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Culture and Anarchy by Matthew Arnold

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This etext was produced by Alfred J. Drake, Ph.D.


Chapter Notes: I have indicated the author's notes with a superscript
asterisk *, my own substantive notes with a superscript + sign, and
my nonsubstantive notes with a superscript ± symbol.

Pagination: The text following a given page number in brackets marks
the beginning of that page, as in the following example: [22] This is
page twenty-two. [23] This is page twenty-three.


Preface: iii-lx
I: 1-50 (Sweetness and Light)
II: 51-92 (Doing as One Likes)
III: 93-141 (Barbarians, Philistines, Populace)
IV: 142-166 (Hebraism and Hellenism)
V: 166-197 (Porro Unum est Necessarium)
VI: 197-272 (Our Liberal Practitioners)

*Note: in the first edition, chapters are numbered only, not named.
I have added the third edition's titles for reference.



[iii] My foremost design in writing this Preface is to address a word
of exhortation to the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. In
the essay which follows, the reader will often find Bishop Wilson
quoted. To me and to the members of the Society for Promoting
Christian Knowledge his name and writings are still, no doubt,
familiar; but the world is fast going away from old-fashioned people
of his sort, and I learnt with consternation lately from a brilliant
and distinguished votary of the natural sciences, that he had never
so much as heard of Bishop Wilson, and that he imagined me to have
invented him. At a moment when the Courts of Law have just taken off
the embargo from the recreative religion furnished on Sundays by my
gifted acquaintance and others, and when St. Martin's Hall [iv] and
the Alhambra will soon be beginning again to resound with their
pulpit-eloquence, it distresses one to think that the new lights
should not only have, in general, a very low opinion of the preachers
of the old religion, but that they should have it without knowing the
best that these preachers can do. And that they are in this case is
owing in part, certainly, to the negligence of the Christian
Knowledge Society. In old times they used to print and spread abroad
Bishop Wilson's Maxims of Piety and Christianity; the copy of this
work which I use is one of their publications, bearing their imprint,
and bound in the well-known brown calf which they made familiar to
our childhood; but the date of my copy is 1812. I know of no copy
besides, and I believe the work is no longer one of those printed and
circulated by the Society. Hence the error, flattering, I own, to me
personally, yet in itself to be regretted, of the distinguished
physicist already mentioned.

But Bishop Wilson's Maxims deserve to be circulated as a religious
book, not only by comparison with the cartloads of rubbish circulated
at present under this designation, but for their own sake, and even
by comparison with the other works of the same [v] author. Over the
far better known Sacra Privata they have this advantage, that they
were prepared by him for his own private use, while the Sacra Privata
were prepared by him for the use of the public. The Maxims were
never meant to be printed, and have on that account, like a work of,
doubtless, far deeper emotion and power, the Meditations of Marcus
Aurelius, something peculiarly sincere and first-hand about them.
Some of the best things from the Maxims have passed into the Sacra
Privata; still, in the Maxims, we have them as they first arose; and
whereas, too, in the Sacra Privata the writer speaks very often as
one of the clergy, and as addressing the clergy, in the Maxims he
almost always speaks solely as a man. I am not saying a word against
the Sacra Privata, for which I have the highest respect; only the
Maxims seem to me a better and a more edifying book still. They
should be read, as Joubert says Nicole should be read, with a direct
aim at practice. The reader will leave on one side things which,
from the change of time and from the changed point of view which the
change of time inevitably brings with it, no longer suit him; enough
[vi] will remain to serve as a sample of the very best, perhaps,
which our nation and race can do in the way of religious writing.
Monsieur Michelet makes it a reproach to us that, in all the doubt as
to the real author of the Imitation, no one has ever dreamed of
ascribing that work to an Englishman. It is true, the Imitation
could not well have been written by an Englishman; the religious
delicacy and the profound asceticism of that admirable book are
hardly in our nature. This would be more of a reproach to us if in
poetry, which requires, no less than religion, a true delicacy of
spiritual perception, our race had not done such great things; and if
the Imitation, exquisite as it is, did not, as I have elsewhere
remarked, belong to a class of works in which the perfect balance of
human nature is lost, and which have therefore, as spiritual
productions, in their contents something excessive and morbid, in
their form something not thoroughly sound. On a lower range than the
Imitation, and awakening in our nature chords less poetical and
delicate, the Maxims of Bishop Wilson are, as a religious work, far
more solid. To the most sincere ardour and unction, Bishop Wilson
unites, in these Maxims, that downright honesty [vii] and plain good
sense which our English race has so powerfully applied to the divine
impossibilities of religion; by which it has brought religion so much
into practical life, and has done its allotted part in promoting upon
earth the kingdom of God. But with ardour and unction religion, as
we all know, may still be fanatical; with honesty and good sense, it
may still be prosaic; and the fruit of honesty and good sense united
with ardour and unction is often only a prosaic religion held
fanatically. Bishop Wilson's excellence lies in a balance of the
four qualities, and in a fulness and perfection of them, which makes
this untoward result impossible; his unction is so perfect, and in
such happy alliance with his good sense, that it becomes tenderness
and fervent charity; his good sense is so perfect and in such happy
alliance with his unction, that it becomes moderation and insight.
While, therefore, the type of religion exhibited in his Maxims is
English, it is yet a type of a far higher kind than is in general
reached by Bishop Wilson's countrymen; and yet, being English, it is
possible and attainable for them. And so I conclude as I began, by
saying that a work of this sort is one which the Society for
Promoting Christian [viii] Knowledge should not suffer to remain out
of print or out of currency.

To pass now to the matters canvassed in the following essay. The
whole scope of the essay is to recommend culture as the great help
out of our present difficulties; culture being a pursuit of our total
perfection by means of getting to know, on all the matters which most
concern us, the best which has been thought and said in the world,
and, through this knowledge, turning a stream of fresh and free
thought upon our stock notions and habits, which we now follow
staunchly but mechanically, vainly imagining that there is a virtue
in following them staunchly which makes up for the mischief of
following them mechanically. This, and this alone, is the scope of
the following essay. I say again here, what I have said in the pages
which follow, that from the faults and weaknesses of bookmen a notion
of something bookish, pedantic, and futile has got itself more or
less connected with the word culture, and that it is a pity we cannot
use a word more perfectly free from all shadow of reproach. And yet,
futile as are many bookmen, and helpless as books and reading often
prove for bringing nearer to perfection those who [ix] use them, one
must, I think, be struck more and more, the longer one lives, to find
how much, in our present society, a man's life of each day depends
for its solidity and value on whether he reads during that day, and,
far more still, on what he reads during it. More and more he who
examines himself will find the difference it makes to him, at the end
of any given day, whether or no he has pursued his avocations
throughout it without reading at all; and whether or no, having read
something, he has read the newspapers only. This, however, is a
matter for each man's private conscience and experience. If a man
without books or reading, or reading nothing but his letters and the
newspapers, gets nevertheless a fresh and free play of the best
thoughts upon his stock notions and habits, he has got culture. He
has got that for which we prize and recommend culture; he has got
that which at the present moment we seek culture that it may give us.
This inward operation is the very life and essence of culture, as we
conceive it.

Nevertheless, it is not easy so to frame one's discourse concerning
the operation of culture, as to avoid giving frequent occasion to a
misunderstanding whereby the essential inwardness of the [x]
operation is lost sight of. We are supposed, when we criticise by
the help of culture some imperfect doing or other, to have in our eye
some well-known rival plan of doing, which we want to serve and
recommend. Thus, for instance, because I have freely pointed out the
dangers and inconveniences to which our literature is exposed in the
absence of any centre of taste and authority like the French Academy,
it is constantly said that I want to introduce here in England an
institution like the French Academy. I have indeed expressly
declared that I wanted no such thing; but let us notice how it is
just our worship of machinery, and of external doing, which leads to
this charge being brought; and how the inwardness of culture makes us
seize, for watching and cure, the faults to which our want of an
Academy inclines us, and yet prevents us from trusting to an arm of
flesh, as the Puritans say,--from blindly flying to this outward
machinery of an Academy, in order to help ourselves. For the very
same culture and free inward play of thought which shows us how the
Corinthian style, or the whimsies about the One Primeval Language,
are generated and strengthened in the absence of an [xi] Academy,
shows us, too, how little any Academy, such as we should be likely to
get, would cure them. Every one who knows the characteristics of our
national life, and the tendencies so fully discussed in the following
pages, knows exactly what an English Academy would be like. One can
see the happy family in one's mind's eye as distinctly as if it was
already constituted. Lord Stanhope, the Bishop of Oxford, Mr.
Gladstone, the Dean of Westminster, Mr. Froude, Mr. Henry Reeve,--
everything which is influential, accomplished, and distinguished; and
then, some fine morning, a dissatisfaction of the public mind with
this brilliant and select coterie, a flight of Corinthian leading
articles, and an irruption of Mr. G. A. Sala. Clearly, this is not
what will do us good. The very same faults,--the want of
sensitiveness of intellectual conscience, the disbelief in right
reason, the dislike of authority,--which have hindered our having an
Academy and have worked injuriously in our literature, would also
hinder us from making our Academy, if we established it, one which
would really correct them. And culture, which shows us truly the
faults, shows us this also just as truly.

[xii] It is by a like sort of misunderstanding, again, that Mr. Oscar
Browning, one of the assistant-masters at Eton, takes up in the
Quarterly Review the cudgels for Eton, as if I had attacked Eton,
because I have said, in a book about foreign schools, that a man may
well prefer to teach his three or four hours a day without keeping a
boarding-house; and that there are great dangers in cramming little
boys of eight or ten and making them compete for an object of great
value to their parents; and, again, that the manufacture and supply
of school-books, in England, much needs regulation by some competent
authority. Mr. Oscar Browning gives us to understand that at Eton he
and others, with perfect satisfaction to themselves and the public,
combine the functions of teaching and of keeping a boarding-house;
that he knows excellent men (and, indeed, well he may, for a brother
of his own, I am told, is one of the best of them,) engaged in
preparing little boys for competitive examinations, and that the
result, as tested at Eton, gives perfect satisfaction. And as to
school-books he adds, finally, that Dr. William Smith, the learned
and distinguished editor of the Quarterly Review, is, as we all know,
[xiii] the compiler of school-books meritorious and many. This is
what Mr. Oscar Browning gives us to understand in the Quarterly
Review, and it is impossible not to read with pleasure what he says.
For what can give a finer example of that frankness and manly self-
confidence which our great public schools, and none of them so much
as Eton, are supposed to inspire, of that buoyant ease in holding up
one's head, speaking out what is in one's mind, and flinging off all
sheepishness and awkwardness, than to see an Eton assistant-master
offering in fact himself as evidence that to combine boarding-house-
keeping with teaching is a good thing, and his brother as evidence
that to train and race little boys for competitive examinations is a
good thing? Nay, and one sees that this frank-hearted Eton self-
confidence is contagious; for has not Mr. Oscar Browning managed to
fire Dr. William Smith (himself, no doubt, the modestest man alive,
and never trained at Eton) with the same spirit, and made him insert
in his own Review a puff, so to speak, of his own school-books,
declaring that they are (as they are) meritorious and many?
Nevertheless, Mr. Oscar Browning is wrong in [xiv] thinking that I
wished to run down Eton; and his repetition on behalf of Eton, with
this idea in his head, of the strains of his heroic ancestor,
Malvina's Oscar, as they are recorded by the family poet, Ossian, is
unnecessary. "The wild boar rushes over their tombs, but he does not
disturb their repose. They still love the sport of their youth, and
mount the wind with joy." All I meant to say was, that there were
unpleasantnesses in uniting the keeping a boarding-house with
teaching, and dangers in cramming and racing little boys for
competitive examinations, and charlatanism and extravagance in the
manufacture and supply of our school-books. But when Mr. Oscar
Browning tells us that all these have been happily got rid of in his
case, and his brother's case, and Dr. William Smith's case, then I
say that this is just what I wish, and I hope other people will
follow their good example. All I seek is that such blemishes should
not through any negligence, self-love, or want of due self-
examination, be suffered to continue.

Natural, as we have said, the sort of misunderstanding just noticed
is; yet our usefulness depends upon our being able to clear it away,
and to convince [xv] those who mechanically serve some stock notion
or operation, and thereby go astray, that it is not culture's work or
aim to give the victory to some rival fetish, but simply to turn a
free and fresh stream of thought upon the whole matter in question.
In a thing of more immediate interest, just now, than either of the
two we have mentioned, the like misunderstanding prevails; and until
it is dissipated, culture can do no good work in the matter. When we
criticise the present operation of disestablishing the Irish Church,
not by the power of reason and justice, but by the power of the
antipathy of the Protestant Nonconformists, English and Scotch, to
establishments, we are charged with being dreamers of dreams, which
the national will has rudely shattered, for endowing the religious
sects all round; or we are called enemies of the Nonconformists,
blind partisans of the Anglican Establishment. More than a few words
we must give to showing how erroneous are these charges; because if
they were true, we should be actually subverting our own design, and
playing false to that culture which it is our very purpose to

Certainly we are no enemies of the Nonconformists; [xvi] for, on the
contrary, what we aim at is their perfection. Culture, which is the
study of perfection, leads us, as we in the following pages have
shown, to conceive of true human perfection as a harmonious
perfection, developing all sides of our humanity; and as a general
perfection, developing all parts of our society. For if one member
suffer, the other members must suffer with it; and the fewer there
are that follow the true way of salvation the harder that way is to
find. And while the Nonconformists, the successors and
representatives of the Puritans, and like them staunchly walking by
the best light they have, make a large part of what is strongest and
most serious in this nation and therefore attract our respect and
interest, yet all that, in what follows, is said about Hebraism and
Hellenism, has for its main result to show how our Puritans, ancient
and modern, have not enough added to their care for walking staunchly
by the best light they have, a care that that light be not darkness;
how they have developed one side of their humanity at the expense of
all others, and have become incomplete and mutilated men in
consequence. Thus falling short of harmonious [xvii] perfection,
they fail to follow the true way of salvation. Therefore that way is
made the harder for others to find, general perfection is put further
off out of our reach, and the confusion and perplexity in which our
society now labours is increased by the Nonconformists rather than
diminished by them. So while we praise and esteem the zeal of the
Nonconformists in walking staunchly by the best light they have, and
desire to take no whit from it, we seek to add to this what we call
sweetness and light, and develope their full humanity more perfectly;
and to seek this is certainly not to be the enemy of the

But now, with these ideas in our head, we come across the present
operation for disestablishing the Irish Church by the power of the
Nonconformists' antipathy to religious establishments and endowments.
And we see Liberal statesmen, for whose purpose this antipathy
happens to be convenient, flattering it all they can; saying that
though they have no intention of laying hands on an Establishment
which is efficient and popular, like the Anglican Establishment here
in England, yet it is in the abstract a fine and good thing that
religion should [xviii] be left to the voluntary support of its
promoters, and should thus gain in energy and independence; and Mr.
Gladstone has no words strong enough to express his admiration of the
refusal of State-aid by the Irish Roman Catholics, who have never yet
been seriously asked to accept it, but who would a good deal
embarrass him if they demanded it. And we see philosophical
politicians, with a turn for swimming with the stream, like Mr.
Baxter or Mr. Charles Buxton, and philosophical divines with the same
turn, like the Dean of Canterbury, seeking to give a sort of grand
stamp of generality and solemnity to this antipathy of the
Nonconformists, and to dress it out as a law of human progress in the
future. Now, nothing can be pleasanter than swimming with the
stream; and we might gladly, if we could, try in our unsystematic way
to help Mr. Baxter, and Mr. Charles Buxton, and the Dean of
Canterbury, in their labours at once philosophical and popular. But
we have got fixed in our minds that a more full and harmonious
development of their humanity is what the Nonconformists most want,
that narrowness, one-sidedness, and incompleteness is what they most
suffer from; [xix] in a word, that in what we call provinciality they
abound, but in what we may call totality they fall short.

And they fall short more than the members of Establishments. The
great works by which, not only in literature, art, and science
generally, but in religion itself, the human spirit has manifested
its approaches to totality, and a full, harmonious perfection, and by
which it stimulates and helps forward the world's general perfection,
come, not from Nonconformists, but from men who either belong to
Establishments or have been trained in them. A Nonconformist
minister, the Rev. Edward White, who has lately written a temperate
and well-reasoned pamphlet against Church Establishments, says that
"the unendowed and unestablished communities of England exert full as
much moral and ennobling influence upon the conduct of statesmen as
that Church which is both established and endowed." That depends upon
what one means by moral and ennobling influence. The believer in
machinery may think that to get a Government to abolish Church-rates
or to legalise marriage with a deceased wife's sister is to exert a
moral and ennobling influence [xx] upon Government. But a lover of
perfection, who looks to inward ripeness for the true springs of
conduct, will surely think that as Shakspeare has done more for the
inward ripeness of our statesmen than Dr. Watts, and has, therefore,
done more to moralise and ennoble them, so an Establishment which has
produced Hooker, Barrow, Butler, has done more to moralise and
ennoble English statesmen and their conduct than communities which
have produced the Nonconformist divines. The fruitful men of English
Puritanism and Nonconformity are men who were trained within the pale
of the Establishment,--Milton, Baxter, Wesley. A generation or two
outside the Establishment, and Puritanism produces men of national
mark no more. With the same doctrine and discipline, men of national
mark are produced in Scotland; but in an Establishment. With the
same doctrine and discipline, men of national and even European mark
are produced in Germany, Switzerland, France; but in Establishments.
Only two religious disciplines seem exempted; or comparatively
exempted, from the operation of the law which seems to forbid the
rearing, outside of national establishments, of men of the [xxi]
highest spiritual significance. These two are the Roman Catholic and
the Jewish. And these, both of them, rest on Establishments, which,
though not indeed national, are cosmopolitan; and perhaps here, what
the individual man does not lose by these conditions of his rearing,
the citizen, and the State of which he is a citizen, loses.

What, now, can be the reason of this undeniable provincialism of the
English Puritans and Protestant Nonconformists, a provincialism which
has two main types,--a bitter type and a smug type,--but which in
both its types is vulgarising, and thwarts the full perfection of our
humanity? Men of genius and character are born and reared in this
medium as in any other. From the faults of the mass such men will
always be comparatively free, and they will always excite our
interest; yet in this medium they seem to have a special difficulty
in breaking through what bounds them, and in developing their
totality. Surely the reason is, that the Nonconformist is not in
contact with the main current of national life, like the member of an
Establishment. In a matter of such deep and vital concern as
religion, this separation from the main current of the national life
has [xxii] peculiar importance. In the following essay we have
discussed at length the tendency in us to Hebraise, as we call it;
that is, to sacrifice all other sides of our being to the religious
side. This tendency has its cause in the divine beauty and grandeur
of religion, and bears affecting testimony to them; but we have seen
that it has dangers for us, we have seen that it leads to a narrow
and twisted growth of our religious side itself, and to a failure in
perfection. But if we tend to Hebraise even in an Establishment,
with the main current of national life flowing round us, and
reminding us in all ways of the variety and fulness of human
existence,--by a Church which is historical as the State itself is
historical, and whose order, ceremonies, and monuments reach, like
those of the State, far beyond any fancies and devisings of ours, and
by institutions such as the Universities, formed to defend and
advance that very culture and many-sided development which it is the
danger of Hebraising to make us neglect,--how much more must we tend
to Hebraise when we lack these preventives. One may say that to be
reared a member of an Establishment is in itself a lesson of
religious moderation, and a help towards [xxiii] culture and
harmonious perfection. Instead of battling for his own private forms
for expressing the inexpressible and defining the undefinable, a man
takes those which have commended themselves most to the religious
life of his nation; and while he may be sure that within those forms
the religious side of his own nature may find its satisfaction, he
has leisure and composure to satisfy other sides of his nature as

But with the member of a Nonconforming or self-made religious
community how different! The sectary's eigene grosse Erfindungen, as
Goethe calls them,--the precious discoveries of himself and his
friends for expressing the inexpressible and defining the undefinable
in peculiar forms of their own, cannot but, as he has voluntarily
chosen them, and is personally responsible for them, fill his whole
mind. He is zealous to do battle for them and affirm them, for in
affirming them he affirms himself, and that is what we all like.
Other sides of his being are thus neglected, because the religious
side, always tending in every serious man to predominance over our
other spiritual sides, is in him made quite absorbing and tyrannous
by [xxiv] the condition of self-assertion and challenge which he has
chosen for himself. And just what is not essential in religion he
comes to mistake for essential, and a thousand times the more readily
because he has chosen it of himself; and religious activity he
fancies to consist in battling for it. All this leaves him little
leisure or inclination for culture; to which, besides, he has no
great institutions not of his own making, like the Universities
connected with the national Establishment, to invite him; but only
such institutions as, like the order and discipline of his religion,
he may have invented for himself, and invented under the sway of the
narrow and tyrannous notions of religion fostered in him as we have
seen. Thus, while a national Establishment of religion favours
totality, hole-and-corner forms of religion (to use an expressive
popular word) inevitably favour provincialism.

But the Nonconformists, and many of our Liberal friends along with
them, have a plausible plan for getting rid of this provincialism,
if, as they can hardly quite deny, it exists. "Let us all be in the
same boat," they cry; "open the Universities to everybody, and let
there be no establishment of [xxv] religion at all!" Open the
Universities by all means; but, as to the second point about
establishment, let us sift the proposal a little. It does seem at
first a little like that proposal of the fox, who had lost his own
tail, to put all the other foxes in the same boat by a general
cutting off of tails; and we know that moralists have decided that
the right course here was, not to adopt this plausible suggestion,
and cut off tails all round, but rather that the other foxes should
keep their tails, and that the fox without a tail should get one.
And so we might be inclined to urge that, to cure the evil of the
Nonconformists' provincialism, the right way can hardly be to
provincialise us all round.

However, perhaps we shall not be provincialised. For the Rev. Edward
White says that probably, "when all good men alike are placed in a
condition of religious equality, and the whole complicated iniquity
of Government Church patronage is swept away, more of moral and
ennobling influence than ever will be brought to bear upon the action
of statesmen." We already have an example of religious equality in
our colonies. "In the colonies," says The Times, "we see religious
communities unfettered by [xxvi] State-control, and the State
relieved from one of the most troublesome and irritating of
responsibilities." But America is the great example alleged by those
who are against establishments for religion. Our topic at this
moment is the influence of religious establishments on culture; and
it is remarkable that Mr. Bright, who has taken lately to
representing himself as, above all, a promoter of reason and of the
simple natural truth of things, and his policy as a fostering of the
growth of intelligence,--just the aims, as is well known, of culture
also,--Mr. Bright, in a speech at Birmingham about education, seized
on the very point which seems to concern our topic, when he said: "I
believe the people of the United States have offered to the world
more valuable information during the last forty years than all Europe
put together." So America, without religious establishments, seems to
get ahead of us all in culture and totality; and these are the cure
for provincialism.

On the other hand, another friend of reason and the simple natural
truth of things, Monsieur Renan, says of America, in a book he has
recently published, what seems to conflict violently with [xxvii]
what Mr. Bright says. Mr. Bright affirms that, not only have the
United States thus informed Europe, but they have done it without a
great apparatus of higher and scientific instruction, and by dint of
all classes in America being "sufficiently educated to be able to
read, and to comprehend, and to think; and that, I maintain, is the
foundation of all subsequent progress." And then comes Monsieur
Renan, and says: "The sound instruction of the people is an effect of
the high culture of certain classes. The countries which, like the
United States, have created a considerable popular instruction
without any serious higher instruction, will long have to expiate
this fault by their intellectual mediocrity, their vulgarity of
manners, their superficial spirit, their lack of general
intelligence."* Now, which of these two friends of culture are we to
believe? Monsieur Renan seems more to have in his eye what we
ourselves mean by culture; [xxviii] because Mr. Bright always has in
his eye what he calls "a commendable interest" in politics and
political agitations. As he said only the other day at Birmingham:
"At this moment,--in fact, I may say at every moment in the history
of a free country,--there is nothing that is so much worth discussing
as politics." And he keeps repeating, with all the powers of his
noble oratory, the old story, how to the thoughtfulness and
intelligence of the people of great towns we owe all our improvements
in the last thirty years, and how these improvements have hitherto
consisted in Parliamentary reform, and free trade, and abolition of
Church rates, and so on; and how they are now about to consist in
getting rid of minority-members, and in introducing a free breakfast-
table, and in abolishing the Irish Church by the power of the
Nonconformists' antipathy to establishments, and much more of the
same kind. And though our pauperism and ignorance, and all the
questions which are called social, seem now to be forcing themselves
upon his mind, yet he still goes on with his glorifying of the great
towns, and the Liberals, and their operations for the last thirty
years. It never [xxix] seems to occur to him that the present
troubled state of our social life has anything to do with the thirty
years' blind worship of their nostrums by himself and our Liberal
friends, or that it throws any doubts upon the sufficiency of this
worship. But he thinks what is still amiss is due to the stupidity
of the Tories, and will be cured by the thoughtfulness and
intelligence of the great towns, and by the Liberals going on
gloriously with their political operations as before; or that it will
cure itself. So we see what Mr. Bright means by thoughtfulness and
intelligence, and in what manner, according to him, we are to grow in
them. And, no doubt, in America all classes read their newspaper and
take a commendable interest in politics more than here or anywhere
else in Europe.

But, in the following essay, we have been led to doubt the
sufficiency of all this political operating of ours, pursued
mechanically as we pursue it; and we found that general intelligence,
as Monsieur Renan calls it, or, in our own words, a reference of all
our operating to a firm intelligible law of things, was just what we
were without, and that we were without it because we worshipped our
machinery [xxx] so devoutly. Therefore, we conclude that Monsieur
Renan, more than Mr. Bright, means by reason and intelligence the
same thing as we do; and when he says that America, that chosen home
of newspapers and politics, is without general intelligence, we think
it likely, from the circumstances of the case, that this is so; and
that, in culture and totality, America, instead of surpassing us all,
falls short.

And,--to keep to our point of the influence of religious
establishments upon culture and a high development of our humanity,--
we can surely see reasons why, with all her energy and fine gifts,
America does not show more of this development, or more promise of
this. In the following essay it will be seen how our society
distributes itself into Barbarians, Philistines, and Populace; and
America is just ourselves, with the Barbarians quite left out, and
the Populace nearly. This leaves the Philistines for the great bulk
of the nation;--a livelier sort of Philistine than ours, and with the
pressure and false ideal of our Barbarians taken away, but left all
the more to himself and to have his full swing! And as we have found
that the strongest and most vital part of English Philistinism was
the [xxxi] Puritan and Hebraising middle-class, and that its
Hebraising keeps it from culture and totality, so it is notorious
that the people of the United States issues from this class, and
reproduces its tendencies,--its narrow conception of man's spiritual
range and of his one thing needful. From Maine to Florida, and back
again, all America Hebraises. Difficult as it is to speak of a
people merely from what one reads, yet that, I think, one may,
without much fear of contradiction say. I mean, when, in the United
States, any spiritual side in a man is wakened to activity, it is
generally the religious side, and the religious side in a narrow way.
Social reformers go to Moses or St. Paul for their doctrines, and
have no notion there is anywhere else to go to; earnest young men at
schools and universities, instead of conceiving salvation as a
harmonious perfection only to be won by unreservedly cultivating many
sides in us, conceive of it in the old Puritan fashion, and fling
themselves ardently upon it in the old, false ways of this fashion,
which we know so well, and such as Mr. Hammond, the American
revivalist, has lately, at Mr. Spurgeon's Tabernacle, been refreshing
our memory with. Now, if America thus [xxxii] Hebraises more than
either England or Germany, will any one deny that the absence of
religious establishments has much to do with it? We have seen how
establishments tend to give us a sense of a historical life of the
human spirit, outside and beyond our own fancies and feelings; how
they thus tend to suggest new sides and sympathies in us to
cultivate; how, further, by saving us from having to invent and fight
for our own forms of religion, they give us leisure and calm to
steady our view of religion itself,--the most overpowering of
objects, as it is the grandest,--and to enlarge our first crude
notions of the one thing needful. But, in a serious people, where
every one has to choose and strive for his own order and discipline
of religion, the contention about these non-essentials occupies his
mind, his first crude notions about the one thing needful do not get
purged, and they invade the whole spiritual man in him, and then,
making a solitude, they call it heavenly peace.

I remember a Nonconformist manufacturer, in a town of the Midland
counties, telling me that when he first came there, some years ago,
the place had no Dissenters; but he had opened an Independent
[xxxiii] chapel in it, and now Church and Dissent were pretty equally
divided, with sharp contests between them. I said, that seemed a
pity. "A pity?" cried he; "not at all! Only think of all the zeal
and activity which the collision calls forth!" "Ah, but, my dear
friend," I answered, "only think of all the nonsense which you now
hold quite firmly, which you would never have held if you had not
been contradicting your adversary in it all these years!" The more
serious the people, and the more prominent the religious side in it,
the greater is the danger of this side, if set to choose out forms
for itself and fight for existence, swelling and spreading till it
swallows all other spiritual sides up, intercepts and absorbs all
nutriment which should have gone to them, and leaves Hebraism rampant
in us and Hellenism stamped out.

Culture, and the harmonious perfection of our whole being, and what
we call totality, then become secondary matters; and the
institutions, which should develope these, take the same narrow and
partial view of humanity and its wants as the free religious
communities take. Just as the free churches of Mr. Beecher or
Brother Noyes, with their provincialism [xxxiv] and want of
centrality, make mere Hebraisers in religion, and not perfect men, so
the university of Mr. Ezra Cornell, a really noble monument of his
munificence, yet seems to rest on a provincial misconception of what
culture truly is, and to be calculated to produce miners, or
engineers, or architects, not sweetness and light.

And, therefore, when the Rev. Edward White asks the same kind of
question about America that he has asked about England, and wants to
know whether, without religious establishments, as much is not done
in America for the higher national life as is done for that life
here, we answer in the same way as we did before, that as much is not
done. Because to enable and stir up people to read their Bible and
the newspapers, and to get a practical knowledge of their business,
does not serve to the higher spiritual life of a nation so much as
culture, truly conceived, serves; and a true conception of culture
is, as Monsieur Renan's words show, just what America fails in.

To the many who think that culture, and sweetness, and light, are all
moonshine, this will not appear to matter much; but with us, who
value [xxxv] them, and who think that we have traced much of our
present discomfort to the want of them, it weighs a great deal. So
not only do we say that the Nonconformists have got provincialism and
lost totality by the want of a religious establishment, but we say
that the very example which they bring forward to help their case
makes against them; and that when they triumphantly show us America
without religious establishments, they only show us a whole nation
touched, amidst all its greatness and promise, with that
provincialism which it is our aim to extirpate in the English

But now to evince the disinterestedness which culture, as I have
said, teaches us. We have seen the narrowness generated in
Puritanism by its hole-and-corner organisation, and we propose to
cure it by bringing Puritanism more into contact with the main
current of national life. Here we are fully at one with the Dean of
Westminster; and, indeed, he and we were trained in the same school
to mark the narrowness of Puritanism, and to wish to cure it. But he
and others would give to the present Anglican Establishment a
character the most latitudinarian, as it is called, possible;
availing themselves for this [xxxvi] purpose of the diversity of
tendencies and doctrines which does undoubtedly exist already in the
Anglican formularies; and they would say to the Puritans: "Come all
of you into this liberally conceived Anglican Establishment." But to
say this is hardly, perhaps, to take sufficient account of the course
of history, or of the strength of men's feelings in what concerns
religion, or of the gravity which may have come to attach itself to
points of religious order and discipline merely. When the Rev.
Edward White talks of "sweeping away the whole complicated iniquity
of Government Church patronage," he uses language which has been
forced upon him by his position, but which is, as we have seen,
devoid of any real solidity. But when he talks of the religious
communities "which have for three hundred years contended for the
power of the congregation in the management of their own affairs,"
then he talks history; and his language has behind it, in my opinion,
facts which make the latitudinarianism of our Broad Churchmen quite
illusory. Certainly, culture will never make us think it an
essential of religion whether we have in our Church discipline "a
popular authority of elders," as Hooker calls [xxxvii] it, or whether
we have Episcopal jurisdiction. Certainly, Hooker himself did not
think it an essential; for in the dedication of his Ecclesiastical
Polity, speaking of these questions of Church discipline which gave
occasion to his great work, he says they are "in truth, for the
greatest part, such silly things, that very easiness doth make them
hard to be disputed of in serious manner." Hooker's great work
against the impugners of the order and discipline of the Church of
England was written (and this is too indistinctly seized by many who
read it), not because Episcopalianism is essential, but because its
impugners maintained that Presbyterianism is essential, and that
Episcopalianism is sinful. Neither the one nor the other is either
essential or sinful, and much may be said on behalf of both. But
what is important to be remarked is that both were in the Church of
England at the Reformation, and that Presbyterianism was only
extruded gradually. We have mentioned Hooker, and nothing better
illustrates what has just been asserted than the following incident
in Hooker's own career, which every one has read, for it is related
in Isaac Walton's Life of Hooker, but of which, [xxxviii] probably,
the significance has been fully grasped by not one-half of those who
have read it.

Hooker was through the influence of Archbishop Whitgift appointed, in
1585, Master of the Temple; but a great effort had just been made to
obtain the place for a Mr. Walter Travers, well known in that day,
though now it is Hooker's name which alone preserves his. This
Travers was then afternoon-lecturer at the Temple. The Master whose
death made the vacancy, Alvey, recommended on his deathbed Travers
for his successor, the society was favourable to him, and he had the
support of the Lord Treasurer Burghley. After Hooker's appointment
to the Mastership, Travers remained afternoon-lecturer, and combated
in the afternoons the doctrine which Hooker preached in the mornings.
Now, this Travers, originally a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge,
afterwards afternoon-lecturer at the Temple, recommended for the
Mastership by the foregoing Master, whose opinions, it is said,
agreed with his, favoured by the society of the Temple, and supported
by the Prime Minister,--this Travers was not an Episcopally ordained
clergyman at all; he was a Presbyterian, [xxxix] a partisan of the
Geneva church-discipline, as it was then called, and "had taken
orders," says Walton, "by the Presbyters in Antwerp." In another
place Walton speaks of his orders yet more fully:--"He had
disowned," he says, "the English Established Church and Episcopacy,
and went to Geneva, and afterwards to Antwerp, to be ordained
minister, as he was by Villers and Cartwright and others the heads of
a congregation there; and so came back again more confirmed for the
discipline." Villers and Cartwright are in like manner examples of
Presbyterianism within the Church of England, which was common enough
at that time; but perhaps nothing can better give us a lively sense
of its presence there than this history of Travers, which is as if
Mr. Binney were now afternoon-reader at Lincoln's Inn or the Temple,
were to be a candidate, favoured by the benchers and by the Prime
Minister, for the Mastership, and were only kept out of the post by
the accident of the Archbishop of Canterbury's influence with the
Queen carrying a rival candidate.

Presbyterianism, with its popular principle of the power of the
congregation in the management of [xl] their own affairs, was
extruded from the Church of England, and men like Travers can no
longer appear in her pulpits. Perhaps if a government like that of
Elizabeth, with secular statesmen like the Cecils, and ecclesiastical
statesmen like Whitgift, could have been prolonged, Presbyterianism
might, by a wise mixture of concession and firmness, have been
absorbed in the Establishment. Lord Bolingbroke, on a matter of this
kind a very clear-judging and impartial witness, says, in a work far
too little read, his Remarks on English History:--" The measures
pursued and the temper observed in Queen Elizabeth's time tended to
diminish the religious opposition by a slow, a gentle, and for that
very reason an effectual progression. There was even room to hope
that when the first fire of the Dissenters' zeal was passed,
reasonable terms of union with the Established Church might be
accepted by such of them as were not intoxicated with fanaticism.
These were friends to order, though they disputed about it. If these
friends of Calvin's discipline had been once incorporated with the
Established Church, the remaining sectaries would have been of little
moment, either for numbers or [xli] reputation; and the very means
which were proper to gain these friends, were likewise the most
effectual to hinder the increase of them, and of the other sectaries
in the meantime." The temper and ill judgment of the Stuarts made
shipwreck of all policy of this kind. Yet speaking even of the time
of the Stuarts, but their early time, Clarendon says that if Bishop
Andrewes had succeeded Bancroft at Canterbury, the disaffection of
separatists might have been stayed and healed. This, however, was
not to be; and Presbyterianism, after exercising for some years the
law of the strongest, itself in Charles the Second's reign suffered
under this law, and was finally cast out from the Church of England.

Now the points of church discipline at issue between Presbyterianism
and Episcopalianism are, as has been said, not essential. They might
probably once have been settled in a sense altogether favourable to
Episcopalianism. Hooker may have been right in thinking that there
were in his time circumstances which made it essential that they
should be settled in this sense, though the points in themselves were
not essential. But by the very fact of the settlement not having
then been effected, of the [xlii] breach having gone on and widened,
of the Nonconformists not having been amicably incorporated with the
Establishment but violently cast out from it, the circumstances are
now altogether altered. Isaac Walton, a fervent Churchman, complains
that "the principles of the Nonconformists grew at last to such a
height and were vented so daringly, that, beside the loss of life and
limbs, the Church and State were both forced to use such other
severities as will not admit of an excuse, if it had not been to
prevent confusion and the perilous consequences of it." But those
very severities have of themselves made union on an Episcopalian
footing impossible. Besides, Presbyterianism, the popular authority
of elders, the power of the congregation in the management of their
own affairs, has that warrant given to it by Scripture and by the
proceedings of the early Christian Churches, it is so consonant with
the spirit of Protestantism which made the Reformation and which has
such strength in this country, it is so predominant in the practice
of other reformed churches, it was so strong in the original reformed
Church of England, that one cannot help doubting whether any
settlement which suppressed it could have been really permanent,
[xliii] and whether it would not have kept appearing again and again,
and causing dissension.

Well, then, if culture is the disinterested endeavour after man's
perfection, will it not make us wish to cure the provincialism of the
Nonconformists, not by making Churchmen provincial along with them,
but by letting their popular church discipline, formerly found in the
National Church, and still found in the affections and practice of a
good part of the nation, appear in the National Church once more; and
thus to bring Nonconformists into contact again, as their greater
fathers were, with the main stream of national life? Why should not
a Presbyterian or Congregational Church, based on this considerable
and important, though not essential principle, of the congregation's
power in the church management, be established,--with equal rank for
its chiefs with the chiefs of Episcopacy, and with admissibility of
its ministers, under a revised system of patronage and preferment, to
benefices,--side by side with the Episcopal Church, as the Calvinist
and Lutheran Churches are established side by side in France and
Germany? Such a Congregational Church would unite the main bodies of
Protestants who are now separatists; and [xliv] separation would
cease to be the law of their religious order. Then,--through this
concession on a really considerable point of difference,--that
endless splitting into hole-and-corner churches on quite
inconsiderable points of difference, which must prevail so long as
separatism is the first law of a Nonconformist's religious existence,
would be checked. Culture would then find a place among English
followers of the popular authority of elders, as it has long found it
among the followers of Episcopal jurisdiction; and this we should
gain by merely recognising, regularising, and restoring an element
which appeared once in the reformed National Church, and which is
considerable and national enough to have a sound claim to appear
there still.

So far, then, is culture from making us unjust to the Nonconformists
because it forbids us to worship their fetishes, that it even leads
us to propose to do more for them than they themselves venture to
claim. It leads us, also, to respect what is solid and respectable
in their convictions, while their latitudinarian friends make light
of it. Not that the forms in which the human spirit tries to express
the inexpressible, or the forms by which man tries to [xlv] worship,
have or can have, as has been said, for the follower of perfection,
anything necessary or eternal. If the New Testament and the practice
of the primitive Christians sanctioned the popular form of church
government a thousand times more expressly than they do, if the
Church since Constantine were a thousand times more of a departure
from the scheme of primitive Christianity than it can be shown to be,
that does not at all make, as is supposed by men in bondage to the
letter, the popular form of church government alone and always sacred
and binding, or the work of Constantine a thing to be regretted.
What is alone and always sacred and binding for man is the climbing
towards his total perfection, and the machinery by which he does this
varies in value according as it helps him to do it. The planters of
Christianity had their roots in deep and rich grounds of human life
and achievement, both Jewish and also Greek; and had thus a
comparatively firm and wide basis amidst all the vehement inspiration
of their mighty movement and change. By their strong inspiration
they carried men off the old basis of life and culture, whether
Jewish or Greek, and generations arose [xlvi] who had their roots in
neither world, and were in contact therefore with no full and great
stream of human life. Christianity might have lost herself, if it
had not been for some such change as that of the fourth century, in a
multitude of hole-and-corner churches like the churches of English
Nonconformity after its founders departed; churches without great
men, and without furtherance for the higher life of humanity. At a
critical moment came Constantine, and placed Christianity,--or let us
rather say, placed the human spirit, whose totality was endangered,--
in contact with the main current of human life. And his work was
justified by its fruits, in men like Augustine and Dante, and indeed
in all the great men of Christianity, Catholics or Protestants, ever
since. And one may go beyond this. Monsieur Albert Reville, whose
religious writings are always interesting, says that the conception
which cultivated and philosophical Jews now entertain of Christianity
and its founder, is probably destined to become the conception which
Christians themselves will entertain. Socinians are fond of saying
the same thing about the Socinian conception of Christianity. Even
if this were true, it would still have been [xlvii] better for a man,
through the last eighteen hundred years, to have been a Christian,
and a member of one of the great Christian communions, than to have
been a Jew or a Socinian; because the being in contact with the main
stream of human life is of more moment for a man's total spiritual
growth, and for his bringing to perfection the gifts committed to
him, which is his business on earth, than any speculative opinion
which he may hold or think he holds. Luther,--whom we have called a
Philistine of genius, and who, because he was a Philistine, had a
coarseness and lack of spiritual delicacy which have harmed his
disciples, but who, because he was a genius, had splendid flashes of
spiritual insight,--Luther says admirably in his Commentary on the
Book of Daniel: "A God is simply that whereon the human heart rests
with trust, faith, hope and love. If the resting is right, then the
God too is right; if the resting is wrong, then the God too is
illusory." In other words, the worth of what a man thinks about God
and the objects of religion depends on what the man is; and what the
man is, depends upon his having more or less reached the measure of a
perfect and total man.

[xlviii] All this is true; and yet culture, as we have seen, has more
tenderness for scruples of the Nonconformists than have their Broad
Church friends. That is because culture, disinterestedly trying, in
its aim at perfection, to see things as they really are, sees how
worthy and divine a thing is the religious side in man, though it is
not the whole of man. And when Mr. Greg, who differs from us about
edification, (and certainly we do not seem likely to agree with him
as to what edifies), finding himself moved by some extraneous
considerations or other to take a Church's part against its enemies,
calls taking a Church's part returning to base uses, culture teaches
us how out of place is this language, and that to use it shows an
inadequate conception of human nature, and that no Church will thank
a man for taking its part in this fashion, but will leave him with
indifference to the tender mercies of his Benthamite friends. But
avoiding Benthamism, or an inadequate conception of the religious
side in man, culture makes us also avoid Mialism, or an inadequate
conception of man's totality. Therefore to the worth and grandeur of
the religious side in man, culture is rejoiced and willing to pay any
tribute, [xlix] except the tribute of man's totality. True, the
order and liturgy of the Church of England one may be well contented
to live and to die with, and they are such as to inspire an
affectionate and revering attachment. True, the reproaches of
Nonconformists against this order for "retaining badges of
Antichristian recognisance;" and for "corrupting the right form of
Church polity with manifold Popish rites and ceremonies;" true, their
assertion of the essentialness of their own supposed Scriptural
order, and their belief in its eternal fitness, are founded on
illusion. True, the whole attitude of horror and holy superiority
assumed by Puritanism towards the Church of Rome, is wrong and false,
and well merits Sir Henry Wotton's rebuke:--"Take heed of thinking
that the farther you go from the Church of Rome, the nearer you are
to God." True, one of the best wishes one could form for Mr.
Spurgeon or Father Jackson is, that they might be permitted to learn
on this side the grave (for if they do not, a considerable surprise
is certainly reserved for them on the other) that Whitfield and
Wesley were not at all better than St. Francis, and that they
themselves are not at all better than Lacordaire. Yet, [l] in spite
of all this, so noble and divine a thing is religion, so respectable
is that earnestness which desires a prayer-book with one strain of
doctrine, so attaching is the order and discipline by which we are
used to have our religion conveyed, so many claims on our regard has
that popular form of church government for which Nonconformists
contend, so perfectly compatible is it with all progress towards
perfection, that culture would make us shy even to propose to
Nonconformists the acceptance of the Anglican prayer-book and the
episcopal order; and would be forward to wish them a prayer-book of
their own approving, and the church discipline to which they are
attached and accustomed. Only not at the price of Mialism; that is,
of a doctrine which leaves the Nonconformists in holes and corners,
out of contact with the main current of national life. One can lay
one's finger, indeed, on the line by which this doctrine has grown
up, and see how the essential part of Nonconformity is a popular
church-discipline analogous to that of the other reformed churches,
and how its voluntaryism is an accident. It contended for the
establishment of its own church-discipline as the only true [li] one;
and beaten in this contention, and seeing its rival established, it
came down to the more plausible proposal "to place all good men alike
in a condition of religious equality;" and this plan of proceeding,
originally taken as a mere second-best, became, by long sticking to
it and preaching it up, first fair, then righteous, then the only
righteous, then at last necessary to salvation. This is the plan for
remedying the Nonconformists' divorce from contact with the national
life by divorcing churchmen too from contact with it; that is, as we
have familiarly before put it, the tailless foxes are for cutting off
tails all round. But this the other foxes could not wisely grant,
unless it were proved that tails are of no value. And so, too,
unless it is proved that contact with the main current of national
life is of no value (and we have shown that it is of the greatest
value), we cannot safely, even to please the Nonconformists in a
matter where we would please them as much as possible, admit Mialism.

But now, as we have shown the disinterestedness which culture
enjoins, and its obedience not to likings or dislikings, but to the
aim of perfection, let us show its flexibility,--its independence of
machinery. That [lii] other and greater prophet of intelligence, and
reason, and the simple natural truth of things,--Mr. Bright,--means
by these, as we have seen, a certain set of measures which suit the
special ends of Liberal and Nonconformist partisans. For instance,
reason and justice towards Ireland mean the abolishment of the
iniquitous Protestant ascendency in such a particular way as to suit
the Nonconformists' antipathy to establishments. Reason and justice
pursued in a different way, by distributing among the three main
Churches of Ireland,--the Roman Catholic, the Anglican, and the
Presbyterian,--the church property of Ireland, would immediately
cease, for Mr. Bright and the Nonconformists, to be reason and
justice at all, and would become, as Mr. Spurgeon says, "a setting up
of the Roman image." Thus we see that the sort of intelligence
reached by culture is more disinterested than the sort of
intelligence reached by belonging to the Liberal party in the great
towns, and taking a commendable interest in politics. But still more
striking is the difference between the two views of intelligence,
when we see that culture not only makes a quite disinterested choice
of the machinery [liii] proper to carry us towards sweetness and
light, and to make reason and the will of God prevail, but by even
this machinery does not hold stiffly and blindly, and easily passes
on beyond it to that for the sake of which it chose it.

For instance: culture leads us to think that the ends of human
perfection might be best served by establishing,--that is, by
bringing into contact with the main current of the national life,--in
Ireland the Roman Catholic and the Presbyterian Churches along with
the Anglican Church; and, in England, a Presbyterian or
Congregational Church of like rank and status with our Episcopalian
one. It leads us to think that we should really, in this way, be
working to make reason and the will of God prevail; because we should
be making Roman Catholics better citizens, and Nonconformists,--nay,
and Churchmen along with them,-- larger-minded and more complete
men. But undoubtedly there are great difficulties in such a plan as
this; and the plan is not one which looks very likely to be adopted.
It is a plan more for a time of creative statesmen, like the time of
Elizabeth, than for a time of instrumental [liv] statesmen like the
present. The Churchman must rise above his ordinary self in order to
favour it; and the Nonconformist has worshipped his fetish of
separatism so long that he is likely to wish still to remain, like
Ephraim, "a wild ass alone by himself." The centre of power being
where it is, our instrumental statesmen have every temptation, as is
shown more at large in the following essay, in the first place, to
"relieve themselves," as The Times says, "of troublesome and
irritating responsibilities;" in the second place, when they must
act, to go along, as they do, with the ordinary self of those on
whose favour they depend, to adopt as their own its desires, and to
serve them with fidelity, and even, if possible, with impulsiveness.
This is the more easy for them, because there are not wanting,--and
there never will be wanting,--thinkers like Mr. Baxter, Mr. Charles
Buxton, and the Dean of Canterbury, to swim with the stream, but to
swim with it philosophically; to call the desires of the ordinary
self of any great section of the community edicts of the national
mind and laws of human progress, and to give them a general, a
philosophic, and an imposing expression. A generous statesman may
[lv] honestly, therefore, soon unlearn any disposition to put his
tongue in his cheek in advocating these desires, and may advocate
them with fervour and impulsiveness. Therefore a plan such as that
which we have indicated does not seem a plan so likely to find favour
as a plan for abolishing the Irish Church by the power of the
Nonconformists' antipathy to establishments.

But to tell us that our fond dreams are on that account shattered is
inexact, and is the sort of language which ought to be addressed to
the promoters of intelligence through public meetings and a
commendable interest in politics, when they fail in their designs,
and not to us. For we are fond stickers to no machinery, not even
our own; and we have no doubt that perfection can be reached without
it,--with free churches as with established churches, and with
instrumental statesmen as with creative statesmen. But it can never
be reached without seeing things as they really are; and it is to
this, therefore, and to no machinery in the world, that culture
sticks fondly. It insists that men should not mistake, as they are
prone to mistake, their natural taste for the bathos for a relish for
the sublime; and if statesmen, either [lvi] with their tongue in
their cheek or through a generous impulsiveness, tell them their
natural taste for the bathos is a relish for the sublime, there is
the more need for culture to tell them the contrary. It is delusion
on this point which is fatal, and against delusion on this point
culture works. It is not fatal to our Liberal friends to labour for
free trade, extension of the suffrage, and abolition of church-rates,
instead of graver social ends; but it is fatal to them to be told by
their flatterers, and to believe, with our pauperism increasing more
rapidly than our population, that they have performed a great, an
heroic work, by occupying themselves exclusively, for the last thirty
years, with these Liberal nostrums, and that the right and good
course for them now is to go on occupying themselves with the like
for the future. It is not fatal to Americans to have no religious
establishments and no effective centres of high culture; but it is
fatal to them to be told by their flatterers, and to believe, that
they are the most intelligent people in the whole world, when of
intelligence, in the true and fruitful sense of the word, they even
singularly, as we have seen, come short. It is not [lvii] fatal to
the Nonconformists to remain with their separated churches; but it is
fatal to them to be told by their flatterers, and to believe, that
theirs is the one pure and Christ-ordained way of worshipping God,
that provincialism and loss of totality have not come to them from
following it, or that provincialism and loss of totality are not
evils. It is not fatal to the English nation to abolish the Irish
Church by the power of the Nonconformists' antipathy to
establishments; but it is fatal to it to be told by its flatterers,
and to believe, that it is abolishing it through reason and justice,
when it is really abolishing it through this power; or to expect the
fruits of reason and justice from anything but the spirit of reason
and justice themselves.

Now culture, because of its keen sense of what is really fatal, is
all the more disposed to be pliant and easy about what is not fatal.
And because machinery is the bane of politics, and an inward working,
and not machinery, is what we most want, we keep advising our ardent
young Liberal friends to think less of machinery, to stand more aloof
from the arena of politics at present, and rather to try and promote,
with us, an inward working. They do not listen [lviii] to us, and
they rush into the arena of politics, where their merits, indeed,
seem to be little appreciated as yet; and then they complain of the
reformed constituencies, and call the new Parliament a Philistine
Parliament. As if a nation, nourished and reared in Hebraising,
could give us, just yet, anything better than a Philistine
Parliament!--for would a Barbarian Parliament be even so good, or a
Populace Parliament? For our part, we rejoice to see our dear old
friends, the Hebraising Philistines, gathered in force in the Valley
of Jehoshaphat before their final conversion, which will certainly
come; but for this conversion we must not try to oust them from their
places, and to contend for machinery with them, but we must work on
them inwardly and cure them of Hebraising.

Yet the days of Israel are innumerable; and in its blame of
Hebraising too, and in its praise of Hellenising, culture must not
fail to keep its flexibility, and to give to its judgments that
passing and provisional character which we have seen it impose on its
preferences and rejections of machinery. Now, and for us, it is a
time to Hellenise, and to praise knowing; for we have Hebraised too
much, [lix] and have over-valued doing. But the habits and
discipline received from Hebraism remain for our race an eternal
possession; and, as humanity is constituted, one must never assign
them the second rank to-day, without being ready to restore them to
the first rank to-morrow. To walk staunchly by the best light one
has, to be strict and sincere with oneself, not to be of the number
of those who say and do not, to be in earnest,--this is the
discipline by which alone man is enabled to rescue his life from
thraldom to the passing moment and to his bodily senses, to ennoble
it, and to make it eternal. And this discipline has been nowhere so
effectively taught as in the school of Hebraism. Sophocles and Plato
knew as well as the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews that
"without holiness no man shall see God," and their notion of what
goes to make up holiness was larger than his. But the intense and
convinced energy with which the Hebrew, both of the Old and of the
New Testament, threw himself upon his ideal, and which inspired the
incomparable definition of the great Christian virtue, Faith,--the
substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,--this
energy of faith in its ideal has [lx] belonged to Hebraism alone. As
our idea of holiness enlarges, and our scope of perfection widens
beyond the narrow limits to which the over-rigour of Hebraising has
tended to confine it, we shall come again to Hebraism for that devout
energy in embracing our ideal, which alone can give to man the
happiness of doing what he knows. "If ye know these things, happy
are ye if ye do them!"--the last word for infirm humanity will always
be that. For this word, reiterated with a power now sublime, now
affecting, but always admirable, our race will, as long as the world
lasts, return to Hebraism; and the Bible, which preaches this word,
will forever remain, as Goethe called it, not only a national book,
but the Book of the Nations. Again and again, after what seemed
breaches and separations, the prophetic promise to Jerusalem will
still be true:--Lo, thy sons come, whom thou sentest away; they come
gathered from the west unto the east by the word of the Holy One,
rejoicing in the remembrance of God.


xxvii. *"Les pays qui comme les États-Unis ont créé un enseignement
populaire considérable sans instruction supérieure sérieuse,
expieront longtemps encore leur faute par leur médiocrit
intellectuelle, leur grossièreté de moeurs, leur esprit superficiel,
leur manque d'intelligence générale."


[1] In one of his speeches a year or two ago, that fine speaker and
famous Liberal, Mr. Bright, took occasion to have a fling at the
friends and preachers of culture. "People who talk about what they
call culture!" said he contemptuously; "by which they mean a
smattering of the two dead languages of Greek and Latin." And he
went on to remark, in a strain with which modern speakers and writers
have made us very familiar, how poor a thing this culture is, how
little good it can do to the world, and how absurd it is for its
possessors to set much [2] store by it. And the other day a younger
Liberal than Mr. Bright, one of a school whose mission it is to bring
into order and system that body of truth of which the earlier
Liberals merely touched the outside, a member of the University of
Oxford, and a very clever writer, Mr. Frederic Harrison, developed,
in the systematic and stringent manner of his school, the thesis
which Mr. Bright had propounded in only general terms. "Perhaps the
very silliest cant of the day," said Mr. Frederic Harrison, "is the
cant about culture. Culture is a desirable quality in a critic of
new books, and sits well on a possessor of belles lettres; but as
applied to politics, it means simply a turn for small fault-finding,
love of selfish ease, and indecision in action. The man of culture
is in politics one of the poorest mortals alive. For simple pedantry
and want of good sense no man is his equal. No assumption is too
unreal, no end is too unpractical for him. But the active exercise
of politics requires common sense, sympathy, trust, resolution and
enthusiasm, qualities which your man of culture has carefully rooted
up, lest they damage the delicacy of his critical olfactories.
Perhaps they are the only class [3] of responsible beings in the
community who cannot with safety be entrusted with power."

Now for my part I do not wish to see men of culture asking to be
entrusted with power; and, indeed, I have freely said, that in my
opinion the speech most proper, at present, for a man of culture to
make to a body of his fellow-countrymen who get him into a committee-
room, is Socrates's: Know thyself! and this is not a speech to be
made by men wanting to be entrusted with power. For this very
indifference to direct political action I have been taken to task by
the Daily Telegraph, coupled, by a strange perversity of fate, with
just that very one of the Hebrew prophets whose style I admire the
least, and called "an elegant Jeremiah." It is because I say (to use
the words which the Daily Telegraph puts in my mouth):--"You mustn't
make a fuss because you have no vote,--that is vulgarity; you mustn't
hold big meetings to agitate for reform bills and to repeal corn
laws,--that is the very height of vulgarity,"--it is for this reason
that I am called, sometimes an elegant Jeremiah, sometimes a spurious
Jeremiah, a Jeremiah about the reality of whose mission the writer in
the Daily [4] Telegraph has his doubts. It is evident, therefore,
that I have so taken my line as not to be exposed to the whole brunt
of Mr. Frederic Harrison's censure. Still, I have often spoken in
praise of culture; I have striven to make all my works and ways serve
the interests of culture; I take culture to be something a great deal
more than what Mr. Frederic Harrison and others call it: "a desirable
quality in a critic of new books." Nay, even though to a certain
extent I am disposed to agree with Mr. Frederic Harrison, that men of
culture are just the class of responsible beings in this community of
ours who cannot properly, at present, be entrusted with power, I am
not sure that I do not think this the fault of our community rather
than of the men of culture. In short, although, like Mr. Bright and
Mr. Frederic Harrison, and the editor of the Daily Telegraph, and a
large body of valued friends of mine, I am a liberal, yet I am a
liberal tempered by experience, reflection, and renouncement, and I
am, above all, a believer in culture. Therefore I propose now to try
and enquire, in the simple unsystematic way which best suits both my
taste and my powers, what culture really is, what good it [5] can do,
what is our own special need of it; and I shall seek to find some
plain grounds on which a faith in culture--both my own faith in it
and the faith of others,--may rest securely.


[5] The disparagers of culture make its motive curiosity; sometimes,
indeed, they make its motive mere exclusiveness and vanity. The
culture which is supposed to plume itself on a smattering of Greek
and Latin is a culture which is begotten by nothing so intellectual
as curiosity; it is valued either out of sheer vanity and ignorance,
or else as an engine of social and class distinction, separating its
holder, like a badge or title, from other people who have not got it.
No serious man would call this culture, or attach any value to it, as
culture, at all. To find the real ground for the very differing
estimate which serious people will set upon culture, we must find
some motive for culture in the terms of which [6] may lie a real
ambiguity; and such a motive the word curiosity gives us. I have
before now pointed out that in English we do not, like the
foreigners, use this word in a good sense as well as in a bad sense;
with us the word is always used in a somewhat disapproving sense; a
liberal and intelligent eagerness about the things of the mind may be
meant by a foreigner when he speaks of curiosity, but with us the
word always conveys a certain notion of frivolous and unedifying
activity. In the Quarterly Review, some little time ago, was an
estimate of the celebrated French critic, Monsieur Sainte-Beuve, and
a very inadequate estimate it, in my judgment, was. And its
inadequacy consisted chiefly in this: that in our English way it left
out of sight the double sense really involved in the word curiosity,
thinking enough was said to stamp Monsieur Sainte-Beuve with blame if
it was said that he was impelled in his operations as a critic by
curiosity, and omitting either to perceive that Monsieur Sainte-Beuve
himself, and many other people with him, would consider that this was
praiseworthy and not blameworthy, or to point out why it ought really
to be accounted worthy of blame [7] and not of praise. For as there
is a curiosity about intellectual matters which is futile, and merely
a disease, so there is certainly a curiosity,--a desire after the
things of the mind simply for their own sakes and for the pleasure of
seeing them as they are,--which is, in an intelligent being, natural
and laudable. Nay, and the very desire to see things as they are
implies a balance and regulation of mind which is not often attained
without fruitful effort, and which is the very opposite of the blind
and diseased impulse of mind which is what we mean to blame when we
blame curiosity. Montesquieu says:--"The first motive which ought to
impel us to study is the desire to augment the excellence of our
nature, and to render an intelligent being yet more intelligent."
This is the true ground to assign for the genuine scientific passion,
however manifested, and for culture, viewed simply as a fruit of this
passion; and it is a worthy ground, even though we let the term
curiosity stand to describe it.

But there is of culture another view, in which not solely the
scientific passion, the sheer desire to see things as they are,
natural and proper in an intelligent [8] being, appears as the ground
of it. There is a view in which all the love of our neighbour, the
impulses towards action, help, and beneficence, the desire for
stopping human error, clearing human confusion, and diminishing the
sum of human misery, the noble aspiration to leave the world better
and happier than we found it,--motives eminently such as are called
social,--come in as part of the grounds of culture, and the main and
pre-eminent part. Culture is then properly described not as having
its origin in curiosity, but as having its origin in the love of
perfection; it is a study of perfection. It moves by the force, not
merely or primarily of the scientific passion for pure knowledge, but
also of the moral and social passion for doing good. As, in the
first view of it, we took for its worthy motto Montesquieu's words:
"To render an intelligent being yet more intelligent!" so, in the
second view of it, there is no better motto which it can have than
these words of Bishop Wilson: "To make reason and the will of God
prevail!" Only, whereas the passion for doing good is apt to be
overhasty in determining what reason and the will of God say, because
its turn is for acting rather than thinking, and it wants to be [9]
beginning to act; and whereas it is apt to take its own conceptions,
which proceed from its own state of development and share in all the
imperfections and immaturities of this, for a basis of action; what
distinguishes culture is, that it is possessed by the scientific
passion, as well as by the passion of doing good; that it has worthy
notions of reason and the will of God, and does not readily suffer
its own crude conceptions to substitute themselves for them; and
that, knowing that no action or institution can be salutary and
stable which are not based on reason and the will of God, it is not
so bent on acting and instituting, even with the great aim of
diminishing human error and misery ever before its thoughts, but that
it can remember that acting and instituting are of little use, unless
we know how and what we ought to act and to institute.

This culture is more interesting and more far-reaching than that
other, which is founded solely on the scientific passion for knowing.
But it needs times of faith and ardour, times when the intellectual
horizon is opening and widening all round us, to flourish in. And is
not the close and bounded intellectual horizon within which we have
long lived [10] and moved now lifting up, and are not new lights
finding free passage to shine in upon us? For a long time there was
no passage for them to make their way in upon us, and then it was of
no use to think of adapting the world's action to them. Where was
the hope of making reason and the will of God prevail among people
who had a routine which they had christened reason and the will of
God, in which they were inextricably bound, and beyond which they had
no power of looking? But now the iron force of adhesion to the old
routine,--social, political, religious,--has wonderfully yielded;
the iron force of exclusion of all which is new has wonderfully
yielded; the danger now is, not that people should obstinately refuse
to allow anything but their old routine to pass for reason and the
will of God, but either that they should allow some novelty or other
to pass for these too easily, or else that they should underrate the
importance of them altogether, and think it enough to follow action
for its own sake, without troubling themselves to make reason and the
will of God prevail therein. Now, then, is the moment for culture to
be of service, culture which believes in making reason and the [11]
will of God prevail, believes in perfection, is the study and pursuit
of perfection, and is no longer debarred, by a rigid invincible
exclusion of whatever is new, from getting acceptance for its ideas,
simply because they are new.

The moment this view of culture is seized, the moment it is regarded
not solely as the endeavour to see things as they are, to draw
towards a knowledge of the universal order which seems to be intended
and aimed at in the world, and which it is a man's happiness to go
along with or his misery to go counter to,--to learn, in short, the
will of God,--the moment, I say, culture is considered not merely as
the endeavour to see and learn this, but as the endeavour, also, to
make it prevail, the moral, social, and beneficent character of
culture becomes manifest. The mere endeavour to see and learn it for
our own personal satisfaction is indeed a commencement for making it
prevail, a preparing the way for this, which always serves this, and
is wrongly, therefore, stamped with blame absolutely in itself, and
not only in its caricature and degeneration. But perhaps it has got
stamped with blame, and disparaged with the dubious title of
curiosity, because [12] in comparison with this wider endeavour of
such great and plain utility it looks selfish, petty, and

And religion, the greatest and most important of the efforts by which
the human race has manifested its impulse to perfect itself,--
religion, that voice of the deepest human experience,--does not only
enjoin and sanction the aim which is the great aim of culture, the
aim of setting ourselves to ascertain what perfection is and to make
it prevail; but also, in determining generally in what human
perfection consists, religion comes to a conclusion identical with
that which culture,--seeking the determination of this question
through all the voices of human experience which have been heard upon
it, art, science, poetry, philosophy, history, as well as religion,
in order to give a greater fulness and certainty to its solution,--
likewise reaches. Religion says: The kingdom of God is within you;
and culture, in like manner, places human perfection in an internal
condition, in the growth and predominance of our humanity proper, as
distinguished from our animality, in the ever-increasing
efficaciousness and in the general harmonious expansion [13] of those
gifts of thought and feeling which make the peculiar dignity, wealth,
and happiness of human nature. As I have said on a former occasion:
"It is in making endless additions to itself, in the endless
expansion of its powers, in endless growth in wisdom and beauty, that
the spirit of the human race finds its ideal. To reach this ideal,
culture is an indispensable aid, and that is the true value of
culture." Not a having and a resting, but a growing and a becoming,
is the character of perfection as culture conceives it; and here,
too, it coincides with religion. And because men are all members of
one great whole, and the sympathy which is in human nature will not
allow one member to be indifferent to the rest, or to have a perfect
welfare independent of the rest, the expansion of our humanity, to
suit the idea of perfection which culture forms, must be a general
expansion. Perfection, as culture conceives it, is not possible
while the individual remains isolated: the individual is obliged,
under pain of being stunted and enfeebled in his own development if
he disobeys, to carry others along with him in his march towards
perfection, to be continually doing all he can to enlarge [14] and
increase the volume of the human stream sweeping thitherward; and
here, once more, it lays on us the same obligation as religion, which
says, as Bishop Wilson has admirably put it, that "to promote the
kingdom of God is to increase and hasten one's own happiness."
Finally, perfection,--as culture, from a thorough disinterested study
of human nature and human experience, learns to conceive it,--is an
harmonious expansion of all the powers which make the beauty and
worth of human nature, and is not consistent with the over-
development of any one power at the expense of the rest. Here it
goes beyond religion, as religion is generally conceived by us.

If culture, then, is a study of perfection, and of harmonious
perfection, general perfection, and perfection which consists in
becoming something rather than in having something, in an inward
condition of the mind and spirit, not in an outward set of
circumstances,--it is clear that culture, instead of being the
frivolous and useless thing which Mr. Bright, and Mr. Frederic
Harrison, and many other liberals are apt to call it, has a very
important function to fulfil for mankind. And this function is
particularly [15] important in our modern world, of which the whole
civilisation is, to a much greater degree than the civilisation of
Greece and Rome, mechanical and external, and tends constantly to
become more so. But above all in our own country has culture a
weighty part to perform, because here that mechanical character,
which civilisation tends to take everywhere, is shown in the most
eminent degree. Indeed nearly all the characters of perfection, as
culture teaches us to fix them, meet in this country with some
powerful tendency which thwarts them and sets them at defiance. The
idea of perfection as an inward condition of the mind and spirit is
at variance with the mechanical and material civilisation in esteem
with us, and nowhere, as I have said, so much in esteem as with us.
The idea of perfection as a general expansion of the human family is
at variance with our strong individualism, our hatred of all limits
to the unrestrained swing of the individual's personality, our maxim
of "every man for himself." The idea of perfection as an harmonious
expansion of human nature is at variance with our want of
flexibility, with our inaptitude for seeing more than one side of a
thing, with our intense [16] energetic absorption in the particular
pursuit we happen to be following. So culture has a rough task to
achieve in this country, and its preachers have, and are likely long
to have, a hard time of it, and they will much oftener be regarded,
for a great while to come, as elegant or spurious Jeremiahs, than as
friends and benefactors. That, however, will not prevent their doing
in the end good service if they persevere; and meanwhile, the mode of
action they have to pursue, and the sort of habits they must fight
against, should be made quite clear to every one who may be willing
to look at the matter attentively and dispassionately.

Faith in machinery is, I said, our besetting danger; often in
machinery most absurdly disproportioned to the end which this
machinery, if it is to do any good at all, is to serve; but always in
machinery, as if it had a value in and for itself. What is freedom
but machinery? what is population but machinery? what is coal but
machinery? what are railroads but machinery? what is wealth but
machinery? what are religious organisations but machinery? Now
almost every voice in England is accustomed to speak of these things
as if they [17] were precious ends in themselves, and therefore had
some of the characters of perfection indisputably joined to them. I
have once before noticed Mr. Roebuck's stock argument for proving the
greatness and happiness of England as she is, and for quite stopping
the mouths of all gainsayers. Mr. Roebuck is never weary of
reiterating this argument of his, so I do not know why I should be
weary of noticing it. "May not every man in England say what he
likes?"--Mr. Roebuck perpetually asks; and that, he thinks, is quite
sufficient, and when every man may say what he likes, our aspirations
ought to be satisfied. But the aspirations of culture, which is the
study of perfection, are not satisfied, unless what men say, when
they may say what they like, is worth saying,--has good in it, and
more good than bad. In the same way The Times, replying to some
foreign strictures on the dress, looks, and behaviour of the English
abroad, urges that the English ideal is that every one should be free
to do and to look just as he likes. But culture indefatigably tries,
not to make what each raw person may like, the rule by which he
fashions himself; but to draw ever nearer to a sense of what is
indeed [18] beautiful, graceful, and becoming, and to get the raw
person to like that. And in the same way with respect to railroads
and coal. Every one must have observed the strange language current
during the late discussions as to the possible failure of our
supplies of coal. Our coal, thousands of people were saying, is the
real basis of our national greatness; if our coal runs short, there
is an end of the greatness of England. But what is greatness?--
culture makes us ask. Greatness is a spiritual condition worthy to
excite love, interest, and admiration; and the outward proof of
possessing greatness is that we excite love, interest, and
admiration. If England were swallowed up by the sea to-morrow, which
of the two, a hundred years hence, would most excite the love,
interest, and admiration of mankind,--would most, therefore, show the
evidences of having possessed greatness,--the England of the last
twenty years, or the England of Elizabeth, of a time of splendid
spiritual effort, but when our coal, and our industrial operations
depending on coal, were very little developed? Well then, what an
unsound habit of mind it must be which makes us talk of things like
coal or iron as constituting [19] the greatness of England, and how
salutary a friend is culture, bent on seeing things as they are, and
thus dissipating delusions of this kind and fixing standards of
perfection that are real!

Wealth, again, that end to which our prodigious works for material
advantage are directed,--the commonest of commonplaces tells us how
men are always apt to regard wealth as a precious end in itself; and
certainly they have never been so apt thus to regard it as they are
in England at the present time. Never did people believe anything
more firmly, than nine Englishmen out of ten at the present day
believe that our greatness and welfare are proved by our being so
very rich. Now, the use of culture is that it helps us, by means of
its spiritual standard of perfection, to regard wealth as but
machinery, and not only to say as a matter of words that we regard
wealth as but machinery, but really to perceive and feel that it is
so. If it were not for this purging effect wrought upon our minds by
culture, the whole world, the future as well as the present, would
inevitably belong to the Philistines. The people who believe most
that our greatness and welfare [20] are proved by our being very
rich, and who most give their lives and thoughts to becoming rich,
are just the very people whom we call the Philistines. Culture says:
"Consider these people, then, their way of life, their habits, their
manners, the very tones of their voice; look at them attentively;
observe the literature they read, the things which give them
pleasure, the words which come forth out of their mouths, the
thoughts which make the furniture of their minds; would any amount of
wealth be worth having with the condition that one was to become just
like these people by having it?" And thus culture begets a
dissatisfaction which is of the highest possible value in stemming
the common tide of men's thoughts in a wealthy and industrial
community, and which saves the future, as one may hope, from being
vulgarised, even if it cannot save the present.

Population, again, and bodily health and vigour, are things which are
nowhere treated in such an unintelligent, misleading, exaggerated way
as in England. Both are really machinery; yet how many people all
around us do we see rest in them and fail to look beyond them! Why,
I have heard [21] people, fresh from reading certain articles of The
Times on the Registrar-General's returns of marriages and births in
this country, who would talk of large families in quite a solemn
strain, as if they had something in itself beautiful, elevating, and
meritorious in them; as if the British Philistine would have only to
present himself before the Great Judge with his twelve children, in
order to be received among the sheep as a matter of right! But
bodily health and vigour, it may be said, are not to be classed with
wealth and population as mere machinery; they have a more real and
essential value. True; but only as they are more intimately
connected with a perfect spiritual condition than wealth or
population are. The moment we disjoin them from the idea of a
perfect spiritual condition, and pursue them, as we do pursue them,
for their own sake and as ends in themselves, our worship of them
becomes as mere worship of machinery, as our worship of wealth or
population, and as unintelligent and vulgarising a worship as that
is. Every one with anything like an adequate idea of human
perfection has distinctly marked this subordination to higher and
spiritual ends of the cultivation of bodily vigour and activity.

[22] "Bodily exercise profiteth little; but godliness is profitable
unto all things," says the author of the Epistle to Timothy. And the
utilitarian Franklin says just as explicitly:--"Eat and drink such an
exact quantity as suits the constitution of thy body, in reference to
the services of the mind." But the point of view of culture, keeping
the mark of human perfection simply and broadly in view, and not
assigning to this perfection, as religion or utilitarianism assign to
it, a special and limited character,--this point of view, I say, of
culture is best given by these words of Epictetus:--"It is a sign of
aphuia"+ says he,--that is, of a nature not finely tempered,--"to
give yourselves up to things which relate to the body; to make, for
instance, a great fuss about exercise, a great fuss about eating, a
great fuss about drinking, a great fuss about walking, a great fuss
about riding. All these things ought to be done merely by the way:
the formation of the spirit and character must be our real concern."
This is admirable; and, indeed, the Greek words aphuia, euphuia,+ a
finely tempered nature, a coarsely tempered nature, give exactly the
notion of perfection as culture brings us to conceive of it: a
perfection in which the [23] characters of beauty and intelligence
are both present, which unites "the two noblest of things,"--as
Swift, who of one of the two, at any rate, had himself all too
little, most happily calls them in his Battle of the Books,--"the two
noblest of things, sweetness and light." The euphyês+ is the man who
tends towards sweetness and light; the aphyês+ is precisely our
Philistine. The immense spiritual significance of the Greeks is due
to their having been inspired with this central and happy idea of the
essential character of human perfection; and Mr. Bright's
misconception of culture, as a smattering of Greek and Latin, conies
itself, after all, from this wonderful significance of the Greeks
having affected the very machinery of our education, and is in itself
a kind of homage to it.

It is by thus making sweetness and light to be characters of
perfection, that culture is of like spirit with poetry, follows one
law with poetry. I have called religion a more important
manifestation of human nature than poetry, because it has worked on a
broader scale for perfection, and with greater masses of men. But
the idea of beauty and of a human nature perfect on all its sides,
which is the dominant idea of poetry, is a true and invaluable idea,
though it [24] has not yet had the success that the idea of
conquering the obvious faults of our animality, and of a human nature
perfect on the moral side, which is the dominant idea of religion,
has been enabled to have; and it is destined, adding to itself the
religious idea of a devout energy, to transform and govern the other.
The best art and poetry of the Greeks, in which religion and poetry
are one, in which the idea of beauty and of a human nature perfect on
all sides adds to itself a religious and devout energy, and works in
the strength of that, is on this account of such surpassing interest
and instructiveness for us, though it was,--as, having regard to the
human race in general, and, indeed, having regard to the Greeks
themselves, we must own,--a premature attempt, an attempt which for
success needed the moral and religious fibre in humanity to be more
braced and developed than it had yet been. But Greece did not err in
having the idea of beauty, harmony, and complete human perfection, so
present and paramount; it is impossible to have this idea too present
and paramount; only the moral fibre must be braced too. And we,
because we have braced the moral fibre, are not on that account in
the right way, if at the same [25] time the idea of beauty, harmony,
and complete human perfection, is wanting or misapprehended amongst
us; and evidently it is wanting or misapprehended at present. And
when we rely as we do on our religious organisations, which in
themselves do not and cannot give us this idea, and think we have
done enough if we make them spread and prevail, then, I say, we fall
into our common fault of overvaluing machinery.

Nothing is more common than for people to confound the inward peace
and satisfaction which follows the subduing of the obvious faults of
our animality with what I may call absolute inward peace and
satisfaction,--the peace and satisfaction which are reached as we
draw near to complete spiritual perfection, and not merely to moral
perfection, or rather to relative moral perfection. No people in the
world have done more and struggled more to attain this relative moral
perfection than our English race has; for no people in the world has
the command to resist the Devil, to overcome the Wicked One, in the
nearest and most obvious sense of those words, had such a pressing
force and reality. And we have had our reward, not only in the great
worldly prosperity which our obedience to this [26] command has
brought us, but also, and far more, in great inward peace and
satisfaction. But to me few things are more pathetic than to see
people, on the strength of the inward peace and satisfaction which
their rudimentary efforts towards perfection have brought them, use,
concerning their incomplete perfection and the religious
organisations within which they have found it, language which
properly applies only to complete perfection, and is a far-off echo
of the human soul's prophecy of it. Religion itself, I need hardly
say, supplies in abundance this grand language, which is really the
severest criticism of such an incomplete perfection as alone we have
yet reached through our religious organisations.

The impulse of the English race towards moral development and self-
conquest has nowhere so powerfully manifested itself as in
Puritanism; nowhere has Puritanism found so adequate an expression as
in the religious organisation of the Independents. The modern
Independents have a newspaper, the Nonconformist, written with great
sincerity and ability. The motto, the standard, the profession of
faith which this organ of theirs carries aloft, is: "The Dissidence
of Dissent and the [27] Protestantism of the Protestant religion."
There is sweetness and light, and an ideal of complete harmonious
human perfection! One need not go to culture and poetry to find
language to judge it. Religion, with its instinct for perfection,
supplies language to judge it: "Finally, be of one mind, united in
feeling," says St. Peter. There is an ideal which judges the Puritan
ideal,--"The Dissidence of Dissent and the Protestantism of the
Protestant religion!" And religious organisations like this are what
people believe in, rest in, would give their lives for! Such, I say,
is the wonderful virtue of even the beginnings of perfection, of
having conquered even the plain faults of our animality, that the
religious organisation which has helped us to do it can seem to us
something precious, salutary, and to be propagated, even when it
wears such a brand of imperfection on its forehead as this. And men
have got such a habit of giving to the language of religion a special
application, of making it a mere jargon, that for the condemnation
which religion itself passes on the shortcomings of their religious
organisations they have no ear; they are sure to cheat themselves and
to explain this condemnation [28] away. They can only be reached by
the criticism which culture, like poetry, speaking a language not to
be sophisticated, and resolutely testing these organisations by the
ideal of a human perfection complete on all sides, applies to them.

But men of culture and poetry, it will be said, are again and again
failing, and failing conspicuously, in the necessary first stage to
perfection, in the subduing of the great obvious faults of our
animality, which it is the glory of these religious organisations to
have helped us to subdue. True, they do often so fail: they have
often been without the virtues as well as the faults of the Puritan;
it has been one of their dangers that they so felt the Puritan's
faults that they too much neglected the practice of his virtues. I
will not, however, exculpate them at the Puritan's expense; they have
often failed in morality, and morality is indispensable; they have
been punished for their failure, as the Puritan has been rewarded for
his performance. They have been punished wherein they erred; but
their ideal of beauty and sweetness and light, and a human nature
complete on all its sides, remains the true ideal of perfection
still; just as the Puritan's ideal [29] of perfection remains narrow
and inadequate, although for what he did well he has been richly
rewarded. Notwithstanding the mighty results of the Pilgrim Fathers'
voyage, they and their standard of perfection are rightly judged when
we figure to ourselves Shakspeare or Virgil,--souls in whom sweetness
and light, and all that in human nature is most humane, were
eminent,--accompanying them on their voyage, and think what
intolerable company Shakspeare and Virgil would have found them! In
the same way let us judge the religious organisations which we see
all around us. Do not let us deny the good and the happiness which
they have accomplished; but do not let us fail to see clearly that
their idea of human perfection is narrow and inadequate, and that the
Dissidence of Dissent and the Protestantism of the Protestant
religion will never bring humanity to its true goal. As I said with
regard to wealth,--let us look at the life of those who live in and
for it;--so I say with regard to the religious organisations. Look
at the life imaged in such a newspaper as the Nonconformist;--a life
of jealousy of the Establishment, disputes, tea-meetings, openings of
chapels, sermons; and then think of it [30] as an ideal of a human
life completing itself on all sides, and aspiring with all its organs
after sweetness, light, and perfection!

Another newspaper, representing, like the Nonconformist, one of the
religious organisations of this country, was a short time ago giving
an account of the crowd at Epsom on the Derby day, and of all the
vice and hideousness which was to be seen in that crowd; and then the
writer turned suddenly round upon Professor Huxley, and asked him how
he proposed to cure all this vice and hideousness without religion.
I confess I felt disposed to ask the asker this question: And how do
you propose to cure it with such a religion as yours? How is the
ideal of a life so unlovely, so unattractive, so narrow, so far
removed from a true and satisfying ideal of human perfection, as is
the life of your religious organisation as you yourself image it, to
conquer and transform all this vice and hideousness? Indeed, the
strongest plea for the study of perfection as pursued by culture, the
clearest proof of the actual inadequacy of the idea of perfection
held by the religious organisations,--expressing, as I have said, the
most wide-spread effort which the human [31] race has yet made after
perfection,--is to be found in the state of our life and society with
these in possession of it, and having been in possession of it I know
not how many hundred years. We are all of us included in some
religious organisation or other; we all call ourselves, in the
sublime and aspiring language of religion which I have before
noticed, children of God. Children of God;--it is an immense
pretension!--and how are we to justify it? By the works which we do,
and the words which we speak. And the work which we collective
children of God do, our grand centre of life, our city which we have
builded for us to dwell in, is London! London, with its unutterable
external hideousness, and with its internal canker of public
egestas, privatim opulentia,+--to use the words which Sallust puts
into Cato's mouth about Rome,--unequalled in the world! The word,
again, which we children of God speak, the voice which most hits our
collective thought, the newspaper with the largest circulation in
England, nay, with the largest circulation in the whole world, is the
Daily Telegraph! I say that when our religious organisations,--which
I admit to express the most considerable effort after perfection [32]
that our race has yet made,--land us in no better result than this,
it is high time to examine carefully their idea of perfection, to see
whether it does not leave out of account sides and forces of human
nature which we might turn to great use; whether it would not be more
operative if it were more complete. And I say that the English
reliance on our religious organisations and on their ideas of human
perfection just as they stand, is like our reliance on freedom, on
muscular Christianity, on population, on coal, on wealth,--mere
belief in machinery, and unfruitful; and that it is wholesomely
counteracted by culture, bent on seeing things as they are, and on
drawing the human race onwards to a more complete perfection.

Culture, however, shows its single-minded love of perfection, its
desire simply to make reason and the will of God prevail, its freedom
from fanaticism, by its attitude towards all this machinery, even
while it insists that it is machinery. Fanatics, seeing the mischief
men do themselves by their blind belief in some machinery or other,--
whether it is wealth and industrialism, or whether it is the
cultivation of bodily strength and activity, or whether it is a [33]
political organisation, or whether it is a religious organisation,--
oppose with might and main the tendency to this or that political and
religious organisation, or to games and athletic exercises, or to
wealth and industrialism, and try violently to stop it. But the
flexibility which sweetness and light give, and which is one of the
rewards of culture pursued in good faith, enables a man to see that a
tendency may be necessary, and even, as a preparation for something
in the future, salutary, and yet that the generations or individuals
who obey this tendency are sacrificed to it, that they fall short of
the hope of perfection by following it; and that its mischiefs are to
be criticised, lest it should take too firm a hold and last after it
has served its purpose. Mr. Gladstone well pointed out, in a speech
at Paris,--and others have pointed out the same thing,--how necessary
is the present great movement towards wealth and industrialism, in
order to lay broad foundations of material well-being for the society
of the future. The worst of these justifications is, that they are
generally addressed to the very people engaged, body and soul, in the
movement in question; at all events, that they are always seized with
[34] the greatest avidity by these people, and taken by them as quite
justifying their life; and that thus they tend to harden them in
their sins. Now, culture admits the necessity of the movement
towards fortune-making and exaggerated industrialism, readily allows
that the future may derive benefit from it; but insists, at the same
time, that the passing generations of industrialists,--forming, for
the most part, the stout main body of Philistinism,--are sacrificed
to it. In the same way, the result of all the games and sports which
occupy the passing generation of boys and young men may be the
establishment of a better and sounder physical type for the future to
work with. Culture does not set itself against the games and sports;
it congratulates the future, and hopes it will make a good use of its
improved physical basis; but it points out that our passing
generation of boys and young men is, meantime, sacrificed.
Puritanism was necessary to develop the moral fibre of the English
race, Nonconformity to break the yoke of ecclesiastical domination
over men's minds and to prepare the way for freedom of thought in the
distant future; still, culture points out that the harmonious
perfection of generations of [35] Puritans and Nonconformists have
been, in consequence, sacrificed. Freedom of speech is necessary for
the society of the future, but the young lions of the Daily Telegraph
in the meanwhile are sacrificed. A voice for every man in his
country's government is necessary for the society of the future, but
meanwhile Mr. Beales and Mr. Bradlaugh are sacrificed.

Oxford, the Oxford of the past, has many faults; and she has heavily
paid for them in defeat, in isolation, in want of hold upon the
modern world. Yet we in Oxford, brought up amidst the beauty and
sweetness of that beautiful place, have not failed to seize one
truth:--the truth that beauty and sweetness are essential characters
of a complete human perfection. When I insist on this, I am all in
the faith and tradition of Oxford. I say boldly that this our
sentiment for beauty and sweetness, our sentiment against hideousness
and rawness, has been at the bottom of our attachment to so many
beaten causes, of our opposition to so many triumphant movements.
And the sentiment is true, and has never been wholly defeated, and
has shown its power even in its defeat. We have not won our
political battles, we have not carried our [36] main points, we have
not stopped our adversaries' advance, we have not marched
victoriously with the modern world; but we have told silently upon
the mind of the country, we have prepared currents of feeling which
sap our adversaries' position when it seems gained, we have kept up
our own communications with the future. Look at the course of the
great movement which shook Oxford to its centre some thirty years
ago! It was directed, as any one who reads Dr. Newman's Apology may
see, against what in one word maybe called "liberalism." Liberalism
prevailed; it was the appointed force to do the work of the hour; it
was necessary, it was inevitable that it should prevail. The Oxford
movement was broken, it failed; our wrecks are scattered on every

Quae regio in terris nostri non plena laboris?+

But what was it, this liberalism, as Dr. Newman saw it, and as it
really broke the Oxford movement? It was the great middle-class
liberalism, which had for the cardinal points of its belief the
Reform Bill of 1832, and local self-government, in politics; in the
social sphere, free-trade, unrestricted competition, [37] and the
making of large industrial fortunes; in the religious sphere, the
Dissidence of Dissent and the Protestantism of the Protestant
religion. I do not say that other and more intelligent forces than
this were not opposed to the Oxford movement: but this was the force
which really beat it; this was the force which Dr. Newman felt
himself fighting with; this was the force which till only the other
day seemed to be the paramount force in this country, and to be in
possession of the future; this was the force whose achievements fill
Mr. Lowe with such inexpressible admiration, and whose rule he was so
horror-struck to see threatened. And where is this great force of
Philistinism now? It is thrust into the second rank, it is become a
power of yesterday, it has lost the future. A new power has suddenly
appeared, a power which it is impossible yet to judge fully, but
which is certainly a wholly different force from middle-class
liberalism; different in its cardinal points of belief, different in
its tendencies in every sphere. It loves and admires neither the
legislation of middle-class Parliaments, nor the local self-
government of middle-class vestries, nor the unrestricted competition
of middle-class [38] industrialists, nor the dissidence of middle-
class Dissent and the Protestantism of middle-class Protestant
religion. I am not now praising this new force, or saying that its
own ideals are better; all I say is, that they are wholly different.
And who will estimate how much the currents of feeling created by Dr.
Newman's movement, the keen desire for beauty and sweetness which it
nourished, the deep aversion it manifested to the hardness and
vulgarity of middle-class liberalism, the strong light it turned on
the hideous and grotesque illusions of middle-class Protestantism,--
who will estimate how much all these contributed to swell the tide of
secret dissatisfaction which has mined the ground under the self-
confident liberalism of the last thirty years, and has prepared the
way for its sudden collapse and supersession? It is in this manner
that the sentiment of Oxford for beauty and sweetness conquers, and
in this manner long may it continue to conquer!

In this manner it works to the same end as culture, and there is
plenty of work for it yet to do. I have said that the new and more
democratic force which is now superseding our old middle-class
liberalism cannot yet be rightly judged. It has its [39] main
tendencies still to form. We hear promises of its giving us
administrative reform, law reform, reform of education, and I know
not what; but those promises come rather from its advocates, wishing
to make a good plea for it and to justify it for superseding middle-
class liberalism, than from clear tendencies which it has itself yet
developed. But meanwhile it has plenty of well-intentioned friends
against whom culture may with advantage continue to uphold steadily
its ideal of human perfection; that this is an inward spiritual
activity, having for its characters increased sweetness, increased
light, increased life, increased sympathy. Mr. Bright, who has a
foot in both worlds, the world of middle-class liberalism and the
world of democracy, but who brings most of his ideas from the world
of middle-class liberalism in which he was bred, always inclines to
inculcate that faith in machinery to which, as we have seen,
Englishmen are so prone, and which has been the bane of middle-class
liberalism. He complains with a sorrowful indignation of people who
"appear to have no proper estimate of the value of the franchise;" he
leads his disciples to believe,--what the Englishman is always too
ready to believe, [40] --that the having a vote, like the having a
large family, or a large business, or large muscles, has in itself
some edifying and perfecting effect upon human nature. Or else he
cries out to the democracy,--"the men," as he calls them, "upon whose
shoulders the greatness of England rests,"--he cries out to them:
"See what you have done! I look over this country and see the cities
you have built, the railroads you have made, the manufactures you
have produced, the cargoes which freight the ships of the greatest
mercantile navy the world has ever seen! I see that you have
converted by your labours what was once a wilderness, these islands,
into a fruitful garden; I know that you have created this wealth, and
are a nation whose name is a word of power throughout all the world."
Why, this is just the very style of laudation with which Mr. Roebuck
or Mr. Lowe debauch the minds of the middle classes, and make such
Philistines of them. It is the same fashion of teaching a man to
value himself not on what he is, not on his progress in sweetness and
light, but on the number of the railroads he has constructed, or the
bigness of the Tabernacle he has built. Only the middle classes are
told they have [41] done it all with their energy, self-reliance, and
capital, and the democracy are told they have done it all with their
hands and sinews. But teaching the democracy to put its trust in
achievements of this kind is merely training them to be Philistines
to take the place of the Philistines whom they are superseding; and
they too, like the middle class, will be encouraged to sit down at
the banquet of the future without having on a wedding garment, and
nothing excellent can then come from them. Those who know their
besetting faults, those who have watched them and listened to them,
or those who will read the instructive account recently given of them
by one of themselves, the Journeyman Engineer, will agree that the
idea which culture sets before us of perfection,--an increased
spiritual activity, having for its characters increased sweetness,
increased light, increased life, increased sympathy,--is an idea
which the new democracy needs far more than the idea of the
blessedness of the franchise, or the wonderfulness of their own
industrial performances.

Other well-meaning friends of this new power are for leading it, not
in the old ruts of middle-class [42] Philistinism, but in ways which
are naturally alluring to the feet of democracy, though in this
country they are novel and untried ways. I may call them the ways of
Jacobinism. Violent indignation with the past, abstract systems of
renovation applied wholesale, a new doctrine drawn up in black and
white for elaborating down to the very smallest details a rational
society for the future,--these are the ways of Jacobinism. Mr.
Frederic Harrison and other disciples of Comte,--one of them, Mr.
Congreve, is an old acquaintance of mine, and I am glad to have an
opportunity of publicly expressing my respect for his talents and
character,--are among the friends of democracy who are for leading it
in paths of this kind. Mr. Frederic Harrison is very hostile to
culture, and from a natural enough motive; for culture is the eternal
opponent of the two things which are the signal marks of Jacobinism,-
-its fierceness, and its addiction to an abstract system. Culture is
always assigning to system-makers and systems a smaller share in the
bent of human destiny than their friends like. A current in people's
minds sets towards new ideas; people are dissatisfied with their old
narrow stock of Philistine ideas, Anglo-Saxon [43] ideas, or any
other; and some man, some Bentham or Comte, who has the real merit of
having early and strongly felt and helped the new current, but who
brings plenty of narrownesses and mistakes of his own into his
feeling and help of it, is credited with being the author of the
whole current, the fit person to be entrusted with its regulation and
to guide the human race. The excellent German historian of the
mythology of Rome, Preller, relating the introduction at Rome under
the Tarquins of the worship of Apollo, the god of light, healing, and
reconciliation, observes that it was not so much the Tarquins who
brought to Rome the new worship of Apollo, as a current in the mind
of the Roman people which set powerfully at that time towards a new
worship of this kind, and away from the old run of Latin and Sabine
religious ideas. In a similar way, culture directs our attention to
the current in human affairs, and to its continual working, and will
not let us rivet our faith upon any one man and his doings. It makes
us see, not only his good side, but also how much in him was of
necessity limited and transient; nay, it even feels a pleasure, a
sense of an increased freedom and of an ampler future, in so [44]
doing. I remember, when I was under the influence of a mind to which
I feel the greatest obligations, the mind of a man who was the very
incarnation of sanity and clear sense, a man the most considerable,
it seems to me, whom America has yet produced,--Benjamin Franklin,--I
remember the relief with which, after long feeling the sway of
Franklin's imperturbable common-sense, I came upon a project of his
for a new version of the Book of Job, to replace the old version, the
style of which, says Franklin, has become obsolete, and thence less
agreeable. "I give," he continues, "a few verses, which may serve as
a sample of the kind of version I would recommend." We all recollect
the famous verse in our translation: "Then Satan answered the Lord
and said: 'Doth Job fear God for nought?'" Franklin makes this:
"Does Your Majesty imagine that Job's good conduct is the effect of
mere personal attachment and affection?" I well remember how when
first I read that, I drew a deep breath of relief, and said to
myself: "After all, there is a stretch of humanity beyond Franklin's
victorious good sense!" So, after hearing Bentham cried loudly up as
the renovator of modern society, [45] and Bentham's mind and ideas
proposed as the rulers of our future, I open the Deontology. There I
read: "While Xenophon was writing his history and Euclid teaching
geometry, Socrates and Plato were talking nonsense under pretence of
talking wisdom and morality. This morality of theirs consisted in
words; this wisdom of theirs was the denial of matters known to every
man's experience." From the moment of reading that, I am delivered
from the bondage of Bentham! the fanaticism of his adherents can
touch me no longer; I feel the inadequacy of his mind and ideas for
being the rule of human society, for perfection. Culture tends
always thus to deal with the men of a system, of disciples, of a
school; with men like Comte, or the late Mr. Buckle, or Mr. Mill.
However much it may find to admire in these personages, or in some of
them, it nevertheless remembers the text: "Be not ye called Rabbi!"
and it soon passes on from any Rabbi. But Jacobinism loves a Rabbi;
it does not want to pass on from its Rabbi in pursuit of a future and
still unreached perfection; it wants its Rabbi and his ideas to stand
for perfection, that they may with the more authority recast the
world; [46] and for Jacobinism, therefore, culture,--eternally
passing onwards and seeking,--is an impertinence and an offence. But
culture, just because it resists this tendency of Jacobinism to
impose on us a man with limitations and errors of his own along with
the true ideas of which he is the organ, really does the world and
Jacobinism itself a service.

So, too, Jacobinism, in its fierce hatred of the past and of those
whom it makes liable for the sins of the past, cannot away with
culture,--culture with its inexhaustible indulgence, its
consideration of circumstances, its severe judgment of actions joined
to its merciful judgment of persons. "The man of culture is in
politics," cries Mr. Frederic Harrison, "one of the poorest mortals
alive!" Mr. Frederic Harrison wants to be doing business, and he
complains that the man of culture stops him with a "turn for small
fault-finding, love of selfish ease, and indecision in action." Of
what use is culture, he asks, except for "a critic of new books or a
professor of belles lettres?" Why, it is of use because, in presence
of the fierce exasperation which breathes, or rather, I may say,
hisses, through the whole production in which Mr. Frederic Harrison
[47] asks that question, it reminds us that the perfection of human
nature is sweetness and light. It is of use because, like religion,-
-that other effort after perfection,--it testifies that, where bitter
envying and strife are, there is confusion and every evil work.

The pursuit of perfection, then, is the pursuit of sweetness and
light. He who works for sweetness works in the end for light also;
he who works for light works in the end for sweetness also. But he
who works for sweetness and light united, works to make reason and
the will of God prevail. He who works for machinery, he who works
for hatred, works only for confusion. Culture looks beyond
machinery, culture hates hatred; culture has but one great passion,
the passion for sweetness and light. Yes, it has one yet greater!--
the passion for making them prevail. It is not satisfied till we all
come to a perfect man; it knows that the sweetness and light of the

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