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Title: The Blight of Respectability
Author: Mortimer, Geoffrey
Language: English
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  "It was never merry world in England since gentlemen came up."

                                         II. HENRY VI. iv. II.

  "Opinion's but a fool that makes us scan,
    The outward habit by the inward man."

                                        PERICLES II.  II.



     "You live a respectable man, but I ask
     If it's worth the trouble."

                             GEORGE MEREDITH. "The Beggar's Soliloquy."

Respectable is a word that has been wrested from its true meaning of
worthy of respect, and applied to the most sordid characteristics
and conditions of human life. Respectability, like vulgarity and
prudery, is an Anglo-Saxon attribute appertinent chiefly to the huge
middle-class part of society. It is not the fetish of "the upper ten
thousand," nor do the majority of the working class bow down before it.
Respectability stands for gentility, and the genteel folk are not often
of the orders aristocratic and proletarian, but of the bourgeoisie.
To call a decent, intelligent man respectable is to dub him genteel,
and to label him so implies that he has reached about the lowest level
of mental degradation. Would it not be an act of sheer defamation of
character to describe Ben Jonson, Shakspere, Dryden, Fielding, and
Burns as "respectable men?" No great man has ever been, or ever can be,
of the respectabilities, for the simple reason that the great are not
ordinary, and the ordinary alone are respectable. Have you ever read or
heard of a truly noble man or woman who was also respectable? Nobility
of character and a reputation for respectability, the two things are
utterly incompatible! Supposing it possible for an original mind to
pursue the preposterous chimera of respectability, where would such a
mind find itself ultimately? Prone and lazy on "the unclean straw of
intellectual habits," an impotent among impotents, or a sheep among

The respectable man is a slave to convention, and therefore a
stick-i'-the-mire. He is fearful of being deemed a crank, so fearful
that he succeeds in becoming a nonentity. Now some men are born
respectable; they could never be anything else. But that is no reason
why they should exert the tyranny of their personal preferences over
the minorities of their fellow-men. Defiance of Respectability is the
beginning and the end of social progress; you cannot be at once highly
respectable and progressive. Respectability is one of those dull and
sordid sins that are entirely without charm.

All good, regular conduct was once bad and irregular. But originality
and irregularity are abhorred of the respectable mass. "He who lets
the world, or his portion of it, choose his plan of life for him,"
says J. S. Mill, "has no need of any other faculty than the ape-like
one of imitation." It is by the exercise of this simious instinct that
"genteel" people order their lives down to the minutest detail. They
scout eccentricity and individuality of speculation and judgment; they
live in streets of houses all built alike; they imitate each others'
mode of dress, think each others' thoughts, and say "It is better to be
dead than out of the fashion!"

Originality! is there anything greater under the sun? "Yes," say the
Respectables, "it is better to be a sheep amongst sheep than to gain a
name for eccentricity." This is why our national, moral, intellectual,
and artistic advance is so slow: men and women infected by the craze
for respectability act as dead weights on the arms of pioneers. Grundy,
Bowdler, and Podsnap are the three gods of the shoddy respectabilities.

Respectability! who has it not cursed and perverted at some time in
his life? There is perhaps no better instance of the moral blight that
respectability has upon the middle-class mind than the treatment of Mr.
Bradlaugh, not only at the hands of rabid sectarians, but by timorous
and respectable rationalists and utter indifferentists.

It may be taken as an axiom that if you want to blast a man's
reputation as a tolerable specimen of the human race, you have merely
to class him as respectable. The very word is damnatory and detestable.
At best it always leaves a bad flavour of middle-class hashes in the
mouth, and wafts to the nostrils the reek of stuffy parlours with
horsehair couches, dried grass, and wax flowers. "A most respectable
man." We all know him--a sort of factory-made cheap line in humanity,
with a few prim, precise, little superstitions, no reasoned morals, and
no intellectual or æsthetic needs. He is a big man of a petty sect,
and on Sunday he troops a stout, silk-dressed wife and seven or eight
children to hear Boanerges hold forth at the tin Bethel at the end
of the street. This is one type, perhaps the commonest. Another sort
is not particularly pietistic, but "eminently respectable." He lives
at Brixton or Clapham in a continuous struggle to keep up a "decent"
appearance among the neighbours. His wife "takes in paying guests,"
and his daughters spend most of their time in blocking the pavement
in front of drapers' shops. Mamma and the girls are gangrened with
respectability and snobbishness, but were it not for the inherited
virus they might have been decent and wholesome women. Their minds are
blank to all the wider interests of life; they are simply mechanical
dolls. Says a woman concerning these types: "I have known miners,
railway men, iron and cotton and wool workers, many who have denied
themselves physical necessities to buy and read a book, attend
lectures, or a concert. I never knew a middle-class woman guilty of
such a glaring want of common-sense."

To live respectably, as the world deems respectability, is to live a
lie. No man or woman with a part to play in life can play it well if
they are constantly exercised as to what people will think--people, in
this instance, standing for Respectability. Can any wholesome influence
come out of the frowsy atmosphere of a villa inhabited by Veneerings?
As well expect to find lilies within the fences of the alkali works.
The fact is that what Respectability thinks is never of the slightest
importance to a man of real moral stamina and vigour of intellect. He
has learnt with Schopenhauer that reputation is of little avail in the
making of happiness. "What we are in and for ourselves," says that
philosopher, "is of sole moment; and if we have had an opportunity of
seeing how the greatest of men will meet with nothing but slight from
half-a-dozen blockheads, we shall understand that to lay great value
upon what other people say is to pay them too much honour."

A woman who was horribly crushed in the Crewe railway accident begged
the surgeon with her dying breath to set her bonnet straight. It was
not death that she feared, but the opinion of that grimmer monster
Respectability; a striking instance this of the firm hold that the
instinct has upon feeble minds.

Yes, to be appraised as a thoroughly respectable man among Philistines,
you must either possess scanty ideas, or you must perpetually dissemble
your opinions. Dr. Stockman, in Ibsen's "An Enemy of Society,"
is ostracised by respectable society because he refuses to be an
unmitigated liar. A finer satire on Respectability has never been
written. Stockman discovers that the water supply of the town is
polluted, and he tells the truth about it. The respectable authorities,
the tag-rag of the bourgeoisie, and the toady editor of the local
journal--who is at heart a Freethinker--hoot him down in compliance
with the "respectable" methods of toleration usually accorded to
reformers. At a public meeting the Doctor says:

     "I am going to make a great revelation to you, fellow-citizens!
     I am going to disclose that to you which is of infinitely
     more moment than the unimportant fact that our waterworks are
     poisonous, and that our hygienic baths are built upon a soil
     teeming with pestilence.... I have said I should speak of the
     great discovery I have made within the last few days--the
     discovery that all our spiritual sources of life are poisoned, and
     that our whole bourgeois society rests upon a soil teeming with
     the pestilence of lies. For I am going to revolt against the lie
     that truth resides in the majority."

Upon reading a Philistine opinion of himself, Diderot laughed, and
said: "I must be an eccentric sort of fellow: but is it such a great
fault to have preserved amid all the friction of society some vestiges
of the angularity of nature?"

No thralls to Respectability can ever be natural men and women.
The respectability of the middle-class is largely a growth of the
Calvinistic theory of submission and poorness of spirit; the effort of
the Respectables is towards docile conformity to the custom of their
narrow community, "until," as Mill says, "by dint of not following
their own nature, they have no nature to follow: their human capacities
are withered and starved: they become incapable of any strong wishes or
native pleasures, and are generally without either opinions or feelings
of home growth or properly their own." No fanatical fakir ever endured
the torments that some English folk inflict upon themselves before the
Mumbo Jumbo of respectability. Dwarfed social endeavour, suppressed
healthy desires, degraded faculties--these are the sacrifices in the
name of conventionality. Daily, men and women do a score of things that
they know to be hurtful and insane, because they fear to be accounted
"peculiar," and "not quite respectable;" and so it comes about that
"the keeping up of appearances," as it is called, the incessant
striving to be popular at all costs, engenders endless hypocrisies and
falsehoods, and makes knaves and cowards.

Not content with warping our national character by slavish veneration
of this abstraction, we have corrupted decent barbarians by inoculating
them with our miserable disease of Respectability. We have clothed the
innocent nude, and taught them shame, and in making them respectable
we have annihilated their pristine morality, and substituted Western
cant and indecency. Fortunately, however, the savage is too wholesome
an animal to become respectable without protest, and in most instances,
we have failed to convince him of the benefits of insanitary clothing
as badges of respectability and tokens of civilisation. Quoting from
Dalton, Reclus, in his "Primitive Folk," says of the Kolarian women:--

     "These savage women win hearts by their frank and open manners
     and naïve gaiety. Mixing freely from earliest childhood with
     the other sex, they have none of the prudery of Hindoos and
     Mussulmans, who have been brought up in strict seclusion; a
     prudery which at moments gives place to unclean talk, and is full
     of suggested obscenities. On the other hand, the modest grace of
     young Hos or Moonah maidens and the little girls of the Larkas is
     a subject of praise. Patience! Civilisation will soon cure them of
     this barbarism, will correct their ignorance."

It is a wretched reflection that these delightful women will one day be
as respectable as the female natives of Stoke Newington.

A lady novelist writes that every English woman is a savage at heart.
Does she not pay her sisters too high a compliment? The enforced
clothing of the Curumbas women of Malabar, at the instigation
of the "respectable English ladies" at Calcutta, is one of the
pitiful examples of the indecency of thought born of our ideas of
respectability. These damsels of the Curumbas tribe wore aprons of
leaves suspended from a bead waistband. Such garb was not only suited
to the climate, but it was charming as well as healthy. The Calcutta
British Matrons thought such wear abominable. How could these women
be respectable in such scanty drapery? Accordingly, by direction of
Bumble, four corporals and two sergeants of infantry were told off
with a company to drag the leaf aprons from the front and behind, and
to put the women into petticoats. The greenery was then burned in a
bonfire. What a glorious triumph of Respectability! How thoroughly
British matronly and indelicate in conception was this compulsory
clothing of innocent modest women by Tommy Atkins and his "pals." Is
there the least need to dwell upon the contrast of decency that these
Curumbas women present to the "respectable English ladies" of Calcutta?

Our insular arrogance is the twin sister of respectability. When we are
not taking pride in the personal possession of a pot-hat and a frock
coat, we go about bragging of national respectability and superiority.
"Every miserable fool who has nothing at all of which he can be proud,"
says Schopenhauer, "adopts as a last resource pride in the nation to
which he belongs; he is ready and glad to defend all its faults and
follies tooth and nail, thus reimbursing himself for his inferiority.
For example, if you speak of the stupid and degrading bigotry of the
English nation with the contempt it deserves, you will hardly find one
Englishman in fifty to agree with you; but if there should be one, he
will generally happen to be an intelligent man!"

Nothing can destroy Respectability but a gradual extirpation of the
_bourgeoisie_. I say gradual advisedly, and in a double sense; first,
because we have many respectable relatives and friends whom we would be
grieved to asphyxiate; and, second, because gradual processes in social
evolution have more permanent resultants than cataclysms. Diderot,
with wonderful prescience, asserted that a scientific anarchism is the
extreme goal of social progress. This was in 1776. In 1897 a thousand
sociologists recognise this fact, this "_diablement idéal_," as Diderot
termed it.



     "The evil is not merely a stagnation of blood, but a stagnation
     of spirit. Many, no doubt, are well disposed, but sluggish by
     constitution and by habit, or they cannot conceive of a man who is
     actuated by higher motives than they are."


I had written my first chapter when I met a friend possessed of the
qualities of moral and intellectual seriousness, which, when conjoined
with a sense of humour, are proper elements for the making of a fine
man. This estimable Mentor had read my midnight lucubration with a sad
heart. He told me, with appropriate gravity, that his standpoint was
the ethical-cum-philosophic. Judged from that imposing standard, my
"screed" depressed him by reason of its "cynicism."

"I wish," said he, "that you had dealt less ruthlessly with the
Philistine. Is he not a man and a brother?"

Whereupon he proceeded to administer reproof with Demosthenic
eloquence, concluding with the altruistic admission, "Though I have
endured much from the Philistine, I still love him."

Well, the Respectables are a large body, very much in the majority
so far as my researches have informed me; and, if the right and the
truth are on their side, they will not be worsted in a fair encounter.
I am still impertinently chuckling at that charge of cynicism and
ruthlessness. I love not Diogenes nor Torquemada. By all means let us
be just and fear not in this anatomy of the Respectable Person. Have
I not said that "were it not for the inherited virus," the veneering
girls "might have been decent and wholesome women?" Did I not indicate
a method of prophylaxis, a scientific, humane, and gradual extinction
of the taint? Vulgarity, snobbery, prudery and obscenity are common
specific contagious affections, manifesting a dangerous tendency
to increase. I regard these diseases, with their concomitants and
sequelæ as momentous social evils, and it is entirely on humanitarian
principles that I emphatically refuse to sprinkle rose-water over the
victims of the contagion, and to leave the disorders to take their
lingering and miserable course. These ailments are, without question,
hereditary, and the microbes have a strong and deadly hold upon the
host. I pity the vulgarian, the snob, and the prude; I commiserate them
with the same sympathy that I extend to the leper, the blind, and the
insane. Every physician must perforce at times be cruel to be kind; and
I do not intend to exercise injudicious gentleness in treating these
forms of mental disease.

It is well known that firmness, amounting occasionally to severity, is
most essential in dealing with certain neuroses. Therefore, from that
ethical basis upon which my honourable Mentor takes his stand, I shall
discuss these social disorders in plain vigorous terms, recognising
that the Respectable is not to be cured and his offspring preserved
from the inherited sting by sentimental demonstrations of fraternal
affection and pats on the back. Such methods as that have utterly
failed. No, we must endeavour to convince the sufferer from chronic
respectability that he is an anti-social being, a moral and mental
paralytic, a prey to the hallucinations and dreads of his class,
showing by this very habit of imitation that serious lesions have
arisen within his brain.

As in many diseases, the congenital cases of Respectability are the
most stubborn, and the prognosis cannot often be technically described
as "good." It is a serious and important fact to be carefully noted by
the Respectable, that many incurable imbeciles are the descendants of
steady, stolid, and apparently well-conducted ancestors of the trading
order, the folk who live in a petty round of narrow interests, without
the inclination to form their minds, and without any cultivation of
the æsthetic and poetic sides of their natures. If you add to this a
dour religiosity of the ultra-puritanic type, you have an excellent
nidus of insanity. In every asylum you may find the heirs of such
unfortunate prenatal influences. They are the victims of certain forms
of Respectability, the result of "the ape-like faculty of imitation" in
their forbears.

What were the peculiarities of these ancestors whose idiosyncracies
have degenerated into actual brain disease? _They tried to be
conventional._ It was of no matter to them what Bacon or Diderot or
Herbert Spencer said about the conduct of life. Their ethical guides
were the lesser lights of the sectaries, the pastors and deacons of
Zoar and Bethesda, teachers often, akin in intelligence to Mr. Ruskin's
"little squeaking idiot," telling "an audience of seventeen old women
and three louts that they were the only children of God in Turin." All
their "culture" came from such inspired sources. They were afraid of
God, but, as a minor poet says, more afraid of Mrs Grundy. Mrs. Brown,
Mrs. Smith, and Mrs. Robinson were their models; the Brownian view of
life was good enough for them. Was not Mr. Brown very respectable?
Did not Mrs. Smith set the example in _ton_, in Little Muddleton
Road? Was not Mrs. Robinson distantly related to a branch of the
aristocracy? They lived like human sheep. If one of the flock jumped
automatically, the others began to jump; and one moral or social _baa_
set all the rest bleating in the same respectable mechanical strain.
Rarely a boy or a girl in the community began to develop healthy
independence of judgment, or a taste for one of the arts or sciences.
If the youthful rebel had tough grit in him he pursued his own course
against tremendous obstacles, and amid taunts of eccentricity and
disrespectability, until he freed himself from the miserable petty
tyranny of the Brownian and Smithian codes. But if the boy or the girl
of originality was timid and submissive, Respectability triumphed, and
society lost a useful member. It is impossible to estimate the immense
amount of moral, intellectual, and artistic capacity that has been
impaired, perverted, and stamped out of existence in the bud by the
slavish worshippers at the altar of the Goddess Grundy.

I do not deny that a strong mind may emerge comparatively unscathed
from the blighting environment of Little Muddleton Road; but a man
or woman with inherited Respectability in his or her fibres, starts
life's race handicapped, and it may need years before the poison can
be eradicated from the moral system. In most cases the true congenital
Respectable is a hopeless subject for experimentation. The task of
reforming him needs far more patience and tact than most reformers
possess; and even if the patient shows improvement, a transference
into the infected areas is certain to result in a recrudescence
of the disorder. Remember the true Congenital Respectable inherits
a very vigorous and malignant taint; that his system is surcharged
with humours that resist the most patient treatment. Are we, then,
to despair of a cure? The answer must be, "No, not if all the
available hygienic remedies are employed while the Respectable is
young." I could not hope to heal the mind of a patient of forty, for
instance, and especially a female patient of that age. In women there
are characteristic symptoms of a nature so peculiar that we must
differentiate them in our pathology from the specific manifestations of
the affection in men.

Obviously, the greatest impediment to recovery lies in the fact that,
in nine instances out of ten, the subject has no desire to be cured.
Respectability presents the phenomenon of most neurotic diseases: the
patient does not understand that he is ill. If you tell a maniac that
he is not the Emperor of Russia, but an inmate of Bedlam, he will think
you are the madman, and that he is the sane man. In the same way, a
person attacked by an insidious wasting malady imagines he is in
robust health, because, when he has eaten a full meal he feels ready
to eat another. He thumps himself on the chest, and says, "Sound as a
bell! Look at my appetite!" Like these deluded folk, the Respectable
believes firmly that his derangement is a normal healthy state. All his
friends are Respectable; he is Respectable also, thank heaven!

While the Respectable remains in this grateful frame nothing can be
done for him. You must convince him that Respectability is a species
of mania, and until you have done this, there is palpably no hope of
curing him. Ridicule, contempt, satire--these are the instruments
that you must employ. Scarify him mentally, if you can, with Titanic
laughter at his wretched hallucination. Kick his preposterous idol
till the sawdust flies out of it; deride it, mutilate it, tear off its
flimsy tinsel. You must be prepared for a tussle with the Respectable.
He will fight long and savagely for his fetish, for it is the god of
his fathers, and he was taught to revere it when he left the cradle. He
is fighting for all that he conceives to be most dear and sacred to
him, and he looks upon you as an impious iconoclast and a fanatic. To
a Respectable, all are mad who seek to destroy illusions, to show the
inside of things, and to disencumber the social ground of the tares and
thistles that make such a brave show. He loves his world of seems and
shams and hypocrisies.

Our hope is in the young, in the rising generation, ere they are
hopelessly crushed and disfigured beyond all recognition beneath the
wheels of Respectability's triumphal one-horse brougham; before their
callow brains are dwarfed and warped in Dame Grundy's seminary and in
Dr. Birch's select school for the sons of wholesale tea merchants;
before the miasma of Villadom has poisoned their morals and befogged
their mental vision. Education must be widened and democratized. The
principle that "a mon's a mon for a' that" must be inculcated, and true
worth of character will then be dissociated in the mind from that vile,
tawdry, make-belief virtue called Respectability.



     "The snob in soul who looks above,
     Trampling on what's beneath."

                                        FRANCIS ADAMS.

"Is she a Lady or a Person?" asked a British Matron when I spoke of
a certain young woman. The question is well calculated to set one
pondering on those nice distinctions of class, and sub-distinctions
within the classes, characteristic of most semi-civilised and so-called
highly civilised nations of the world. Unquestionably, my interrogator
was a "lady" in the popular sense of the title. She lived in a large
house, received visits from the rector and the curate, gave parties
attended by well-to-do tradesfolk and one or two professional men,
with their wives and families, and refrained from committing the
misdemeanour of carrying parcels in the street. Undoubtedly she was
considered a lady by most members of her own order. But was she a
lady? I confess I do not know what you in particular mean by a lady. I
must know you tolerably intimately before I can even hazard a surmise.
This dame was the daughter of a tradesman, and she earned her own
livelihood. That is quite enough to stamp her as a mere person in the
judgment of an immense class.

For many years I have been trying to understand the jargon of
Respectability, and I have failed. I cannot get three people in one
room to entirely agree as to the constituents of a lady or a gentleman.
One will tell me that the claim to the distinction depends upon birth;
another denies this, and says it is simply a matter of good manners;
but a third, in spite of my protest that the manners of my housemaid
betoken a _gentle_-woman, affirms that her social status debars a
domestic servant from the label _lady_, though she may be a very
well-behaved young woman. If you think it is easy to obtain a precise
definition of lady and gentleman, I suggest that you interrogate your
near acquaintances, and make notes of the answers. Perchance your luck
is better than mine.

No, I do not to this day know exactly what people mean by calling this
man _gentleman_ and that man plain _man_. I have heard that there was a
time when only those men who plundered the poor, swore "gad-zooks" and
very much worse than that, got drunk nearly every night, and debauched
a great number of maids were the only respectable gentlemen in the
land, all the rest, who were not "up to" this "form" in usual practice
being churls, and knaves, and clowns. It is a matter of history that
these crapulous bandits were the only gentlemen of their day.

But take the phrase in its most modern sense. A. is a patrician, and
therefore pre-eminently a gentleman in the esteem of tens of thousands.
He uses the foulest back-slum expressions in the hunting-field, "pals"
with harlots, gamblers of shady notoriety, and ruffianly hybrid
sportsmen of the turf and ring, drinks to excess, and, after a career
of low vice and mean trickery, he pays his creditors--many of them
struggling tradesmen--sixpence in the pound, or less than that. _You_
say he is no gentleman. Quite so; but he is received in that polite
company where you and I would be cold-shouldered, and the society that
receives him is undoubtedly very high and good society. Moreover,
the Respectable million, though they may roll their eyes unctuously
at his misconduct, would be extremely delighted to have the honour of
entertaining Lord A. at afternoon tea. You know perfectly well, my
friend, that his lordship is "a gentleman bred and born," and that
circles closed to B., an impecunious artist, but a man of exemplary
deportment and refinement of feeling, are open to Lord A.

I hold that the terms lady and gentleman, like the word Respectable,
have become grossly perverted, and are now merely the connotations of
an odious snobbery. I would like to see the phrases deleted from every
dictionary. In their original sense they were good words, _i.e._,
_gentle_-man and _gentle_-woman, or if you will, lady. But they are now
utterly corrupt and meaningless, except when applied to the vulgar of
all ranks. The lady who does washing calls for the woman's linen. The
cant term has become the privileged title of the vulgarest plebeian.
An ignorant, ill-mannered, middle-class woman dubs herself Lady, and
describes her cultured governess as a Person.

Diogenes went about with a lantern looking for a man. Some of us are
questing for those mythical personages known as ladies and gentlemen;
and, like Mrs. Gamp, who doubted the existence of Mrs. 'Arris, we are
feign to believe "there aint no sich a person." When the majority
disagree as to the outward semblance and the inner attributes of "real
gentlefolk," how can we distinguish individuals of the order?

At a flower show I once overheard the daughter of a provincial
solicitor remark to her "lady" friend: "My dear, there is really _no
one_ here but us." I looked around, and saw "bankers and brewers, men
of evil omen," with their resplendent wives and daughters, and a great
number of social small-fry. But these were nobodies. They were not
lawyers, or the sons and daughters of lawyers, therefore they were
nonentities. How quaint are the invidious distinctions and the usages
of Snobbery! For example, it is considered impertinence if a brewer
follows the hounds in a scarlet coat, but a banker may wear the "pink
and buckskins." Such, at any rate, is the unwritten law in some hunting
districts. As for army snobbishness, it is well known that in several
regiments the impecunious officer, not "up to" the extravagant "form"
of the mess, is regarded as a cad by brainless, swaggering subalterns,
whose expenditure on their stomachs amounts to several hundred pounds
per annum. But to write upon the inflated Respectability of "the
Service" would require a separate section of this essay. It is enough
to say that the bullying, blustering military Respectable is usually a
scion of a _parvenu_ family. The type is not only to be found in the
regular forces; it is very common in the county militia and in the
provincial volunteer corps. A son of a wine merchant, or some other
prosperous tradesman, secures a lieutenancy in the volunteers, and soon
rises to a higher rank. He is an officer, and therefore a "gentleman;"
and he lords it over other tradesmen and tradesmen's sons with the air
of a patrician major-general. One of these precious jackanapes once
abused me for a "civilian," and threatened me with "an orderly," in a
raucous tone of wrath, because I inadvertently trespassed within the
lines of a volunteer camp. I said: "Where is the orderly? I'll wait for
him," and I sat down on the grass and smoked my pipe, and summoned
fortitude for the awful tribunal of a court-martial. But the orderly
came not, though the "civilian" waited long and patiently.

Much as I dislike slang, I find the cant terms "side" and "bounce"
so admirably adapted to my purpose in delineating certain phases of
Respectability that I may perhaps be pardoned for using them in this
attempt at a scientific exposition. Side and bounce will carry you
far in Respectable society. Self-assertiveness is an excellent thing.
Johnson and Carlyle were born with the faculty; they knew how to
inspire awe, and no one dared to contradict them. The Yankees call this
quality "side." They say that an egotistical, swaggering, dominant
man "puts on a lot of side." Many men and women make their way to
Respectability by putting on side. The rules are: (1) To appear to know
all about everything. (2) to talk in a loud voice, and to interrupt
other speakers. (3) to push, jostle, and trample upon the weak, the
very young, and the diffident. The man who observes these rules is sure
to get on in the world.

Have you not seen the crowd cower like frightened sheep at the sound
of a self-important voice? If you wish to get the better of your
brother man, you must terrify him and awe him into admiration. There is
a good story of Colonel Burnaby. He was once speaking on a political
platform, and some dissentients made a hubbub, and shouted "Chuck him
out!" Burnaby knew the value of "side." He walked down to the menacing
rowdies, asked one of them for a light, sat down among them, and smoked
his pipe.

We may not love bumptious, thrusting mortals, who make their brother
men their stepping-stones to higher things. But we are all more or less
envious of their success; and we are always giving way to them, and
making their path easy and pleasant. When we see a pompous personage
walking grandly up Pall Mall, and gazing scorn upon the vulgar herd,
we are often tempted to step up to him and say, as Douglas Jerrold, or
someone else, once said to one of these superior persons: "Pray, sir,
are you anyone in particular?" But we don't do it. We wither beneath
the glassy stare of an eye-glass.

Some men are born with "side." It is easy and natural to them. As
children they are never the horse, but always the driver when playing
at horses, and at school they become cocks of the walk and chiefs
of the dormitories. They are destined to be highly respected among
the Respectables, for the rank and file of Respectability like to be

The other day I read a letter from a young English Respectable settled
in South Africa. He wrote: "You have no idea how much time it takes to
kick sense into nigger servants." Glorious British supremacy! That is
the way to plant the banner of civilisation in heathen lands.

In a modern comedy which I have seen played (I forget the title), a
flunkey who inherits an unexpected fortune, thumps the table with
his fist, crying, "Now I'll be a gentleman! I'll be a _gentleman_,
by God!" You will possibly try to convince me that this fellow never
could become a gentleman. Why not? Money makes the man. He may not
be a _gentle_-man in _your_ sense, but he is a _gentleman_ in the
estimation of an immense number of the "general public." Do not dupe
yourself with the notion that there is only one kind of gentleman in
the community. There are at least a dozen sorts--the true gentleman,
the real gentleman, my idea of a gentleman, your idea of a gentleman,
Mrs. Grundy's gentleman, the Veneering conception of a gentleman, the
Oxford University definition of a gentleman, the crack cavalry notion
of a gentleman, the county society idea of a gentleman, the gentleman
who keeps a shop, but is too gentlemanly to sell you things over the
counter, the natural gentleman, the born gentleman, the gentlemanlike
person, and so on. Is there no room for Jeames in this mixed
assemblage? Once and for all, clear your mind of the fallacy that your
especial conception of a gentleman is the _only_ true one. There are,
fortunately, not one, but several standards of feminine beauty. There
are also several criteria of the real gentleman and the perfect lady.

Turn to the dictionary for a "correct definition" of gentleman if you
wish to fog your mind still more upon this subject: "Gentleman (from
_genteel_ and _man_)--In a general sense, every educated person above
a labourer, an artisan, or a tradesman, an individual possessed of the
conduct, habit, and outward appearance which belong, or are expected to
belong, to persons born and educated in a high social position; a man
in any station of life who is possessed of good breeding and refined
manners, strict integrity and honour, kindliness of heart, and suchlike
qualities; in a limited sense, a person of good fortune and good
family, whether titled or not; one who bears a coat of arms; a term of
complaisance or respect, as in the plural _gentlemen_, when addressing
a number of persons." Does this hotchpotch of contradiction help you in
determining the qualities of a gentleman? I confess it is of no service
to me.

No, we must end this disquisition as we began it. Terminology merely
bewilders and frustrates clear thought on the question. There is
obviously room and to spare for all of us in the temple of gentility.
We can all be gentlemen and ladies if we choose. The only thing to
decide is, which sort? Personally, I feel honoured at being spoken of
as "that man." "I endeavour," writes M. Taine, "rightly to comprehend
the epithet so essential 'a gentleman'; it constantly recurs, and
comprises a mass of ideas wholly English.... In France we have not the
word, because we have not the things, and these three syllables, as
used across the Channel, summarise the history of English society."[1]


[1] "Notes on England."



     "Their hypocrisy is a perpetual marvel to me, and a constant
     exercise of cleverness of the finest sort."

                       THACKERAY, "Mr. Brown's Letters to a Young Man."

     "It would take a large volume to contain the authentic accounts of
     deception practised by women."

                                  DR. E. J. TILT, "The Change of Life."

Women are particularly susceptible to the disease of Respectability.
Our sisters esteem rank and birth; they bow down to all kinds of idols
with a veneration seldom equalled in men. Form, ceremonies, modes of
dress, points of etiquette, and social observances mean more to them
than to us; and it is difficult to prove to them the hollowness and
inutility of mere seems, because externals satisfy their sense of
decorum and give them pleasure. The average _bourgeois_ woman reads
the court news and aristocratic tittle-tattle with avidity mingled
with envy. Baubles, insignia, uniforms, and the pomps of officialdom
attract and dazzle her, and she would rather know a stupid peer than a
sage, unpretentious philosopher, man of science, or poet.

Notice the large proportion of women in the crowds that gather outside
a West End mansion, or at the door of a church, on the occasions of a
ball or a fashionable wedding. Many women will travel long distances,
and endure severe fatigue and discomfort to gain a transitory glimpse
at titled personages. Lacking the power of analysis, and being
deficient in imagination, they admire the popular and ostentatious, and
contemn the persons and the things of true worth. Besides this, women's
sense of humour is less keen than that of men; they fail to see the
droll side of customs and fetishes, and they get angry with those who
jest and chuckle at grotesque ceremonies and functions. It matters not
to the middle-class woman how good or wise a man or woman may be if
they do not conform to preposterous codes and usages.

The romantic youth who imagines that most women are more sentimental
and romantic than himself, discovers his error when he becomes a lover,
and is received as a suitor in the family of his inamorata. He finds
the Little Muddleton Road folk extremely practical and respectable.
Materfamilias may possibly have been slightly tinged with romance and
poetry in her teens; but at fifty she is a slave to Respectability,
and she teaches her daughters, in season and out, that they must,
before all else, be "Respectable members of society." Is it a matter
for wonder? Naturally, the romantic youth puzzles over this shrewd,
business-like phase of woman's character; but he forgets that "human
beings, cramped under worse than South Sea Isle taboo," develop
astuteness in order to survive. You cannot expect women who have been
fenced around by Respectability and restricted to the back parlour
and the kitchen, to be wild, free, natural creatures, and nymphs of
the woodland. We ought not to have imprisoned them in this way at the
beginning. By this time, alas! the majority of them appear to hug their

The black shadow of the plague of Respectability is over love and
the relations of the sexes, and women suffer more than men from this
terrible blight. Respectability isolates the sexes before marriage,
and only allows them to discover each other's idiosyncracies,
caprices, and foibles when they are inseparably united ankle to ankle
and wrist to wrist, to hobble on through life, and pretend that they
are enjoying the penance. I do not say that the shackles _always_
gall. It is almost a sheer question of chance if they do not. For
this fearful uncertainty Respectability is much to blame. Girls are
immured and guarded, like vestal virgins of old; there is no wholesome
widespread social commingling of the sexes. Boys are free; but what is
their liberty worth to them, when girls are watched, chaperoned, and
secluded at the very age when their society is most sought by the youth
of the opposite sex? This nunnery system is practically restricted
to the middle-class Respectables. What is its effect upon the morals
and the weal of the order? Most disastrous. The young man, in a very
large number of instances, gains his knowledge of womankind among the
flashy, flighty, and even more undesirable specimens of the sex. He
meets the Little Muddleton Road girls at parties occasionally, but if
he walks home from chapel with one of them, Paterfamilias or Mamma
intervenes, and cuts short the friendship, or they want to know the
young fellow's "intentions" towards Ethel. His own parents tell him he
is too youthful, or too poor, to think of wooing yet; and I have even
known mothers who excluded all girls from the house for fear that their
sons should fall in love prematurely.

Now, it is quite probable that the young man has no "intentions,"
beyond gaining a friend in one of the Little Muddleton Road girls. He
may simply desire social intercourse with one of the feminine kind,
out of obedience to an eternal and immutable law of attraction. But
no, such intimacies, unless they are distinctly understood to be the
prelude to marriage, are rarely permitted by the Respectables. "It
is not proper for Ethel to be seen about with that young Simpkins.
What will Mrs. Robinson think?" Therefore Ethel is interdicted from
communication with the estimable Simpkins, and injured propriety is
appeased and quieted.

I say without hesitation that such isolation is ruinous to the
morals of the community. Finding how exceedingly difficult it is to
associate with the daughters of the Respectables, young Simpkins finds
companions among the female outcasts of society, women who besmirch his
romance, and degrade his pure passion to the lowest animal lust. The
world is full of love, could he but find it; but Respectability locks
it up in fusty dens, and says: "You mustn't be a close friend of my
daughter. That will never do! If you were engaged to her it would be a
different matter; but you're not, and people would talk." So Simpkins
goes away, and "picks up" very questionable girls in the street, and
buys his first experience of "love." And the saddest thing is that he
forms his opinion about women from these types, which is, of course,
unwise, to say the least. But is he wholly to blame for this? No, he
is one of the victims of Respectability, the grim tyrant who mars and
blasts millions of human lives in England. At thirty-five Simpkins is
a _blasé_, cynical young man-about-town, a sufferer, probably, from
inordinate sexuality, with a profound contempt for all women, founded
on his miserable experiences with female harpies and panders. "A fool
and sinner," cries the moralist. Yes, but there are many like to him
amongst us; and they were once decent, healthy, chivalrous young men.

And what of the isolated young girl? Her case seems to me even more
sorrowful and piteous. Half of life is a sealed book to her. She has
scarcely any ideas that are not delusions about love and the opposite
sex, and the most important offices of her being. Her natural impulses
have been suppressed, stunted, and perverted, and her physical health
is probably feebler than that of the dissipated young man. She marries
late, dazed with joy that her hour has come at last, and frequently
awakes in the first year of marriage to the truth that she knew little
about men in general, and not nearly enough about the man she has
wedded; that she was wofully inexperienced and ignorant, and that
Respectability condemns her to drain the bitter cup of disappointment
to the dregs, to drain it with composure and a smiling face to the
world. She was not allowed to mix freely with men. All her ideas of
male human nature are derived from mawkish novels and story books,
often written by women as ill-informed as herself. Many women have
confessed to me that they did not understand men till they married one,
and many men have said the same concerning women.

How, then, can we lessen the chances of drawing the wrong card in
the great lottery of marriage? Certainly not by the sequestration of
youths and maidens, for that is one of the chief causes of unsuccessful
unions. Grundyism and Respectability must be set at defiance, and boys
and girls in adolescence allowed to form companionships with each
other. The artificial barriers between them must be broken down; the
old stupid inhibitions rescinded, and a wholesome association not only
permitted, but by every means encouraged. Education in life through
the fellowship and the interchange of ideas between the sexes is one
safeguard against wreckage in the perilous journey of matrimony.

Discoursing upon the "eternal feminine," Schopenhauer says: "Individual
and partial exceptions do not alter the fact that women are, and will
always remain, the most thorough and incurable Philistines.... Their
domination and influence ruins modern society.... The essentially
European lady is a being who ought to have no existence at all; there
ought, on the other hand, to be housewives and girls who hope to
become such, and who are, in consequence, brought up to domesticity
by subordination. Just because there are _ladies_ in Europe, women of
a lower grade, who form, therefore, the great majority of the sex, are
much more unhappy than they are in the East."

As to the charge of Philistinism, I am, unfortunately, compelled to
agree with the pessimistic mysogynist. Women are the larger part of
humanity in this country, and, that part being Philistine, it must
exercise a bad influence upon society in the mass. I do not deny
that the spirit of rebellion lurks in every woman's breast, but, for
all that, women are not readily persuaded to rebel against absurd
conventions. Their great desire is to be on the popular side, and in
the ranks of the mightier force, because unpopular causes are generally
accounted discreditable by the majority. Women, therefore, set a high
value on Respectability, and they endure much suffering to maintain
it. Yet here and there we find women as leaders and foremost fighters
in assaults upon irrational institutions and customs, and they are
often wise tacticians and valorous assailers. But such women are not
of the Respectables; they are thinkers and reformers who have cast
aside the cumbrous, tawdry trappings of that order, so that they may be
of service to humanity. The Philistine woman cares little or nothing
for social advance and the welfare of posterity, and in this respect
she is always rather more apathetic or actively hostile to progress
than the Philistine man. She feels that a woman has more to lose than
a man by abandoning conventionalities and orthodox opinions. But this
dread is somewhat ill-founded and exaggerated, because there are many
unconventional men only too ready to warmly welcome the women who
revolt, and not only to bid them cheer, but to pay them high homage for
their bravery and independence. In the long run, a woman gains far more
esteem and friendship in the army of the Unconventionalists than she
wins from the host of the Respectables.

Timidity is one of the prime sources of the disease of Respectability
in both sexes, and women are by nature more timid than men in the
matter of revolt against ignorant Public Opinion. The result is that
women are much less free than men in so-called free countries. "A man
glories in being considered bold, but a woman shrinks from the charge
of boldness, as degrading to her sex."[2] And here I shelter myself
behind a doughty champion of women, because if I wrote the indictment
which he has set down, my ethical-cum-philosophical Gamaliel, and
possibly many of my women readers, would charge me with "cynicism" and
"sex-bias." I quote again from Mr. Gibson, who, in this charge of the
alleged untruthfulness of women, is almost as emphatic as Schopenhauer:
"Owing to the subordinate position of women, _they are less truthful
than men_. They work up to their ends without the exercise of force,
and must therefore use guile. Men lie as readily as women when they
think lies will serve their purpose, but, having more freedom, and
being less afraid of conflict, they have less cause to lie. _Women are
taught to lie from their childhood, in order to hide their desires,
their disappointments, and their sufferings._ Women are driven in upon
themselves, and in sheer self-defence lie as men are not called upon to

I know several charming women who lie most glibly and as to the manner
born, without a tinge of shame; indeed, it is a difficult matter to
make sure that you have "got them," so to speak, for their speech is
so slippery, and they fib so artistically that no reliance can be
placed upon their admissions of belief or disbelief in this or that.
All that they say must be swallowed with a large grain of salt. But let
me qualify this impugnment somewhat. I think we may fairly say that
the tarradiddles of women are not generally of the more ignoble order
of lies. They are mostly pretty little semi-transparent falsehoods
which do not utterly deceive the hearer who has studied the psychology
of women. It is Respectability that makes cowards and cozeners of
men and women; and those who imagine that they have the most to lose
by frankness will naturally practice the most deception.[4] The
woman-thrall to convention is forced to use the weapons of falsehood
and to don the armour of deceit. In corroboration of this assertion,
I shall again quote the words of another writer, and a woman to boot.
Miss Violet Hunt, a clever satiric novelist, thus describes the unhappy
girl who has been inoculated with the virus of Respectability:--

     "How one knows the kind of girl! One meets a specimen in almost
     every house-party. She is nicely dressed, but not quite so nicely
     as the other girls staying in the house. She has charming manners,
     but there is something of the offensive and defensive sharpness
     of the street Arab about her. She has had to take care of herself
     ever since she was grown up, and make her tongue do the work of
     chaperonage. If it rains, she is in mute agony, because she cannot
     afford to spoil her clothes. She takes Champagne regularly at
     dinner because she does not have it at home. She is at some pains
     to propitiate her hostess, because she intends to be asked again.
     She holds her tongue when grand functions are mentioned, because
     she was not there. In short, she is a kind of innocent whited
     sepulchre; a frail, jerry-built edifice, whose prestige may be
     destroyed at any moment by untoward revelations as to her social
     standing, whose whole endeavour is to give the impression that she
     lives in a mentionable part of London, and dresses on more than
     thirty pounds a year."[5]

This is a pitiless exposure of the shifts and subterfuges to which
you must stoop in posing as a lady or gentleman, when you are only a
person. What happiness, what profit, come out of such masquerading?
It is better, a hundred times better, to save your soul alive, and
preserve something of self-respect, as one of the unreceived and
unrecognised Non-Respectables. You will find this enchanted garden of
Philistia, fenced with high walls bristling with spikes, and set with
warning boards, is a very shoddy Paradise when you are admitted to it
on sufferance. It is the domain of the "bores and bored," the haunt of
parasites and toadies, incessantly scheming and distrusting each other
in a deadly dull atmosphere of uncongeniality.

My sister, you gain _nothing_ by fostering this malady of
Respectability, by vapouring and wasting your sweetness in the aridity
of the Little Muddleton Road. So long as you slavishly conform to the
barbaric customs and codes of that wretched clan, so long will you be
abject and unhappy. Come out of the fetid air of the Charnel-house of
Convention, rip off those corsets and cramping disguises, cast away
your high-heeled boots, and stand erect and fearless among men and
women who dare to live free uncontaminated lives, beyond the reek and
blight of the infected purlieus.


[2] "The Emancipation of Women," by J. Gibson.

[3] The italics in this passage are mine.

[4] Heine, in his confessions, says: "We men will sometimes lie
outright: women, like all passive creatures, seldom invent, but can so
distort a fact that they can thereby injure us more surely than by a
downright lie."

[5] "The Way of Marriage."



     Mrs. Alving: Oh! that perpetual law and order! I often think it is
     that which does all the mischief here in the world. "Ghosts."


     "Reputation is an idle and most false imposition; oft got without


That which people call thorough Respectability is, in the main,
very bad morality. I do not state that the disease under discussion
invariably annihilates the subject's sense of justice, integrity,
and charity, but it does so in many cases, and in the generality
of instances, it certainly perverts the ethical judgment. The true
Respectable is compelled to work out his own social salvation and
prestige by means of consistent duplicity and craft. He must be
artificial to succeed in winning the popularity that he craves. He
has, therefore, two sets of opinions--one for the sanctum and the
other for the marketplace. For example, to satisfy the Brownian code,
our Respectable, though he may be anti-Sabbatarian in private belief
and practice, is careful to dissemble his views on the question. He
probably goes to chapel, at least now and then, in order to maintain
a reputation for Respectability, but he has been known to sneak by
devious ways to his favourite side bar at the conclusion of his
penance. Brown knows nothing about the side bar; he gulls himself with
the idea that Smith attends Bethesda from a deep sense of devotion.

But Brown is as great a humbug as Smith. Has he not been heard to
declare in private that his regular attendance at chapel is a matter of
business? And, as for Robinson, does he not absent himself from service
whenever he is beyond the espionage of the Little Muddleton Road clan?
I have even seen him fishing at Datchet on Sunday. I do not wonder
that these three worthies distrust each other in trading. Each one is
conscious in fleeting moments of honest self-introspection that the
man who habitually deceives his neighbours concerning his religious,
political, and social opinions, is scarcely the one to practise strict
commercial probity. Nor, indeed, is he. Respectables who dupe their
neighbours as to their moral and intellectual beliefs and convictions
are just as likely to defraud them in business transactions, and I
have never met an intellectual liar who was scrupulously truthful and
upright in his business affairs.

A man, for one reason or another, emotional or purely expedient, wishes
to believe, or to persuade his acquaintances that he believes, certain
theological doctrines, and, by a process of deliberate stultification
of his reason, he may actually cajole himself that he _does_ believe
them. Is this the kind of man who will sedulously guard against
soiling his hands in dirty commercial enterprises? I think not. If he
deceives you about his private views, and plays the mental poltroon and
hypocrite in public, you may be almost certain that he adulterates his
bread, or sells his customers American Cheddar, assuring them that it
is of English make. We cannot draw a sharp line of distinction betwixt
intellectual and moral dishonesty. The man who pretends to have Radical
leanings, when he is at heart a Tory, is the man who will probably
swindle you in the way of trade. A trimmer and an opportunist is to be
distrusted all round.

Respectability, like emasculation, makes men cowardly, untruthful,
and mean-spirited. It is a terrible moral and mental blight upon the
community. Do you not know the unctuous provincial tradesfolk who
never attend their local theatres for fear of the Puritans of Little
Peddlington? I have known scores of them--aye, and seen them with my
own eyes at the Alhambra and other places of entertainment in London.
They don't spend all their holiday in town at Exeter Hall and the City
Temple. I need not say any more about these unmitigated impostors; but
this passage from Ibsen's "Ghosts" will not be an inapt illustration of
their slyness:--

     "Manders: What! Do you mean to say that respectable men from home
     here would----?

     "Oswald: Have you never heard these respectable men, when they got
     home again, talking about the way in which immorality was getting
     the upper hand abroad?

     "Manders: Yes, of course.

     "Mrs. Alving: I have, too.

     "Oswald: Well, you may take their word for it. They know what they
     are talking about! (Presses his hands to his head). Oh! that that
     great, free, glorious life out there should be defiled in such a

When Respectability has a strong hold on a man's moral sense, there is
no low crime that it may not lead him to commit. Respectables, like the
congenital criminals described by Lombroso, almost invariably profess
religion, and many are outwardly very devout, but full within of
ravening and venality. "He shows the whites of his eyes on the Sabbath,
and the blacks all the rest of the week," says Thoreau. When the plate
is passed around after divine service, the Respectable ostentatiously
deposits a florin upon it, registering a secret vow that he will get
back that coin, with ample interest, by some shady trick of trade on
Monday morning. He gets it, too, you may be sure, and with a swinging
profit on it, in consideration of his Sabbath generosity. There may be
treasure laid up in heaven for the Respectable, but he is not the fool
to despise the good things of this life. He believes that all things
have been given unto him richly to enjoy, here and hereafter, and he
takes care that none of these good things go by mistake to the wrong
quarters. His golden rule is, obtain from others all that you can.
However latitudinarian he may be upon some points of doctrine, he is
strictly orthodox in the application of that useful text, "Blessed are
the poor." "Decent Society" is full of these whited sepulchres; their
dank, poisonous stench pervades every Little Muddleton Road in the

I like to hear the working man speak his mind on the Respectables.
The British working man has his palpable faults and failings, but he
is most often free from the disease of Respectability. He knows worth
of character when he sees it, and he detests the two-faced dealings,
snobbishness, and cant of his self-styled superiors. The British
working man has his failings, I say, but he is not very seriously
infected with Respectability, except in rare instances. He is a
cleaner, much more moral man than the _bourgeois_, and considerably
more intelligent as a rule, because he is under no social necessity to
lie to his better judgment and juggle with his reason. The proletariat,
like the aristocratic class, have obtained a tolerable liberty of
opinion and conduct. They can afford to be Non-Respectables, and they
possess the pluck to be honest thinkers. And one can say this without
having a profound veneration for "noble lords" and the institution of
the peerage, and without intending to whitewash blackguards, whether
they be mere patricians or simple costermongers. A friends of mine, a
man of feeling, once sojourned for a space in the home of a provincial
linen-draper of eminent, Respectability. I don't know what my friend
was doing in that galley; I can't explain the juxtaposition of a Man
of Feeling in such company; but it is enough to say that my eccentric
friend was there. Well, the highly Respectable linen-draper was
likewise "very religious," as the phrase is, and he used continually to
dwell upon the importance of devotional exercise, as most Respectables
do. He read Scripture aloud to his family and assistants, went to
chapel regularly, observed Sunday scrupulously, behind drawn window
blinds, believed in small profits and quick returns, drove a good
trade, and held his head high, for the sober, God-fearing, enterprising
shopkeeper that he was. At meal times this fellow would hold forth on
grace--a virtue in which he was strangely lacking--also on obeying the
precepts of Christ. "Ah," he would say, rolling the yellows of his
greedy little eyes; "ah, that I were more like the Master!" Now, this
speech incessantly on the lips of a sweater and a hypocrite began to
cause the Man of Feeling's gorge to rise, for he was a healthy, decent
liver, and a hater of cant. So one day, when the Respectable lifted
his gaze to the ceiling and muttered his usual aspiration, the Man of
Feeling could endure the sickening ordeal no longer.

"Like the Master!" he cried vehemently. "You wish to be like the
Master, and you pay your female assistants eight or ten shillings a
week, and expect them to live on that miserable sum! Don't insult
Christ! Don't cant and pretend that you wish to be a penniless
socialist, and go about trying to do good. _You!_" And, with these
words, the Man of Feeling arose, and left that Respectable house,
shaking its dust from his feet, and panting to breathe once more a
pure and bracing air among the Non-Respectables, to whom, by moral
conviction, he rightly belonged.

Ah! "the mud-hearted Bourgeois!" I don't wonder that another Man of
Feeling, poor, sensitive, pitying, indignant Francis Adams, called you
by that title! Can you by any human power be dragged out of the slime
in which you love to wallow?

Yet these are the censors of genius, the founders of public taste,
the friends of religion, the conservers of morality, forsooth! Every
little shallow, mean-souled Respectable thinks himself capable of
deciding that Shelley and Burns were "immoral;" that this or that work
of genius is "injurious to morals;" that one brilliant man is morally
incapacitated from assisting in legislation, and that another ought to
be imprisoned for the expression of heterodox religious or political
opinions. British Respectability makes Britain the laughing-stock and
butt of the wits of the world. Nay, more; the Respectable's stupid
blatant "patriotism" and bullying arrogance cause us to be hated in all
the quarters of the globe.

I repeat that Respectability is practically incompatible with moral
worth. With true, sound, broad morality it is quite incompatible.
You cannot grow grapes on thorn bushes, nor force lilies among
stinging-nettles. Politics, commerce, the relations of the sexes,
science, art, and literature, are all more or less corrupted by the
mephitic blight of Respectability.

I will conclude this chapter with a quotation from M. Taine, who
estimates our insular propriety very shrewdly in his entertaining
"Notes on England." "I am acquainted with a London merchant who visits
Paris twice yearly on business. When he is there he is very jovial,
and amuses himself on Sunday as freely as anyone else. His Paris host,
who visited him at his home in London, where he was made thoroughly
welcome, going downstairs on Sunday to the room where there was a
miniature billiard table, pushed the balls about on it. The merchant
in alarm begged him to stop at once, saying, 'The neighbours will be
scandalised should they hear this.'"



     "I hardly know an _intellectual_ man, even, who is so broad and
     truly liberal that you can think aloud in his society. Most with
     whom you endeavour to talk soon come to a stand against some
     institution in which they appear to hold stock--that is some
     particular, not universal way of viewing things."


     "Do you persuade yourself that I respect you?"

                                        "MEASURE FOR MEASURE."

Cultured gentility is one of the signs of the times. Snobbishness is
a deep-seated vice of human beings, and a trait of the gregarious
mammalia, with which the human snob, when he is more than ordinarily
ignorant, disclaims relationship. When Darwin told people that their
early progenitors were hairy and ape-like, with prehensile feet, great
canine teeth, and tails equipped with the proper muscles, all the
Respectables jeered at him, and said that they were "only a little
lower than the angels," and that monkeys must have been fashioned as
travesties of men. But though we have moved upwards, "working out of
the beast," Man still exhibits race prejudice, patriotic bias, and
the low instinct of class exclusiveness. Perhaps at no period of our
social evolution have we been more cultured, and yet more vulgar, than
at the present time. Such a juxtaposition may appear to indicate that
a little knowledge for the masses is not without its disadvantages as
well as its blessing. The proletarian of the sixteenth century could
not read nor write; but he was probably less vulgar than those among
his descendants whose acquaintance with modern literature is restricted
to the gutter library of cuts and snips and racing tips. Simple, merry
Dick trolled "Old Rose"; flash 'Arry and his blatant mates hiccough the
staccato of "Glorious Beer."

Contemporaneous with a widespread vulgarity of thought and a hideous
banality of living, there is an immense development of culture.
Nowadays it is the fashion to "go in" for "culture," and in society you
must know, or affect to know, something about evolution, the higher
criticism, Ibsen, Whistler's pictures, and Chippendale furniture. You
may learn much about these, and be "smart" at the same time; for
smartness and culture go hand-in-hand to the "crushes" and "at homes,"
and are as brother and sister one to the other. To use a phrase from
the vocabulary of culture-cum-smartness, you are "not in the running"
if you have merely mastered the theory of the universal germ, and
neglected to practise the skirt dance or the plantation song.

Once upon a time, the philosopher and the man of letters came out and
was separate from amongst the crowd. He lived mostly in the seclusion
of his library, which was neither good for his understanding nor
his digestion. But he forewent the pomps of smart society, partly
because smart society did not wish to be bored, and partly owing
to his enlightened instinct of Bohemianism, which found wholesome
gratification in the unostentatious amenities of the literary
symposium, the forgathering with one or two of his craft at the
historic "Cheshire Cheese" or the "Cock Tavern." He dressed himself
with a certain careless distinction; he drank cider with Porson, and
spent ambrosial nights in the fumes from churchwardens with genial
Lamb, Hazlitt, Godwin, Leigh Hunt, and Landor. These were men of
culture who refused to hover on the fringe of a shallow, fashionable
society, not because they were intellectual snobs, but because their
pursuits were on a higher plane than the frivolities of Respectability.

Wordsworth dwelt remote among the hills; De Quincey led laborious days
in the solitude of Mavis Bush; Shelley lived unknown of his neighbours
at Marlow; and Landor, "a noble-looking old man, badly dressed in
shabby snuff-clothes, a dirty old blue necktie and unstarched cotton
shirt," lived chiefly aloof in Florence. None of these qualified
themselves for lionisation in society. The arts of gentility are not
compatible with the study of science and philosophy.

Ampère, the scientific investigator, went one day to dine with Madame
Beauregard. His hands were stained by a drug which leaves its mark on
the skin for several days. Poor Ampère! what did he in a company where
externals count for all a man is worth? His hostess could not dine with
one whose hands were soiled in the interest of posterity: "I promised
not to return there before my hands were white. Of course, I shall
never enter the house again," wrote Ampère to his wife. And have we not
read how Dr. Johnson and Sir Joshua Reynolds were mistaken by a finical
lady for a pair of working men when she saw them conversing together?

But we have fallen upon different days. The philosopher has been lured
from his den; the poets have come down from Parnassus to sport with
the nymphs of Philistia, the intellectual rogue elephant has been
tamed to "caper nimbly in my lady's chamber," and the recusant and
the pariah sat down to table with the imposing dignitaries of the
Church and State. It may be well on the whole, but these gracious
concessions from the Philistine are not without their perils for the
philosopher and the artist. Even the wisest of them cannot always
escape the moral and mental deterioration that comes of being _au fait_
in the whiffles and frothy small talk of drawing-rooms, the parlour
tricks and pretty deportments; and the donning of a chimney-pot hat
and a dress coat is often the first step on the downward career of
the intellectual. Have we not seen it? One season will transform the
modest, single-hearted, plain-living artist or student into a vain,
insufferable, intellectual mountebank. A few months of interviewing,
and "log-rolling," and posturing in Mayfair, and you change your
ideas, stultify your conscience, and degenerate into a Respectable. It
is almost inevitable. We are all sweetly human, and vanity is one of
our prime characteristics. Most of us, also, as some critic of life
observes, would rather be "the chief of a committee of four than the
unknown benefactor of our species." An author of mediocre ability,
possessing that quality of self-assertiveness known commonly as "side,"
can far outpace the shy genius in the race for public esteem. The
brazen bumptiousness and supercilious disdain of the mere talent which
lacks astute worldly wisdom are the components of the snobbishness
that makes for social success. Society closes the door upon the needy
philosopher in his threadbare garb; but it throws its portals wide to
welcome the adept of claptrap, whose higher philosophy is the study of
the main chance.

I do not applaud the intellectual exclusiveness with which some of the
cultured attempt to keep their immaculate souls unspotted from the
world. We want no Respectability of pedants and book-worms. Erudition
is worthy of the highest respect; but the erudite snob is imperfectly
cultivated. He is frequently more ignorant of many important phases
of life than the sheer illiterates whom he pities for a narrowness of
judgment upon men. Who can gainsay Sir Thomas Browne, when he writes:
"It is an unjust way of compute to magnify a weak head for some Latin
abilities; and to under-value a solid judgment because he knows not
the genealogy of Hector"? It is difficult to dissociate arrogance
from ignorance, even when we know that the arrogant man is learned.
Snobbishness is a mark of shallowness.

Undoubtedly, many men and women of genius have evinced the specific
snobbery of culture. Shakspere, Jonson, Victor Hugo, and Turguenieff,
are great figures that suggest exceptions to the rule. Carlyle is a bad
case of playing to the Respectables; for, despite his loudly-proclaimed
reverence for humanity, his vanity, like that of Antisthenes, peered
through the rents in his cloak. In extolling the imposers of brute
force in the community, the sage displayed a tendency to cajole the
oppressing class, for whom he had about as much real sympathy as
the Southerner has for the negro race. He jeered at and snubbed his
contemporary writers; he despised mere literary artists; he told a
now eminent novelist that he was "ganging to the de'il by the very
vulgarest road"; he described Lecky as "a willow-pattern sort o' man,
voluble but harmless, a pure herbivorous, nay, mere graminivorous
creature;" he called Landor a "wild man," and sighed "over the
spectacle of the commonplace torn to rags;" Maurice was "uninteresting
... twisted, screwed, wiredrawn;" and it is said that the most he could
say for George Meredith was that he was "nae fule." To a host of minor
essayists, journalists, and literary hangers-on, Carlyle set that
fashion of priggishness and snobbery that prevails so widely at the
present time.

What a mighty and fearsome foe to knowledge is Academic Respectability.
Beneath its sway the seats of learning become fusty abiding-places of
mouldy pedantry. It posts its wary lackeys at every avenue of research
to warn back adventurous explorers, with their theological or political
red flags and notice boards. Academic Respectability expelled Shelley.
It frowns upon Bain, Francis Newman, and other bold investigators and
scholars of modern times. It killed Socrates, persecuted Spinoza,
insulted David Hume, sneered at Buckle, and derided Darwin. De Quincey
tells us that he scarcely spoke to a soul while he was at Worcester
College, Oxford. Was the pensive opium-eater thoroughly overawed or
depressed by the Respectability of the classic city? Possibly those
were the days of the genesis of the "Oxford manner," that supercilious
drawling affectation of superior sapience which characterises the sons
of _bourgeois_ families at Alma Mater.

Let William Morris speak: "Oxford was beautiful even in the nineteenth
century, when Oxford, and its less interesting sister, Cambridge,
became definitely commercial. They (and especially Oxford) were the
breeding places of a peculiar class of parasites, who called themselves
cultivated people; they were, indeed, cynical enough, as the so-called
educated classes of the day generally were; but they affected an
exaggeration of cynicism, in order that they might be thought knowing
and worldly-wise." ("News from Nowhere.") Thomas Hardy, in describing
the manners of Christminster,[6] writes in a similar strain of the
system that has elbowed the proletariat off the pavements, to make room
for the sons of millionaires.

Academic stubborn opposition to new and revolutionary theories of
all kinds is one phase of the mental malady of Respectability. All
hierarchies and autocracies have the sacrosanct seal of Respectability;
they have a conventional reputation to maintain, and it is to their
vital interest to fight innovating opinion. For instance, the French
Academy refuses persistently to elect M. Zola, on the very plea of his
literary unconventionality and virility. He writes for the thoughtful
and wide-visioned, and not for the horde of shallow Respectables. Yet
Zola is beyond doubt the greatest novelist of our age; and perhaps
the only French novelist of his day who can count upon immortality.
It is his greatness, his genius, that exclude him from the narrow
coterie. "My position is simple," he writes. "Since there is an Academy
in France, I ought to belong to it. I have stood for election, and
I cannot recognise anything wrong on my part in having done so. So
long as I continue to stand, I am not beaten, therefore I will always
stand." But Zola may rest well content; he has won greater fame and
honour than the Academy could confer upon him.

       *       *       *       *       *

Instance, again, the Respectable hostility to the evolutionary
theory. Was the opposition entirely motived by a spirit of scientific
scepticism and caution? Certainly not. The main attack was made by the
army of Respectables, who became exceedingly angry with Charles Darwin
because he calmly demolished a number of groundless suppositions as
to the origin of life, the descent of man, and the development of the
sense of morality. Your true conventionalist, confronted with a new and
startling idea, is like the savage who lashes himself into a passion at
the sight of a steamboat or some other mechanical invention. The savage
wants to smash the machine and the man who made it.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. Lawson Tait, the well-known physician, has stated that he suffered
in social and professional life for his acceptance of the Darwinian
hypothesis. Mr. Tait writes: "'The Origin of Species' was published in
1859. I came across it in 1861--as a boy of 17--it captivated me, and
took such a hold of me that I tried the application of its principle
in every direction open to my youthful mind. In 1863, as president of
the Hunterian Medical Society (the Society of University Students),
I applied Darwin's doctrines in directions which brought upon me the
expressed anger of the authorities, and my career as a University
student was in danger of a premature ending. Not only was there not a
single professor of the University of Edinburgh at that time who was
other than actively hostile to Darwin's views, but the acceptance of
them actually drove me from my native city, in 1866."

Such is a typical illustration of the mental corrosion induced by the
insanity of Academic Respectability.

I am not tilting at Universities, but against Respectability in
every guise. With the growth of power in the _bourgeois_ class, the
Universities have, to a large degree, degenerated from halls of
knowledge into mere forcing beds of the disease of Respectability.

The case seems even worse in "free America."

Plutocracy has taken the colleges under its ægis, and knowledge has
been cramped to suit the whims of millionaire patrons. Just as happened
in the case of the academic professors who protested against slavery,
so are they now threatened when they advocate new economic doctrines,
which do not fit in with the ideas of big capitalists. Sensational
light was thrown on this matter by a letter written by one of the
professors of the Leland Stanford University of California, and given
to the public by the chief of the Literary Bureau of the Democratic
Bryan Party, though its language seems to suggest that its writer
did not expect its publication. This professor states that college
professors enjoy no freedom of expression on the money question.
"I know," he says, "there are many who wish to champion national
bi-metallism, but I am very sure if there were such, they would be
compelled to surrender their present livelihoods." He cites by name
several instances of instructors who have been placed under duresse for
teaching views that are considered heterodox by the wealthy men who
rule the Board of some of our principal colleges, and rule them in
orthodox obedience to the gospel of self-interest.[7]

The same writer informs us that for advocating the passage of a Bill
by the Illinois State Legislature to give the City of Chicago the
option of becoming the owner of a municipal gas plant, and for some
other exhibitions of a spirit of economic freedom, Professor Bemis
was dismissed from his position in the University of Chicago, an
institution created and largely maintained by a great millionaire,
part of whose fortune is in gas stock. Wisconsin has a university
supported by the people of that State, and there learning has a chance
to flourish. But wherever the influence of the patron is found, there
progress is blocked by plutocracy.

     "A most competent professor of political economy, in one of the
     greatest of our universities, allowing himself to become an
     advocate of the ownership and operation of our telegraphs by the
     Government, was compelled to give up his place by the influence of
     one of the trustees, who happened to be a large owner of telegraph
     stock.... The victorious trustee carries about with him in his
     pocket-book a little printed slip, containing the offensive views
     of the discharged professor, and it is his pleasant habit to read
     this when occasion offers, to instructors or students who may, he
     thinks, need bracing up, and he accompanies the reading with
     cheering comments on the fate which befel the heretic who uttered
     such doctrines."

An important scientific school in America had been created and endowed
by one of our "poor boys," become plutocrat. He was dissuaded with
difficulty by the President from carrying out the idea which he
proposed, that the teachers should be hired by the month, as were the
clerks in his factories, so that they could be discharged whenever he
wanted to do so! You see, even in democratic nations, the trail of
Respectability is over education.


[6] "Jude the Obscure."

[7] From article "Freedom in the American Colleges," in "Progressive
Review," January, 1897.



     "Constant at church and change; his gains were sure,
     His givings rare, save farthings to the poor."

                                        POPE. "Of the Use of Riches."

     "Here you a muckworm of the town might see
     At his dull desk, amid his ledgers stall'd,
     Eat up with carking care."

                                        THOMSON. "Castle of Indolence."

Everyone knows Pugsley, _the great Pugsley_, proprietor of Pugsley's
Pure Piquant Pickles. You have seen his gracefully alliterative
advertisements on the hoardings at the railway stations, and all
down the Great Turnover Line, glaring at you in pastoral scenes,
where Chloris led her lambkins in the pre-plutocratic days of "merrie
England," and even obtruding their hideous drawing of the pickle
bottles ("Ask for Pugsley's, Pure and Piquant") upon you in lonely
mountain inns of the Grampians. There is no escaping the all-pervading
Pugsley. Your grocer has foisted Pugsley's Pickles on you, and you
have had to taste them, willy-nilly. He had a good reason for sending
you Pugsley's Pickles. The firm are able to undersell all other
competitors in the drysaltery interest, because they pay low wages to
their workpeople.

But, though you are familiar with the name of the Great Pugsley,
and know the flavour of his relishes and condiments, you have never
troubled to learn how the man made his huge business. I will tell you
his history. It is very instructive.

Pugsley's father was a village grocer at Hookham Nooton. He sold
butter and cheese and tea for forty years, and left his son £500 at
his demise. Young Pugsley early developed shrewd commercial instincts.
At school he retailed his father's sugar to the boys, making a clear
halfpenny profit on each penny; and when he had made a little capital
by this huckstering, he launched out into bigger trading ventures, such
as the vending of knives and cricket bats, and cheap magic lanterns,
till he became a kind of "Universal Provider" at the select academy for
young gentlemen. This was good training for his after career of buying,
and selling, and exploiting. There is nothing like beginning these
things when you are young.

At fifteen, Pugsley, junior, was installed behind the parental counter
at Hookham Nooton, where he learned how to weigh tea with a bit of
paper under the scale pan, and other recognised dodges of the trade, so
that he soon became his father's right hand, and a great acquisition
to the business. When Pugsley, senior, departed hence, his son took
sole control of the shop. But the young man realised that he was born
to be a great merchant, and not a petty trader in a remote village.
One day he chanced upon an old book of practical recipes, which told
you how to make ketchup and sauces, and, by dint of messing with
vinegar and spices, he hit upon the famous blend that made his name
as a sauce maker. Bottles of the stuff sold readily in the village
and neighbouring small towns, for there is no denying that it was a
tasty relish. Then came small wholesale orders, and trade began "to
hum," as business slang has it. Five years later we find Pugsley the
owner of a pickle factory in Spitalfields, and the employer of fifty
hands, mostly girls and boys. Ten years after, his pickles are used in
every Respectable family in the kingdom, and their repute has reached
America and the Colonies; and so, before the prime of life, Pugsley is
a pursy citizen, with a fine house at Richmond, a horse and chaise, a
housekeeper, maidservants, and a gardener and coachman--all the proper
rewards of industry.

At thirty-six, Pugsley married money, and further extended his
business. His wife "received" local snobs, and gave "at homes,"
attended by inferior celebrities and "all the people who are likely to
be of use to us." At forty Pugsley was a Constitutional candidate for
Diddleham, the hope of the Respectables, the cynosure of the hide-bound
conventionalists in politics. You may remember that he was returned
by the imposing majority of six. Now came the zenith of his fame.
Pugsley's politics like his pickles, are notoriously piquant. He has
voted against every democratic measure, and prated about "the natural
leaders of the working class."

See him now, in his honoured old age, hated of his workpeople,
envied by Respectables, despised by the county gentry and feared by
almost everyone, a millionaire to-day, with a seat in Clodshire, a
house in Portland Terrace, a yacht at Brighton, and a deer forest in
Inverness-shire. I have met his son, the Master of the Slowcomb Hounds,
a good sort of Philistine, who would rather do his fellow-men a good
turn than an ill one, but a terrible ignoramus and deadweight for all
that; with far less real knowledge of men and books than my cobbler
round the corner. There are three daughters. One of them, Miss Evelyn,
is betrothed to Lord Durt, the young impoverished peer, who was lately
earning thirty shillings a week as society reporter to the "Gadabout."
I am glad for Durt. He has had a rough time, and Evelyn is an amiable,
even hopeful specimen of the Respectable girl. She has lately talked
about industrial questions, and I believe she is half ashamed already
that papa has women in his employment earning nine shillings a week
upon which to keep body and soul together.

Yes, it is with the sweat of women and children that Pugsley has become
a plutocrat. His wife is the Patroness of the Refuge for the Fallen.
How many of Pugsley's women have been forced to supplement their
wretched earnings by prostitution? Someone once put this question to
the pickleman. "Really, Mrs. ----," he said, "I am not responsible for
the morals of my working people." But I say that it is such fellows as
Pugsley who force girls to sell themselves in the street. I ask you, my
Respectable sister, could you live yourself and help to support your
widowed mother and two young children on a wage of seven shillings a
week? I have known one of Pugsley's women workers try to do this till
death came with its eternity of rest for that poor, semi-starved,
aching body. To me it is a constant source of wonder, and a matter
of profound respect for woman's moral courage that more of Pugsley's
ill-paid women helpers do not walk the streets for hire.

O! Great Pugsley, I would that I could be certain of a day of reckoning
betwixt you and an Almighty Judge! Sometimes, in dreams, I hear the
tramp, tramp, of thousands of feet, and see the white faces of toilers
gleam in the murk of a London night, a night of violent retribution.
Must we wait for this? Must hands be stained with men's blood ere the
rich will bestir themselves to render justice to the poor? I pray the
fates that it may not be so! But everywhere, in the great cities, and
out in the fields, I hear the murmur of deep, sullen discontent.

Think what such a man as Pugsley has wrought in the name of
Respectability. He has systematically lied, cheated, and crushed the
weaker to the wall. He has piled up wealth by defrauding the widow and
the orphan of bare human rights, turning them into worse than slaves
by his thrice-accursed lust for money. I have heard of old servants
being deposed in his warehouse, and put into subordinate positions to
make way for the young; of men dismissed for the expression of Liberal
political opinions; of hands threatened with discharge for professing
trades union principles; of fines wrung from hungry children for
trivial offences; and of bullying and insult and injustices without

I hear my cut-and-dried economist calling me to account with his
formulas and expositions. Ah! I have listened to them; I have read
them; but they never have, and never will, persuade me that Pugsley,
the plutocrat, does what is right and humane and reasonable towards
those who have built up his fortune, and bought his mansions and his
yacht, and dowered his daughters. I know about competition, and the
law of demand and supply, and I take my stand on sound social science.
But no science that I have studied convinces me that this plutocracy
and plunder and monopoly are good for anyone but the plutocrats and
the plunderers. And not good for them, either, in any moral sense. Is
it moral to kill the social affections? I say that the professional
burglar is a model of virtue by the side of Pugsley. He does not pose
as a Christian philanthropist and a friend of the people when he goes
about his nefarious business. Pugsley, the great successful gambler,
fines poor country louts for playing pitch and toss with halfpence. The
next day he perpetrates a filthy fraud on 'Change. Shelley was right,
the true ruffian of a community is not the cutpurse who knocks you down
in the Gray's Inn Road, and gags you, while his accomplice grabs your
watch and valuables, but the "Respectable man--the smooth, smiling
villain whom all the City honours, whose very trade is lies and murder;
who buys his daily bread with the blood and tears of men." I want to
know why the big thief, Pugsley, is made a peer, and the man who steals
a handful of turnips is sent to the County gaol?

The other day, a labourer, out of work, wired a rabbit on Pugsley's
estate, and went to prison for a week for the misdemeanour. But Pugsley
annexed the very land that the rabbit was on, a good wide strip of it,
too, which belonged to the people. I used to walk on that same ground,
looking for the first primroses. Now I must ask Pugsley's permission
before I dare set a foot there, on this property which I own in common
with my neighbours! And you tell me that this sort of "law and order"
is good for my morals.

I am glad that my ethical-cum-philosophical friend is not at my elbow
just now, to suggest that I ought to be kind to Pugsley. Why, in the
name of reason, am I to flatter and applaud this commercial gamester?
I look upon him as a victim of morbid acquisitiveness induced by
Respectability. Pugsley thinks he must keep up his reputation among
the Respectables of his set, and to do this he is urged to plunder the
poor. He is a dangerous maniac; he ought to be detained and set to
hard labour to cure him of his derangement.

The stupidest farce played by the Pugsleys is when one of the girls
goes district visiting, and tells the wives of the peasants earning
twelve shillings a week, that they "ought to put by for a rainy day." I
wonder that the women can keep their patience with the ninny. If Miss
Clara Pugsley were to use her atrophied brain for five minutes, she
would know that no woman with a husband and five children to feed and
clothe, and a rent of eighteenpence a week to pay, can save a farthing
out of such wages. It is gross insolence of this over-fed, idle,
ignorant girl to talk in this fashion to the poor. But this fatuous
nonsense is preached all over the country every day in the week. Ladies
call it "helping the poor to be thrifty," "elevating the workers," etc.

O, Great Pugsley, it is not envy of your possessions that makes me dip
my pen in gall, though I know well that is what you will think should
you read these words of mine. I would be well content with the income
of your under-steward. You have measured human nature with your little
foot-rule, and come to the opinion that all men are naturally greedy
vampires like yourself. Believe me, Pugsley, you are sadly wrong in
this view. I know men and women who would not stain their fingers with
your wretched blood-money for their own usage, though they would gladly
employ it for the benefit of those from whom you filched it, drib and
drab, by underpayment of their hard, dull toil.

I wish, how I wish in malignant moments, that I had assurance of a
hereafter for Pugsley in a dark, noisome factory, where he would have
to work for ten hours a day on skilly. The parson tells me that there
is a mansion in the skies prepared for Pugsley. And another equally
sumptuous residence for the more honest Bill Brown, the poacher? Why

London, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield--these are the paradises
of the Pugsleys; they batten in the rechy air of these gambling
centres. How do these dismal, over-crowded, smoke-blackened haunts of
Respectability impress "the intelligent foreigner?" "Send a philosopher
to London, but no poet," says Heine. "Everywhere we are stared down on
by wealth and Respectability, while, crammed away in retired lanes and
damp alleys, poverty dwells, with her rags and her tears." Heine, like
many another thinker, was struck by the wretchedness and poverty of
London, hiding away behind the mansions of plutocrats and Respectables.
He saw "gaunt hunger staring beseechingly at the rich merchant who
hurries along, busy and jingling gold, or at the lazy lord who, like
the surfeited god, rides by on his high horse, casting now and then
an aristocratically indifferent glance at the mob below, as though
they were swarming ants, or, at all events, a mass of baser beings,
whose joys and sorrows have nothing in common with his feelings;" and
the poet cried to poor Poverty, "Well art thou in the right when thou
alliest thyself to vice and crime. Outlawed criminals often bear more
humanity in their hearts than those cold, blameless citizens of virtue,
in whose white hearts the power of evil is quenched, but also the power
of good."

Mr. Grant White has written a book entitled "England Within and
Without," a very pungent and witty delineation of the English
character from an American point of view. He tells us that the British
Philistine is "perfect of his kind;" that "Philistinism pervades the
whole society of Great Britain south of the Tweed." Mr. Grant says
that this Philistinism is of late growth in England, a phenomenon
of the last hundred and fifty years. We cannot find traces of it
in the "spacious days," in the plays of Beaumont and Fletcher, Ben
Jonson, Ford, and Massinger, nor in all the comedies of Shakspere.
Master Ford and Master Page, the townsmen of Windsor, are neither
snobs nor Philistines. But now, in this wonderful nineteenth century,
the Philistines are as obvious as the poor; they swarm and teem
everywhere. The dense-minded middle-class man, rich, purse-proud,
vulgar, incapable of apprehending anything beyond the range of his
own personal experience, comes upon the stage. Enter Pugsley, with a
capacious abdomen, a red beef face, set off with cropped side whiskers,
a shiny pow, a big voice, and an imposing cough. "He is the butt, it
is true, of the courtier and of the travelled man; nevertheless, he is
represented as the type of a large class, and as one who is becoming a
power in the land, and who is recognised as one of the characteristic
elements of its society. He is conscious at once of his importance, and
of his social inferiority, and he submits, although with surliness, to
the snubbing of his superiors, which sometimes takes a very active and
aggressive shape."

One day they will be coming round to me for a subscription towards
erecting a statue of the Great Pugsley. You know the kind of
effigy--Pugsley in a pot-hat, beaming benevolence, on a granite
pedestal, that all who pass by may behold and envy the glory of this
apotheosis of the Successful Man. But why should not Pugsley have his
monument? Could one devise a better way of advertising his Piquant
Pickles? Yes, let us have a colossal bronze figure of Peter Pugsley,
M.P., in the market place of Diddleham, with raised pickle-bottles in
metal festooned around the pedestal, and the words, "Ask for Pugsley's"
graven in the polished stone. There is not much artistic beauty in
Diddleham in the way of statuary. The statue will supply a long-felt
want. Besides, there is a purely utilitarian aspect to the question
(they are very utilitarian at Diddleham). At six meetings of the Town
Council, the question of where to put the public fire-escape has been
discussed with great heat. Let me suggest that it should be stood
against the memorial to Pugsley.

If I had a son who began to develop the faculty of "getting on" upon
the Pugsley lines, I would do all I could to encourage the youngster.
He would earn success so easily that he would not care a rap for it. I
would go, unbeknown to him, and scatter pins on the ground in front of
the office where he intended to apply for a clerkship, so that he might
stoop to pick them up, thereby, like the youth in the story, convincing
the employer of his thrifty and methodical qualities. His library
should be stocked with the lives of self-made men, the biographies of
smart bagmen, and works on how to grow money. Portraits of successful
merchants should deck the walls of his bedroom, and he should be taught
to revere them as patron saints. I warrant such methods of fostering
the love of commercial success would have the desired effect. The boy
would run away to "a hollow tree, a crust of bread, and liberty."



     "There is less inconvenience in being mad with the mad than by
     being wise by oneself."


     "It is among the respectable classes of this vast and happy empire
     that the greatest profusion of snobs is to be found."


"I sojourned perforce for a long while in Villadom," says an enemy
of Respectability; "and I came away with some of its froust about my
person." You can't bide there without getting harm; but the worst of
it is, we have no option, many of us; we have to live in Villadom at
some time or another in our lives. Thackeray, Guy de Maupassant, George
Gissing, and George Moore have given us some clever studies of the
kind of folk who live in those genteel residences in the suburbs. Mr.
Moore's picture of Ashbourne Crescent, in the last chapter of "A Drama
in Muslin," is about the finest of the sort I have met with in fiction.
It is so good a description of the region that I am tempted beyond
resistance to steal parts of it.

     "In Ashbourne Crescent there is neither dissent nor Radicalism,
     but general aversion to all considerations which might disturb
     belief in all the routine of existence, in all its temporal and
     spiritual aspects, as it had come amongst them. The fathers
     and the brothers go to the City every day at nine, the young
     ladies play tennis, read novels, and beg to be taken to dances
     at the Kensington Town Hall. On Sunday the air is alive with
     the clanging of bells, and, in orderly procession, every family
     proceeds to church, the fathers in all the gravity of umbrellas
     and prayer-books, the matrons in silk mantles and clumsy,
     ready-made elastic sides; the girls in all the gaiety of their
     summer dresses, with lively bustles bobbing; the young men in
     frock-coats which show off their broad shoulders, as from time to
     time they pull their tawny moustaches. Each house keeps a cook and
     housemaid, and on Sunday afternoons, when the skies are flushed
     with sunset, and the outlines of this human warren grow harshly
     distinct--black lines upon pale red--these are seen walking
     arm-in-arm away towards a distant park with their young men....
     And that Ashbourne Crescent, with its bright brass knockers, its
     white-capped maidservants, and spotless oilcloths, will in the
     dim future pass away before some great tide of revolution that is
     now gathering strength far away, deep down and out of sight in
     the heart of a nation, is probable enough; but it is certainly
     now, in all its cheapness and vulgarity, more than anything else
     representative, though the length and breadth of the land be
     searched, of the genius of Empire that has been glorious through
     the long tale that nine hundred years have to tell."

I have conceived of a suburban colony of houses where a man might
live and be natural and healthy-minded among his neighbours; where
he might, if he chose, walk about in cool, backwoods dress, a shirt,
breeks, and wide-brimmed hat--or no hat--in hot weather, without
inciting derision, or becoming a pariah. But Villadom cares nothing
for naturalness, nor liberty of opinion and conduct; and, unconscious
of the madness of its severe conventionality, it deems those insane
who cultivate ideas and try to live up to them. What! is there one man
in ten in this great sheep-pen who would like to be seen blacking his
own boots or sweeping the snow from the front of his house? No, they
prefer to ill-pay some man's daughter to do all their irksome and dirty
work. What does Villadom read, talk of, and think upon? The fathers
read the newspapers, the mothers and daughters peruse "John Halifax,"
and such like literature of the Pap-boat and Pumplighter sort; and
the talk is of money, the neighbours, and the back-parlour window
curtains and carpets--all good themes enough in their season, but not
the only things in life of vast importance. The denizens of Villadom
tell you that they have their livings to earn, dinners to cook, and
houses to control; therefore there is no time for cultivating their
intellects, and developing their sense of the beautiful in nature and
art. No time! It is the old plea of the men and women who squander
hours in tittle-tattle and loafing. Gerald Massey, a bargeman's son,
and a fag in a factory; Elihu Burritt, a blacksmith; Thomas Edward,
a shoemaker; Walt Whitman, a compositor; Bradlaugh, a soldier, and
afterwards a clerk; James Hosken, a postman, not to mention a hundred
other hard-working men, found time to read, and think, and improve
themselves. It is the _will_, and not the leisure, that is lacking in
Villadom, the will to be something better than mere Respectables in the
eyes of society.

The foppery and frippery of Villadom are miserable outlets for human
energy. If this is the end of civilised beings, give me rather the
wildest life of primitive barbarians, for they, at least, wish to
learn higher arts of living. No past civilisation presents this
picture of Philistine apathy to the nobler interests of life. Karl
Pearson says truly that the two most pitiful illustrations of our
pseudo-civilisation may be seen in the main streets of the West End
of London. In the afternoon you see crowds of idle, shallow women
standing, rapt in the admiration of bits of ribbon in the windows of
the drapery stores. A few hours later, when the shops are closed,
another army of women parade the pavements, ogling and smirking in
their nightly quest for the bread of prostitution. The "ladies"
of the afternoon promenade are mostly the wives and daughters of
Villadom. They do not know how largely responsible they are for that
nocturnal orgy of the streets when they are snug in their luxurious
drawing-rooms. It is the fetish-worship of Respectability that makes
thousands of women redundant, drives some to the streets, and condemns
others to withered celibacy. Men realise that the Respectable daughters
of Villadom are luxuries that they cannot afford to maintain, in early
life, at least; and the _demi-monde_ know this, too. As Mr. W. R. Greg
wrote: "While the _monde_ has been deteriorating, the _demi-monde_ has
been improving; as the one has grown stupider and costlier, the other
has grown, more attractive, more decorous, and more easy. The ladies
_there_ are now often as clever and amusing, usually more beautiful,
and not infrequently (in external demeanour, at least,) as modest, as
their rivals in more recognised society."

This writer, rightly or wrongly, affirms that the way to set things
straight in this anomaly of polyandry for thousands of women, and
celibacy for thousands of their sisters is by the respectable ladies
emulating the manners, and attaining the charms of the hetæræ, in
"cheerfulness and kindliness of demeanour," "economy of style," and
"ease and simplicity."

I know the advanced women--some of them, at any rate--will tell me that
men are not worth winning at this expense, and that they prefer to go
their own ways alone. So be it. There is no coercion to matrimony for
such as elect to remain in single independence. On the other hand, we
have not yet killed the sexual attraction and the maternal instinct in
all our emancipated women. And, as for the girls of Villadom, _they_,
at all events, look upon marriage as their destiny. Then, I say, let
them get rid of this spurious virtue of Respectability, which costs
so much to maintain, and is worth nothing after all their pains.
Villadom exists principally for women. Bachelor men do not, as a rule,
need domestic whim-whams and nick-nacks to make them happy in their
"diggings." Villadom has been built and embellished for the fair sex;
they reign almost supreme there, and it is their part to refine the
atmosphere of their domain.



     "Men, and still more women, who lift themselves above the ordinary
     standard by their philosophical tastes and speculations, may
     indeed be accounted fortunate if they escape calumny or obloquy
     from general society."

                                        W. CAREW HAZLITT.

"Mankind is an ass, who kicks those who endeavour to take off his
panniers," says a Spanish proverb. When we are very young and
enthusiastic about the great part we mean to play in the reformation
of society, we work ourselves into fearful furies of indignation with
those who have persecuted innovators in all ages. Later in life we
learn that the persecutor is more of an ass than a villain; and the
more we study humanity, not forgetting our own human nature, the more
are we persuaded that this is the right scientific view to take. While
we had the taint of Respectability in us (and very few men and women
are born without it), we were disposed sometimes to do some of this
asinine kicking upon those whom we considered dangers to society. We
did not pause to think whether they wished to help us by removing the
packs from our galled backs; but, as soon as a Samaritan approached
us with kindly intent, we let fly our heels and attacked him. The
fact is, as Thoreau says, there are really very few men, even of
the Non-Respectables, without some trace of Respectable prejudice.
Let us, therefore, be as tolerant as possible towards the misguided
Respectables who brutally maltreat their would-be benefactors. Perhaps
you have never thrown flints at an itinerant evangelist, nor hustled a
Socialist in the parks; nevertheless, you have persecuted in some shape
or form at one time of your life. Too lazy by nature to inquire into
a novel social doctrine, or to dispassionately examine a new theory
of morals, you have misunderstood and denounced the promulgators and
theorists. This is very often the outcome of your Respectability, and
a purely emotional manifestation of prejudice against something that
you have not tried to understand. Thus persecution begins. If you have
a large element of the savage in you, your opposition will take the
form of actual physical violence and scurrilous abuse; if you are
moderately humane and intelligent, you will merely scorn and deride
the heretic. Your blood seethes when you read of the persecution of
martyrs. Take heed of yourself that you do not evince the malevolent
spirit that impels men to denounce others unheard, at the first
suggestion of heterodox opinion.

Priestley, a Unitarian minister, of Birmingham, experimented in
chemistry, and discovered oxygen, alone and entirely unassisted, in a
laboratory fitted up at his own expense. The world owes much to this
industrious man of science. But the human nature that killed Christ and
Bruno, hated Priestley because he tried to convey new truths. A mob of
fanatical Respectables burned down his house, and destroyed all his
books, notes, and apparatus, and drove him from his native land.

Home, the author of the tragedy of "Douglas," was persecuted and
turned out of the ministry by Scotch Respectables for writing a play
to amuse and instruct his fellow men; and Dr. Alexander Carlyle was
threatened with a prosecution for standing by Home, his friend.
Religious Respectability persecuted the devout Hannah More for
instructing the children of the poor. Moneyed Respectability hanged
John Brown, mobbed Theodore Parker, and threatened to shoot Ernestine
Rose for endeavouring to free negro slaves. Shelley, one of the
humanest souls who ever lived, was driven from Eton by respectable
young cads, expelled from Oxford by Respectability, and banished
to another country. Byron, who taught men, by brave precept and
example to love liberty, was reviled, slandered, and forced to live
abroad. Walt Whitman, for showing men the beauty and purity of the
reproductive function, degraded and assailed by Respectability, was
"greeted with howls of execration." Respectability has cursed Ibsen,
Zola, and Björnson, three mighty forces for righteousness in Europe.
Charles Bradlaugh, who devoted his life to the service of man, was
bitterly assailed and vilely aspersed by his contemporary Respectables.
Respectable human nature kicks everyone who sets himself to benefit
humanity. The history of this moral pest and mental blight abounds with
instances of its venomous effect upon men's hearts and minds.

"I can bear it no longer," cries Thackeray, "this diabolical invention
of gentility which kills natural kindliness and honest friendship.
Proper pride, indeed! Rank and precedence, forsooth! The table of ranks
and degrees is a lie, and should be flung into the fire. Organise
rank and precedence! That was well for the masters of ceremonies
of former ages. Come forward, some great marshal, and organise
equality in society, and your rod shall swallow up all the juggling
old court 'goldsticks.'" Carlyle calls England "the wealthiest and
worst instructed of European nations." Respectability piles up money,
accumulates vast stores of material products, and starves men's minds
in the process. It tyrannises in every province of ethics, science,
art, literature, and politics, laying continually on our shoulders
burdens grievous to bear. You can scarcely move without coming into
collision with Respectability; you are expected to eat, drink,
dress, think, marry, and be buried in accordance with its canon. The
Respectables of the Exchange will snub and insult an independent-minded
man who ventures within the shoddy circle without a chimney-pot hat. I
have heard this stupid tyranny of majorities defended as a safeguard
of decency and order. What! These attempts to stamp out individuality
of character promote social progress? This is an odd way of reasoning.
But the Respectable doesn't reason; he follows the crowd mechanically.

You have only to give the Respectables plenty of rope, and they will
strangle every effort of advance. They form societies for suppressing
this thing and harrying that, with their wary scouts prowling in every
direction; they try to "rob the poor man of his beer," while they
gorge themselves with fat meats; they fought tooth and nail against
the Sunday opening of museums and picture-galleries; they prosecuted
Mr. Vizetelly for selling translations of Zola's novels; they oppose
amelioration of our absurd, cruel, and ineffective prison system; they
ban the teaching of physiological morality in sex matters; and they put
hobbles and blinkers on women.

I have no especial veneration for Lord Beaconsfield as a politician,
but I admire him for his unconventionality. How many young men possess
the pluck to appear at a dinner party in green velvet trousers, a
canary-coloured waistcoat, low shoes with silver buckles, lace at
their wrists, and their hair in ringlets? On another occasion, Disraeli
turned up at a diocesan gathering at Oxford clad in a black velveteen
shooting jacket, with a wideawake hat. A Respectable booby, writing
the other day to a Liberal newspaper, referred to these eccentricities
as though they were vices in a man, instead of recognising that such
flaunting of a dull, drab Respectability, betokened courage and
individuality. Immediately you dress in accordance with your own taste,
instead of in the mufti of convention, you are dubbed a mountebank and
a posturer. Of course, after these aberrations of deportment and form,
there is not a good word to be said for Dizzy, only vehement abuse and
denunciation. Yet the same Radical Respectable knew perfectly well,
when he sat down to write that diatribe, that many of his class affect
peculiarities of dress.



     "I announce a life that shall be copious, vehement, spiritual,

                                        WALT WHITMAN.

It is the boast of the ordinary patriotic Briton that he lives in a
highly civilised country. During his tutelage, he learns that climate,
or insularity of position on the face of the globe, or the system of
monarchy, or the Bible, has, or have, combined or separately, made
England the foremost nation on earth. In later life he is sometimes
prone to exclaim against our "advanced civilisation," and even to go
to the extreme of asserting that we could well dispense with much of
it. The latter-day Anglo-Saxon, who thinks without thought, has for
himself a very clear and satisfying idea of civilisation. Emerson, on
the other hand, remarks that "nobody has attempted a definition of
civilisation," and that "we usually suggest it by negations;" and he
adduces instances of people lacking an alphabet, iron, and abstract
thought. Thus, when we ask for an explanation of the term Civilisation,
we usually hear an enumeration of the constituents of a state of primal
savagery, and are then possibly referred to the material products,
money, and Gatling guns of a nation for signs of its civilisation.

It is then much simpler for the majority to formulate intrinsic
barbarism than to define refinement, and to delineate a reliable ideal
of Civilisation. They are conscious that much, if not most of that
which they would designate civilised could, upon close examination,
be proved to be barbaric. Their easy exposition will not withstand
keen scientific scrutiny; and a definition which will not stand this
test is merely a stumbling-block in the way of inquiry. A member of a
reputedly cultured community or class naturally resents attack upon
those views and customs which in his estimate denote civilisation, and
are of its very essence. If he is a pious Englishman, he will probably
confess that in the matter of faith the people of Eastern countries
are barbaric, while he fails to discern the trail of barbarity in his
own creed and ritual. In like manner, a Philistine aristocrat will
scarcely accede that there is barely one degree of coarseness betwixt
his pleasures and those of the illiterate proletarian, who, in his
turn, persuades himself that he is more intelligent and decent than his
compeers of another land.

Yet the truth is that a very small number of the inhabitants of these
isles can be justly labelled civilised. We must search, as it were, in
the mode of Diogenes for "the highly organised man, brought to supreme
delicacy of sentiment, as in practical power, religion, liberty, sense
of honour and taste," who stands for Emerson's type of civilised
humanity. That such examples are not unknown at this stage is as
certain as the fact that many more are in the process of evolution. And
although savagery in idea and practice confronts us this way and that
in each scale of society, we shall do ill if we approach the study of
modern barbarism in a vein of mocking pessimism. It is also necessary
that a lively faith in the evolutionary principle applied to human
nature should be tempered by a look behind while our hopes are young.

Slowly and painfully are we "working out the beast," slowly and
painfully must we climb the stages till we cease to obey the blind
dictates of instinctive impulse and to base our codes on the reigning
opinions of the irrational mass. It is hardly needful to reiterate even
one of the preliminary conclusions of all philosophers and humanists
to prove that most men have no reasoned views upon the conduct of
life. Seneca says that "the common sort find it easier to believe than
to judge, and content themselves with what is usual, never examining
whether it be good or no. By the common sort is intended the man of
title as well as the clouted shoe." The veracity of Swift's aphorism
that most men have as much turn for flying as for thinking, and of
Carlyle's laconic "mostly fools," is unquestioned.

It is therefore no unsupported postulate that the larger part of
civilised people always tend to lead barbaric lives, and that what
each class is apt to accept as an approximation to a complete
civilisation is a very inchoate form of that truer culture urged upon
society by individualist reformers in each successive age. A very
slight examination of the thought and pursuits of what is called the
highest class in our existing social scale will serve to demonstrate
the prevalence of barbarism. For there, as in the lower circles,
we find the lines of apathy, vulgarity, and animalism graven on
patrician faces, and proclaimed in the talk of the dinner-table, the
smoking-room, and the covert-side. Obviously, all our peers are not
ultra-barbarians; neither are all our bargees and coalheavers savages.
Yet the dominant tone is just as often low and inane in the mansion
as in the tenement, and with much less to offer in its extenuation.
Millions toil and ache, and are vulgarised in order that a coterie of
hereditary lords and titled parvenus shall enjoy the leisure which
they mainly devote to frivolity and the killing of the æons of time.
Upon these, the intimates of monarchs, the protectors of the sacred
pheasant, the distributors of largess, a barbaric populace alternately
lavishes its affection and its abuse. So long as the baron flings his
groats to the churls, all is peace in vassaldom; but when rents are
racked, game laws enforced to their utmost limits, and the dice rattled
in the hall, the voice of the people is upraised in tumult, and the
virtuous artizan, clinking his silver winnings on the way from the
racecourse, thanks heaven he is not as these nobles are, gamblers,
adulterers, and oppressors of the widow and the orphan.

Set a barbarian to lash a barbarian if you wish to see injustice done.
The fact is that, being barbarous, we first allow an accident of birth
to raise a man to a position of power, and then run atilt at our shoddy
dignities because the power tends to impede general well-being. Worth
of mind is the one qualification for esteem, a trite enough dictum in
the mouths of those who persistently ignore its truth. But the time
must come when the aristocracy of character will be the only recognised
aristocracy in civilised nations.

I think that if one should suggest that it is right to hate the members
of our "bloated aristocracy," he is no less absurd than those who
fawn around the lackeys of a court. Our noble lords are not of one
type, as our common people are not of one cast, though in many rude
examples of nobility we can trace the basic elements of ruffianism,
and see the bestial fruits thereof. What most concerns us is the
question whether a society that grants titles to its successful
money-grabbers is clean-purged of its antique barbarism. An academical
diploma conferred upon a teacher of the arts or sciences is possibly
one means by which the respectful heed of the uncultured is secured
for new doctrine. For the one who appends certain characters to his
signature will be held in esteem by the many as a man worth hearing.
Even in the matter of degrees given to scholars of distinction, we too
often discover that such award fosters moral and mental deterioration,
and that it narrows and mars the career of thinkers who are elevated
to a throne of authority. Our laureates must need be eminently wary
in their main theories, though they may pipe an undernote of revolt
in the sequestered grove, to ease their souls of the sting of the
stultifying penalty of vulgar rank. Yes, titles of all kinds seem to
have a tendency to degrade; and the sun of courtly favour often withers
the real and aids the growth of the spurious nobility. "Brave old
Samuel," ever a Respectable in leading sentiments, was more so when he
took a dole from the palace. There is little hope for the amendment
of the semi-barbaric prophet when he is taken from the wilderness
and thrust into a position only tenurable by wily compromise with the

Very engrossing is the study of Respectability in high places. "These
be the men we are told to look up to," said a tattered plebeian, whose
eyes had been blasted by the hunting magistrate who was riding on other
men's land. But that we do "look up to" our rich, idle folk with an
avid awe is undoubted. Few persons in a town are especially interested
in hearing that Mr. Herbert Spencer is there on a visit; but we are
most of us anxious to shake hands with a prize-fighter, or the "Jubilee
Plunger," or to take tea with a millionaire's wife. We look up to or
hunt after such because they have vulgar notoriety or money, and we are
not concerned to know how they came by their popularity and their cash,
and whether they deserve either, and make a good use of their power.
Were it not for the few civilised beings who dare to be considered odd,
this odious admiration of trivial character and empty claims would mean
a ripening to the decay of society. Involuntarily, the civilised make
the ways of barbarity easy to thousands, for they absolve the lethargic
from the exertion of severe thinking.

The paradise towards which the _bourgeoisie_ strive is not the
leisure to refine the mind, but the opportunity to vie with the more
commonplace section of the upper class in dissipation. The labourer who
resents the lordling's contumely, and indicts him for living a lazy
life, may only work when he is starving, and perhaps not then. His
ideal may rise no higher than perpetual beer and ninepins, while the
squire craves no higher satisfaction in life than hunting six days a
week, and champagne, billiards, and the sporting papers on Sunday. The
evil is in the setting up of a barbaric aim of life in all classes.
Our greatest ideals are the commercial and the voluptuous. The eternal
pursuit of the frivolous, which makes up the chief part of what is
foolishly termed "high life," and the sordid middle-class struggle to
amass money, are accepted by the shallow as tokens of our progress in
civilisation. We are rich and luxurious; we are therefore far above the
savage. Yet how far? Our leisured and affluent have for the greater
number returned to the employment of a pre-pastoral epoch. Look at
the lives of thousands of English gentlemen. Truer barbarians never
existed of old than many of those whose whole thought, energy, and
wealth are given up to sport. Many of them are restless nomads, ever
hurrying from one quarter of the globe to another in search of fresh
game to kill. I do not underrate the need for the development of the
physical man, nor ignore the value of sports rightly comprehended as a
means to the end of training and recreating the body. But what shall be
said of that multitude of our countrymen who live to amuse themselves
in such primitive fashion? It is these who waste their powers, and
barbarise the vulgar by the force of ill example.

Let us not wonder that, in bygone days, a gaping peasantry, with
quaint uncouth notions of what constituted an efficient mouthpiece
of their wants, yelled at the hustings for the return of those who
rode straight, and could pummel the best man of the mob in a brace of
rounds. Of such order are still the credentials in some of the Pagan
constituencies, where the beer-steeped intelligence pleads the election
of "an old-fashioned sort and a thorough sportsman."

We are still rearing these rude types in our public schools and
universities, and for these we laudably reserve the chief places on
the senate, on justiciary benches, and in local boards. Despite their
educational chances and social opportunities, these are surely among
the retrograde, with their _argot_ culled from the racing journals,
their strange drawling pronunciation of the English tongue, their
points of breeding, their caddish _hauteur_, their rampant John
Bullisms, and their innate aversion to thought and earnestness. "The
fop of Charles's time," says Leslie, in Mr. Mallock's "New Republic,"
"aimed at seeming a wit and a scholar. The fop of ours aims at being a
fool and a dunce."

Quitting this strange horde, let us descend to the mart for an
examination of the Commercial Ideal. No one denies that for a nation
of shopkeepers we have done great things in the world's history. In a
very large measure we are civilised by the shop, and it is only when
the shop absorbs the best of us, mental and physical, that commercial
activity tends to retard progress. Provide that a man's moral sense and
intellect are not warped or unexercised in the making of money, and
there is nothing degrading, but the opposite, in his desire to succeed
commercially. But in the fierceness of competition in an over-populated
country, cruel barbarity and detestable meanness and cunning arise.
And not only these, but the curse of intellectual and æsthetic atrophy
lights upon the host. Out of this undue stress is developed a tendency
to sordid living, a preference for the lower gratifications of life.
Yet need money-getting always degrade the people? Will the prosperous
business career of the future be alone compatible with a low standard
of thought, and a corrupt canon of commercial morals?

"Life without industry is guilt; industry without art is brutality."
Now, in the push and drive of industry at the close of this century
it is as hard for myriads to keep the soul alive, as it is for many
thousands to find food for the body. The trader who makes Mammon his
idol, who thinks money, and spends his wealth irrationally, brutalises
life. But for the others, let us rather pity and try to amend the
condition of those who cannot, in plain terms, "leave the shop." There
are strong-minded and somewhat exceptional tradesmen who can shake
off the dust of the warehouse, and spend the hours of freedom in
the cultivation of the intellect. There are men of business who do
excellent work in art and science, while their jaded associates are
satisfying their purely animal wants. The question is--Can a man live
the higher life, and _succeed_ in the worldly meaning of prosperity?
Men do not grow money by storing the brain with knowledge, and the
merchant who ponders upon a phase of evolution, or murmurs a rhythm
of Tennyson while he is at the ledger, will most probably be an
indifferent money-maker. Lamb's _Good Clerk_, you will remember, "gets
on" because his first aim is to be a good piece of mechanism. It is a
grievous reflection that zeal for the desk should eat up the brain and
better part of a good man, and leave him a machine. The expert clerk is
as valuable as the clever author or the great painter; but the trouble
is that while the trader is making himself efficient as a trader, he
is frequently neglecting his mind, narrowing his social judgments, and
tending backwards.

Is there no escape from a seemingly invincible fate that restricts the
thought and energy of the million to the bare affairs of the shop? It
does almost seem at first that there is none. What we have to determine
is whether we shall aid the production of mediocre shopkeepers, who
will desire to live cultured lives, while they devote a due share of
thought to the shop, or whether we shall continue to rear a class who
place business first and culture last, or practically without their
scheme of life. For every sociologist this is a great problem. Speaking
out of my own prejudice, I would rather live in a country of moderately
prosperous men, who read, and speculated, and had aspirations for
something higher than lucre, than in the land where the mass were rich
and unintellectual.

There is an economic aspect of the alternatives. Art thrives where
there is wealth; but money does not of necessity make good art. At
present two formidable hindrances stand in the way of developing
culture--over-population, and a passion for ostentation. Regulate the
reproductive faculty, and save the potential slave of industrialism
from a struggle that waxes keener yearly. This must be done in the
individual and national interest, to the gradual diminishment of abject
poverty and the lessening of the awful strain in the congested centres.
Allied with this teaching, there should be a wide inculcation of the
value of a refined simplicity of material life, a substitution of
high-thinking for mere barbarous display in living. These were the
leading precepts of John Stuart Mill to an unheedful generation; but I,
for one, take courage in the view that this will become the creed of
many as we advance in the art of living. In _Liberty_, Mill writes:

     "The superior worth of simplicity of life, the enervating and
     demoralising effects of the trammels and hypocrisies of artificial
     society, are ideas which have never been entirely absent from
     cultivated minds since Rousseau wrote; and they will in time
     produce their due effect, though at present needing to be asserted
     by deeds, for words, on this subject, have nearly exhausted their

The way of the civiliser is hard. If the men and women of ideals and
broad sympathies go, as Mills enjoins, into Barbaria and Philistia
as apostles, they must be prepared to receive the hurts of primitive
weapons. Missionaries are not welcomed with barbaric shouts of glee
when they land to subvert ancient faiths. Neither are apostles of
righteousness and sweetness and light beloved of our children of
darkness in Belgravia and Bloomsbury. But as Mr. Hamerton asks in his
"Intellectual Life": "Are the Philistines to have all the talk to
themselves for ever; are they to rehearse their stupid old platitudes
without the least fear of contradiction? How long, O Lord, how long?"
Yet, let your apostle be the quintessence of tact and humility, he will
not escape slander, odium, and contempt when he essays to contradict
the ancient platitudes. Broach boldly any subject, from religion to
corset-wearing, in the drawing-room at Bloomsbury, or in the back
parlour at Lambeth, and you will have to contend against stubborn
apathy. To cultivate eccentricity of opinion and conduct for the
purpose of evoking the curiosity of the languid Respectables, is a form
of insanity which no one will suppose I am advocating as an effort
towards civilisation. But social danger is always to be apprehended
from conventionality that is stagnantly content with the existing
order, and has not the desire nor energy to advance. It is, then,
the onerous duty of a thoughtful member of the respectable classes
to awaken his relatives or associates from a blank contentment with
mere animal well-being and trivial aims. He must not shrink from the
burden because it is the habit of unthinking persons to believe that
the conclusions of sounder brains have been gained by the same meagre
thinking as their own flimsy theories, or that his wrought-out views
are only crotchets advanced to flatter his egoism. For by those who
shirk deep thinking, intellectual seriousness in others is merely
regarded as a more or less peculiar temperamental trait. They do
not know that the eternal voluntary martyrdom of thinkers is their
salvation. They are unaware that the good and the earnest toil daily
in order that the evil and the frivolous may be preserved to reap the
reward of toilsome thought, in which the apathetic have had no share,
and for which they have little praise. Reflect upon what Darwin has
done for morality, science, and art, and then mark the mean ingratitude
and ignorant misrepresentation of some of those who are now being made
whole by his sane science. Will the Respectables always crucify their
social redeemers?

Not wholly encouraging is the investigation of barbarism in our
industrial and proletarian classes. Yet perhaps, if there is one
party above another that appears to be progressing rapidly towards a
higher civilisation, it is the operative. When one thinks of what the
working class has done, with its lack of advantage in the past, and
its scant opportunity in the present, the progress is one of the most
wonderful and hopeful omens of modern times. It is inevitable that the
acquisition of a little knowledge should bear some ill fruit among
the sound; but the humanising influences of education far exceed in
their proved result the expectation of the early pioneers of a noble
movement. Much has been done, and much remains to be accomplished,
in the work of constructing the foundations and superstructure of
an ultimate democratic civilisation. Whitman and Ibsen, latter-day
prophets of sound social foresight, predicted at the outset of their
careers that in the fibre and stuff of a cultured democracy lies our

Undoubtedly, the moral tone of the industrial class is growing higher
yearly. The rough hand of the artisan has fashioned much of our
civilisation, and his hard, calculating intelligence will have a larger
share in the government of the near future. I confess that it thrills
me to hear that a set of miners in the North have begged the custodian
of a public library to provide them with Mr. Meredith's fine but
"difficult" novels. Again, we should rejoice to learn that a factory
worker, who has taught himself to read at the age of forty, is studying
Mr. Spencer's "First Principles."

As I have before tried to show, the neglect of civilising thought and
study is not voluntary in the case of many busy men and women. It is
largely an outcome of complex commercial rivalry and overpressure that
thousands should not share in the higher refinements of civilisation,
and that science should be outside their rule of life instead of at
the bottom of it. Thoreau speaks of the best part of the husbandman
being ploughed into the soil for compost; and the figure represents
the case for legions of toilers. Mr. Ruskin is among the oracles when
he announces that "the final outcome of all wealth is the producing as
many as possible full-breathed, bright-eyed, and happy-hearted human
creatures." Perhaps so; but for the nonce, we mostly plod on in that
"dim-eyed and narrow-chested state of being," which we are wont to
describe as "getting on in the world."

It is a great thing, this educational advance of the tool-skilled. Yet
there is much to be done. It is needless to rehearse the manifold
savage characteristics, the mob frenzies, and the low pleasures of many
of the working class--imperfections which all of us exhibit either
in like kind or with faint difference. We forget that a mechanic who
indulges in a weekly debauch, and sometimes beats a constable, has
his counterpart in those who call themselves superior. Ruffianism,
brutality, and gross sensuality are not restricted to one class.
English epicurism is mostly of the lower kind in every rank. The
uncivilised of the upper class spend the larger part of their incomes
upon dishes and drinks; the coarse of the labouring class expend nearly
half their wages on beer. Our sensuousness trends in the direction of
sensuality. We pride ourselves that we are able to consume quantities
of flesh, and we apotheosise John Barleycorn with Shakspere.

Very sombre is the spectacle of the life that bruises the million. To
one who walks the streets observantly on public holidays, the white
faces and worn bodies of his toiling brothers tell of dull, grinding
lives. See the poor mercantile clerks and the shopmen, the genteel
drudges, the indispensable factors of wealth which they will never
share. Well does Guy de Maupassant picture the type:

     "With sallow faces and twisted bodies, and one of their shoulders
     a little forced up by perpetual bending at work over a table
     ... they all belonged to the army of poor threadbare devils who
     vegetate frugally in a mean little plaster-house, with a flower
     bed for a garden."

How can we inveigh against these tired workers for the drowsy
occupation of their few leisure hours? What is chiefly at fault is the
crushing system that leaves so little time for expansion of the mind
and the sympathies, the ideal that shapes the many to this level cast.
Mr. Grant White gives a grimly sardonic sketch of a London shopkeeping
pair in his "England Without and Within." He tells of faces that had
probably "once expressed some of the vivacity of youth; but this had
passed away, and nothing, no trace of thought or feeling, had come into
its place--only fat; a greasy witness of content." But there is more
pathos than humour in this study from lower middle-class life. Were
there not originally the germs of ideas, imagination, and emotion, in
these unfortunate contented souls? Are such doomed to take no thought
for higher things than bread-getting and eating, and will their minds
for ever starve on the Bethel hymn and the newspaper?

More pitiful and tragic is the state of the lowest, the lapsed, the
untameable of the slums. "Our society," says M. Taine, "is a fine
edifice, but in the lowest story what a sink of impurity.... It seems
to me that the evil and the good are greater here than in France."
The law cannot cure inherent propensities to evil doing, and pious
philanthropy can merely patch a rotten vestment; but scientific
criminologists will eventually probe to the root. Too long have we
relied upon the gaoler and the priest. We are learning now that
congenital crime is a subject for the physiologist and the mental
pathologist. So, too, with the plague of chronic destitution, the
prime infamy of pseudo-civilisation. Instinctive barbaric pity urges
liberal almsgiving; but the beautiful emotion of sympathy needs as
much control in its gratification as the purely animal appetites. We
shall awake soon to the truth that it is our selfish Respectability
that must be fought with the weapons of a new economic science, based
upon righteousness. We should strive to destroy the sources of hopeless
want, as we endeavour to exterminate disease microbes in the body.

Are these the visions of Utopianism? No; for when we consider what
modern science has done in its infancy, we may surely reckon upon
greater victory in days now dawning. To support this inspiring creed
of science we do not need to fabricate evidences out of improbability,
conjecture, and fallacy; for the proofs are plain and convincing, and
will survive the severest criticism. Truly, if we make moan one day
for the tenacity of unreason in the human brain, we may rejoice on
the morrow in the thought that never in history has the outlook been

It is too evident that thousands who can no longer be satisfied with
the guesses of primitive barbarians concerning man's origin and destiny
still cover their inner convictions with the cloak of Respectability,
and endeavour to seem that which they are not. Honesty will thrive with
the wane of Respectability.



     "Respect is often paid in proportion as it is claimed."

                                        DR. JOHNSON.

Respectable reader, you are perchance by this time partly inclined
to at least agree that this disease of yours may be harmful to
yourself and to others. I have not minced my words in discussing the
unpleasant symptoms of your ailment. You are a prey to hallucinations,
and it behoved me, as a judicious physician, to jeer at your fancies
and to deride your dreads. I have endeavoured to convince you that
Respectability is anti-social, improgressive, and often cruel. You
cannot deny that the world's greatest moral worthies have been the
Non-Respectables, the Unconventionalists, the enlightened Eccentrics.
They have all deviated in some particular, or in many ways, from the
ordinary standards and customs of the majority. In many instances they
have been accounted immoral, but that has not deterred them, because
new morality has always been deemed immorality by the Respectables.
Wesley, for example, thought it immoral to doubt the existence of
witches. Yet, who to-day but the most degraded peasants of the wild
hills believes in witches? Mr. Gladstone considers divorce immoral;
but those who differ from him may be counted in millions. They are the
adherents of a new morality, more reasonable, just, and humane than the
old which has passed away.

Therefore, to make progress we are compelled to defy Respectability,
and to outrage propriety. But that does not mean that we are to become
ruthless Vandals, taking delight in destroying everything that is
old. Far from it. We must pull down that idol Respectability from
its throne, and set up some worthier object of veneration in its
place. True worth and integrity of character can have no alliance
with intellectual insincerity and social hypocrisy. We need more
brave-hearted men and women, with the courage of their opinions,
more heterodox thinkers, more consistent heretics to stand solidly
together in a great attack on the shams and falsehoods that constitute

Our children must be taught to use their brains, so that when they
grow up they will not allow their little corner of the world to rule
their lives and make them cowardly and deceitful. The words of the
Knight in "Pericles" should be taught to boys: "_We are gentlemen that
neither in our hearts nor outward eyes envy the great, nor do the low
despise._" Education must be freed from the restrictions and hindrances
of Respectability, and made catholic, comprehensive, and equal for both

The canker has eaten too long at the heart of our great nation. Its
ravages, if unchecked, will ultimately destroy our prestige, and
we shall fall as Babylon, Rome, and Greece have fallen. Our social
affections are blighted and chilled by this fell disease, our emotions
are shrivelled, our national virility enfeebled. Colonies in their
youth offer us a good illustration of the rapid progress of a people
who have abandoned the cant of Respectability. In such communities
men and women work for the commonweal, on a fraternal basis, with
no heed to rank and precedence, and it is in these societies that
individualism, independence, and unconventionality have full play and
outlet. Only at a later stage does the blight of Respectability descend
upon the people of a new country, as we see it now in America, and, to
a certain extent in Australia and Canada, where the _bourgeoisie_ have
established themselves and infected the populace with their disease.
"This diabolical invention of gentility," as Thackeray terms it, is
disintegrating society in England, slowly and surely. It is not foreign
aggression, nor anarchy within, that we should most fear, but the
insidious virus of the disease that is sapping our vitals.

It is the middle-men of the middle class who chiefly spread the
contagion and transmit it to posterity. Antiquated political economists
tell us that the middleman is useful to everyone, and that the man
who gambles with other folk's money is a benefactor. There was a
time when trade meant a handicraft; now it is a term for gambling
with articles made by ill-rewarded workers. And the man who lives by
this system of dealing expects the farmer, the miner, and craftsmen
to doff their caps to him, and call him gentleman. "Since every Jack
became a gentleman, there's many a gentle person made a Jack," says
Shakspere. No one with a clear gaze on the future can delude himself
that the middleman is a permanent institution, to be preserved and
commended. His respectability, without dwelling upon his economic
_raison d'être_, has made him the contempt of the upper class and the
detestation of the working population. He has made himself king of
provincial towns, censor of morals, and patron of the arts; and the mob
has let him gain the upper hand, looking on with mouths agape at his
cleverness. Respectability in its worst forms will last as long as the
_bourgeoisie_ possess this power over the masses.

I leave it to Anarchists, Socialists, Individualist, Tories, and the
rest to settle whether the shoddy god, Respectability, is to reign
despotically over England.




Among the high-class magazines, the _University Magazine and Free
Review_ takes the first place in English advanced literature.
Independence of thought, freedom from conventional fetters, and
boldness where necessary, impart a freshness and vigour to the articles
of this publication, which we miss even in the best and most earnest
literature of the day.

It is _the_ Magazine for such readers as care for progressive thought
in all or any of the main fields of discussion--the religious, the
political, the sociological, the ethical, the economic, the literary,
the scientific, and the æsthetic.

It always takes the part of the weak and oppressed, and this Magazine
has done much to call attention to indisputable evils.

Contents of the APRIL No., 1897, Vol. VIII., No. I--

  The Case Of Dr. Romanes, _by John M. Robertson_.
  Cardinal Manning, the Sceptic, _by R. de Villiers_.
  The Inertia of English Universities, _by F. R. Sarritor_.
  The Bible and the Child, _by Chilperic_.
  Tourgenieff, _by Ernest Newman_.
  Roden Noel, _by Karl Blind_.
  The Whole Duty of Woman, _by Geoffrey Mortimer_.
  The Blasphemy Laws, _by Fred. Verinder_.
  Martin Turner, _by H. J. Cressingham_.
  The Intellectual Movement in France, _by A. Hamon_.
  Periodicals, _by Walter Shaw Sparrow_.

Contents of the MAY No., 1897, Vol. VIII., No. 2--

  Bentley and Anthony Collins, _by M. W. Wiseman_.
  Roden Noel, _by Karl Blind_.
  Tourgenieff, _by Ernest Newman_.
  The Downfall of Olive Schreiner, _by X_.
  Marie Corelli and her Public, _by A. W. Stanbury_.
  Moral Instruction without Theology, _by F. J. Gould_.
  The Social Purity Hallucination, _by J. P. Gilmour_.
  Current Pseudo-Philosophy, _by John M. Robertson_.
  Slumland by Night, _by G. M._
  William Blake and Modern Problems, _by Edward Willmore_.
  The Social Evil and the Moral Law, _by A. Macevir_.
  Periodicals, _by Walter Shaw Sparrow_.
  New Books.

Contents of the JUNE No., 1897, Vol. VIII., No. 3--

  Nietzsche's Indictment of Christianity, _by John M. Robertson_.
  An Ethical Excursion, _by Hugh Mortimer Cecil_.
  The Teachings of Thomas Hardy, _by Duane Williams_.
  The Tory Professor, _by Robert Duncanson_.
  Mr. Gladstone's Latest Postcard, _by Alan Stephens_.
  Usury and Thrift, _by J. Greevz Fisher_.
  A Specimen of Religious Journalism, _by Stanley Bruce_.
  In Extremis, _by Allan Laidlaw_.
  The Legitimation League, _by A. Goldwin_.
  Nancy, _by Ernest Newman_.
  New Books.



Just published, 10s. nett,




_An Irrational Trio: Kidd, Drummond, Balfour._

A vigorous refutation of the well-known Pseudo-Philosophical Works,
_Social Evolution_ (Kidd), _The Ascent of Man_ (Drummond), and
_The Foundations of Belief_ (Balfour), showing the absurdity of
the methods adopted on the one hand, and the insincerity of these
Pseudo-Philosophers on the other.

_The Academy_, APRIL 17, 1897:

Mr. Hugh Mortimer Cecil will have none of this legerdemain; the flank
of the rationalist position shall not be so turned if his vigilance can
frustrate the manoeuvre; and with a pen steeped in sulphuric acid, he
has set out to confute these writers one by one.

... He is one who must be reckoned with as a clear thinker, a cogent
reasoner, a lucid and accomplished writer....

It is impossible, in the space at our disposal, to consider at large
Mr. Cecil's criticism of "Foundations of Belief." It is a very serious
and capable attack which will have to be reckoned with. Especially
damaging is the criticism of Mr. Balfour's theory of authority. That
argument can be employed with effect only by one religious body, and
it is not that body of which Mr. Balfour is a member. And here we
venture to suggest to Mr. Cecil that it would be well were he to find
out, before the issue of a second edition, the meaning of the Roman
Catholic dogma of the Immaculate Conception, to which he more than
once alludes; he appears to be under the impression that the phrase is
equivalent to parthenogenesis.

_The New Saturday Review_, APRIL 17, 1897:

The book is only one of many evidences of the fact that it is quite
time the theologians recognised the real danger of their position, and
sent into the lists stronger champions than those we have been writing
about. It is little to the credit of the theological leaders that,
after first condemning Darwin and vilifying some of his supporters,
they should adopt his teaching only to misrepresent it, and to make a
sophistical use of that misrepresentation. Of what moment are all the
questions concerning ecclesiastical tradition and ritual in comparison
to the great question of the relation between science and religion
which is agitating the minds of those who will be the shapers and
formers of the next generation?

It is not the simple souls who find their modern gospel in Kidd's
"Social Evolution" or in Drummond's "Ascent of Man," good as those
simple souls are, that will make the dominant public opinion of the
next half century. Nor are the rank-and-file of the clergy--of all
denominations--in many instances qualified to engage effectively in
this controversy. Their pulpit science has long been a by-word. Unless
some defenders of the orthodox position abler than those that have yet
appeared can be found, the rationalists will be believed when they
boast, as our author does, that they hold a "fortress that is quite
impregnable." Pseudo-science and pseudo-philosophy are not science or
philosophy at all.

Our author's book will probably win its way into only a few of the
libraries of the orthodox. Rationalists will read it, and will find in
it only a vigorous statement of their own opinions. The proper use of
the book is to show the orthodox what they have to do, if they would
defend their position....

It is a challenge which would deserve attention if it stood alone.
But it does not stand alone; it is backed up by a great body of
philosophers and scientists and social reformers, and men of the
highest culture and noblest characters, as well as by a vast amount of
smouldering suspicion and distrust and doubt among the people.

_National Observer and British Review_, APRIL 17, 1897:

Portions of the author's criticisms are not only just, but valuable;
and when he is judicious enough to suppress his own personality, he can
often be read not only with assent, but with satisfaction. The chief
object of Mr. Cecil's antipathy is any attempt at reconciling positive
science with religion, whether the religion be Christianity, or merely
a natural theism; and, as types of the methods by which the attempt is
now being made, he takes the arguments of three modern apologists--Mr.
Kidd, Mr. Drummond, and Mr. Arthur Balfour. He takes these in order.
The first section of his work is a criticism of "Social Evolution";
the second of "The Ascent of Man"; the third, of "The Foundations
of Belief." In completely discrediting the two first of these three
works, Mr. Cecil's task has been easy, and he has shown considerable
skill in accomplishing it. If we take Mr. Kidd's "Social Evolution"
as it stands, it is difficult to imagine a more signal monument of
self-deception; and when we recollect the avidity with which a large
section of the public devoured the volume, and allowed themselves to
be deceived with the author, we feel that such a fallacious guide
can hardly be too trenchantly exposed. Mr. Cecil contrives, with the
adroitness of a sharp solicitor, to collect and place side by side a
number of Mr. Kidd's self-contradictions, and shows that his argument,
taken as a whole, falls to pieces at one touch of serious criticism. He
shows also that Mr. Kidd's history is as childish and imperfect as his

... But, in spite of these omissions, he has said quite enough to
discredit effectually what would rank as the most remarkable specimen
of contemporary pseudo-philosophy, if it were not for a specimen
produced by a Scottish writer, who has distanced altogether the
fallacies of his English rival. This last is Mr. Drummond's "Ascent
of Man;" and it is in his criticism of this that Mr. Cecil shows
himself at his best. Had he only been less destitute of the rudiments
of good behaviour and good feeling, we should have had little but
commendation to bestow on the manner in which he exposes Mr. Drummond's
absurd justifications of the ways of God to man, and the hopeless
inaccuracies of his theories as to altruism, and "the struggle for the
life of others." Few books in the long run do more harm than such books
as "The Ascent of Man." Instead of really reconciling religion and
science, they injure religion by making the attempt at reconciliation

_The Morning Leader_, MARCH 25, 1897:

Mr. Cecil is a born fighter. He attacks with courage and cunning and
resource, having at command a never-failing artillery of invective to
complete the havoc he works by means of his sapping and mining. This
latter plan of campaign he mercilessly pursues by quotation after
quotation from previous essays and pamphlets of his "irrationalist
trio," preparing his reader for the overthrow of the citadel by
showing how hollow and unsubstantial are the outworks. So savagely
complete, indeed is the attack that as one gazes upon the ruins of
Kidd, Drummond, and Balfour, a feeling of sympathy with the fallen
philosophers must take the place of joy in the whizzing of the
rationalist shells.

The method of attack adopted by this new and puissant slogger shows,
perhaps, a little too much contempt for the enemy, a little too much
confidence in the impregnability of the attacking party's position.
But, although the book may enrage the philosophic doubters, it is bound
to make a glorious show for the robuster members of the rationalist
party. The author's advice to the former is to "feed on the religious
novel of Mrs. Humphry Ward, the geology of Sir J. W. Dawson, the
apologetics of Mr. Gladstone, and the biographies of Jesus that are
said to be in preparation by Mr. Hall Caine, Mr. Ian Maclaren, and
Mr. Crockett--three gentlemen whose capacity for sentimental fiction
is the best guarantee of their fitness for such a task." Language
of this kind is distinctly provocative, but it may be found bracing
enough to the energetic rejector of scientific compromise. Whatever
"Pseudo-Philosophy" may lack in urbanity and serenity, no charge can
be brought against it on the score of dulness or stupidity. The book
is at once a brilliant and pitiless exposure of loose thinking, and a
literary entertainment of the richest kind.

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  | Transcriber's Note:                                              |
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  | Minor typographical errors have been corrected without note.     |
  |                                                                  |
  | Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained.            |
  |                                                                  |
  | Italicized words are surrounded by underline characters,         |
  | _like this_.                                                     |
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to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

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

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