who brought it
were Scandinavians to the core. Alfred had been at Rome in his boyhood,
it is true, and may have brought away some ideas of central dominion;
but his laws open with a long quotation, not from the Pandects, but from
the New Testament--his character is altogether that of a Christian, not
of a Roman ruler, and if he had any political model before him, it was,
probably, at least as much the Hebrew monarchy as the military despotism
of the Caesars. Many of the Roman cities remained, and with them their
municipal governments, and hence it is assumed that municipal government
altogether is Roman. But there was a municipal government in the Saxon
capital, and evidently there must be wherever large cities exist with
any degree of independence. The Roman law was, at all events so far lost
in the early part of the Middle Ages when Christendom was in process of
formation that the study of it afterwards seemed new. Roman literature
influenced that of mediaeval Christendom down to about the end of the
twelfth century. Our writers of the time of Henry II. compose in half
classical Latin and affect classical elegancies of style. But then comes
a philosophy which in spite of its worship of Aristotle is essentially
an original creation of the mediaeval and Catholic mind couched in a
language Latin indeed but almost as remote from classical Latin as
German itself: the tongue in truth of a new intellectual world. Open
Aquinas and ask yourself how much is left of the language or the mind of
Rome. The eye of the antiquary sees the Basilica in the Cathedral, but
what essential resemblance does the Roman place of judicature and
business bear to that marvellous and fantastic poetry of religion
writing its hymns in stone? In the same manner the Roman _castra_
are traceable in the form as well as the designation of the mediaeval
_castella_. But what resemblance did the feudal militia bear to the
legionaries? And what became of the Roman art of war till it was revived
by Gustavus Adolphus? The outward mould of Christendom the Roman empire
was and that it was so gives it great dignity and interest, but it was
no more. The life came from the German forest the life of life from the
peasantry of Galilee the least Romanized perhaps of the populations
beneath the sway of Rome.

The founder of the Roman empire was a very great man. With such genius
and such fortune it is not surprising that he should be made an idol. In
intellectual stature he was at least an inch higher than his fellows
which is in itself enough to confound all our notions of right and
wrong. He had the advantage of being a statesman before he was a soldier
whereas Napoleon was a soldier before he was a statesman. His ambition
coincided with the necessity of the world which required to be held
together by force, and therefore his empire endured for four hundred, or
if we include its eastern offset, for fourteen hundred years, while that
of Napoleon crumbled to pieces in four. But unscrupulous ambition was
the root of his character. It was necessary in fact to enable him to
trample down the respect for legality which still hampered other men. To
connect him with any principle seems to me impossible. He came forward,
it is true, as the leader of what is styled the democratic party, and in
that sense the empire which he founded may be called democratic. But to
the gamblers who brought their fortunes to that vast hazard table, the
democratic and aristocratic parties were merely _rouge_ and
_noir_. The social and political equity, the reign of which we
desire to see was, in truth, unknown to the men of Caesar's time. It is
impossible to believe that there was an essential difference of
principle between one member of the triumvirate and another. The great
adventurer had begun by getting deeply into debt, and had thus in fact
bound himself to overthrow the republic. He fomented anarchy to prepare
the way for his dictatorship. He shrank from no accomplice however
tainted, not even from Catiline; from no act however profligate or even
inhuman. Abusing his authority as a magistrate, for party purposes, he
tries to put to a cruel and ignominious death Rabirius, an aged and
helpless man, for an act done in party warfare thirty years before. The
case of Vettius is less clear, but Dr. Mommsen, at all events, seems to
have little doubt that Caesar was privy to the subornation of this
perjurer, and when his perjuries had broken down, to his assassination.
Dr. Mommsen owns that there was a dark period in the life of the great
man; in that darkness it could scarcely be expected that the Republicans
should see light.

The noblest feature in Caesar's character was his clemency. But we are
reminded that it was ancient, not modern clemency, when we find numbered
among the signal instances of it his having cut the throats of the
pirates before he hanged them, and his having put to death without
torture (_simplici morte punivit_) a slave suspected of conspiring
against his life. Some have gone so far as to speak of him as the
incarnation of humanity. But where in the whole history of Roman
conquest will you find a more ruthless conqueror? A million of Gauls, we
are told, perished by the sword. Multitudes were sold into slavery. The
extermination of the Eburones went to the verge even of ancient license.
The gallant Vercingetorix, who had fallen into Caesar's hands under
circumstances which would have touched any but a depraved heart, was
kept by him a captive for six years, and butchered in cold blood on the
day of the triumph. The sentiment of humanity was at that time
undeveloped. Be it so, but then we must not call Caesar the incarnation
of humanity.

Vast plans are ascribed to Caesar at the time of his death, and it seems
to be thought that a world of hopes for humanity perished when he fell.
But if he had lived and acted for another century what could he have
done with those moral and political materials but found what he did
found--a military and sensualist empire? A multitude of projects are
attributed to him by writers who we must remember are late and who make
him ride a fairy charger with feet like the hands of a man. Some of
these projects are really great, such as the codification of the law and
measures for the encouragement of intellect and science; others are
questionable, such as the restoration of commercial cities from which
commerce had retired; others, great works to be accomplished by an
unlimited command of men and money, are the common dreams of every
Nebuchadnezzar. What we know if we know anything of his intentions is
that he was about to set out on a campaign against the Parthians in
whose plains this prototype of Napoleon might perhaps have found a
torrid Moscow. No great advance of humanity can take place without a
great moral effort excited by higher moral desires. The masters of the
legions can only set in action by their fiat material forces. Even these
they often misdirect; but if the empire could have given every man
Nero's golden house the inhabitants might still have been as unhappy as

It is not doubtful that Caesar was a type of the sensuality of his age.
His worshippers even feel it necessary to gird at characters deficient
in sensual passion with a friskiness which is a little amusing when you
connect it with the spectacles and the blameless life of a learned
professor. So gifted a nature will absorb a good deal of mere sensual
vice, it is true, but a sensualist could hardly be a pure and noble
organ of humanity. In this I have the Positivists with me. Even in
Caesar's lifetime the world had a taste of the vicissitudes of empire
while he was revelling in the palace of Cleopatra and leaving affairs to
Antony and Dolabella. Perhaps the satiety of the voluptuary had
something to do with the recklessness with which at the last he
neglected to guard his life. He was the greatest patron of gladiatorial
shows and signalized his accession to power by magnificent scenes of
carnage in the arena--a strange dawn for the day of a new civilization.
Must we not a little doubt the consistency of his policy and even his
insight when we find him after all this enacting sumptuary laws?

Still Caesar was a very great man and he played a dazzling part, as all
men do who come just at the fall of an old system, when society is as
clay in the hands of the potter, and found a new system in its place,
while the less dazzling task of making the new system work, by probity
and industry, and of restoring the shattered allegiance of a people to
its institutions, descends upon unlaurelled heads. But that the men of
his time were bound to recognise in him a Messiah, to use the phrase of
the Emperor of the French, and that those who opposed him were Jews
crucifying their Saviour, is an impression which I venture to think will
in time subside. No golden scales were hung out in heaven to shew the
republicans that the balance of Divine will had turned, and that their
duty was submission. "Momentumque fuit mutatus Curio rerum--" The only
sign vouchsafed to them was the conversion of an unprincipled debauchee.

They have, therefore, a fair claim to be judged each upon the merits of
his case, and not in the lump as enemies of the human race; and to judge
them fairly is a good exercise in historical morality. The three
principal names in the party are those of Cato, Cicero, and Marcus
Brutus. Pompey, though the nominal chief of the republicans, may rather,
as Dr Mommsen truly says, be called the first military monarch of Rome.
There is a vigorous portrait of him, from the republican point of view,
by Lucan, who, though detestable as an epic poet, sometimes in his
political passages, and especially in his characters, shews himself the
countryman of Tacitus. Pompey is there described with truth as combining
the desire of supreme power with a lingering respect for the
constitution. The great aristocrat is painted as simple in his habits of
life, and his household as uncorrupted by the fortunes of its lord--the
last relics of the control imposed by the spirit of the republic on
private luxury, which was soon to be released by the Empire from all
restraint and carried to the most revolting height.

Marcus Cato was the one man whom, living and dead, Caesar evidently
dreaded. The Dictator even assailed his memory in a brace of pamphlets
entitled Anti-Cato, of the quality of which we have one or two
specimens, in Plutarch, from which we should infer that they were
scurrilous and slanderous to the last degree; a proof that even Caesar
could feel fear, and that in Caesar, too, fear was mean. Dr Mommsen
throws himself heartily into Caesar's antipathy, and can scarcely speak
of Cato without something like loss of temper. The least uncivil thing
which he says of him, is that he was a Don Quixote, with Favonius for
his Sancho. The phrase is not a happy one, since Sancho is not the
caricature but the counterfoil of Don Quixote; Don Quixote being spirit
without sense and Sancho sense without spirit. Imperialism, if it could
see itself, is in fact a world of Sanchos and it would not be the less
so if every Sancho of the number were master of the whole of physical
science, and used it to cook his food. Of the two court poets of Caesar's
successor, one makes Cato preside over the spirits of the good in the
Elysian fields, while the other speaks with respect, at all events, of
the soul which remained unconquered in a conquered world--"Et cuneta
terrarum subacta praeter atrocem animum Catonis." Paterculus, an officer
of Tiberius and a thorough Caesarian, calls Cato a man of ideal virtue
("homo virtuti simillimus") who did right not for appearance sake, but
because it was not in his nature to do wrong. When the victor is thus
overawed by the shade of the vanquished, the vanquished can hardly have
been a "fool." Contemporaries may be mistaken as to the merits of a
character, but they cannot well be mistaken as to the space which it
occupied in their own eyes. Sallust, the partizan of Marius and Caesar,
who had so much reason to hate the senatorial party, speaks of Caesar and
Cato as the two mighty opposites of his time, and in an elaborate
parallel ascribes to Caesar the qualities which secure the success of the
adventurer; to Cato those which make up the character of the patriot. It
is a mistake to regard Cato the younger as merely an unseasonable
repetition of Cato the elder. His inspiration came not from a Roman, but
from a Greek school, which, with all its errors and absurdities, and in
spite of the hypocrisy of many of its professors, really aimed highest
in the formation of character; and the practical teachings and
aspirations of which, embodied in the Reflections of Marcus Aurelius, it
is impossible to study without profound respect for the force of moral
conception and the depth of moral insight which they sometimes display.
Cato went to Greece to sit at the feet of a Greek teacher in a spirit
very different from the national pride of his ancestor. It is this which
makes his character interesting: it was an attempt at all events to
grasp and hold fast a high rule of life in an age when the whole moral
world was sinking in a vortex of scoundrelism, and faith in morality,
public or private, had been lost. Of course the character is formal, and
in some respects even grotesque. But you may trace formalism, if you
look closely enough, in every life led by a rule; in everything in fact
between the purest spiritual impulse on one side and abandoned
sensuality on the other.

Attempts to revive old Roman simplicity of dress and habits in the age
of Lucullus, were no doubt futile enough: yet this is only the
symbolical garb of the Hebrew prophet. The scene is in ancient Rome, not
in the smoking-room of the House of Commons. The character as painted by
Plutarch, who seems to have drawn from the writings of contemporaries,
is hard of course, but not cynical. Cato was devoted to his brother
Caepio, and when Caepio died, forgot all his Stoicism in the passionate
indulgence of his grief, and all his frugality in lavishing gold and
perfumes on the funeral. Caesar in "Anti-Cato" accused him of sifting the
ashes for the gold, which, says Plutarch, is like charging Hercules with
cowardice. Where the sensual appetites are repressed, whatever may be
the theory of life, the affections are pretty sure to be strong, unless
they are nipped by some such process as is undergone by a monk. Cato's
resignation of his fruitful wife to a childless friend, revolting as it
is to our sense, betokens not so much brutality in him as coarseness of
the conjugal relations at Rome. Evidently the man had the power of
touching the hearts of others. His soldiers, though he has given them no
largesses, and indulged them in no license, when he leaves them, strew
their garments under his feet. His friends at Utica linger at the peril
of their lives to give him a sumptuous funeral. He affected conviviality
like Socrates. He seems to have been able to enjoy a joke too at his own
expense. He can laugh when Cicero ridicules his Stoicism in a speech;
and when in a province he meets the inhabitants of a town turning out,
and thinks at first that it is in his own honour, but soon finds that it
is in honour of a much greater man, the confidential servant of Pompey,
at first his dignity is outraged, but his anger soon gives place to
amusement. That his public character was perfectly pure, no one seems to
have doubted; and there is a kindliness in his dealings with the
dependants of Rome which shews that had he been an emperor he would have
been such an emperor as Trajan--a man whom he probably resembled, both
in the goodness of his intentions and in the limited powers of his mind.
Impracticable, of course, in a certain sense he was; but his part was
that of a reformer, and to compromise with the corruption against which
he was contending would have been to lose the only means of influence,
which, having no military force and no party, he possessed--the
unquestioned integrity of his character. He is said by Dr. Mommsen to
have been incapable of even conceiving a policy. By policy I suppose is
meant one of those brilliant schemes of ambition with which some
literary men are fond of identifying themselves, fancying, it seems,
that thereby they themselves after their measure play the Caesar. The
policy which Cato conceived was simply that of purifying and preserving
the Republic. So far, at all events, he had an insight into the
situation, that he knew the real malady of the State to be want of
public spirit, which he did his best to supply. And the fact is, that he
did more than once succeed in a remarkable way in stemming the tide of
corruption. Though every instinct bade him struggle to the last, he had
sense enough to see the state of the case, and to advise that, to avert
anarchy, supreme power should be put into the hands of Pompey, whose
political superstition, if not his loyalty, there was good reason to
trust. When at last civil war broke out, Cato went into it like
Falkland, crying "peace;" he set his face steadily against the excesses
and cruelties of his party; and when he saw the field of Dyrrhaeium
covered with his slain enemies, he covered his face and wept. He wept a
Roman over Romans, but humanity will not refuse the tribute of his
tears. After Pharsalus he cherished no illusion, as Dr Mommsen himself
admits, and though he determined himself to fall fighting, he urged no
one else to resistance: he felt that the duty of an ordinary citizen was
done. His terrible march over the African desert shewed high powers of
command, as we shall see by comparing it with the desert march of
Napoleon. Dr. Mommsen ridicules his pedantry in refusing, on grounds of
loyalty, to take the commandership-in-chief over the head of a superior
in rank. Cato was fighting for legality, and the spirit of legality was
the soul of his cause. But besides this, he was himself without
experience of war; and by declining the nominal command he retained the
real control. He remained master to the last of the burning vessel. Our
morality will not approve of his voluntary death; but then our morality
would give him a sufficient motive for living, even if he was to be
bound to the car of the conqueror. Looking to Roman opinion, he probably
did what honour dictated; and those who prefer honour to life are not so
numerous that we can afford to speak of them with scorn. "The fool,"
says Dr Mommsen, when the drama of the republic closes with Cato's
death--"The fool spoke the Epilogue" Whether Cato was a fool or not, it
was not he that spoke the Epilogue. The Epilogue was spoken by Marcus
Aurelius, whose principles, political as well as philosophical, were
identical with those for which Cato gave his life. All that time the
Stoic and Republican party lived, sustained by the memory of its
martyrs, and above them all by that of Cato. At first it struggled
against the Empire; at last it accepted it, and when the world was weary
of Caesars, assumed the government and gave humanity the respite of the
Antonines. The doctrine of continuity is valid for all parties alike,
and the current of public virtue was not cut off by Pharsalus. On the
whole, remote as the character of Cato is in some respects from our
sympathies, absurd as it would be if taken as a model for our imitation,
I recognise it as a proof of the reality and indestructibility of moral
force, even when pitted against the masters of thirty legions.

Against Cicero, again, Dr. Mommsen is so bitter, he is so determined to
suppress as well as to degrade him, that it would be difficult even to
make out from his pages who and what the once divine Tully was. Much of
Dr. Mommsen's dashing criticism on Cicero's writings appears just,
though we might trust the critic more if we did not find him in the next
page evading the unwelcome duty of criticising Caesar's "Bellum Civile,"
under cover of some sentimental remarks about the difference between
hope and fulfilment in a great soul. Cicero was no philosopher, in the
highest sense of the term; yet it is not certain that he did not do some
service to humanity by promulgating, in eloquent language, a pretty high
and liberal morality, which both modified monkish ethics, and, when
monkish ethics fell, and brought down Christian ethics in their fall,
did something to supply the void. The Orations, even the great
Philippic, I must confess I could never enjoy. But all orations, read
long after their delivery, are like spent missiles, wingless and cold:
they retain the deformities of passion, without the fire. A speech
embodying great principles may live with the principles which it
embodies; otherwise happy are the orators whose speeches are lost. The
Letters it is not so easy to give up, especially when we consider of how
many graceful and pleasant compositions of the same kind, of how many
self-revelations, which have brought the hearts of men nearer to each
other, those letters have been the model. That, however, which pleases
most in Cicero is that he is, for his age, a thoroughly and pre-
eminently civilized man. He hates gladiatorial shows; he despises even
the tasteless pageantry of the Roman theatre; he heartily loves books;
he is saving up all his earnings to buy a coveted library for his old
age; he has a real enthusiasm for great writers; he breaks through
national pride, and feels sincerely grateful to the Greeks as the
authors; of civilization, rogues though he knew them to be in his time;
he mourns, albeit with an apology, over the death of a slave; his slaves
evidently are attached to him, and are faithful to him at the last; he
writes to his favourite freedman with all the warmth of equal
friendship. In his writings--in the "De Legibus," for instance--you
will find principles of humanity far more comprehensive than those by
which the policy of the empire was moulded. His tastes were pure and
refined, and though he multiplied his villas, and decorated them with
cost and elegance, it is certain that he was perfectly free alike from
the prodigal ostentation and from the debauchery of the time indeed his
vast intellectual industry implies a temperate life. For the game-
preserving tendencies of the great oligarchs, he had a hearty dislike
and contempt; in spite of the ill-looking, though obscure, episode of
his divorce from his wife Terentia, he was evidently a man of strong
family affections, the natural adjuncts of moral purity; he is
inconsolable for the death of his daughter, spends days in melancholy
wandering in the woods, and finds consolation only in erecting a temple
to the beloved shade. His faults of character, both in private and
public, are glaring, and the only thing to be said in excuse of his
vanity is that it is so frank, and says plainly, "Puff me," not "Puff me
not." As a political adventurer of the higher class, pushing his way
under an aristocratic government by his talents and his training,
received in course of time into the ranks of the aristocracy, yet never
one of them, he will bear comparison with Burke. He resembles Burke,
too, in his religious constitutionalism and reverence for the wisdom of
political ancestors and perhaps his hope of creating a party at once
conservative and reforming, by a combination of the moneyed interest
with the aristocracy, was not much more chimerical than Burke's hope of
creating a party at once conservative and reforming out of the materials
of Whiggism. Each of the two men affected a balanced, and in the literal
sense, a trimming policy, as opposed to one of abstract principle,
Burke, perhaps, from temperament, Cicero from necessity. Impeachments at
Rome in Cicero's time were no doubt the regular stepping-stones of
rising politicians; nevertheless, the accuser of Verres may fairly be
credited with some, at least, of the genuine sentiment which impelled
the accuser of Warren Hastings. We must couple with the Verrines the
admirable letter of the orator to his brother Quintus on the government
of a province, and his own provincial administration, which, as was said
before, appears to have been excellent. Cicero rose, not as an adherent
of the aristocracy, but as their opponent, and the assailant, a bold
assailant, of the tyranny of Sulla. He was brought to the front in
politics, as Sallust avers, by his merit, in spite of his birth and
social position, when the mortal peril of the Catilinarian conspiracy
was gathering round the state, and necessity called for the man, and not
the game-preserver. His conduct in that hour of supreme peril is
ridiculously overpraised by himself. Not only so, but he begs a friend
in plain terms to write a history of it and to exaggerate. Now, it is
denounced as brutal tyranny and judicial murder. But those who hold this
language have new lights on the subject of Catiline. I confess that on
me these new lights have not dawned; I still believe Catiline to have
been a terrible anarchist, coming forth from the abyss of debauchery,
ruin, and despair, which lay beneath: the great fortunes of Rome. The
land of Caesar Borgia has produced such men in more than one period of
history. The alleged illegality of the execution was made the stalking-
horse of a party move, and scrupulous legality found a champion and an
avenger in Clodius. On his return from exile, Cicero was received with
the greatest enthusiasm by the whole population of Italy, a fact which
Dr. Mommsen is inclined to explain away, but which we should, perhaps,
accept as the key to some other facts in Cicero's history. The Italians
were probably the most respectable of the political elements, and it
seems they not only looked up to their fellow-provincial with pride,
but saw in him a statesman who was saving their homesteads from a reign
of terror. That Cicero had the general support of the Italians was quite
enough to make his adherence an object of serious consideration to
Caesar, though Dr. Mommsen persists in interpolating into the relations
of the two men the contempt which he feels, and which he fancies Caesar
must have felt, for an advocate. Surely, however, it is a mistake to
think that oratory was not even in those days a real power at Rome. Can
a greater platitude be conceived than railing at a statesman of
antiquity for having been a rhetorician? Was not Pericles a rhetorician?
Was not Caesar himself a rhetorician? Did he not learn rhetoric from the
same master as Cicero? Some day we may be ruled by political science;
but rhetoric was, at all events, an improvement on mere force. The
situation at Rome had now become essentially military; and Cicero having
no military force at his command could not really control the situation.

His attempts to control it exposed him to all the miscarriages and all
the indignities which such an attempt is sure to entail. He was a vessel
of earthenware, or rather of very fragile porcelain, swimming among
vessels of brass. Self-respect would perhaps have prescribed
retirement from public life; but, to say nothing of his egotism, he had
done too much to retire. Egotistical he was in the highest degree, and
that failing made all his humiliations doubly ignominious; but still, I
think, if you judge him candidly, you wilt see that he really loved his
country, and that his greatest object of desire was, as he himself says,
to live in the grateful memory of after-times; not the highest of all
aims, but higher than that of the political adventurer. When the civil
war came, his perplexity was painful, and he betrayed it with his usual
want of reticence. In that, as in other respects, his character is the
direct opposite of that of the "gloomy sporting man," whose ways Louis
Napoleon, it is said, avowed that he had studied during his exile in
England, and followed with profit as a conspirator in France. Cicero and
Cato knew too well that Pompey had "licked the sword of Sulla;" but they
knew also, by long experience of his political character, that he shrank
from doing the last violence to the constitution. On the other hand, all
men expected that Caesar, who had formerly given himself out as the
political heir of Marius, who had restored the trophies of Marius, and
had undertaken the conquest of Gaul, evidently as a continuation of the
victories of Marius, descending upon Italy with an army partly
consisting of barbarians and trained in the most ferocious warfare,
would renew the Marian reign of terror. This fear put all Italy at first
on Pompey's side. Caesar had not yet revealed his nobler and more
glorious self. Even Curio told Cicero, in an interview, the object of
which was to draw Cicero to the Caesarian side, that Caesar's clemency was
merely policy, not in his nature. The best security against the bloody
excesses of a victorious party at that moment, undoubtedly, was the
presence of Marcus Cato in the camp of Pompey. After Pharsalus, Cicero
submitted like many men of sterner mould. This departure of the advocate
from the Pompeian camp is surrounded by Dr. Mommsen with circumstances
of ridicule, for which, on reference to what I suppose to be the
authorities, I can find no historical foundation. The fiercer Pompeians
very nearly killed him for refusing to stay and command them; his life
was in fact only saved by the intrepid moderation of Cato; and this is
surely not a proof that they deemed his presence worthless. Once more,
orators were not ridiculous in the eyes of antiquity. Cicero accepted,
and, in a certain sense, served under the dictatorate of Caesar; though
he afterwards rejoiced when it was overthrown, and the constitution, the
idol of his political worship, was restored; just as we may suppose a
French constitutionalist, not of stern mould, yet not dishonest,
accepting and serving under the empire, yet rejoicing at the restoration
of constitutional government. In the interval, between the death of
Caesar and Philippi, he was really the soul and the main support of the
Restoration. I have said what I think of the Philippics; but there can
be no doubt that they told, or that Brutus and Cassius thought them,
worth at least a legion.

Cicero met death with a physical courage, which there is no reason to
believe that he wanted in life. His cowardice was political; his fears
were for his position and reputation. If Cato survived in the tradition
of public virtue, so did Cicero in the tradition of culture, which saved
the empire of the Caesars from being an empire of Moguls. The culture of
a republic saved Caesar himself from being a mere Timur, and set him
after his victory to reforming calendars and endowing science, instead
of making pyramids of heads. Is it absurd to suppose that the great
soldier, who was also a great man of letters, had more respect for
intellect without military force than his literary admirers, and that he
really wished to adorn his monarchy by allying to it the leading man of
intellect of the time?

Our accounts of Marcus Brutus are not very clear. Appian confounds
Marcus with Decimus; and it appears not unlikely that "Et tu Brute," if
it was said at all, was said to Decimus, who was a special favourite of
Caesar, and was named in his will. Marcus seems to have been a man of
worth after his fashion; a patriot of the narrow Roman type, reproduced
in later days by Fletcher of Saltoun, whose ideal republic was an
oligarchy, and who did not shrink from proposing to settle the
proletariat difficulty by making the common people slaves. This is quite
compatible with the fact revealed to us in the letters of Cicero, that
Brutus was implicated, through his agents, in the infamous practice of
lending money to provincials at exorbitant interest, and abusing the
power of the Imperial Governments to exact the debt. One can imagine a
West Indian slave-owner, dealing with negroes through his agent
according to the established custom, and yet being a good citizen in

Cicero, though he suffered from the imperious temper of Brutus, speaks
of him as one of those, the sight of whom banished his fears and
anxieties for the republic. That the most famous and most terrible act
of this man's life was an act of republican fanaticism, not of selfish
ambition, is proved by his refusing, with magnanimous imprudence, to
make all sure, as the more worldly spirits about him suggested, by
cutting off Antony and the outer leading partisans of Caesar, and by his
permitting public honours to be done to the corpse of the man whom he
had immolated to civil duty. One almost shrinks from speaking of the
death of Caesar; so much modern nonsense on both sides has been talked
about this, the most tragic, the most piteous, and at the same time the
most inevitable event of ancient story. Peculiar phases of society have
their peculiar sentiments, with reference to which events must be
explained. The greased cartridges were the real account of the Indian
mutiny. Caesar was slain because he had shown that he was going to assume
the title of king. Cicero speaks the literal truth, when he says: that
the real murderer was Antony, and the fatal day the day of the
Lupercalia, when Antony offered and Caesar faintly put aside the crown. A
dictator they would have borne, a king they would not bear, neither then
nor for ages afterwards; because the title of king to their minds spoke
not of a St. Louis, or an Edward I., or even a Louis XIV., but of the
unutterable degradation of the Oriental slave. To use a homely image, if
you put your leg in the way of a cannon ball which seems spent, but is
still rolling, you will suffer by the experiment. This is exactly what
Caesar, in the giddiness of victory and supremacy, did, and the
consequence was as certain as it was deplorable. The republican
sentiment seemed to him to have entirely lost its force, so that he
might spurn it with impunity; whereas, it had in it still enough of the
momentum gathered through centuries of republican training and glory to
destroy him, to restore the republic for a brief period, and to make
victory doubtful at Phillipi. He began by celebrating a triumph over his
fellow-citizens, against the generous tradition of Rome: in that triumph
he displayed pictures of the tragic deaths of Cato and other Roman
chiefs, which disgusted even the populace; he sported with the curule
offices, the immemorial objects of republican reverence, so wantonly
that he might almost as well have given a consulship to his horse; he
flooded the Senate with soldiers and barbarians; he forced a Roman
knight to appear upon the stage: at last, craving, as natures destitute
of a high controlling principle do crave, for the form as well as the
substance of power, he put out his hand to grasp a crown. The feeling on
that subject was not only of terrible strength, but was actually
embodied in a law by which the state solemnly armed the hand of the
private citizen against any man who should attempt to make himself a
king. How completely Caesar's insight failed him is proved by the general
acquiescence or apathy with which his fall was received, the subdued
tone in which even his warm friend Marius speaks of it, and the
readiness with which his own soldiers and officers served under the
restored republic. We have nothing to do here with any problem of modern
ethics respecting military usurpation and tyrannicide, two things which
must always stand together in the court of morality. Tyrannicide, like
suicide, was the rule of the ancient world, and would have been
acknowledged by Caesar himself, before he grasped supreme power, as an
established duty. And certainly morality would stretch its bounds to
include anything really necessary to protect the Greek and Italian
republics, with the treasures which they bore in them for humanity, from
the barbarous lust of power which was always lying in wait to devour
them. I have said that the spirits of Cato and Cicero lived and worked
after their deaths. So I suspect did that of Brutus. The Caesars had no
God, no fear of public opinion at home, no general sentiment of
civilized nations to control their tyranny. They had only the shadow of
a hand armed with a dagger. One shrewd observer of the times at least,
if I mistake not, had profited by the lesson of Caesar's folly and fate.
To the constitutional demeanour and personal moderation of Augustus the
world owes an epoch of grandeur of a certain kind, and an example of
true dignity in the use of power. And Augustus, I suspect, had studied
his part at the foot of Pompey's statue.

Plutarch parallels Cato with Phocion, Demosthenes with Cicero, Brutus
with Dion--the Dion whose history inspired the poem of Wordsworth. Greek
republicanism, too, had its fatal hour; but we do not pour scorn and
contumely on those who strove to prolong the life of Athens beyond the
term assigned by fate. The case of Athens, a single independent state,
was no doubt different from that of Rome with so many subject nations
under her sway. Still in each case there was the commonwealth, standing
in glorious contrast to the barbarous despotisms of other nations, the
highest social and political state which humanity had known or for ages
afterwards was to know. And this light of civilization was, so far as
the last republicans could see, not only to be eclipsed for a time or
put out, as now in a single nation, while it burns on in others, but to
be swallowed up in hopeless night.

Mr. Charles Norton in the notes to his recent translation of the "Vita
Nuova" of Dante quotes a decree made by the commonwealth of Florence for
the building of the cathedral.

"Whereas it is the highest interest of a people of illustrious origin so
to proceed in their affairs that men may perceive from their external
works that their doings are at once wise and magnanimous, it is
therefore ordered that Arnulf, architect of our commune, prepare the
model or design for the rebuilding of Santa Reparata with such supreme
and lavish magnificence, that neither the industry nor the capacity of
man shall be able to devise anything more grand or more beautiful,
inasmuch as the most judicious in this city have pronounced the opinion,
in public and private conferences, that no work of the commune should be
undertaken unless the design be such as to make it correspond with a
heart which is of the greatest nature because composed of the spirit of
many citizens united together in one single will." [Footnote: In his
later and very valuable work on _Church Building in the Middle
Ages_, Mr. Norton casts doubt on the authenticity of the decree. It
is genuine at all events, as an expression of Florentine sentiment, if
not as an extract from the archives.]

Let Imperialism, legitimist or democratic, match that! Florence, too,
had her political vices, many and grave, she tyrannized over Pisa and
other dependants, there was faction in her councils, anarchy, bloody
anarchy, in her streets, for her, too, the hour of doom arrived, and the
conspiracy of the Pazzi was as much an anachronism as that of the
republicans who slew Caesar. But Florence had that heart composed of the
united spirits of many citizens out of which came all that the world
admires and loves in the works of the Florentine. She produced, though
she exiled Dante. That which followed was more tranquil, more orderly
perhaps, materially speaking, not less happy, but it had no heart at


[Footnote: "A Memoir of Jane Austen. By her nephew, J. E. Austen-Leigh,
Vicar of Bray, Berks." London: Richard Bentley; New York: Scribner,
Welford & Co.]

The walls of our cities were placarded, the other day, with an
advertisement of a new sensational novel, the flaring woodcut of which
represented a girl tied down upon a table, and a villain preparing to
cut off her feet. If this were the general taste, there would be no use
in talking about Jane Austen. But if you ask at the libraries you will
find that her works are still taken out; so that there must still be a
faithful few who, like ourselves, will have welcomed the announcement of
a Memoir of the authoress of "Pride and Prejudice," "Mansfield Park,"
and "Emma."

If Jane Austen's train of admirers has not been so large as those of
many other novelists, it has been first-rate in quality. She has been
praised--we should rather say, loved by all, from Walter Scott to
Guizot, whose love was the truest fame. Her name has often been coupled
with that of Shakespeare, to whom Macaulay places her second in the nice
discrimination of shades of character. The difference between the two
minds in degree is, of course, immense; but both belong to the same rare
kind. Both are really creative; both purely artistic; both have the
marvellous power of endowing the products of their imagination with a
life, as it were, apart from their own. Each holds up a perfectly clear
and undistorting mirror--Shakespeare to the moral universe, Jane Austen
to the little world in which she lived. In the case of neither does the
personality of the author ever come between the spectator and the drama.
Vulgar criticism calls Jane Austen's work Dutch painting. Miniature
painting would be nearer the truth; she speaks of herself as working
with a fine brush on a piece of ivory two inches wide. Dutch painting
implies the selection of subjects in themselves low and uninteresting,
for the purpose of displaying the skill of a painter, who can interest
by the mere excellence of his imitation. Jane Austen lived in the
society of English country gentlemen and their families as they were in
the last century--a society affluent, comfortable, domestic, rather
monotonous, without the interest which attaches to the struggles of
labour without tragic events or figures seldom, in fact rising
dramatically above the level of sentimental comedy, but presenting
nevertheless, its varieties of character, its vicissitudes, its moral
lessons--in a word, its humanity. She has painted it as it was, in all
its features the most tragic as well as the most comic, avoiding only
melodrama. "In all the important preparations of the mind, she (Miss
Bertram) was complete, being prepared for matrimony by a hatred of home,
restraint and tranquillity, by the misery of disappointed affection and
contempt of the man she was to marry; the rest might wait." This is not
the touch of Gerard Douw. An undertone of irony, never obtrusive but
everywhere perceptible, shows that the artist herself knew very well
that she was not painting gods and Titans, and keeps everything on the
right level.

Jane Austen, then, was worthy of a memoir. But it was almost too late to
write one. Like Shakespeare, she was too artistic to be autobiographic.
She was never brought into contact with men of letters, and her own fame
was almost posthumous, so that nobody took notes. She had been fifty
years in her grave when her nephew, the Rev J. E. Austen-Leigh, the
youngest of the mourners who attended her funeral, undertook to make a
volume of his own recollections, those of one or two other surviving
relatives, and a few letters. Of 230 pages, in large print, and with a
margin the vastness of which requires to be relieved by a rod rubric,
not above a third is really biography, the rest is genealogy,
description of places, manners, and customs, critical disquisition,
testimonies of admirers. Still, thanks to the real capacity of the
biographer, and to the strong impression left by a character of
remarkable beauty on his mind, we catch a pretty perfect though faint
outline of the figure which was just hovering on the verge of memory,
and in a few years more would, like the figure of Shakespeare, have been
swallowed up in night.

Jane Austen was the flower of a stock, full, apparently, through all its
branches, of shrewd sense and caustic humour, which in her were combined
with the creative imagination. She was born in 1775, at Steventon, in
Hampshire, a country parish, of which her father was the rector. A
village of cottages at the foot of a gentle slope, an old church with
its coeval yew, an old manor-house, an old parsonage all surrounded by
tall elms, green meadows, hedgerows full of primroses and wild
hyacinths--such was the scene in which Jane Austen grew. It is the
picture which rises in the mind of every Englishman when he thinks of
his country. Around dwelt the gentry, more numerous and, if coarser and
duller, more home-loving and less like pachas than they are now, when
the smaller squires and yeomen have been swallowed up in the growing
lordships of a few grandees who spend more than half their time in
London or in other seats of politics or pleasure. Not far off was a
country town, a "Meriton," the central gossiping place of the
neighbourhood, and the abode of the semi-genteel. If a gentleman like
Mr. Woodhouse lives equivocally close to the town, his "place" is
distinguished by a separate name. There was no resident squire at
Steventon, the old manor-house being let to a tenant, so that Jane's
father was at once parson and squire. "That house (Edmund Bertram's
parsonage) may receive such an air as to make its owner be set down as
the great landowner of the parish by every creature travelling the road,
especially as there is no real squire's house to dispute the point, a
circumstance, between ourselves, to enhance the value of such a
situation in point of privilege and advantage beyond all calculation."
Her father having from old age resigned Steventon when Jane was six and
twenty, she afterwards lived for a time with her family at Bath, a great
watering-place, and the scene of the first part of "Northanger Abbey;"
at Lyme, a pretty little sea-bathing place on the coast of Dorset, on
the "Cobb" of which takes place the catastrophe of "Persuasion;" and at
Southampton, now a great port, then a special seat of gentility.
Finally, she found a second home with her widowed mother and her sister
at Chawton, another village in Hampshire.

"In person," says Jane's biographer, "she was very attractive. Her
figure was rather tall and slender, her step light and firm, and her
whole appearance expressive of health and animation. In complexion, she
was a clear brunette, with a rich colour; she had full round cheeks,
with mouth and nose small and well formed; bright hazel eyes (it is a
touch of the woman, then, when Emma is described as having _the true
hazel eye_), and brown hair forming natural curls close round her
face." The sweetness and playfulness of "Dear Aunt Jane" are fresh after
so many years in the memories of her nephew and nieces, who also
strongly attest the sound sense and sterling excellence of character
which lay beneath. She was a special favourite with children, for whom
she delighted to exercise her talent in improvising fairy-tales. Unknown
to fame, uncaressed save by family affection, and, therefore, unspoilt,
while writing was her delight, she kept it in complete subordination to
the duties of life, which she performed with exemplary conscientiousness
in the house of mourning as well as in the house of feasting. Even her
needlework was superfine. We doubt not that, if the truth was known, she
was a good cook.

She calls herself "the most unlearned and uninformed female who ever
dared to be an authoress;" but this is a nominal tribute to the jealousy
of female erudition which then prevailed, and at which she sometimes
glances, though herself very far from desiring a masculine education for
women. In fact, she was well versed in English literature, read French
with ease, and knew something of Italian--German was not thought of in
those days. She had a sweet voice, and sang to her own accompaniment
simple old songs which still linger in her nephew's ear. Her favourite
authors were Johnson, whose strong sense was congenial to her, while she
happily did not allow him to infect her pure and easy style, Cowper,
Richardson and Crabbe. She said that, if she married at all, she should
like to be Mrs. Crabbe. And besides Crabbe's general influence, which is
obvious, we often see his special touch in her writings:

"Emma's spirits were mounted up quite to happiness. Everything wore a
different air. James and his horses seemed not half so sluggish as
before. When she looked at the hedges, she thought the elder at least
must soon be coming out; and, when she turned round to Harriet, she saw
something like a look of spring--a tender smile even there."

Jane was supremely happy in her family relations, especially in the love
of her elder sister, Cassandra, from whom she was inseparable. Of her
four brothers, two were officers in the Royal Navy. How she watched
their career, how she welcomed them home from the perils not only of the
sea but of war (for it was the time of the great war with France), she
has told us in painting the reception of William Price by his sister
Fanny, in "Mansfield Park." It is there that she compares conjugal and
fraternal love, giving the preference in one respect to the latter,
because with brothers and sisters "all the evil and good of the earliest
years can be gone over again, and every former united pain and pleasure
retraced with the fondest recollection: an advantage this, a
strengthener of love, in which even the conjugal tie is beneath the
fraternal." It was, perhaps, because she was so happy in the love of her
brothers and sisters, as well as because she was wedded to literature,
that she was content, in spite of her good looks, to assume the symbolic
cap of perpetual maidenhood at an unusually early age.

Thus she grew in a spot as sunny, as sheltered, and as holy as do the
violets which her biographer tells us abound beneath the south wall of
Steventon church. It was impossible that she should have the experiences
of Miss Bronte or Madame Sand, and without some experience the most
vivid imagination cannot act, or can act only in the production of mere
chimeras. To forestall Miss Braddon in the art of criminal
phantasmagoria might have been within Jane's power by the aid of strong
green tea, but would obviously have been repugnant to her nature. We
must not ask her, then, for the emotions and excitements which she could
not possibly afford. The character of Emma is called commonplace. It is
commonplace in the sense in which the same term might be applied to any
normal beauty of nature--to a well-grown tree or to a perfectly
developed flower. She is, as Mr. Weston says, "the picture of grown-up
health." "There is health not merely in her bloom, but in her air, her
gait, her glance." She has been brought up like Jane Austen herself, in
a pure English household, among loving relations and good old servants.
Her feet have been in the path of domestic and neighbourly duty, quiet
as the path which leads to the village church. It has been impossible
for strong temptations or fierce passions to come near her. Yet men
accustomed to the most exciting struggles, to the most powerful emotions
of parliamentary life, have found an interest, equal to the greatest
ever created by a sensation novel, in the little scrapes and adventures
into which her weakness betrays her, and in the process by which her
heart is gradually drawn away from objects apparently more attractive to
the robust nature in union with which she is destined to find strength
as well as happiness.

With more justice may Jane Austen be reproached with having been too
much influenced by the prejudices of the somewhat narrow and somewhat
vulgarly aristocratic, or rather plutocratic, society in which she
lived. Her irony and her complete dramatic impersonality render it
difficult to see how far this goes; but certainly it goes further than
we could wish. Decidedly she believes in gentility, and in its intimate
connection with affluence and good family; in its incompatibility with
any but certain very refined and privileged kinds of labour; in the
impossibility of finding a gentleman in a trader, much more in a yeoman
or mechanic. "The yeomanry are precisely the order of people with whom I
feel I can have nothing to do; a degree or two lower, and a creditable
appearance, might interest me; I might hope to be useful to their
families in some way or other; but a farmer can need none of my help,
and is, therefore, in one sense, as much above my notice as in every
other he is below it." This is said by Emma--by Emma when she is trying
to deter her friend from marrying a yeoman, it is true, but still by
Emma. The picture of the coarseness of poverty in the household of
Fanny's parents in "Mansfield Park" is truth, but it is hard truth, and
needs some counterpoise. Both in the case of Fanny Price and in that of
Frank Churchill, the entire separation of a child from its own home for
the sake of the worldly advantages furnished by an adoptive home of a
superior class, is presented too much as a part of the order of nature.
The charge of acquiescence in the low standard of clerical duty
prevalent in the Establishment of that day is well founded, though
perhaps not of much importance. Of more importance is the charge which
might be made, with equal justice, of acquiescence in somewhat low and
coarse ideas of the relations between the sexes, and of the destinies
and proper aspirations of young women. "Mr. Collins, to be sure, was
neither sensible nor agreeable; his society was irksome, and his
attachment to her must be imaginary; but still he would be her husband.
Without thinking highly either of men or matrimony, marriage had always
been her object; it was the only honourable provision for well-educated
young women of small fortune; and, however uncertain of giving
happiness, must be their pleasantest preservative from want. This
preservative she had now attained; and at the age of twenty-seven,
without having ever been handsome, she felt all the good-luck of it."
This reflection is ascribed to Charlotte Lucas, an inferior character,
but still thought worthy to be the heroine's bosom friend.

Jane's first essays in composition were burlesques on the fashionable
manners of the day; whence grew "Northanger Abbey," with its anti-
heroine, Catharine Morley, "roving and wild, hating constraint and
cleanliness, and loving nothing so much as rolling down the green slope
at the back of the house," and with its exquisite travestie of the
"Mysteries of Udolpho." But she soon felt her higher power. Marvellous
to say, she began "Pride and Prejudice" in 1796, before she was twenty-
one years old, and completed it in the following year. "Sense and
Sensibility" and "Northanger Abbey" immediately followed; it appears,
with regard to the latter, that she had already visited Bath, though it
was not till afterwards that she resided there. But she published
nothing--not only so, but it seems that she entirely suspended
composition--till 1809, when her family settled at Chawton. Here she
revised for the press what she had written, and wrote "Mansfield Park,"
"Emma" and "Persuasion." "Persuasion," whatever her nephew and
biographer may say, and however Dr. Whewell may have fired up at the
suggestion, betrays an enfeeblement of her faculties, and tells of
approaching death. But we still see in it the genuine creative power
multiplying new characters; whereas novelists who are not creative, when
they have exhausted their original fund of observations, are forced to
subsist by exaggeration of their old characters, by aggravated
extravagances of plot, by multiplied adulteries and increased carnage.

"Pride and Prejudice," when first offered to Cadell, was declined by
return of post. The fate of "Northanger Abbey" was still more
ignominious: it was sold for ten pounds to a Bath publisher, who, after
keeping it many years in his drawer, was very glad to return it and get
back his ten pounds. No burst of applause greeted the works of Jane
Austen like that which greeted the far inferior works of Miss Burney.
_Crevit occulto velut arbor oevo fama_. A few years ago, the verger
of Winchester cathedral asked a visitor who desired to be shown her
tomb, "what there was so particular about that lady that so many people
wanted to see where she was buried?" Nevertheless, she lived to feel
that "her own dear children" were appreciated, if not by the vergers,
yet in the right quarters, and to enjoy a quiet pleasure in the
consciousness of her success. One tribute she received which was
overwhelming. It was intimated to her by authority that His Royal
Highness, the Prince Regent, had read her novels with pleasure, and that
she was at liberty to dedicate the next to him. More than this, the
Royal Librarian, Mr. Clarke, of his own motion apparently, did her the
honour to suggest that, changing her style for a higher, she should
write "a historical romance in illustration of the august house of
Cobourg," and dedicate it to Prince Leopold. She answered in effect
that, if her life depended on it, she could not be serious for a whole
chapter. Let it be said, however, for the Prince Regent, that underneath
his royalty and his sybaritism, there was, at first, something of a
better and higher nature, which at last was entirely stifled by them.
His love for Mrs. Fitzherbert was not merely sensual, and Heliogabalus
would not have been amused by the novels of Miss Austen.

Jane was never the authoress but when she was writing her novels; and in
the few letters with which this memoir is enriched there is nothing of
point or literary effort, and very little of special interest. We find,
however, some pleasant and characteristic touches.

"Charles has received L30 for his share of the privateer, and expects
L10 more; but of what avail is it to take prizes if he lays out the
produce in presents to his sisters? He has been buying gold chains and
topaz crosses for us. He must be well scolded."

"Poor Mrs. Stent! It has been her lot to be always in the way; but we
must be merciful, for perhaps in time we may come to be Mrs. Stents
ourselves, unequal to anything and unwelcome to everybody."

"We (herself and Miss A.) afterwards walked together for an hour on the
Cobb; she is very conversable in a common way; I do not perceive wit or
genius, but she has sense and some degree of taste, and her manners are
very engaging. _She seems to like people rather too easily."_

Of her own works, or rather of the characters of her own creation, her
Elizabeths and Emmas, Jane speaks literally as a parent. They are her
"dear children." "I must confess that I think her (Elizabeth) as
delightful a creature as ever appeared in print, and how I shall be able
to tolerate those who do not like _her_ at least I do not know."
This is said in pure playfulness; there is nothing in the letters like
real egotism or impatience of censure.

At the age of forty-two, in the prime of intellectual life, with "Emma"
just out and "Northanger Abbey" coming, and in the midst of domestic
affection and happiness, life must have been sweet to Jane Austen. She
resigned it, nevertheless, with touching tranquillity and meekness. In
1816, it appears, she felt her inward malady, and began to go round her
old haunts in a manner which seemed to indicate that she was bidding
them farewell. In the next year, she was brought for medical advice to a
house in the Close of Winchester, and there, surrounded to the last by
affection and to the last ardently returning it, she died. Her last
words were her answer to the question whether there was anything she
wanted--_"Nothing but death."_ Those who expect religious language
in season and out of season have inferred from the absence of it in Jane
Austen's novels that she was indifferent to religion. The testimony of
her nephew is positive to the contrary; and he is a man whose word may
be believed.

Those who died in the Close were buried in the cathedral. It is
therefore by mere accident that Jane Austen rests among princes and
princely prelates in that glorious and historic fane. But she deserves
at least her slab of black marble in the pavement there. She possessed a
real and rare gift, and she rendered a good account of it. If the censer
which she held among the priests of art was not of the costliest, the
incense was of the purest. If she cannot be ranked with the very
greatest masters of fiction, she has delighted many, and none can draw
from her any but innocent delight.


[Footnote: "English Men of Letters. Edited by John Morley Milton. By
Mark Pattison B.D., Rector of Lincoln College, Oxford." London,
Macmillan, New York: Harper & Bros., 1879]

John Bright once asked a friend who was the greatest of Englishmen and
the friend hesitating answered his own question by saying, "Milton,
because he above all others, combined the greatness of the writer with
the greatness of the citizen." Professor Masson in his Life and Times of
Milton, has embodied the conception of the character indicated by this
remark, but he has run into the extreme of incorporating a complete
narrative of the Revolution with the biography of Milton, so that the
historical portion of the work overlays instead of illuminating the
biographical, and the chapters devoted specially to the life seem to the
reader interpolations, and not always welcome interpolations, in an
intensely interesting history of the times. But now comes a biographer
in whose eyes the life of Milton the citizen is a mere episode, and not
only a mere episode but a lamentable and humiliating episode, in the
life of Milton the poet. Milton's life, says Mr. Pattison "is a drama in
three acts. The first discovers him in the calm and peaceful retirement
of Horton, of which 'L'Allegro,' 'Il Penseroso,' and 'Lycidas' are the
expression. In the second act he is breathing the foul and heated
atmosphere of party passion and religious hate, generating the lurid
fires which glare in the battailous canticles of his prose pamphlets.
The three great poems--'Paradise Lost,' 'Paradise Regained,' and
'Samson Agonistes'--are the utterance of his final period of solitary
and Promethean grandeur, when, blind, destitute, friendless, he
testified of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, alone
before a fallen world." As to the struggle to which Milton, with
Cromwell, Vane Pym, Hampden, Selden, and Chillingworth, gave his life,
it is in the eyes of his present biographer, an ignoble "fray," a
"biblical brawl," and its fruits in the way of theological discussion
are nothing but "garbage." To write his Defence of the English People
Milton deliberately sacrificed his eyesight, his doctor having warned
him that he would lose his one remaining eye if he persisted in using it
for book work. "The choice lay before me," he says, "between dereliction
of a supreme duty and loss of eyesight. In such a case I could not
listen to the physician, not if AEsculapius himself had spoken from his
sanctuary; I could not but obey that inward monitor, I know not what,
that spoke to me from Heaven. I considered with myself that many had
purchased less good with worse ill, as they who gave their lives to reap
only glory, and I thereupon concluded to employ the little remaining
eyesight I was to enjoy in doing this, the greatest service to the
common weal it was in my power to render." Mr. Pattison has quoted this
passage, and no doubt he silently appreciates the heroism which breathes
through it; but the "supreme duty" of which it speaks appears to him
only a "prostitution of faculties" and a "poor delusion." Milton, he
thinks, ought to have kept entirely aloof from the brawl and remained
quiet either in the intellectual circles of Italy or in the delicious
seclusion of his library at Horton, leaving liberty, truth, and
righteousness to drown or to be saved from drowning by other hands than
his. In "plunging into the fray" the poet miserably derogated from his
superior position as a literary man, and the result was a dead loss to
him and to the world. We are sure that we do not state Mr. Pattison's
view more strongly than it is stated in his own pages.

The views of all of us, including Professor Masson, on such a question
are sure to be more or less idiosyncratic, and those of the present
biographer have not escaped the general liability. They seem, at least,
aptly to represent a mood prevalent just now among eminent men of the
literary class in England, particularly at the universities. These men
have been tossed on the waves of Ritualism, tossed on the waves of the
reaction from Ritualism; some of them have been personally battered in
both controversies; they have attained no certainty, but rather arrived
at the conclusion that no certainty is attainable; they are weary and
disgusted; such of them as have been enthusiasts in politics have been
stripped of their illusions in that line also, and have fallen back on
the conviction that everything must be left to evolve itself, and that
there is nothing to be done. They have withdrawn into the sanctuary of
critical learning and serene art, abjuring all theology and politics,
and, above all, abjuring controversy of all kinds as utterly vulgar and
degrading, though, as might be expected, they are sometimes
controversial and even rather tart in an indirect way, and without being
conscious of it themselves. Mr. Pattison's air when he comes into
contact with the politics or theology of Milton's days is like that of a
very seasick passenger at the sight of a pork chop. Nor does he fail to
reflect the Necessarianism of the circle. "That in selecting a
scriptural subject," he says, "Milton was not, in fact, exercising any
choice, but was determined by his circumstances, is only what must be
said of all choosing." Criticism fastidiously erudite, a study of art
religiously and almost mystically profound, are fruits of this
intellectual seclusion of chosen spirits from the coarse and ruffling
world for which that world has reason to be grateful. It is not likely
Milton would have chosen a writer of this school as his biographer, but
few men would choose their own biographers well.

Milton has at all events found in Mr. Pattison a biographer whose
narrative is throughout extremely pleasant, interesting and piquant, the
piquancy being enhanced for those who have the key to certain sly hits,
such as that at "the peculiar form of credulity which makes perverts (to
Roman Catholicism) think that everyone is about to follow their
example," which carries us back to the time when the head of
Tractarianism having gone over to Rome, was waiting anxiously, but in
vain, for the tail to join it. The facts had already been collected by
the diligence of Professor Masson, but Mr. Pattison uses them in a style
which places beyond a doubt his own familiarity with the subject.
Through the moral judgments there runs, as we think, and as we should
have expected, a somewhat lofty conception of the privileges of
intellect and of the value of literary objects compared with others, but
with this qualification the reflections will probably be deemed sensible
and sound. The unfortunate relations between Milton and his first wife
are treated as we think all readers will say, at once with delicacy and
justice. The literary criticisms are of a high order and such as only
comprehensive learning combined with trained taste could produce,
whether you entirely enter into all of them or not (and criticism has
not yet been reduced to a certain rule) you cannot fail to gain from
them increase of insight and enjoyment. They are often expressed in
language of great beauty:

"The rapid purification of Milton's taste will be best perceived by
comparing 'L'Allegro' and 'Il Penseroso' of uncertain date but written
after 1632 with the 'Ode on the Nativity,' written 1629. The Ode,
notwithstanding its foretaste of Milton's grandeur, abounds in frigid
conceits, from which the two later pieces are free. The Ode is frosty,
as written in winter within the four walls of a college-chamber. The two
idyls breathe the free air of spring and summer and of the fields around
Horton. They are thoroughly naturalistic; the choicest expression our
language has yet found of the first charm of country life, not as that
life is lived by the peasant, but as it is felt by a young and lettered
student, issuing at early dawn or at sunset into the fields from his
chamber and his books. All rural sights and sounds and smells are here
blended in that ineffable combination which once or twice perhaps in our
lives has saluted our young senses, before their perceptions were
blunted by alcohol, by lust or ambition, or diluted by the social
distractions of great cities."

This will not be found to be a _purpureus pannus_. Nor does it much
detract from the grace of the work that of the "asyntactic disorder" of
which Mr. Pattison accuses Milton's prose, some examples may be found in
his own. Grammatical irregularities in a really good writer, as Mr.
Pattison undoubtedly is, often prove merely that his mind is more intent
on the matter than on the form.

"Paradise Lost" is the subject of a learned, luminous, and to us very
instructive dissertation. It is truly said that of the adverse criticism
which we meet with on the poem "much resolves itself into a refusal on
the part of the critic to make that initial abandonment to the
conditions which the poet demands: a determination to insist that his
heaven, peopled with deities, dominations, principalities, and powers,
shall have the same material laws which govern our planetary system."
There is one criticism, however, which cannot be so resolved, and on
which, as it appears to us the most serious of all, we should have liked
very much to hear Mr. Pattison. It is said that Lord Thurlow and another
lawyer were crossing Hounslow Heath in a post-chaise when a tremendous
thunder-storm came on; that the other lawyer said that it reminded him
of the battle in "Paradise Lost" between the devil and the angels, and
that Thurlow roared, with a blasphemous oath, "Yes, and I wish the devil
had won." Persons desirous of sustaining the religious reputation of the
legal profession add that his companion jumped out of the chaise in the
rain and ran away over the heath. For our part, we have never found
nearly so much difficulty in any of the incongruities connected with the
relations between spirit and matter, or in any confusion of the
Copernican with the Ptolemaic system, as in the constant wrenching of
our moral sympathies, which the poet demands for the Powers of Good, but
which his own delineation of Satan, as a hero waging a Promethean war
against Omnipotence, compels us to give to the Powers of Evil. Perhaps a
word or two might have been said about the relations of "Paradise Lost"
to other "epics." It manifestly belongs not to the same class of poems
as the "Iliad" and the "Odyssey," or even the "AEneid." Dobson's Latin
translation of it is about the greatest feat ever performed in modern
Latin verse, and it shows by a crucial experiment how little Milton
really has in common with Virgil. "Paradise Lost" seems to us far more
akin to the Greek tragedy than to the Homeric poems or the "AEneid." In
the form of a Greek drama it was first conceived. Its verse is the
counterpart of the Greek iambic, not of the Greek or Latin hexameter.
Had the laborious Dobson turned it into Greek iambics instead of turning
it into Latin hexameters, we suspect the real affinity would have

Looking upon the life of Milton the politician merely as a sad and
ignominious interlude in the life of Milton the poet, Mr. Pattison
cannot be expected to entertain the idea that the poem is in any sense
the work of the politician. Yet we cannot help thinking that the tension
and elevation which Milton's nature had undergone in the mighty
struggle, together with the heroic dedication of his faculties to the
most serious objects, must have had not a little to do both with the
final choice of his subject and with the tone of his poem. "The great
Puritan epic" could hardly have been written by any one but a militant
Puritan. Had Milton abjured the service of his cause, as his biographer
would have had him do, he might have given us an Arthurian romance or
some other poem of amusement. We even think it not impossible that he
might have never produced a great poem at all, but have let life slip
away in elaborate preparation without being able to fix upon a theme or
brace himself to the effort of composition. If Milton's participation in
a political battle fought to save at once the political and spiritual
life of England was degrading, Dante's participation in the faction
fight between the Guelphs and Ghibellines must have been still more so;
yet if Dante had been a mere man of leisure would he have written the
"Divina Commedia"? Who are these sublime artists in poetry that are
pinnacled so high above the "frays" and "brawls" of vulgar humanity? The
best of them, we suppose (writers for the stage being out of the
question) is Goethe. Shelley, Wordsworth, and Byron were all distinctly
poets of the Revolution, or of the Counter-Revolution, and if you could
remove from them the political element, you would rob them of half their
force and interest. The great growths of poetry have coincided with the
great bursts of national life, and the great bursts of national life
have hitherto been generally periods of controversy and struggle.

Art itself, in its highest forms, has been the expression of faith. We
have now people who profess to cultivate art as art for its own sake;
but they have hardly produced anything which the world accepts as great,
though they have supplied some subjects for _Punch_. "He that
loseth his life shall preserve it." Milton was ready to lose his
literary life by sacrificing the remains of his eyesight to a cause
which, upon the whole, humanity has accepted as its own; and it was
preserved to him in a work which will never die. Mr. Pattison points to
a short poem written by Milton when his pen was chiefly employed in
serving the Commonwealth as indication that Milton "did not inwardly
forfeit the peace which passeth all understanding." Why should a man
forfeit that peace when he is doing with his whole soul that which he
conscientiously believes to be his highest duty?

Over Milton's pamphlets Mr. Pattison can of course only wring his hands.
He is at liberty to wring his hands as much as he pleases over the
personalities which sullied the controversy with Salmasius; but these
are a small part of the matter, particularly when they are viewed in
connection with the habits of a time which was at once much rougher in
phrase, though perhaps not more malicious, than ours, and given to
servile imitation of Greek and Latin oratory. To point his moral more
keenly, Mr. Pattison denies that Milton was ever effective as a
political writer. Yet the Council of State, who can have looked to
nothing but effectiveness, and were pretty good judges of it, specially
invited Milton to answer "Eikon Basilike" and to plead the cause of the
Regicide Republic against Salmasius in the court of European opinion.
Mr. Pattison himself (p. 135) allows that on the Continent Milton was
renowned as the answerer of Salmasius and the vindicator of liberty; and
he proceeds to quote the statement of Milton's nephew that learned
foreigners could not leave London without seeing his uncle. But the
biographer has evidently laid down beforehand in his own mind general
laws which are fatal to all pamphlets as pamphlets, without
consideration of their particular merits. "There are," he says,
"examples of thought having been influenced by books. But such books
have been scientific, not rhetorical." If it were not rude to
contradict, we should have said that the influence exercised in politics
by scientific treatises had been as nothing in the aggregate compared
with that exercised by pamphlets, speeches, and, in later times, by the
newspaper press. What does Mr. Pattison say to Burke's "Reflections on
the French Revolution," to Paine's "Common Sense," to the tracts written
by Halifax and Defoe at the time of the Revolution? Neither thought nor
action is his epigrammatic condemnation of Milton's political writings,
but an appeal which stirs men to action is surely both. Again of
"Eikonoklastes" we are told that "it is like _all answers_,
worthless as a book." Bentley's "Phalaris" is an answer, Demosthenes'
"De Corona" is an answer. As a rule no doubt the form is a bad one, but
an answer may embody principles and knowledge as well as show literary
skill, reasoning power, and courteous self-control, which after all are
not worthless though they are worth far less than some other things.
These discussions so odious and contemptible in Mr. Pattison's eyes,
what are they but the processes of thought through which a nation or
humanity works its way to political truth? Even books scientific in form
such as Hobbes's "Leviathan" or Harrington's "Oceana" are but registered
results of a long discussion. "Eikon Basilike" was doing infinite
mischief to the cause of the Commonwealth, and how could it have been
met except by a critical reply? "Eikonoklastes" was thought, though it
was not exact science, and so far as it told it was action, though it
was not a pike or a musket.

This portion of Mr. Pattison's work is thickly sown with aphorisms to
which no one who does not share his special mood can without
qualification assent. No good man can with impunity addict himself to
party, and the best men will suffer most because their conviction of the
goodness of their cause is deeper. But when one with the sensibility of
a poet throws himself into the excitements of a struggle he is certain
to lose his balance. The endowment of feeling and imagination which
qualifies him to be the ideal interpreter of life unfits him for
participation in that real life through the manoeuvres and compromises
of which reason is the only guide and where imagination is as much
misplaced as it would be in a game of chess. In this there is an element
of truth but there is also something to which we are inclined to demur.
If by party is meant mere faction, plainly no man can addict himself to
it with impunity. But when the English nation was struggling in the
grasp of a court and a prelacy which sought to reduce it to the level of
Spain, no Englishman as it seems to us could with impunity perch himself
aloft in a palace of art while peasants were shedding their blood to
make him free. Especially do we question the soundness of the sentiment
expressed in the last clause. Why is real life to be abandoned by every
man of feeling and imagination and given over to the men of manoeuvre and
compromise? Is not this the sentiment of the monkish ascetic coming back
to us in another form and enjoining us to make ourselves eunuchs for the
Kingdom of Art's sake? Cromwell, Vane, Hampden, and Pym were not men of
manoeuvre and compromise, they had plenty of feeling and imagination,
though in them these qualities gave birth not to poetry, but to high
political or religious aspirations and grand social ideals. The theory
of Milton's biographer is that an active interest in public affairs is
fatal to excellence in literature or in art; and this theory seems to be
confuted as signally as possible by the facts of Milton's life.

It is curious to see how completely at variance Milton's own sentiment
is with that of his biographer and how little he foresaw what Mr.
Pattison would say about him. In the _Defensio Secunda_ he defends
himself against the charge not of over activity but of inaction. "I can
easily repel," he says, "any imputation of want of courage or of want of
zeal. For though I did not share the toils or perils of the war I was
engaged in a service not less hazardous to myself and more beneficial to
my fellow citizens; nor in the adverse turns of our affairs, did I ever
betray any symptoms of pusillanimity and dejection; or show myself more
afraid than became me of malice or of death: For since from my youth I
was devoted to the pursuits of literature, and my mind has always been
stronger than my body, I did not court the labours of a camp, in which
any common person would have been of more service than myself, but
resorted to that employment in which my exertions were likely to be of
most avail. Thus, with the better part of my frame I contributed as much
as possible to the good of my country, and to the success of the
glorious cause in which we were engaged; and I thought that if God
willed the success of such glorious achievements, it was equally
agreeable to his will that there should be others by whom those
achievements should be recorded with dignity and elegance; and that the
truth, which had been defended by arms, should also be defended by
reason; which is the best and only legitimate means of defending it.
Hence, while I applaud those who were victorious in the field, I will
not complain of the province which was assigned me; but rather
congratulate myself upon it, and thank the author of all good for having
placed me in a station, which may be an object of envy to others rather
than of regret to myself." Here is a culprit who entirely mistakes the
nature of his offence and instead of apologizing for what he has done
apologizes for not having done more. Nor so far as we are aware is there
in Milton's writings the slightest trace of sorrow for the misemployment
of his best years or consciousness of the ruin which it had wrought in
his genius as a poet.

In the same spirit Mr. Pattison continually represents the end of
Milton's public life as "the irretrievable discomfiture of all his
hopes, aims, and aspirations," his labour as "being swept away without a
trace of it being left," and the latter part of his life as utter
"wretchedness." The failure of selfish schemes often makes men wretched.
The failure of unselfish aspirations may make a man sad, but can never
make him wretched, and Milton was not wretched when he was writing
"Paradise Lost." He would not have been wretched even if the
discomfiture of his hopes for the Commonwealth had been as final and as
irretrievable as his biographer supposes. But Milton knew that though
disastrous it was not final or irretrievable. He had implicit confidence
in the indestructibility of moral force, and he "bated no jot of heart
or hope." He could see the limits of the reaction and he knew that,
though great and calamitous in proportion to the errors of the
Republican party, it had not changed in a day the character and
fundamental tendencies of the nation. He would note that the Star
Chamber, the Court of High Commission, the Council of the North, the
legislative functions once usurped by the Privy Council, were not
restored, and that no attempt was made to govern without a parliament.
He found himself the defender of regicide, not free from peril, indeed,
yet protected by public opinion, while, in general, narrow bounds were
set to the bloodthirsty vengeance of the Cavaliers. He lived to witness
the actual turn of the tide. Six years before his death the Triple
Alliance was formed, and in the year of his death the Cabal Ministry
fell. At worst, his case would have been that of a soldier killed in an
unfortunate crisis of a battle which in the end was won, but he fell, if
not with the shout of victory in his ears, with the inspiring signs of a
general advance around him. If we take remoter ages into our view, the
triumph of Milton is still more manifest. The cause to which he gave his
life and his genius is forever exalted and dignified by his name. The
notion that the Cavaliers were the men of culture and that the Puritans
were the uncultivated has been a hundred times confuted, though it
reappears in the discourses of Mr. Matthew Arnold, and, what is much
more astonishing, in this work of Mr. Pattison. But in a party of action
great defect of culture would be amply redeemed by the possession of a


[Footnote: A Memoir of the Rev. J. Keble, M.A., late Vicar of Hursley,
by the Right Hon. Sir J.T. Coleridge, D.C.L., Oxford and London: James
Parker & Co., 1869.]

SIR JOHN COLERIDGE, the writer of this "Life of Keble," was for many
years one of the Judges of the Court of Queen's Bench, is now a Privy
Councillor, and may be regarded almost as the lay head of the High
Church party in England. Sharing Keble's opinions, and entering into all
his feelings, he is at the same time himself always a man of the world
and a man of sense. Add to these qualifications his intimate and
lifelong friendship with the subject of his work, and we have reason to
expect a biography at once appreciative and judicial. Such a biography,
in fact, we have; one full of sympathy, yet free from exaggeration, and
a good lesson to biographers in general. The intimacy of the friendship
between the writer and his subject might have interfered with his
impartiality and repelled our confidence if the case had been more
complex and had made greater demands on the inflexibility of the judge.
But in the case of a character and a life so perfectly simple, pure, and
transparent as the character and the life of Keble, there was but one
thing to be said.

The author of "The Christian Year" was the son of a country clergyman of
the Church of England, and was educated at home by his father, so that
he missed, or, as he would probably have said himself, escaped, the
knowledge of minds differently trained from his own which a boy cannot
help picking up at an English public school. At a very early age he
became a scholar of Corpus Christi, a very small and secluded college of
the High Church and High Tory University of Oxford. As the scholarships
led to fellowships--the holders of which were required to be in holy
orders--and to church preferment, almost all the scholars were destined
for the clerical profession. Of Keble's student friendships one only
seems to have been formed outside the walls of his own college, and this
was with Miller, a student of Worcester College, who afterwards became a
High Church clergyman. Among the students destined for the Anglican
priesthood in the Junior Common Room of Corpus Christi College, there
was indeed one whose presence strikes us like the apparition of Turnus
in the camp of AEneas--Thomas Arnold. Arnold was already Arnold, and he
succeeded in drawing the young champions of the divine right of kings
and priests into a struggle against the divine right of tutors which
'secured the liberty of the subject' at Corpus--the question at issue
between the subject and the ruler being by which of two clocks, one of
which was always five minutes before the other, the recitations should
begin. The friendship between Arnold and Keble, however, was merely
personal, Arnold evidently never exercised the slightest influence over
Keble's mind, and even in this 'great rebellion'--the only rebellion,
great or small, of his life--Keble was induced to take part, as he has
expressly recorded, at the instigation of Coleridge, a middle term
between Arnold and himself. The college teachers were all clergymen and
the university curriculum in their days was regulated and limited by
clerical ascendancy, and consisted of the Aristotelian and Butlerian
philosophy, classics, and pure mathematics, without modern history or
physical science. The remarkable precocity of Keble's intellect enabled
him to graduate with the highest honours both in classics and
mathematics at an age almost miraculously early even when allowance is
made for the comparative youthfulness of students in general in those
days. He was at once elected a Fellow of Oriel, and translated to the
Senior Common Room of the College--another clerical society consisting
of men for the most part considerably his seniors, among whom, in spite
of the presence of Whately, High Church principles probably predominated
already, and were destined soon to predominate in the most extreme
sense, for the college presently became the focus of the Ritualistic and
Romanizing movement. Thus, up to twenty-three, Keble's life had been
that of a sort of acolyte, and though not ascetic (for his nature
appears to have been always genial and mirthful), entirely clerical in
its environments and its aspirations. At twenty-three he took orders,
and put round his neck, with the white tie of Anglican priesthood, the
Thirty-nine Articles, the whole contents of the Anglican Prayer Book and
all the contradictions between those two standards of belief. For some
time he held a tutorship in his college then he went down to a country
living in the neighbourhood of a cathedral city, where he spent the rest
of his days. His character was so sweet and gentle that he could not
fail to be naturally disposed to toleration. He even goes the length of
saying that some profane libellers whom his friend Coleridge was going
to prosecute, were not half so dangerous enemies to religion as some
wicked worldly-minded Christians. But it is no wonder, and implies no
derogation from his charity, that he should have regarded the progress
of opinions different from his own as a mediaeval monk would have
regarded the progress of an army of Saracens or a horde of Avars. His
poetic sympathies could not hinder him from disliking the rebel and
Puritan Milton.

Thus it was impossible that he should be in a very broad sense a poet of
humanity. His fundamental conception of the world was essentially
mediaeval, his ideal was that of cloistered innocence or, still better,
the innocence of untempted and untried infancy. For such perfection his
Lyra Innocentium was strung. When his friend is thinking of the
profession of the law, he conjures him to forego the brilliant visions
which tempted him in that direction for "visions far more brilliant and
more certain too, more brilliant in their results, inasmuch as the
salvation of one soul is worth more than the framing the Magna Charta of
a thousand worlds, more certain to take place since temptations are
fewer and opportunities everywhere to be found. These words remind us of
a passage in one of Massillon's sermons, preached on the delivery of
colours to a regiment, in which the bishop after dwelling on the
hardships and sufferings which soldiers are called upon to endure,
intimates that a small part of those hardships and sufferings, undergone
in performance of a monastic vow, would merit the kingdom of heaven. If
souls are to be saved by real moral influences, Sir John Coleridge has
probably saved a good many more souls as a religious judge and man of
the world than he would have saved as the rector of a country parish,
and if character is formed by moral effort, he has probably formed a
much higher character by facing temptation than he would have done by
flying from it. Keble himself, in his Morning Hymn, has a passage in a
different strain, but the sentiment which really prevailed with him was
probably that embodied in his advice to his friend.

Whatever of grace, worth, or beneficence there could be in the half
cloistered life of an Oxford fellow of those days or in the rural and
sacerdotal life of a High Church rector, there was in the life of Keble
at Oriel, and afterwards at Hursley. The best spirit of such a life
together with the image of a character rivalling in spiritual beauty,
after its kind that of Ken or Leighton, is found in Keble's poetry, and
for this we may be, as hundreds of thousands have been, thankful.

The biographer declines to enter into a critical examination of the
"Christian Year," but he confidently predicts its indefinite reign,
founding his prediction on the causes of its original success. He justly
describes it, in effect as rather a poetical manual of devotion than a
book of poetry for continuous reading It is in truth, so completely out
of the category of ordinary poetry that to estimate its poetic merits
would be a very difficult task. Sir John Coleridge indicates this, when
he cites as an appropriate tribute to the excellence of the book the
practice of the clergyman who used, every Sunday afternoon instead of a
sermon to read and interpret to his congregation the poem of the
Christian Year for the day. The object of the present publication says
the Preface will be attained if any person find assistance from it in
bringing his own thoughts and feelings into more entire unison with
those recommended and exemplified in the Prayer Book. This connection
with the Prayer Book and with the Anglican Calendar, while it has given
the book an immense circulation necessarily limits its range and
interest. Yet those who care least for being brought into unison with
the Prayer Book fully admit that the "Christian Year" gives proof of
real poetic power. Keble himself, as his biographer attests, had a very
humble opinion of his own work, seldom read it hated to hear it praised
consented with great difficulty to its glorification by sumptuous
editions. It was his saintly humility suggests the biographer which made
him feel that the book which flowed from his own heart would inevitably
be taken for a faithful likeness of himself, that he would thus be
exhibiting himself in favourable colours and be in danger of incurring
the woe pronounced on those who win the good opinion of the world. If
this account be true it is another proof of the mediaeval and half
monastic mould in which Keble's religious character was cast.

The comparative failure of the "Lyra Innocentium" is probably to be
attributed not only to its inferiority in intrinsic merit but to the
fact that whereas the "Christian Year" has as little of a party
character as any work of devotion written by an Anglican and High Church
clergyman could have, the "Lyra Innocentium" was the work of a leading
party man. The interval between the two publications had been filled by
a great reactionary movement among the clergy, one of the back-streams
to that current of Liberalism, which setting in after the termination of
the great French war, not only swept away the Rotten boroughs and the
other political bulwarks of Tory dominion but threatened to sweep away
the privileges of the Established Church, and compelled Churchmen to
look out for a basis independent of State support. Keble was the
associate of Hurrell Froude, Newman Pusey and the other great
Tractarians. A sermon which he preached before the University of Oxford
was regarded by Newman as the beginning of the movement. He contributed
to the Tracts for the Times, though as a controversialist he was never
powerful, sweetness not strength being the characteristic of his mind.
He gradually embraced, as it seems to us, all the principles which sent
his fellow Tractarians over to Rome. The posthumous alteration made in
the Christian Year by his direction shows that he held a doctrine
respecting the Eucharist not practically distinguishable from the Roman
doctrine of Transubstantiation. A poem intended to appear in the "Lyra
Apostolica" but suppressed at the time in deference to the wishes of
cautious friends and now published by his biographer proves that he was,
as a Protestant putting it plainly would say, an advanced Mariolater. He
was a thoroughgoing sacerdotalist and believer in the authority of the
Church in matters of opinion. He mourned over the abandonment of
auricular confession. He regarded the cessation of prayers for the souls
of dead founders and benefactors as a lamentable concession to
Protestant prejudice. Like his associates he repudiated the very name of
Protestant. He deemed the state of the Church of England with regard to
orthodoxy most deplorable--two prelates having distinctly denied an
article of the Apostles Creed and matters going on altogether so that it
was very difficult for a Catholic Christian to remain in that communion.
Why then did he not with Newman and the rest accept the logical
conclusions of his premises and go to the place to which his principles
belonged? His was not a character to be influenced by any worldly
motives or even by that sense of ecclesiastical position which perhaps
has sometimes had its influence in making Romanizing leaders of the
Anglican clergy unwilling to merge their party and their leadership in
the Church of Rome. There was nothing in his nature which would have
recoiled from any self abnegation or submission. The real answer is we
believe that Keble was a married man. We can hardly imagine him making
love. His marriage was no doubt one not of passion but of affection, as
small a departure from the sacerdotal ideal as it was possible for a
marriage to be. Still, he was married and tenderly attached to his good
wife. Thus it was probably not any subtle distinction between Real
Presence and Transubstantiation, not misgivings as to the exact degree
of worship to be paid to the Virgin, not doubts as to the limits of the
personal infallibility of the Pope or objections to practical abuses in
the Church of Rome--which kept Keble and has kept many a Romanizing
clergyman of the Anglican Church from becoming a Roman Catholic. Nor is
the reason when analysed one of which Anglican philosophy need be
ashamed for to the pretentions of sacerdotal asceticism the best answer
is domestic love.

Keble stopped his ears with wax against the siren appeal of his seceding
chief John Henry Newman and refused at first to read the Essay on
Development. When at last he was drawn into the controversy he
constructed for his own satisfaction and that of other waverers who
looked up to him for support and guidance an argument founded on the
Butlerian principle of probability as the guide of life. But Butler,
with all deference to his great name be it said, imports into questions
of conscience and into the spiritual domain a principle really
applicable only to worldly concerns. A man will invest his money or take
any other step in relation to his worldly affairs as he thinks the
chances are in his favour, but he cannot be satisfied with a mere
preponderance of chances that he possesses vital truth and that he will
escape everlasting condemnation. The analogy drawn by Keble between the
late recognition of the Prayer Book instead of the too Protestant
Articles as the real canon of the Anglican faith and the lateness of the
Christian Revelation in the world's history was an application of the
analogical method of reasoning which showed to what strange uses that
method might be put.

It is singular but consistent with our theory as to the real nature of
the tie which prevented Keble from joining the secession that he should
have determined if compelled to leave the Church of England (a
contingency which from the growth of heresy in that Church he distinctly
contemplated) to go not into the communion of the Church of Rome but out
of all communion whatever. He would have gone we suppose into some limbo
like the phantom Church of the Nonjurors. It is difficult to see how
such a course can have logically commended itself to the mind of any
member of the theological school which held that the individual reason
afforded no sort of standing ground and that the one thing indispensable
to salvation was visible communion with the true Church.

Sir John Coleridge deals with the question as to the posthumous
alteration in "The Christian Year" the discovery of which caused so much
scandal among its Protestant admirers and brought to a stand, it was
said, the subscription for a memorial college in honour of its author.
It is made clearly to appear that the alteration was in accordance with
Keble's expressed desire, and the suspicion which was cast upon his
executors and those who were about him in his last moments is proved to
be entirely unfounded. But, on the other hand, we cannot think that the
biographer (or rather Keble, who speaks for himself in this matter) will
be successful in convincing many people that the alteration was merely
verbal. The mental interpolation of "only" after "not" in the words "not
in the Hands," is surely a _tour de force_, and it must be
remembered that the passage occurs in the lines on the "Gunpowder
Treason," and is evidently pointed against the Roman Catholic doctrine
of the Eucharist. The Roman Catholics do not deny that the Eucharist is
received "in the heart," but the Protestants deny that it is is received
"in the hands" at all, and the vast majority of Keble's readers could
not fail to construe the passage as an assertion of the Protestant
doctrine. Sir John Coleridge does not confront the real difficulty,
because he does not give the two versions side by side, or exhibit the
passage in its context. A more natural account of the matter is
suggested by a letter of Keble, written when he was contemplating the
publication of the "Lyra Innocentium," and included in the present
memoir. In that letter he says:

"No doubt, there would be the difference in tone which you take notice
of between this and the former book, for when I wrote that, I did not
understand (to mention no more points) either the doctrine of Repentance
_or that of the Holy Eucharist_, as held, _e. g._, by Bishop
Ken, nor that of Justification, and such points as these must surely
make a great difference. But may it please God to preserve me from
writing so unreally and deceitfully as I did then, and if I could tell
you the whole of my shameful history, you would join with all your heart
in this prayer."

The biographer, while he proves his integrity by giving us the letter,
of course protests against our taking seriously the self accusations of
a saint. We certainly shall not take seriously any charge of
deceitfulness against Keble, whether made by himself or by any other
human being, but he was liable, to a certain extent, like all other
human beings, to self-deception. His opinions, like those of his
associates, on theological questions in general and on the question of
the Eucharist in particular, had been moving rapidly in a Romanizing
direction during the interval between the publication of "The Christian
Year" and that of the "Lyra Innocentium." In the passage just quoted, we
see that he was conscious of this, but it was not unnatural that he
should sometimes forget it, and that he should then put upon the words
in "The Christian Year" a construction in conformity with his opinions
as they were in their most advanced stage. It is strange, however, that
he and the rest of his party, if they were even dimly and at intervals
conscious of the fact that their own creed had undergone so much change,
should still have been able to take the ground of immutability and
infallibility in their controversies with other parties and churches.

It has been almost forgotten that Keble held for ten years a (non-
resident) Professorship of Poetry at Oxford. His lectures were
unfortunately written, as the rule of the Chair then was, in Latin. He
thought of translating them, and Sir John Coleridge seems still to hold
that the task would be worth undertaking. For the examples, which are
taken from the Greek and Latin poets, it would be necessary to
substitute translations or examples taken from the modern poets. Mr.
Gladstone chooses, the apt epithet when he calls the lectures "refined."
Refinement rather than vigour or depth was always the attribute of
Keble's productions. His view of poetry, however, as the vent for
overcharged feelings or an imagination oppressed by its own fulness--as
a _vis medica_, to use his own expression--if it does not cover the
whole ground, well deserves attention among other theories.

To the discredit, perhaps, rather of the dogmatic spirit than of either
of the persons concerned, religious differences were allowed to
interfere with he personal friendship formed in youth between Keble and
Arnold. With this single and slight exception, Keble's character in
every relation--as friend, son, husband, tutor, pastor--seems to have
been all that the admirers of "The Christian Year" can expect or desire.
The current of his life, but for the element of theological controversy
and perplexity which slightly disturbed his later days, would have been
limpid and tranquil as that of any rivulet in the quiet scene where the
years of his Christian ministry were passed. He and his wife, the
partner of all his thoughts and labours, and the mirror and partaker of
the beauty of his character, died almost on the same day; she dying
last, and rejoicing that her husband was spared the pain of being the

  "Within these walls [of the Church] each fluttering guest
  Is gently lured to one safe nest--
  Without 'tis moaning and unrest."

The writer of those lines perfectly as well as beautifully realized his

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