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Culture and Anarchy by Matthew Arnold

Part 3 out of 4

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is sin; and the space which sin fills in Hebraism, as compared with
Hellenism, is indeed prodigious. This obstacle to perfection fills
the whole scene, and perfection appears remote and rising away from
earth, in the background. Under the name of sin, the difficulties of
knowing oneself and conquering oneself which impede man's passage to
perfection, become, for Hebraism, a positive, active entity hostile
to man, a mysterious power which I heard Dr. Pusey the other day, in
one of his impressive sermons, compare to a hideous hunchback seated
on our shoulders, and which it is the main business of our lives to
hate and oppose. The discipline of the [153] Old Testament may be
summed up as a discipline teaching us to abhor and flee from sin; the
discipline of the New Testament, as a discipline teaching us to die
to it. As Hellenism speaks of thinking clearly, seeing things in
their essence and beauty, as a grand and precious feat for man to
achieve, so Hebraism speaks of becoming conscious of sin, of
awakening to a sense of sin, as a feat of this kind. It is obvious
to what wide divergence these differing tendencies, actively
followed, must lead. As one passes and repasses from Hellenism to
Hebraism, from Plato to St. Paul, one feels inclined to rub one's
eyes and ask oneself whether man is indeed a gentle and simple being,
showing the traces of a noble and divine nature; or an unhappy
chained captive, labouring with groanings that cannot be uttered to
free himself from the body of this death.

Apparently it was the Hellenic conception of human nature which was
unsound, for the world could not live by it. Absolutely to call it
unsound, however, is to fall into the common error of its Hebraising
enemies; but it was unsound at that particular moment of man's
development, it was premature. The indispensable basis of conduct
and [154] self-control, the platform upon which alone the perfection
aimed at by Greece can come into bloom, was not to be reached by our
race so easily; centuries of probation and discipline were needed to
bring us to it. Therefore the bright promise of Hellenism faded, and
Hebraism ruled the world. Then was seen that astonishing spectacle,
so well marked by the often quoted words of the prophet Zechariah,
when men of all languages of the nations took hold of the skirt of
him that was a Jew, saying:--"We will go with you, for we have heard
that God is with you."+ And the Hebraism which thus received and
ruled a world all gone out of the way and altogether become
unprofitable, was, and could not but be, the later, the more
spiritual, the more attractive development of Hebraism. It was
Christianity; that is to say, Hebraism aiming at self-conquest and
rescue from the thrall of vile affections, not by obedience to the
letter of a law, but by conformity to the image of a self-sacrificing
example. To a world stricken with moral enervation Christianity
offered its spectacle of an inspired self-sacrifice; to men who
refused themselves nothing, it showed one who refused [155] himself
everything;--"my Saviour banished joy" says George Herbert. When the
alma Venus, the life-giving and joy-giving power of nature, so fondly
cherished by the Pagan world, could not save her followers from self-
dissatisfaction and ennui, the severe words of the apostle came
bracingly and refreshingly: "Let no man deceive you with vain words,
for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children
of disobedience."+ Throughout age after age, and generation after
generation, our race, or all that part of our race which was most
living and progressive, was baptized into a death;+ and endeavoured,
by suffering in the flesh, to cease from sin. Of this endeavour, the
animating labours and afflictions of early Christianity, the touching
asceticism of mediaeval Christianity, are the great historical
manifestations. Literary monuments of it, each, in its own way,
incomparable, remain in the Epistles of St. Paul, in St. Augustine's
Confessions, and in the two original and simplest books of the
Imitation.*

Of two disciplines laying their main stress, the [156] one, on clear
intelligence, the other, on firm obedience; the one, on
comprehensively knowing the grounds of one's duty, the other, on
diligently practising it; the one on taking all possible care (to use
Bishop Wilson's words again) that the light we have be not darkness,
the other, that according to the best light we have we diligently
walk,--the priority naturally belongs to that discipline which braces
man's moral powers, and founds for him an indispensable basis of
character. And, therefore, it is justly said of the Jewish people,
who were charged with setting powerfully forth that side of the
divine order to which the words conscience and self-conquest point,
that they were "entrusted with the oracles of God;"+ as it is justly
said of Christianity, which followed Judaism and which set forth this
side with a much deeper effectiveness and a much wider influence,
that the wisdom of the old Pagan world was foolishness compared to
it. No words of devotion and admiration can be too strong to render
thanks to these beneficent forces which have so borne forward
humanity in its appointed work of coming to the knowledge and
possession of itself; above all, in those great [157] moments when
their action was the wholesomest and the most necessary.

But the evolution of these forces, separately and in themselves, is
not the whole evolution of humanity,--their single history is not the
whole history of man; whereas their admirers are always apt to make
it stand for the whole history. Hebraism and Hellenism are, neither
of them, the law of human development, as their admirers are prone to
make them; they are, each of them, contributions to human
development,--august contributions, invaluable contributions; and
each showing itself to us more august, more invaluable, more
preponderant over the other, according to the moment in which we take
them, and the relation in which we stand to them. The nations of our
modern world, children of that immense and salutary movement which
broke up the Pagan world, inevitably stand to Hellenism in a relation
which dwarfs it, and to Hebraism in a relation which magnifies it.
They are inevitably prone to take Hebraism as the law of human
development, and not as simply a contribution to it, however
precious. And yet the lesson must perforce be [158] learned, that
the human spirit is wider than the most priceless of the forces which
bear it onward, and that to the whole development of man Hebraism
itself is, like Hellenism, but a contribution.

Perhaps we may help ourselves to see this clearer by an illustration
drawn from the treatment of a single great idea which has profoundly
engaged the human spirit, and has given it eminent opportunities for
showing its nobleness and energy. It surely must be perceived that
the idea of the immortality of the soul, as this idea rises in its
generality before the human spirit, is something grander, truer, and
more satisfying, than it is in the particular forms by which St.
Paul, in the famous fifteenth chapter of the Epistle to the
Corinthians,+ and Plato, in the Phaedo, endeavour to develope and
establish it. Surely we cannot but feel, that the argumentation with
which the Hebrew apostle goes about to expound this great idea is,
after all, confused and inconclusive; and that the reasoning, drawn
from analogies of likeness and equality, which is employed upon it by
the Greek philosopher, is over-subtle and sterile? Above and beyond
the inadequate solutions which Hebraism and Hellenism here attempt,
extends the immense [159] and august problem itself, and the human
spirit which gave birth to it. And this single illustration may
suggest to us how the same thing happens in other cases also.

But meanwhile, by alternations of Hebraism and Hellenism, of man's
intellectual and moral impulses, of the effort to see things as they
really are, and the effort to win peace by self-conquest, the human
spirit proceeds, and each of these two forces has its appointed hours
of culmination and seasons of rule. As the great movement of
Christianity was a triumph of Hebraism and man's moral impulses, so
the great movement which goes by the name of the Renascence* was an
uprising and re-instatement of man's intellectual impulses and of
Hellenism. We in England, the devoted children of Protestantism,
chiefly know the Renascence by its subordinate and secondary side of
the Reformation. The Reformation has been often called a Hebraising
revival, a return to the ardour and sincereness of primitive [160]
Christianity. No one, however, can study the development of
Protestantism and of Protestant churches without feeling that into
the Reformation too,--Hebraising child of the Renascence and
offspring of its fervour, rather than its intelligence, as it
undoubtedly was,--the subtle Hellenic leaven of the Renascence found
its way, and that the exact respective parts in the Reformation, of
Hebraism and of Hellenism, are not easy to separate. But what we may
with truth say is, that all which Protestantism was to itself clearly
conscious of, all which it succeeded in clearly setting forth in
words, had the characters of Hebraism rather than of Hellenism. The
Reformation was strong, in that it was an earnest return to the Bible
and to doing from the heart the will of God as there written; it was
weak, in that it never consciously grasped or applied the central
idea of the Renascence,--the Hellenic idea of pursuing, in all lines
of activity, the law and science, to use Plato's words, of things as
they really are. Whatever direct superiority, therefore,
Protestantism had over Catholicism was a moral superiority, a
superiority arising out of its greater sincerity and earnestness,--at
the moment of its apparition at any [161] rate,--in dealing with the
heart and conscience; its pretensions to an intellectual superiority
are in general quite illusory. For Hellenism, for the thinking side
in man as distinguished from the acting side, the attitude of mind of
Protestantism towards the Bible in no respect differs from the
attitude of mind of Catholicism towards the Church. The mental habit
of him who imagines that Balaam's ass spoke, in no respect differs
from the mental habit of him who imagines that a Madonna of wood or
stone winked; and the one, who says that God's Church makes him
believe what he believes, and the other, who says that God's Word
makes him believe what he believes, are for the philosopher perfectly
alike in not really and truly knowing, when they say God's Church and
God's Word, what it is they say, or whereof they affirm.

In the sixteenth century, therefore, Hellenism re-entered the world,
and again stood in presence of Hebraism,--a Hebraism renewed and
purged. Now, it has not been enough observed, how, in the
seventeenth century, a fate befell Hellenism in some respects
analogous to that which befell it at the commencement of our era.
The Renascence, that [162] great re-awakening of Hellenism, that
irresistible return of humanity to nature and to seeing things as
they are, which in art, in literature, and in physics, produced such
splendid fruits, had, like the anterior Hellenism of the Pagan world,
a side of moral weakness, and of relaxation or insensibility of the
moral fibre, which in Italy showed itself with the most startling
plainness, but which in France, England, and other countries was very
apparent too. Again this loss of spiritual balance, this exclusive
preponderance given to man's perceiving and knowing side, this
unnatural defect of his feeling and acting side, provoked a reaction.
Let us trace that reaction where it most nearly concerns us.

Science has now made visible to everybody the great and pregnant
elements of difference which lie in race, and in how signal a manner
they make the genius and history of an Indo-European people vary from
those of a Semitic people. Hellenism is of Indo-European growth,
Hebraism is of Semitic growth; and we English, a nation of Indo-
European stock, seem to belong naturally to the movement of
Hellenism. But nothing more strongly marks the essential unity of
man than the affinities we can [163] perceive, in this point or that,
between members of one family of peoples and members of another; and
no affinity of this kind is more strongly marked than that likeness
in the strength and prominence of the moral fibre, which,
notwithstanding immense elements of difference, knits in some special
sort the genius and history of us English, and of our American
descendants across the Atlantic, to the genius and history of the
Hebrew people. Puritanism, which has been so great a power in the
English nation, and in the strongest part of the English nation, was
originally the reaction, in the seventeenth century, of the
conscience and moral sense of our race, against the moral
indifference and lax rule of conduct which in the sixteenth century
came in with the Renascence. It was a reaction of Hebraism against
Hellenism; and it powerfully manifested itself, as was natural, in a
people with much of what we call a Hebraising turn, with a signal
affinity for the bent which was the master-bent of Hebrew life.
Eminently Indo-European by its humour, by the power it shows, through
this gift, of imaginatively acknowledging the multiform aspects of
the problem of life, and of thus getting itself unfixed from its own
over- [164] certainty, of smiling at its own over-tenacity, our race
has yet (and a great part of its strength lies here), in matters of
practical life and moral conduct, a strong share of the assuredness,
the tenacity, the intensity of the Hebrews. This turn manifested
itself in Puritanism, and has had a great part in shaping our history
for the last two hundred years. Undoubtedly it checked and changed
amongst us that movement of the Renascence which we see producing in
the reign of Elizabeth such wonderful fruits; undoubtedly it stopped
the prominent rule and direct development of that order of ideas
which we call by the name of Hellenism, and gave the first rank to a
different order of ideas. Apparently, too, as we said of the former
defeat of Hellenism, if Hellenism was defeated, this shows that
Hellenism was imperfect, and that its ascendency at that moment would
not have been for the world's good.

Yet there is a very important difference between the defeat inflicted
on Hellenism by Christianity eighteen hundred years ago, and the
check given to the Renascence by Puritanism. The greatness of the
difference is well measured by the difference in force, beauty,
significance and usefulness, between [165] primitive Christianity and
Protestantism. Eighteen hundred years ago it was altogether the hour
of Hebraism; primitive Christianity was legitimately and truly the
ascendent force in the world at that time, and the way of mankind's
progress lay through its full development. Another hour in man's
development began in the fifteenth century, and the main road of his
progress then lay for a time through Hellenism. Puritanism was no
longer the central current of the world's progress, it was a side
stream crossing the central current and checking it. The cross and
the check may have been necessary and salutary, but that does not do
away with the essential difference between the main stream of man's
advance and a cross or side stream. For more than two hundred years
the main stream of man's advance has moved towards knowing himself
and the world, seeing things as they are, spontaneity of
consciousness; the main impulse of a great part, and that the
strongest part, of our nation, has been towards strictness of
conscience. They have made the secondary the principal at the wrong
moment, and the principal they have at the wrong moment treated as
secondary. This contravention of the [166] natural order has
produced, as such contravention always must produce, a certain
confusion and false movement, of which we are now beginning to feel,
in almost every direction, the inconvenience. In all directions our
habitual courses of action seem to be losing efficaciousness, credit,
and control, both with others and even with ourselves; everywhere we
see the beginnings of confusion, and we want a clue to some sound
order and authority. This we can only get by going back upon the
actual instincts and forces which rule our life, seeing them as they
really are, connecting them with other instincts and forces, and
enlarging our whole view and rule of life.

NOTES

145. +Proverbs 29:18 is the source of the first passage. I have not
found the exact language of the second quotation, but the thought
resembles that of Psalms 19:9-10: "The fear of the Lord is clean,
enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous
altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much
fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb." King James
Bible.

148. +Romans 3:31. "Do we then make void the law through faith? /
God forbid: yea, we establish the law." King James Bible.

148. +Zechariah 9:12-13. "Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners
of hope: even to day do I declare that I will render double unto
thee; / When I have bent Judah for me, filled the bow with Ephraim,
and raised up thy sons, O Zion, against thy sons, O Greece, and made
thee as the sword of a mighty man." King James Bible.

149. +Proverbs 16:22. "Understanding is a wellspring of life unto
him that hath it: but the instruction of fools is folly." King James
Bible.

149. +John 8:12. "Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am
the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in
darkness, but shall have the light of life." And again: John 9:4-5.
"I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the
night cometh, when no man can work. / As long as I am in the world, I
am the light of the world." King James Bible.

149. +John 8:31-32. "Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on
him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; /
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
King James Bible.

149. +James 1:25. "But whoso looketh into the perfect law of
liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but
a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed." King
James Bible.

149. +Proverbs 2:20-21 may be the passage Arnold has in mind,
although the language differs: "That thou mayest walk in the way of
good men, and keep the paths of the righteous. / For the upright
shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain in it." One of
the central devices in Proverbs is the metaphor of the "path"--of
uprightness, folly, etc. King James Bible.

150. +Romans 1:18. "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven
against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the
truth in unrighteousness." King James Bible.

150. +Philomaths, "fond of knowledge, loving knowledge." (Liddell
and Scott.) GIF image:

154. +Zechariah 8:23. "Thus saith the Lord of hosts; In those days
it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all
languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him
that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that
God is with you." King James Bible.

155. +Ephesians 5:6. "Let no man deceive you with vain words: for
because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of
disobedience." King James Bible.

155. +Romans 6:3. "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized
into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?" King James Bible.

155. *The two first books. +Arnold refers to the Imitatio Christi,
attributed to fourteenth-century priest Thomas Kempis. The Benham
translation and a modern English translation are currently available
from the College of St. Benedict at Saint John's University Internet
Theology Resources site. See also the Benham text link.

156. +Romans 3:1-2. "What advantage then hath the Jew? or what
profit is there of circumcision? / Much every way: chiefly, because
that unto them were committed the oracles of God." King James Bible.

158. +See 1 Corinthians 15. Saint Paul wrestles in this chapter to
explain the Resurrection's promise. For example, refer to 15:50-53:
"Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the
kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. /
Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall
all be changed, / In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the
last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised
incorruptible, and we shall be changed. / For this corruptible must
put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality."

159. *I have ventured to give to the foreign word Renaissance,
destined to become of more common use amongst us as the movement
which it denotes comes, as it will come, increasingly to interest us,
an English form.

CHAPTER V

[166] The matter here opened is so large, and the trains of thought
to which it gives rise are so manifold, that we must be careful to
limit ourselves scrupulously to what has a direct bearing upon our
actual discussion. We have found that at the [167] bottom of our
present unsettled state, so full of the seeds of trouble, lies the
notion of its being the prime right and happiness, for each of us, to
affirm himself, and his ordinary self; to be doing, and to be doing
freely and as he likes. We have found at the bottom of it the
disbelief in right reason as a lawful authority. It was easy to show
from our practice and current history that this is so; but it was
impossible to show why it is so without taking a somewhat wider sweep
and going into things a little more deeply. Why, in fact, should
good, well-meaning, energetic, sensible people, like the bulk of our
countrymen, come to have such light belief in right reason, and such
an exaggerated value for their own independent doing, however crude?
The answer is: because of an exclusive and excessive development in
them, without due allowance for time, place, and circumstance, of
that side of human nature, and that group of human forces, to which
we have given the general name of Hebraism. Because they have
thought their real and only important homage was owed to a power
concerned with their obedience rather than with their intelligence, a
power interested in the moral side of their nature almost
exclusively. Thus they have [168] been led to regard in themselves,
as the one thing needful, strictness of conscience, the staunch
adherence to some fixed law of doing we have got already, instead of
spontaneity of consciousness, which tends continually to enlarge our
whole law of doing. They have fancied themselves to have in their
religion a sufficient basis for the whole of their life fixed and
certain for ever, a full law of conduct and a full law of thought, so
far as thought is needed, as well; whereas what they really have is a
law of conduct, a law of unexampled power for enabling them to war
against the law of sin in their members and not to serve it in the
lusts thereof. The book which contains this invaluable law they call
the Word of God, and attribute to it, as I have said, and as, indeed,
is perfectly well known, a reach and sufficiency co-extensive with
all the wants of human nature. This might, no doubt, be so, if
humanity were not the composite thing it is, if it had only, or in
quite overpowering eminence, a moral side, and the group of instincts
and powers which we call moral. But it has besides, and in notable
eminence, an intellectual side, and the group of instincts and powers
which we call intellectual. No doubt, mankind makes in general its
progress in a [169] fashion which gives at one time full swing to one
of these groups of instincts, at another time to the other; and man's
faculties are so intertwined, that when his moral side, and the
current of force which we call Hebraism, is uppermost, this side will
manage somehow to provide, or appear to provide, satisfaction for his
intellectual needs; and when his moral side, and the current of force
which we call Hellenism, is uppermost, this, again, will provide, or
appear to provide, satisfaction for men's moral needs. But sooner or
later it becomes manifest that when the two sides of humanity proceed
in this fashion of alternate preponderance, and not of mutual
understanding and balance, the side which is uppermost does not
really provide in a satisfactory manner for the needs of the side
which is undermost, and a state of confusion is, sooner or later, the
result. The Hellenic half of our nature, bearing rule, makes a sort
of provision for the Hebrew half, but it turns out to be an
inadequate provision; and again the Hebrew half of our nature bearing
rule makes a sort of provision for the Hellenic half, but this, too,
turns out to be an inadequate provision. The true and smooth order
of humanity's development [170] is not reached in either way. And
therefore, while we willingly admit with the Christian apostle that
the world by wisdom,--that is, by the isolated preponderance of its
intellectual impulses,--knew not God, or the true order of things, it
is yet necessary, also, to set up a sort of converse to this
proposition, and to say likewise (what is equally true) that the
world by Puritanism knew not God. And it is on this converse of the
apostle's proposition that it is particularly needful to insist in
our own country just at present.

Here, indeed, is the answer to many criticisms which have been
addressed to all that we have said in praise of sweetness and light.
Sweetness and light evidently have to do with the bent or side in
humanity which we call Hellenic. Greek intelligence has obviously
for its essence the instinct for what Plato calls the true, firm,
intelligible law of things; the love of light, of seeing things as
they are. Even in the natural sciences, where the Greeks had not
time and means adequately to apply this instinct, and where we have
gone a great deal further than they did, it is this instinct which is
the root of the whole matter and the ground of all [171] our success;
and this instinct the world has mainly learnt of the Greeks, inasmuch
as they are humanity's most signal manifestation of it. Greek art,
again, Greek beauty, have their root in the same impulse to see
things as they really are, inasmuch as Greek art and beauty rest on
fidelity to nature,--the best nature,--and on a delicate
discrimination of what this best nature is. To say we work for
sweetness and light, then, is only another way of saying that we work
for Hellenism. But, oh! cry many people, sweetness and light are not
enough; you must put strength or energy along with them, and make a
kind of trinity of strength, sweetness and light, and then, perhaps,
you may do some good. That is to say, we are to join Hebraism,
strictness of the moral conscience, and manful walking by the best
light we have, together with Hellenism, inculcate both, and rehearse
the praises of both.

Or, rather, we may praise both in conjunction, but we must be careful
to praise Hebraism most. "Culture," says an acute, though somewhat
rigid critic, Mr. Sidgwick, "diffuses sweetness and light. I do not
undervalue these blessings, but religion gives fire and strength, and
the world wants fire [172] and strength even more than sweetness and
light." By religion, let me explain, Mr. Sidgwick here means
particularly that Puritanism on the insufficiency of which I have
been commenting and to which he says I am unfair. Now, no doubt, it
is possible to be a fanatical partisan of light and the instincts
which push us to it, a fanatical enemy of strictness of moral
conscience and the instincts which push us to it. A fanaticism of
this sort deforms and vulgarises the well-known work, in some
respects so remarkable, of the late Mr. Buckle. Such a fanaticism
carries its own mark with it, in lacking sweetness; and its own
penalty, in that, lacking sweetness, it comes in the end to lack
light too. And the Greeks,--the great exponents of humanity's bent
for sweetness and light united, of its perception that the truth of
things must be at the same time beauty,--singularly escaped the
fanaticism which we moderns, whether we Hellenise or whether we
Hebraise, are so apt to show, and arrived,--though failing, as has
been said, to give adequate practical satisfaction to the claims of
man's moral side,--at the idea of a comprehensive adjustment of the
claims of both the sides in man, the moral as well [173] as the
intellectual, of a full estimate of both, and of a reconciliation of
both; an idea which is philosophically of the greatest value, and the
best of lessons for us moderns. So we ought to have no difficulty in
conceding to Mr. Sidgwick that manful walking by the best light one
has,--fire and strength as he calls it,--has its high value as well
as culture, the endeavour to see things in their truth and beauty,
the pursuit of sweetness and light. But whether at this or that
time, and to this or that set of persons, one ought to insist most on
the praises of fire and strength, or on the praises of sweetness and
light, must depend, one would think, on the circumstances and needs
of that particular time and those particular persons. And all that
we have been saying, and indeed any glance at the world around us,
shows that with us, with the most respectable and strongest part of
us, the ruling force is now, and long has been, a Puritan force, the
care for fire and strength, strictness of conscience, Hebraism,
rather than the care for sweetness and light, spontaneity of
consciousness, Hellenism.

Well, then, what is the good of our now rehearsing [174] the praises
of fire and strength to ourselves, who dwell too exclusively on them
already? When Mr. Sidgwick says so broadly, that the world wants
fire and strength even more than sweetness and light, is he not
carried away by a turn for powerful generalisation? does he not
forget that the world is not all of one piece, and every piece with
the same needs at the same time? It may be true that the Roman world
at the beginning of our era, or Leo the Tenth's Court at the time of
the Reformation, or French society in the eighteenth century, needed
fire and strength even more than sweetness and light. But can it be
said that the Barbarians who overran the empire, needed fire and
strength even more than sweetness and light; or that the Puritans
needed them more; or that Mr. Murphy, the Birmingham lecturer, and
the Rev. W. Cattle and his friends, need them more?

The Puritan's great danger is that he imagines himself in possession
of a rule telling him the unum necessarium, or one thing needful,+
and that he then remains satisfied with a very crude conception of
what this rule really is and what it tells him, thinks [175] he has
now knowledge and henceforth needs only to act, and, in this
dangerous state of assurance and self-satisfaction, proceeds to give
full swing to a number of the instincts of his ordinary self. Some
of the instincts of his ordinary self he has, by the help of his rule
of life, conquered; but others which he has not conquered by this
help he is so far from perceiving to need subjugation, and to be
instincts of an inferior self, that he even fancies it to be his
right and duty, in virtue of having conquered a limited part of
himself, to give unchecked swing to the remainder. He is, I say, a
victim of Hebraism, of the tendency to cultivate strictness of
conscience rather than spontaneity of consciousness. And what he
wants is a larger conception of human nature, showing him the number
of other points at which his nature must come to its best, besides
the points which he himself knows and thinks of. There is no unum
necessarium, or one thing needful, which can free human nature from
the obligation of trying to come to its best at all these points.
The real unum necessarium for us is to come to our best at all
points. Instead of our "one thing needful," justifying in us
vulgarity, hideousness, ignorance, violence,--our [176] vulgarity,
hideousness, ignorance, violence, are really so many touchstones
which try our one thing needful, and which prove that in the state,
at any rate, in which we ourselves have it, it is not all we want.
And as the force which encourages us to stand staunch and fast by the
rule and ground we have is Hebraism, so the force which encourages us
to go back upon this rule, and to try the very ground on which we
appear to stand, is Hellenism,--a turn for giving our consciousness
free play and enlarging its range. And what I say is, not that
Hellenism is always for everybody more wanted than Hebraism, but that
for the Rev. W. Cattle at this particular moment, and for the great
majority of us his fellow-countrymen, it is more wanted.

Nothing is more striking than to observe in how many ways a limited
conception of human nature, the notion of a one thing needful, a one
side in us to be made uppermost, the disregard of a full and
harmonious development of ourselves, tells injuriously on our
thinking and acting. In the first place, our hold upon the rule or
standard to which we look for our one thing needful, tends to become
less and less near and vital, our conception of it more and more
[177] mechanical, and unlike the thing itself as it was conceived in
the mind where it originated. The dealings of Puritanism with the
writings of St. Paul afford a noteworthy illustration of this.
Nowhere so much as in the writings of St. Paul, and in that great
apostle's greatest work, the Epistle to the Romans, has Puritanism
found what seemed to furnish it with the one thing needful, and to
give it canons of truth absolute and final. Now all writings, as has
been already said, even the most precious writings and the most
fruitful, must inevitably, from the very nature of things, be but
contributions to human thought and human development, which extend
wider than they do. Indeed, St. Paul, in the very Epistle of which
we are speaking, shows, when he asks, "Who hath known the mind of the
Lord?"+--who hath known, that is, the true and divine order of things
in its entirety,--that he himself acknowledges this fully. And we
have already pointed out in another Epistle of St. Paul a great and
vital idea of the human spirit,--the idea of the immortality of the
soul,--transcending and overlapping, so to speak, the expositor's
power to give it adequate definition and expression. But quite
distinct from the question [178] whether St. Paul's expression, or
any man's expression, can be a perfect and final expression of truth,
comes the question whether we rightly seize and understand his
expression as it exists. Now, perfectly to seize another man's
meaning, as it stood in his own mind, is not easy; especially when
the man is separated from us by such differences of race, training,
time, and circumstances as St. Paul. But there are degrees of
nearness in getting at a man's meaning; and though we cannot arrive
quite at what St. Paul had in his mind, yet we may come near it. And
who, that comes thus near it, must not feel how terms which St. Paul
employs in trying to follow, with his analysis of such profound power
and originality, some of the most delicate, intricate, obscure, and
contradictory workings and states of the human spirit, are detached
and employed by Puritanism, not in the connected and fluid way in
which St. Paul employs them, and for which alone words are really
meant, but in an isolated, fixed, mechanical way, as if they were
talismans; and how all trace and sense of St. Paul's true movement of
ideas, and sustained masterly analysis, is thus lost? Who, I say,
that has watched Puritanism,--the force which [179] so strongly
Hebraises, which so takes St. Paul's writings as something absolute
and final, containing the one thing needful,--handle such terms as
grace, faith, election, righteousness, but must feel, not only that
these terms have for the mind of Puritanism a sense false and
misleading, but also that this sense is the most monstrous and
grotesque caricature of the sense of St. Paul, and that his true
meaning is by these worshippers of his words altogether lost?

Or to take another eminent example, in which not Puritanism only,
but, one may say, the whole religious world, by their mechanical use
of St. Paul's writings, can be shown to miss or change his real
meaning. The whole religious world, one may say, use now the word
resurrection,--a word which is so often in their thoughts and on
their lips, and which they find so often in St. Paul's writings,--in
one sense only. They use it to mean a rising again after the
physical death of the body. Now it is quite true that St. Paul
speaks of resurrection in this sense, that he tries to describe and
explain it, and that he condemns those who doubt and deny it. But it
is true, also, that in nine cases out of ten where St. Paul thinks
and speaks of resurrection, he [180] thinks and speaks of it in a
sense different from this; in the sense of a rising to a new life
before the physical death of the body, and not after it. The idea on
which we have already touched, the profound idea of being baptized
into the death of the great exemplar of self-devotion and self-
annulment, of repeating in our own person, by virtue of
identification with our exemplar, his course of self-devotion and
self-annulment, and of thus coming, within the limits of our present
life, to a new life, in which, as in the death going before it, we
are identified with our exemplar,--this is the fruitful and original
conception of being risen with Christ which possesses the mind of St.
Paul, and this is the central point round which, with such
incomparable emotion and eloquence, all his teaching moves. For him,
the life after our physical death is really in the main but a
consequence and continuation of the inexhaustible energy of the new
life thus originated on this side the grave. This grand Pauline idea
of Christian resurrection is worthily rehearsed in one of the noblest
collects of the Prayer-Book, and is destined, no doubt, to fill a
more and more important place in the Christianity of the future; but
almost as [181] signal as is the essentialness of this characteristic
idea in St. Paul's teaching, is the completeness with which the
worshippers of St. Paul's words, as an absolute final expression of
saving truth, have lost it, and have substituted for the apostle's
living and near conception of a resurrection now, their mechanical
and remote conception of a resurrection hereafter!

In short, so fatal is the notion of possessing, even in the most
precious words or standards, the one thing needful, of having in
them, once for all, a full and sufficient measure of light to guide
us, and of there being no duty left for us except to make our
practice square exactly with them,--so fatal, I say, is this notion
to the right knowledge and comprehension of the very words or
standards we thus adopt, and to such strange distortions and
perversions of them does it inevitably lead, that whenever we hear
that commonplace which Hebraism, if we venture to inquire what a man
knows, is so apt to bring out against us in disparagement of what we
call culture, and in praise of a man's sticking to the one thing
needful,--he knows, says Hebraism, his Bible!--whenever we hear this
said, we may, without [182] any elaborate defence of culture, content
ourselves with answering simply: "No man, who knows nothing else,
knows even his Bible."

Now the force which we have so much neglected, Hellenism, may be
liable to fail in moral force and earnestness, but by the law of its
nature,--the very same law which makes it sometimes deficient in
intensity when intensity is required,--it opposes itself to the
notion of cutting our being in two, of attributing to one part the
dignity of dealing with the one thing needful, and leaving the other
part to take its chance, which is the bane of Hebraism. Essential in
Hellenism is the impulse to the development of the whole man, to
connecting and harmonising all parts of him, perfecting all, leaving
none to take their chance; because the characteristic bent of
Hellenism, as has been said, is to find the intelligible law of
things, and there is no intelligible law of things, things cannot
really appear intelligible, unless they are also beautiful. The body
is not intelligible, is not seen in its true nature and as it really
is, unless it is seen as beautiful; behaviour is not intelligible,
does not account for itself to the mind and show the reason for its
existing, unless it is beautiful. The [183] same with discourse, the
same with song, the same with worship, the same with all the modes in
which man proves his activity and expresses himself. To think that
when one shows what is mean, or vulgar, or hideous, one can be
permitted to plead that one has that within which passes show; to
suppose that the possession of what benefits and satisfies one part
of our being can make allowable either discourse like Mr. Murphy's
and the Rev. W. Cattle's, or poetry like the hymns we all hear, or
places of worship like the chapels we all see,--this it is abhorrent
to the nature of Hellenism to concede. And to be, like our honoured
and justly honoured Faraday, a great natural philosopher with one
side of his being and a Sandemanian with the other, would to
Archimedes have been impossible. It is evident to what a many-sided
perfecting of man's powers and activities this demand of Hellenism
for satisfaction to be given to the mind by everything which we do,
is calculated to impel our race. It has its dangers, as has been
fully granted; the notion of this sort of equipollency in man's modes
of activity may lead to moral relaxation, what we do not make our one
thing needful we may come to treat not [184] enough as if it were
needful, though it is indeed very needful and at the same time very
hard. Still, what side in us has not its dangers, and which of our
impulses can be a talisman to give us perfection outright, and not
merely a help to bring us towards it? Has not Hebraism, as we have
shown, its dangers as well as Hellenism; and have we used so
excessively the tendencies in ourselves to which Hellenism makes
appeal, that we are now suffering from it? Are we not, on the
contrary, now suffering because we have not enough used these
tendencies as a help towards perfection?

For we see whither it has brought us, the long exclusive predominance
of Hebraism,--the insisting on perfection in one part of our nature
and not in all; the singling out the moral side, the side of
obedience and action, for such intent regard; making strictness of
the moral conscience so far the principal thing, and putting off for
hereafter and for another world the care for being complete at all
points, the full and harmonious development of our humanity. Instead
of watching and following on its ways the desire which, as Plato
says, "for ever through all the universe tends towards that which
[185] is lovely," we think that the world has settled its accounts
with this desire, knows what this desire wants of it, and that all
the impulses of our ordinary self which do not conflict with the
terms of this settlement, in our narrow view of it, we may follow
unrestrainedly, under the sanction of some such text as "Not slothful
in business," or, "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all
thy might," or something else of the same kind. And to any of these
impulses we soon come to give that same character of a mechanical,
absolute law, which we give to our religion; we regard it, as we do
our religion, as an object for strictness of conscience, not for
spontaneity of consciousness; for unremitting adherence on its own
account, not for going back upon, viewing in its connection with
other things, and adjusting to a number of changing circumstances; we
treat it, in short, just as we treat our religion,--as machinery. It
is in this way that the Barbarians treat their bodily exercises, the
Philistines their business, Mr. Spurgeon his voluntaryism, Mr. Bright
the assertion of personal liberty, Mr. Beales the right of meeting in
Hyde Park. In all those cases what is needed is a freer play of
consciousness [186] upon the object of pursuit; and in all of them
Hebraism, the valuing staunchness and earnestness more than this free
play, the entire subordination of thinking to doing, has led to a
mistaken and misleading treatment of things.

The newspapers a short time ago contained an account of the suicide
of a Mr. Smith, secretary to some insurance company, who, it was
said, "laboured under the apprehension that he would come to poverty,
and that he was eternally lost." And when I read these words, it
occurred to me that the poor man who came to such a mournful end was,
in truth, a kind of type, by the selection of his two grand objects
of concern, by their isolation from everything else, and their
juxtaposition to one another, of all the strongest, most respectable,
and most representative part of our nation. "He laboured under the
apprehension that he would come to poverty, and that he was eternally
lost." The whole middle-class have a conception of things,--a
conception which makes us call them Philistines,--just like that of
this poor man; though we are seldom, of course, shocked by seeing it
take the distressing, violently morbid, and fatal turn, which [187]
it took with him. But how generally, with how many of us, are the
main concerns of life limited to these two,--the concern for making
money, and the concern for saving our souls! And how entirely does
the narrow and mechanical conception of our secular business proceed
from a narrow and mechanical conception of our religious business!
What havoc do the united conceptions make of our lives! It is
because the second-named of these two master-concerns presents to us
the one thing needful in so fixed, narrow, and mechanical a way, that
so ignoble a fellow master-concern to it as the first-named becomes
possible; and, having been once admitted, takes the same rigid and
absolute character as the other. Poor Mr. Smith had sincerely the
nobler master-concern as well as the meaner,--the concern for saving
his soul (according to the narrow and mechanical conception which
Puritanism has of what the salvation of the soul is), and the concern
for making money. But let us remark how many people there are,
especially outside the limits of the serious and conscientious
middle-class to which Mr. Smith belonged, who take up with a meaner
master-concern,--whether it be pleasure, or field-sports, or [188]
bodily exercises, or business, or popular agitation,--who take up
with one of these exclusively, and neglect Mr. Smith's nobler master-
concern, because of the mechanical form which Hebraism has given to
this nobler master-concern, making it stand, as we have said, as
something talismanic, isolated, and all-sufficient, justifying our
giving our ordinary selves free play in amusement, or business, or
popular agitation, if we have made our accounts square with this
master-concern; and, if we have not, rendering other things
indifferent, and our ordinary self all we have to follow, and to
follow with all the energy that is in us, till we do. Whereas the
idea of perfection at all points, the encouraging in ourselves
spontaneity of consciousness, the letting a free play of thought live
and flow around all our activity, the indisposition to allow one side
of our activity to stand as so all-important and all-sufficing that
it makes other sides indifferent,--this bent of mind in us may not
only check us in following unreservedly a mean master-concern of any
kind, but may even, also, bring new life and movement into that side
of us with which alone Hebraism concerns itself, and awaken a
healthier [189] and less mechanical activity there. Hellenism may
thus actually serve to further the designs of Hebraism.

Undoubtedly it thus served in the first days of Christianity.
Christianity, as has been said, occupied itself, like Hebraism, with
the moral side of man exclusively, with his moral affections and
moral conduct; and so far it was but a continuation of Hebraism. But
it transformed and renewed Hebraism by going back upon a fixed rule,
which had become mechanical, and had thus lost its vital motive-
power; by letting the thought play freely around this old rule, and
perceive its inadequacy; by developing a new motive-power, which
men's moral consciousness could take living hold of, and could move
in sympathy with. What was this but an importation of Hellenism, as
we have defined it, into Hebraism? And as St. Paul used the
contradiction between the Jew's profession and practice, his
shortcomings on that very side of moral affection and moral conduct
which the Jew and St. Paul, both of them, regarded as all in all--
("Thou that sayest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? thou that
sayest a man should not [190] commit adultery, dost thou commit
adultery?")+--for a proof of the inadequacy of the old rule of life,
in the Jew's mechanical conception of it, and tried to rescue him by
making his consciousness play freely around this rule,--that is, by
a, so far, Hellenic treatment of it,--even so, when we hear so much
said of the growth of commercial immorality in our serious middle-
class, of the melting away of habits of strict probity before the
temptation to get quickly rich and to cut a figure in the world; when
we see, at any rate, so much confusion of thought and of practice in
this great representative class of our nation, may we not be disposed
to say that this confusion shows that his new motive-power of grace
and imputed righteousness has become to the Puritan as mechanical,
and with as ineffective a hold upon his practice, as the old motive-
power of the law was to the Jew? and that the remedy is the same as
that which St. Paul employed,--an importation of what we have called
Hellenism into his Hebraism, a making his consciousness flow freely
round his petrified rule of life and renew it? Only with this
difference: that whereas St. Paul imported Hellenism within the
limits of our moral part only, [191] this part being still treated by
him as all in all; and whereas he exhausted, one may say, and used to
the very uttermost, the possibilities of fruitfully importing it on
that side exclusively; we ought to try and import it,--guiding
ourselves by the ideal of a human nature harmoniously perfect at all
points,--into all the lines of our activity, and only by so doing can
we rightly quicken, refresh, and renew those very instincts, now so
much baffled, to which Hebraism makes appeal.

But if we will not be warned by the confusion visible enough at
present in our thinking and acting, that we are in a false line in
having developed our Hebrew side so exclusively, and our Hellenic
side so feebly and at random, in loving fixed rules of action so much
more than the intelligible law of things, let us listen to a
remarkable testimony which the opinion of the world around us offers.
All the world now sets great and increasing value on three objects
which have long been very dear to us, and pursues them in its own
way, or tries to pursue them. These three objects are industrial
enterprise, bodily exercises, and freedom. Certainly we have, before
and beyond our neighbours, given ourselves [192] to these three
things with ardent passion and with high success. And this our
neighbours cannot but acknowledge; and they must needs, when they
themselves turn to these things, have an eye to our example, and take
something of our practice. Now, generally, when people are
interested in an object of pursuit, they cannot help feeling an
enthusiasm for those who have already laboured successfully at it,
and for their success; not only do they study them, they also love
and admire them. In this way a man who is interested in the art of
war not only acquaints himself with the performance of great
generals, but he has an admiration and enthusiasm for them. So, too,
one who wants to be a painter or a poet cannot help loving and
admiring the great painters or poets who have gone before him and
shown him the way. But it is strange with how little of love,
admiration, or enthusiasm, the world regards us and our freedom, our
bodily exercises, and our industrial prowess, much as these things
themselves are beginning to interest it. And is not the reason
because we follow each of these things in a mechanical manner, as an
end in and for itself, and not in reference to a general end of human
[193] perfection? and this makes our pursuit of them uninteresting to
humanity, and not what the world truly wants? It seems to them mere
machinery that we can, knowingly, teach them to worship,--a mere
fetish. British freedom, British industry, British muscularity, we
work for each of these three things blindly, with no notion of giving
each its due proportion and prominence, because we have no ideal of
harmonious human perfection before our minds, to set our work in
motion, and to guide it. So the rest of the world, desiring
industry, or freedom, or bodily strength, yet desiring these not, as
we do, absolutely, but as means to something else, imitate, indeed,
of our practice what seems useful for them, but us, whose practice
they imitate, they seem to entertain neither love nor admiration for.
Let us observe, on the other hand, the love and enthusiasm excited by
others who have laboured for these very things. Perhaps of what we
call industrial enterprise it is not easy to find examples in former
times; but let us consider how Greek freedom and Greek gymnastics
have attracted the love and praise of mankind, who give so little
love and praise to ours. And what can be the reason [194] of this
difference? Surely because the Greeks pursued freedom and pursued
gymnastics not mechanically, but with constant reference to some
ideal of complete human perfection and happiness. And therefore, in
spite of faults and failures, they interest and delight by their
pursuit of them all the rest of mankind, who instinctively feel that
only as things are pursued with reference to this ideal are they
valuable.

Here again, therefore, as in the confusion into which the thought and
action of even the steadiest class amongst us is beginning to fall,
we seem to have an admonition that we have fostered our Hebraising
instincts, our preference of earnestness of doing to delicacy and
flexibility of thinking, too exclusively, and have been landed by
them in a mechanical and unfruitful routine. And again we seem
taught that the development of our Hellenising instincts, seeking
skilfully the intelligible law of things, and making a stream of
fresh thought play freely about our stock notions and habits, is what
is most wanted by us at present.

Well, then, from all sides, the more we go into the matter, the
currents seem to converge, and together [195] to bear us along
towards culture. If we look at the world outside us we find a
disquieting absence of sure authority; we discover that only in right
reason can we get a source of sure authority, and culture brings us
towards right reason. If we look at our own inner world, we find all
manner of confusion arising out of the habits of unintelligent
routine and one-sided growth, to which a too exclusive worship of
fire, strength, earnestness, and action has brought us. What we want
is a fuller harmonious development of our humanity, a free play of
thought upon our routine notions, spontaneity of consciousness,
sweetness and light; and these are just what culture generates and
fosters. Proceeding from this idea of the harmonious perfection of
our humanity, and seeking to help itself up towards this perfection
by knowing and spreading the best which has been reached in the
world--an object not to be gained without books and reading--culture
has got its name touched, in the fancies of men, with a sort of air
of bookishness and pedantry, cast upon it from the follies of the
many bookmen who forget the end in the means, and use their books
with no real aim at perfection. We will not stickle for a name,
[196] and the name of culture one might easily give up, if only those
who decry the frivolous and pedantic sort of culture, but wish at
bottom for the same things as we do, would be careful on their part,
not, in disparaging and discrediting the false culture, to
unwittingly disparage and discredit, among a people with little
natural reverence for it, the true also. But what we are concerned
for is the thing, not the name; and the thing, call it by what name
we will, is simply the enabling ourselves, whether by reading,
observing, or thinking, to come as near as we can to the firm
intelligible law of things, and thus to get a basis for a less
confused action and a more complete perfection than we have at
present.

And now, therefore, when we are accused of preaching up a spirit of
cultivated inaction, of provoking the earnest lovers of action, of
refusing to lend a hand at uprooting certain definite evils, of
despairing to find any lasting truth to minister to the diseased
spirit of our time, we shall not be so much confounded and
embarrassed what to answer for ourselves. We shall say boldly that
we do not at all despair of finding some lasting truth to minister to
the diseased spirit of our time; but that we have [197] discovered
the best way of finding this to be, not so much by lending a hand to
our friends and countrymen in their actual operations for the removal
of certain definite evils, but rather in getting our friends and
countrymen to seek culture, to let their consciousness play freely
round their present operations and the stock notions on which they
are founded, show what these are like, and how related to the
intelligible law of things, and auxiliary to true human perfection.

NOTES

174. +unum necessarium or one thing needful. Arnold refers here, and
in his subsequent chapter title, Porro Unum est Necessarium, to Luke
10:42. Here is the context, 10:38-42. "[Jesus] . . . entered into a
certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into
her house. / And she had a sister called Mary . . . . / But Martha
was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord,
dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid
her therefore that she help me. / And Jesus answered and said unto
her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
/ But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part,
which shall not be taken away from her." King James Bible.

177. +Romans 11:34. "For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who
hath been his counsellor?" King James Bible.

189-90. +Romans 2:21-22. "Thou therefore which teachest another,
teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not
steal, dost thou steal? / Thou that sayest a man should not commit
adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost
thou commit sacrilege?" King James Bible.

CHAPTER VI

[197] But an unpretending writer, without a philosophy based on
inter-dependent, subordinate, and coherent principles, must not
presume to indulge himself too much in generalities, but he must keep
close to the level ground of common fact, the only safe ground for
understandings without a scientific equipment. Therefore I am bound
to take, before concluding, some of the practical operations in which
my friends and countrymen are at this moment engaged, and [198] to
make these, if I can, show the truth of what I have advanced.
Probably I could hardly give a greater proof of my confessed
inexpertness in reasoning and arguing, than by taking, for my first
example of an operation of this kind, the proceedings for the
disestablishment of the Irish Church, which we are now witnessing.
It seems so clear that this is surely one of those operations for the
uprooting of a certain definite evil in which one's Liberal friends
engage, and have a right to complain and to get impatient and to
reproach one with delicate Conservative scepticism and cultivated
inaction if one does not lend a hand to help them. This does,
indeed, seem evident; and yet this operation comes so prominently
before us just at this moment,--it so challenges everybody's regard,-
-that one seems cowardly in blinking it. So let us venture to try
and see whether this conspicuous operation is one of those round
which we need to let our consciousness play freely and reveal what
manner of spirit we are of in doing it; or whether it is one which by
no means admits the application of this doctrine of ours, and one to
which we ought to lend a hand immediately.

[199] Now it seems plain that the present Church establishment in
Ireland is contrary to reason and justice, in so far as the Church of
a very small minority of the people there takes for itself all the
Church property of the Irish people. And one would think, that
property assigned for the purpose of providing for a people's
religious worship when that worship was one, the State should, when
that worship is split into several forms, apportion between those
several forms, with due regard to circumstances, taking account only
of great differences, which are likely to be lasting, and of
considerable communions, which are likely to represent profound and
widespread religious characteristics; and overlooking petty
differences, which have no serious reason for lasting, and
inconsiderable communions, which can hardly be taken to express any
broad and necessary religious lineaments of our common nature. This
is just in accordance with that maxim about the State which we have
more than once used: The State is of the religion of all its
citizens, without the fanaticism of any of them. Those who deny
this, either think so poorly of the State that they do not like to
see religion condescend to touch the State, or they think [200] so
poorly of religion that they do not like to see the State condescend
to touch religion; but no good statesman will easily think thus
unworthily either of the State or of religion, and our statesmen of
both parties were inclined, one may say, to follow the natural line
of the State's duty, and to make in Ireland some fair apportionment
of Church property between large and radically divided religious
communions in that country. But then it was discovered that in Great
Britain the national mind, as it is called, is grown averse to
endowments for religion and will make no new ones; and though this in
itself looks general and solemn enough, yet there were found
political philosophers, like Mr. Baxter and Mr. Charles Buxton, to
give it a look of more generality and more solemnity still, and to
elevate, by their dexterous command of powerful and beautiful
language, this supposed edict of the British national mind into a
sort of formula for expressing a great law of religious transition
and progress for all the world. But we, who, having no coherent
philosophy, must not let ourselves philosophise, only see that the
English and Scotch Nonconformists have a great horror of
establishments and endowments for [201] religion, which, they assert,
were forbidden by Christ when he said: "My kingdom is not of this
world;"+ and that the Nonconformists will be delighted to aid
statesmen in disestablishing any church, but will suffer none to be
established or endowed if they can help it. Then we see that the
Nonconformists make the strength of the Liberal majority in the House
of Commons, and that, therefore, the leading Liberal statesmen, to
get the support of the Nonconformists, forsake the notion of fairly
apportioning Church property in Ireland among the chief religious
communions, declare that the national mind has decided against new
endowments, and propose simply to disestablish and disendow the
present establishment in Ireland without establishing or endowing any
other. The actual power, in short, by virtue of which the Liberal
party in the House of Commons is now trying to disestablish the Irish
Church, is not the power of reason and justice, it is the power of
the Nonconformists' antipathy to Church establishments. Clearly it
is this; because Liberal statesmen, relying on the power of reason
and justice to help them, proposed something quite different from
what they now propose; and they proposed [202] what they now propose,
and talked of the decision of the national mind, because they had to
rely on the English and Scotch Nonconformists. And clearly the
Nonconformists are actuated by antipathy to establishments, not by
antipathy to the injustice and irrationality of the present
appropriation of Church property in Ireland; because Mr. Spurgeon, in
his eloquent and memorable letter, expressly avowed that he would
sooner leave things as they are in Ireland, that is, he would sooner
let the injustice and irrationality of the present appropriation
continue, than do anything to set up the Roman image, that is, than
give the Catholics their fair and reasonable share of Church
property. Most indisputably, therefore, we may affirm that the real
moving power by which the Liberal party are now operating the
overthrow of the Irish establishment is the antipathy of the
Nonconformists to Church establishments, and not the sense of reason
or justice, except so far as reason and justice may be contained in
this antipathy. And thus the matter stands at present.

Now surely we must all see many inconveniences in performing the
operation of uprooting this evil, [203] the Irish Church
establishment, in this particular way. As was said about industry
and freedom and gymnastics, we shall never awaken love and gratitude
by this mode of operation; for it is pursued, not in view of reason
and justice and human perfection and all that enkindles the
enthusiasm of men, but it is pursued in view of a certain stock
notion, or fetish, of the Nonconformists, which proscribes Church
establishments. And yet, evidently, one of the main benefits to be
got by operating on the Irish Church is to win the affections of the
Irish people. Besides this, an operation performed in virtue of a
mechanical rule, or fetish, like the supposed decision of the English
national mind against new endowments, does not easily inspire respect
in its adversaries, and make their opposition feeble and hardly to be
persisted in, as an operation evidently done in virtue of reason and
justice might. For reason and justice have in them something
persuasive and irresistible; but a fetish or mechanical maxim, like
this of the Nonconformists, has in it nothing at all to conciliate
either the affections or the understanding; nay, it provokes the
counter-employment of other fetishes or mechanical maxims [204] on
the opposite side, by which the confusion and hostility already
prevalent are heightened. Only in this way can be explained the
apparition of such fetishes as are beginning to be set up on the
Conservative side against the fetish of the Nonconformists:--The
Constitution in danger! The bulwarks of British freedom menaced!
The lamp of the Reformation put out! No Popery!--and so on. To
elevate these against an operation relying on reason and justice to
back it is not so easy, or so tempting to human infirmity, as to
elevate them against an operation relying on the Nonconformists'
antipathy to Church establishments to back it; for after all, No
Popery! is a rallying cry which touches the human spirit quite as
vitally as No Church establishments!--that is to say, neither the one
nor the other, in themselves, touch the human spirit vitally at all.

Ought the believers in action, then, to be so impatient with us, if
we say, that even for the sake of this operation of theirs itself and
its satisfactory accomplishment, it is more important to make our
consciousness play freely round the stock notion or habit on which
their operation relies for aid, than to [205] lend a hand to it
straight away? Clearly they ought not; because nothing is so
effectual for operating as reason and justice, and a free play of
thought will either disengage the reason and justice lying hid in the
Nonconformist fetish, and make them effectual, or else it will help
to get this fetish out of the way, and to let statesmen go freely
where reason and justice take them.

So, suppose we take this absolute rule, this mechanical maxim of Mr.
Spurgeon and the Nonconformists, that Church establishments are bad
things because Christ said: "My kingdom is not of this world."
Suppose we try and make our consciousness bathe and float this piece
of petrifaction,--for such it now is,--and bring it within the stream
of the vital movement of our thought, and into relation with the
whole intelligible law of things. An enemy and a disputant might
probably say that much machinery which Nonconformists themselves
employ, the Liberation Society which exists already, and the
Nonconformist Union which Mr. Spurgeon desires to see existing, come
within the scope of Christ's words as well as Church establishments.
This, however, is merely a negative and [206] contentious way of
dealing with the Nonconformist maxim; whereas what we desire is to
bring this maxim within the positive and vital movement of our
thought. We say, therefore, that Christ's words mean that his
religion is a force of inward persuasion acting on the soul, and not
a force of outward constraint acting on the body; and if the
Nonconformist maxim against Church establishments and Church
endowments has warrant given to it from what Christ thus meant, then
their maxim is good, even though their own practice in the matter of
the Liberation Society may be at variance with it.

And here we cannot but remember what we have formerly said about
religion, Miss Cobbe, and the British College of Health in the New
Road. In religion there are two parts, the part of thought and
speculation, and the part of worship and devotion. Christ certainly
meant his religion, as a force of inward persuasion acting on the
soul, to employ both parts as perfectly as possible. Now thought and
speculation is eminently an individual matter, and worship and
devotion is eminently a collective matter. It does not help me to
think a thing more clearly that thousands of other people are
thinking [207] the same; but it does help me to worship with more
emotion that thousands of other people are worshipping with me. The
consecration of common consent, antiquity, public establishment,
long-used rites, national edifices, is everything for religious
worship. "Just what makes worship impressive," says Joubert, "is its
publicity, its external manifestation, its sound, its splendour, its
observance universally and visibly holding its way through all the
details both of our outward and of our inward life." Worship,
therefore, should have in it as little as possible of what divides
us, and should be as much as possible a common and public act; as
Joubert says again: "The best prayers are those which have nothing
distinct about them, and which are thus of the nature of simple
adoration." For, "The same devotion," as he says in another place,
"unites men far more than the same thought and knowledge." Thought
and knowledge, as we have said before, is eminently something
individual, and of our own; the more we possess it as strictly of our
own, the more power it has on us. Man worships best, therefore, with
the community; he philosophises best alone. So it seems that whoever
[208] would truly give effect to Christ's declaration that his
religion is a force of inward persuasion acting on the soul, would
leave our thought on the intellectual aspects of Christianity as
individual as possible, but would make Christian worship as
collective as possible. Worship, then, appears to be eminently a
matter for public and national establishment; for even Mr. Bright,
who, when he stands in Mr. Spurgeon's great Tabernacle is so ravished
with admiration, will hardly say that the great Tabernacle and its
worship are in themselves, as a temple and service of religion, so
impressive and affecting as the public and national Westminster
Abbey, or Notre Dame, with their worship. And when, very soon after
the great Tabernacle, one comes plump down to the mass of private and
individual establishments of religious worship, establishments
falling, like the British College of Health in the New Road,
conspicuously short of what a public and national establishment might
be, then one cannot but feel that Christ's command to make his
religion a force of persuasion to the soul, is, so far as one main
source of persuasion is concerned, altogether set at nought.

[209] But perhaps the Nonconformists worship so unimpressively
because they philosophise so keenly; and one part of religion, the
part of public national worship, they have subordinated to the other
part, the part of individual thought and knowledge? This, however,
their organisation in congregations forbids us to admit. They are
members of congregations, not isolated thinkers; and a true play of
individual thought is at least as much impeded by membership of a
small congregation as by membership of a great Church; thinking by
batches of fifties is to the full as fatal to free thought as
thinking by batches of thousands. Accordingly, we have had occasion
already to notice that Nonconformity does not at all differ from the
Established Church by having worthier or more philosophical ideas
about God and the ordering of the world than the Established Church
has; it has very much the same ideas about these as the Established
Church has, but it differs from the Established Church in that its
worship is a much less collective and national affair. So Mr.
Spurgeon and the Nonconformists seem to have misapprehended the true
meaning of Christ's words, My kingdom is not of this world; [210]
because, by these words, Christ meant that his religion was to work
on the soul; and of the two parts of the soul on which religion
works,--the thinking and speculative part, and the feeling and
imaginative part,--Nonconformity satisfies the first no better than
the Established Churches, which Christ by these words is supposed to
have condemned, satisfy it; and the second part it satisfies much
worse than the Established Churches. And thus the balance of
advantage seems to rest with the Established Churches; and they seem
to have apprehended and applied Christ's words, if not with perfect
adequacy, at least less inadequately than the Nonconformists.

Might it not, then, be urged with great force that the way to do
good, in presence of this operation for uprooting the Church
establishment in Ireland by the power of the Nonconformists'
antipathy to publicly establishing or endowing religious worship, is
not by lending a hand straight away to the operation, and
Hebraising,--that is, in this case, taking an uncritical
interpretation of certain Bible words as our absolute rule of
conduct,--with the Nonconformists. If may be very well for born
[211] Hebraisers, like Mr. Spurgeon, to Hebraise; but for Liberal
statesmen to Hebraise is surely unsafe, and to see poor old Liberal
hacks Hebraising, whose real self belongs to a kind of negative
Hellenism,--a state of moral indifferency without intellectual
ardour,--is even painful. And when, by our Hebraising, we neither do
what the better mind of statesmen prompted them to do, nor win the
affections of the people we want to conciliate, nor yet reduce the
opposition of our adversaries but rather heighten it, surely it may
be not unreasonable to Hellenise a little, to let our thought and
consciousness play freely about our proposed operation and its
motives, dissolve these motives if they are unsound, which certainly
they have some appearance, at any rate, of being, and create in their
stead, if they are, a set of sounder and more persuasive motives
conducting to a more solid operation. May not the man who promotes
this be giving the best help towards finding some lasting truth to
minister to the diseased spirit of his time, and does he really
deserve that the believers in action should grow impatient with him?

But now to take another operation which does [212] not at this moment
so excite people's feelings as the disestablishment of the Irish
Church, but which, I suppose, would also be called exactly one of
those operations of simple, practical, common-sense reform, aiming at
the removal of some particular abuse, and rigidly restricted to that
object, to which a Liberal ought to lend a hand, and deserves that
other Liberals should grow impatient with him if he does not. This
operation I had the great advantage of with my own ears hearing
discussed in the House of Commons, and recommended by a powerful
speech from that famous speaker, Mr. Bright; so that the effeminate
horror which, it is alleged, I have of practical reforms of this
kind, was put to a searching test; and if it survived, it must have,
one would think, some reason or other to support it, and can hardly
quite merit the stigma of its present name. The operation I mean was
that which the Real Estate Intestacy Bill aimed at accomplishing, and
the discussion on this bill I heard in the House of Commons. The
bill proposed, as every one knows, to prevent the land of a man who
dies intestate from going, as it goes now, to his eldest son, and was
thought, by its friends and by its enemies, to be a [213] step
towards abating the now almost exclusive possession of the land of
this country by the people whom we call the Barbarians. Mr. Bright,
and other speakers on his side, seemed to hold that there is a kind
of natural law or fitness of things which assigns to all a man's
children a right to equal shares in the enjoyment of his property
after his death; and that if, without depriving a man of an
Englishman's prime privilege of doing what he likes by making what
will he chooses, you provide that when he makes none his land shall
be divided among his family, then you give the sanction of the law to
the natural fitness of things, and inflict a sort of check on the
present violation of this by the Barbarians. It occurred to me, when
I saw Mr. Bright and his friends proceeding in this way, to ask
myself a question. If the almost exclusive possession of the land of
this country by the Barbarians is a bad thing, is this practical
operation of the Liberals, and the stock notion, on which it seems to
rest, about the right of children to share equally in the enjoyment
of their father's property after his death, the best and most
effective means of dealing with it? Or is it best [214] dealt with
by letting one's thought and consciousness play freely and naturally
upon the Barbarians, this Liberal operation, and the stock notion at
the bottom of it, and trying to get as near as we can to the
intelligible law of things as to each of them?

Now does any one, if he simply and naturally reads his consciousness,
discover that he has any rights at all? For my part, the deeper I go
in my own consciousness, and the more simply I abandon myself to it,
the more it seems to tell me that I have no rights at all, only
duties; and that men get this notion of rights from a process of
abstract reasoning, inferring that the obligations they are conscious
of towards others, others must be conscious of towards them, and not
from any direct witness of consciousness at all. But it is obvious
that the notion of a right, arrived at in this way, is likely to
stand as a formal and petrified thing, deceiving and misleading us;
and that the notions got directly from our consciousness ought to be
brought to bear upon it, and to control it. So it is unsafe and
misleading to say that our children have rights against us; what is
true and safe to say is, that we have duties towards our [215]
children. But who will find among these natural duties, set forth to
us by our consciousness, the obligation to leave to all our children
an equal share in the enjoyment of our property? or, though
consciousness tells us we ought to provide for our children's
welfare, whose consciousness tells him that the enjoyment of property
is in itself welfare? Whether our children's welfare is best served
by their all sharing equally in our property depends on circumstances
and on the state of the community in which we live. With this equal
sharing, society could not, for example, have organised itself afresh
out of the chaos left by the fall of the Roman Empire, and to have an
organised society to live in is more for a child's welfare than to
have an equal share of his father's property. So we see how little
convincing force the stock notion on which the Real Estate Intestacy
Bill was based,--the notion that in the nature and fitness of things
all a man's children have a right to an equal share in the enjoyment
of what he leaves,--really has; and how powerless, therefore, it must
of necessity be to persuade and win any one who has habits and
interests which disincline him to [216] it. On the other hand, the
practical operation proposed relies entirely, if it is to be
effectual in altering the present practice of the Barbarians, on the
power of truth and persuasiveness in the notion which it seeks to
consecrate; for it leaves to the Barbarians full liberty to continue
their present practice, to which all their habits and interests
incline them, unless the promulgation of a notion, which we have seen
to have no vital efficacy and hold upon our consciousness, shall
hinder them.

Are we really to adorn an operation of this kind, merely because it
proposes to do something, with all the favourable epithets of simple,
practical, common-sense, definite; to enlist on its side all the zeal
of the believers in action, and to call indifference to it a really
effeminate horror of useful reforms? It seems to me quite easy to
show that a free disinterested play of thought on the Barbarians and
their land-holding is a thousand times more really practical, a
thousand times more likely to lead to some effective result, than an
operation such as that of which we have been now speaking. For if,
casting aside the impediments of stock notions and mechanical action,
we try to find the intelligible law [217] of things respecting a
great land-owning class such as we have in this country, does not our
consciousness readily tell us that whether the perpetuation of such a
class is for its own real welfare and for the real welfare of the
community, depends on the actual circumstances of this class and of
the community? Does it not readily tell us that wealth, power, and
consideration are, and above all when inherited and not earned, in
themselves trying and dangerous things? as Bishop Wilson excellently
says: "Riches are almost always abused without a very extraordinary
grace." But this extraordinary grace was in great measure supplied
by the circumstances of the feudal epoch, out of which our land-
holding class, with its rules of inheritance, sprang. The labour and
contentions of a rude, nascent, and struggling society supplied it;
these perpetually were trying, chastising, and forming the class
whose predominance was then needed by society to give it points of
cohesion, and was not so harmful to themselves because they were thus
sharply tried and exercised. But in a luxurious, settled, and easy
society, where wealth offers the means of enjoyment a thousand times
more, and the temptation to abuse [218] them is thus made a thousand
times greater, the exercising discipline is at the same time taken
away, and the feudal class is left exposed to the full operation of
the natural law well put by the French moralist: Pouvoir sans savoir
est fort dangereux. And, for my part, when I regard the young people
of this class, it is above all by the trial and shipwreck made of
their own welfare by the circumstances in which they live that I am
struck; how far better it would have been for nine out of every ten
among them, if they had had their own way to make in the world, and
not been tried by a condition for which they had not the
extraordinary grace requisite!

This, I say, seems to be what a man's consciousness, simply
consulted, would tell him about the actual welfare of our Barbarians
themselves. Then, as to their actual effect upon the welfare of the
community, how can this be salutary, if a class which, by the very
possession of wealth, power and consideration, becomes a kind of
ideal or standard for the rest of the community, is tried by ease and
pleasure more than it can well bear, and almost irresistibly carried
away from excellence and strenuous virtue? This must certainly be
what [219] Solomon meant when he said: "As he who putteth a stone in
a sling, so is he that giveth honour to a fool."+ For any one can
perceive how this honouring of a false ideal, not of intelligence and
strenuous virtue, but of wealth and station, pleasure and ease, is as
a stone from a sling to kill in our great middle-class, in us who are
called Philistines, the desire before spoken of, which by nature for
ever carries all men towards that which is lovely; and to leave
instead of it only a blind deteriorating pursuit, for ourselves also,
of the false ideal. And in those among us Philistines whom this
desire does not wholly abandon, yet, having no excellent ideal set
forth to nourish and to steady it, it meets with that natural bent
for the bathos which together with this desire itself is implanted at
birth in the breast of man, and is by that force twisted awry, and
borne at random hither and thither, and at last flung upon those
grotesque and hideous forms of popular religion which the more
respectable part among us Philistines mistake for the true goal of
man's desire after all that is lovely. And for the Populace this
false idea is a stone which kills the desire before it can even
arise; so impossible and unattainable for [220] them do the
conditions of that which is lovely appear according to this ideal to
be made, so necessary to the reaching of them by the few seems the
falling short of them by the many. So that, perhaps, of the actual
vulgarity of our Philistines and brutality of our Populace, the
Barbarians and their feudal habits of succession, enduring out of
their due time and place, are involuntarily the cause in a great
degree; and they hurt the welfare of the rest of the community at the
same time that, as we have seen, they hurt their own.

But must not, now, the working in our minds of considerations like
these, to which culture, that is, the disinterested and active use of
reading, reflection, and observation, carries us, be really much more
effectual to the dissolution of feudal habits and rules of succession
in land than an operation like the Real Estate Intestacy Bill, and a
stock notion like that of the natural right of all a man's children
to an equal share in the enjoyment of his property; since we have
seen that this mechanical maxim is unsound, and that, if it is
unsound, the operation relying upon it cannot possibly be effective?
If truth and reason have, as we believe, any natural irresistible
effect on [221] the mind of man, it must. These considerations, when
culture has called them forth and given them free course in our
minds, will live and work. They will work gradually, no doubt, and
will not bring us ourselves to the front to sit in high place and put
them into effect; but so they will be all the more beneficial.
Everything teaches us how gradually nature would have all profound
changes brought about; and we can even see, too, where the absolute
abrupt stoppage of feudal habits has worked harm. And appealing to
the sense of truth and reason, these considerations will, without
doubt, touch and move all those of even the Barbarians themselves,
who are (as are some of us Philistines also, and some of the
Populace) beyond their fellows quick of feeling for truth and reason.
For indeed this is just one of the advantages of sweetness and light
over fire and strength, that sweetness and light make a feudal class
quietly and gradually drop its feudal habits because it sees them at
variance with truth and reason, while fire and strength tear them
passionately off it because it applauded Mr. Lowe when he called, or
was supposed to call, the working-class drunken and venal.

[222] But when once we have begun to recount the practical operations
by which our Liberal friends work for the removal of definite evils,
and in which if we do not join them they are apt to grow impatient
with us, how can we pass over that very interesting operation of this
kind,--the attempt to enable a man to marry his deceased wife's
sister? This operation, too, like that for abating the feudal
customs of succession in land, I have had the advantage of myself
seeing and hearing my Liberal friends labour at. I was lucky enough
to be present when Mr. Chambers, I think, brought forward in the
House of Commons his bill for enabling a man to marry his deceased
wife's sister, and I heard the speech which Mr. Chambers then made in
support of his bill. His first point was that God's law,--the name
he always gave to the Book of Leviticus,--did not really forbid a man
to marry his deceased wife's sister. God's law not forbidding it,
the Liberal maxim that a man's prime right and happiness is to do as
he likes ought at once to come into force, and to annul any such
check upon the assertion of personal liberty as the prohibition to
marry one's deceased wife's sister. A distinguished Liberal
supporter of Mr. Chambers, in [223] the debate which followed the
introduction of the bill, produced a formula of much beauty and
neatness for conveying in brief the Liberal notions on this head:
"Liberty," said he, "is the law of human life." And, therefore, the
moment it is ascertained that God's law, the Book of Leviticus, does
not stop the way, man's law, the law of liberty, asserts its right,
and makes us free to marry our deceased wife's sister.

And this exactly falls in with what Mr. Hepworth Dixon, who may
almost be called the Colenso of love and marriage,--such a revolution
does he make in our ideas on these matters, just as Dr. Colenso does
in our ideas on religion,--tells us of the notions and proceedings of
our kinsmen in America. With that affinity of genius to the Hebrew
genius which we have already noticed, and with the strong belief of
our race that liberty is the law of human life, so far as a fixed,
perfect, and paramount rule of conscience, the Bible, does not
expressly control it, our American kinsmen go again, Mr. Hepworth
Dixon tells us, to their Bible, the Mormons to the patriarchs and the
Old Testament, Brother Noyes to St. Paul and the New, and having
never before read anything else but [224] their Bible, they now read
their Bible over again, and make all manner of great discoveries
there. All these discoveries are favourable to liberty, and in this
way is satisfied that double craving so characteristic of the
Philistine, and so eminently exemplified in that crowned Philistine,
Henry the Eighth,--the craving for forbidden fruit and the craving
for legality. Mr. Hepworth Dixon's eloquent writings give currency,
over here, to these important discoveries; so that now, as regards
love and marriage, we seem to be entering, with all our sails spread,
upon what Mr. Hepworth Dixon, its apostle and evangelist, calls a
Gothic Revival, but what one of the many newspapers that so greatly
admire Mr. Hepworth Dixon's lithe and sinewy style and form their own
style upon it, calls, by a yet bolder and more striking figure, "a
great sexual insurrection of our Anglo-Teutonic race." For this end
we have to avert our eyes from everything Hellenic and fanciful, and
to keep them steadily fixed upon the two cardinal points of the Bible
and liberty. And one of those practical operations in which the
Liberal party engage, and in which we are summoned to join them,
directs itself entirely, as we have seen, to these cardinal points,
[225] and may almost be regarded, perhaps, as a kind of first
instalment or public and parliamentary pledge of the great sexual
insurrection of our Anglo-Teutonic race.

But here, as elsewhere, what we seek is the Philistine's perfection,
the development of his best self, not mere liberty for his ordinary
self. And we no more allow absolute validity to his stock maxim,
Liberty is the law of human life, than we allow it to the opposite
maxim, which is just as true, Renouncement is the law of human life.
For we know that the only perfect freedom is, as our religion says, a
service; not a service to any stock maxim, but an elevation of our
best self, and a harmonising in subordination to this, and to the
idea of a perfected humanity, all the multitudinous, turbulent, and
blind impulses of our ordinary selves. Now, the Philistine's great
defect being a defect in delicacy of perception, to cultivate in him
this delicacy, to render it independent of external and mechanical
rule, and a law to itself, is what seems to make most for his
perfection, his true humanity. And his true humanity, and therefore
his happiness, appears to lie much more, so far as the relations of
love and [226] marriage are concerned, in becoming alive to the finer
shades of feeling which arise within these relations, in being able
to enter with tact and sympathy into the subtle instinctive
propensions and repugnances of the person with whose life his own
life is bound up, to make them his own, to direct and govern, in
harmony with them, the arbitrary range of his personal action, and
thus to enlarge his spiritual and intellectual life and liberty, than
in remaining insensible to these finer shades of feeling, this
delicate sympathy, in giving unchecked range, so far as he can, to
his mere personal action, in allowing no limits or government to this
except such as a mechanical external law imposes, and in thus really
narrowing, for the satisfaction of his ordinary self, his spiritual
and intellectual life and liberty.

Still more must this be so when his fixed eternal rule, his God's
law, is supplied to him from a source which is less fit, perhaps, to
supply final and absolute instructions on this particular topic of
love and marriage than on any other relation of human life. Bishop
Wilson, who is full of examples of that fruitful Hellenising within
the limits of Hebraism itself, of that renewing of the [227] stiff
and stark notions of Hebraism by turning upon them a stream of fresh
thought and consciousness, which we have already noticed in St.
Paul,--Bishop Wilson gives an admirable lesson to rigid Hebraisers,
like Mr. Chambers, asking themselves: Does God's law (that is, the
Book of Leviticus) forbid us to marry our wife's sister?--Does God's
law (that is, again, the Book of Leviticus) allow us to marry our
wife's sister?--when he says: "Christian duties are founded on
reason, not on the sovereign authority of God commanding what he
pleases; God cannot command us what is not fit to be believed or
done, all his commands being founded in the necessities of our
nature." And, immense as is our debt to the Hebrew race and its
genius, incomparable as is its authority on certain profoundly
important sides of our human nature, worthy as it is to be described
as having uttered, for those sides, the voice of the deepest
necessities of our nature, the statutes of the divine and eternal
order of things, the law of God,--who, that is not manacled and
hoodwinked by his Hebraism, can believe that, as to love and
marriage, our reason and the necessities of our humanity have their
true, [228] sufficient, and divine law expressed for them by the
voice of any Oriental and polygamous nation like the Hebrews? Who, I
say, will believe, when he really considers the matter, that where
the feminine nature, the feminine ideal, and our relations to them,
are brought into question, the delicate and apprehensive genius of
the Indo-European race, the race which invented the Muses, and
chivalry, and the Madonna, is to find its last word on this question
in the institutions of a Semitic people, whose wisest king had seven
hundred wives and three hundred concubines?

If here again, therefore, we seem to minister better to the diseased
spirit of our time by leading it to think about the operation our
Liberal friends have in hand, than by lending a hand to this
operation ourselves, let us see, before we dismiss from our view the
practical operations of our Liberal friends, whether the same thing
does not hold good as to their celebrated industrial and economical
labours also. Their great work of this kind is, of course, their
free-trade policy. This policy, as having enabled the poor man to
eat untaxed bread, and as having wonderfully augmented trade, we
[229] are accustomed to speak of with a kind of solemnity; it is
chiefly on their having been our leaders in this policy that Mr.
Bright founds for himself and his friends the claim, so often
asserted by him, to be considered guides of the blind, teachers of
the ignorant, benefactors slowly and laboriously developing in the
Conservative party and in the country that which Mr. Bright is fond
of calling the growth of intelligence,--the object, as is well known,
of all the friends of culture also, and the great end and aim of the
culture that we preach. Now, having first saluted free-trade and its
doctors with all respect, let us see whether even here, too, our
Liberal friends do not pursue their operations in a mechanical way,
without reference to any firm intelligible law of things, to human
life as a whole, and human happiness; and whether it is not more for
our good, at this particular moment at any rate, if, instead of
worshipping free-trade with them Hebraistically, as a kind of fetish,
and helping them to pursue it as an end in and for itself, we turn
the free stream of our thought upon their treatment of it, and see
how this is related to the intelligible law of human life, and to
national well- [230] being and happiness. In short, suppose we
Hellenise a little with free-trade, as we Hellenised with the Real
Estate Intestacy Bill, and with the disestablishment of the Irish
Church by the power of the Nonconformists' antipathy to religious
establishments and endowments, and see whether what our reprovers
beautifully call ministering to the diseased spirit of our time is
best done by the Hellenising method of proceeding, or by the other.

But first let us understand how the policy of free-trade really
shapes itself for our Liberal friends, and how they practically
employ it as an instrument of national happiness and salvation. For
as we said that it seemed clearly right to prevent the Church
property of Ireland from being all taken for the benefit of the
Church of a small minority, so it seems clearly right that the poor
man should eat untaxed bread, and, generally, that restrictions and
regulations which, for the supposed benefit of some particular person
or class of persons, make the price of things artificially high here,
or artificially low there, and interfere with the natural flow of
trade and commerce, should be done away with. But in the policy of
our Liberal friends free-trade [231] means more than this, and is
specially valued as a stimulant to the production of wealth, as they
call it, and to the increase of the trade, business, and population
of the country. We have already seen how these things,--trade,
business, and population,--are mechanically pursued by us as ends
precious in themselves, and are worshipped as what we call fetishes;
and Mr. Bright, I have already said, when he wishes to give the
working-class a true sense of what makes glory and greatness, tells
it to look at the cities it has built, the railroads it has made, the
manufactures it has produced. So to this idea of glory and greatness
the free-trade which our Liberal friends extol so solemnly and
devoutly has served,--to the increase of trade, business, and
population; and for this it is prized. Therefore, the untaxing of
the poor man's bread has, with this view of national happiness, been
used, not so much to make the existing poor man's bread cheaper or
more abundant, but rather to create more poor men to eat it; so that
we cannot precisely say that we have fewer poor men than we had
before free-trade, but we can say with truth that we have many more
centres of industry, as they are called, and much [232] more
business, population, and manufactures. And if we are sometimes a
little troubled by our multitude of poor men, yet we know the
increase of manufactures and population to be such a salutary thing
in itself, and our free-trade policy begets such an admirable
movement, creating fresh centres of industry and fresh poor men here,
while we were thinking about our poor men there, that we are quite
dazzled and borne away, and more and more industrial movement is
called for, and our social progress seems to become one triumphant
and enjoyable course of what is sometimes called, vulgarly,
outrunning the constable.

If, however, taking some other criterion of man's well-being than the
cities he has built and the manufactures he has produced, we persist
in thinking that our social progress would be happier if there were
not so many of us so very poor, and in busying ourselves with notions
of in some way or other adjusting the poor man and business one to
the other, and not multiplying the one and the other mechanically and
blindly, then our Liberal friends, the appointed doctors of free-
trade, take us up very sharply. "Art is long," says The Times, "and
life [233] is short; for the most part we settle things first and
understand them afterwards. Let us have as few theories as possible;
what is wanted is not the light of speculation. If nothing worked
well of which the theory was not perfectly understood, we should be
in sad confusion. The relations of labour and capital, we are told,
are not understood, yet trade and commerce, on the whole, work
satisfactorily." I quote from The Times of only the other day. But
thoughts like these, as I have often pointed out, are thoroughly
British thoughts, and we have been familiar with them for years.

Or, if we want more of a philosophy of the matter than this, our
free-trade friends have two axioms for us, axioms laid down by their
justly esteemed doctors, which they think ought to satisfy us
entirely. One is, that, other things being equal, the more
population increases, the more does production increase to keep pace
with it; because men by their numbers and contact call forth all
manner of activities and resources in one another and in nature,
which, when men are few and sparse, are never developed. The other
is, that, although population always tends to equal the means of
[234] subsistence, yet people's notions of what subsistence is
enlarge as civilisation advances, and take in a number of things
beyond the bare necessaries of life; and thus, therefore, is supplied
whatever check on population is needed. But the error of our friends
is just, perhaps, that they apply axioms of this sort as if they were
self-acting laws which will put themselves into operation without
trouble or planning on our part, if we will only pursue free-trade,
business, and population zealously and staunchly. Whereas the real
truth is, that, however the case might be under other circumstances,
yet in fact, as we now manage the matter, the enlarged conception of
what is included in subsistence does not operate to prevent the
bringing into the world of numbers of people who but just attain to
the barest necessaries of life or who even fail to attain to them;
while, again, though production may increase as population increases,
yet it seems that the production may be of such a kind, and so
related, or rather non-related, to population, that the population
may be little the better for it. For instance, with the increase of
population since Queen Elizabeth's time the production of silk-
stockings has wonderfully increased, and silk- [235] stockings have
become much cheaper and procurable in much greater abundance by many
more people, and tend perhaps, as population and manufactures
increase, to get cheaper and cheaper, and at last to become,
according to Bastiat's favourite image, a common free property of the
human race, like light and air. But bread and bacon have not become
much cheaper with the increase of population since Queen Elizabeth's
time, nor procurable in much greater abundance by many more people;
neither do they seem at all to promise to become, like light and air,
a common free property of the human race. And if bread and bacon
have not kept pace with our population, and we have many more people
in want of them now than in Queen Elizabeth's time, it seems vain to
tell us that silk-stockings have kept pace with our population, or
even more than kept pace with it, and that we are to get our comfort
out of that. In short, it turns out that our pursuit of free-trade,
as of so many other things, has been too mechanical. We fix upon
some object, which in this case is the production of wealth, and the
increase of manufactures, population, and commerce through free-
[236] trade, as a kind of one thing needful, or end in itself, and
then we pursue it staunchly and mechanically, and say that it is our
duty to pursue it staunchly and mechanically, not to see how it is
related to the whole intelligible law of things and to full human
perfection, or to treat it as the piece of machinery, of varying
value as its relations to the intelligible law of things vary, which
it really is.

So it is of no use to say to The Times, and to our Liberal friends
rejoicing in the possession of their talisman of free-trade, that
about one in nineteen of our population is a pauper, and that, this
being so, trade and commerce can hardly be said to prove by their
satisfactory working that it matters nothing whether the relations
between labour and capital are understood or not; nay, that we can
hardly be said not to be in sad confusion. For here comes in our
faith in the staunch mechanical pursuit of a fixed object, and covers
itself with that imposing and colossal necessitarianism of The Times
which we have before noticed. And this necessitarianism, taking for
granted that an increase in trade and population is a good in itself,
one of the chiefest of goods, tells us that disturbances of [237]
human happiness caused by ebbs and flows in the tide of trade and
business, which, on the whole, steadily mounts, are inevitable and
not to be quarrelled with. This firm philosophy I seek to call to
mind when I am in the East of London, whither my avocations often
lead me; and, indeed, to fortify myself against the depressing sights
which on these occasions assail us, I have transcribed from The Times
one strain of this kind, full of the finest economical doctrine, and
always carry it about with me. The passage is this:--

"The East End is the most commercial, the most industrial, the most
fluctuating region of the metropolis. It is always the first to
suffer; for it is the creature of prosperity, and falls to the ground
the instant there is no wind to bear it up. The whole of that region
is covered with huge docks, shipyards, manufactories, and a
wilderness of small houses, all full of life and happiness in brisk
times, but in dull times withered and lifeless, like the deserts we
read of in the East. Now their brief spring is over. There is no
one to blame for this; it is the result of Nature's simplest laws!"
We must all agree that it is impossible that [238] anything can be
firmer than this, or show a surer faith in the working of free-trade,
as our Liberal friends understand and employ it.

But, if we still at all doubt whether the indefinite multiplication
of manufactories and small houses can be such an absolute good in
itself as to counterbalance the indefinite multiplication of poor
people, we shall learn that this multiplication of poor people, too,
is an absolute good in itself, and the result of divine and beautiful
laws. This is indeed a favourite thesis with our Philistine friends,
and I have already noticed the pride and gratitude with which they
receive certain articles in The Times, dilating in thankful and
solemn language on the majestic growth of our population. But I
prefer to quote now, on this topic, the words of an ingenious young
Scotch writer, Mr. Robert Buchanan, because he invests with so much
imagination and poetry this current idea of the blessed and even
divine character which the multiplying of population is supposed in
itself to have. "We move to multiplicity," says Mr. Robert Buchanan.
"If there is one quality which seems God's, and his exclusively, it
seems that divine philoprogenitiveness, [239] that passionate love of
distribution and expansion into living forms. Every animal added
seems a new ecstasy to the Maker; every life added, a new embodiment
of his love. He would swarm the earth with beings. There are never
enough. Life, life, life,--faces gleaming, hearts beating, must fill
every cranny. Not a corner is suffered to remain empty. The whole
earth breeds, and God glories."

It is a little unjust, perhaps, to attribute to the Divinity
exclusively this philoprogenitiveness, which the British Philistine,
and the poorer class of Irish, may certainly claim to share with him;
yet how inspiriting is here the whole strain of thought! and these
beautiful words, too, I carry about with me in the East of London,
and often read them there. They are quite in agreement with the
popular language one is accustomed to hear about children and large
families, which describes children as sent. And a line of poetry
which Mr. Robert Buchanan throws in presently after the poetical
prose I have quoted:--

'Tis the old story of the fig-leaf time--

this fine line, too, naturally connects itself, when one is in the
East of London, with the idea of God's [240] desire to swarm the
earth with beings; because the swarming of the earth with beings does
indeed, in the East of London, so seem to revive

. . . the old story of the fig-leaf time--

such a number of the people one meets there having hardly a rag to
cover them; and the more the swarming goes on, the more it promises
to revive this old story. And when the story is perfectly revived,
the swarming quite completed, and every cranny choke-full, then, too,
no doubt, the faces in the East of London will be gleaming faces,
which Mr. Robert Buchanan says it is God's desire they should be, and
which every one must perceive they are not at present, but, on the
contrary, very miserable.

But to prevent all this philosophy and poetry from quite running away
with us, and making us think with The Times, and our practical
Liberal free-traders, and the British Philistines generally, that the
increase of small houses and manufactories, or the increase of
population, are absolute goods in themselves, to be mechanically
pursued, and to be worshipped like fetishes,--to prevent this, we
have got that notion of ours immoveably fixed, of which I [241] have
long ago spoken, the notion that culture, or the study of perfection,
leads us to conceive of no perfection as being real which is not a
general perfection, embracing all our fellow-men with whom we have
to do. Such is the sympathy which binds humanity together, that we
are indeed, as our religion says, members of one body, and if one
member suffer, all the members suffer with it; individual perfection
is impossible so long as the rest of mankind are not perfected along
with us. "The multitude of the wise is the welfare of the world,"
says the wise man. And to this effect that excellent and often
quoted guide of ours, Bishop Wilson, has some striking words:--"It is
not," says he, "so much our neighbour's interest as our own that we
love him." And again he says: "Our salvation does in some measure
depend upon that of others." And the author of the Imitation puts
the same thing admirably when he says:--"Obscurior etiam via ad
coelum videbatur quando tam pauci regnum coelorum quaerere
curabant,"+--the fewer there are who follow the way to perfection,
the harder that way is to find. So all our fellow-men, in the East
of London and elsewhere, we must take along with us in the progress
towards perfection, [242] if we ourselves really, as we profess, want
to be perfect; and we must not let the worship of any fetish, any
machinery, such as manufactures or population,--which are not, like
perfection, absolute goods in themselves, though we think them so,--
create for us such a multitude of miserable, sunken, and ignorant
human beings, that to carry them all along with us is impossible, and
perforce they must for the most part be left by us in their
degradation and wretchedness. But evidently the conception of free-
trade, on which our Liberal friends vaunt themselves, and in which
they think they have found the secret of national prosperity,--
evidently, I say, the mere unfettered pursuit of the production of
wealth, and the mere mechanical multiplying, for this end, of
manufactures and population, threatens to create for us, if it has
not created already, those vast, miserable, unmanageable masses of
sunken people,--one pauper, at the present moment, for every nineteen
of us,--to the existence of which we are, as we have seen, absolutely
forbidden to reconcile ourselves, in spite of all that the philosophy
of The Times and the poetry of Mr. Robert Buchanan may say to
persuade us.

[243] And though Hebraism, following its best and highest instinct,--
identical, as we have seen, with that of Hellenism in its final aim,
the aim of perfection,--teaches us this very clearly; and though from
Hebraising counsellors,--the Bible, Bishop Wilson, the author of the
Imitation,--I have preferred (as well I may, for from this rock of
Hebraism we are all hewn!) to draw the texts which we use to bring
home to our minds this teaching; yet Hebraism seems powerless, almost
as powerless as our free-trading Liberal friends, to deal
efficaciously with our ever-accumulating masses of pauperism, and to
prevent their accumulating still more. Hebraism builds churches,
indeed, for these masses, and sends missionaries among them; above
all, it sets itself against the social necessitarianism of The Times,
and refuses to accept their degradation as inevitable; but with
regard to their ever-increasing accumulation, it seems to be led to
the very same conclusions, though from a point of view of its own, as
our free-trading Liberal friends. Hebraism, with that mechanical and
misleading use of the letter of Scripture on which we have already
commented, is governed by such texts as: Be fruitful and multiply,+
the edict of [244] God's law, as Mr. Chambers would say; or by the
declaration of what he would call God's words in the Psalms, that the
man who has a great number of children is thereby made happy. And in
conjunction with such texts as these it is apt to place another text:
The poor shall never cease out of the land.+ Thus Hebraism is
conducted to nearly the same notion as the popular mind and as Mr.
Robert Buchanan, that children are sent, and that the divine nature
takes a delight in swarming the East End of London with paupers.
Only, when they are perishing in their helplessness and wretchedness,
it asserts the Christian duty of succouring them, instead of saying,
like The Times: "Now their brief spring is over; there is nobody to
blame for this; it is the result of Nature's simplest laws!" But,
like The Times, Hebraism despairs of any help from knowledge and says
that "what is wanted is not the light of speculation." I remember,
only the other day, a good man, looking with me upon a multitude of
children who were gathered before us in one of the most miserable
regions of London,--children eaten up with disease, half-sized, half-
fed, half-clothed, neglected by their parents, without health,
without [245] home, without hope,--said to me: "The one thing really
needful is to teach these little ones to succour one another, if only
with a cup of cold water; but now, from one end of the country to the
other, one hears nothing but the cry for knowledge, knowledge,
knowledge!" And yet surely, so long as these children are there in
these festering masses, without health, without home, without hope,
and so long as their multitude is perpetually swelling, charged with
misery they must still be for themselves, charged with misery they
must still be for us, whether they help one another with a cup of
cold water or no; and the knowledge how to prevent their accumulating
is necessary, even to give their moral life and growth a fair chance!

May we not, therefore, say, that neither the true Hebraism of this
good man, willing to spend and be spent for these sunken multitudes,
nor what I may call the spurious Hebraism of our free-trading Liberal
friends,--mechanically worshipping their fetish of the production of
wealth and of the increase of manufactures and population, and
looking neither to the right nor left so long as this increase goes
on,--avail us much here; and that here, again, what we [246] want is
Hellenism, the letting our consciousness play freely and simply upon
the facts before us, and listening to what it tells us of the
intelligible law of things as concerns them? And surely what it
tells us is, that a man's children are not really sent, any more than
the pictures upon his wall, or the horses in his stable, are sent;
and that to bring people into the world, when one cannot afford to
keep them and oneself decently and not too precariously, or to bring
more of them into the world than one can afford to keep thus, is,
whatever The Times and Mr. Robert Buchanan may say, by no means an
accomplishment of the divine will or a fulfilment of Nature's
simplest laws, but is just as wrong, just as contrary to reason and
the will of God, as for a man to have horses, or carriages, or
pictures, when he cannot afford them, or to have more of them than he
can afford; and that, in the one case as in the other, the larger the
scale on which the violation of reason's laws is practised, and the
longer it is persisted in, the greater must be the confusion and
final trouble. Surely no laudations of free-trade, no meetings of
bishops and clergy in the East End of London, no reading of papers
and reports, can tell [247] us anything about our social condition
which it more concerns us to know than that! and not only to know,
but habitually to have the knowledge present, and to act upon it as
one acts upon the knowledge that water wets and fire burns! And not
only the sunken populace of our great cities are concerned to know
it, and the pauper twentieth of our population; we Philistines of the
middle-class, too, are concerned to know it, and all who have to set
themselves to make progress in perfection.

But we all know it already! some one will say; it is the simplest law
of prudence. But how little reality must there be in our knowledge
of it; how little can we be putting it in practice; how little is it
likely to penetrate among the poor and struggling masses of our
population, and to better our condition, so long as an unintelligent
Hebraism of one sort keeps repeating as an absolute eternal word of
God the psalm-verse which says that the man who has a great many
children is happy; or an unintelligent Hebraism of another sort keeps
assigning as an absolute proof of national prosperity the multiplying
of manufactures and population! Surely, the one set of Hebraisers
have [248] to learn that their psalm-verse was composed at the
resettlement of Jerusalem after the Captivity, when the Jews of
Jerusalem were a handful, an undermanned garrison, and every child
was a blessing; and that the word of God, or the voice of the divine
order of things, declares the possession of a great many children to
be a blessing only when it really is so! And the other set of
Hebraisers, have they not to learn that if they call their private
acquaintances imprudent and unlucky, when, with no means of support
for them or with precarious means, they have a large family of
children, then they ought not to call the State well managed and
prosperous merely because its manufactures and its citizens multiply,
if the manufactures, which bring new citizens into existence just as
much as if they had actually begotten them, bring more of them into
existence than they can maintain, or are too precarious to go on
maintaining those whom for a while they maintained? Hellenism,
surely, or the habit of fixing our mind upon the intelligible law of
things, is most salutary if it makes us see that the only absolute
good, the only absolute and eternal object prescribed to us by God's
law, or the divine order of [249] things, is the progress towards
perfection,--our own progress towards it and the progress of
humanity. And therefore, for every individual man, and for every
society of men, the possession and multiplication of children, like
the possession and multiplication of horses and pictures, is to be
accounted good or bad, not in itself, but with reference to this
object and the progress towards it. And as no man is to be excused
in having horses or pictures, if his having them hinders his own or
others' progress towards perfection and makes them lead a servile and
ignoble life, so is no man to be excused for having children if his
having them makes him or others lead this. Plain thoughts of this
kind are surely the spontaneous product of our consciousness, when it
is allowed to play freely and disinterestedly upon the actual facts
of our social condition, and upon our stock notions and stock habits
in respect to it. Firmly grasped and simply uttered, they are more
likely, one cannot but think, to better that condition, and to
diminish our formidable rate of one pauper to every nineteen of us,
than is the Hebraising and mechanical pursuit of free-trade by our
Liberal friends.

So that, here as elsewhere, the practical operations [250] of our
Liberal friends, by which they set so much store, and in which they
invite us to join them and to show what Mr. Bright calls a
commendable interest, do not seem to us so practical for real good as
they think; and our Liberal friends seem to us themselves to need to
Hellenise, as we say, a little,--that is, to examine into the nature
of real good, and to listen to what their consciousness tells them
about it,--rather than to pursue with such heat and confidence their
present practical operations. And it is clear that they have no just
cause, so far as regards several operations of theirs which we have
canvassed, to reproach us with delicate Conservative scepticism; for
often by Hellenising we seem to subvert stock Conservative notions
and usages more effectually than they subvert them by Hebraising.
But, in truth, the free spontaneous play of consciousness with which
culture tries to float our stock habits of thinking and acting, is by
its very nature, as has been said, disinterested. Sometimes the
result of floating them may be agreeable to this party, sometimes to
that; now it may be unwelcome to our so-called Liberals, now to our
so-called Conservatives; but what culture seeks is, above all, to
float them, to [251] prevent their being stiff and stark pieces of
petrifaction any longer. It is mere Hebraising, if we stop short,
and refuse to let our consciousness play freely, whenever we or our
friends do not happen to like what it discovers to us. This is to
make the Liberal party, or the Conservative party, our one thing
needful, instead of human perfection; and we have seen what mischief
arises from making an even greater thing than the Liberal or the
Conservative party,--the predominance of the moral side in man,--our
one thing needful. But wherever the free play of our consciousness
leads us, we shall follow; believing that in this way we shall tend
to make good at all points what is wanting to us, and so shall be
brought nearer to our complete human perfection.

Thus we may often, perhaps, praise much that a so-called Liberal
thinks himself forbidden to praise, and yet blame much that a so-
called Conservative thinks himself forbidden to blame, because these
are both of them partisans, and no partisan can afford to be thus
disinterested. But we who are not partisans can afford it; and so,
after we have seen what Nonconformists lose by being locked up in
their New Road forms of religious institution, [252] we can let
ourselves see, on the other hand, how their ministers, in a time of
movement of ideas like our present time, are apt to be more exempt
than the ministers of a great Church establishment from that self-
confidence, and sense of superiority to such a movement, which are
natural to a powerful hierarchy; and which in Archdeacon Denison, for
instance, seem almost carried to such a pitch that they may become,
one cannot but fear, his spiritual ruin. But seeing this does not
dispose us, therefore, to lock up all the nation in forms of worship
of the New Road type; but it points us to the quite new ideal, of
combining grand and national forms of worship with an openness and
movement of mind not yet found in any hierarchy. So, again, if we
see what is called ritualism making conquests in our Puritan middle-
class, we may rejoice that portions of this class should have become
alive to the aesthetical weakness of their position, even although

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