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Civics: as Applied Sociology by Patrick Geddes

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_Civics: as Applied Sociology_

by Patrick Geddes

Read before the Sociological Society at a Meeting in the School of
Economics and Political Science (University of London), Clare Market,
W.C., at 5 p.m., on Monday, July 18th, 1904; the Rt. Hon. CHARLES BOOTH,
F.R.S., in the Chair.


This department of sociological studies should evidently be, as far as
possible, concrete in treatment. If it is to appeal to practical men and
civic workers, it is important that the methods advocated for the
systematic study of cities, and as underlying fruitful action, be not
merely the product of the study, but rather be those which may be
acquired in course of local observation and practical effort. My problem
is thus to outline such general ideas as may naturally crystallise from
the experience of any moderately-travelled observer of varied interests;
so that his observation of city after city, now panoramic and
impressionist, again detailed, should gradually develop towards an
orderly Regional Survey. This point of view has next to be correlated
with the corresponding practical experience, that which may be acquired
through some varied experiences of citizenship, and thence rise toward a
larger and more orderly conception of civic action--as Regional Service.
In a word, then, Applied Sociology in general, or [Page: 104] Civics, as
one of its main departments, may be defined as the application of Social
Survey to Social Service.

In this complex field of study as in simpler preliminary ones, our
everyday experiences and commonsense interpretations gradually become
more systematic, that is, begin to assume a scientific character; while
our activities, in becoming more orderly and comprehensive, similarly
approximate towards art. Thus there is emerging more and more clearly
for sociological studies in general, for their concrete fields of
application in city after city, the conception of a scientific centre of
observation and record on the one hand, and of a corresponding centre of
experimental endeavour on the other--in short of Sociological
Observatory and Sociological Laboratory, and of these as increasingly
co-ordinated. Indeed, is not such association of observations and
experiments, are not such institutions actually incipient here and
elsewhere? I need not multiply instances of the correlation of science
and art, as of chemistry with agriculture, or biology with medicine.
Yet, on the strictly sociological plane and in civic application they
are as yet less generally evident, though such obvious connections as
that of vital statistics with hygienic administration, that of
commercial statistics with politics, are becoming recognised by all. In
the paper with which this Society's work lately opened, the intimate
connection between a scientific demography and a practical eugenics has
been clearly set forth. But this study of the community in the aggregate
finds its natural parallel and complement in the study of the community
as an integrate, with material and immaterial structures and functions,
which we call the City. Correspondingly, the improvement of the
individuals of the community, which is the aim of eugenics, involves a
corresponding civic progress. Using (for the moment at least) a parallel
nomenclature, we see that the sociologist is concerned not only with
"demography" but with "politography," and that "eugenics" is inseparable
from "politogenics." For the struggle for existence, though observed
mainly from the side of its individuals by the demographer, is not only
an intra-civic but an inter-civic process; and if so, ameliorative
selection, now clearly sought for the individuals in detail as eugenics,
is inseparable from a corresponding civic art--a literal


Coming to concrete Civic Survey, where shall we begin? Not only in
variety and magnitude of civic activities, but, thanks especially to the
work of Mr. Charles Booth and his collaborators in actual social survey
also, London may naturally claim pre-eminence. Yet even at best, does
not this vastest of world cities remain a less or more foggy labyrinth,
from which surrounding [Page: 105] regions with their smaller cities can
be but dimly descried, even with the best intentions of avoiding the
cheap generalisation of "the provinces"? For our more general and
comparative study, then, simpler beginnings are preferable. More
suitable, therefore, to our fundamental thesis--that no less definite
than the study of races and usages or languages, is that of the
groupings of men--is the clearer outlook, the more panoramic view of a
definite geographic region, such, for instance, as lies beneath us upon
a mountain holiday. Beneath vast hunting desolations lie the pastoral
hillsides, below these again scattered arable crofts and sparsely dotted
hamlets lead us to the small upland village of the main glen: from this
again one descends to the large and prosperous village of the foothills
and its railway terminus, where lowland and highland meet. East or west,
each mountain valley has its analogous terminal and initial village,
upon its fertile fan-shaped slope, and with its corresponding minor
market; while, central to the broad agricultural strath with its slow
meandering river, stands the prosperous market town, the road and
railway junction upon which all the various glen-villages converge. A
day's march further down, and at the convergence of several such
valleys, stands the larger county-town--in the region before me as I
write, one of added importance, since not only well nigh central to
Scotland, but as the tidal limit of a till lately navigable river.
Finally, at the mouth of its estuary, rises the smoke of a great
manufacturing city, a central world-market in its way. Such a river
system is, as geographer after geographer has pointed out, the essential
unit for the student of cities and civilisations. Hence this simple
geographical method of treatment must here be pled for as fundamental to
any really orderly and comparative treatment of our subject. By
descending from source to sea we follow the development of civilisation
from its simple origins to its complex resultants; nor can any element
of this be omitted. Were we to begin with the peasant hamlet as our
initial unit, and forget the hinterlands of pasture, forest, and chase
(an error to which the writer on cities is naturally prone), the
anthropologist would soon remind us that in forgetting the hunter, we
had omitted the essential germ of active militarism, and hence very
largely of aristocratic rule. Similarly, [Page: 106] in ignoring the
pastoral life, we should be losing sight of a main fount of spiritual
power, and this not only as regards the historic religions, but all
later culture elements also, from the poetic to the educational. In
short, then, it takes the whole region to make the city. As the river
carries down contributions from its whole course, so each complex
community, as we descend, is modified by its predecessors. The converse
is no doubt true also, but commonly in less degree.

In this way with the geographer we may rapidly review and extend our
knowledge of the grouping of cities. Such a survey of a series of our
own river-basins, say from Dee to Thames, and of a few leading
Continental ones, say the Rhine and Meuse, the Seine and Loire, the
Rhone, the Po, the Danube--and, if possible, in America also, at least
the Hudson and Mississippi--will be found the soundest of introductions
to the study of cities. The comparison of corresponding types at once
yields the conviction of broad general unity of development, structure,
and function. Thus, with Metschnikoff we recognise the succession of
potamic, thalassic, and oceanic civilisations; with Reclus we see the
regular distribution of minor and major towns to have been largely
influenced not only by geographical position but by convenient journey
distances. Again, we note how the exigencies of defence and of
government, the developments of religion, despite all historic
diversities, have been fundamentally the same. It is not, of course, to
be forgotten how government, commerce, communications, have
concentrated, altered or at least disguised the fundamental geographical
simplicity of this descending hierarchy from mountain-hamlet to
ocean-metropolis; but it is useful for the student constantly to recover
the elemental and naturalist-like point of view even in the greatest
cities. At times we all see London as still fundamentally an
agglomeration of villages, with their surviving patches of common,
around a mediaeval seaport; or we discern even in the utmost
magnificence of Paris, say its Place de l'Etoile, with its spread of
boulevards, but the hunter's tryst by the fallen tree, with its
radiating forest-rides, each literally arrow-straight. So the narrow
rectangular network of an American city is explicable only by the
unthinking persistence of the peasant thrift, which grudges good land to
[Page: 107] road-way, and is jealous of oblique short cuts. In short,
then, in what seems our most studied city planning, we are still
building from our inherited instincts like the bees. Our Civics is thus
still far from an Applied Sociology.


But a city is more than a place in space, it is a drama in time. Though
the claim of geography be fundamental our interest in the history of the
city is supremely greater; it is obviously no mere geographic
circumstances which developed one hill-fort in Judea, and another in
Attica, into world centres, to this day more deeply influential and
significant than are the vastest modern capitals. This very wealth of
historical interests and resources, the corresponding multiplicity of
specialisms, more than ever proves the need of some means by which to
group and classify them. Some panoramic simplification of our ideas of
history comparable to that of our geography, and if possible congruent
with this, is plainly what we want. Again the answer comes through
geography, though no longer in mere map or relief, but now in vertical
section--in the order of strata ascending from past to present, whether
we study rock-formations with the geologist, excavate more recent
accumulations with the archaeologist, or interpret ruins or monuments
with the historian. Though the primitive conditions we have above noted
with the physiographer remain apparent, indeed usually permanent, cities
have none the less their characteristic phases of historic development
decipherably superposed. Thus below even the characteristically
patriarchal civilisations, an earlier matriarchal order is often
becoming disclosed. Our interest in exploring some stately modern or
Renaissance city is constantly varied by finding some picturesque
mediaeval remnant; below this some fragment of Roman ruin; below this it
may be some barbarian fort or mound. Hence the fascinating interest of
travel, which compels us ever to begin our survey anew. Starting with
the same river-basin as before, the geographic panorama now gains a new
and deeper interest. Primitive centres long forgotten start into life;
pre-historic tumuli give up their dead; to the stone circles the [Page:
108] worshippers return; the British and the Roman camps again fill with
armed men, and beside the prosaic market town arises a shadowy Arthurian
capital. Next, some moment-centuries later, a usurper's tower rises and
falls; the mediaeval abbey, the great castles, have their day; with the
Reformation and the Renaissance the towns again are transformed; and
yet more thoroughly than ever by the Industrial Revolution, with its
factories, railways, steamships, and all that they bring with them.
Thus, for instance, almost more important than the internal
transformation and concentration wrought by railway and telegraph, is
the selection, amidst the almost innumerable seaports of the older
order, of the very few adapted to the deep draught of modern ships. In a
word, not only does the main series of active cities display traces of
all the past phases of evolution, but beside this lie fossils, or linger
survivals, of almost every preceding phase.

Hence, after many years of experiment and practice in teaching sociology
I still find no better method available than that of regional survey,
historical as well as geographical. Beginning with some popular
excursion of obvious beauty and romantic interest like that to Melrose,
we see with every tourist how naturally and fully the atmosphere and
tradition of the Border found its expression and world influence in Sir
Walter Scott. Thence, passing by way of contrast through the long
isolated peninsula of Fife, say to representative towns like Kirkcaldy
and Largo, we still see the conditions of that individualism of which
Adam Smith and Alexander Selkirk ("Robinson Crusoe") have each in his
way become the very prototypes. In such ways the connection of regional
geography, history, and social psychology becomes increasingly clear.
Again, we explore the other old Fife seaports, a series of survivals
like those of the Zuyder Zee, or again work out in the field the
significance of Stirling, so often the strategic centre of Scotland.
Again, Dunfermline, as early mediaeval capital and abbey, furnishes a
convenient object lesson preparatory to the study of the larger
Edinburgh. Here, again, its triple centre, in the port of Leith, the
Royal Castle, the Abbey of Holyrood, are the respective analogues of the
port of London, the Tower, and Westminster; while each city-group has
its outlying circle of minor burghs, tardily and imperfectly
incorporated into a civic whole. Again, such a marked contrast of civic
origins and developments as those of Glasgow and Edinburgh has to be
accounted for; and thus through such progessively complexer surveys we
reach the plane of modern civic problems and policies. Understanding the
present as the development of the past, are we not preparing also to
understand the future as the development of the present?

The impressiveness of the aspect of Edinburgh to its visitors is thus
not [Page: 109] merely pictorial. Be the spectator conscious of this or
no, it turns primarily upon the contrast of the mediaeval hill-city with
its castle ramparts, its fretted cathedral crown, with park and
boulevard, with shops, hotels and railway stations. But the historic
panorama is unusually complete. See the hill-fort defended by lake and
forest, becoming "_castrum puellarum_," becoming a Roman and an
Arthurian citadel, a mediaeval stronghold of innumerable sieges, a
centre of autocratic and military dictatures, oligarchic governments, at
length a museum of the past. So in the city itself. Here the narrow
ridge crowded into a single street all the essential organs of a
capital, and still presents with the rarest completeness of
concentration a conspectus of modern civic life and development; and
this alike as regards both spiritual and temporal powers, using these
terms in their broadest senses as the respective expressions of the
material order and its immaterial counterparts. Thus the royal and noble
castles of the Middle Age become with the Renaissance here as everywhere
something of palaces, while with the industrial revolution they have
become replaced by factories or transformed into breweries. So the
guidance of speculative thought, once concentrated in the mediaeval
abbey, becomes transferred to the Reformation assembly of divines, to
the Renaissance college; and again at the Revolution, is largely taken
over by the speculative encyclopaedists, of whom Hume and Smith were but
the most eminent. Nor are later developments less obvious. Of the
following generation, we have the neo-classic architecture which
everywhere dominated Europe after the French Revolution and during the
First Empire, while of the next generation's reaction against all this
in the romantic movement, the neo-Gothic monument of Scott is the most
characteristic possible representative. Again, just as in the Oxford
movement we had the (appropriately regional) renascence of the idealism
of the Cavaliers, so in Edinburgh we have naturally the simultaneous
renascence of the Puritan ideal, e.g., in the Free Church, whose
monument accordingly rises to dominate the city in its turn. The later
period of prosperous Liberalism, the heroic enthusiasms of Empire, have
each left their mark; and now in the dominant phase of social evolution,
that of Finance, the banks, the financial companies, the press are
having their turn as monument builders. Our Old Edinburgh is thus the
most condensed example, the visible microcosm of the social evolution
which is manifest everywhere; so that as a teaching model of
sociological development it may renew its educational attractiveness
when its improving hygiene has lessened its medical advantages.

Setting down now these phases of historical development in tabular form,
we have a diagram such as the following:--

Primitive | Matri- | Patri- | Greek | Mediaeval | Renaissance | Revolution | Empire | Finance | ? ? ?
| archal | archal | and | | | | | |
| | | Roman | | | | | |

which, were it placed erect, we might now compare to the increasing
[Page: 110] nodes of a growing stem, or rather say the layers of a coral
reef, in which each generation constructs its characteristic stony
skeleton as a contribution to the growing yet dying and wearying whole.
I have elaborated this example of the panoramic aspect of Old Edinburgh
as a widely familiar instance of the method of literal survey with which
social and civic studies may so conveniently begin; and I press the
value of extending these even to the utmost elaborateness of
photographic survey: in my view, indeed, a sociological society has at
least as much use for a collection of maps, plans and photographs as of
statistics, indeed scarcely less than one of books. Of course, in all
this I am but recalling what every tourist in some measure knows; yet
his impressions and recollections can become an orderly politography,
only as he sees each city in terms of its characteristic social
formations, and as he utilises the best examples from each phase towards
building up a complete picture of the greatest products of civic
evolution, temporal and spiritual, of all places and times up to the
present. Such a parallel of the historic survey of the city to that of
its underlying geological area is thus in no wise a metaphoric one, but
one which may be worked out upon maps sections and diagrams almost
completely in the same way--in fact, with little change save that of
colours and vertical scale. The attempt to express the characteristic
and essential life and thought of a given region in each period upon a
series of maps is in fact the best method of understanding the everyday
map at which we commonly look so unthinkingly.

Much of the preceding, I am assured, must be most unsatisfactory to
those who look at cities only from the standpoint of so many committees
dealing with police, water, finance, and so on; or to those who are
content to view the magnitude, the wealth and the population, the
industries and the manufactures of a great city without considering
whence these have come and whither they are leading; equally
unsatisfactory also, I fear, to those to whom civic dignities and
precedence, or the alternations of winning political colours, appear of
prime importance. I can only hope that some of these may, on
consideration, admit that the points of view I have endeavoured to
outline above may be worth some thought and study as elementary
preliminaries to their own more special and developed interests; and if
the society permit. I hope to approach these more closely in a later

[Page: 111] The abstract economist or legalist, the moral or political
philosopher may also resent the proposed mode of treatment as an attempt
to materialise sociology by reducing it to concrete terms alone. But I
would reply that observation, so far from excluding interpretation, is
just the very means of preparing for it. It is the observant naturalist,
the travelled zoologist and botanist, who later becomes the productive
writer on evolution. It is the historian who may best venture on into
the philosophy of history;--to think the reverse is to remain in the
pre-scientific order altogether: hence the construction of systems of
abstract and deductive economics, politics or morals, has really been
the last surviving effort of scholasticism. Viewed as Science, Civics is
that branch of Sociology which deals with Cities--their origin and
distribution; their development and structure; their functioning,
internal and external, material and psychological; their evolution,
individual and associated. Viewed again from the practical side, that of
applied science, Civics must develop through experimental endeavour into
the more and more effective Art of enhancing the life of the city and of
advancing its evolution. With the first of these lines of study, the
concretely scientific, our philosophical outlook will not fail to widen;
with the second, the practical, our ethical insight will not fail to
deepen also.

As primarily a student of living nature in evolution, I have naturally
approached the city from the side of its geographic and historic survey,
its environment and functional change; yet it is but a step from these
to the abstract interpretations of the economist or the politician, even
of philosopher and moralist. Again, since in everyday practice
co-ordinating the literal maps of each civic surveys with even more
concretely detailed plans as gardener and builder, I find less danger
than may at first appear of ignoring the legitimate demands of the
needed practical division of labour in the city's service. When the
first mutual unfamiliarity is got over, there is thus also a greatly
diminished distance between speculative thinkers and practical men, who
at present, in this country especially, stand almost unrelated: the
evolutionist student and worker thus begins to furnish the missing link
between them.


Leaving now the external survey of the city by help of its material
framework, its characteristic buildings and predominant styles, for the
deeper psychological survey of the citizens themselves, we may
conveniently begin with these also in their process of development--in
fact, our method compels us to this course. We enter then a school; and
if we bring fresh eyes we may soon be agreed that the extraordinary
babel of studies its time-table and curriculum reveal, is intelligible
from no single one of the various [Page: 112] geographic or historic
points of view we have traversed from mountain to sea, or from past to
present. But this unprecedented conflict of studies becomes at once
intelligible when viewed apart from any and every definite theory of
education yet promulgated by educationists, and even acquires a fresh
theory of its own--that of the attempted recapitulation of the survivals
of each and all preceding periods in their practical or speculative
aspects, particularly the later legends and literatures, their rituals
and codes. Thus, the inordinate specialisation upon arithmetic, the
exaggeration of all three R's, is plainly the survival of the demand for
cheap yet efficient clerks, characteristic of the recent and
contemporary financial period.

The ritual of examinations with its correlation of memorising and
muscular drill is similarly a development of the imperial order,
historically borrowed from the Napoleonic one; the chaotic "general
knowledge" is similarly a survival of the encyclopaedic period; that is,
of the French Revolution and the Liberal Movement generally; the Latin
grammar and verses are of course the survivals of the Renaissance, as
the precise fidelity to absurd spelling is the imitation of its proof
readers; the essay is the abridged form of the mediaeval disputation;
and only such genuine sympathy with Virgil or Tacitus, with Homer or
Plato as one in a thousand acquires, is truly Roman or Greek at all.
The religious instruction, however, re-interpreted by the mediaeval
Church or the Reformation, has still its strength in some of the best
elements of patriarchal literature; while the fairy tale, by which all
this superincumbent weight of learning is sometimes alleviated, is the
child's inheritance from the matriarchal order. Finally, the apple and
the ball, at the bottom of this whole burden of books, complete the
recapitulation; as the one, the raw fruit; the other, the ready missile,
of primeval man. Our child then is heir of all the ages more fully than
he or his teachers commonly realise. The struggle for mastery of the
schools is thus no temporary feud, but an unending battle; one destined
to increase rather than diminish; for in this there is the perpetual
clash of all the forces of good heredity and evil atavism, of all the
new variations also, healthy or diseases.


The city and its children thus historically present a thoroughly
parallel accumulation of survivals or recapitulations of the past in the
present. Few types nowadays are pure, that is, keep strictly to their
period; we are all more or less mixed and modernised. Still, whether by
temporal or spiritual compulsion, whether for the sake of bread or
honour, each mainly and practically stands by his order, and acts with
the social formation he belongs to. Thus now the question of the
practical civics, that is, of the applied sociology, of each individual,
each body or interests may be broadly defined; it is to emphasise his
particular historic type, his social formation and influence in the
civic whole, if not indeed to dominate this as far as may be. We are all
for progress, but we each define it in his own way. Hence one man of
industrial energy builds more factories or slums, another as naturally
more breweries to supply them; and in municipal or national council his
line of action, conscious or unconscious, remains congruent with these.
Representative government fails to yield all that its inventors hoped of
it, simply because it is so tolerably representative of its majorities;
and there is thus great truth in the common consolation that our
municipal governments, like larger ones, are seldom much worse than we
deserve. Each social formation, through each of its material activities,
exerts its influence upon the civic whole; and each of its ideas and
ideals wins also its place and power. At one time the legal and
punitive point of view, directing itself mainly to individual cases, or
the philanthropic, palliating sufferings, dispute the foremost places;
and now in their turn hygienic or educational endeavours arise, towards
treating causes instead of waiting for consequences. Such endeavours are
still undeniably too vague in thought, too crude in practice, and the
enthusiast of hygiene or education or temperance may have much to answer
for. But so, also, has he who stands outside of the actual civic field,
whether as philistine or aesthete, utopist or cynic, party politician or
"mug-wump." Between all these extremes it is for the united forces of
civic survey and civic service to find the middle course. [Page: 114] We
observe then in the actual city, as among its future citizens, that our
action is generally the attempt to mould both alike to some past or
passing social formation, and, therefore, usually towards the type to
which our interest and our survey incline, be this in our own city or
more probably in some earlier one. Even in the actual passing detail of
party politics we are often reminded how directly continuous are the
rivals with puritan London, with royalist Oxford; but still more is this
the case throughout the history of thought and action, and the intenser
the more plainly; for it is in his highest moments of conviction and
decision that the Puritan feels most in sympathy with the law or the
prophets of Jerusalem, the scholar with Athens; or that the man of
action--be he the first French republican or the latest
imperialist--most frankly draws his inspiration from the corresponding
developments of Paris. It is a commonplace of psychology that our
thought is and must be anthropomorphic; a commonplace of history that it
has been Hebraomorphic, Hellenomorphic, Latinomorphic, and so on by

This view has often been well worked out by the historian of inventions
and discoveries, of customs or laws, of policies or religions, as by the
historian of language or the fine arts. What we still commonly need,
however, is to carry this view clearly into our own city and its
institutions, its streets and schools and homes, until either in the
private spending or public voting of the smallest sum we know exactly
whether we are so far determining expenditure and influence towards
enlarging, say, the influence and example of renascent Florence in one
generation or of decadent Versailles in another. There is no danger of
awaking this consciousness too fully; for since we have ceased
consciously to cite and utilise the high examples of history we have
been the more faithfully, because sub-consciously and automatically,
continuing and extending later and lower developments.


Hence, after a Liberal and an Imperial generation, each happy in their
respective visions of wealth and expanding greatness [Page: 115], the
current renewal of civic interests naturally takes the form of an
awakening survey of our actual environment. First, a literal mapping of
its regional elements, and then an historic interpretation of
these--not, alas, merely or mainly in terms of the cities of sacred or
classic tradition, nor of the Mediaeval or Renaissance cities which
followed these, but as stupendous extensions of the mediaeval Ghetto, of
the Wapping Stairs, of the Lancashire factories and of the Black
Country, relieved by the coarse jollities of Restoration London, and
adorned for the most part, with debased survivals from the Italian and
the French Renaissance. There is thus no more question in our civic
discussions of "bringing in" or "leaving out" geography or history; we
have been too long unconscious of them, as was M. Jourdain of his
speaking in prose.

But what of the opening Future? May its coming social developments not
be discerned by the careful observer in germs and buds already formed or
forming, or deduced by the thinker from sociological principles? I
believe in large measure both; yet cannot within these limits attempt to
justify either. Enough for the present, if it be admitted that the
practical man in his thought and action in the present is mainly the as
yet too unconscious child of the past, and that in the city he is still
working within the grasp of natural conditions.

To realise the geographic and historic factors of our city's life is
thus the first step to comprehension of the present, one indispensable
to any attempt at the scientific forecast of the future, which must
avoid as far as it can the dangers of mere utopianism.


No discussion of the preliminaries and fundamentals of Civics can omit
some consideration of the vast and ever growing literature of cities.
But how are we to utilise this? How continue it? How co-ordinate it with
the needed independent and first-hand survey of city by city? And how
apply this whole knowledge of past and present towards civic action?

The answer must plainly be a concrete one. Every city [Page: 116]
however small, has already a copious literature of its topography and
history in the past; one, in fact, so ample that its mere bibliography
may readily fill a goodly volume,[1] to which the specialist will long
be adding fresh entries. This mass of literature may next be viewed as
the material for a comprehensive monograph, well enriched with maps and
illustrations, such as many cities can boast; and this again may be
condensed into a guide-book. Guide-books have long been excellent in
their descriptive and historical detail, and are becoming increasingly
interpretative also, especially since Mr. Grant Allen transferred his
evolutionary insight and his expository clearness from natural to civic

[1] e.g., Erskine Beveridge, LL.D., Bibliography of
Dunfermline.--_Dunfermline, 1902._ 8vo.

After this general and preliminary survey of geographic environment and
historic development, there nowadays begins to appear the material of a
complementary and contemporary volume, the Social Survey proper. Towards
this, statistical materials are partly to be found amid parliamentary
and municipal reports and returns, economic journals and the like, but a
fresh and first-hand survey in detail is obviously necessary. In this
class of literature, Mr. Booth's monumental Survey of London, followed
by others, such as Mr. Rowntree's of York, have already been so widely
stimulating and suggestive that it may safely be predicted that before
many years the Social Survey of any given city will be as easily and
naturally obtainable as is at present its guide-book; and the
rationalised census of the present condition of its people, their
occupation and real wages, their family budget and culture-level, should
be as readily ascertainable from the one, as their antecedents
understood or their monuments visited by help of the other.

But these two volumes--"The City: Past and Present,"--are not enough. Is
not a third volume imaginable and possible, that of the opening Civic
Future? Having taken full note of places as they were and are, of things
as they have come about, and of people as they are--of their
occupations, families, and institutions, their ideas and ideals--may we
not to some extent discern, then patiently plan out, at length boldly
suggest, something of [Page: 117] their actual or potential development?
And may not, must not, such discernment, such planning, while primarily,
of course, for the immediate future, also take account of the remoter
and higher issues which a city's indefinitely long life and
correspondingly needed foresight and statesmanship involve? Such a
volume would thus differ widely from the traditional and contemporary
"literature of Utopias" in being regional instead of non-regional,
indeed ir-regional and so realisable, instead of being unrealisable and
unattainable altogether. The theme of such a volume would thus be to
indicate the practicable alternatives, and to select and to define from
these the lines of development of the legitimate _Eu-topia_ possible in
the given city, and characteristic of it; obviously, therefore, a very
different thing from a vague _Ou-topia_, concretely realisable nowhere.
Such abstract counsels of perfection as the descriptions of the ideal
city, from Augustine through More or Campanella and Bacon to Morris,
have been consolatory to many, to others inspiring. Still, a Utopia is
one thing, a plan for our city improvement is another.

Some concrete, if still fragmentary, materials towards such a volume
are, of course, to be found in all municipal offices, though scattered
between the offices of the city engineer and health officer, the
architect and park superintendent; while the private architect and
landscape gardener, the artist, sometimes even the municipal voters and
their representatives, may all have ideas of their own. But though our
cities are still as a whole planless, their growth as yet little better
than a mere casual accretion and agglomeration, if not a spreading
blight, American and German cities are now increasingly affording
examples of comprehensive design of extension and of internal
improvement. As a specific example of such an attempt towards the
improvement of a British city, one not indeed comprehending all aspects
of its life, but detailed and reasoned so far as it goes, and expressing
that continuity of past and present into future which has been above
argued for, I am permitted by the courtesy of the Carnegie Dunfermline
Trust to lay on the Society's library table an early copy of a recent
study of practicable possibilities in a city typically suitable for
consideration from the present standpoint, since presenting within a
moderate and readily intelligible [Page: 118] scale a very marked
combination of historic interests, and of contemporary and growing
activity, both industrial and cultural, with hopeful civic outlook.

That co-adjustment of social survey and social service which has been
above argued for as the essential idea of civics as applied sociology is
thus no abstract principle, but a concrete and practicable method. Yet
it is one not lacking in generality of application. For what we have
reached is really the conception of an _Encyclopaedia Civica_, to which
each city should contribute the Trilogy of its Past, its Present, and
its Future. Better far, as life transcends books, we may see, and yet
more, forsee, the growth of civic consciousness and conscience, the
awakening of citizenship towards civic renascence. All this the
production of such volumes would at one imply and inspire--life ever
producing its appropriate expression in literature, and literature
reacting upon the ennoblement of life.

Apart altogether from what may be the quality and defects of particular
volumes, such as those cited as examples of each part of such a proposed
civic trilogy, one as yet nowhere complete, the very conception of such
a possible threefold series may be of some service. For this would
present a continuous whole, at once sociological and civic--the views
and the resources of the scholar and the educationist with their
treasures of historic culture, of the man of action with his mastery of
immediate affairs, of the thinker with his vision of the opening future,
now all co-ordinated by help of the design of the artist, and thence to
be gradually realised in the growing heritage of the city, the enlarging
life of the citizen.

NOTE--As an example of the concrete application to a particular city, of
the sociological methods and principles indicated in the above paper,
Prof. Geddes exhibited an illustrated volume embodying the results of
his studies and designs towards the improvement of Dunfermline, under
the Trust recently established by Mr. Carnegie. This has since been

P. GEDDES. City Development. Park Gardens and Culture Institutes; a
Report to the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust. With 138 illustrations.
Edinburgh, etc.. 1904.

[Page: 119] DISCUSSION

The Chairman (MR. CHARLES BOOTH) in opening the discussion said:

The paper we have just heard read is one of the most complete and
charming papers on a great and interesting subject I have ever heard. I
think you will all agree in this, and I hope the discussion which
follows will emphasise and, if that is possible, add to the wealth of
ideas that this paper contains.

MR EBENEZER HOWARD (Founder of the Garden City Association) said:

I have read and re-read--in the proof forwarded to me--Professor Geddes'
wonderfully luminous and picturesque paper with much interest. He has
given us a graphic description of the geographic process which leads to
the development of the city. We see vividly the gradual stages by which
the city grows and swells, with the descent of the population from the
hillsides into the valleys, even as the river which flows through the
city is fed continually by the streams which flow down to it. But is
there not this essential difference between the gathering waters of
heaven, as they pour into the great city, and the gathering tide of
population, which follows the path of the waters? The waters flow
through the city on, on toward the mighty ocean, and are then gradually
gathered upward into the soft embraces of the clouds and wafted back
again to the hills, whence they flow down once more to the valleys. But
the living stream of men, women, and children flows from the
country-side and leaves it more and more bare of active, vigorous,
healthy life: it does not, like the waters, "return again to cover the
earth," but moves ever on to the great city, and from thence, at least
for the great majority, there is no chance of more than, at best, a very
short stay in the country. No: the tide flows resistlessly [Page: 120]
onward to make more crowded our overcrowded tenements, to enlarge our
overgrown cities, to cause suburb to spread beyond suburb, to submerge
more and more the beautiful fields and hilly slopes which used to lie
near the busy life of the people, to make the atmosphere more foul, and
the task of the social reformer more and yet more difficult.

But surely there must be a way, could we but discover it, of imitating
the skill and bountifulness of Nature, by creating channels through
which some of our population shall be attracted back to the fields; so
that there shall be a stream of population pouring from the city into
the country, till a healthy balance is restored, and we have solved the
twin problems of rural depopulation and of the overcrowded, overgrown

This brings me to the second branch of Prof. Geddes' paper, the
historical. The Professor reminds us how vestiges of one civilisation
lie super-imposed upon another, like geological strata, and asks.
"Understanding the present as the development of the past, are we not
preparing also to understand the future as the development of the
present?" Following this line of thought, I venture to suggest that
while the age in which we live is the age of the great,
closely-compacted, overcrowded city, there are already signs, for those
who can read them, of a coming change so great and so momentous that the
twentieth century will be known as the period of the great exodus, the
return to the land, the period when by a great and conscious effort a
new fabric of civilisation shall be reared by those who knew how to
apply the knowledge gained by "Social Survey to Social Service." What
are the signs? What words can we place under the head of "Incipient" in
Prof. Geddes' diagram? I would suggest, for one of Prof. Geddes'
interrogation marks might be substituted "Decentralisation of
Industry"--as a great, but yet incipient movement, represented by Port
Sunlight, Bournville, Garden City. For there are now many agencies at
work making for industrial decentralisation. Industries are being driven
out of the great towns by the excessive rents and rates which have to be
paid there--by the difficulty of obtaining adequate space for the modern
factory, a one-storey building; and for the homes of our workers, which
must be vastly different to what they now are if England is to maintain
her place among the nations. And while factories are being driven from
the city, they are also being attracted to the country by its
newly-discovered potentialities. Thus Messrs. Lever Brothers, crowded
out of Warrington, established an entirely new town on a new site at
Port Sunlight; and, because the site was new and raw, it was therefore
possible for Mr. Lever to plan his little town with a single eye to the
best and most desirable conditions, alike from an industrial and a
health and housing point of view. And the same is true of Bournville.
Bournville is one of the most beautiful villages in the world, largely
again because of the potentialities of a new site acquired for the
definite purpose of building thereon a village in which overcrowding
shall be deliberately and permanently prevented, [Page: 121] and in
which work inside the factory may be varied by work in the garden. Now
that these successful experiments have been carried out in this country,
is it not time that the idea of establishing new industries on new
sites, and of surrounding those industries with healthy homes, should be
carried forward on a larger scale, with wider and more concerted
aims--carried forward, too, in such a manner as to make it possible for
the small manufacturer to take part in a movement which has proved to be
so beneficial alike to employer and employed? It is out of this thought
that the Garden City idea has grown, an idea now in course of being
fulfilled. Three thousand eight hundred acres of land, or nearly ten
times the area of Bournville or Port Sunlight, have been acquired in
Hertfordshire, two miles west of the town of Hitchin, and on the branch
line of railway between that town and Cambridge. State aid has not been
sought; that would indeed be weary work. But a company has been formed,
through the untiring efforts of the Garden City Association; plans for
the town have been carefully prepared, plans which, of course, have
regard to the contours of the land (which were first taken, showing
every change of level of five feet), to the preservation of its natural
beauties--its trees and the picturesque villages of Norton and Willian;
to the necessity for railway sidings and railway station, now, thanks to
the Great Northern Railway, already provided; to the making of roads of
easy gradient and of suitable width, affording access to different parts
of the estate, actual work on which is progressing; the careful guarding
from contamination of our water supply, already proved to be abundant;
the provision of a reservoir of suitable elevation, now in course of
construction; a system of drainage, about to be started with; the
provision of parks and playgrounds within the town, as well as a wide
belt of agricultural land around it; sites for homes for 30,000 persons,
with good sized gardens. About six cottages have already been built, not
by the Company but by private enterprise, while many others are just
about to be started upon; the setting apart of sites for schools,
churches, and other public buildings, while plans are in preparation for
lighting the town, as well as for providing it with motive power.

The programme which I have sketched out is certainly not too bold or
comprehensive for the British race. If a hundredth part of the
organising skill which the Japanese and the Russians are showing in the
great war now in progress were shown by ourselves as citizens in our
great civil war against disease and dirt, poverty and overcrowding, we
could not only build many new cities on the best models, but could also
bring our old towns into line with the new and better order. Prof.
Geddes wishes well, I know, to the Garden City Association, a
propagandist body, and to its first child, the Garden City Company; and
I am sure you will all unite with me in the hope that the best and most
lasting success may crown the generous gift of Mr. Carnegie of L500,000
to the City of Dunfermline, and reward the efforts of the Trustees and
of Prof. Geddes to make, by the application of modern [Page: 122] skill,
science and art, the ancient city of Dunfermline a centre of sweetness
and light, stimulating us all to higher and yet higher efforts to secure
civic, national and imperial well-being.


Like most of the audience, doubtless, he came not to speak but to draw
ever fresh inspiration from Prof. Geddes. But there was one aspect of
the subject he would like to bring out and emphasise. He referred to the
sociological institute, which, under the name of the Outlook Tower, had
grown up in connection with the School of Sociology which Prof. Geddes
had founded and developed in Edinburgh. That institute was at once an
organisation for teaching and for research, for social education, and
for civic action. It was, in fact, a concrete and working application of
the principle indicated in the paper as the very foundation of
Civics--"social survey for social service." And, seeing that the Outlook
Tower was an institution designed in every respect for application to
any given locality, he urged the Sociological Society to advocate its
general extension, so that no region should be without its own
sociological institute or Outlook Tower.

If one individual could accomplish so much, what could not be
accomplished by the sociologists of our day who would concentrate
themselves, each on his own locality, not necessarily to do the work,
but to give the inspiration which would call out the work of collecting
just that material which Prof. Geddes suggested all through his paper
was one of the great needs of our time? And so one hoped that papers of
this kind would not merely lead to discussion, but to workers
accumulating results of this kind, giving the inspiration to others, and
thus laying up treasures for the sociologists of the future for their
interpretation. Thus, the Sociological Society should be not only the
one scientific society in constant touch with all the leading brains
over the country, but it should be an inspiration, as Prof. Geddes has
himself been, to groups of workers everywhere for just the kind of work
which the Sociological Society has been founded to develop.


I would first add my tribute to this extremely interesting and
stimulating paper. It recalled confabulations I had with Prof. Geddes,
many years ago, when he was first formulating in Edinburgh those ideas
which have since become so widely known. I would like, however, to
suggest a few criticisms. The paper is, broadly speaking, an application
of the view of a biologist to Sociology. It is not so much an
application of Darwin's view as that of Von Baer. Prof. Geddes has
characterised his paper as one of elementary preliminaries, but he has
really contributed a paper that [Page: 123] would form part of a
preliminary study in a series of studies in Sociology. The paper does
not quite bear out its title: "Civics: as Applied Sociology." The
application has not begun. The somewhat disparaging remarks on
encyclopaedias of general knowledge, further, might well be applied to
the scheme of an encyclopaedia of the natural history of every city and
every village as an original centre. This atomism will not help
Sociology. Had he to master all that, the sociologist's life would be a
burden not to be borne, and we would never get to applied sociology at
all. There is a danger, too, in following this line, of fastening
attention on one stage of evolution and leaving it there. The true
principle is that evolution is eternal and continuous; and I think harm
may be done, possibly, when you take, say, the phenomenon of the
communication of general knowledge in schools and call it a derivation
from the French _Encyclopedie_. Why leave it there? Where did that come
from? If you are going to trace the simple evolution of civic forms, if
you are to trace how they have come about, it will not do to stick at a
given point. This is a survival of that. That is a survival of something
else. The French _Encyclopedie_ will have to be traced back to the
encyclopaedia of the mediaeval period; and even to the still earlier
period of Isidore of Seville. Then again, there is a danger, I think,
analogous to the danger met with in early botany--the danger of
confusing a resemblance with a relationship. It is extremely interesting
to speculate that the Place de l'Etoile is an evolution from the plan of
the game-forest, with its shooting avenues radiating from a centre, but
it would be difficult to show that there is any historical connection.
The thing is not proved.

Of course, the vital question is not this tracing of evolution. The
question is: Is "Civics" to be only the study of forms? If so, Sociology
is a dead science, and will effect little practical good until it is
vivified by such suggestions as Mr. Crane has put in his paper. Mr.
Walter Crane brought in a vital question when he said: "How are you
going to modify the values of your civic life unless you grapple with
political problems?" I am not forgetting that Prof. Geddes promises to
deal in another paper with the civics of the future; but I insist that
it will have to grapple with political questions. As he says, a city is
not a place, but "a drama in time." The question for the sociological
student of history is: How has this inequality of wealth and of service
arisen, and how is it to be prevented in the future? That is the problem
we have to study if we wish to make sociology a vital interest. A
definition of progress is really the first step in sociology. Prof.
Geddes' next paper should give us a definition of progress, and it is
better that we begin to fight over a definition of progress, in order to
get a dynamic agreement, than that we should multiply the archaeological
study of many towns. I admit that it is very interesting. In travelling
in South Africa, I often tried to gather how communities began; what,
for example, was the nucleus of this or that village. It was surprising
how very few had an idea of any nucleus at all. I deprecate the idea,
however, that [Page: 124] we are all to amass an enormous accumulation
of such researches. Mr. Booth's single compilation for London is a study
for years; but Mr. Booth's admirable investigation of the difficulties
of life among the poor of London does not of itself give any new impulse
to the solution of the problem of London. It merely gives exact
knowledge in place of general knowledge. The problem of sociology arose
on the general knowledge. I fear lest the work of sociology should run
to an extension of this admirable study instead of to the stimulation of
action taken on that particular knowledge, or on more general knowledge.
We all knew there was plenty of poverty, and how it was caused. We all
had Ideals as to how it was to be got rid of in the future; but the
question is: Is the collection of detail or the prescription of social
method the kind of activity that the Sociological Society is to take up?


I am not sure that I agree with Mr. Robertson that it is desirable to
define either "progress" or "civilisation." On the whole, their chances
lie rather in the great variety of ideas of what constitutes them than
in any hard-and-fast notion of their meaning. They are generalisations
of what is, rather than an object towards which effort should tend. But
neither do I agree with Prof. Geddes' restriction of "civics" to the
mere outward part of municipal effort. In America the word "civics" is
applied to the rights and duties of citizens, and I should like to see
Prof. Geddes include in Civics the connection between citizen life and
the outward improvement of cities. I am sure, however, Professor Geddes,
as a practical man, will deal rather with realities than theoretical
views on the subject for which he has done so much himself. Edinburgh
owes more than many are willing to admit to Prof. Geddes. I think Ramsay
Lodge one of the greatest embellishments of the Castle Hill in
Edinburgh. I hope he will now be successful in doing something still
more admirable for my native town of Dunfermline. My friend Mr.
Carnegie, whose native town it also is, I believe intends to show by an
object lesson what can be done for all cities. Prof. Geddes is helping
him in this work with his suggestions. I hope they will be carried out.
In America there are several very beautiful cities. No one can ever
forget Washington, which is truly a garden city. No money is spared in
America to beautify and healthify (excuse the barbarism) the habitations
of the thousands. A beautiful city is an investment for health,
intellect, imagination. Genius all the world over is associated,
wherever it has been connected with cities, with beautiful cities. To
grow up among things of beauty ennobles the population. But I should
like to see Prof. Geddes extend his projects for Dunfermline to the
population itself. Most of you know what Mr. Henderson did to utilise
the Edinburgh [Page: 125] police in the care of children. The future of
the country depends upon them. The subject is too serious to continue to
be left to the haphazard mercies of indifferent parents. Every child
born is an agent for good or for evil among the community, and the
community cannot afford to neglect how it is brought up, the
circumstances in which it has its being, the environment from which it
derives its character and tendencies. Necessity may be the mother of
invention, but need of food and insufficient clothing develop in the
child an inventiveness that is not for the good of the community. It
seems a matter of too great an importance to be left even to private
initiative, as was done under Mr. Henderson's regime in Edinburgh; but
everywhere else, or nearly so, very little is done by even private
initiative for the protection of the children against their vicious
environment. In short, I do not think that civics, in the sense in which
my friend Prof. Geddes treats it, is a complete subject at all. Civics,
to my mind, includes everything that relates to the citizen. Everywhere
something is being done in one direction or another to make them
capable, prosperous, and happy. In America happiness is taught in the
schools. Every schoolmaster's and schoolmistress's first duty is to set
an example of a happy frame of mind; smiling and laughing are
encouraged, and it is not thought that the glum face is at all necessary
for the serious business of life. In fact, the glum face is a
disqualification; is associated with failure, and bad luck and
ill-nature. In Germany the schoolmaster is in the first place a trainer
of the body. One of his chief duties is to watch and prevent the
deterioration of the eyesight, to promote the development of the lungs,
to prevent spinal deviation. The second part of his business is to watch
over the character of the child, and only the third part is to ram
knowledge into the poor little mind. And wherever you go over the world
you will find something in the course of being done in civics, as I
understand the subject. I thank Prof. Geddes for what he is doing for
Dunfermline, and hope he will understand "progress" without requiring to
define it.


(Author of "_Aspects of Social Evolution_") said:

While agreeing with Prof. Geddes in his belief in the importance of
institutional and geographical studies as a basis for the investigation
of the development of cities, it yet seems to me that these studies
cannot prove of supreme value to society unless they are accompanied by
a detailed examination of the _natural_ characteristics of all
individuals who have been born into and existed in, or merely dwelt in,
these surroundings. It is not enough to trace out, however accurately,
the various stages of a town's growth from its commencement to the
present time, because _the cause_ of [Page: 126] the evolution of any
city aggregate lies deeper, is in large part animate, and not inanimate,
in character. The value of the surroundings depends at least as much
upon the capacity of the individual citizen, singly and collectively, to
utilise what he or she is brought in contact with as upon the
peculiarities of these surroundings themselves. Place, tradition, social
organisation, individual development, education, are factors in town
evolution that cannot safely be overlooked, and they all vary from age
to age and in place and place.

If it were possible to completely exchange the inhabitants of a large
town in England with those of an equally large town in France two groups
of changes would become more or less rapidly observable: (1) the French
and English citizens would adapt themselves, as far as they desired and
were able, to their altered conditions; (2) the characteristics of both
towns would gradually change, in spite of geographical position, in
response to the altered human needs. Similarly, a town composed of
individuals who are naturally uncultured and unprogressive will tend to
preserve its uncultured and unprogressive characters more than another
that has alert citizens to carry on its activities. Every profession and
every trade tends to foster its own social atmosphere; and towns will
vary with their industrial life, and individuals favourably disposed to
this atmosphere will come to the town, and those unfavourably inclined
to it will leave. _These changing citizens, as they act upon and react
to their surroundings and vary in their powers age by age, are the real
evolvers of the conditions in which they dwell_; hence the citizen must
not be omitted from our study if we are to understand city growth.

In other words, I think that every investigation of civic, and for that
matter country life should be studied from two aspects: (1) to note the
peculiarities, growth and development of the material, non-living and
non-thinking elements in the problem--the buildings, their geographical
position, their age, their fitness for past and present life, and the
distinctive local features that are evolving or retrogressing with the
multiplication of some trades and industries and the decline of others
in each area that is studied; (2) the change in the quality of the
citizens themselves through racial, educational, and other factors,
noting how far ideals are altering, not only in the mass of individuals
taken as a whole, but also by examining the changing outlook in every
trade and profession. With these two parallel lines of investigation to
study, we could then determine how far environment--social and
climatic--how far racial and individual characteristics have been
powerful in the moulding of the fabric around us.

With these two lines of study to our hands, we could predict the
vitality, the growing power, and the future possibilities of the social
life of which we are a tiny though not an insignificant part; we could,
knowing something of the response that we make to that which surrounds
us, form some estimate of how the future ages will develop, and, knowing
the [Page: 127] intensity of the different national desires for progress
_and the causes which are likely to arouse such desires_, we could
realise what will stimulate and what will retard all that is best in our
civic life.

PROFESSOR EARL BARNES (in moving a vote of thanks) said:

For years I have been accumulating a debt of obligation to Prof. Geddes
for ideas, suggestions, and large synthesis of life, and it gives me
special pleasure to voice the feeling of this meeting concerning the
paper read to us this afternoon. To me, as an American, it is especially
interesting to hear this presentation of life as an organic whole. Life
is but a period of education, and if there is nothing behind this
present moment of life it is all extremely insignificant. To an
American, who has lived at No. 1067 in 63rd Street, Philadelphia, and
at No. 1718 in G Street, in Washington, it is profoundly interesting to
think of the possibility of a man's so living that his whole existence
shall be significant, so that the realities of his world, geographical,
geological, and material, and all that long development of humanity
through the historic past--that all these things will be really and
truly significant to him. Prof. Geddes has himself shown us that is
possible. Any man who has gone to Edinburgh and seen the restoration of
the old life that has been carried out there under his hand knows it can
be done. I suppose we all came here to hear Professor Geddes speak on
practical affairs because his name is now connected with the plans for
making a city that shall be really expressive of all its potentialities
to all of its people. I am personally profoundly grateful to him for his
paper; and I move you that he be given a very hearty vote of thanks.

The Chairman. (MR. CHARLES BOOTH), in closing the discussion, said: I
myself entirely agree with what Mr Robertson has said as to the extreme
difficulty of bringing investigations of the kind referred to, to
practical conclusions--practical points. Practical work at present needs
the most attention. I perhaps am too old to do it, but I feel the
attraction of that kind of work, and that was one reason I was sorry Mr
Loch had to leave before we could hear what he might have to say. The
description I have given of London does seem to be a foggy labyrinth I
agree, but nevertheless I cannot but think that we do require a complete
conception if we are to do the definite work of putting different people
in their proper places in an organic whole, such as a city is. I do not
think we can do without it, and I regard the paper of this evening as an
important contribution [Page: 128] to that complete conception which I
feel we need. I should like each worker and thinker to have and to know
his place in the scheme of civic improvement; and I think it perfectly
possible for every man to know what it is that he is trying to do, what
contribution it is that he ought to give to that joint life which is
called here civics, which is the life of a city and the life in the
city. One man cannot possibly concentrate it all in himself. Within a
society such as the Sociological Society a general scheme is possible in
which each individual and each society shall play its acknowledged and
recognised part. It does not follow that the work done in one city can
apply as an example to another. Individuality has too strong a hold;
but each town may work out something for itself. I have been very much
interested in the work which Mr. Rowntree has done in York, on which he
was kind enough to consult me. He entered upon it on quite other grounds
from mine, but so far as the ground was common between him and me we
tried to have a common basis. Those of you who have not read Mr.
Horsfall's volumes on Manchester would do well to do so. Prof. Geddes
gave us a vivid picture of a larger regional unit which culminates
geographically in the city as industrial climax. In his particular
instance he referred, I take, to Dundee. In Dundee there is at this
moment an inquiry being started, and I am in communication with those
who are doing it, and I hope it will add something to the completeness
of the picture we have of that city. In Dundee they have excessive
difficulties in respect to crowding and female labour. What I suggested
was, that they should make a special study of such circumstances as are
special to Dundee. Labour there is very largely sack-making and jute
manufacture, and there is a great deal of girl labour; and that is one
of the special subjects that will be considered in that inquiry.

Then, with regard to the preservation of such of the natural beauties
that do remain even quite near to busy town centres, surely it is of the
greatest importance that they should be watched and protected and
preserved. Prof. Geddes has contributed a portion of his practical work
to that practical question at Dunfermline. His charming volume on
Dunfermline ("A Study in City Development") shows what beautiful
features there are near Dunfermline, and how much may be done to
preserve and improve them in ways that are most interesting to study.
His use of photography in this matter is extraordinarily successful.
Prof. Geddes has photographed a scene as it now is, with its background
and distance and its squalid foreground, already ruined by the debris of
the city--old tin pots and every [Page: 129] kind of rubbish--thrown
down by the side of the stream, which is naturally beautiful. By
manipulating the photographic plates he wipes out that which he does not
want and introduces other features, including a little waterfall; and
you have, instead of a miserable suburb, a dignified park. Well now,
that is practical work. It has in it that element which he has described
by a question-mark in his diagram, the element of forecast. You have the
same idea in Manchester, in Mr. Horsfall's work. They have laid out
their map of Manchester and shown in what way it may develop, so as not
to spoil the beauty that remains on two sides of Manchester. There is
really exquisitely beautiful natural scenery close to Manchester, which
may be entirely spoiled or preserved, according as a forecast is made
and forethought taken. This is not a question on which there is reason
to think that people will disagree. The difficulties are always supposed
to be financial. It is a sad thing that we should be so hampered by our
methods of finance that we throw away opportunities to retain these
actual beauties which undoubtedly add to the actual money value of a
district. I cannot suppose that the way in which cities are laid out
with narrow streets really results in an increase of value. The
surroundings of our cities are undeveloped estates, which we have only
to agree amongst ourselves how to lay out, and everybody would benefit
by such joint action. There is an excellent illustration in regard to
that in Mr. Horsfall's work in connection with Germany. It must be said
that from Germany there is a great deal to learn in civic matters. In
one of its towns the properties lie in extraordinarily long strips. It
is the final result of properties having been measured by the length of
the plough's run. When that method is applied to town sites, it is not
convenient for streets; and there are some quarters in this German town
ruined in this way, and the people have agreed together to improve
matters. Every owner is to be given credit for his share in the total
value of the improvement that is found to accrue from the re-arrangement
of these undesirable divisions, and any difference of opinion as to the
just share and proportion is to be referred to an impartial arbitrator.
All the owners will gain, though some a little more than others. That is
an example that we may do well to try and follow, and in some way or
other improve the money value, and social value, and hygienic value of
towns, and if necessary compel the carrying out of improvements when
some few might be disposed to hold out against them.


From PROF. BALDWIN BROWN (Professor of Fine Art in the University of

I am glad of this opportunity of saying how cordially I agree with the
method adopted by my friend Professor Geddes in dealing with the life of
cities. He treats the modern community and its material shell as things
of organic growth, with a past and a future as well as a present,
whereas we too often see these wider considerations ignored in favour of
some exigency of the moment. A historic British town has recently
furnished a striking object-lesson in this connection. The town
possesses portions of an ancient city wall and fosse that were made at a
time when the town was, for the moment, the most important in Great
Britain. Yet the Town Council, a year ago, destroyed part of this wall
and filled a section of the fosse for the purpose of providing a site
for a new elementary school. No doubt, in that school, books "approved
by the Department" will instruct scholars in the past history of the
burgh, but the living witness of that history must first of all be
carefully obliterated. All the rest of this ancient and historic
enceinte was condemned a few weeks ago to complete destruction, merely
on the plea that the site would be convenient for workmen's dwellings.
The monument has now been saved, but it has taken the whole country to
do it!

Here were chosen officials, governors of no mean city, absolutely
oblivious of these important interests committed to their care, and all
for want of having drilled into them these broader views which Professor
Geddes puts forward so well.

He has himself done practical work in Edinburgh on the lines he lays
down, and I have lately had occasion to note, and call attention to the
advantage to the city of much wise conservatism in regard to our older
buildings which he and his associates have shown.

In Edinburgh we have the advantage that our older monuments, [Page:
131] in which so much of the past life of the city is enshrined, are
firm and solid; and it takes some trouble to knock them down. Hence for
some time to come we shall preserve here object-lessons in civic
development that will be of interest to the country at large.

From MR. WALTER CRANE (President of Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society)

Professor Geddes' very interesting "Study in City Development" is highly
suggestive, and shows how great a difference thoughtful and tasteful
treatment might make in dealing with such problems. It is sad to think
of the opportunities wasted, and of the more ignorant and often too
hasty clearances for traffic which have often been apparently the sole
motives in city improvement. The conservation of historic buildings,
whenever possible, the planting of trees along our streets, the laying
out of gardens, the insistence upon a proportional amount of air and
open space to new buildings would go a long way towards making our
bricks-and-mortar joyless wildernesses into something human and

Whether, under favourable circumstances and the rare public spirit of
private owners, much can be done, or to any wide extent, so long as
absolute individual ownership in land and ground values is allowed,
seems to me very doubtful. We cannot hope to see great social
improvements without great economic changes, but every effort in the
direction of improving the beauty of our cities is welcome to all who
have the well-being of the community at heart; and such work as Prof.
Geddes is doing should arouse the keenest interest and the earnest
attention of all who realise its immense social importance.

From MR. J.H. HARLEY, M.A.

If sociology is ever to vindicate itself as an art, it must be able to
analyse and explain the present, and to some extent at least to cast the
horoscope of the future. It must feel its way through all the tangled
labyrinths of city life, and show us where we have arrived and whither
we are going. But this is exactly the part of Professor Geddes' Applied
Sociology where he becomes most vague and unsatisfactory. "Enough for
the present," we are told, "if it be admitted that the practical man in
his thought and action in the present is mainly as yet the too
unconscious child of the past, and that in the city he is still working
within the grasp of natural conditions." Now we must all be willing to
admit that the present is the child of the past, and that we cannot
adequately understand [Page: 132] the present until we have led up to
the present by the study of its antecedents more and less remote. But
what Professor Geddes fails to bring out is that it is only in the
present or the more immediate past that the City has really become a
City in the modern sense of the word. The City as City is a product of
the Industrial Revolution. Its huge and casual assemblages of human
life, its overcrowding, its poverty line, its East End and its West End,
its infantile mortality, its trades massed in their own particular
districts, it aliens, its criminals and its vices--all these problems of
social pathology arise from the fact that the conditions of modern
industry have brought people together who have few interests in common,
and who were compelled to arrange themselves in some kind of decent
order within a limited area, without sufficient time being given to
evolve a suitable environment, or to prepare themselves for the
environment which they actually found on every side of them. London in
the past, therefore, cannot help us so very much to solve the riddles of
London in the present, because London in the past had not developed
these social growths or offered a mature ground to those social
parasites which make us sometimes despair of being able to get much
insight into the London of the present.

The fact seems to be that Prof. Geddes conceives sociology too much as a
primary and too little as a secondary science. He defines applied
sociology as the application of social survey to social science, when
social ratiocination or social philosophy are needed before one can be
said to have gauged the extent of the influence which this comprehensive
science may have in our actual practice or on our Budget of the future.
No doubt, "observation, so far from excluding interpretation, is just
the very means of preparing for it," but this preparation must be made
in the various specialisms which make up the complete or encyclopaedic
science of sociology. To me it seems an unwarrantable narrowing of the
scope or significance of sociology to say that there is no better method
available of teaching it "than that of regional survey, historical as
well as geographical." Surely "regional survey" Is the appropriate
method in the very simplest and most concrete parts of the complete
science of sociology, and even when we come to history proper we must do
very much more than make a regional survey. It is very interesting, no
doubt, to "survey" history in the course of a summer ramble to the ruins
of some old monastery, but unless the monks had kept records of what had
been done there in bygone days, the mere outward survey will not carry
us further than Prof. Geddes is carried in the very general map which he
makes of the whole field of history. In other words, history, in any
proper sense, demands more than "survey" in Prof. Geddes' sense of the
word. It calls to its aid linguistics, criticism, archaeology,
jurisprudence, and politics--there must be comparison and criticism as
well as "survey." History is the laboratory in which the sociologist
sees his social experiments working out their [Page: 133] results, and
history is to the sociologist what experiment is to the physician, or
the comparative method to the biologist.

This being so, the scope of "civics" as "applied sociology" is immensely
widened. The present is the child of the past, but we see that it is
only in the present that such ancient groups as the colony of Hanseatic
merchants in Old London have shown us what has been the ultimate
significance of their embryological life. The modern city bristles with
sociological problems which demand a knowledge of most of the
specialisms included in the complete science of sociology, and almost
invite us to cast the horoscope of the future. We see, as Booth and
Rowntree saw before us, the poverty line like a fiery portent at every
point of our study, and we are led finally to ask ourselves whether M.
Arthur Bauer was not right in choosing the title "Les Classes Sociales"
as the most characteristic title he could give to his recent and most
suggestive analysis of the general characteristics of social life.


(President, Manchester Citizen's Association, &c.)

The teaching of the paper seems to me to be most sound and helpful. The
town of the future--I trust of the near future--must by means of its
schools, its museums, and galleries, its playgrounds, parks and
gymnasia, its baths, its wide tree-planted streets and the belt of
unspoilt country which must surround it, bring all its inhabitants in
some degree under the _best_ influences of all the regions and all the
stages of civilisation, the influences of which, but not the best
influences, contribute, and have contributed, to make our towns what
they are.


(Author of "_A Short History of Citizenship_")

The failures of democratic governments in the past have been
attributable, in part, to the lack of intelligence and
self-consciousness among the mass of those who were given a voice in the
government of their country. Citizenship, like morality, was allowed to
grow by instinct; it was never systematised as a science, or applied as
an art. Sparta and Athens approached towards a system of civics much
less elaborate than that expounded by Professor Geddes; but in Sparta
citizenship became inseparable from Nationalism, and in Athens it
scarcely rose above Municipalism. In more modern times, civic education
has had to encounter the same difficulty as in America, where the young
citizen's first duty is to salute his flag, and as in London, where
"Civics" is distributed in doles of local [Page: 134] history in which
the municipality plays a part altogether out of proportion to its
relation to the country, the age, and the world. Civics, as the applied
sociology of each individual and each body of interests, has but begun
to be dreamed of; and before it can be properly developed it is
desirable, if not necessary, that the general public should know
something more than at present both of the historic development of the
"civic" idea, and of the psychology of aggregations as differentiated
from the psychology of the individual. Not until we can make "the man in
the street" a conscious citizen, instead of a political automaton, shall
we be able to enlist his sympathies with "Civics"; and without those
sympathies the sociologist's "Civics" will, I fear, be but partial and


(H.M. Registration Examiner for East of Scotland).

There is an elusiveness here and there in this paper which has helped to
confirm me in the opinion that it is well to emphasise the fact that
Prof. Geddes is not only a dreamer of lofty dreams but a doer and a
practical initiator. He has expressed himself not only in words but in
art and in architecture, and in educational organisation; and he has in
many ways, sometimes indirectly, influenced scholastic and civic

If from the Outlook Tower he dreams of an idealised Edinburgh he has
only to reply to the scoffer who asks, "What have you done?"
"_Circumspice!_" There stand the settlements he initiated, the houses
beautiful, bright, delectable; and the tower itself is an embodiment of
his ideas, an encyclopaedia in stone and in storeys.

We must, in criticising this paper, take into account these attempts
towards realisation of its principles. The sociological evolutionist is
"concerned primarily with origins, but ultimately and supremely with
ideals," we were reminded in a recent paper read before this Society.
And in the same paper it was affirmed that, "through the formulation of
its larger generalisations as ideals, sociology may hope to achieve the
necessary return from theory to practice." Thus, if Civics is applied
Sociology, we must rest its claims on these criteria. What, then, we
have to ask is:--(1) What actually are the generalisations of the
present paper? (2) How far they are warranted by verifiable sociological
testimony, and (3) What results do they yield when transformed by the
touch of emotion into ideals of action? To attempt an adequate answer to
these questions would perhaps transcend the limits of this discussion.
But merely to raise these questions of presupposition should tend to
clarify the discussion. Coming to detail, I may say, as one whose
occupation is demographic, I regret the unavoidable briefness of the
reference in "Civics" to a "rationalised census of the present condition
of the people."

[Page: 135] No one, however, who has studied the concluding portion of
"The Evolution of Sex" can accuse Prof. Geddes of ignoring questions of
_population_; and his eulogium, written ten years ago, of "Mr. Charles
Booth as one of our own latest and best Economists," is familiar to all
readers of "Education for Economics and Citizenship." In that extremely
suggestive treatise, Prof. Geddes further points out that population
must have a primary place in consideration, and that "our studies of the
characteristic occupation of region by region are the essential material
of a study of its whole civilisation."

Accepting Mr. Branford's definition of _occupation_ as "any and every
form of human endeavour, past, present, and future," we see that
occupation must have a large place in the description, explanation, and
forecasting of the evolution of cities--such as Edinburgh, Glasgow,
Dundee--in the scheme of survey outlined so sweepingly in "Civics."

"Life and Labour of the People in London" contains several general
observations almost equally applicable to our largest Scottish cities,
with the demographic conditions of which my official duties give me
special opportunities for becoming familiar and for regional survey.

In the concluding volume of that great contribution to sociology Mr.
Booth (page 23) remarks:--

"Many influences conspire to cause the poor to multiply almost in
proportion to their poverty, and operate in the other direction in the
case of the better off, almost in proportion to their wealth. But," says
Mr. Booth, "when we bring the death-rate into account this law no longer

With the poor living under bad conditions in crowded homes the net
increase is diminished. To those of us who are hopeful of improvement by
eugenics it is pleasing to note that Mr. Booth--somewhat unlike Mr. Kidd
in his well-known "Social Evolution"--is optimistic in his conclusion
that "on the whole it may fairly be expected that concurrently with a
rising standard of health we may see a fall in birth-rate as well as
death-rate, and thus have no cause to fear, as the result of better
sanitation, that the largest natural increase in population will ever be
contributed by the lowest class." So the heritage of the city may grow
not only in quantity but also in quality.

(Professor in the University of Chicago, U.S.A.)

From the standpoint of its applicability to new countries like America,
Professor Geddes' programme is inadequate because of its failure to
recognise that a city under these conditions is formed by a rapid and
contemporaneous movement of population, and not by the lapse of time.
[Page: 136] The first permanent white settler came to Chicago precisely
one hundred years ago, and the city has a population at present of about
two and a quarter millions. It is here not a question of slow historic
development but of the rapid drifting towards a certain point, of a
population from all quarters of the globe, and the ethnological
standpoint therefore becomes of more importance than the historical.


I am sincerely glad to be able to express myself in substantial
agreement with the majority of my critics, only asking them in turn to
recognise that this is but the first half of my subject--an outline of
civics as in the first place a matter of science, a geographic and
historic survey of past conditions, a corresponding census of present
ones--here discussed and insisted on as affording the needful base for
their demands upon civics as an art, that of effective social service.

In this respect various critics have in fact anticipated large elements
of this future portion of my paper, so that in general views, at least,
critics and writer are not so far apart as would appear were the
preceding pages submitted as a comprehensive outline of the subject,
instead of as its scientific introduction merely.

Of criticisms strictly applicable to this paper as it stands, there are
really very few. I am confident that the chairman must be quite alone in
too modestly applying to his great work that description of London
itself, with which the paper (Section A, pp. 104-107) opens, since his
volumes offer really our first effective clue to the labyrinth, and his
method of intensive and specialised regional survey, the intensest
searchlight yet brought to bear upon it.

Taking, however, a concrete point of criticism, such as that of the
monumental planning of modern Paris as derived from forest rides, the
critic need only walk through any French forest, or even to consult a
Baedeker, or other guide-book, with its maps of any historic dwelling
and its surroundings, from Chantilly or Fontainebleau to minor ones, to
see that this plan, originally devised for the pleasure, success and
safety [Page: 137] of the hunt, and later adapted to domination and
defence, became next appreciated as affording the finest possible
perspectives of the palatially rebuilt chateau. So that it is not at all
a fantastic hypothesis, but an obvious and inevitable conclusion that
Napoleon's and Haussman's plans were not at all invented by them for
Paris, but were directly imitated from the familiar landscape
architecture of the preceding century, which again was but the simplest
development from the spacious forest rides of older hunting nobles, laid
out without any thought of the architectural and city developments they
were destined in later centuries to determine.

The citizen of Washington had till lately often forgotten that the
magnificent perspectives of his city are due to the French
landscape-architect (Major L'Enfant) whom Washington imported for the
express purpose of laying out his capital; yet it is no less clear that
this most magnificent of the New World city plans is derived from Old
World forest rides, than that its monumental edifices descend from
Renaissance and classic exemplars.

I plead indeed for such studies of the plans of any and every city from
the point of view of its natural development. The too purely abstract
and subjective sociology of the dwellers of great cities like London
would in this way be helped by the facts of their own topographic
history, already well known and clearly explained by geographer and
historian, towards again feeling with the naturalist that even the
modern city is but the most complex evolutionary expression and
development of the life of Nature.

This view I take to be indeed a commonplace in France; but I account for
its apparent unfamiliarity to English readers from the fact of our
scanty forests in this island being left practically wild, our nobles
not inhabiting them, but the cultivated pasture and arable regions
below--planting trees indeed, "plantations," but seldom woods, and
practically never forests at all. This again brings out the fact that
the French nobles, despite our urban associations with regard to them
have belonged far more than ours to the social formation and tradition
of the hunter--while ours, despite their love of sports, are yet
fundamentally squires, i.e., essentially and historically approximating
to the peasants of their villages. The bearing of all this upon their
respective history will be obvious. Here again we have the origins of
the vivid contrast of the English or so-called naturalistic style of
landscape-gardening with the more formal French tradition. Yet in a very
true sense we see the former to be even more highly artificial than the
latter. [Page: 138] The English citizen who may even admit this way of
looking at the contrasted city plans of London and Paris may fail,
unless he has appreciated the principle here involved, to see why London
and Paris houses are so different--the one separate and self-contained,
with its door undefended and open upon the street, while the normal
Parisian house is a populous, high-piled tenement around a central
court, with high _porte cochere_ closed by massive oaken doors and
guarded by an always vigilant and often surly _concierge_.

A moment of historical reflection suffices to see that the former is the
architecture of a long-settled agricultural place, with its spreading
undefended villages, in which each household had its separate dwelling,
the other a persistence of the Continental fortified city crowded within
its walls.

But beyond this we must see the earlier historic, the simpler geographic
origins of the French courtyard house as a defensible farmyard, of which
the ample space was needed nightly for defence against wild beasts, if
not also wilder men, against whom the _concierge_ is not only the
antique porter but the primitive sentinel.

I may seem unduly to labour such points, yet do so advisedly, in order
to emphasise and make clearer the essential thesis of this portion of my
paper--that every scientific survey involves a geographic and historic
exploration of origins, but that of the still unwritten chapter, that
the far-reaching forelook, idealistic yet also critical, which is
needful to any true and enduring contribution to social service, is
prepared for by habitually imaging the course of evolution in the past.

Speaking personally, as one whose leisure and practical life have alike
been largely spent in the study and the preservation of ancient
buildings, I may say that this has not been solely, or even essentially,
from an antiquarian interest in the historic past, but still more on
behalf of a practical interest--that of the idealistic, yet economic,
utilitarian, because educational and evolutionary, transformation of our
old cities--old Edinburgh, old Dunfermline, and the like--from their
present sordid unhygienic failure; and therefore industrial and
commercial insufficiency, towards a future equalling if not transcending
the recorded greatness of the civic past.

It has, therefore, been to lay the broadest possible basis of
evolutionary science, of geographic and historic fact, for what would
otherwise be open to ridicule as a Utopian hope, that of Civics as
Applied Social Art, that I have insisted at such length above upon
Civics as Applied Social Science.


_The Times_ (July 20, 1904) in a leading article, said:

In the paper read on Monday at a meeting of the Sociological Society by
Professor GEDDES--an abstract of which we print--are contained ideas of
practical value to be recommended to the study of ambitious
municipalities. This is the age of cities, and all the world is
city-building. Almost everywhere is a flow from the country town-ward.
China and India may be still, in the main, lands of villages. But the
West, Russia perhaps excepted, is more and more peopled by dwellers in
cities. In a dim sort of way many persons understand that the time has
come when art and skill and foresight should control what so far has
been left to chance to work out; that there should be a more orderly
conception of civic action; that there is a real art of city-making, and
that it behoves this generation to master and practise it. Professor
Geddes truly said the land is already full of preparation as to this
matter; the beginnings of a concrete art of city-making are visible at
various points. But our city rulers are often among the blindest to
these considerations; and nowhere probably is to be seen a municipality
fully and consistently alive to its duties in this respect. London may
be left out of the question. Still a province rather than a city in the
strict sense, wanting what, in the view of the early master of political
science, was an essential of the true city, that it could "easily be
overseen," with a vast floating population, it will be some time before
it can be dealt with as an organic whole. But the rulers of such
communities as Manchester and Newcastle and York ought long ago to have
realised, much more than has been done, that they are not so much brick
and mortar, so much rateable area, so many thousands of people
fortuitously brought together. They have all a regional environment of
their own which determined their origin and growth. They have all a rich
past, the monuments of which, generally to be found in abundance by
careful, reverent inquirers, ought to be preserved; a past which ought
to be known more or less to all the dwellers therein, and the knowledge
of which will make the present more interesting. Even when old buildings
have disappeared, ancient roads, pathways, and streets can be traced;
place names keep alive much history; and the natural features reveal to
the practised eye what must have been the look and condition of a town
in past ages. Professor Geddes gives a sketch of what he conceives the
vast and ever-growing literature of cities will one day be. Even if the
comprehensive monographs which he foreshadows are never [Page: 140]
written, it is not surely fanciful to expect that, with education
universal, almost every dweller in our old towns will acquire some sort
of that feeling with which a member of an ancient family looks upon its
ancestral house or lands--will, even without much reading, have some
sort of notion of his predecessors and a certain pride in his membership
of an ancient community. If he has not the good fortune to be a De Vere,
a De Bohun, a Howard, Mowbray or Cavendish, he may perhaps be a citizen
of a town which flourished when some of these families were unknown.

Such pride, or, as the lecturer preferred to term it, such "growth of
civic consciousness and conscience, the awakening of citizenship towards
civic renascence," will be the best security for a worthy city of the

Professor Geddes glanced at the opening civic future, "the remoter and
higher issues which a city's indefinitely long life and correspondingly
needed foresight and statesmanship involve," the possibilities which may
be easily realised if only there be true civic pride, foresight, and
unflagging pursuit of a reasonable ideal.... It remains to be seen what
our cities will become when for some generations the same spirit of
pride and reverence shown by old families as to their possessions has
presided over all civic changes and developments.... Ruskin somewhere
points out the mediaeval love of cities, unwholesome, dirty, and
forbidding though they were. He did not teach his generation that that
affection might with more reason attach to the modern city if its people
knew what it had been and steadily strove to make it better, if there
was in every large community patriotism and a polity.

DR. J.H. BRIDGES in _The Positivist Review_ (Sept., 1904), said: Under
the title, "Civics, as applied Sociology," Prof. Geddes read on July
18th a very interesting paper before the Sociological Society. The
importance of the subject will be contested by none. The method adopted
in handling it, being in many ways original, invites remark ...

What is wanted is first a survey of the facts to be dealt with--a
regional survey. This point of view has next to be correlated with
corresponding practical experience acquired by practical civic life, but
"aiming at a larger and more orderly conception of civic action."....
Students of Comte will not forget his well-known maxim, _Savoir pour
prevoir, afin de pourvoir_.

What is to be the area of survey? Prof. Geddes decides that the City may
be taken "as the integrate of study." Whether any modern towns, and, if
so, what, may be taken as integrates in the sense which would
undoubtedly apply to ancient Athens or to mediaeval Florence, may be
questioned; but it is too soon to interrupt our author.... Every one who
heard the lecturer must have been fascinated by his picture of a river
system which he takes for his unit of study; the high mountain tracts,
the pastoral hillsides, the hamlets and villages in the valleys, the
market town where the valleys meet, the convergence of the larger
valleys into a county town, finally, the great city where the river
meets the sea. The lecturer went on to advocate the systematic study of
some of the principal river-basins of the world for the purpose of
examining the laws which govern the grouping of cities. All would agree
that much instruction might be derived from such [Page: 141] a survey,
provided two dangers be avoided. One is the exaggeration of the
influence of the environment on the social organism, an error into which
the Le Play school have sometimes fallen; as when, for instance, it was
sought to explain Chinese civilisation by the rice-plant. The other
danger, which needs much care and thought to avoid, is the accumulation
of such a mass of irrelevant detail as renders (perhaps sometimes it is
intended to render) all generalisation impossible. Thinking men are at
last beginning to regard the accumulation of memoirs as one of the
principal obstacles to scientific progress. On the pretext of "more
evidence," conclusions are adjourned, not merely _sine die_, but _sine
spe diei_. Yet so long as man is man, he must, and will, have
conclusions; be they final or otherwise.

From the physiography of the city we pass to its history ...

In this part of his subject he has, as we all know, many precursors and
fellow-workers. The remarkable series, entitled "Historic Towns,"
instituted by Prof. Freeman, is known to most. The study of towns was
the life and soul of Mr. Green's historic labours. Eloquent and powerful
pictures of the great cities of the world fill the greater part of Mr.
Harrison's well-known volume, "The Meaning of History"; and the student
of universal history (a few of these, it may be hoped, are still left)
finds them very stimulating and helpful. The special note of Prof.
Geddes' method is that he does not limit himself to the greater cities,
but also, and perhaps by preference, deals with the smaller, and with
their physical environment; and, above all, that he attempts not merely
to observe closely and thoroughly, but to generalise as the result of
his observation. In biology, the study of any single organism, however
minute and accurate, could reveal no laws (i.e., no general facts) of
structure or function. As for instance, many forms of heart must be
examined before the laws governing blood-circulation could be revealed;
so here. Countless, indeed, are the forms of cities; even limiting our
field of observation to those that have grown up in the last century
they are numerous enough. Their differences and analogies would
doubtless repay analysis, always supposing that we are clear how far the
modern town, as contrasted with the mediaeval or Graeco-Roman city, can
usefully be treated as "an integrate." This raises large questions of
nation, of groups of nations, finally of Humanity, which cannot here be

Meantime, from the teacher's standpoint, there can be no question at
all, among those who look upon education as something more than a
commercial asset, as to the utility of looking on every old town, with
the neighbourhood around it, as a condensed record, here and there
perfect, elsewhere lamentably blotted, yet still a record, of the
history of our race. Historic memories survive in our villages far more
widely than is thought. The descendants of the man who found the body of
Rufus in the New Forest still live hard by. The builder whom the first
William set to build Corfe Castle was Stephen Mowlem; and the
Dorsetshire firm of Mowlem still pave London causeways. A poor woman in
a remote hamlet, untouched by tourist or guide-book, has shown me the
ash-tree under which Monmouth was seized after Sedgemoor; a Suffolk
peasant, equally innocent of book-knowledge, has pointed Out "Bloody
Mary's lane," through which that bugbear of Protestants passed three
hundred years before on her way to Framlingham. The abbey immortalised
in Carlyle's "Past and Present," and still the wonder of Eastern
England, is surrounded now by the same villages that Jocelyn tells us
of. The town named after St. Alban, with its memories of Cassivellaun
and Julius Caesar, of an old Roman city, of the Diocletian persecution,
of the great King Offa, founder of the abbey that was to become [Page:
142] at once a school of historical research, and our best epitome of
mediaeval architecture--all this, with the monument of the author of the
"Novum Organum" crowning the whole--sums up for us sixteen centuries of

Professor Geddes for more than twenty years has adopted this method of
teaching sociology in the open air; "in the field," as geologists would

This is much more than the study and the description of buildings and
places of historical interest. His aim is first to study the way in
which a city grows, always having due regard to its physical
environment; secondly, by comparing like with like, as a naturalist
compares the individuals of a species, or the species of a genus, to
throw light on the laws which govern civic development, and thus to help
forward and direct civic action.

All this is set forth with greater fulness in the Report which Professor
Geddes has been asked to write for the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust. The
purpose of the Report (printed, but not yet published) was to suggest
the way in which the revenue of the Trust, amounting to L25,000, should
be spent for the benefit of this ancient and historic town. The scheme,
with its many pictures, real and ideal, of workshops, parks,
culture-institutes--physical, artistic, and historical--will deeply
interest even those who reject much of it as Utopian. But it is at least
a Utopia specially adapted to a given place and time, one in which every
feature of landscape and history is made the most of, one in which a
beginning can be made at once, leaving room for further developments as
occasion may serve. Moreover, it is penetrated through and through with
the Republican ideal of bringing the highest truth within the reach of

Comte has pointed out, in the fifth chapter of his "General View of
Positivism," and elsewhere, that it is not enough to enunciate sound
principles of social renovation unless they can be rendered visible and
palpable. "The principal function of art," he says, "is to construct
types on the basis furnished by Science.... However perfectly the first
principles of social renovation may be elaborated by thinkers, they will
still not be sufficiently definite for the practical results.... But, at
the point where Philosophy must always leave a void, Art steps in, and
stimulates to practical action.... Hence, in the future, systematic
formation of Utopias will become habitual; on the distinct understanding
that as in every other branch of art, the ideal shall be kept in
subordination to the real."

Now, the Dunfermline Report is an admirable example of art thus allied
with science for social service. It is an ideal picture, strictly
adherent to local colour and conditions, of an ancient city prolonging
its vitality into the present and future by providing a very high form
of training for its citizens, a training not of intellect only, but of
the senses, of manual dexterity, of imagination, of Republican
sympathy--a training in which "laborious inacquaintance with dead
languages," infusing into the few touched by it a tincture of caste and
militarism, gives way to comprehensive study of the evolution of Man,
preparing the whole, and not a section merely, of the new generation for
social service.

Such a Utopia as this may be looked upon as fulfilling the true social
function of Art; standing midway between theory and practice; inspired
by thought, and stimulating action. Only the social artist has to look
to it that his thoughts be not merely true but adequate, lest he
degenerate into a mere decorator. How far will a series of "regional
surveys," like those of [Page: 143] Mr. Booth in London and Mr. Rowntree
in York, carry us! Not so far, I fear, as Professor Geddes seems to
hope. Cities in our modern life are organs inseparable from a larger
whole, the nation; and before the life of cities can be much changed, we
have to ask ourselves, What is the national life? What is its ethical
and religious standard? What is its practice as to the acquisition and
distribution of wealth? And, again, What is to be the intercourse of
nations? Is it to be war or peace?

Mr. Carnegie has given half a million for the benefit of a town of
30,000 inhabitants. Magnificent as the donation is, it is not too much;
not nearly enough, indeed, for the full realisation of Professor Geddes'
scheme. Still, wisely used, it might accomplish great results. What we
have recently sunk in the work of suppressing two free States in South
Africa would have made it possible to do for three hundred towns what
has been done for Dunfermline. Half of what we are now spending on our
army and navy would enable us to endow thirty more of such towns

Mr. ISRAEL ZANGWILL in _To-day_ (Aug. 10, 1904), said: The Sociological
Society is forging ahead at American speed; the professors jostle one
another, and Geddes treads on the heels of Galton. After "Eugenics," or
the Science of Good Births, comes "Civics," or the Science of Cities. In
the former Mr. Galton was developing an idea which was in the air, and
in Wells. In the latter Professor Geddes has struck out a more novel
line, and a still more novel nomenclature. Politography, Politogenics,
and Eu-Politogenics, likewise Hebraomorphic and Latinomorphic and
Eutopia--quite an opposite idea from Utopia--such are some of the
additions to the dictionary which the science of Civics carries in its
train. They are all excellent words--with the double-barrelled
exception--and still more excellent concepts. But I fancy the general
idea of them all could be conveyed to the man in the street under the
covering of "the human shell." This shell of ours is the city. It is the
protective crust we have built round ourselves. In a smaller sense our
house is our shell, but in a larger sense each house is only a lobe of
the complex and contorted whole. Geography shapes our shells from
without, and the spirit of our particular community shapes it from
within. History tells us how it has been shaped in the past, Art tells
us how it should be shaped in the future. Professor Geddes, in fact,
envisages our civic shell as becomes a brilliant biologist, who also
happens to be a man of historic imagination, ethical impulses, and
aesthetic perceptions. For the human shell is not merely geometrical and
architectural, like those of apian or beaverish communities; it holds
and expresses all those differences by which we are exalted above the
bee or the beaver. It is coloured with our emotions and ideals, and
contorted with all the spirals of our history. And all these
manifestations of humanity may be studied as systematically as those of
the lower orders of creation, which have till recently monopolised the
privilege of pin and label. The old lady who admired the benevolence of
Providence in always placing rivers by the side of large towns was only
expressing in an exaggerated way the general failure to think of Civics
scientifically. The geographers, in whom may be found the bases of the
science, have always pointed out that the river system is the essential
unit for investigation. From source to sea goes the line of evolution.
And yet even the peasant hamlet at the source depends, as [Page: 144]
Professor Geddes reminds us, on the hinterland of pasture, forest, and
chase; and the hunter is the germ of the soldier and the aristocrat. The
whole region contributes to the ultimate city, as the whole river to the
ultimate sea. The Professor says, justly enough, that we should try to
recover the elemental or naturalist point of view, even for the greatest
cities. He sees London as "fundamentally an agglomeration of villages
with their surviving patches of common around a mediaeval seaport." This
is accurate vision; but when he discerns "even in the utmost
magnificence of Paris, say, its Place de l'Etoile, its spread of
boulevards, but the hunter's tryst by the fallen tree, with its
radiating forest rides, each literally straight," I cannot help
suspecting the over-ingenuity of a prolific intellect. The view of
London as a growth from embryos, and the view of Paris as the outcome of
atavistic instinct, belong to different planes of scientific thinking.
That Haussmann in reconstructing Paris was merely an unconscious hunter
and woodlander, building as automatically as a bee, is a fantastic
hypothesis; since cities, if they are to be built on a plan at all,
cannot avoid some unifying geometrical pattern; and there are not very
many possibilities.... In the department of Eu-Politogenics we shall be
confronted with the problem of consciously overriding what evolution has
unconsciously evolved, and building towards a fairer future. No doubt
much of our creation will be imitation, and Professor Geddes is
particularly suggestive in bidding us, at least, to be aware which of
the tangled strands of influence we desire to follow; but a measure of
artistic free-will remains. With the development of a corporate
conscience we should be able to turn out far more satisfactory shells
than many that have blundered into being. "Garden City" is only a
particular application of the science of Civics....

Eu-Politogenics concerns itself, however, with more than the mere
configuration of our human shell. Its colour and the music it holds are
considerations no less important. But they are too important to touch at
the fag-end of an article. Professor Geddes must, however, be
congratulated on a stimulating paper, and upon his discovery of Eutopia.
For Eutopia (unlike Utopia, which is really Ou-topia, or no place) is
merely your own place perfected. And the duty of working towards its
perfection lies directly upon _you_. "Civics--as applied sociology"
comes to show you the way.



Read before the Sociological Society at a Meeting in the School of
Economics and Political Science (University of London), Clare Market,
W.C., on Monday, January 23rd, 1905, the Rt. Hon. CHARLES BOOTH, F.R.S.,
in the Chair.


To the previous discussion of this subject[2] the first portion of this
present title, "Civics as Concrete Sociology," would have been more
suitable than the second, (that of "Civics as Applied Sociology")
actually used. For its aim was essentially to plead for the concrete
survey and study of cities, their observation and interpretation on
lines essentially similar to those of the natural sciences. Since
Comte's demonstration of the necessity of the preliminary sciences to
social studies, and Spencer's development of this, still more since the
evolution theory has become generally recognised, no one disputes the
applicability of biology to [Page: 58] sociology. Many are, indeed,
vigorously applying the conceptions of life in evolution, in
geographical distribution and environment, in health and disease, to the
interpretations of the problems of the times; while with the
contemporary rise of eugenics to the first plane of interest, both
social and scientific, these lines of thought, bio-social and
bio-geographic, must needs be increasingly utilised and developed.

[2] "Sociological Papers," Vol 1., pp. 103-118.

But Comte and Spencer, with most other biologically-minded sociologists
have been more at home among biological generalisations and theories
than among the facts they arise from, and hence it is ever needful to
maintain and extend a first-hand contact with these. I seek, therefore,
to press home the idea that just as the biologist must earn his
generalisations through direct and first-hand acquaintance with nature,
so now must the sociologist work for his generalisations through a
period of kindred observation and analysis, both geographic and
historical; his "general laws" thus appearing anew as the abstract of
regional facts, after due comparison of these as between region and

May not much of the comparative sterility of post-Comtean (or at any
rate post-Spencerian) sociology, which is so commonly reproached to us,
and to which the difficult formation and slow growth of sociological
societies and schools is largely due, be thus explained? Is it not the
case that many able and persuasive writers, not only knowing the
results, but logically using the generalisations of Comte or Spencer, as
of old of Smith or now-a-days of List in the economic field, are yet
comparatively sterile of fresh contributions to thought, and still more
to action? In fact, must we not apply to much of the literature of
recent sociology, just as to traditional economics, the criticism of
Comte's well-known law of three states, and inquire if such writers,
while apparently upon the plane of generalised science, are not really
in large measure at least arrested upon Comte's "metaphysical stage,"
Mill's "abstractional" one?

Conversely, the revival of sociological interest in this country at
present is obviously very largely derived from fresh and freshening work
like that of Mr Francis Galton and of the Right Hon. Charles Booth
especially. For here in Mr. Galton's biometrics and eugenics is a return
to nature, a keen scrutiny of human beings, which is really an orderly
fruition of that of the same author's "Art of Travel." Similarly, Mr.
Booth's "Survey of London" is as truly a return to nature as was
Darwin's Voyage, or his yet more far-reaching studies in his garden and
farmyard at home. [Page: 59] Is it not the main support of the subtle
theorisings and far-stretched polemic of Prof. Weismann that he can
plague his adversaries with the small but literal and concrete mice and
hydroids and water fleas with which his theories began? And is it not
for a certain lack of such concrete matter of observation that the vast
systematisations of M. de Greef, or M. de Roberty, or the original and
ingenious readings of Prof. Simon Patten leave us too often unconvinced,
even if not sometimes without sufficiently definite understanding of
their meaning? The simplest of naturalists must feel that Comte or
Spencer, despite the frequently able use of the generalisations of
biology, themselves somewhat lacked the first-hand observation of the
city and community around them, and suffered thereby; this part of their
work obviously not being on a level with the historic interpretations of
the one or the psychological productivity of the other. And if, without
warlike intent, I may yet strike a conspicuous shield or two within
these friendly lists, is it not this one element of concrete observation
and illustration which is sometimes lacking to give its full effect to
the encyclopaedic learning and the sympathetic insight of one of our
recent papers, to the historic and poetic interpretations of another, or
to the masterly logic of a third?

Before the polemics of our educationists, the voluminous argumentation
and casuistic subtlety of our professors of economics and ethics, yet
more before the profound speculations of the epistemologists, the mere
naturalist observer can but feel abashed like the truant before his
schoolmasters; yet he is also not without a certain deep inward
conviction, born of experience, that his outdoor world is yet more real,
more vast, and more instructive than is theirs. And this impression
becomes strengthened, nay verified and established, when he sees that
the initiative thinkers from whom these claim to descend, have had in
each and every case no merely academic record, but also a first-hand
experience, an impulse and message from life and nature. Hence the
contributions of Locke, of Comenius, and of Rousseau. Hence the
Physiocrats found economics in peasant life; and thus too Adam Smith
renewed their science, with due academic logic, doubtless, but from his
experience of Glasgow and Kirkcaldy manufactures and trade. Even the
idealist Berkeley owed much of his theory to his iridescent tar-water;
while surely the greater ethicists are those who have not only been
dialecticians, but moral forces in the world of men.

In such ways, then, I would justify the thesis that civics is no
abstract study, but fundamentally a matter of concrete and descriptive
sociology--perhaps the greatest field of this. Next, that such orderly
study is in line with the preliminary sciences, and with the general
doctrine of evolution from simple to complex; and finally with the
general inquiry into the influence of geographical conditions on social
development. [Page: 60] In short, the student of civics must be first of
all an observer of cities; and, if so, of their origins and
developments, from the small and simple beginnings of which the tiniest
hamlet is but an arrested germ. The productive sociologist should thus
be of all investigators a wandering student _par excellence_; in the
first place, as far as possible, a literal tourist and traveller--and
this although like the homely Gilbert White or the world voyaging
Darwin, he may do his best work around his own home.


Hence our civic studies began (vol. 1, p. 105) with the survey of a
valley region inhabited by its characteristic types--hunter and
shepherd, peasant and fisher--each on his own level, each evolving or
degenerating within his own region. Hence the concrete picture of such a
typical valley section with its types of occupation cannot be brought
too clearly before our minds.[3]

[3] Fig. 1.

What now of the causes of progress or decay? Are not these first of all
the qualities and defects inherent in that particular social
formation?--though we must also consider how these different types act
and react, how they combine with, transform, subjugate, ruin or replace
each other in region after region. We thus re-interpret the vicissitudes
of history in more general terms, those of the differentiation, progress
or degeneracy of each occupational and social type, and the ascending
and descending oscillations of these types. In short, these occupational
struggles underlie and largely interpret even the conflict of races,

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