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The Five-Foot Shelf of Books 



Lectures on The Harvard Classics 

By William Allan Neilson, Ph.D. 


George Pierce Baker, A.B. 

Ernest Bernbaum, Ph.D. 

Charles J. Bullock, Ph.D. 

Thomas Nixon Carver, Ph.D., LL.D. 

WilHam Morris Davis, M.E., Ph.D., Sc.D. 

George H. Chase, Ph.D. 

Roland Burrage Dixon, A.M., Ph.D. 

William Scott Ferguson, Ph.D. 

J. D. M. Ford, Ph.D. 

Kuno Francke, Ph.D., LL.D. 

Charles Hall Grandgent, A.B. 

Chester Noyes Greenough, Ph.D. 

Charles Burton Gulick, Ph.D. 

Lawrence Joseph Henderson, M.D. 

Frank W. C. Hersey, A.M. 

Henry Wyman Holmes, A.M. 

William Guild Howard, A.M. 

Robert Matteson Johnston, M.A. 

Charles Rockwell Lanman, Ph.D., LL.D. 
Gustavus Howard Maynadier, Ph.D. 

ClifFord Herschel Moore, Ph.D. 
William Bennett Munro, LL.B., Ph.D., 

A. O. Norton, A.M. 
Carleton Noyes, A.M. 
Charles Pomeroy Parker, B.A. (Oxon.) 
George Howard Parker, S.D. 
Bliss Perry, L.H.D., Litt.D., LL.D. 
Ralph Barton Perry, Ph.D. 
Chandler Rathfon Post, Ph.D. 
Murray Anthony Potter, Ph.D. 
Roscoe Pound, Ph.D., LL.M. 
Fred Norris Robinson, Ph.D. 
Alfred Dwight Sheffield, A.M. 
Oliver Mitchell Wentworth Sprague, 

A.M., Ph.D. 
William Roscoe Thayer, A.M. 
Frederick Jackson Turner, Ph.D., 

LL.D., Litt.D. 
Charles Henry Conrad Wright, M.A. 

P, F. Collier & Son Corporation 


Copyright, 1914 
By p. F. Collier & Son 

manufactured in u. s. a. 



History 7 

I. General Introduction. By Robert Matteson Johnston, M. A. (Cantab.), 

Assistant Professor of Modern History in Harvard University. ... 7 
II. Ancient History. By William Scott Ferguson, Ph. D., Professor of 

History in Harvard University 23 

III. The Renaissance. By Murray Anthony Potter, Ph. D., Assistant Professor 

of Romance Languages in Harvard University 30 

IV. The French Revolution. By Robert Matteson Johnston, M. A. 

(Cantab.) 36 

V. The Territorial Development of the United States. By Frederick 
Jackson Turner, Ph. D., LL. D., Litt. D., Professor of History in Harvard 
University 41 

Poetry 48 

I. General Introduction. By Carleton Noyes, A. M., formerly Instructor 

in English in Harvard University 48 

II. Homer and the Epic. By Charles Burton Gulick, Ph. D., Professor of 

Greek in Harvard University, and (191 1— 191 2) in the American School 

of Classical Studies at Athens 66 

III. Dante. By Charles Hall Grandgent, A. B., Professor of Romance 

Languages in Harvard University 71 

IV. The Poems of John Milton. By Ernest Bernbaum, Ph. D., Instructor 

in English in Harvard University 76 

V. The English Anthology. By Carleton Noyes, A. M 81 

Natural Science 87 

I. General Introduction. By Lawrence Joseph Henderson, M. D., Assistant 

Professor of Biological Chemistry in Harvard University 87 

II. Astronomy. By Lawrence Joseph Henderson, M. D. . .... 105 

HI. Physics and Chemistry. By Lawrence Joseph Henderson, M. D. . no 

IV. The Biological Sciences. By Lawrence Joseph Henderson, M. D. . 115 

V. Kelvin on "Light" and "The Tides." By William Morris Davis, M. E., 
Ph. D., Sc. D., Sturgis-Hooper Professor of Geology, Emeritus, in 
Harvard University, Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and 
Sciences, Exchange Professor to the University of Berlin and to the 
Sorbonne 120 

Philosophy 125 

I. General Introduction. By Ralph Barton Perry, Ph. D., Professor of 

Philosophy, Harvard University 125 

II. Socrates, Plato, and the Roman Stoics. By Charles Pomeroy Parker, 

B. A. (Oxon.), Professor of Greek and Latin, Harvard University. 143 



Philosophy — Continued page 

III. The Rise of Modern Philosophy. By Ralph Barton Perry, Ph. D. . . 148 

IV. Introduction to Kant. By Ralph Barton Perry, Ph. D 153 

V. Emerson. By Chester Noyes Greenough, Ph. D., Assistant Professor of 

English, Harvard University 158 

Biography 163 

I. General Introduction. By William Roscoe Thayer, A. M., Knight of 
the Order of the Crown of Italy, editor of Harvard Graduates' 

Magazine 163 

II. Plutarch. By William Scott Ferguson, Ph. D., Professor of Modern 

History, Harvard University 181 

III. Benvenuto Cellini. By Chandler Rathfon Post, Ph. D., Assistant Pro- 

fessor of Greek, Harvard University 186 

IV. Franklin and Woolman. By Chester Noyes Greenough, Ph. D., Assistant 

Professor of English, Harvard University 191 

V. John Stuart Mill. By O. M. W. Sprague, A. M., Ph. D., Edmund 
Cogswell Converse Professor of Banking and Finance, Harvard 
University 196 

Prose Fiction 201 

I. General Introduction. By William Allan Neilson, Ph. D., Author of 

"The Origins and Sources of The Court of Love," "Essentials of 

Poetry," editor of "The Chief Elizabethan Dramatists," etc., general 

editor of "The Tudor Shakespeare," "The Types of English Literature." 201 

II. Popular Prose Fiction. By Fred Norris Robinson, Ph. D., Professor of 

English, Harvard University 219 

III. Malory. By Gustavus Howard Maynadier, Ph. D., Instructor in English, 

Harvard University 224 

IV. Cervantes. By J. D. M. Ford, Ph. D., Smith Professor of the French and 

Spanish Languages, Harvard University, corresponding member Royal 
Spanish Academy (Madrid) and Hispanic Society of America. 230 

V. Manzoni. By J. D. M. Ford, Ph. D 235 

Criticism and the Essay 239 

I. General Introduction. By Bliss Perry, L. H. D., Litt. D., LL. D., Pro- 
fessor of English Literature, Harvard University, formerly editor Atlan- 
tic Monthly, Harvard Lecturer at the University of Paris 239 

II. What the Middle Ages Read. By William Allan Neilson, Ph. D. 254 

III. Theories of Poetry. By Bliss Perry, L. H. D., Litt. D., LL. D. . . . 259 

IV. ^Esthetic Criticism in Germany. By William Guild Howard, A. M., 

Assistant Professor of German, Harvard University 266 

V. The Composition of a Criticism. By Ernest Bernbaum, Ph. D., Instructor 

in English, Harvard University 271 

Education 276 

I. General Introduction. By Henry Wyman Holmes, A. M., Assistant 

Professor of Education, Harvard University 276 


Education — Continued p^^je 

II. Francis Bacon. By Ernest Bernbaum, Ph. D., Instructor in English, 

Harvard University 292 

III. Locke and Milton. By Henry Wyman Holmes, A. M., Assistant Pro- 

fessor o£ Education, Harvard University 297 

IV. Carlyle and Newman. By Frank W. C. Hersey, A. M., Instructor in 

English, Harvard University 304 

V. Huxley on Science and Culture. By A. O. Norton, A. M., Professor of 

Education in Wellesley College 309 

Political Science 314 

I. General Introduction. By Thomas Nixon Carver, Ph. D., LL. D., David 

G. Wells Professor of Political Economy, Harvard University. . 314 
II. Theories of Government in the Renaissance. By O. M. W. Sprague, 
A. M., Ph. D., Edmund Cogswell Converse Professor of Banking and 
Finance, Harvard University 332 

III. Adam Smith and the "Wealth of Nations." By Charles J. Bullock, 

Ph. D., Professor of Economics, Harvard University 337 

IV. The Growth of the American Constitution. By William Bennett 

Munro, LL. B., Ph. D., LL. D., Professor of Municipal Government, 

Harvard University 342 

V. Law and Liberty. By Roscoe Pound, Ph. D., LL. M., Carter Professor 

of General Jurisprudence, Harvard University 347 

Drama 352 

I. General Introduction. By George Pierce Baker, A. B., Professor of 

Dramatic Literature, Harvard University 352 

II. Greek Tragedy. By Charles Burton Gulick, Ph. D., Professor of Greek, 
Harvard University, and (1911-1912) in the American School of 
Classical Studies at Athens 369 

III. The Elizabethan Drama. By William Allan Neilson, Ph. D. . . . 374 

IV. The Faust Legend. By Kuno Francke, Ph. D., LL. D., Professor of the 

History of German Culture, and Curator Germanic Museum, Harvard 

University 379 

V. Modern English Drama. By Ernest Bernbaum, Ph. D., Instructor in 

English, Harvard University 384 

Voyages and Travel 389 

I. General Introduction. By Roland Burrage Dixon, A. M., Ph. D., Assist- 
ant Professor of Anthropology, Harvard University 389 

II. Herodotus on Egypt. By George H. Chase, Ph. D., Assistant Professor 

of Classical Archeology, Harvard University 407 

III. The Elizabethan Adventurers. By William Allan Neilson, Ph.D. 412 

IV. The Era of Discovery. By William Bennett Munro, LL. B., Ph. D., 

LL. D., Professor of Municipal Government, Harvard University. 417 

V. Darwin's Voyage of the Beagle. By George Howard Parker, S. D., 

Professor of Zoology, Harvard University 422 

Religion 427 

I. General Introduction. By Ralph Barton Perry, Ph. D., Professor of 

Philosophy, Harvard University 427 


Religion — Continued page 

II. Buddhism. By Charles Rockwell Lanman, Ph. D., LL. D., Professor of 

Sanskrit in Harvard University 446 

III. Confucianism. By Alfred Dwight Sheffield, A. M., Instructor in Wellesley 

College 451 

IV. Greek Religion. By Clifford Herschel Moore, Ph. D., Professor of Latin 

in Harvard University, Professor in American School of Classical Studies 

in Rome, 1905-6 457 

V. Pascai,. By Charles Henry Conrad Wright, M. A., Professor of French 

in Harvard University 462 

The Lecture Series on the contents of The Harvard Classics ought 
to do much to open that collection of literary materials to many 
ambitious young men and women whose education was cut short by the 
necessity of contributing in early life to the family earnings, or of sup 
porting themselves, "and who must therefore reach the standing of a 
cultivated man or woman through the pleasurable devotion of a few 
minutes a day through many years to the reading of good literature." 
(Introduction to The Harvard Classics.) The Series will also assist 
many readers to cultivate "a taste for serious reading of the highest 
quality outside of The Harvard Classics as well as within them." (Ibid.) 
It will certainly promote the accomplishment of the educational object 
I had in mind when I made the collection. Charles W. Eliot. 

The Harvard Classics provided the general reader with a great store- 
house of standard works in all the main departments of intellectual 
activity. To this storehouse the Lectures now open the door. 

Through the Lectures the student is introduced to a vast range of 
topics, under the guidance of distinguished professors. 

The Five-Foot Shelf, with its introductions, notes, guides to reading, 
and exhaustive indexes, may thus claim to constitute with these Lec- 
tures a reading course unparalleled in comprehensiveness and authority. 

William Allan Neilson. 



By Professor Robert Matteson Johnston 

HISTORY alone, of all modes of thought, places the reader 
above his author. While the historian more or less dili- 
gently plods along his own narrow path, perhaps the one 
millionth part of all history, every avenue opens wide to the imagina- 
tion of those who read him. To them history may mean anything 
that concerns man and that has a past; not politics only, but art, and 
science, and music have had their birth and growth; not institutions 
only, but legends and chronicles and all the masterpieces of litera- 
ture, reflect the clash of nations and the tragedies of great men. 
And it is just because the reader is merely a reader that the full joy 
of history is open to him. He wears no fetters, so that even were 
he bent on mastering the constitutional documents of the United 
States he could turn aside with a calm conscience to listen to the 
echoes of dying Roland's horn in the gorge of Roncevaux or to stand 
by Cnut watching the North Sea tide as it lapped the old Dane's 

In all directions, in almost every branch of literature, history 
may be discovered, a multiform chameleon; and yet history does 
not really exist. No one has yet composed a record of humanity; 
and no one ever will, for it is beyond man's powers. Macaulay's 
history covered forty years; that of Thucydides embraced only the 
Peloponnesian war; Gibbon, a giant among the moderns, succeeded 
in spanning ten centuries after a fashion, but has found no imitators. 
The truth is there is no subject, save perhaps astronomy, that is 
quite so vast and quite so little known. Its outline, save in the sham 
history of text books, is entirely wanting. Its details, where really 
known to students, are infinitely difficult to bring into relation. For 
this reason it may be worth while to attempt, in the space of one short 



essay, to coordinate the great epochs of history, from the earUest to 
the most recent times. 

The practical limit of history extends over a period of about three 
thousand years, goes back, in other words, to about looo B. C. Be- 
yond that we have merely scraps of archaeological evidence; names 
of pictures engraved on stone, to show that in periods very remote 
considerable monarchies flourished in Egypt, along the Euphrates, 
and in other directions. It was not these people who were to set 
their imprint on later ages, it was rather what were then merely 
untutored and unknown wandering tribes of Aryans, which, work- 
ing their way through the great plains of the Volga, the Dnieper, 
and the Danube, eventually forced their way into the Balkan and 
the Italian peninsulas. There, with the sea barring their further 
progress, they took on more settled habits, and formed, at some dis- 
tant epoch, cities, among which Athens and Rome were to rise to 
the greatest celebrity. And about the year lOOo B. C, or a little 
later, Greece emerges from obscurity with Homer. 

Just as Greece burst from her chrysalis, a Semitic people, the Jews, 
were producing their counterpart co Homer. In the Book of Joshua 
they narrated in the somber mood of their race the conquest of 
Palestine by their twelve nomad tribes, and in the Pentateuch and 
later writings they recorded their law and their religion. From this 
starting point. Homer and Joshua, whose dates come near enough 
for our purpose, we will follow the history of the Mediterranean and 
of the West. 


First the great rivers, the Nile and the Euphrates, later the great 
inland sea that stretched westward to the Atlantic, were the avenues 
of commerce, of luxury, of civilization. Tyre, Phocaea, Carthage, and 
Marseilles were the early traders, who brought to the more military 
Aryans not only all the wares of east and west but language itself, 
the alphabet. Never was a greater gift bestowed on a greater race. 
With it the Greeks developed a wonderful literature that was to 
leave a deep impress on all Western civilization. They wove their 
early legends into the chaste and elegant verse of the Homeric epics. 


into the gloomy and poignant drama of ^schylus, Sophocles, and 
Euripides. They then turned to history and philosophy. In the 
former they produced a masterpiece of composition with Thucydides 
and one of the most delightful of narratives with Herodotus. In the 
latter they achieved their most important results. 

Greek philosophy was to prove the greatest intellectual asset of 
humanity. No other civilization or language before the Greek had 
invented the abstract ideas: time, will, space, beauty, truth, and the 
others. And from these wonderful, though imperfect, word ideas 
the vigorous and subtle Greek intellect rapidly raised a structure 
which found its supreme expression in Plato, Aristotle, and Zeno. 
But from the close of the Fourth Century before Christ, the time of 
Aristotle and his pupil Alexander the Great, Greek began to lose 
its vitality and to decay. 

This decadence coincided with events of immense political im- 
portance. Alexander created a great Greek Empire, stretching from 
the Mediterranean to the Indus. After his death this empire was 
split into a number of monarchies, the Greek kingdoms of the East, 
of which the last to survive was that of the Ptolemies in Egypt. 
This perished when Augustus defeated Cleopatra and Antony at 
Actium in B. C. 31, exactly three hundred years after Alexander's 
final victory over Darius at Arbela. 


During these three hundred years a more western branch of the 
Aryans, the Romans, had gradually forced their way to supremacy. 
It was not until about B. C. 200 that Rome broke down the power 
of Carthage, got control of the western Mediterranean, and then sud- 
denly stretched out her hand over its eastern half. In less than two 
centuries more she had completed the conquest of the Balkans, Asia 
Minor, and Egypt, and the Mediterranean had become a Roman lake. 

The city of Rome may go back to B. C. ipoo, and the legends and 
history of the Republic afford an outline of facts since about B. C. 
500, but it was only after establishing contact with the civilization 
and language of Greece that the Romans really found literary ex- 
pression. Their tongue had not the elasticity and harmony of the 
Greek, nor had it the wealth of vocabulary, the abstract terms; it 


was more fitted, by its terseness, clearness, and gravity, to be the 
medium o£ the legislator and administrator. Under the influence of 
foreign conquest and of Greek civilization, Rome, however, quickly 
evolved a literature of her own, an echo of the superior and riper 
one produced by the people she had conquered; it tinged with glory 
the last years of the RepubHc and the early ones of the Empire, the 
age of Augustus. Virgil produced a highly polished, if not convinc- 
ing, imitation of Homer. Lucretius philosophized a crude material- 
istic universe in moderate hexameters. Cicero, with better success 
and some native quality, modeled himself on Demosthenes; while 
the historians alone equaled their Greek masters, and in the states- 
manlike instinct and poisoned irony of Tacitus revealed a worthy 
rival of Thucydides. 

Latin and Greek were the two common languages of the Mediter- 
ranean just as the unwieldy Republic of Rome was turning to im- 
perialism. The Greek universities, Athens, Pergamon, and Alexan- 
dria, dictated the fashions of intellectualism, and gave preeminence 
to a decadent and subtilized criticism and philosophy perversely 
derived from the Greek masters of the golden age. But a third in- 
fluence was on the point of making itself felt in the newly organized 
Mediterranean political system — that of the Jews. 


To understand the part the Jews were now to play, it is necessary 
first of all to look back upon the general character of the social and 
political struggles of those ancient centuries. At the time of Homer's 
heroes, and, in a way, until that of Alexander the Great, states were 
small, generally a city or a group of cities. War was constant, and 
generally accompanied by destruction and slavery. As the centuries 
slipped by, the scale increased. Athens tried to create a colonial 
empire as did Carthage, and the great continental states, Macedon 
and Rome, followed close at their heels. In the last century or so 
before Christ, war was nearly continuous on a vast scale, and it 
was attended by at least one circumstance that demands special con- 

Social inequality was a fundamental conception of the ancient 
world. The Greek cities in their origin had been communities ruled 


by a small caste of high-bred families. The social hierarchy pro- 
ceeded down from them to the slave, and war was waged on a 
slave basis, the victor acquiring the vanquished. The great wars 
of the Roman Republic against the Greek monarchies were huge 
treasure-seeking and slave-driving enterprises that reduced to servi- 
tude the most able and most refined part of the population of the 
conquered countries. Rome had created a great Mediterranean 
state, but at a terrible price. The civilization she had set up had no 
religion save an empty formalism, and no heart at all. It was the 
Jews who were to remedy this defect. 

All through the East and in some parts of the West the Jewish 
merchants formed conspicuous communities in the cities of the Em- 
pire, giving an example of spiritual faith, of seriousness and rectitude, 
that contrasted strongly with what prevailed in the community. For 
materialism and epicureanism were the natural outcome of a period 
of economic prosperity; religion was at its best formalistic, at its 
worst orgiastic; ethical elements were almost wholly lacking. Yet 
a revolt against the souUessness and iniquities of the times was pro- 
ceeding and men were prepared to turn to whatever leaders could 
give them a system large enough to satisfy the cravings of long- 
outraged conscience, and large enough to fill the bounds of the 
Mediterranean Empire. Three Jews — ^Jesus, Paul, and Philo — came 
forward to do this work. 

Jesus was the example, the man of conscience, the redeemer God. 
For in this last capacity he could readily be made to fit in with the 
Asiatic cults of the sun and of redemption which were at that time 
the most active and hopeful lines of religious thought. Paul was 
the Jew turned Roman, an imperialist, a statesman, of wide view 
and missionary fervor. Philo was the Jew turned Greek, the angel 
of the Alexandrian schools, who had infused Hebraic elements 
into the moribund philosophizing of the Egyptian Greeks, and 
thereby given it a renewed lease of life. That lease was to run just 
long enough to pour the Alexandrian thought into the Christian 
mold and give the new religion its peculiar dogmatic apparatus. 

For three centuries, until A. D. 312, Christianity was nothing in 
the Mediterranean world save a curious sect differing widely from 
the hundreds of other sects that claimed the allegiance of the motley 


population sheltering under the segis of the Emperors. During those 
three centuries the Mediterranean was a peaceful avenue of im- 
perial administration, of trade, of civilizing intercourse. Its great 
ports teemed with a medley of people in whom the blood of all 
races from the Sahara to the German forests, and from Gibraltar 
to the valley of the Euphrates, was transfused. The little clans of 
high-bred men who had laid the foundations of this huge interna- 
tional empire had practically disappeared. The machine carried 
itself on by its own momentum, while wars remained on distant 
frontiers, the work of mercenaries, insufficient to stimulate military 
virtues in the heart of the Empire. It was, in fact, the economic 
vices that prevailed, materialism, irreligion, and cowardice. 

The feeble constitution of the Empire was too slight a framework 
to support the vast edifice. Emperor succeeded emperor, good, bad, 
and indifferent, with now and again a monster, and now and again 
a saint. But the elements of decay were always present, and made 
steady progress. The army had to be recruited from the barbarians; 
the emperor's crown became the chief reward of the universal 
struggle for spoils; the Empire became so unwieldy that it tended 
to fall apart, and many competitors sprang up to win it by force 
of arms. 


In 312 such a struggle was proceeding, and Constantine, one of the 
competitors, casting about for some means to fortify his cause against 
his opponents, turned to Christianity and placed himself under the 
protection of the Cross. Whatever his actual religious convictions 
may have been, there can be no doubt that Constantine's step was 
politic. While the pagan cults still retained the mass of the people 
through habit and the sensuous appeal, Christianity had now drawn 
to itself, especially in the western parts of the Empire, the serious 
minded and better class. Administrators, merchants, men of posi- 
tion and influence were Christian. Constantine needed their aid, 
and fulfilled the one condition on which he could obtain it by adopt- 
ing their faith. 

Thus suddenly Christianity, after its long struggle and many per- 
secutions, became the official religion of the Empire. But Christianity 


was exclusive and the Emperor was its head; so conformity was 
required o£ all citizens of the Empire, and conformity could 
only be obtained by paying a price. The masses were wedded to their 
ancient cults, their ancient gods, their ancient temples, their ancient 
rites. To sweep them away at one stroke and to substitute some- 
thing different was not possible. So a compromise was effected. 
The priests, the temples, the ritual, the statues, remained, but they 
were relabeled with Christian labels, under cover of which Christian 
ideas were slipped in. A great metamorphosis took place of which 
the intelligent traveler and reader of to-day can still find traces: — 

"The fair form, the lovely pageant that had entwined the Mediter- 
ranean with sculptured marble, and garlands of roses, and human 
emotion, was fading into stuff for the fantasies of dreamers. The 
white-robed priest and smoking altar, the riotous procession and 
mystic ritual would no longer chain the affections of mankind. No 
longer would the shepherd blow his rude tibia in honor of Cybele, 
no longer would a thousand delicious fables, fine wrought webs of 
poetic imagination, haunt the sacred groves and colonnades of the 
gods. Day after day, night after night, as constantly as Apollo and 
Diana ran their course in heaven, had all these things run their 
course on earth; now, under the spell of the man of Galilee, they had 
shivered into a rainbow vapor, a mist of times past, unreal, unthink- 
able, save where the historian may reconstruct a few ruins or the 
poet relive past lives. And yet the externals in great part remained. 
For it was at the heart that paganism was struck, and it was there 
it was weakest. It had attempted, but had failed, to acquire a con- 
science, while the new faith had founded itself on that strong rock. 
Christianity had triumphed through the revolt of the individual 
conscience; it was now to attempt the dangerous task of creating a 
collective one." * 


The establishment of Christianity at Rome came not a moment 

too soon to infuse a little life into the fast-decaying Empire. Con- 

stantine himself helped to break it in two, a Roman and a Greek 

half, by creating a new capital, Constantinople. More ominous yet 

'Johnston, "Holy Christian Church," p. 146. 


was the constant pressure of the Teutons at the frontier, a pressure 
that could now no longer be resisted. By gradual stages they burst 
through the bounds, and at the time Christianity was becoming 
the official religion of the Mediterranean world, Germanic tribes 
had already extorted by force of arms a right to occupy lands within 
the sacred line of the Rhine and of the Danube. From that moment, 
for a century or more, the processes of Germanic penetration and of 
Roman disintegration were continuous, culminating in 375 with 
the great Germanic migrations and in 410 with the sack of Rome 
by Alaric and the Goths. 

During the terrible half century that followed, the Roman world 
was parceled out among a number of Germanic princes, and of the 
old order only two things were left standing, a fragmentary empire 
of the East centering in Constantinople, and a bishopric of Rome 
of vastly increased importance that was soon to be known as the 
Papacy, and that already showed symptoms of attempting to regain 
by new means the universal dominion which the Emperors had lost. 

The Germans were crude and military; the Latins were subtle 
and peaceful, and when the storm of conquest swept through the 
West they sought safety in the cloister. "There, under the protection 
of the Latin cross, a symbol the barbarians dare not violate, what 
was left of Roman intellectualism could cower while the storm blew 
over, presently to reissue as the army of Christ to conquer, with new- 
forged weapons, lands that the legions of their fathers had not even 
beheld." ' 

The Latin churchmen quickly learned how to play on the credulity 
and the superstition of the simple German, while setting before him 
the lofty ideals and ethics of Christianity. They not only held him 
through religion but they soon became the civil administrators, the 
legislators, the guiding spirits of the Germanic kingdoms. 

Civilization had now taken on a marked change, had become a 
composite in which Christianity and Teutonism were large factors. 
Perhaps this was all clear gain; but in the economic and material 
sense there had been great losses. Enormous wealth had been de- 
stroyed or scattered, and imperial communication had broken down. 
The trader was no longer safe on the Mediterranean; the great 
^Johnston, "Holy Christian Church," p. 162. 


roads of Rome were going to ruin; boundaries of military states 
barred old channels of intercourse. Under these conditions civiliza- 
tion could only be more localized, weaker than before. And in fact 
the Teutonic kingdoms pursued for some time an extremely check- 
ered course. 


Then came, in the seventh century, a new and even more terrible 
blast of devastation. Mohammed arose, created Islam, and started 
the great movement of Arab conquest. Within almost a few years 
of his death the fanaticized hosts of Arabia and the East were 
knocking at the gates of Constantinople, and swept westward along 
the southern shores of the Mediterranean until the Atlantic barred 
their steps. They turned to Spain, destroyed the Visigothic kingdom, 
crossed the Pyrenees, and reached the center of Gaul before they 
were at last checked. The Franks under Charles Martel defeated 
them at Tours in 732, and perhaps by that victory saved Christen- 
dom. Had the Arabs succeeded in this last ordeal, who knows what 
the result might not have been? As Gibbon characteristically wrote: 
"A victorious line of march had been prolonged above a thousand 
miles from the rock of Gibraltar to the banks of the Loire; the 
repetition of an equal space would have carried the Saracens to the 
confines of Poland and the Highlands of Scotland; the Rhine is not 
more impassable than the Nile or Euphrates, and the Arabian fleet 
might have sailed without a naval combat into the mouth of the 
Thames. Perhaps the interpretation of the Koran would now be 
taught in the schools of Oxford and her pulpits might demonstrate 
to a circumcised people the sanctity and truth of the revelation of 

On the wreck of the Arab hopes the descendants of Charles Martel 
founded a monarchy which blazed into ephemeral power and glory 
under Charlemagne. In the year 800 the greatest of Prankish rulers 
revived the imperial title, and was crowned by the Pope in the basil- 
ica of St. Peter's. But the old Empire could not be resuscitated, 
nor for the matter of that could the Prankish monarchy long 
maintain the preeminent position it had reached. A new visita- 
tion was at hand, and Charlemagne before he died saw the hori- 


zon of his northern seas flecked by the venturesome keels of the first 
of the northern pirates. 


For about two centuries Europe passed through an epoch of the 
deepest misery. Danes and Scandinavians ravaged her from the 
northwest, Saracens from the south, so that only the upper Rhine 
and Danube, harboring a rich Teutonic civilization, escaped de- 
struction. The Carlovingian Empire broke into pieces, Prankish, 
Lothringian or Burgundian, and Germanic, with the last of which 
went the imperial title. And this disintegration might have con- 
tinued indefinitely to chaos had not feudalism appeared to fortify 
and steady declining civilization. 

Only force could successfully resist force, and at every threatened 
point the same mode of local resistance sprang up. Men willing and 
able to fight protected the community, and exacted in return certain 
services. They soon began to build castles and to transmit their 
powers, together with their lands, to their heirs. Lands soon came to 
be viewed as related to other lands on conditions of military and 
other services. The Church followed the example, until, finally, by 
the eleventh century, one general formula underlay western Euro- 
pean ideas: that every individual belonged to a class, and enjoyed 
certain rights on the performance of various services to a superior 
class, and that at the head of this ladder of rank stood either the 
Emperor, or the Pope, or both. The last step was a highly controver- 
sial one; on the first all men were agreed. 

By this time feudalism had done its best work in restoring more 
settled conditions, and bringing to a conclusion the northern and 
southern piracy. From Sicily to the marches of Scotland, Europe 
was now one mass of small military principalities, only here and 
there held together in more or less efficient fashion by monarchies 
like those of France and England, or by the Empire itself. Every 
trade route was flanked by fortifications whence baronial exactions 
could be levied on the traders. And when, under more peaceful 
conditions, great trading cities came into existence — in Italy, Ger- 
many, the Netherlands — a fierce struggle arose for mastery between 
burghers and feudal potentates. 


Meanwhile the Church itself had developed great ambitions and 
suffered the worst vicissitudes. While under the Prankish protection, 
Rome had acquired the temporal domain she was to hold until Sep- 
tember 20, 1870, when she was dispossessed by the newly formed 
Kingdom of Italy. With this territorial standing, and impelled for- 
ward by the mighty traditions of ancient Rome and of the Church, 
she deliberately stretched out her hand under Gregory VII (Hilde- 
brand) in an attempt to grasp the feudalized scepter of Europe. 
The Germanic Empire, the offshoot of the greater domain of Charle- 
magne, resisted. The great parties of Guelphs and of Ghibellines, 
imperialists and papalists, came into existence, and for a long period 
tore Germany and Italy in vain attempts at universal supremacy. 

Inextricably bound up with the feudal movement, and with the 
enthusiasm for the service of the Church that Rome for a while 
succeeded in creating, came an interlude, religious, chivalrous, eco- 
nomic, the Crusades. Out of superabundant supplies of feudal sol- 
diers great armies were formed to relieve the Holy Places from the 
profaning presence of the infidels. The East was deeply scarred with 
religious war and its attendant butcheries, and little remained in 
permanent results, save on the debit side. For the Crusades had 
proved a huge transportation and trading enterprise for the thrifty 
republics of Genoa and Venice, and led to a great expansion of ori- 
ental trade; while the West had once more been to school to the 
East and had come back less religious, more sceptical. And from the 
close of the period of the Crusades (1270) to the outbreak of the 
Reformation, two hundred and fifty years later, economic activity 
and the growth of scepticism are among the most prominent facts, 
while immediately alongside of them may be noted the birth of the 
new languages, and, partly resulting from all these forces, the Ren- 


For a while the Papacy, spent by its great effort of the eleventh 
and twelfth centuries, went to pieces. The Latin ideas for which it 
stood began to lose ground rapidly as Dante created the Italian lan- 
guage (1300), and as, in the course of the next two centuries, French, 
English, and German assumed definite literary shape. There was 
not only a loss of faith in Latin forms, but a desire to transmute 


religious doctrine into the new modes of language, and especially 
to have a vernacular Bible. Assailed in this manner, Rome stimu- 
lated theological studies, helped to create the mediaeval universities, 
and tried to revivify the philosophy which Alexandria had given 
her in the creeds by going back to the texts of the golden age of 
Greece with Aquinas. 

It was of no avail. Europe felt a new life, a new nationalism mov- 
ing within her. Voyages of discovery to India, to America, first 
stirred imaginations, and later poured into the itching palms of 
ambitious statesmen, soldiers, artists, vast stores of gold. The pulse 
of the world beat quicker. Constantinople fell, a thousand years 
after its foundation, into the hands of the Turk, and its stores 
of manuscripts, of art, of craftsmen, poured into Italy. Men became 
inventors, innovators, artists, revolutionaries. Cesare Borgia at- 
tempted, but failed, to create an Italian empire. Martin Luther at- 
tempted to secede from the Church, and succeeded. 

He declared that a man could save his soul by the grace of God 
only, and on that basis started a wrangle of ideals and of wordy 
disputations that plunged Europe once more into an inferno of war- 
fare. It lasted until 1648, the peace of Westphalia, when it was found 
that on the whole the northern parts of Europe had become Protes- 
tant and the southern had remained Catholic. 


At this very moment Louis XIV was beginning the reign that 
was to mark out for France the great position she held in the Europe 
of the last two centuries. The age of feudalism was fast passing. 
The last great feudatories had worn out their strength in the wars 
of religion. The monarchy had gained what they had lost, and now 
set to work in the splendor and pageantry of Versailles to reduce 
the once semi-independent feudal soldier into a mincing cour- 
tier. The Bourbons succeeded in large part. They remained the 
autocrats of France, with the privileged orders of the clergy and 
aristocracy at a low level beneath them, and in unchecked control 
of the machinery of government. That machinery they soon began to 
abuse. Its complete breakdown came with the French Revolution in 


This dramatic event resulted from a large number o£ convergent 
and slow-acting causes. Among them we may note the fearful mis- 
management of the Bourbon finances, inadequate food supply, and 
the unrest of a highly educated middle class deprived of all influence 
and opportunity in matters of government. That class got control 
of the States General which became a national assembly, and set to 
work to destroy Bourbonism in the name of liberty, equality, and 
fraternity. Between the inexperience of this assembly and the im- 
potence of the Court, rose the wild force of the Parisian mob, which 
eventually drove France into war with outraged Europe, and brought 
the Bourbons, with thousands of the noblest and best as well as a 
few of the worst people of France, to the guillotine. 

War which became successful, and the feebleness of the republican 
government that succeeded the Reign of Terror, inevitably made 
for a military dictatorship and a restoration of the monarchy. Na- 
poleon Bonaparte, the greatest upstart in history, held France by his 
magnetic gaze and iron grasp for fifteen years, while he organized 
her as no European country had ever been organized, and with her 
might in his control darted from torrid Egypt to arctic Russia in a 
megalomaniac frenzy of conquest. He fell, leaving France so ex- 
hausted that, for a brief spell, the Bourbons returned. 

It had taken all Europe to pull down France and Napoleon, and 
in the end distant Russia had dealt the most fatal wound. Yet it 
was England that had proved the most constant, the most stubborn, 
and the most triumphant enemy. And the quarrel between these 
two countries, France and England, was that which went furthest 
back in history. 

For a while, during the dark epoch that followed Charlemagne, 
the Normans had held by conquest a sort of middle country between 
France and England. Under their duke, William, they conquered 
England itself in 1066, and there set up a strong insular monarchy. 
Their foothold in France, however, brought the Anglo-Norman 
kings in conflict with their neighbor, and wars were to rage between 
the two countries with only rare intermissions until 1815. At first 
their object was largely territorial possession; later economic factors 
grew more apparent, until in the eighteenth century and under Na- 
poleon the struggle had become one for over-sea colonial empire. 



In the sixteenth century, with the House o£ Tudor on the English 
throne, the perennial struggle of the English sovereigns against 
France became complicated by the appearance of a new continental 
power that might under given circumstances join hands with the 
older enemy. This was Spain. 

Since their defeat by the Franks at Tours, in 732, the Arabs had 
steadily lost ground. For several centuries, however, they had pros- 
pered in Spain, and there they had developed learning and the arts 
with splendid success, at a moment when Christian Europe was 
still plunged in darkness. But presently the feudal principalities 
lodged in the Pyrenees and Asturian mountains began to gain 
ground, and finally toward the end of the fifteenth century these 
states came together in a united monarchy that conquered the last 
Arab kingdom and founded modern Spain. 

At this very moment, by one of the most remarkable coincidences 
in European history, marriage alliances and other circumstances al- 
most suddenly threw the Spanish kingdom, the great inheritance 
of the Dukes of Burgundy, and the kingdom of Hungary, into the 
hands of the Hapsburg dukes of Austria, who were to seat their 
ruling princes on the imperial throne of Germany almost uninter- 
ruptedly until the old Germanic empire closed its days in 1806. 

This huge concentration of power in the hands of the Emperor, 
Charles V (1519-1556), gave a marked turn to the situation created 
by the outbreak of the Reformation. For France, which remained 
Catholic, and England, which became Protestant, had both to face 
the problem of the overtopping of the European equilibrium by the 
inflated dominions of the Hapsburgs. This accounted for much in 
the constantly shifting political adjustments of that age. It was not 
until the close of the reign of Louis XIV (Treaty of Utrecht, 1713) 
that the Hapsburg power was about balanced by the placing of a 
Bourbon prince on the throne of Spain. From that moment France 
and Spain tended to act together against England. 

In England the religious upheaval lasted roughly about a century, 
from Henry VIII to Cromwell; on the whole, it was less violent 


than on the Continent. Its chief results were the establishment of 
the Anglican Church and of those more markedly Protestant sects 
from among which came the sturdy settlers of New England. 


It was during the wars of religion that England came into a 
struggle with the new Hapsburg-Spanish power. It had its tremen- 
dously dramatic episodes in the cruise of the Great Armada, and 
its fascinatingly romantic ones in the voyages of discovery and semi- 
piratical exploits of the British seamen who burst the paper walls 
that Spain had attempted to raise around the southern seas. The 
broad ocean, the gold of the Indies, the plantations of sugar, of to- 
bacco, of coffee, the growing settlements and countries of a new 
world, these became the subject of strife from that time on. And as 
Spain declined in her vigor after the Armada, and a century later 
became the client of France, so the struggle narrowed itself to one 
between the latter power and England. 

In the Seven Years' War (1756-1763), England established her su- 
premacy in this world-wide struggle, and although in the next war 
she lost her American colonies, yet when she met France again in 
1793, her trade and manufactures, her unrivaled geographical and 
economic situation, and her politic and businesslike statesmanship, 
had placed her at the head of the nations of Europe. She joined the 
European alliance against France in 1793, and with only two short 
intervals remained in the field against her until at Waterloo, twenty- 
two years later, Napoleon was finally defeated by Wellington and 

During this gigantic struggle France faced two problems, that of 
the sea and England, that of the land and the three great military 
powers of northeast Europe — Austria, Russia, Prussia. Toward the 
end, after Napoleon had failed in Spain and got into a death grapple 
with Russia, it was the Continental issue that obscured the other. 
But England kept her eye firmly fixed on the sea, on colonies, on 
water-borne trade; so that when at the Congress of Vienna (1815) 
the powers parceled out the shattered empire, England was left by 
common consent the only great sea and colonial power. 



A period of reaction followed the fall of Napoleon, but in 1848 
it came to a close in a storm of revolution. Population had grown, 
means of communication were multiplying fast and promoting in- 
tellectual as well as economic activity, political privileges were un- 
duly restricted, governments were old-fashioned. In Italy, and in 
Germany where the old empire had perished in 1806, were the seeds 
of a new nationalism. From Palermo to Paris, and from Paris to Vi- 
enna, a train of revolutionary explosions was fired, and for two years 
Europe was convulsed. A new Bonaparte empire arose in France, 
and in Italy and Germany a national idea was founded, though not 
for the moment brought to its consummation. That was to take 
twenty years more, and to be vastly helped by the tortuous ambitions 
of Napoleon III ably turned to use by Cavour and by Bismarck. 

In 1859 France helped the House of Savoy to drive Austria from the 
valley of the Po, and thereby cleared the way for the liberation and 
fusion of all Italy by Cavour and Garibaldi. In 1866 Prussia expelled 
the House of Hapsburg from Germany, and four years later consoli- 
dated her work by marching to the walls of Paris at the head of a 
united German host which there acclaimed William of Hohenzollern 
chief of a new Germanic empire. 

What has happened since then, and chiefly the scramble for colo- 
nies or for establishing economic suzerainty, belongs more to the 
field of present politics than of history. For that reason it may be 
left out of account. And so indeed has much else been left out of 
account for which the limit of space fixed for this essay has proved 
altogether too narrow. If a last word may be added to help the 
reader to gather in the harvest from that trampled and mutilated 
field which we call history let it be this, that everything turns on a 
point of view, on a mental attitude. The reader is the spectator of 
the pageant; he must be cool to judge and discriminate, with no bias 
toward praise or blame, content merely to observe as the constant 
stream unfolds itself in all its changing colors, but with a mind 
ready to judge human actions and motives, an imagination ready to 
seize on the ever-living drama of fact, and a heart ready to respond 
to those countless acts of heroism that have ennobled great men and 
great races, and with them all humanity. 


By Professor William Scott Ferguson 

OF the three periods of approximately fifteen hundred years 
each into which the history of the Western World falls, 
two belong to the domain of antiquity. 

The first of these "links in the chain of eternity" includes the rise, 
maturity, and decay of the Oriental civilization at its three distinct 
but interconnected centers, Egypt, Babylonia, and Crete-Mycenae. 
The second reaches from 1200 B. C. to 300 A. D., and it too is filled 
with the growth, fruition, and decline of a civilization — the high 
material and intellectual culture of the Greeks and Romans. Over- 
lapping this for several centuries, the third or Christian period runs 
down to our own time. The nineteenth century of our era may be 
regarded as the opening of a fourth period, one of untold possibilities 
for human development. 

The Greeks, like the Christians, went to school for many centuries 
to their predecessors. Their earUest poems, the "IHad" and "Odyssey" 
of Homer, are in one sense a legacy from the Cretan-Mycenjcan age, 
in which the scene of their action is laid. None the less, like the 
peoples of medieval and modern Europe, the Greeks owed the pro- 
duction of their most characteristic things to their own native effort. 

It was in the eighth and seventh centuries B. C. that the Greeks 
became a new species of mankind. In this, the time of their expan- 
sion from an JEgean into a Mediterranean people, they shook off 
the bonds which had shackled the Oriental spirit, and, trusting to 
their own intellects, faced without flinching the grave problems of 
human life. When they then awoke to a realization of their position, 
they found themselves in the possession of cities which were at the 
same time states. Political connection between them there was none, 
and slender indeed were the ties of sentiment, language, and religion 
which bound to one another the Hellenes of Miletus, Corinth, Syra- 
cuse, Marseilles, and the hundreds of other Greek city-states then in 



existence. The complexity of the map may be appreciated by ob- 
serving that Crete alone had twenty-three distinct states. In Greece, 
as elsewhere, cities in which life was at once national and municipal 
proved the most favorable soil for the growth of free institutions. 


The keynote of the formative age of Greece was the rise of indi- 
vidualism. Poets freed themselves from the Homeric conventions, 
and dealt not as of yore with the deeds of ancient heroes, but with 
their own emotions, ideas, and experiences. They laid aside the 
measure and diction of the Epos and wrote every man and woman 
in his native rhythm and dialect. Sculptors and painters, long since 
accustomed to work in the spirit of a school, and to elaborate more 
and more scrupulously certain types of art, now became conscious 
that so much of their work was of their own creation that they 
began laying claim to it by adding their signatures. 

The problems of religion were no longer satisfactorily settled by 
the Homeric revelation. They forced themselves directly upon the 
attention of every thinking individual. One man remained orthodox, 
another took refuge in the emotional cults of Dionysos and Demeter, 
another revolted and sought to explain the world as a product of 
natural laws and not of divine creation. Men who had earlier been 
obscured by their respective families, clans, and brotherhoods, now 
severed themselves for all public purposes from these associations, 
recognizing only the authority of a state which threw open its 
privileges to all aHke. There were revolters in politics as there were 
revolters in religion and in art: the tyrants are the kinsmen of the 
personal poets, Archilochus, Sappho, Alcaeus, and of scientists like 
Thales of Miletus and the Ionian physicists. 

The Asiatic Greeks were in general the leaders at this time, and 
Miletus was the greatest city in the entire Greek world, 


The sixth century which followed was an age of reaction. Men 
shrank from the violent outbreaks of the preceding generations. It 
was the time of the "seven wise men," of the precept "nothing in 
excess," of the curbing of aristocracies with their claim to be a law 


unto themselves. During this epoch of repression a rich and diversi- 
fied culture which had developed in Sparta was narrowed down to 
one single imperious interest — war and preparation for war. With 
the leveling down of the Spartan aristocracy went the decay of the 
art and letters of which it had been the bearer. The Spartan people 
became an armed camp living a life of soldierly comradeship and of 
puritanical austerity, ever solicitous lest its serfs (there were fifteen of 
them to every Spartan) should revolt and massacre, ever watchful 
lest the leadership which it had established in Greek aflfairs (there 
were 15,000 Spartans and 3,000,000 Greeks) should be imperiled. 
In Athens the course of development had been directly the opposite 
of this. There, too, the nobles were ousted from their monopoly 
of political rights, but on the other hand, the serfs were admitted to 
citizenship. The men who molded Athens in its period of demo- 
cratic growth were themselves aristocrats who never doubted for 
a moment that the culture of their order would ennoble the life of 
the masses. Hence no pains or expenses were spared by them to build 
and maintain — at their own cost — public palcestrce and gymnasia 
in which poor and rich alike could obtain a suppleness and grace of 
body that added charm and vigor to their movements; and to insti- 
tute so-called musical contests in which the people generally had to 
participate, and the preparation for which incited all classes to study 
literature and art — above all to learn the words and the music of 
lyric and dramatic choruses. The aristocracy died down in Athens, 
but the Athenians became the aristocracy of all Greece. 

That they did so was largely the work of their most brilliant 
statesman, Themistocles, whose "Life" by Plutarch is included in 
The Harvard Classics.' Under his far-sighted guidance Athens built 
an invincible fleet at great financial sacrifice, cooperated with Sparta 
with singular devotion and unparalleled heroism in beating off the 
Persians, and established her maritime empire. Aristides^ was at 
first his unsuccessful rival and later his faithful collaborator, and 
Pericles,' whose interest in science, philosophy, jurisprudence, art, 
and literature makes him the best exponent of the culminating epoch 
of Greek development, profited sagaciously by their work. He both 
perfected the institutions of Athenian democracy and defined and 

^Harvard Classics, xii, 5. ^H. C, xii, 78. 'H. C, xii, 35. 


organized its imperial mission. No man in high place ever took 
more seriously the doctrine that all citizens were equally capacitated 
for public service, yet no more ardent imperialist than he ever lived. 
The truth is that Athenian democracy with all that it implies 
was impossible without the Athenian maritime empire. The sub- 
ject allies were as indispensable to the Athenians as the slaves, me- 
chanics, and traders are to the citizens of Plato's ideal republic. 

This empire Sparta sought to destroy, and to this end waged 
fruitless war on Athens for ten years (431-421 B. C). What she 
failed to accomplish, Alcibiades,* the evil genius of Athens, effected, 
for at his insistence the democrats embarked on the fatal Sicilian 
expedition. After the dreadful disaster which they sustained before 
Syracuse (413 B. C), their dependencies revolted and ceased paying 
them tribute; whereupon, unable to make head against the Sicilians, 
Spartans, and Persians, who had joined forces against her, Athens 
succumbed in 405 B. C. It is doubtful whether any other city of 
50,000 adult males ever undertook works of peace and war of similar 
magnitude. Athens led Greece when Greece led the world. 

The Spartans took her place, but they held it only through the 
support given them by their confederates, Persia and Syracuse. When 
they quarreled with the Persians they at once lost it; regained it by 
the Kings' Peace of 387 B. C., but only to fall before Thebes sixteen 
years later. Thebes depended solely upon her great warrior-states- 
man, Epaminondas. His death in batde, in 362 B. C., meant the 
downfall of the Theban supremacy, and at the birth of Alexander the 
Great in 356 B. C. the claim could be made that what the Greeks 
had sought for two hundred years had now been accomplished: all 
the European Greek cities, great and small, were again free as they 
had been in the seventh century. In reality, as Plutarch's biography 
of Demosthenes'* shows, they lived rent by factional struggles, in 
constant fear and envy of one another, and under the shadow of a 
great peril which union, not disunion, could alone avert. 


Philip of Macedon united Greece under his own leadership, and 
with the power thus secured Alexander the Great laid the Persian 

*H. C. xii, 106. 5//. C, xii, 191. 


Empire prostrate and open for swift and persistent Greek coloniza- 
tion. As Machiavelli in liis "Prince" ^ points out, "his successors had 
to meet no other difficulty than that which arose among themselves 
from their own ambitions." This was sufficient, however. It led to 
a thirty years' war such as had never before been seen. At its end 
the Grsco-Macedonian world was paralyzed by an unstable balance 
of power in which Egypt, under the Ptolemies, by using its great 
wealth to maintain a magnificent fleet held Macedon and Asia in 
check. The unification of Italy under Rome (343-270 B. C.) and the 
subsequent destruction of the Carthaginian Empire (264-201 B. C.) 
brought into hostile conflict with Egypt's enemies a military state 
which was far stronger than any individual Greek kingdom. This 
state had a population of 5,000,000, an army list of 750,000, and it 
could keep 100,000 men in the field for many years at a stretch. 
Such a force could be stopped only by a federation of the entire 
Greek world. The Greeks again paid the just penalty for their 
disunion, and after a bitter struggle they sank under the Roman 


The Romans who conquered the Greeks were not "gentlemen" 
like Cicero' and C^sar* and their contemporaries of a hundred and 
fifty years later. Their temper is only partially revealed in Plu- 
tarch's "Coriolanus," ° in which a legend — which, however, the Ro- 
mans and Greeks of Plutarch's time (46-125 A. D.) believed to be 
a fact — is made to illustrate the alleged uncompromising character 
of their political struggles and the lofty virtues of their domestic 
life. In fact, they had many of the qualities of Iroquois, and when 
they took by storm a hostile city, their soldiers — uncultured peasants, 
once the iron bonds of discipline were relaxed — often slew every 
living thing which came in their way: men, women, children, and 
even animals. The world was not subdued by Rome with rosewater 
or modern humanitarian methods. 

Five generations later the Italians were in a fair way to being 
Hellenized, so powerful had been the reaction of the eastern prov- 
inces upon them in the interval. During this epoch of rapid dena- 

'H. C, xxxvi, 7. 'H. C, xii, 218. ^H. C, xii, 264. 'H. C, xii, 147. 


tionalization, the Roman aristocracy, which had guided the state first 
to internal harmony, then to stable leadership in Italy, and finally 
to world-empire, became divided against itself. The empire had 
nurtured a stock of contractors, money lenders, grain and slave 
dealers — the so-called equestrian order — which pushed the great 
landed proprietors, who constituted the senate, from position to po- 
sition; wrested from them control of the provinces which it then 
pillaged most outrageously, and helped on the paralysis of govern- 
ment from which the rule of the emperors was the only escape. 
The youth of Cicero coincided with the suicidal strife between the 
agrarian and the commercial wings of the aristocracy. Cicero, being 
a "new man," had to attach himself to great personages like Pompey, 
in order to make his way in politics, so that his political course and 
his political views were both "wobbly"; but he had at least one 
fixed policy, that the "harmony of the orders" must be restored at 
all costs.'" This, however, was impracticable. 


The empire had also bred a standing army, and the necessity that 
this be used against the Teutons, Italians, Greeks, and Gauls bred 
leader after leader who could dictate terms to the civil government. 
The last of these was Julius C^sar. He was the last because he 
decided not to coerce the senate, but to put himself in its place. His 
short reign (49-44 B. C.) is a memorable episode in the develop- 
ment of Rome, in that it was the first reappearance of a world mon- 
archy since Alexander the Great's death. Caesar is greeted in contem- 
porary Greek documents as "the Saviour of the entire race of men." 
After his murder a quarrel arose between rival candidates for the 
command of the troops — Csesar's troops, as the assassins found to 
their sorrow. Antony," his master of horse, finally took one half 
of them with him to the East, to finish Cassar's projected campaign 
against the Parthians, to live in Alexandria at the feet of Cleopatra, 
Caesar's royal mistress — who was not only an able and unscrupulous 
woman, but also the heir of a bad political tradition — to bring Egypt 
into the Roman Empire by annexing the Roman Empire to the Egyp- 
tian crown. The most that can be said for him is that he was a kind 

'" See Cicero's "Letters" in Harvard Classics, ix, 79. " H. C, xii, 322. 


of bastard Cxsar, On the other hand, Augustus, Caesar's adopted 
son, to whom the command of the rest of the troops fell, proved to 
be a statesman of the highest order. He roused national and repub- 
lican feeling in Italy against Antony and his Egyptian "harlot"; 
but, after defeating them at Actium in 31 B. C, he had to reckon 
with the demon — or was it a ghost? — which he had conjured up. 
This he did by establishing a peculiar compromise between repub- 
licanism and monarchy called the principate, which lasted, with 
fitful reversions to Caesar's model, and gradual degeneracy toward 
a more and more complete despotism, until the great military revolt 
of the third century A. D. occurred, when the Roman system of 
government, and with it the Grjeco-Roman civilization, sank in 
rapid decay. For two hundred and fifty years sixty millions of peo- 
ple had enjoyed the material blessings of peace and orderly govern- 
ment. They had cut down forests, made the desert a garden, built 
cities by the hundreds, and created eternal monuments of the sense 
for justice and magnificence which penetrated from Rome to the 
ends of the known world. Then they became the helpless prey of 
a few hundred thousand native and barbarian soldiers. The decline 
of the Roman Empire is the greatest tragedy in history. 

During the principate the prince or emperor seemed to be the 
source of all actions, good and bad. Upon the will and character 
of a single individual hung suspended, apparently, the life and weal 
of every human being. It was, therefore, natural for this age to be 
interested in biography. Hence Plutarch is at once a "document" 
for the time in which he lived and a charming "betrayer" of the 
Gracco-Roman world on which he looked back. 


By Professor Murray Anthony Potter 

THE Renaissance followed what is, even now, sometimes 
called the Dark Ages. The almost inevitable inference is 
that a period of darkness was succeeded by one of light. 
The veil of night rent asunder, the world, rejoicing in the sun's 
rays, with glad energy again took up its work. But much of the 
darkness of what are more fitly called the Middle Ages is due to 
the dimness of vision of those who have baptized the period with 
a forbidding name, and if we called the Renaissance an age of light, ■ 
is it not because we are dazzled by mere glamour? After all, the 
Renaissance was the offspring of the Middle Ages, and a child must 
frequently bear the burdens of its parents. 

One of the burdens of the Middle Ages was obscurantism, and ob- 
scurantism is that which "prevents enlightenment, or hinders the 
progress of knowledge and wisdom." Instead of dying at the close of 
the Middle Ages, it lived through the Renaissance, wary and alert, 
its eyes ever fixed on those whom it regarded as enemies, falling upon 
them from ambush when because of age or weakness their courage 
flagged, and it triumphed in the sixteenth century. It can never die 
as long as there are men. Neither can superstition die, nor fear, nor 
inveterate evil passions, which, if they smolder for a time, will 
unfailingly burst forth and rage with greater fury. If such be your 
pleasure, you can, with some plausibility, represent the Renaissance 
as darker than the Middle Ages. Machiavelli,' the Medicis, and the 
Borgias have long been regarded as sin incarnate in odious forms. 
Making all due allowances for exaggeration and perversion of truth, 
the Renaissance was not a golden age, and the dramas of horror'' are 
something more than the nightmares of a madman. And yet it is 
a luminous age. The sun has its spots, and the light of the Renais- 

' For Machiavelli's political ideals, see his "Prince" in Harvard Classics, xxxvi, 5, 
and Macaulay's essay "Machiavelli" in Harvard Classics, xxvii, 363. 

^ See, for example, Webster's "Duchess of Malfi," in Harvard Classics, xlvii, 753. 



sance is all the more intense because of the blackness of the inter- 
mingling shadows. 


No age can be adequately defined by a short phrase, but it was a 
happy thought which prompted the statement that the Renaissance 
was the age of the discovery of man. Add the importance, not only 
of man in general, but of the individual. It is true that men of 
marked individuality abounded in the Middle Ages. You have 
only to think of Gregory the Great, Gregory of Tours, Charlemagne, 
Liutprand, Abelard, and Saint Bernard of Clairvaux. What is new 
is a general awakening to the fact that the perfection of individuality 
is so important, and the desire to force your contemporaries and 
posterity to regard you as diiferent from other men. 

It might be said, with a certain amount of exaggeration of course, 
that the mediaeval man was Plato's dweller in the cave, who suc- 
ceeded at last in making his escape into the light of day, and so 
doing became the Renaissance man enraptured by what lay within 
his field of vision, and allured by the infinite promise of what lay 
beyond. And as if the actual world cramped him, he must discover 
ideal realms and live in the past and the future as well as the 


His interest in antiquity is well known. With the ardor of treasure 
hunters, scholars sought for classical manuscripts and antiquities, 
in France, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, and the East, and the 
enthusiasm excited by their success could not have been greater had 
they discovered El Dorado. They were generous with their treas- 
ures, door after door opening upon antiquity was thrown back, and 
men swarmed through them eager to become better acquainted with 
their idols and obtain from them information which their teachers 
of the Middle Ages were powerless to furnish. Some were so 
dazzled and docile that, instead of freeing themselves from bond- 
age, they merely chose new masters, but, after all, more gracious 

Petrarch, anticipating Andrew Lang, v/rites letters to dead authors. 


Of Cicero he says: "Ignoring the space of time which separates us, 
I addressed him with a familiarity springing from my sympathy 
with his genius." And in his letter to Livy: "I should wish (if it 
were permitted from on high), either that I had been born in thine 
age, or thou in ours; in the latter case, our age itself, and in the 
former, I personally should have been the better for it." Montaigne 
says that he had been brought up from infancy with the dead, and 
that he had knowledge of the affairs of Rome "long before he had 
any of those of his own house; he knew the capitol and its plan 
before he knew the Louvre, and the Tiber before he knew the Seine.' 


This infatuation for antiquity may seem bizarre, but it did not 
exclude intense interest on the part of the Renaissance man for 
the world about him, his town, his country, and remote as well as 
neighboring nations. Petrarch likes to speak of the marvels of 
India and Ceylon. There were drops of gypsy blood in his veins, 
but he was afraid of stealing time from his beloved books, and 
remains an excellent example of the "far-gone" fireside traveler, 
who in his study roamed through distant parts, spared the in- 
clemency of the weather and the incommodities and dangers of 
the road. 

Montaigne, who loved "rain and mud like a duck," was of stronger 
fiber. "Nature," he says, "has placed us in the world free and 
unbound; we imprison ourselves in certain straits." "Travel is, in 
my opinion, a very profitable exercise; the soul is then continually 
employed in observing new and unknown things, and I do not 
know, as I have often remarked, a better school wherein to model 
life than by incessantly exposing to it the diversity of so many 
other lives, fancies and usances, and by making it relish so perpetual 
a variety of forms of human nature." 

From one source or another, then, the Renaissance men acquired 
an immense number of facts, and were able to retain them; for 
much is said about their inexhaustible memory. The important 
thing to know is what they did with them. Was their passion for 

^Cf. Montaigne's "Institution and Education of Children" in Harvard Classics, 
xxxii, 29-71 ; and especially on his own education, pp. 65-69. See also Sainte-Beuve's 
essay "Montaigne" in Harvard Classics, xxxii, 105. 


facts that of a miser for his gold, of a savage for shiny, many- 
colored beads? 

A fact is a delightful, wholesome thing. To the everlasting credit 
of the Renaissance men they appreciated its value, and worked 
hard to acquire it, thus grappling with reality. No longer would 
they merely scan the surface of things; they would pierce, as Dante 
said, to the very marrow with the eyes of the mind. Two or more 
centuries later than Dante, Machiavelli complained that his con- 
temporaries loved antiquity, but failed to profit by the lessons which 
are implicit in its history. But Machiavelli was not entirely just. 
The Renaissance men were tender gardeners, and in their loving 
care every fact, every theory, every suggestion burgeoned, flowered, 
and bore fruit. 

Some of them, it is true, recognized limitations to the versatility 
characteristic of the spirit of the age. Pier Paolo Vergerio, after 
reviewing the principal branches of study, states that a liberal educa- 
tion does not presuppose acquaintance with them all; "for a thorough 
mastery of even one of them might fairly be the achievement of a 
lifetime. Most of us, too, must learn to be content with modest 
capacity as with modest fortune. Perhaps we do wisely to pursue 
that study which we find most suited to our intelligence and our 
tastes, though it is true we cannot rightly understand one subject 
unless we can perceive its relation to the rest." These words might 
well have been written to-day. Very probably they were equally 
apposite in the Renaissance; yet they seem cautious, almost over- 
timorous, in a period when so many men were not only accomplished 
scholars, authors of repute, capable public servants or statesmen, con- 
noisseurs of the fine arts, painters, sculptors, and architects them- 
selves. There seems to have been nothing that they could not do if 
they wished. 


Every interest was turned to account. In their pursuit of per- 
fection they required an ampler environment. The age of the Ren- 
aissance is the age of the great discoveries, of Diaz, Columbus, 
Vasco da Gama, Vespucci, the Cabots, Magellan, Francis Drake,* 

*For the narratives of these explorers see H, C, xliii, 2iff., xxxiii, I29ff. 


and others, whose journeys were undertaken with a far different 
purpose than the mere satisfying of restless curiosity. 

EquaJJy practicaJ was the study ol the heavens. The stars had 
long been regarded as flaming beacons in the sky, prophets and 
guides for man to his ultimate goal. Their influence, benign or 
malignant, determined the fates of individuals and nations. It 
behooved the prudent man to consult them, and he studied the 
hidden workings of nature not only to comprehend them, but to 
make them serve his purpose. There were many failures, but if the 
Renaissance is the age of Faust, it is also that of Copernicus. 

In the study of the world about him, of the firmament, of the 
past and the future, the Renaissance man felt his subject was some- 
thing created. In his turn he took up the role of creator. To escape 
from an importunate world he called into existence the Arcadia of 
the pastorals, the fairyland of the adult man. It has almost vanished 
from our sight, but its music and fragrance still hover in the air. 
Another manifestation of dissatisfaction with the actual world, more 
practical, is the creation of ideal commonwealths. Cities of the Sun, 
or Utopias.' 


The lover of beauty, nowadays shrinks from the Utopias of the 
Renaissance, but the practical men of that age cherished beauty 
with an affection we can hardly conceive. It was bone of their 
bone and flesh of their flesh. It was the one guest ever sure of 
welcome. Dante, in the tornata of his first ode, says: "Ode! I 
believe that they shall be but rare who shall rightly understand 
thy meaning, so intricate and knotty is thy utterance of it. Where- 
fore, if perchance it come about that thou take thy way into the 
presence of folk who seem not rightly to perceive it; then I pray 
thee to take heart again, and say to them, O my beloved lastling: 
'Give heed, at least, how beautiful I am.' " They would give heed, 
and to such extremes did many Renaissance men go in their worship 
of beauty that they prostituted her and debased themselves. The 
majority remained sound of heart, and though tortured with doubts, 
and stumbling again and again, they succeeded in making them- 
selves worthy of communion with God. 

' See, for example, Sir Thomas More's "Utopia" in H. C, xxxvi, 135. 


Last of all, the question might be asked: is the Renaissance more 
than a period of storm and stress, a link between the Middle Ages 
and Modern Times? Like every age, it is one of transition, but it 
is also one of glorious achievement. If any one doubts this, let him 
remember only a few names of the imposing roll call — Petrarch, 
Boccaccio, Ariosto, Machiavelli, Rabelais, Montaigne, Calderon,' 
Lope de Vega, Cervantes,' Shakespeare,* and in their ranks Dante' 
takes his place with the same serene and august confidence with 
which he joined the company of Virgil and Homer. 

6 H. C. xxvi, 5ff. ' H. C, xiv. 

* For works by Shakespeare and his contemporaries in the Elizabethan drama, see 
H. C, xlvi and xlvii. 
»H. C, XX. 


By Professor Robert Matteson Johnston 

THE French Revolution concentrates within the narrow space 
of five years, from the 5th of May, 1789, to the 9th of 
Thermidor, 1794, all that man can conceive as most dramatic, 
repulsive, uplifting, terrifying, glorious, and disheartening. There 
is never a happy medium about it, nothing balanced or discriminat- 
ing; everything is extreme, human emotion rising to the most in- 
tense collective utterance at the pangs of starvation, of murder, of 
oppression, of tyranny, at the joy of decisive action and of climbing 
the heights whence liberty and betterment can be seen streaking the 
horizon with hope. That is why the Revolution fascinates the 
ordinary reader more than perhaps any other period of history. It 
sets before him the bounds of the sublime and of the ignoble, of 
all that lies undeveloped in himself never, in all probability, to find 


How extraordinarily difficult to interpret such a movement! Even 
Carlyle, with all his passionate humanity, fails to catch the figure 
of that unfortunate woman who tramped through the empty streets 
of Paris at dawn one gray autumn day, starvation and despair in 
her eyes, mechanically tapping her drum and lugubriously chanting: 
"Du pain! Du pain!" ("Bread! Bread!") That distressing figure, 
poignant in all its naked emotions, was to uproot the Bourbons 
from Versailles, to make of Paris once more the capital of France, 
and by that deed to divert the whole current of French history 
from a channel of two centuries. And that is the contrast, the 
difficulty, at every point. Mirabeau is a venal and corrupt individual 
whose turpitude insistently pursues us, and yet at moments he is the 
statesman of grand vision whose eye unerringly pierces through the 
veil of time. Charlotte Corday is but a simple and quite unimportant 



young woman from the country; she drives a knife into Marat's 
heart, and with that heroic gesture flashes Ught to the very depths 
of a terrific crisis. 


A curious fact about the French Revolution, but not so strange 
as it would seem when one thinks the matter over, is that there 
should be no good history of it. The three outstanding books are 
those of Michelet, Carlyle, and Taine; and all three are destined 
to live long as masterpieces, intellectual and artistic; yet not one 
of them is wholly satisfactory to the present age, whether for its 
statement of facts, for its literary method, or for its mentality; while 
there is no sign at the present day that we are likely soon to get 
another great history of the Revolution. On the contrary, the 
tendency is for historians to concentrate their attention on the end- 
less details or varied aspects of the movement, finding in each of 
these a sufficient object for the exercise of their industry and talents. 
Following that example, we may here perhaps best touch on the 
reaction between France and England in terms of the Revolution, 
and particularly in regard to those two famous books, Voltaire's 
"Letters on the English," ' and Burke's "Reflections on the French 
Revolution." ^ 


The early part of the eighteenth century witnessed a great change 
in the current of ideas in France. The death of Louis XIV, and the 
coming to power of Philippe Due d'Orleans as regent, dispelled 
all the old prestige of glittering Versailles, and gave France a wit 
and debauchee for ruler who cared nothing for pomp or etiquette. 
He enjoyed life after his own unedifying fashion; he gambled 
and encouraged stock exchange speculation; he relaxed the muzzle 
and let slip the courtier's leash with which Louis had curbed the 
great men of letters of his epoch. And immediately French writers 
dashed away into the boundless field of political satire and criticism. 
Montesquieu led off with his "Lettres Persanes," in 1721, and Vol- 
taire followed hard at his heels with his "Letters on the English," 
in 1734. The hounds of spring were at winter's traces. 

' Harvard Classics, xxxiv, 65. ^H. C, xxiv, 143. 


Voltaire's daring 

Montesquieu's violent arraignment of the old order passed only 
because he seasoned it more than generously with a sauce piquante 
that titillated the depraved taste of the Regent to a nicety. Voltaire's 
book was in even worse case; it was immediately condemned, and 
an order was issued to arrest the author and imprison him in the 
Bastille. Voltaire had to fly for safety. And yet, to a modern reader, 
the "Letters on the English" doubtless seems a perfectly mild affair. 

It is only by bearing in mind the conditions of political despotism 
that then existed in France that one can realize the boldness of the 
book. In it Voltaire gives his impressions of England in his 
supremely lucid style, but after the fashion of the man who throws 
a ball at some object from which he tries to catch it on the rebound. 
He is writing of England, but he is thinking of France; and in the 
customs and institutions of the former he seeks the examples from 
which he can measure those of his own country. 

Voltaire is, on the whole, inclined to think well of the strange 
people whom he visited across the Channel, though he cannot 
avoid the conclusion that their philosophy, liberty, and climate lead 
straight to melancholia. England appears to him the land of con- 
tentment, prosperity, order, and good government. Monarchy is 
restrained by a well-balanced parliamentary system, and above all 
there is toleration in matters of faith and in matters of opinion. He 
frankly admires, and calls on his countrymen to copy, what seems 
to him the most admirable of models. It may be noted, however, 
that he is clearly nervous of strictly political questions, and he always 
prefers getting around to his plea for tolerance by the circuitous 
road of religion. 


With Burke, more than half a century later, we get the strongest 
possible contrast. He admires nothing; he reprobates everything; 
he foresees the worst. For one thing, the Revolution had now 
actually broken out. Already its best aspects were becoming ob- 
scured, as disorder fast grew, and as the National Assembly de- 
liberately adopted a policy of destruction to defeat Bourbon apathy 


and insouciance. France appeared to be threatened with anarchy, 
and that seemed to Burke more intolerable than the long-continued 
conditions of tyranny and misgovernment that were responsible for 
it. He was an old man, and more conservative than in his younger 
days. To him the glorious revolution of William of Orange and the 
Whigs seemed the perfect model, and the parliamentary institutions 
of Britain the ideal form of government. The disorders of Paris 
and the methods of the National Assembly shocked and wounded 
him, so he turned on them and rent them. He admitted, indeed, 
that he was not in a position to pronounce judgment: "I do not 
pretend to know France as correctly as some others," and so he 
confined himself to the role of the advocate. His pleading against the 
Revolution echoed through the Courts of Europe, carried conviction 
in almost every quarter where doubt existed, and to this day remains 
the most effective indictment against the men who made modern 
France. The success of Burke's book was in part due to the fact 
that its publication was followed by the Reign of Terror, which 
seemed to prove the author's argument, but above all to its brilliant 
and noble, if somewhat too ample, style. Of this one example only 
will be given: 


"It is now sixteen or seventeen years since I saw the Queen of 
France, then the Dauphiness, at Versailles; and surely never lighted 
on this orb, which she hardly seemed to touch, a more delightful 
vision. I saw her just above the horizon, decorating and cheering 
the elevated sphere she just began to move in — ^glittering like the 
morning star, full of life, and splendor, and joy. Oh! what a Revolu- 
tion! And what a heart must I have to contemplate without emotion 
that elevation and that fall! Little did I dream when she added 
titles of veneration to those of enthusiastic, distant, respectful love, 
that she should ever be obliged to carry the, sharp antidote against 
disgrace concealed in that bosom; little did I dream that I should 
have lived to see such disasters fallen upon her in a nation of gallant 
men, in a nation of men of honor, and of cavaliers. I thought ten 
thousand swords must have leaped from their scabbards to avenge 
even a look that threatened her with insult. But the age of chivalry 


is gone. That of sophisters, economists, and calculators has suc- 
ceeded; and the glory of Europe is extinguished for ever."' 

Thus Burke proudly looked down on the miseries of France, 
while Voltaire had admiringly looked up to the prosperities of Eng- 
land. And we who come more than a century later, while recogniz- 
ing their preeminence as men of letters, may perceive that as thinkers 
they were perhaps a little too near their objects. Burke's arguments 
are always admirable but unconvincing; while Voltaire's often justi- 
fied praise of the English reposes on an obvious failure to understand 

^H. C, xxiv, 212-213. 


By Professor Frederick Jackson Turner 

EXPANSION has been the very law of American life. In the 
treaties which record the successive annexations of the terri- 
' tory of the United States we may read the story of the 
nation's acquisition of its physical basis, a basis comparable in area 
and resources not to any single European country but to Europe as 
a whole. If a map of the United States is laid down upon a map 
of Europe drawn to the same scale, with San Francisco resting on 
the coast of Spain, Florida will occupy the land of Palestine, Lake 
Superior will be adjacent to the southern shore of the Baltic, New 
Orleans below the coast of Asia Minor, and the shores of North 
Carolina will nearly coincide with the eastern end of the Black Sea. 
All of Western Europe will lie beyond the Mississippi, the western 
limits of the United States in 1783. These treaties' mark the stages 
by which the Union acquired an area equal to all nations west of 
the Black Sea. 


Freed from the fear of French attack after the peace of 1763, the 
thirteen colonies declared their independence. Against the wishes 
of Spain, and even against the pressure of her French ally in the 
Revolutionary War, the United States secured from England by the 
treaty of 1783* boundaries which extended along the Great Lakes, 
west to the Mississippi, and south to Florida, as well as the free 
navigation of the Mississippi. Spain recovered from Britain Florida 
which she had conquered in the course of the war. 

But these boundaries were only paper rights, for England failed 

' The references in this lecture are to the volume of American Historical Docu- 
ments, and especially to the collection of treaties, Harvard Classics, xliii. 
^H. C, xliii, 174. 



to give up her posts on the Great Lakes, alleging the neglect of the 
United States to carry out the provisions of the treaty in regard to 
loyalists and debts, and Canadian officials encouraged the Indians 
across the Ohio to resist the advance of the Americans. In similar 
fashion on the southwest Spain denied the right of England to con- 
vey to the Union the territory between the Alleghenies and the Mis- 
sissippi, and withheld the navigation of the river by means of her 
possession of New Orleans. She also, in the period of the weak con- 
federation, intrigued with leaders of the Kentucky and Tennessee 
setdements to withdraw them from the Union; and, like England, 
she used her influence over the Indians to restrain the American 

While Indian wars were in progress north of the Ohio during 
Washington's administration, the French Revolution broke out, and 
England feared not only that the American expeditions against the 
Indians were in reality directed against the posts which she retained 
on the Great Lakes, but also that the United States would aid France 
in a general attack on her. Breaking her historic alliance with Spain, 
the French Republic, in 1783, tried to involve, first the Government 
of the United States and then the western frontiersmen in attacks 
upon Florida and Louisiana. 

These were the cridcal conditions which in 1794 resulted in Jay's 
mission and treaty by which England agreed to give up the western 


Alarmed at the prospect of a union of England and the United 
States, Spain not only made peace with France at Basle in 1795, but 
also, by Pinckney's treaty in that year, conceded to the United States 
the Mississippi boundary and the navigation of the river. The latter 
concession was vital to the prosperity of the Mississippi Valley, for 
only by way of this river could the settlers get their surplus crops to 
a market. 

It had become clear by 1795 that, with rival European nadons 
threatening the flanks of the American advance, interfering in 
domestic politics, and tampering with the western frontiersmen, the 
United States was in danger of becoming a mere dependency of the 


European state system.^ Partly to ensure such a dependence of the 
United States upon herself, and pardy to procure a granary for her 
West Indian Islands, France now urged Spain to give her Louisiana 
and Florida, promising protection against the American advance. 
The AUeghenies seemed to the leaders of French policy the proper 
boundaries for the Union. At last, in 1800, Napoleon so far mastered 
Spain as to force her to yield Lomsiana to him; and the Spanish 
Intendant at New Orleans, pending the arrival of French troops, 
closed the Mississippi to American commerce. The West was in a 
flame. It had now acquired a population of over three hundred and 
eighty thousand, and it threatened the forcible seizure of New 
Orleans. Even the peacefid and French-loving President Jefferson 
hinted that he would seek an English alliance, and demanded the 
possession of the mouth of the Mississippi from France, arguing 
that whoever held that spot was our natural enemy. Convinced that 
it was inexpedient to attempt to occupy New Orleans in view of the 
prospect of facing the sea power of England and an attack by the 
American setders, Napoleon capriciously tossed the whole of the 
Province of Louisiana to Jefferson by the Louisiana Purchase Treaty^ 
of 1803, and thereby replenished his exchequer with fifteen million 
dollars, made friends with the United States, and gave it the pos- 
sibility of a noble national career by doubling its territory and by 
yielding it the control of the great central artery of the continent. 


The expansive spirit of the West grew by what it fed on. The 
Ohio valley coveted Canada, and the South wished Florida, where 
England exercised an influence upon the Spanish administration. It 
was the West that took the lead — bringing on the war of 1812. In 
the peace negotiations in 1814 Great Britain tried to establish a 
neutral zone of Indian country between Canada and the Ohio Valley 
settlements, but by the treaty'" the United States retained its former 
possessions. By the convention of 181 8 they extended the boundary 
between Canada and the United States from the Lake of the Woods 
to the Rocky Mountains along the forty-ninth parallel, leaving the 

'Compare "Washington's Farewell Address," in H. C, xliii, 237, 238, 239; 243-246. 
*H. C, xliii, 230. ^ H. C, xliii, 255. 


disputed Oregon country open to each nation for a term of years 

without prejudice to the rights of either. 


In the same years the United States was pressing Spain to re- 
Unquish Florida. Claiming West Florida and Texas as a part of 
the Louisiana Purchase, the Government annexed the former piece- 
meal in 1810 and 1812. Taught by General Jackson's successful 
although unauthorized invasion of Florida in 1818 that she held 
that position on the Gulf only at the pleasure of the United States, 
and hopeful, perhaps, to avert the threatened recognition of the 
revolting Spanish-American colonies, Spain ceded Florida in 1819,' 
drawing an irregular line between her possessions and those of the 
United States which left Texas as well as the other southwestern 
territory in Spain's hands. Recognition of the revolted republics 
followed in 1823 and thereafter the Union had to deal with Mexico 
in place of Spain in acquiring mainland possessions. Russia with- 
drew her claims to territory south of 54° 40' in 1824, and as a result 
of the negotiations which preceded this action, as well as by the 
prospect of European intervention in Spanish America, President 
Monroe in 1823 announced the famous Doctrine^ which declared 
the American continents no longer subject to European colonization 
or intervention to oppress them or control their destiny. 

Early in the thirties American missionaries entered the Oregon 
country where the Hudson's Bay Company held sway under the 
English flag. American settlers, chiefly descendants of the hardy 
frontiersmen of the Mississippi Valley, also made settlements in 
Mexico's province of Texas. In 1836 the Texans revolted, declared 
their independence, and appealed to the United States for annexa- 
tion. The northeastern boundary was settled by the Webster-Ash- 
burton treaty' in 1842, leaving the fate of Oregon still undetermined. 
In that very year an emigration of American farmers began across 
the plains and mountains to that distant land, and relations between 
the Union and England became strained. In Texas, also, European 
interests were involved, for in the long interval between the forma- 
tion of the Texan Republic and its annexation by the United States, 

^H. C, xlili, 268. ■'H. C, xliii, 277. » H. C. xliii, 280. 


England and France used their influence to keep it independent. 
California, moreover, furnished reason for apprehension, for Eng- 
land had shown an interest in its fate, as Mexico, torn by internal 
dissensions, gave evidence that her outlying provinces were likely 
to drop from her nerveless hands. 

The slavery contest now interrupted the old American expansive 
tendencies, for while the South raised its voice of warning against 
the possibility of a free Texas under British protectorate and de- 
manded its annexation, the Whigs and anti-slavery men of the 
North, alarmed at the spread of slavery and the prospect of new 
slave States, showed opposition to further territorial acquisition in 
the Southwest. But in the election of 1844, which was fought on the 
issues of the "reoccupation of Oregon and the reannexation of 
Texas," Polk, a Tennessee Scotch-Irishman, representing the his- 
toric expansive spirit, won the Presidency. Texas was annexed as a 
State under a joint resolution of Congress in 1845, before Polk was 
inaugurated, and immediately thereafter he determined that if 
Mexico made this annexation an occasion for war, she should be 
compelled to cede us California and her other Southwestern lands 
as the price of peace. 


He compromised the Oregon question with England by the 
Treaty of 1846, accepting the forty-ninth parallel as the boundary, 
in spite of the campaign cry of "fifty-four forty or fight." The same 
year the Mexican war began, in which American troops overran 
California and the intervening land. 

With the American flag floating over the capital of Mexico, a 
strong movement began to hold Mexico itself, or at least additional 
territory. But by the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo' in 1848 the 
line was drawn along the Gila River and from its mouth to the 
Pacific. Agitation for a southern route to the Pacific led to the 
further acquisition of a zone south of the Gila by the Gadsden 
Purchase of 1853. 

By these annexations between 1846 and 1853 the United States 
gained over 1,200,000 square miles of territory. Gold was discovered 

»//. C, xliii, 289. 


in California in 1848, and unimagined riches in precious metals, 
timber, and agricultural resources were later revealed in this vast 
nev^r empire. But most important of all was the fact that the nation 
had at last made its lodgment on the shores of the Pacific, where it 
was to be involved in the destiny of that ocean and its Asiatic shores. 

The South, deprived of the benefits of these great acquisitions by 
the compromise of 1850, tried in vain to find new outlets by Cuban 
annexation. But the Civil War resulting from the rivalries of the 
expanding sections engrossed the energies of the nation. At the 
close of that war, Russia, which had given moral support to the 
North when England and France were doubtful, offered the United 
States her Alaskan territory and, not without opposition. Secretary 
Seward secured the ratification of a treaty"* in 1867 by which nearly 
six hundred thousand square miles were added to our domains. 

For nearly a third of a century after the Civil War the energies 
of the Union were poured out in the economic conquest of the vast 
annexations in its contiguous territory. In 1892 the Superintendent 
of the Census announced that the maps of population could no 
longer depict a frontier line bounding the outer edge of advancing 
settlement. The era of colonization was terminating. The free lands 
were being rapidly engrossed and the Union was reaching the con- 
dition of other settled states. 


In this era the old expansive movement became manifest in a 
new form by the Spanish-American War and the acquisition of land 
oversea. It was the recognition of the independence of Cuba" by the 
United States in 1898 and the intervention to expel Spain which 
brought about the Spanish-American War; but once involved in 
that war, the naval exigencies led to the conquest of the Philippines, 
and Porto Rico as well as Cuba. Considerations of strategy also 
facilitated the annexation of Hawaii'^ in 1898. 

By the treaty of peace'^ in 1898 Spain ceded the Philippines and 
Porto Rico and withdrew from Cuba, which obtained its autonomy 
by the recall of the American troops in 1902. 

"> H. C, xliii, 432. » H. C xliii, 440. " H. C, xliii, 437. 

" H. C, xliii, 442. 


The events of the war, and especially the dramatic voyage of the 
Oregon around Cape Horn from the Pacific Coast to share in the 
fight off Santiago, gave an impetus to the long debated project of 
constructing the Isthmian Canal by the United States. With her 
vastly increased power in the Pacific, her new possessions in the 
Caribbean Sea, and the astonishing growth on the Pacific coast, the 
canal seemed a necessity, and almost a part of our coast line. By 
the Hay-Pauncefote treaty of 1901, England withdrew the obstacles 
arising from the Clayton-Bulwer treaty of 1850, and the United 
States acquired the rights of the French Company, which had failed 
in its undertaking to pierce the isthmus. When in 1903 Colombia 
rejected a treaty providing for the canal, a revolution broke out in 
Panama. President Roosevelt with extraordinary promptness recog- 
nized the RepubUc of Panama and secured a treaty" from this 
republic which was ratified in 1904, granting the canal zone and 
various rights to the United States. 

Thus at the beginning of the twentieth century the long process 
of attrition of the United States upon the Spanish Empire was 
brought to this striking climax. The feeble Atlantic colonies had 
won a land extending across the continent, they had acquired de- 
pendencies in the Caribbean, in the Pacific, and off the coast of 
Asia, and they had provided for connecting the two oceans by the 
Panama Canal. 

"H. C, xliii, 450. 



By Carleton Noyes, A. M. 

THE human heart has ever dreamed of a fairer world than 
the one it knows. No man, however dark his spirit, however 
cramped his senses, is quite without the yearning after wider 
horizons and a purer air. In a happy moment earth seems to hold 
for all the promise of larger things. The moment passes; and the 
world closes in again, actual, bare, unyielding, as before. Yet among 
men there are some endowed with vision, an insight more penetrat- 
ing and more sustained. To their liberated spirit the world unfolds 
a farther prospect. Earth clothes itself for them in radiant vesture, 
mute forms are speaking presences, the riddle of life resolves itself 
into a meaning. To them it is granted to arrest the moment of 
illumination, otherwise so fleeting; and, gifted further with a shap- 
ing power, they are able to re-create the moment in enduring forms. 
The men of vision are the seers and prophets; the shapers of the 
revelation, re-creating it, are the artists and the poets. 

What each of us is seeking the poet has already found. Poetry is 
the step beyond, which we were about to take, but were not certain 
of the way. In our experience from year to year, we are not without 
glimpses of beauty in the world, a sense of meaning somewhere 
within the shows of things. Of this beauty and this meaning poetry 
is a fuller revelation. The poet gives us back the world we already 
know, though it is a world transfigured; he draws his material from 
stores to which we all have access, but with a difference. His vision, 
clearer and more penetrating, transfigures the facts and discloses 
the beauty only waiting to be thus revealed. His fresh sight of this 
beauty quickens in him an emotion of wonder and of joy which 
impels him to expression. Seeing the world in new combinations, 
he selects from the common store of experience certain images 



colored by his mood. Of these images he weaves a pattern of words, 
which re-create the beauty he has seen and are charged with that 
deeper significance he has divined within the outward manifestation. 
It is just because he sees farther and feels more intensely that he is 
a poet; and then because he is able to phrase his experience in words 
which have the power to create the vision and the meaning in us. 
So the poet fashions that fairer world of which the heart has 
dreamed; and by the mediation of his art it becomes ours for an 
enduring possession. If this be indeed the office and destiny of 
poetry, we may well ask whence it draws its inspiration and by 
what means it accomplishes its high ends. 


The older poetry of a people takes shape around a story. Child- 
hood dearly loves a tale; for its simple heart finds the way out of a 
reality it does not understand by contriving a world of make-believe. 
The young imagination, not yet beset by too urgent actualities, 
admits no bounds to its wide exercise. In the childhood of the race, 
objects are spirits, moved by their own inner life. Natural forces are 
gods, acting capriciously upon the fortunes of men. A man more 
cunning or more powerful than his fellows becomes a hero or a 
demigod in memory and tradition. So a child too animates the 
common things of his little world with a life of their own that suits 
the purposes of his active fancy. He endows them with a part in his 
play, and they act out the story that he weaves around them. The 
imagination of childhood demands action, deeds done and stories 
told, — high adventures of gods and heroes, or the tangled fortunes of 
princes and damsels, of knights and captive ladies, of fairies and 
sprites. So a fable builds itself out of free imaginings. 

The love of a story never passes. All through its long history, in 
every land and among every people, poetry has not ceased to interest 
itself in all conceivable happenings of life. But the stream of poetry 
is fed by many sources, and it takes color and volume according to 
the channels through which it flows. From the "Iliad" to "Enoch 
Arden," to cite typical instances which by no means set the farther 
or the nearer bounds of narrative poetry, both the subject and the 
form have undergone varied and profound changes. This movement. 


as each nation develops its own art and culture, has been in the 
direction from the general to the particular, from the interests of 
the entire nation to the affairs of private persons. Out of the stirrings 
and strivings of a whole people toward expression is gradually 
evolved the separate individual artist or poet. 


In elder days men worked and played together. The single mem- 
ber of the clan or the individual citizen was completely merged in 
the unity of the tribe or the state. His welfare depended upon the 
welfare of the group, his interests were bound up inextricably with 
the life of the community as a whole. This fact explains the range 
and character of the earlier poetry of any people. All nations have 
their own distinctive beginnings, and these are widely distributed in 
time: the term "earlier," therefore, is relative to each nation. Ex- 
amples of such earlier poetry are the "Iliad" and the "Odyssey," on 
the one hand — though these represent the culmination rather than 
the beginning of an age, which, however, is relatively early — and on 
the other hand, the English traditional ballads.' In point of time 
these two instances are separated from each other by about two 
thousand years, but as earlier poetry they have this trait in common, 
that they are not the work of any one man. Such poetry as this is 
not made; it grows. It springs as a kind of spontaneous expression 
of the life of the group. An incident of common concern to the 
whole people, a situation involving the fortunes of all, furnishes 
the occasion and the motive of the tale. Necessarily some one, any 
one, — unknown by name, — starts it on its course. The story is told 
and retold : passing from lip to lip, it receives changes and additions. 
Again, finally, some one, unknown by name, gives it the form in 
which it is written down and so preserved. But it is the poetry of 
a people rather than of a man. 

This poetry has certain traits which serve to mark it as popular 
or national. In the case of poems of greater scope, Hke the "Iliad" 
or "Beowulf," it deals with action in the large. The heroes whose 
deeds it celebrates are the possession of the kindred or the race; 
they are kings and men of might or valor, known to all in the national 

'See Harvard Classics, xl, 51-128. 


traditions. Even the gods are not absent; they play a dominant part 
in the action. Similarly in the popular ballads, the persons of the 
story, though drawn from humbler life, acquire a legendary interest 
which makes them typical figures and invests them with general 
importance. Such poetry, then, mirrors the ideals of the group or 
the nation. It is shaped and colored by the religious beliefs of the 
people or by vague questionings and vaguer answers as to the 
nature and meaning of things. By the kind of persons it sets in 
action, by the deeds they do and the passions they feel, this poetry 
becomes the projection and expression of life at its best as the whole 
people conceives it to be. It is the nation's interpretation of itself. 
One characteristic these tales have which, apart from their form 
as verse, makes them poetry. The world which they give back is 
idealized. They come into being in response to men's love of a story. 
But the action which they embody is not the petty and common- 
place round of daily affairs; the action is heightened and intensified. 
What we call the "glamour of romance" is over it. The free imag- 
ination is at work to fashion a more engaging and significant world. 
The stories told are of a time long past, in a happier and golden 
prime. This, they say, is the world as it was; would that it were 
so now, or might be again! Across the obscure yearnings of the 
present need, seen at a distance in the fresh light of mornings gone, 
the men of an elder age are figured of heroic mould. Their virtues, 
their passions, and their faults are nobler than the common breed. 
The world in which they move and do is an ampler scene, bathed in 
a freer air. This transfiguring of things, making them bright, in- 
tense, and full of a farther meaning, is the spirit of poetry. 


As civilization progresses, the individual begins to define himself 
more sharply against the background of his group. The common 
effort of the group has wrought out for itself the arts of life; the 
store of culture is gradually enriched by collective striving. Then 
a time comes when the various functions of life tend to be dis- 
tributed more and more among the separate members of the com- 
munity; and to them it becomes possible to develop their own 
special gifts and aptitudes as potter, weaver, smith. One day a 


man arises who has the gift of song. Conscious of himself now as 
an individual, he takes the stories which the fathers have told, 
threads of legend and tradition, and weaves them into a new pattern. 
As the earlier poetry was the expression of the collective ideals of 
the group, so now the poem conceived and shaped by a single maker 
is animated by his own special purpose; colored by his personal 
emotion, it reflects the world as he himself sees it: and it becomes in 
this wise the expression of his individual interpretation of life.^ 

Thus a new spirit comes into narrative poetry. Less and less it is 
spontaneous, impersonal, objective; more and more it is the product 
of a deliberate, self-conscious art; the choice of subject and the 
manner of presenting it are determined by the poet's own feeling. 
The world from which he draws his material is nearer home. His 
characters are more immediate to everyday experience; what they 
lose in glamour they gain in directness of appeal. Interest in the 
action for its own sake does not flag, but the persons who move in 
it are more closely and definitely expressive of what the poet thinks 
and feels. He chooses his characters because they embody con- 
cretely and so exemplify the conception he has formed of a sig- 
nificant situation. The story of the mythical hero Beowulf and his 
fight with the weird sea-monster Grendel is succeeded by Chaucer's 
"Canterbury Tales." ^ Here the poet assembles a motley company, 
of high and low degree, of clerical and lay, sketched from the life 
with exquisitely humorous fideHty. The stories they tell to pass the 
stages of their pilgrimage are as varied as themselves — none, how- 
ever, more characteristic of the new temper of poetry than the Nun's 
Priest's tale. Now 

A povre widwe somdel slope in age, 
Was whylom dwelling in a narwe cotage, 
Bisyde a grove, stondyng in a dale.* 

And the hero of the tale is "Chauntecleer"! The cock discourses 
learnedly of dreams, and for authorities he invokes the great names 
of antiquity. But he succumbs to inexorable fate, figured by "Russel 
the fox," while the denizens of the barnyard act the chorus to his 

2 As illustrating the contrast in point of view of the work of the individual poet 
and of national poetry, it is interesting to compare the acute self<onsciousness of 
Tennyson's "Ulysses" {H. C, xlii, 977) with the downrightness of Homer's hero. 

3//. C, xl, II. "H. C, xl, 34. 


tragedy. The poem in its mock heroics is a sly satire of the grand 
manner of the romantic epic. But beyond the entertainment it fur- 
nishes by the way, in it is reflected Chaucer's own genial though 
shrewd criticism of life; and we enjoy this contact with the poet's 
own personality. So in all narrative poetry of conscious art, whether 
the "Faerie Queene" or "Paradise Lost," Keats's "Endymion" or 
"Enoch Arden," whether it portrays the figures of romance and fable, 
or whether it treats the high argument of God's ways with man or 
a tragedy of humble souls, we discern the image of a heightened 
and intenser world, which serves finally to express the poet's own 
way of conceiving life, his interpretation of experience. 


The same trend toward greater personality in expression which 
changes the import of narrative poetry gives rise to poetry of a 
different kind and purpose. As the individual emerges out of the 
mass into consciousness of himself, he is made aware that life comes 
to him, in contrast to other men, with a difference. The world is his 
world, passions are his passions, events take their significance as they 
relate themselves somehow to his own experience. The great sky 
arches overhead, brightly blue or piled with tossing clouds. Outward 
in every direction reaches the broad earth, a crowded pageantry of 
color and form and sound and stir. Just at the center, the meeting 
point of all these energies, stands a man, thinking, feeling, willing. 
Upon him as a focus converge all rays of influence from the inclosing 
world. Responding to their impact, he perceives a sudden harmony 
within the tumult of sensation and flashing idea, a harmony which 
is beauty, and his whole being is flooded with emotion. His joy, 
wonder, worship, surge to expression. Out of the chaos he compels 
a new order, the image of his perception; and this he bodies forth 
in material form through the medium of words, shaping it after the 
pattern of his perception, and moulding it to his mood. The mighty 
pulse of nature bids him to sing, to voice his insight and his feeling 
in accordant rhythm. So out of the fullness of his spirit, quickened 
by the beauty of the world and its inner meaning, wells a song. 
The lyric is born. 


It lies not on the sunlit hill 

Nor in the sunlit gleam 
Nor ever in any falling wave 

Nor ever in running stream — 

But sometimes in the soul of man 

Slow moving through his pain 
The moonlight of a perfect peace 

Floods heart and brain. ^ 

So the external world weaves endlessly its subtle patterns of 
beauty and meaning, at times well hidden indeed, but yielding 
finally their secret to the ardent searchings of the human heart. 
Often the lyric springs, as it seems spontaneously, out of a sheer 
joy of things. 

Sumer is icumen in, 

Lhude* sing cuccu! 
Groweth sed, and bloweth med, 

And springth the wude' nu — ' 
Sing cuccu! 

Awe' bleteth after lomb, 

Lhouth'" after calve cu; 
Bullae sterteth," bucke verteth,'^ 

Murie sing cuccu! 

Cuccu, cuccu, well singes thu, cuccu: 

Ne swike" thu naver nu; 
Sing cuccu, nu, sing cuccu. 

Sing cuccu, sing cuccu, nu! 

The bird's note gives the key. The poet responds, his joy overflows 
into images, his melody voices the music of Spring! As this is 
one of the earliest lyrics in our language, so it is also, in spirit, form, 
and content, a veritable spring song of the lyric mood. 
For the lyric poem is born in emotion. Its moving spirit is song. 

' William Sharp. ' Loud. The final e's are pronounced as syllables. 

'Wood. 'Now. 'Ewe. '" Loweth. "Leaps. 
'^ Runs to the greenwood. 

'^ Cease. The music to which this lyric was sung in the first half of the thirteenth 
century still exists. 


Piping down the valleys wild, 

Piping songs of pleasant glee, 
On a cloud I saw a child, 

And he laughing said to me: 

"Pipe a song about a lamb!" 

So I piped with merry cheer. 
"Piper, pipe that song again;" 

So I piped: he wept to hear. 

"Drop thy pipe, thy happy pipe; 

Sing thy songs of happy cheer!" 
So I sung the same again, 

While he wept with joy to hear. 

"Piper, sit thee down and write 

In a book that all may read." 
So he vanish'd from my sight; 

And I pluck'd a hollow reed. 

And I made a rural pen, 

And I stain'd the water clear. 
And I wrote my happy songs 

Every child may joy to hear." 

The impulse to music is the lyric's source. But the fragile, delicately 
wrought vessel of lyrical form is capable of inexhaustible variety 
and wealth of content. It may hold as an aroma the evanescent 
mood of a moment; or into it may be poured the accumulated 
treasures of a ripe experience. The only limitation of a lyric is 
that it shall sing; otherwise it is free to range earth and sky and the 
inmost chambers of the heart. 


The lyric, therefore, is a poet's fullest outpouring of himself. 
More than any other form of poetry it is toned to his mood, and 
breathes the intensity of his emotion. But it is capable also of a 
burden of thought, provided only that the thought take wing and 
rise from the shell of abstraction into the full-embodied life of 
warm and colored image. In its simplest import the lyric is a cry. 

"William Blake. H. C. xli, 584. 


A sudden fresh vision of beauty releases the deep sources of joy, and 
tlie emotion, gathering about the image that has quickened it, wells 
forth in rhythmic pulse, into surgent, glowing words. 

Hail to thee, blithe Spirit! 

Bird thou never wert, 
That from heaven, or near it, 

Pourest thy full heart 
In profuse strains of unpremeditated art. 

Higher still and higher 

From the earth thou springest 
Like a cloud of fire; 

The blue deep thou wingest, 
And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest. 

In the golden lightning 

Of the sunken sun 
O'er which clouds are brightening, 

Thou dost float and run, 
Like an unbodied joy whose race is just begun.*' 

The song of a skylark, playing across the strings of the poet's inter- 
preting and transfiguring temperament, is etherealized into a rarer 
music. It floats us back the bird's song; but it is the very spirit of 

Another poet thus describes this instant experience of beauty in 
its full immediacy: 

The sounding cataract 
Haunted me like a passion: the tall rock. 
The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood. 
Their colours and their forms, were then to me 
An appetite; a feeling and a love. 
That had no need of a remoter charm. 
By thought supplied, nor any interest 
Unborrowed from the eye." 

But fresh, immediate vision may be attended by insight; the poet 
sees deeper, feels more, and into the precious vessel of his verse he 
pours a richer meaning: 

15 Shelley. H. C, xli, 829. 

" Wordsworth. H. C, xli, 635ff. 


I have learned 
To look on nature, not as in the hour 
Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes 
The still, sad music of humanity. 
Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power 
To chasten and subdue. And I have felt 
A presence that disturbs me with the joy 
Of elevated thoughts: a sense sublime 
Of something far more deeply interfused, 
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns. 
And the round ocean and the living air. 
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man: 
A motion and a spirit, that impels 
All thinking things, all objects of all thought. 
And rolls through all things." 

As poetry, these verses in themselves have not quite the lyric impetus. 
They move to a stately music suited to the calm elevation of mind, 
in which "the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings" is now 
"recollected in tranquillity." They describe, however, rather than 
illustrate, the lyric temper. They are still charged with emotion 
which heightens and intensifies the actual material stuff out of 
which they are woven, and so they are true poetry. But the burden 
of thought tends to impede that upward spring of feeling which 
is the essence of the lyric mood. 

The range of lyric poetry is limited only by the capacities of the 
human spirit; it is coextensive with the height and depth of man's 
mind and heart. A lyric is some one poet's interpretation of the 
beauty, the wonder, the profound mystery, of life as he perceives 
and feels it, by the magic of word-image made visible to the inward 
eye, by the weaving of tone and measured beat made vocal in the 
soul. In swift, vivid phrase it may picture a butterfly or a world; in 
richly-freighted word it may seem, for an illumined moment, to 
unlock the vast secret of life, discovering truth. The lyric may be an 
iridescent jet of song, piercing the silence; it may be a mighty hymn, 
resolving discords and voicing the praise of things. No mood is 
denied it; joy and sorrow, hope and regret, tears and laughter, lie 
within its compass. Its characteristic note is intense personality. 
But the true poet transfigures the beauty he has seen in his little 

" Wordsworth. H. C, xli, 635ff. 


corner of the earth into cosmic vistas, opening to infinity, and trans- 
mutes his private joys and griefs into the great passionate fountains 
of universal happiness and suffering accessible to all men. 


Any subject may be turned to the uses of poetry according as the 
poet conceives it in a certain way. At once more sensitive and more 
creative than other men, the poet sees life more intensely and more 
beautifully. He is stirred by the splendor or tenderness of nature's 
pageantry of shifting colors and impressive forms; he is quickened 
to penetrating thought by his insight into the living principle which 
shapes the world, and by his sense of the varying significance of 
men's purposes and destiny. His emotion impels him to express his 
perception, carrying lightly also its burden of thought, in an ordered 
pattern of word-symbols, which reproduce images from the external 
world, but which invest them with associations and implicate further 
meanings. To this transcript of the immediate and actual world he 


The gleam, 
The light that never was, on sea or land, 
The consecration, and the poet's dream. 

Thus to transfigure the world and life, under the stimulus of feel- 
ing and by the power of insight, is the magic and the mystery of 
the poet. So, too, poetry may range through the vast, complex 
whole of experience, to draw thence its inspiration and its material. 
But life may be thus conceived poetically, and yet the idea may be 
expressed in prose. To give it poetical expression, there must pulse 
through the subject matter, whatever guise it wear, that deep up- 
welling of emotion which prompts the poet to phrase his thought 
in the word-pattern which is a poem. 

The poetic impulse, rising out of vision and emotion, utters itself 
in speech, but speech flowing in measured pulse and cast in a de- 
terminate mould. As the stuff out of which the web of poetry is 
woven is both intellectual and emotional, though the two elements 
may combine in varying proportions, so these elements together go 
to the shaping of the final total form. This form, comprising both 
the measured flow of words and their ultimate arrangement in a 


pattern," is a poem. And this form is not accidental or arbitrary, 
but is conditioned by the nature itself of the human mind and spirit. 


Within the texture of every poem beats a pulse like the throb of 
coursing blood in a living body; and this pulse or rhythm is the life 
of poetic form. Indeed rhythm is the very heart of the universe itself. 
No manifestation of the active principle in the great frame of things 
is so intimate or so pervasive. Day and night, flow and ebb, the 
perfect return of the seasons, the breath of our nostrils and the 
stars in their courses echo alike its mighty music. In the little prac- 
tical affairs of life, no less than in earth's orbic sweep through stellar 
spaces, rhythm is a law of movement, to which all sustained action 
instinctively conforms. It makes movement easier, as in labor — 
whether the quick tap of a smith's hammer on his anvil or the 
long-drawn tug of a gang at a rope. Soldiers, marching to an 
ordered step, lighten the fatigue of weary miles. Rhythm also 
makes movement pleasurable, as in the dance. And, conversely, 
the perception of rhythm in things external to oneself is both easy 
and pleasurable. Alike in its subjective and its objective aspects, 
therefore, rhythm is in essential harmony with the spirit of inah. 

As the order of the universe is shot through with a living pulse, 
so emotion, too, if sustained, tends to express itself in rhythm. The 
emotional stimulus of the perception of beauty, or the excitement 
attending insight into the deeper truth of life, quickens the heart- 
throb; this heightened activity overflows to expression in words 
which reproduce the measured beat of the impetus out of which 
they spring. And so a poem comes to birth. In its most primitive 
forms, some scholars tell us, poetry is but the voice accompaniment 
to the rhythms of bodily movement in work and play.'' A woman 
grinding corn back and forth between two stones, keeps time by 
the crooning of unreasoned words in endless repetition. A fragment 
of an old spinning song echoes in Ophelia's ravings: "You must 
sing Down-a-down, An you call him a-down-a. O, how the wheel 

'^ For this suggestion of poetry as a "pattern" I am indebted to Professor J. W. 
Mackail's Oxford Lectures on Poetry. 

'' See F. B. Gummere, "The Beginnings of Poetry." 


becomes it!" Lithe-bodied men shout in unison their war chant, as 
they tread the circle of the dance. Youths and maidens in common 
festival recite in turn the verses of a ballad, caught and flung back 
in the refrain. The principle holds true throughout the age-long 
evolution of poetry. From the earliest to the latest manifestations 
of the poetic impulse, in the instinctive voicing of physical move- 
ment and in the highly wrought creations of mature art, the great 
deep pulse at the heart of things finds utterance. 

Lo, with the ancient 
Roots of man's nature, 
Twines the eternal 
Passion of song. 

Deep in the world-heart 
Stand its foundations, 
Tangled with all things. 
Twin-made with all. 

Nay, what is Nature's 
Self, but an endless 
Strife toward music, 
Euphony, rhyme ? 

God on His throne is 
Eldest of poets: 
Unto His measures 
Moveth the Whole.^" 

This is the origin and reason-why of rhythm in poetry. What- 
ever the poet's mood, whether it be an outburst of sheer joy or the 
chastened calm of meditation, his verse is the counterpart, made 
audible, of his emotion, and moves to an accordant rhythm. The 
swift but sustained flow of Homer's dactylic hexameters, reciting 
the deeds of heroes; the stately procession of Milton's iambic pentam- 
eter, unfolding a drama of Heaven and Hell; the soaring flight of 
Shelley's skylark; the pounding hoof -beats of Browning's mad ride, 

I sprang to the stirrup, and Joris, and he, 

I galloped, Dirck galloped, we galloped all three;'' 

2» William Watson. ^^H. C. xlii, 1066. 


whether forward thrust or steady march or winged flight, — the lih 
of the verse expresses the emotional stress and impetus within it. 


And more. For the rhythm of verse not only expresses the emotion 
out of which it springs; this it also communicates. It imparts to 
the hearer its own energy and kindles him to a like emotion. Poetry 
has much in common with other kinds of literature. Prose may 
render a heightened image of the world, as in the novel; it may 
rouse to action, as in oratory. In essence, imaginative literature may 
have a constant element within its various manifestations. What 
primarily distinguishes poetry from prose is this element of definite 
rhythm. By virtue of it, poetry is more immediate and more intense 
in its appeal. The "imitative movements," psychologists would say, 
set going in our own organism, rouse in us a corresponding emotion. 
Rhythm, too, makes for ease of perception, and is in itself a source 
of pleasure. When rightly managed, it serves also to emphasize the 
intellectual content of the verse. The rhythm of poetic form is not 
a mechanical contrivance, but is the inevitable thrust of the passion 
within. At its best, it is never monotonous. It should not be a 
regularly recurring series of alternate beats, or "sing-song"; by subtle 
variations of stress, corresponding both to the emotional impetus 
and to the meaning of the words, it may unfold itself in undulations; 
the surge of the inner tide may break in dancing wave crests, an 
infinite variety of light and shade, playing over the surface of the 
great central unity. The meter may change step at need, obedient 
to an inner law. 

Come lovely and soothing death, 

Undulate round the world, serenely arriving, arriving 

In the day, in the night, to all, to each. 

Sooner or later delicate death.^" 

And so on through a surpassingly beautiful poem. The meter, or 
measured foot, is not evident here, but inevitably we feel a deep- 
drawn throb that lays hold on us, and carries us to its own mood. 
To such lines as these we gratefully accord the honorable name of 

"Walt Whitman, H. C, xlii, 1417. 


Rhythm alone, however, is not enough to constitute a poem. A 
mere drone of words in meaningless repetition, though it may illus- 
trate one of the origins of poetry, is not poetry itself. There must 
be progress in the recurrence, and the repeat must build itself up into 
a pattern. Any bit of experience, to be truly understood or vitally 
assimilated, must be apprehended as a whole. In the tumult of the 
world external to him the mind of man insistently demands order 
and significance. Nature has compelled the poet to her own rhythm; 
that is his inspiration. The poet must now compel nature to his 
purposes of expression; that is his art. His temperament has vibrated 
to the sweep of cosmic influences; now his mind enters as a control- 
ling and organizing force to shape his perception and his meaning 
into a single total unity. Out of rhythm in repetition and com- 
bination he frames a harmony. And so his poem presents a whole- 
ness of impression. His pattern is built of the repeat of single ele- 
ments: metrical bars or feet compose the line or verse; lines combine 
into stanzas; and stanzas fashioned after a common design succeed 
one another in progress to the end. Here again, the structure is 
not mechanical or arbitrary: each verse is measured to the turn of 
the thought; and the formal unity of the whole poem corresponds 
to the unity of mood or idea that the poem is framed to express. 


The poet's medium, or means of expression, is words. The painter 
works with color, the sculptor with form, the musician with tone. 
Color and form and tone are pleasurable in themselves, as sensations; 
they become beautiful and significant by force of what they may be 
made to express. So words in themselves also have a sensuous value. 
When used as instruments of beauty, they may add to the rhythmic 
structure of a poem the element of melody. This tonal quality is 
secured most easily and obviously by rhyme, which is perfect con- 
cord of vowel sounds together with the consonants following to 
complete the syllable, as in sight, night. Besides adding musical 
value to the phrase, rhyme, when adroitly managed, serves to define 
the pattern of the poem and to emphasize the meaning of the words 
in which it falls. Lesser components of the melodic element are 
assonance, alliteration, and tone-color. Assonance is the repetition of 


the same vowel sound within syllables, but with different consonants, 
as shape, mate. Alliteration is the agreement in sound of initial 
syllables, as in "The /isp of /eaves and the ripple of rain." Allitera- 
tion, combined with stress, is the essential verse-principle of Anglo- 
Saxon poetry; it is used to-day at the risk of obscuring the sense by 
overloading the ornament. The melodic quality of tone-color is more 
subtle; it is the suggestion of the meaning of the words by the tonal 
quality and value of their syllables, as in "Sweet dimness of her 
loosened hair's downfall," where the slow change in vowel quality, 
e, i, 6, a, seems to invest the image with a kind of "penumbra" of 
sound. These are the notes of the poet's gamut; the master crafts- 
man employs them with a just reticence to enhance the sensuous 
appeal of his art. 

But poetry is not only emotional and sensuous in its appeal. By 
virtue of its medium of words, it is adapted — to an extent that the 
arts of painting, sculpture, and music are not — to the expression of 
intellectual ideas. It gains in potency, however, in the measure that 
it phrases these ideas not in abstract terms but concretely. Words 
are not color or form, but they can suggest it by means of images. 
Emotion always has an object, which calls it out and represents it. 
The image in the word becomes the expression of the poet's own 
feeling; and it is also the symbol and occasion to others of a like 
emotion. How much Wordsworth's apostrophe to Duty gains in 
persuasion by the beauty of suggested images! So the idea embodies 
itself and becomes warm and vivid, rousing the hearer's imagination 
to vision and kindling him to emotion. This evocative power of 
words is the secret of the poet, and is hardly to be analyzed. It 
attaches to the tonal beauty of their syllables, in themselves and in 
rhythmic combination; it derives from their vividness of image, 
and from the associations, both intellectual and emotional, which 
cling around them like an aroma and an exhalation. 

Bright Star! would I were steadfast as thou art: — 
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night. 
And watching, with eternal lids apart. 
Like Nature's patient sleepless Eremite, 
The moving waters at their priestlike task 
Of pure ablution round earth's human shores.^'- 
23 Keats, H. C, xli, 898. 


Who can say wherein Hes the witchery of this word-music! It can 
only be felt. In addition to the common meaning of its terms, 
therefore, language seems to have a further expressiveness. This 
new significance is the creation of the poet, wrought out of the 
familiar words by his cunning manipulation of them. The wonder 
of the poet's craft is like the musician's, — 

That out of three sounds he frames, not a fourth sound, but a star.^^ 


Poetic form rouses the whole being to sympathetic action by its 
rhythm; it delights the ear by its melodious tone; the logic of its 
coherent harmonic structure satisfies the mind; its word-images 
stimulate the imagination by their power of evocation. So poetry 
adds to fact its intellectual worth and all the emotional value inhering 
in it. Finally form and meaning become one. And most intimately 
so in lyric poetry. Here we feel that just this idea could not be 
expressed, just that emotion could not be communicated, in any 
other way. The essence and mystery of the song are in the singing. 

A poem is a fragment of life rounded into momentary complete- 
ness. It compels the chaos of immediate sense impressions into 
forms of beauty, and so it builds a fairer world. It catches the 
rhythms that pulse at the mighty heart of things and weaves them 
into subtle and satisfying patterns; its verbal melodies waken in the 
soul dim echoes of the desired music of the spheres. It floods life 
with unaccustomed light. But it is illusion only in that it sees 
beyond the changing shows of nature and discerns the loveliness 
which the human spirit would fain believe is the vesture of the 
Eternal. Poetry is not illusion, but rather the express image of a 
higher reality. The poet would compass life and utterly possess it. 
Not as a patient observer of nature's processes, not a passive spectator 
of the moving play of human fate, he loves what he beholds. To 
him, as to a lover, the world yields something of its secret. By 
force of imaginative, creative vision, he sees life in its wholeness, 
though but for an illumined moment. Emotion and insight fuse into 
an image of perfection. To the poet truth reveals itself as beauty. 

^''Browning's "Abt Vogler," H. C, xlii, iioo-iro2. 


But the revelation is never finished. Therefore all great and true 
poetry is the utterance of an inspiration. It is the dream of a world 
ever realized and yet ever to be won. In the words of one of its 
prophets: "Poetry is the first and last of all knowledge — ^it is as 
immortal as the heart of man." 


By Professor Charles Burton Gulick 

EPIC poetry might be described as that in which fewest poets 
have achieved distinction. Homer, Virgil, Milton are the 
names which occur to the mind when we try to define the 
type, but beyond these three it is hard to find any who have success- 
fully treated a large theme with the dignity, grandeur, and beauty 
which the heroic poem demands. 

This is because the standard was set at the beginning; and when 
we analyze the method and the purpose of these great poets. Homer 
emerges as the one supreme and incomparable master of them all. 
For, in "Paradise Lost," ' Milton was too often diverted from the 
true office of the poet by theological controversy; Virgil's "^neid"^ 
is the highly studied product of a self-conscious age, and was 
deliberately written to exalt the greatness of imperial Rome. 


And yet, although the art of Homer is more naive and unconscious 
than Virgil's, it is a mistake to think, as the eighteenth century 
thought, that Homer represents the childhood of the race. Fresh, 
vigorous, spontaneous, swift, he none the less stands at the end of 
many generations of singers. From them he inherited traditions of 
versification, diction, and phrase that reach back to the very earliest 
emergence of the Greeks from barbarism. 

The material of the first epic songs was quite simple. In the 
beginning the tribal gods would be the theme of a hymn of praise 
or thanksgiving; and since the heroic ancestors of the chieftains 
were thought to be the sons of gods, it was easy to pass from god to 
man and contemporary exploits in some famous raid were not for- 
gotten. Sacred hymn became heroic lay. Popular poetry it was, 
in the sense that it appealed strongly to popular interest and local 
^Harvard Classics, iv, 87-358. ^H. C, xiii. 



pride. But it remained the possession o£ heaven-gifted singers whose 
profession was hereditary. 


During the twelfth century before Christ there came a mighty 
upheaval, involving the fall of Mycenx and the final ruin of her 
splendid civilization. New adjustments of territory took place, 
and wholesale migrations of Greek-speaking peoples, calling them- 
selves Achaeans, ^olians, lonians, or Boeotians, to the littoral of 
Asia Minor. The stir and adventure of moving tribes, the prowess 
of their champions, the mingling of men of the same race, though 
of different clans, on the edge of a country where barbarians filled 
the hinterland, developed a new pride in national achievement and 
furnished, in fact, j ust the conditions most favorable for the develop- 
ment of the epic. Legends brought from home, where the fathers 
had lived a simpler life, began to expand to larger proportions. 
Achilles and Hector, who had possibly been rival chiefs on the 
border between southern Thessaly and Bceotia, now became, in the 
conception of the bards, magnificent princes, fighting, not for cattle, 
but for national existence. The scene of their exploits is shifted 
from the old homeland to the new, and as the imagination of the 
emigrants grew with their larger life in the new country, so their 
legends came to embody more incident, to take on more brilliant 
coloring, and to voice higher national pretensions. 

Thus Agamemnon, whose power on the Greek mainland had by 
no means been limited to the one small citadel of Mycenz, snugly 
built among the hills of Argos, had room to expand to something 
like imperial dimensions through the patriotic impulse of these 
later epic singers. Growing more skillful in characterization, they 
helped to rear the great antithesis between Achaean and Trojan, 
between Greek and barbarian, the West and the East; they founded 


That the story of the Trojan War, embellished as it is with 
mythical details, reflects historical facts — actual conflicts between 
the Achaean and ^olian immigrants on the one hand, and the 


Dardanian inhabitants o£ the Troad, on the other, is now no longer 
doubted. The "lUad," which in its present form is the work of a 
single genius, is the result of complicated processes which include 
the borrowing, adaptation, and enlargement of old material and the 
invention of new. 

It is not free from inconsistencies in detail and occasional lapses 
in interest. "Even the good Homer nods," says Horace. But though 
he nods now and then, he never goes to sleep. 

The "Odyssey"* probably belongs to a somewhat later era than 
that in which the "Iliad" took final shape. The wanderings of 
Odysseus reflect newer experiences of the same Achaean stock which 
had won success in stirring conflicts in Asia, and was now pushing 
out in ships over the Mediterranean to compete with the Phoenician 
trader. The "Odyssey" presupposes the events described in the 
"Iliad"; unlike the "Iliad," it is not a story of battles and sieges, but 
of adventure and intrigue which center about a bold sailor. 

It is full of the wonder of a new world; of strange escapes; of ship- 
wreck and the terrifying power of winds and waves; of monsters 
and witches and giants; of encounters with pirates, and exploration 
into wild countries, even to the borders of the earth and to the under- 
world. It has furnished the model of some of Sindbad's* adventurers, 
and is the precursor of Gulliver and Munchausen. It has given to 
later poetry the lotus-eaters^ and the Sirens, and to the language of 
proverb Scylla and Charybdis, and has enriched our nursery books 
with some of their most entrancing characters. As a relief to the stir 
and trial of the hero, it pictures the happiness and beauty of rural 
life, and presents the noblest portrait of a faithful wife in all 


Th» dramatic structure of the "Odyssey" has always been admired. 
The entrance of the hero is postponed in order to develop the 
situation and introduce his lovable, if somewhat futile, son Telem- 
achus, together with some characters made familiar by the "Iliad": 
Nestor, Helen, and Menelaus. We are then transported to Calypso's 

'f/. C, xxii, 9. *H. C, xvi, 231-295. 

' Cf. Tennyson's poem in H. C, xlii, 993. 


Isle, there to find Odysseus chafing under restraint. There ensue the 
departure, the anger of Poseidon, the wreck, and the rescue in the 
land of the Phzacians. The scene shifts to the brilliant court of 
their king, Alcinous, before whom Odysseus recounts the wonderful 
adventures which preceded his arrival at Calypso's island. In Phaeacia 
Odysseus meets Nausicaa, the fairest and most radiant girlish figure 
in Greek literature. Nothing will better illustrate the difference 
between Homer and Virgil than a comparison of Nausicaa's words 
of parting with the violent outpourings of Dido's spirit when ^neas 
leaves her.° This part of the "Odyssey" is also highly interesting 
and important for the way in which the bard Demodocus represents 
the traditions and methods of the heroic lay. 

The second half of the story begins when the Phaeacians carry 
Odysseus home. Disguised as a beggar, he meets with a series of 
encounters which give full play to the dramatic devices of recognition 
and irony, so skillfully practiced later on the Greek stage. He dis- 
closes himself to Telemachus. Then his old dog Argos recognizes 
him, in a scene full of pathos. Finally, after a supreme trial of 
strength and skill, and the slaughter of the suitors, the husband 
makes himself known to his wife, and then to his aged father. Faults 
of repetition there are in plenty; but they only show with what 
fondness the epic poets loved to linger on the story, and how eager 
their audiences were to have the tale prolonged. 


The Greeks were fond of recounting personal details about their 
great men, but they were unable to tell about a real Homer. The 
later legends concerning his life are meager, and almost wholly 
disregarded by the scholars of Alexandria. His blindness is a trait 
often remarked to-day among the popular singers in the villages 
of Greece and Macedonia. It is beautifully portrayed in the well- 
known bust in the Naples Museum. Seven cities claimed the honor 
of being his birthplace. They were mostly on the shores of Asia 
Minor or the adjacent islands — a fact which attests what we knew 
before from the language of the poems, that their latest composers 
were Ionian Greeks, and that the poems had a vogue on that coast 
* See "iEneid," in H. C, xiii, 1 6sS. 


a long time before wandering rhapsodists carried them to the main- 
land. It is not known when they were first committed to writing. 
Although the Greeks knew how to write as early as the ninth 
century before Christ, and possibly long before that time — indeed, 
writing is mentioned once by Homer — it played no important part 
in the earlier transmission of the poems, and it was not until the 
reign of the tyrant Pisistratus in Athens, in the sixth century, that 
they were gathered together and set down definitely in the form 
in which we have them. Thus virtually committed to the guardian- 
ship of the Athenians, who were the leaders of culture from the 
sixth to the third centuries, the poems passed to the custody of the 
Alexandrines, who prepared elaborate editions with notes, and 
divided them into the "books" — twenty-four each — in which they 
appear to-day. 

The Romans studied them sedulously, and to Quintilian, as to 
Plato, Homer was the fountain of eloquence. The western world 
during the Middle Ages had more frequent recourse to Roman 
versions of the tale of Troy, but with the revival of learning Homer 
sprang almost immediately into his rightful position at the head of 
the ancients, and has ever since held firm hold of the affections of 
all cultivated men and women. 


By Professor Charles Hall Grandgent 

DANTE ALIGHIERI (1265-1321) is rightly called the 
supreme exponent of the Middle Ages. In no other writer, 
ancient or modern, do we find the spirit of a great period 
so completely reflected as the mediaeval soul is mirrored in him. It 
was the epoch of mighty builders and mighty theologians, of religious 
exaltation, of sturdy, militant faith — the age that produced the grand 
cathedrals and the "Summa Theologiae," the age of the Crusades, 
of St. Bernard and St. Dominic, the age of St. Francis. So essentially 
is Dante a poet of God that the epithet "Divine" has by universal 
consent been attached to the work which he called a "Comedy"; 
and so manifest is his architectural genius that his poem inevitably 
suggests comparison with a huge Gothic church. The troops of 
figures that live eternally in his pages, representing all types of 
contemporary man from burgher to Pope, diversify without obscur- 
ing the symmetrical outlines of his plan — a plan sufficiently vast to 
embrace nearly all that was of much importance in profane and 
sacred science. 

the plan of the "divine comedy" 

The "Commedia," ' with its three books and its hundred cantos, 
relates the whole progress of a soul from sin, through remorse, 
meditation, and discipline, to the state of purity that enables it to 
see God. Lost in wickedness, the poet suddenly comes to his senses 
and tries to escape from it, but in vain. Reason, moved by grace, 
thereupon leads him step by step to a full understanding of evil, in 
all its ugliness and folly; and he at last turns his back upon it. His 
next duty is to cleanse his soul by penance, until its innocence is 
gradually restored. Then Revelation descends to meet him, and 
' See Harvard Classics, xx, and General Index, under Dante, in vol. 1. 



lifts him heavenward, higher and higher, even to the presence of 
his Maker. All this is set forth allegorically in the form of a journey, 
under the guidance of Virgil and then of Beatrice, through the 
underground kingdom of Hell, up the lonely mountain of Purgatory 
to the Garden of Eden, and thence through the revolving spheres to 


To US the universe of the Middle Ages seems small. The whole 
duration of earthly life, from Creation to Judgment Day, is limited 
to some 7,000 or 8,000 years. Our globe, a solid, motionless ball, 
surrounded by air and by fire, is the center of the material world. 
About it turn the nine successive skies, transparent, shell-like, 
hollow spheres, bearing the sun, the moon, the planets, and the fixed 
stars, which together constitute the force called Nature. Outside 
this round universe of matter is the Paradise of pure spirit, the limit- 
less abode of God, the angels, and the blest. The angels, ministers 
of the Lord, direct the movements of the celestial bodies, thus shaping 
existence here below and the characters of men. Of the earth's sur- 
face much more than half is covered by water; but on one side, 
with Jerusalem in the middle, is the clover-shaped continent of 
Europe, Asia, and Africa. The Christian world is ruled by two 
great powers, one spiritual, one temporal, both ordained by God: 
Papacy and Empire, founded by Christ and by Caesar. Unrighteous 
ambition has brought them into conflict with each other. 

Of ancient history, and of all the wealth of classic literature and 
art, but little was known, and that little was translated into terms 
of the present; for the historical sense was quite undeveloped, and 
so was the idea of progress, so dear to us moderns. To the mediaeval 
mind, Solomon, Alexander, Ctcsar, Charlemagne were very much 
alike. The most noteworthy survivors among the authors of pagan 
Rome were Virgil, Ovid, Lucan, Statins, Cicero and Livy; to these 
should be added the Christians, Boethius and St. Augustine, and the 
scholars and theologians who followed. Greek was lost; but Aristotle, 
in Latin garb, began in the thirteenth century to dominate European 
thought, and Platonism had been potent in shaping St. Augustine's 
doctrine some 800 years before. 



Most of the learning of his age Dante possessed — the science of 
Albertus Magnus, the philosophy of Aristotle, the theology of St. 
Thomas Aquinas, the fragment of Latin literature that time had 
spared. We find abundant evidence of it, not only in the "Divina 
Commedia," but also in the unfinished "Convivio," or "Banquet," 
an encyclopaedic work in the shape of a commentary on some of the 
author's poems. 

He wrote Latin with fluency and vigor: besides his letters and a 
couple of eclogues, he composed a treatise, "De Monarchia," on the 
relation of state to church, and began a discussion of verse forms 
and the use of the Italian language in poetry, called "De Vulgari 
Eloquentia"; there is ascribed to him also a lecture, the "Quaestio 
de Aqua et Terra," debating a curious problem of physical geog- 
raphy. But while his facts, ideas, and interests were those of his 
day, certain traits differentiate him from his fellows: with Petrarch 
he shares intensity of feeling and strong personality; with Chaucer 
and Boccaccio clearness of vision and the gift of vivid dramatic char- 
acterization; with none, his artistic reaction to the wilder aspects of 
nature, his stupendous imagination, his conciseness, his power of sug- 
gestion. In language, too, he stands quite apart from his predecessors 
and contemporaries. Such picturesqueness, such wealth of vocabu- 
lary, had never been conceived since classic antiquity. Before him, in 
fact, clerical Latin had been the regular medium of serious discourse. 
His use of the vernacular for the elucidation of philosophy and 
religion was a daring innovation, which he defends in the "Con- 
vivio." Especially in his own country was the modern tongue 
despised, and the literary output in Italian, before the fourteenth 
century, was correspondingly meager. 


Northern France had long since witnessed a glorious development 
of narrative poetry, of warlike epic and courtly romance — songs of 
kings and feudal lords, adventures of knights (particularly those of 
the Round Table^) in distant lands and times. Out of liturgical 

^ See Dr. Maynadier's lecture on "Malory" in the course on Prose Fiction. 


service had grown the drama. SymboUsm, long familiar in the 
interpretation of ancient poetry and of holy writ, had made its way 
into creative art, and had produced the "Romance of the Rose," 
that wonder of the thirteenth century. Satire, which in this poem 
is combined with the allegorical theme of the quest of love, had 
found separate expression in the versified episodes called "fabliaux," 
and in the tales of Reynard the Fox. Much of this literature had 
been carried to Italy, as to other countries of Europe. No less re- 
nowned than the North French epic,^ and hardly less influential 
abroad, was the great school of amatory lyric poetry that had sprung 
up in southern France — a poetry of restricted scope but of exquisite 
artistry, which in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries was sung and 
imitated at many an Italian court. Not until the time of Frederick II, 
however, do we find similar verse composed in an Italian tongue. 
About this great emperor clustered a band of clever, artificial love 
poets known as the Sicilian School. In Tuscany the vernacular was 
used for lyric purposes by a group of uninspired but ingenious 
rhymesters, for the most part close followers of Provencal models. 
At Bologna, too, the famous university town, the new art began to 
be cultivated in the middle of the thirteenth century. Here lived 
Guido Guinizelli, whom Dante calls his master, the first poet to 
formulate definitely that theory of love which was to govern the 
"sweet new style." 

dante's conception of love 

According to this doctrine, love is an attribute of the "gentle" 
heart alone. There it slumbers until aroused to activity by a worthy 
object. The woman who awakens this "gentle" love must be a 
symbol of the angelic nature, or "heavenly intelligence"; and de- 
votion to her is worship. In the generation after Guinizelli his 
teaching was extended by a circle of gifted writers, who introduced 
the poetic fashion into Florence, a busy commercial town, already 
perhaps the most prosperous of the bustling, ambitious, jealous, 
quarrelsome little commonwealths of Italy. Members of this literary 
company were Dante's "first friend," Guido Cavalcanti, and Dante 
himself. We find, to be sure, a less novel conception of love in some 
' Cf. "The Song of Roland" in H. C, xlix, 95ff. 


of our poet's works : in his sweet verses on a certain young lady who 
pitied him in his bereavement, in his occasional complimentary 
sonnets and ballads, in his wildly passionate and beautiful songs 
concerning a youthful person whom he calls "Pietra." In his canzoni 
to Lady Philosophy we have excellent examples of the amatory form 
put to an allegorical use. For a more literal expression of the new 
thought we must look to the compositions inspired by his ideal lady, 
Beatrice — and, among them, to the maturer ones. Some years after 
the death of his beloved, Dante selected from his previous verse a 
series of poems illustrating the phases of his inner life under Bea- 
trice's influence, and surrounded them with a dainty prose ex- 
planation. This is the "Vita Nuova," or "New Life." 


By Dr. Ernest Bernbaum 

THOUGH most of us acknowledge that Milton dwells on 
the heights of English poetry, we are likely, because of 
his very sublimity, to look up to him with awe, as un- 
approachable. The charm of the minor poems of his youth may be 
felt without difficulty; but the obstacles to loving intimacy with his 
most important works, those into which he poured "the precious 
lifeblood of a master spirit," seem many and forbidding. We re- 
member that Byron sneered at his angels and archangels joining 
in quibbles, and we apprehend that his theology must be dull or per- 
plexing. We open "Paradise Lost" ' at almost any page, and meet 
with phrases and allusions that are unfamiliar. Habituated by our 
contemporary literature and journalism to receive an easy delight 
from the shocking, the bizarre, and the exceptional, we are not 
immediately attracted by an art whose characteristics are dignity 
and restraint. In Dr. Johnson's words, "we desert our master and 
seek for companions." As if to encourage our truancy, there arise 
those who question whether, after all, Milton is a master. The chief 
of a prominent American library refuses to advise the reading of 
"Paradise Lost," an ultra-modern critic professes to have discovered 
"new literary valuations" which at last destroy the poet's long- 
established reputation, and respectable literary journals actually find 
it necessary to defend a fame that had seemed imperishable. 


The serious-minded who, despite such babblings, conclude that 
he to whom every great man of letters from Dryden to Meredith 
has granted the crowning laurel must surely be one whom it is an 
honorable privilege to know, may be assured that the obstacles to 
familiarity with Milton are not at all insuperable. From three 

' Harvard Classics, iv, 87-358. 


sources especially does his greatness arise — the strength of his imagi- 
nation, the harmony of his verse, and the truth of his thought. Each 
of these will become more clearly apparent to the reader if he will 
accept certain practical suggestions. To grow aware of the astound- 
ing imaginative power of Milton in "Paradise Lost," "Paradise 
Regained," ^ "Samson Agonistes," ' and even the "Nativity Ode," * 
one should before turning to those works read the biblical passages, 
in each case brief, which gave the poet the outlines of his themes. 
It need hardly be said that such a story as that of Adam and Eve 
has in the Bible a simple and poignant beauty which is perfect in 
its way; but when one turns from the few chapters that contain it 
and follows the course of the great epic, one begins to realize how 
sublimely Milton's imagination enlarges our conceptions of the past, 
the distant, and the unseen. Nor is it only realms, forces, and spirits 
unvisited and unknown that he reveals. Read the short account of 
Samson, or of the temptation of Christ; observe how few, though 
graphic, are the strokes of characterization; and you will thereupon 
in "Samson Agonistes" and "Paradise Regained" recognize with 
what vision Milton has penetrated into the hearts of hero and Lord 
and devil. 

The mistake which prevents a full enjoyment of the musical 
beauty of Milton's blank verse is to read it silently — a sure way to 
make it seem like prose curiously printed. Aloud the blind poet 
uttered the most and the best of it; and aloud it should be read. 
Only thus can the artistic sense that slumbers within us be aroused 
to feel responsively the grandest rhythm and resonance that ever 
proceeded from an English tongue. Like ocean breakers, in varying 
lengths and with tireless energy, it beats and surges upon our emo- 
tions; and presently we are ready to receive those elevated thoughts 
it is marvelously designed to instill, because the sound has lifted us 
into a mood exalted above our ordinary state. He who thus comes 
to feel the artistic powers of Milton has taken a decisive step toward 
literary culture: he will thenceforth not easily be imposed upon by 
whatever is imaginatively weak or fantastic; and his ear, once at- 
tuned to the "grand style" of the master, will no longer delight in 
verse that is thin or harsh. 

2 H. C, iv, 359. 3 H. C, iv, 414. *H. C, iv, 7. 



But Milton did not use his poetical powers for the mere pleasure 
of exercising them. In him, as in Isaiah, the great artist is embodied 
in the greater prophet. This is a commonplace, yet many approach 
Milton as if it were untrue. In the case of "Paradise Lost," ad- 
mittedly the fullest expression of his message, the first two books are 
mistakenly recommended as typical. In them, to be sure, are superbly 
displayed his artistic powers, but certainly not his dominant thought. 
In fact, to confine oneself to them has proved a direct way to mis- 
understand him. Because they deal with the fallen angels, we have 
arising the persistent error that Satan is the hero of "Paradise Lost," 
and that the arch-rebel preoccupied the poet's interest. The result 
in our day, when belief in a personal devil is faint, is the impression 
that Milton devotes his genius to themes that, however picturesque, 
possess for us slight moral significance. And so we have the pitiable 
result that the mere artist is admired, but the prophet not hearkened 
to. Yet his message, grasped as a whole, comes home to our very 


The theme of Milton is not primarily Satan, nor even God and 
angels, but humanity. Not only do the opening lines of "Paradise 
Lost" proclaim the subject "man's disobedience," but throughout the 
epic it is the fate of man that is made the issue of every event in 
the universal creation. Thus Milton begins his story, not when 
Satan is conspiring against God, but when the defeated devil turns 
his revengeful thought toward the future inhabitants of the earth. 
Of that new world man is solemnly made the lord, God himself 
descending to breathe into him a spiritual life. It is to warn man 
against his fall that the rebellion in heaven is related; and in the 
central books it is the glory and the weakness of human nature that 
we see displayed. Finally, the future history of the world is com- 
municated to Adam, not so much to manifest the absolute power of 
God or the futility of Satan's hate, as to assure the children of God 
of his eternal love toward them. In short, the subject is not theology 
but religion — not the nature of God and of Satan, but the relation of 


the powers o£ good and of evil to ourselves. Could a poet deal with 
a problem of more compelling and everlasting interest to us? The 
reader who focuses his attention upon the human beings in "Paradise 
Lost" will do what the poet did, and will, though accidental details 
may elude him, follow Milton's essential thought. The descriptions of 
heaven and hell, which may not correspond precisely to the reader's 
notions of the states of bliss and of misery, will recede into the back- 
ground, where they belong; and gradually there will rise before him 
Milton's idea of the true meaning of human life. 

milton's view of human nature 

To reduce that idea to a prose formula would be to impoverish and 
debase it; but a hint or two concerning its general character may 
suggest its importance to the individual conscience. On the one hand, 
no poet, not even Shakespeare, has thought more nobly of the glo- 
rious capacities of man. Man is to Milton no miserable puppet of 
chance, no slave of his environment (Adam and Eve sin despite 
ideal surroundings), but an unhampered master of his fate, God 
himself endowing him with freedom of the will, and all the spirits 
of the universe interested in the use he may make of that liberty. 
On the other hand, no poet has felt more profoundly the constant 
peril of man's exalted state. Unless he in his freedom throws off 
all worldly temptations, even the most seductive, punishment for his 
disloyalty to spiritual laws is visited not only upon himself but upon 
his innocent fellow men. The grave moral predicaments of the Lady 
in "Comus," '' of Adam and Eve, of Christ in "Paradise Regained," 
and of Samson, are not exceptional, but typify the real state of man 
in every moment of his life. Here a sublime opportunity, there a 
fatal danger, the decision absolutely in his own hands! Yet there 
is no panic, no wild cry for relief; the spirit is as serene as the utter- 
ance is restrained. Uncompromising independence in earthly con- 
cerns, patient humility before God — these are the virtues that will 
redeem us at last. 

Hasty as this glance at Milton's ideas must be, it reminds us of 
the source of his power. In his first good poem, the "Nativity Ode," 

5 H. C, iv, 44. 


he yearned to hear that music of the heavenly spheres, hymning 
divine truth, to which most mortal ears are ever deaf; and from then 
until his end, amid the din of terrestrial turmoil, he was hearkening 
for the voice of God. Thus inspired, he has ever revived those who 
have learned to resort to him, sending each forth with a braver 
heart, a serener mind, and a reawakened conscience. Wordsworth, 
sadly observing the worshipers of earthly idols, exclaimed: 

Milton, thou shouldst be living at this hour! 

and the best in succeeding generations have echoed the sentiment. 
Sceptics may question parts of Milton's doctrine; but they will not 
easily shake its center, for that is embedded in the pertinacious moral 
convictions of the English peoples. The noblest American tradition, 
which founded the New England commonwealths, and from which 
to depart is a kind of betrayal of our inmost selves, is precisely that 
ideal of freedom from man's dominion and conscientious obedience 
to God's stern will, which is the very spirit of Milton. To commune 
with him is therefore to gain patriotic enlightenment as well as re- 
ligious insight and poetical culture.' 

^ See also Bagehot's essay on Milton in H. C, xxviii, 165. 


By Carleton Noyes, A.M. 

THE English Anthology, contained in Volumes XL to XLII 
of The Harvard Classics, comprises a selection of represen- 
tative poems in English from Chaucer to Walt Whitman, 
a period of about five hundred years. In the range and variety of 
subject and forms, these volumes bear eloquent witness to the mani- 
fold creative power of poetry. But the very abundance of their 
treasures suggests certain problems, at the same time that it offers 
material for their solution. What is the subject of poetry, and what 
the meaning of these varied forms? How shall the reader find his 
way to the poetry that is truly for him, and how may he win from 
it what it holds of present deUght and of lasting service? 

It is evident that the spirit of poetry, intensely real but elusive as 
a sky-born Ariel, may incarnate itself in many forms and wear a 
rainbow vesture. As indicated in the General Introduction, the shap- 
ing purpose of a poem is either the narrative interest or the lyric 
mood. But these two impulses are subject to wide modifications. 
The differences do not affect the character of each instance as poetry; 
to note them, however, furnishes a convenient formula of descrip- 
tion and provides a clue to the fuller comprehension of the motive 
of a given poem. 


When the poet's interest lies in action, incident, and situation, 
his poem takes the form of narrative. When such a poem attains 
a certain magnitude, when the action is on a large scale, and the 
personages are of sufficient eminence and importance, it becomes 
an epic. The epic hiay be relatively primitive and single-hearted like 
the "IHad," the "Odyssey," ' "Beowulf," ' or the "Nibelungenlied." It 
may still recite the deeds of heroes in an earlier golden prime and 
* Harvard Classics, xxii, gff. ^ H. C, xlix, %&, 



yet be the product of a conscious, highly elaborated literary art, 
like Virgil's "^neid." ' Or again, while celebrating a lofty theme, 
it may be the deeply personal expression of the poet's own interpre- 
tation of experience and the world, as with Dante and Milton. In 
lesser compass than the epic, a narrative poem, like the ballads^ or the 
more conscious poetical romances and talesj" may range over the 
whole wide domain of men's adventures and fortunes, finding 
nothing human foreign to it. 

Narrative thus stories forth the doings of others; the lyric rises 
out of oneself. And here again the scope is limitless. A lyric may 
phrase emotion in its purest essence: it is then the absolute lyric or 
song. The emotion, gathering about a simple little scene in nature, 
may utter itself briefly and beautifully in an idyl; conceived on a 
more extensive scale, a poem of rustic life, actual or feigned, becomes 
a pastoral^ The passion of grief finds voice in the elegyj A lyric 
may mirror the large aspects of nature as colored by the poet's feeling, 
and so it passes over into descriptive poetry. Sensuous elements may 
be subordinated to thought or to sympathy; and the poem so in- 
spired expresses reflection and sentiment. Exaltation of thought and 
mood, moving through sustained and complex metrical form, finds 
a fitting medium in the ode? Even wit and satire, if feeling mingle 
with the intellectual element, are not outside the scope of poetical 
expression, as in the epigram. Poetry also — provided only that it 
still be poetry — may be didactic. Although the true function of po- 
etry, as of all art, is not to teach, but to interpret life beautifully, to 
touch the heart and kindle the whole being to heightened activity, yet 
a poem may voice moral ideas, as in Wordsworth's "Ode to Duty": 

Stern lawgiver! yet thou dost wear 
The Godhead's most benignant grace; 
Nor know we anything so fair 
As is the smile upon thy face: 

5 H. C, xiii, 73ff. ■• H. C, xl, 5ifF. 

^Cf., for example, Chaucer's "Nun's Priest's Tale," H. C, xl, 34ff, or Burns's 
"Tarn o' Shanter," vi, 388ff. 

* For examples, see H. C, xl, 247, 254, 430; xli, 556, 615, 765. 

'For examples, see Milton's "Lycidas," H. C, iv, 72; H. C, xl, 447; xli, 856; 
xlii, 1 130. 

' For examples, see H. C, xl, 298, 380, 384, 447, 452ff.; xli, 476, 539, 595, 649, 
728, 833, 876ff. 


Flowers laugh before thee on their beds, 
And fragrance in thy footing treads; 
Thou dost preserve the Stars from wrong; 
And the most ancient Heavens, through thee, are fresh and strong.' 

Out of the narrative interest, a primary instinct with men, and 
out of the interest, only gradually developed, in individual character 
for its own sake, is evolved a special literary form, called drama. 
Here the poet embodies his feelings and ideas in the persons of 
others. He no longer speaks for himself; he endows the figures of 
his creation or observation with an independent substantive life 
of their own. The narrative interest is still strong, for the dramatist 
shows his personages in action, but he allows them to work out 
their own destiny in accordance with the inner necessity of their 
natures. In the drama, then, the poet's own "criticism of life" is 
implied rather than directly expressed. The drama, as a literary form, 
is a domain by itself. In so far as it is poetical, it does not differ 
essentially from other kinds of poetry, and the same principles hold 
true throughout all manifestations of the poetic spirit. 

Distinctions of motive and form, though numerous and varied, 
are not to be emphasized for their own sake. These categories may 
be recognized in the large, but in concrete, single instances they tend 
to overlap and to intermingle. The narrative poem has another in- 
terest than the lyric, but it may be touched with the lyric passion; the 
drama is different from either and combines both. For the lover of 
poetry, however, it is not important to devise labels and apply them 
correctly. Classification suggests the arrangement of a museum. But 
poetry is a spirit, a living energy. We cannot imprison it in a defini- 
tion. It calls for welcome and response. 

In essence and in effect poetry is an interpretation of experience. 
A poem is an expression, in beautiful and significant form, of the 
poet's passion to understand and to possess his world. But, though 
a poem embodies what some one man has thought and felt, we must 
not mistake the poet's representative character nor fail to grasp the 
universalizing power of his work. The individual poet is but an 
instrument: he speaks for all men. So, in our turn, as we enter by 
imaginative sympathy into his mind and feeling, we re-create his 
9H. c, xli, 650-651- 


experience in ourselves. The kind of poetry which finds us first is 
that which relates itself somehow to our immediate interests. Its 
appeal depends upon what we bring to it of our own knowledge 
and sensibility. We understand it because it phrases what we have 
ourselves perceived and felt, though vaguely. Thus it interprets 
our present lot, intensifying its quality and weaving its tangled 
threads into a satisfying pattern. The poetry which seems to beckon 
to us and is able to hold us longer is the figuring forth of experience, 
already ours in part, into which we may enter more abundantly; 
it helps us to take the step beyond. The poetry to which we finally 
make our way — the great things of all time — is the revelation of 
farther depths of insight, of unsounded depths of emotion. Such 
poetry as this compels us to its own temper and mood. It is not only 
revelation, it is creation; for out of the otherwise common things 
of life it builds a quite new world for our possession. 

If we seek a standard by which to try the quality and value of a 
poem, we find it most immediately in our present need. But we must 
be sure that the need is real, not a passing caprice, that it is intrinsi- 
cally and profoundly a part of our expanding life. That poem is truly 
for us, and so far good, which reveals beauty to us and some kind of 
significance; for it can thus sustain and nourish us and minister to 
our growth. But there is an objective standard as well. This is 
found first of all in the poet's genuineness of feeling. Does the word 
exactly measure the emotion it is intended to express ? Without this 
primary and underlying sincerity of purpose, all the graces of form 
and phrase cannot satisfy for long. Granted this sincerity, however, 
we may say that that greatest poetry is that which gathers into itself 
and radiates the most of reality, that which discloses the deepest 
insight into life, and is charged with the fullest intensity of emotion, 
matched by the greatest fitness and power of expression. 

By the witchery of its music and the radiance of image, poetry 
may rightly give pleasure to a leisure moment. Apprehended in its 
deeper import, it may be one of the serious pursuits of life. To see 
the world poetically is itself a kind of success. Although some quiet 
spirits are content with the passive reception of beauty in nature 
and in art, yet the poetic interpretation of life is not incompatible 
with high moral endeavor, and may even be a stimulus to it, kin- 


dling in us a passionate ardor to know and to do. The revelation 
which poetry affords carries us beyond the enjoyment of the instant; 
as it leads us out into a more beautiful world, it brings us deeper 
into the true significance of things, and so it widens our spiritual 
horizon. As we see farther and feel more intensely, we are enabled 
more amply to understand the meaning of our own life in its rela- 
tion to the whole. 

The reading of poetry, therefore, helps toward the organization 
of experience. The ideal waits in the actual. It is the privilege of the 
poet, gifted with vision, to discern the ideal, and by the energy of 
creative phrase to summon it into warm and vivid reality. He mar- 
shals the fragments of experience into a harmony with which we 
may link up our own broken efforts; disclosing the inner meaning 
"f our blind purposes, he brings them into a unity of direction 
and achievement. So he reveals us to ourselves. As the poet inter- 
prets it for us, the big scheme of things is seen to be more beautiful 
and more intelligible. In effect, the real appreciation of poetry is 
communion with the great souls of earth: In their struggles and 
their conquests we read the purpose of our own efforts and the 
aspiration of our hearts. 

Yet the beauty and significance which perhaps we had missed 
without his leading the poet but restores to us after all. For the 
poet is not final; nor is poetry, with the appreciator, an end in 
itself. In the result it sends us back to life, to possess the world 
more abundantly in ourselves. It gives us, in terms of wide-ranging 
subject and in varied forms, the great moments of experience; but 
it is to make those moments intimately and wholly our own. We 
must love poetry, if we are to understand it: appreciation, therefore, 
is a discipline and a development. But if we are to win from poetry 
its deepest final meaning, we must actually live it. Though it has 
power to console, sustain, inspire, poetry is not a substitute for life, 
it is not an escape or refuge. Rather, it is a challenge to fuller living; 
and to that end it is a guide and a support. 

Poetry is a fruition and a promise. Exhaustless and immortal, 
the spirit of poetry is ever conquering new beauty and new truth. 
So equally there is no limit set to what we may compass for ourselves 
in appreciation. Our enjoyment at any moment is the measure of 


our own capacity. Like the sea's horizon, the bounds of poetry are 
traced only by the sweep of our vision. The ocean's verge advances 
always before us with our progress; there is always an infinite which 
still awaits. 

This day before dawn I ascended a hill and look'd at the crowded heaven. 
And I said to my spirit When we become the enfolders of those orbs, and 

the pleasure and \nowledge of everything in them, shall we be fill'd 

and satisfied then? 
And my spirit said No, we but level that lift to pass and continue 


" Walt Whitman. 


By Professor Lawrence J. Henderson 

NATURAL science is the latest of man's great achievements. 
The other important agents of civihzation long ago at- 
tained their full stature, and many of the finest products 
of human endeavor, like literature and the fine arts, have been 
through many centuries the common possession of the race. Even 
music, the most modern of the arts, is no longer young. But only 
in the last half century has science reached maturity and revealed 
its titanic power for good and evil in the reconstruction of the sur- 
roundings of our life. Yet to-day, after a few brief decades of the 
scientific era, agriculture, transportation and communication, food, 
clothing and shelter, birth and death themselves — in truth almost 
all of man's experiences and activities — are different from what they 
were before, and the earth which he inhabits is transformed so that 
it is with difficulty that he can imagine the conditions of life in past 

Meantime, these very changes which science has wrought have 
combined with the great generalizations of science to modify philos- 
ophy and to direct the current of religious thought. Here again the 
effects are sometimes good, sometimes evil, but they are always pro- 
found and widely influential. Most wonderful of all is the growth 
of natural knowledge itself, the basis of these changes. Ever more 
extensive and complete is the description of nature; all things are 
counted, measured, and figured, then analyzed and classified. Out 
of such orderly knowledge generalizations and laws arise, and with 
the help of experiment and mathematical analysis receive their con- 
firmation, until at length positive knowledge appears to extend to 
almost all phenomena, and, except the origin of things, little seems 



quite obscure or wholly unknown, while much is very securely es- 

The history of science and o£ its influence on civilization is in 
some respects the simplest of the departments of history, for it is less 
complicated by those incalculable forces which, springing from man's 
passions and personal interests, make up much of the charm and 
difficulty of general history. Deprived of these psychological ele- 
ments, the history of science is in fact more nearly a part of the 
natural history of man; it is concerned with the latest stage of his 
struggle with the environment, with his cunning and deliberate 
devices to master it, and with the marvelous structure of theoretical 
knowledge which he has built up in the process. 


Our lives are mainly occupied with the material world, with pro- 
duction and distribution of food and clothing, and the construction 
of dwellings which shall adequately protect us from the cold, the 
wind, and the rain. All higher human activities rest upon the suc- 
cessful establishment of these as a foundation. Hence progress, as 
the word is commonly understood, is most often a step in the control 
of the environment to the end of better production, construction, and 
distribution of some commodity. Such progress is not perhaps what 
the heart of man most ardently desires, but it is, at all events, the one 
kind about which there can be no doubt. 

Many of the most wonderful advances in mastery of the environ- 
ment are prehistoric, the results of good fortune and gradually wid- 
ening experience utilized by primitive men of native intelligence. 
Thus clay is used as the filling for a basket, its baking is accidentally 
observed, and pottery results; again a log, through a long series 
of gradual changes and small inventions, becomes transformed into 
a good boat or canoe. 

Sophocles, in a famous chorus of the "Antigone," has celebrated 
such achievements: 

Strophe I. 

Many the forms of life, 
Wondrous and strange to see, 


But nought than man appears 

More wondrous and more strange. 

He, with the wintry gales, 

O'er the white foaming sea. 

Mid wild waves surging round, 

Windeth his way across: 

Earth of all Gods, from ancient days, the first, 

Unworn and undecayed, 

He, with his ploughs that travel o'er and o'er, 

Furrowing with horse and mule. 

Wears ever year by year. 

Antistrophe I. 

The thoughtless tribe of birds, 

The beasts that roam the fields, 

The brood in sea-depths born. 

He takes them all in nets 

Knotted in snaring mesh, 

Man wonderful in skill. 

And by his subtle arts 

He holds in sway the beasts 

That roam the fields, or tread the mountain's height; 

And brings the binding yoke 

Upon the neck of horse with shaggy mane. 

Or bull on mountain crest, 

Untameable in strength. 

Strophe II. 

And speech, and thought as swift as wind, 
And tempered mood for higher life of states, 
These he has learnt, and how to flee 
Or the clear cold of frost unkind. 
Or darts of storm and shower, 
Man all-providing.' 

Many will always regard this as the final expression of man's 
wonder and admiration at that which man has done in winning 
his civilization. But while we admire and marvel at the feats 
of primitive man, we must not forget to distinguish a very important 
difference between such and many achievements of civilized man — 
' See Harvard Classics, viii, 265-266, for another translation of this chorus. 


in fact, between prehistoric works and deeds and all the greatest 
scientific achievements. Very wonderful as the early progress was, — 
think of civilized man's failure to domesticate animals, and, incom- 
parably important, think of the winning of fire, — it lacked a certain 
germ of growth, which is familiar to us in our own times. Each 
thing came by itself, it came by accident, and it did not directly 
lead to other things. Beyond living one's life and waiting for some- 
thing to turn up so that one's ingenuity might be exercised, there 
was no method of discovery or invention; the knowledge that ex- 
isted was not systematized; there was no generalization from expe- 
rience; and each invention, aside from its particular utility, led to 
nothing else. How different have been the effects of Pasteur's dis- 
covery of the place of micro-organisms in nature!^ Almost at once 
the causes of many of the gravest diseases of man and other animals 
became known. There followed the discovery of means of avoiding 
disease, of curing disease, and we are now well on the way to blot 
out some of the oldest scourges of humanity. Such are a few of the 
results in medicine. When the chemical and agricultural results are' 
added, Pasteur appears already to have influenced the life of almost 
every civilized man. 

Clearly the early advances of practical knowledge are not to be 
confounded with natural science. They belong to the period of 
human development which is the concern of the anthropologist, and 
they only concern us as they help to an understanding of what science 
really is. 


A very little true science did, however, exist at the dawn of history, 
such as a description of the zodiac and astronomical knowledge, upon 
which more or less perfect calendars could be based, and knowledge 
of the properties of triangles which was useful in surveying after 
the Nile floods. To this slender store the earliest of the Greek philos- 
ophers contributed new discoveries, but before long the genius and 
power of the Greek mind led to overweening confidence in specula- 
tion unaided by observation and experiment, and, as a result, the 
^H. C, xxxviii, 364-382, and Lecture IV in this course. 


great period of Athens is not scientifically of the highest importance. 
Aristotle, to be sure, and his pupil Theophrastus, contributed very 
greatly to sound knowledge of animals, plants, and rocks, but in the 
theoretical sciences vague ideas based upon words rather than phe- 
nomena or clear and precise concepts led them astray. 

"The most conspicious example," says Bacon, "of the first class 
[i. e., of the Rational School of Philosophers] was Aristotle, who 
corrupted natural philosophy by his logic : fashioning the world out 
of categories; assigning to the human soul, the noblest of substances, 
a genus from words of the second intention; doing the business 
of density and rarity (which is to make bodies of greater or less 
dimensions — that is, occupy greater or less spaces), by the frigid 
distinction- of act and power; asserting that single bodies have each 
a single and proper motion, and that if they participate in any other, 
then this results from an external cause; and imposing countless 
other arbitrary restrictions on the nature of things; being always more 
solicitous to provide an answer to the question and affirm some- 
thing positive in words than about the inner truth of things; a 
failing best shown when his philosophy is compared with other 
systems of note among the Greeks. For the HomcEomera of Anaxa- 
goras; the Atoms of Leucippus and Democritus; the Heaven and 
Earth of Parmenides; the Strife and Friendship of Empedocles; 
Heraclitus's doctrine how bodies are resolved into the indijierent 
nature of fire, and remolded into solids; have all of them some 
taste of the natural philosopher — some savor of the nature of things, 
and experience, and bodies; whereas, in the physics of Aristotle you 
hear hardly anything but the words of logic; which in his meta- 
physics also, under a more imposing name, and more, forsooth, as a 
realist than a nominalist, he has handled over again. Nor let any 
weight be given to the fact that in his books on animals and his prob- 
lems, and other of his treatises, there is frequent dealing with ex- 
periments. For he had come to his conclusion before; he did not con- 
sult experience, as he should have done, in order to do the framing 
of his decisions and axioms; but, having first determined the ques- 
tion according to his will, he then resorts to experience, and, bend- 
ing her into conformity with his placets, leads her about like a 


captive in a procession; so that even on this count he is more guilty 
than his modern followers, the schoolmen, who have abandoned 
experience altogether." ^ 

Later, when Alexandria became the center of the Greek world, 
and the limitations of metaphysics had become somewhat more evi- 
dent, there was a return to positive science. For nearly a thousand 
years men, notably Aristarchus, Eratosthenes, Hipparchus, Euclid, 
Hero, and Ptolemy, labored at Alexandria, employing the true 
methods of science and collecting valuable stores of information in 
astronomy, geometry, trigonometry, optics, heat, and even anatomy. 
The greatest of the scientific work of antiquity was done during 
the Alexandrine period by Archimedes at Syracuse. It consists in 
the creation of the science of statics. 

The Romans, practical men — according to Disraeli's definition, 
those who practice the errors of their forefathers — did little to ad- 
vance the sciences, and, when the dark ages extinguished all intellec- 
tual endeavor, it was little enough that men had achieved in science, 
compared with their other deeds. 

Yet it is certain that both true science and the true methods of 
science had been established in antiquity. It was not so much the 
errors of the ancient world as the errors of the Middle Ages in inter- 
pretation of the ancient world, and the undue importance that was 
assigned to Aristotle, which held back science during the first cen- 
turies of the Renaissance. 

On the other hand, it cannot be denied that if the science of an- 
tiquity at its best, in the mechanics of Archimedes, the descriptive 
astronomy of Hipparchus, the geometry of Euclid, and the zoology 
of Aristotle, did manifest most of the characteristics of method and 
treatment which we know to-day, nearly all of the results of modern 
science, the modifications of life and civilization, are lacking in an- 
tiquity. Ancient science was in great part sterile; modern science is 
now the principal agent in social evolution. 


It was not until the seventeenth century that modern science gained 
a secure footing. Just as in antiquity, the minds of men once more 

' Bacon's "Novum Organum," Bk. I, Ixiii. 


ranged over the whole field of the intellectual and the imaginative, 
and produced many works of commanding genius in many different 
subjects before again buckling down to the more sober tasks of 
science, which they were doomed to labor upon till now, and quite 
possibly forever. 

Leonardo da Vinci, most versatile of all men, had, to be sure, 
successfully sought the solution of problems in mechanics, and pa- 
tiently studied anatomy and, in truth, almost every department of 
science. But, great as was his insight into the phenomena of matter 
and motion, and it was perhaps not less than his insight into the fine 
arts, his work remained without effect, because unknown. 

Before Galileo there are but two modern men of science whose 
importance is capital, Copernicus and Vesahus. The work of Coper- 
nicus,'' though destined finally to tear a veil from before the eyes 
of men, did not amount to a proof of the heliocentric hypothesis, nor 
was it at once profoundly influential upon thought. As for Vesalius, 
he labored upon human anatomy, a subject which has never exerted 
a wide influence upon the large affairs of civilization. The number 
of men who, in the sixteenth century and even before, pursued nat- 
ural science with industry was considerable. But tradition, belief 
in authority, and the superstitions of the pseudo-sciences of astrology 
and alchemy, long and successfully resisted the advance of knowl- 
edge. Time-honored ideas, nevertheless, had received a rude shock 
at the hands of Copernicus, and by the year 1600, when Giordano 
Bruno was burned at the stake, the far-spreading influence of the 
heliocentric hypothesis, both in its direct hearing, and as an illustra- 
tion of the power of the untrammeled human intellect, was evident 
to most thoughtful men. 

There followed in the next century such a revolution in thought 
as has seldom occurred in the whole course of history. To this many 
factors contributed; the commanding genius of a few great men, 
Newton, Galileo, Harvey,^ Kepler, Huygens, Descartes,^ Bacon,' 
Leibnitz; the growth of algebra, which made possible the invention 
of analytical geometry by Descartes, and the calculus by Newton and 
later independently by Leibnitz; the inventions of the telescope and 

< H. C, xxxix, 52-57. ' H. C, xxxviii, 62ff. 

^H. C. xxxiv, 5ff. 'H. C, xxxix, ii6ff. 


compound microscope, greatly increasing the powers o£ the eye; 
finally, that indefinable modernizing of the human mind wrought by 
the whole Renaissance, which made sound thought once more pos- 
sible, and for the first time produced in Galileo a man worthy to 
stand beside Archimedes. 

newton's "principia" 

In many respects the seventeenth century is the most interesting 
in the history of science, and certainly science is the most important 
human interest in the history o£ this century. Gahleo begins it. 
"Modern science is the daughter of astronomy; it has come down 
from heaven to earth along the inclined plane of Galileo, for it is 
through Galileo that Newton and his successors are connected with 
Kepler."* The investigation of the falling body, and the establish- 
ment of the algebraical and geometrical laws of fall by Galileo, 
joined with Kepler's great discoveries of the laws of planetary mo- 
tion, and informed by the hypothesis of Copernicus, led to Newton's 
"Principia," * a work (the only other one by an Englishman) that 
stands out like that of Shakespeare, towering over all else. 

This incomparable book contains all the essential principles of the 
science of mechanics. Since the year 1687, when it was published, 
the labor of many men of great genius has only availed to polish, 
to refine, and to embellish a subject which they could not really 
extend. In the course of the studies leading up to this work, Newton, 
incidentally as it were, invented the differential and integral calculus, 
which became the source not only of countless achievements in 
mathematics and science, but o£ perhaps the bitterest controversy 
in the annals of learning. 

The work of Newton in establishing the science of mechanics was 

dependent upon a variety of other achievements of the century, in 

addition to the directly contributory labors of Kepler and Galileo. 

Especially important were the earlier progress of mathematics, 

marked by the invention of logarithms by Napier and independently 

by Biirgi, and the above mentioned discovery of analytical geometry 

by Descartes. Newton's work was also dependent upon the grow- 

* Bergson, "Creative Evolution," translated by Mitchell, p. 335. 
'H. C, xxxix, i5off. 


ing power and precision of scientific instruments and measure- 

This development of mechanics from GaUleo to Newton is perhaps 
the best illustration of the method of scientific progress. Upon a vast 
basis of accurate descriptive knowledge, erected partly by Tycho 
Brahe and partly by earlier astronomers, observations with instru- 
ments of precision and high power, quantitative experiments, and 
finally mathematical calculations produced in little more than half 
a century a work which it taxes the highest powers of the specially 
trained human mind to understand, and which has withstood all 
criticism for two centuries, the most critical in history. 


Only less important than that of mechanics was the development of 
biology in the seventeenth century. William Harvey, supported by 
the excellent work of anatomists that had begun with Vesalius, but 
held back by many vestiges of the old superstitious belief in author- 
ity and the garbled teachings of Hippocrates and Galen, in the early 
years of the century discovered the circulation of the blood.'" After 
long and most admirable investigations and self-criticism, in the year 
1628 he gave this discovery to the world. 

It is impossible to imagine a more illuminating contrast between 
the false learning of the Middle Ages and the sound positive knowl- 
edge of modern times than is presented in Harvey's book. For at 
almost every point the work of Harvey himself has quite as much 
the modern flavor as that of Newton. The introduction presents the 
old traditional views on the physiological functions of heart and 
lungs, and bewilders with its meaningless play with words. There 
follow upon this the simplest descriptions of observations and ex- 
periments, and the soundest reasoning from such positive knowledge, 
till one feels that he has passed from a dream into reality. 

The work of Harvey, like so much of the work of great English- 
men, was isolated, and the full development of biology came some- 
what later, in mid-century and thereafter. In this later growth, 
aided by the microscope and the principles of mechanics, the studies 
of Swammerdam, Grew, Malpighi, Redi, Borelli, Leeuwenhoek, 

" H. C, xxxviii, 626. 


and others, provided many important data in the most widely dif- 
ferent departments of biology. But natural history lacked the great 
foundation of accurate descriptive knowledge, arranged in order, that 
astronomy possessed, and, as a result much of the great work which 
the biological renaissance began was interrupted for a century. 
Among the feats of seventeenth-century biology were microscopical 
studies of the anatomy of both plants and animals (Nehemiah Grew, 
Malpighi, Leeuwenhoek) , the beginnings of embryology (Harvey, 
Swammerdam), mechanical physiology (Borelli) including recogni- 
tion of the nature of reflex action by Descartes, experimental studies 
tending to overthrow belief in spontaneous generation (Redi), and 
even observations on the physiological action of poisons. 

In this century, in spite of the admirable work of Robert Boyle, 
somewhat overestimated in his own day however, chemistry lan- 
guished under the sway of a false theory. Similarly, heat, electricity, 
and magnetism were of no great importance, unless the magistral 
work on magnetism of William Gilbert, physician to Queen Eliza- 
beth, published in i6oo, be reckoned. 

Two other departments of physical science, however, the study 
of atmospheric pressure and optics, were more fortunate. Torricelli 
and Viviani, pupils of Galileo, Otto von Guericke, Pascal, and Boyle 
investigated the barometer and the pressure of gases and worked 
up the fundamental conclusions. Optics was investigated by no less 
men than Newton and Huygens, and at their hands underwent a 
wonderful practical transformation. But this subject requires a pe- 
culiarly subtle theoretical foundation, and the times were not yet 
ripe even for a Newton to enter the true path of theoretical specula- 


The great result of seventeenth-century science was to show the 
world that simple and exact laws of nature can be discovered. At 
the time of their discovery the most important thing about Galileo's 
law of falling bodies and Newton's "Principia" was their amazing 
novelty. Familiarity with such results of science has bred the mod- 
ern contempt for superstition and anti-intellectual views concerning 
the phenomena of nature. 


It must be confessed, however, that the immediate results of 
man's new-found confidence in the intellect were often very unfor- 
tunate. For there can be little doubt that it was the successes of the 
Newtonian dynamics and of mathematical analysis which gave the 
philosophers of the eighteenth century their assurance of the possi- 
bility of like simple, exhaustive, accurate, positive, and wholly 
satisfactory treatments of the most complex of human affairs, in- 
cluding economics and politics, to say nothing of the biological 
sciences. Vain efforts in such directions consumed much of the 
best energy of the century, and such striking failures tended to 
obscure the real progress of knowledge when more modest or at 
least more simple problems were involved. 

There were three principal tasks for eighteenth-century science. 
The organization of scientific men which had been begun in the 
preceding century with the Royal Society of London and the 
Academie des Sciences of Paris had to be widened and enlarged. The 
work of Newton had to be evolved and spun out finer and finer 
with the aid of a more and more flexible mathematical art. Above all, 
the description of nature had to be extended in every direction and 
classified, as the basis of further progress. In promoting the organiza- 
tion of science Leibnitz is the great figure. In the development of 
mathematical physics there are to be noted the Bernoulli family, 
Euler, Lagrange, and Laplace. In natural history Linn^us stands out 
preeminent, though Buffon must not be forgotten, and, as the century 
nears its close, biologists in the modern sense begin to appear. 

One achievement of the century could not be foreseen — the crea- 
tion of scientific chemistry by Lavoisier, aided by Scheele, Priestley 
and others, a deed hardly second to that of Newton and Galileo in 
its importance of science and civilization, and far the most important 
scientific advance of a hundred years. 


The last decades of the eighteenth century and the first of the 
nineteenth were a period of profound change politically, socially, 
economically, and industrially, and not less scientifically. The scien- 
tific renaissance had come in the seventeenth century and culminated 
in Newton. The succeeding period had sufficed to develop his 


immortal work and to collect a vast array o£ facts in the descriptive 
sciences. At the same time the spirit of positive knowledge had been 
applied to the steam engine and the arts, and in very different di- 
rections had influenced the work of Voltaire, Rousseau, Gibbon, 
Adam Smith, and many others. However they may have differed 
among themselves, all these men felt the new forces, and responded 
to them with novel criticism of religion, society, history, and politi- 
cal economy. 

Lavoisier had provided the instruments and methods for a revolu- 
tion in chemistry quite as great as Newton's in physics. But chem- 
istry differs very greatly from physics in the applicability of mathe- 
matics, and a vast experimental edifice had to be raised before, 
toward the end of the nineteenth century, anything like the complete- 
ness of the Newtonian mechanics could be attained in the younger 
science. Moreover the atomic theory had to be developed, had to 
be interwoven with the kinetic theory of gases which sees the mole- 
cules in endless motion, had to be extended with the help of geom- 
etry, before this was possible. Still, a new tendency had formed, 
which now has become one of the steadiest streams of scientific 

Following upon the work of Franklin and Coulomb and many 
others, the discoveries of Galvani and Volta, of Oersted and Ampere, 
and above all, of Faraday," in electricity, providing batteries and 
currents, showing the relationship of electrical to magnetic, chemi- 
cal, optical, mechanical, and thermal phenomena, constituted an- 
other tendency, and both of these have had a profound influence 
upon the arts. Young and Fresnel created a new science of light. 
Heat became yearly more important with the development of the 
steam engine and the growth of physiological and electrical science. 
The work of Sadi Carnot, Mayer, Joule, Helmholtz,'^ Lord Kelvin," 
and others led, in the middle of the century, to the principles of 
thermodynamics, and to the laws of the conservation and degrada- 
tion of energy. 


Microscopical anatomy was revived and, advancing through the 
»H. C, XXX, 7-170. "H. C, XXX, :73-248. "H. C, xxx, 25iff. 


work of many trained observers, led to the recognition of the cell 
as the morphological element of living things, with this as a basis, 
to the systematic development of the whole of histology; and so to a 
new embryology and pathology. Thus the names of Schleiden, 
Schwann, Von Baer, and Virchow have become immortal. 

Rigid ideas based upon classification, which had long tottered 
before the assaults of Lamarck, Goethe, Erasmus, Darwin, Geoffroy 
Saint-Hilaire, and others, finally fell before Charles Darwin's'^ tri- 
umphant conception of natural selection by survival of the fittest, 
perhaps the most influential idea upon the thought of his time that 
has ever been put forward by any man. Out of this have grown 
the study of heredity and, partly through the efforts of Darwin's 
cousin, Francis Galton, a new doctrine of perfectibility. 

In another department of biology, the study of the phenomena of 
digestion, fermentation, putrefaction, etc., after varying fortunes, 
culminated in Pasteur's" discovery of the role of micro-organisms, 
confirming the views of Redi and Swammerdam against sponta- 
neous generation. The results of Pasteur's discoveries have now 
swelled into the greatest material benefit ever conferred by one man 
upon his fellows. They have led to antitoxins, immunity, and the 
greater part of preventive medicine, as well as to antisepsis and asepsis 
(Lister)," and so to the principal triumphs of surgery. 


Experimental methods, guided by mechanics, optics, heat, elec- 
tricity, and chemistry, were now systematically applied to physiol- 
ogy, then to psychology, and, with the help of the cellular hypoth- 
esis and the sciences of embryology, evolution, heredity, immunity, 
etc., they have transformed biology. 

Everywhere, if other mathematical methods fail, the statistical 
method is being applied and in suitable cases, as, for example, life 
insurance, with great success; thus literally bringing order out of 

Meantime the world has learned that science pays. Accordingly 

'■' "Origin of Species," in //. C, xi. '^ H. C, xxxviii, 273-382. 

''H. C, xxxviii, 257. 


professorships have multiplied, societies have become more nu- 
merous, journals are endowed, institutes of research established, the 
Nobel prizes founded, and a livelihood is provided for large num- 
ber of workers. 

The number of working scientists, if not their quality, has enor- 
mously increased. An army has been organized and disciplined, 
and an amount of work which can scarcely be imagined has been 
produced. Scientific literature has now become a flood that has to 
be canalized with the help of special journals of various descriptions 
devoted solely to its review, description, and orderly classification, 
in order that it may be utilized at all. 

The forward march of science has now become inevitable, like that 
of civilization itself. This vast army of workers are engaged, with 
no stake in the outcome, with no concern for the influence of their 
work upon church or state or any other human institution or inter- 
est, according to known and tried and proved rules, by description, 
measurement, experiment, and mathematical analysis, in multiply- 
ing our reliable, positive knowledge of the world around us. Year 
by year this knowledge grows, by leaps and bounds when com- 
manded by genius, slowly and painfully at the hands of most men, 
but steadily and surely always. 


One of the principal results of the extension of science is its incor- 
poration with the state. Astronomers royal have existed for three 
centuries, but to-day we have Departments of Agriculture with many 
scientific bureaus, and we badly need Departments of Public Health. 
Moreover, the vast increase of knowledge of a highly technical char- 
acter has made it impossible for the executive, the legislative, and 
the judicial departments of government even to have an intelligent 
opinion regarding much with which they must deal. Hence the 
expert is acquiring an importance which is scarcely guessed even 
by most thoughtful persons, and government by expert commissions 
and expert advisers of the legislature and the judiciary appear to be 
inevitable features of the future state. 



The main currents of nineteenth-century science have produced 
more and higher speciaHzation than ever before. Descartes was 
philosopher, scientist, and mathematician; some of the great men 
of the eighteenth century were hardly less so. Even through a large 
part of the nineteenth century many of the greater men ranged 
widely over the field of science and mathematics. To-day the force 
of circumstances has largely changed all that. The chemist is likely 
to look upon the physicist, or even the physical chemist, with sus- 
picion on account of his mathematical interests. On the other hand, 
the mathematician, unlike Newton, Euler, and Gauss, is commonly 
no longer a physicist at all. There are to-day very few men who 
possess even a superficial acquaintance with all the principal de- 
partments of science, and between the work of the astronomer, 
on the one hand, and that of the anatomist, on the other, there is 
perhaps no closer relationship than the fact that both employ 
optical instruments in their researches. 

Then nineteenth century will ever be known in history for at least 
two of its scientific achievements — the unification of our knowledge 
of matter, energy, and life, and the final organization of the army 
of scientific workers, whereby discovery ceased to be dependent 
solely upon the individual and became a part of the business of 
humanity at large, at length and for the first time systematically 


I. Conservation of Energy 

The middle of the nineteenth century witnessed the discovery of 
all three of the great unifications of science. These are the unifica- 
tion of energy by the discovery of the principle of the conservation 
of energy, the unification of matter by the discovery of the periodic 
system, and the unification of life by the work of Charles Darwin. 

Not for decades after Bolton and Watt, as the result of commercial 
necessity, introduced the idea of measuring energy in horsepower. 


was the real nature of the relationship between heat and mechanical 
power critically examined, save once in a quickly forgotten investi- 
gation by Sadi Carnot. But at length the speculations and calcula- 
tions of Julius Robert Mayer, the admirable experimental researches 
of Joule, and the profound studies of Helmholtz and others estab- 
lished the principle of the conservation of energy" — in short, demon- 
strated the proposition that energy is one and indestructible, how- 
ever it may manifest itself as heat, or light, or electricity, or other- 

2. Periodicity 

Somewhat later the work of Newlands, Lother Meyer, and Men- 
deleefE brought to light an extraordinary series of relationships, 
periodically recurring properties, among the elements. It would be 
impossible briefly to explain this relationship, but a simple analogy 
may serve to show its nature. 
























Giving the numbers above arranged, there can be no doubt, first, 
that they have been correctly arranged, and secondly, that the num- 
bers 32 and 44 are missing, but have a place in the table. In other 
words, it is possible to predict the "properties" of the two missing 
numbers. In like manner, the studies of Mendeleefl showed similar 
connections among the elements. These could be arranged, as he 
showed, in the order of their atomic weights, in a table very similar 
to the above, in which the variation in properties was regular and 
periodically recurrent, but with certain gaps in the classification. 
Judging from the elements surrounding such gaps, Mendeleeff pre- 
dicted the properties of the missing elements in certain cases in 
which the missing elements have now been supplied by chemical 
research. The results have invariably confirmed the Russian chem- 
ist's predictions, as may be seen from the following data concerning 
the element germanium: 

"H. C, XXX, i73ff. 






Atomic weight 




Less than 100° 




Specific gravity 

Atomic volume 

Specific gravity of oxide 

Specific gravity of chloride 

Specific gravity of ethyl compound 

Lower than water 

Thus it has become clear that the elements are all related to one 
another. It is not known how to explain this relationship — perhaps 
they have been evolved in an orderly manner from something else 
— but, at all events, matter is not only indestructible (Lavoisier), 
but it makes up a unitary system. To-day we feel sure that we are 
acquainted with nearly all the stable varieties of matter that exist 
in the universe, though of course there remain a great variety of 
arrangements of this matter which are unknown to us. 

3. Biological Evolution 

The only well-known phenomenon that cannot be completely 
described in terms of matter and energy is life, with its peculiar 
characteristics of consciousness and thought. In the year 1859 biol- 
ogy yielded to the unifying idea of Charles Darwin. Many had pre- 
viously suspected that all living things are blood relations; the 
discoveries of embryologists in particular had proved that the simi- 
larities among living things are far more profound than had been 
formerly realized. But Darwin provided a plausible explanation 
of the development of more complex beings by a continuous evolu- 
tionary process, and this led to the world's final decision in favor 
of the hypothesis of transformation. 

It is possible that some of Darwin's hypotheses may in the end be 
discarded, but it appears to be wholly unlikely that the world will 
ever give up its belief in the evolution of organic beings, in all their 
multitudinous forms, from earlier and simpler types, and probably 
originally from one or more exceedingly simple forms. 

Finally, the change in the relation of science to civilization, ac- 
complished in the nineteenth century, marks a new epoch in history. 


For the first time humanity has systematically undertaken the task 
of conquering the environment. A new organ of the social body, 
like the financial or the military, has been created and has assumed 
relations with the other parts of the great organism of modern 

System replaces chance in the greater part of human affairs, man- 
ufacturing, warfare, medicine, commerce itself, have become "scien- 
tific"; they advance steadily, ruthlessly, and carry man with them; 
whither he cannot guess. 


By Professor Lawrence J. Henderson 

ASTRONOMY was destined to liberate the modern intellect 
ZJk from the bondage of the Middle Ages, and by teaching 
X JL man that the earth is not the fixed center of the universe, 
but a satellite of one among many stars, to shake the confidence with 
which he had long regarded the universe as made for him, the 
earth for his abode, the heavens for his enjoyment. This is the 
great contribution of astronomy to thought; to civilization it has also 
contributed some of the most important advances, such as an ac- 
curate calendar, the standard of time, and the exact measure of 
time, sound methods of navigation and geography; and commencing 
earlier than all the other sciences, it has built up one of the most 
admirable structures of scientific knowledge. 

Astronomy was long the leader among the sciences, and as such 
gave to the world trigonometry, in part logarithms, and Newton's 
dynamics. But though astronomical progress has by no means 
ceased, the accelerated growth of other sciences — first physics, then 
chemistry, and of late biology — has rendered it less conspicuous. 
The continued importance of astronomy is, however, well illustrated 
by the marvelous results of spectrum analysis, while to-day the study 
of nebulae and of the physics of the sun possesses the highest interest. 


The principal results of ancient astronomy go by the name of 
Ptolemy (the Ptolemaic system), but are mainly due to the labors 
of Hipparchus. 

Hipparchus knew the latitude and longitude of 150 fixed stars 
within a fraction of a degree, when, in the year 134 B. C, a new 
star of the first magnitude suddenly appeared. Encouraged by this 
extraordinary event, he applied himself diligently to astronomical 
measurements, establishing the position of more than 1,000 fixed 



Stars. It was no doubt this sound basis of accurate quantitative data, 
and the familiarity with his subject which such work provided, that 
led to his great achievements. He discovered the precession of the 
equinoxes, and measured it with considerable accuracy; he measured 
the length of the day with an error of but six minutes; but his great 
achievement was a mathematical device whereby the position of the 
sun and, with less accuracy, the positions of the moon and planets 
could be calculated. 

The essential features of this device consisted in imagining the 
sun to move in a circle of which the earth was not quite the center; 
this is the excentric of ancient astronomy. Another more difBcult 
idea was that of epicycles. These two mathematical ideas did very 
good service in the work of Hipparchus, for the practical purposes 
of the calendar. But later, in the hands of Ptolemy, and in the suc- 
ceeding centuries, they ceased to be arbitrary assumptions, or even 
mere theories, and in the Middle Ages became dogmas which were 
held most tenaciously and blindly. As astronomical knowledge 
slowly increased, it became necessary to make the theory more and 
more complex in order to fit the facts, and, long before the work of 
Copernicus, astronomical theories had reached a degree of absurdity 
that could not have endured in any other age. Yet more than one 
of the astronomers of antiquity had believed that the earth moves, 
either rotating on its axis, or revolving round the sun, or both. 


Copernicus was born at Thorn in Poland (1473) of a German 
mother. Educated first in medicine, he studied astronomy in Vienna, 
and he was later in Italy (1495-1505) at the height of the Renaissance. 
When he returned home, his uncle, the bishop of Ermeland, pre- 
sented him with a clerical position at Frauenburg. Here for forty 
years he labored to bring astronomical calculations and observations 
into harmony, and finally, long after he had become convinced of the 
soundness of the heliocentric view, published the work' which marks 
the first great step in modern science, a work which he saw for the 
first time on his deathbed in 1543. 

' Sec his Dedication of his "Revolutions of Heavenly Bodies," Harvard Classics, 
xxxix, 52-57. 


Copernicus showed that all the difficulties which the movements 
of the planets present would become very much less if the moon were 
left the only satellite of the earth, and the earth itself and all the 
planets were assumed to move around the sun. He did not prove — 
in truth being wise and realizing his own limitations, he did not 
seek to prove — this hypothesis, but only to present the reasons why 
it must appear the most probable explanation of the principal astro- 
nomical phenomena. 

The new doctrine made converts slowly. At first it was opposed 
by the professional astronomers, with whose time-honored habits 
it interfered, and who were, for the most part, not competent to 
understand it. Later the opposition of the great Tycho Brahe worked 
against it for many years. Still later the opposition of theologians 
effectually cut off many converts, most notably Descartes. But the 
discovery of Kepler's laws completely destroyed the Ptolemaic sys- 
tem, and must have convinced nearly all reasonable men of the cor- 
rectness of that of Copernicus. These famous laws are as follows: 
The line joining the sun with a planet sweeps over equal areas in 
equal periods of time. Every planet moves in an ellipse with the 
sun at one focus. The squares of the times of the revolution of any 
two planets are in the same ratio as the cubes of their mean distances 
from the sun. 


The next important step in the growth of knowledge of the solar 
system was Galileo's study of the laws of fall and the composition of 
two kinds of motion, like fall and projection, as in the case of a 
projectile. This was followed by Newton's magnificent extension 
of gravity from the earth to the whole of space, with the assumption 
and proof that the intensity of gravitational attraction varies inversely 
as the square of the distance. 

These ideas, combined with Kepler's laws, led at once to the 
theory of planetary motion and its proof, in Newton's "Principia." ^ 
The motion of the planets appeared as the resultant of their tend- 
ency to go on in the direction in which they were moving (inertia), 
and their tendency to fall to the sun (gravitation). The problem 

^ H. C, xxxix, 150, and see General Index in vol. 1, under Newton. 


yielded completely, so far as two bodies are concerned, to the mathe- 
matical genius of Newton. 

Still the revolution of the earth about the sun was not, by many 
astronomers, considered to be proved, while some even denied it. 
For if the earth really revolved about the sun, the relative positions 
of the stars ought not to appear the same to us from different parts 
of the orbit. Yet no difference in their places at the two solstices 
could be detected, although the stands of the observer were sepa- 
rated by a hundred and eighty million miles in the two instances. 

James Bradley was the first person to obtain important results 
from the investigation of this problem of parallax. He found, not, 
to be sure, a periodic change of the apparent position of the stars 
that could be explained as parallax, but a different change of posi- 
tion, quite unexpected. This he called aberration, and recognized 
that it was due to a composition of the motion of the earth and of 
the light from the star itself, which is analogous to the entry of 
rain falling straight down, yet into the open front of a moving 
carriage. Here, nevertheless, was a proof, the more valuable because 
unexpected, of the earth's motion. It was not until 1837 that Bessel 
finally measured the parallax of a fixed star, and this finally ended 
the problem. The whole difficulty had been due merely to the enor- 
mous distance which separates us from the nearest of the stars, 


A new period in the history of astronomy followed upon the dis- 
covery of spectrum analysis by Bunsen and Kirchhoff. At the outset 
the chemical composition of the sun revealed itself. Later that of 
the stars became known; still later it became possible to classify 
the stars on the basis of their spectra, and at length it has become 
evident that variations in spectra are at least largely due to differ- 
ences in the age of suns (the length of time during which cooling 
has gone on), that all stars are probably very much alike both 
chemically and physically, and that our sun is probably very much 
like all other stars. The geological doctrine of uniformity has been 
extended to astronomy. 

This results in renewed interest in the nebular hypothesis and in 
novel speculations regarding the origin of the solar system. In like 


manner, the problem of the physicochemical nature of the sun, and 
of the processes which take place within it, assumes great interest; 
for, if the universe be homogeneous, we may extend our local dis- 
coveries to the utmost confines of space. These, however, have 
themselves turned out not so unapproachable as a few years ago 
they seemed to be. Certain peculiarities of star spectra enable astron- 
omers to judge of the motion of stars both relative to the earth and in 
rotation. The behavior of variable stars can also in part be accounted 
for by ingenious hypotheses. 

Thus the old science preserves its youth and promises to continue 
its contributions to the growth of human understanding. 


By Professor Lawrence J. Henderson 

THE history of physical science in the ancient world is 
marked by few notable results. The monochord, earliest of 
scientific apparatus, led to the discovery of the elements of 
harmony; geometrical optics in its simplest form was developed; 
Hero of Alexandria and others familiarized themselves with some 
of the phenomena of steam and air pressure; even Aristotle, whose 
influence in this department was on the whole so harmful during 
two millenniums, possessed much curious and interesting informa- 
tion. But, apart from the great work of Archimedes in mechanics, 
there is little that bears the imprint of genius in the physics and 
chemistry of antiquity. Most of the knowledge of the time was no 
better than a collection of rules of the various trades, such as dyeing, 
for instance. 


Archimedes established the science of statics. He discovered the 
law of the lever, that unequal weights are in equilibrium when 
their distances (from the fulcrum) are inversely proportional to 
their weights; he developed the idea of center of gravity, and dis- 
covered rules concerning it; and he discovered the laws of floating 
and immersed bodies, including the so-called principle of Archi- 
medes, which enabled him, as the story goes, by weighing Hiero's 
crown in air and then in water, to detect that the goldsmith had 
debased the metal. This work of Archimedes, together with his 
remarkable mathematical feats, marks him as one of the mightiest 
of human intellects, fully worthy of a place among the greatest of 
the Greeks. 

But, in spite of Archimedes, it was in fragmentary and disjointed 
form that the physical science of antiquity was transmitted with- 
out important change through the Middle Ages to the Modern 


World. We have already seen somewhat of the additions which 
the seventeenth century contributed, especially in dynamics, from 
Galileo to Newton. It does not appear that, apart from the chemical 
work of Lavoisier, the eighteenth century provided much of the very 
highest novelty and value in this field. Perhaps the researches of 
two Americans, Benjamin Franklin and Benjamin Thompson, who 
became Count Rumford, in electricity and in heat respectively, are 
among the best which the century affords, as they are at the summit 
of all American scientific work. 


Lavoisier's achievement consisted in his recognition of the fact 
that weight is neither increased nor diminished in chemical changes, 
and in the elevation of this discovery, which has since been many 
times confirmed with ever-increasing accuracy, into the guiding 
principle of chemical investigation, the law of conservation of mass. 
This advance involved the introduction of the balance as the chief 
instrument of chemical research. Lavoisier's great success depended, 
further, upon the fact that he chose the process of oxidation and 
reduction (the reverse of the reaction of oxidation) for study. Not 
only is oxygen the most active of chemical elements, if both intensity 
and variety of chemical behavior be considered, and far the com- 
monest upon the earth's surface, but also the most important chem- 
ical processes are reactions of oxygen. 

The partial tearing off of oxygen from the carbon of carbonic 
acid and the hydrogen of water is the first step in the formation of 
all organic substances in the plant, and the recombination of oxygen 
with plant products the chief chemical activity of the animal. All 
this and much more Lavoisier recognized, and thereby revealed 
the true nature of another great phenomenon of nature. These in- 
vestigations also disclosed, in the sequel, the chief source of all the 
energy which is available for the purposes of man. 

It is only the energy stored up in the plant (originally the energy 
of the sunlight shining upon the green leaf of the plant and trans- 
formed by the action of chlorophyll) which is contained in all coal, 
wood, all kinds of oil, including petroleum, alcohol, in short every 
fuel. And it is exclusively by the union of the fuels with oxygen 


once more to form water and carbonic acid that this energy is lib- 
erated, as in the human body itself, and utilized by man.' The re- 
sulting water and carbonic acid can then be used over again by the 
plant. The nature of this cycle of matter was clearly recognized by 
Lavoisier. This is the basis of nearly all our industry and commerce. 


The next great achievement of physical science is commonly re- 
garded as the establishment of the wave theory of light^ by Young 
and Fresnel. This view had been put forth in the seventeenth cen- 
tury in a very weighty form by Huygens, and it had even been held 
before him by the versatile Hooke. On the assumption that light 
is propagated as undulations, Huygens had given a most satisfactory 
account of the laws of reflection and refraction; and he had had 
good success even in his application of the theory to the very difficult 
problem of double refraction in Iceland spar. Huygens, however, 
did not succeed in establishing his hypothesis, and Newton's prefer- 
ence for the so-called emission or corpuscular theory of light weighed 
heavily against the theory of waves. 

Newton himself never quite rejected the wave theory of light, and, 
in truth, at many points in his writings seems strongly to favor it. 
But there are propositions in his works which led his followers to 
the positive assertion of the emission hypothesis. The great mathe- 
matician Euler, on the other hand, adopted, in the eighteenth cen- 
tury, the undulatory theory. Between his purely theoretical views 
and the Newtonians there was great controversy. 

Again at the beginning of the nineteenth century the undulatory 
theory was set forth, this time, however, on the basis of exact obser- 
vations upon the colors of thin plates, by Thomas Young, one of the 
most versatile men of genius of the country. The contributions of 
Young were destined to prevail, but, in spite of their soundness, they 
were treated with contempt by his contemporaries and forgotten for 
twenty years, until revived by the confirmations of Fresnel. Fresnel, 
moreover, gradually developed the mathematical theory of this intri- 
cate subject, and at length, supported by Arago, he won over the 

' See Faraday on the "Chemical History of a Candle" in H. C, xxx, 86-170. 
^ Sec Kelvin's account of the theory in H. C, xxx, 251-273. 


scientific world to the belief in light waves and the luminiferous 
ether with its strange and paradoxical characteristics. 


Of all the results of scientific experimentation, those of Faraday 
probably contributed most to the recognition of the connection be- 
tween the different manifestations of energy, which was a necessary 
preliminary to the discovery of the principle of the conservation of 
energy.' This is but one of the merits of Michael Faraday, whom 
many have thought the very greatest of scientific experimenters, 
and who was certainly one of the noblest and most inspired of men. 

The work of Faraday is of a richness and variety that baffles de- 
scription. He was interested in every department of physical science, 
and he was a great discoverer wherever his interests rested. His 
earliest work was chemical, following that of his teacher Davy. 
Here he discovered new compounds of carbon, for the first time 
liquefied several gases, studied the diffusion of gases, the alloys of 
steel, and numerous varieties of glass. Next he turned to electricity, 
his chief interest thenceforth. With a voltaic pile he decomposed 
magnesium sulphate. This led later to his fundamental electro- 
chemical law. Choosing purely physical problems, he for the first 
time produced the continuous rotations of wires and magnets round 
each other, and in 1831 he discovered induced currents. The great- 
ness of his work in this department has been explained by the most 
competent of all critics, Clerk Maxwell. 

"By the intense application of his mind he had brought the new 
idea, in less than three months from its first development, to a state 
of perfect maturity. The magnitude and originality of Faraday's 
achievement may be estimated by tracing the subsequent history 
of his discovery. As might be expected, it was at once made the 
subject of investigation by the whole scientific world, but some 
of the most experienced physicists were unable to avoid mistakes 
in stating, in what they conceived to be more scientific language 
than Faraday's, the phenomena before them. Up to the present 
time, the mathematicians who have rejected Faraday's method of 
stating his law as unworthy of the precision of their science have 

' See Faraday on "Forces of Matter," H. C, xxx, 7-85. 


never succeeded in devising any essentially different formula which 
shall fully express the phenomena without introducing hypotheses 
about the mutual action of things which have no physical existence, 
such as elements of currents which flow out of nothing, then along 
a wire, and finally sink into nothing again. 

"After nearly half a century of labor of this kind, we may say 
that, though the practical applications of Faraday's discovery have 
increased and are increasing in number and value every year, no 
exception to the statement of these laws as given by Faraday has 
been discovered, no new law has been added to them, and Faraday's 
original statement remains to this day the only one which asserts 
no more than can be verified by experiment, and the only one by 
which the theory of phenomena can be expressed in a manner which 
is exactly and numerically accurate, and at the same time within the 
range of elementary methods of exposition." * 

* "Encyclopedia Britannica," gth ed., ix, 30. 


By Professor Lawrence J. Henderson 

AMONG the central problems of biology and scientific medicine, 
/J\ those which group themselves about the bacteriological and 
A. JL. pathological investigations of Pasteur' have been very fully 
represented in The Harvard Classics. This is due partly to the 
fact that Pasteur, in providing an explanation of the conditions of 
life of micro-organisms and of the effects of their activities, con- 
tributed many missing links to the science of life, and unified our 
knowledge of the interrelations of living things. For, in its various 
ratifications and connections, Pasteur's problem is one of the most 
extensive, as it is one of the most important, in the whole domain 
of science. It includes or touches the subjects of fermentation and 
putrefaction, with the old problem of spontaneous generation and 
the whole question of genesis, the cause of infectious diseases and 
the manner of their communication, the nature and mechanism of 
immunity, including vaccination and antitoxins, and a host of other 
equally important matters. The work of Pasteur has led to modern 
surgery through the work of Lister,^ to a large part of modern 
hygiene, sacrificing the lives of many investigators in the process; 
to new methods in chemical industry and agriculture, and it has 
created untold wealth and saved countless lives. 


Aristotle, though his knowledge of embryology in at least one in- 
stance — that of the smooth dog-fish — was very great and very exact, 
appears at times to have been willing to assume spontaneous genera- 
tion of such large animals as the eel, for instance, as a common oc- 
currence. But there can be no doubt that even in antiquity common 
sense sometimes felt itself more or less in opposition to such an idea, 

' Harvard Classics, xxxviii, 275ff. 

^ See Lister, "On the Antiseptic Principle," in H. C, xxxviii, 257S. 



and it was natural enough for the men of the seventeenth century, 
when stirred by the new spirit of scientific research, to seek to solve 
a problem which has always been of the highest interest, and never 
far from the minds of thoughtful naturalists. 

In this great century the most important investigations of such 
problems were those of Harvey, Redi, and Swammerdam. Harvey's 
embryological observations are far less valuable than his study of 
the circulation of the blood.' It may, in truth, be questioned if he 
surpassed Aristotle in any way as an embryologist. But, at all events, 
his work served to draw the attention of his successors to this subject, 
and, however vague his ideas about spontaneous generation in cer- 
tain lower forms of life, he at least took a firm stand in favor of 
the theory of generation from the egg in most cases. 

The work of Redi is of greater interest and importance. He made 
elaborate studies of the putrefaction of flesh, saw flies lay their 
eggs therein, and on gauze when the flesh was protected with it. He 
saw maggots develop in the unprotected meat, while the use of 
gauze prevented their development. He found that meat of one 
kind could support maggots which formed more than one kind 
of fly, and that the same species of fly could come from different 
kinds of meat. Hence he concluded that the generation of the fly 
is from an egg, and that there is no spontaneous generation involved 
in the putrefaction of meat. 

Swammerdam, one of the greatest of naturalists, and many others 
confirmed the observations and conclusions of Redi, and, by ob- 
serving again and again normal generation from the egg in many 
other species of minute organisms, did much to undermine the confi- 
dence with which the unaccountable appearance of living things 
was ascribed to spontaneous generation. 

Meanwhile the microscopical studies of Leeuwenhoek had revealed 
the presence of hosts of minute organisms in putrid fluids and, in 
the eighteenth century, the problem of spontaneous generation was 
transferred to the origin of microscopic life. This problem in turn 
was answered unfavorably to spontaneous generation by Spallan- 
zani. His new method of investigation was to seal up an infusion 

' See Harvey, "On the Motion of the Heart and Blood of Animals," in H. C, 
xxxviii 59ff. 


of meat in a glass flask; next the flask was immersed in boiling 
water until the contents had been thoroughly heated throughout, 
and then the behavior o£ the solution on standing was observed. 
After thorough heating no signs of putrefaction were revealed to 
the eye or to the nose; no living things were ever visible in the 
solution under the microscope. But on admitting the air to the 
flasks putrefaction soon set in and thus proved that the fault was not 
with the effect of heat upon what is to-day called the culture 
medium, but that putrefaction had not previously occurred simply 
because all germs originally present had been killed by heat; ster- 
iUzed, in short. 


The early nineteenth century made two highly important new 
contributions to the old problem: the view that all living things are 
made up of cells as their ultimate structural elements; and, secondly, 
acquaintance with various digestive ferments contained in liquids 
like the gastric juice, which are now known to be cell free, yet are 
capable of bringing about processes resembling fermentation. The 
latter discovery led at a later date to the distinction between organ- 
ized (living) and unorganized ferments. 

Out of the cell theory have grown the wonderful modern sciences 
of embryology, largely through the efforts of K. E. von Baer, and 
pathology, in which Rudolf Virchow has a similar position. The 
study of ferments and fermentation, and of simple chemical agents 
which can produce like changes, has led to many new problems and 
to new methods of attacking old ones. 

The chemical aspects of fermentation' have a special historical 
importance because they are especially associated with Pasteur's dis- 
coveries. Trained as a chemist, he applied the exact methods of 
physical science to the biological problem, and solved what had been 
thought by many insoluble. The studies of Pasteur convinced the 
scientific world that life as we know it never originates spontane- 
ously, that minute living organisms — microbes, germs, bacteria — are 
far more active agents in this world than had been guessed. Such 
organisms turned out to be the essential factors in fermentation of 

* See Pasteur, "The Physiological Theory of Fermentation," in H. C, xxxviii, 275ff. 


all kinds, save only those due to digestive ferments; it is such organ- 
isms which form alcohol, sour milk, make vinegar, etc. Thus in the 
organic cycle the role of the organisms formed of a single cell at 
length appeared to be a great one. Everywhere present, borne by the 
wind, they are the true scavengers; for nothing, no matter how small, 
can escape them. But they are more than this. Wherever they find 
organic matter, dead or alive, that can support life, they seize upon 
it; they transform many of the most important waste products of 
the animal into the food of the plant; they grow within larger living 
things, and by their growth cause disease, or do not, according to 
their nature. In short, it is their activity, invisible but omnipresent, 
fitting in at every point where gaps would otherwise occur, which 
completes the organic cycle. 


At length the chemical processes of life upon the earth were uni- 
fied. Living things were seen to make up a single community, the 
great laboratory through which alone matter flows in its everlasting 

The results of Pasteur's discoveries and of the methods of inves- 
tigation which he introduced are probably already greater than the 
results of Napoleon's life. The simple great man, who almost alone 
among the scientists of the nineteenth century equals the genius and 
virtue of Faraday, shares with the latter the first position among 
those who have revolutionized our twentieth-century world. 

Pasteur's discoveries explained at once such observations as those 
of Oliver Wendell Holmes.'' They gave a clue to such mysterious 
processes as vaccination.^ And one after another each great pest 
has yielded up its secret cause — a specific micro-organism — to the 
disciples of Pasteur. 


Yet such discoveries are but a beginning in the explanation of 
disease. It soon appeared that there is something vastly more im- 

* See Holmes, "The Contagiousness of Puerperal Fever," in H. C, xxxviii, 257. 
° See Jenner's original publications on vaccination against smallpox in H. C, xxxviii. 


portant about a bacterium than its ability to grow in the body — viz., 
the kind of poison which it yields; else why the difference between 
typhoid fever and tuberculosis? Thus arises the search for such 
poisons or toxins, a fruitful and important department of medical 
investigation. But what of the fate of the toxin in the body — what 
01 this effect upon the host? The result of researches upon this 
line has been the discovery of antitoxins and the science of immunity. 
In another direction the progress of micro-biology has been quite 
as important. Evidently it is not with the help of toxins that yeast 
forms alcohol and carbonic acid from sugar; it is with the help of 
enzymes or soluble ferments. These are imprisoned within the cell, 
but otherwise they resemble pepsin and the other soluble ferments 
of digestion. But if the yeast cell performs its chemical functions 
with the help of soluble ferments, why not all other cells as well? 
Such is in truth the case. Hence the study of the chemical processes 
which make up the activity of unicellular organisms has explained 
much that takes place in every living thing. In short, our progress 
in the solution of the fundamental problem of physiology, the 
physico-chemical organization of protoplasm, depends in no small 
degree upon studies of those minute living things which have but 
a single cell within which to enclose all the activities of an indi- 
vidual being. 


By Professor W. M. Davis 

SCIENTIFIC essays, like those by Lord Kelvin on Light' and 
The Tides/ should be read several times by the studious 
reader, and each time from a different point of view. In the 
first reading, the reader seeks for information offered by the author; 
in the second, the reader examines the scientific method by which 
the author has gained his information; in the third, the reader's 
attention should be directed to the style of presentation adopted 
by the author in telling his story. After an attentive study of Kel- 
vin's essays from these different sides, many a reader will find 
that he has made a distinct intellectual advance. 


The first reading of either essay will disclose some of the most 
marvelous results that have been reached by scientific investigation. 
For example, it has been discovered that light is of an undulatory 
nature; that the vibrations of light quiver at the rate of several 
hundred millon of million times a second; that light is transmitted 
over interplanetary distances with a velocity of nearly 200,000 miles 
a second; and that for the transmission at such a speed through what 
seems to us to be empty space, as between the sun and the earth, 
there must be a continuous, extremely tenuous, and highly elastic 
medium, all pervading and universally extended, to which the name, 
luminiferous ether, is commonly given. It is of course not to be 
expected that all these and many other results, physical, geometrical, 
and numerical, can be easily acquired; some paragraphs must be 
gone over more slowly than others, and many of them should be re- 
^ Harvard Classics, xxx, 25iff. ^H. C, xxx, 274!?. 


viewed more than once; some are difficult of comprehension because 
they are without the vivid experiments by which they were illus- 
trated in the original lecture; and others because they are compressed 
into terse statements without explanation. But at the end of what is 
here called the "first reading," many of the conclusions announced 
regarding the nature of light should be fairly familiar. Similar ex- 
amples may be drawn from the lecture on the tides; the larger share 
of mathematical considerations here encountered may make the sec- 
ond essay more difficult than the first; if some readers do not clearly 
understand, for example, the statement regarding diurnal inequality 
(p. 291), they may be excused, for the statement is very brief; 
similarly, the account of the tide machines (pp. 293-297) is too dense 
to be really comprehended by a non-mathematical reader, previously 
uninformed on such matters as harmonic analysis. 


The second reading of the essays, directed to an examination of 
the scientific method employed by the author, should have for its 
most valuable result a better appreciation of the nature of "theoriz- 
ing" than most persons possess. The immediately observable ele- 
ments of such phenomena as light and tides are called "facts"; but 
an intelligent inquirer is soon persuaded that the facts of observa- 
tion are really only a small part of the total phenomena. For exam- 
ple, some invisible factors must determine that the noonday sky 
overhead is blue, and the horizon sky near sunset or sunrise is yellow 
or red. Or, some unseen factors must determine the strength of the 
tides and their hour of occurrence varying from day to day. How 
can light travel at its incredibly rapid velocity? How can the moon 
cause changes of sea level on the earth? The true answers to such 
questions would acquaint us with phenomena that, in spite of their 
invisibility, take place just as truly as the phenomena that we observe. 
Such unseen phenomena might be called "facts of inference," to dis- 
tinguish them from "facts of observation." To discover the facts 
of inference and to demonstrate their connection with the facts of 
observation is the effort of all theorizing. A theory is, in brief, a 
statement in which the supposed facts of inference are reasonably 


connected with the known facts of observation. How is such a 
statement reached? and when it is reached, how do we know that 
it is right? To answer such questions fully would demand a whole 
treatise on scientific method, here impossible; our intention is simply 
to point out that an introductory understanding of scientific method, 
much better than none, can be gleaned by a careful second reading 
of Kelvin's and of the other scientific essays in this collection, with 
the constant effort to learn how the announced results have been 

Notice, first, that for an active mind, it is "impossible to avoid 
theorizing" (p. 281). The lesson from this is to beware of those 
so-called practical persons who say they do not theorize; what they 
really do is to theorize in an unsafe, unscientific manner; for they, 
like everyone else, wish to understand more than they can see. The 
desire to theorize should not be resisted, but theorizing should be 
carefully cultivated and its results should be carefully held apart 
from those of observation. Notice, second, that, some facts of ob- 
servation having been gained, the inquisitive mind at once sets about 
inventing schemes that may possibly include the mental counter- 
parts of the unseen phenomena, or facts of inference, and then pro- 
ceeds to determine the correctness of the inventions by certain logi- 
cal devices or tests. That particular scheme is finally adopted as true 
which stands all possible tests. The tests are mostly experimental 
in the study of light; they are largely computational in the study 
of the tides. Notice, third, how ingenious the scientific mind must 
be to conceive the extraordinary schemes by which the unseen phe- 
nomena are supposed to combine with the seen, so as to make a rea- 
sonably working total process; how far these mental processes must 
go beyond the mere determination of visible facts by observation; 
how active the imagination must be to picture the invisible processes 
of the invented scheme; and also how free from prepossessions, how 
docile the scientific mind must be, in order to follow the experimental 
or computational demonstrations wherever they may lead! Still more 
important, notice how large a share of the standard content of 
science, as illustrated by the essays on light and tides, is made up of 
what are here called "facts of inference," and not simply of facts 
of observation. 



The problem of the tides may be illustrated by a parable. Once 
there was a keen, unimaginative observer living on a seacoast, where 
a perpetual pall of clouds covered the sky, concealing the sun and 
moon, but where the tides, with their periodic variations, were 
familiar matters; he would gain a good knowledge of the facts of 
observation, but he would have no knowledge of their meaning as 
revealed by the unseen facts of inference. At the same time a 
philosophical hermit was living alone under the clear skies of a 
desert continental interior, where he was totally ignorant of the 
oceans and their tides, but familiar with the motions of the sun 
and moon, and acquainted with the law of gravitation, in accordance 
with which the heavenly bodies move; he might from this beginning 
go on with a series of inferences, or deductions, which would in 
the end lead him to say: "These distant bodies must exert unequal 
attractions on different parts of the earth, but the earth is too rigid to 
yield to them; if, however, a large part of the earth's surface were 
covered with a sheet of water, the attractions of the sun and moon 
would produce periodic variations in the level of such a sheet" . . . 
and so on. After a time, the long-shore observer sets out upon his 
travels and meets the hermit in the interior desert, who asks him: 
"Do you happen to have seen a large sheet of water, in which periodic 
changes of level take place?" "I have indeed," the observer exclaims, 
"and I was on the point of telling you about the changes of level in 
the hope that you could explain them; but how did you know that 
the changes occurred?" "I did not even know," the hermit replies, 
"that there was a vast sheet of water in which they could occur; but 
I felt sure that, if such a water sheet existed, it must suffer periodic 
changes of level, because . . ." The evident point of the parable is 
that the keen observer and the speculative hermit are both combined 
in a trained scientific investigator; he performs the two tasks of 
observadon and of explanation independently, as if he were two 
persons; and his philosophical half finally accepts as true that par- 
ticular scheme or theory which leads to the best understanding of 
the facts gained by his observational half. 



The third reading is devoted to the style of presentation, and this 
brings the reader more closely into relation with the author. The 
object of the third reading is thus unlike that of the second, which 
considered the author in relation to his problem; while both these 
are unlike the first, in which the reader did not think of the author 
but only of the subject treated. A few leading characteristics of 
presentation in the first essay may be pointed out; the reader may 
afterward make for himself a similar analysis of the second essay. 
Note first that the more difBcult subject of light is introduced by 
the analogous and easier subject of sound (pp. 252-256); this is as 
if the author kindly took the reader by the hand and guided him 
along an easy path toward a lofty summit. Note again the care 
which the author takes to lead the reader by easy steps from small 
to large numbers, and the sympathetic encouragement that he gives: 
"You can all understand it" (p. 258). Consider the homely illus- 
tration of the teapot (p. 259) and the large concept which it aids 
you in reaching. Recognize the personal touch given by the reference 
to the famous work of the American physicist, Langley (p. 259); 
and a little later to the epoch-making discovery of the spectrum by 
Newton. See again a homely illustration in the mention of shoe- 
maker's wax, and with it Kelvin's quaint allusion to his Scotch birth 
(p. 264) . Passing over several other matters, consider the care which 
this profound investigator, himself able to grasp the most com- 
plicated mathematical formula, gives to illustrating the nature of 
ether vibrations by means of a small red ball in a bowl of jelly (p. 


The first reading ought to excite a desire to learn more about light; 
the second, to understand more fully the method of science; the third, 
to know more intimately some of the great men of the world. Thus 
the careful reading of one thing creates an appetite for reading many 
other things: and therein lies the greatest teaching value of any 
reading whatever. 


By Professor Ralph Barton Perry 

How charming is divine philosophy! 

Not harsh and crabbed, as dull fools suppose, 

But musical as is Apollo's lute. 

And a perpetual feast of nectar'd sweets. 

Where no crude surfeit reigns. 

SINCE Milton wrote thus gallantly in its behalf, philosophy 
has fairly succeeded in living down its reputation for being 
"harsh and crabbed." No one who has made the acquaintance 
of Scholastic Philosophy, the philosophy of the Middle Ages, and 
still the established philosophy in Milton's day, can escape a secret 
sympathy with the view of these "dull fools." But in the course of 
the last three centuries, philosophy, especially English and French 
philosophy, has become more free in form, more imaginative, and 
more self-expressive. So that the critics and belittlers of philosophy 
to-day, too numerous, alas! to make it safe to call names, have taken 
up new ground. Philosophy is condemned, not for being unmusical 
but for being unpractical. The music of Apollo's lute is itself under 
suspicion, being too unsubstantial and too remote to suit the temper 
of an age of efficiency and common sense. 


I sincerely wish that I could recommend philosophy on grounds 
of efficiency and common sense. I should be listened to, understood, 
and believed. I should at once insinuate myself into the confidence 
of my reader. If I could but say: "Now look here! Philosophy is 
just a matter of plain, hard-headed common sense"; or, "If you 
want to succeed, try philosophy. It will help you to make and to 



sell, to outstrip competitors, and to be efficient in whatever you 
undertake"; if I could make such an appeal to you, your instincts 
and prejudices would secure me your ready sympathy. But I should 
have deceived you. What I should thus have recommended to you 
would not be philosophy. For philosophy is neither plain nor 
hard-headed; nor is it a means of success, as success is ordinarily 
construed. This is the case, not accidentally, but in principle. The 
very point of philosophy lies in the fallibility of common sense, and 
in the arbitrariness of vulgar standards of success. Philosophy is 
one of those things that must be met on its own ground. You must 
seek it where it is at home; if you insist upon its meeting you half- 
way it will turn out not to be philosophy at all, but some poor com- 
promise — the name or husk of philosophy with the soul gone out 
of it. No one can understand what philosophy means unless he lets 
it speak for itself and in its own language. If philosophy is good, 
it is because it contributes to life something different, something 
peculiarly its own, and which cannot be measured by any standards 
save those which philosophy itself supplies. 


If we cannot justify philosophy by common sense, we can at least 
contrast it with common sense, and so approach it from that more 
famiHar ground. Since we must admit that philosophy is at odds 
with common sense, let us make the most ol it. What, then, is 
common sense ? First of all it is evident that this is not a common- 
sense question. One of the things peculiar to common sense is that 
it must not be questioned, but taken for granted. It is made up of 
a mass of convictions that by common consent are to be allowed to 
stand; one does not ask questions about them, but appeals to them 
to determine what questions shall be asked. They are the con- 
servative opinion, the solidified and uniform belief, on which men 
act and which is the unconscious premise of most human reasoning. 
As a man of common sense, I use common sense to live by or to 
think by; it is a practical and theoretical bias which I share with 
my fellows, but which I do not think about at all. 

Now suppose that in some whimsical and senseless mood I do 
think about common sense. Something very startling happens. This 


once unchallenged authority is proved to be highly fallible. Its spell 
is gone. It at once appears, for example, that common sense has had 
a history, and that it has varied with times and places. The ab- 
surdities of yesterday are the common sense of to-day; the common 
sense of yesterday is now obsolete and quaint. The crank of the 
sixteenth century was the man who said that the earth moved; the 
crank of the twentieth century is the man who says that it does not. 
Moreover, once common sense is thus reflected upon, it is seen to 
be in part, at least, the result of wholly irrational forces, such as 
habit and imitation. What has been long believed, or repeatedly 
asserted, acquires a hardness and fixity from that fact; in the future 
it is always easier to believe, more difficult to disbelieve, than any- 
thing recent or novel. And what others about us believe, we tend 
unconsciously to reflect in our own belief, just as our speech catches 
the accent and idioms of our social circle. Furthermore, a belief 
once widely diffused takes on the authority of established usage. It 
is supported by public opinion, as anything normal or regular is sup- 
ported; unbelievers are viewed with hostile suspicion as unreliable 
and incalculable. "You can never tell what they will do next." Or 
they are forcibly persecuted as a menace to the public peace. I have 
called habit and imitation "irrational" forces. By that I mean that 
they have no special regard for truth. They operate in the same 
way to confirm and propagate a bad way of thinking as a good way 
of thinking. It does not follow that common sense is necessarily 
mistaken; indeed reasons can be adduced to show that common 
sense is a very good guide indeed. But if so, then common sense is 
justified on other grounds; it is not itself the last court of appeal. 
Common sense, despite its stability and vogue, perhaps on account 
of its stability and vogue, is open to criticism. We cannot be sure 
that it is true; and it may positively stand in the way of truth through 
giving an unwarranted authority to the old and familiar, and through 
shutting our minds so that no new light can get in. 

The philosopher, then, is one who at the risk of being thought 
queer, challenges common sense; he sets himself against the majority 
in order that the majority may be brought to reflect upon what they 
have through inertia or blindness taken for granted. He is the 
reckless critic, the insuppressible asker of questions, who doesn't 


know where to stop. He has a way of pinching the human intelli- 
gence, when he thinks it has gone to sleep. Every time there is a 
fresh revival of philosophical interest, and a new philosophical 
movement, as there is periodically, this is what happens. Some 
eccentric or highly reflective individual like Socrates, or Bacon, or 
Descartes, or Locke, or Kant, strays from the beaten track of 
thought, and then discovers that although it was easier to move 
in the old track, one is more likely to reach the goal if one beats out 
a new one. Such a thinker demands a re-examination of old 
premises, a revision of old methods; he stations himself at a new 
center, and adopts new axes of reference. 

Philosophy is opposed to common sense, then, in so far as common 
sense is habitual and imitative. But there are other characteristics 
of common sense with which the true genius of philosophy is out of 
accord. We can discover these best by considering the terms of 
praise or blame which are employed in behalf of common sense. 
When ideas are condemned as contrary to common sense, what is 
ordinarily said of them ? I find three favorite forms of condemnation : 
ideas are pronounced "unpractical," "too general," or "intangible." 
Any man of common sense feels these to be terms of reproach. It 
is implied, of course, that to be agreeable to common sense, ideas 
must be "practical," "particular," and "tangible." And it is the office 
of philosophy, as corrective of common sense, to show that such 
judgments, actual and implied, cannot be accepted as final. 


What is meant by "practical," in the vulgar sense? Let me take 
an example. Suppose a man to be trapped on the roof of a burning 
building. His friends gather round to make suggestions. One 
friend suggests that a ladder be brought from next door; another 
friend suggests that the man climb to an adjoining roof and descend 
by the rain pipe. These are practical suggestions. A third friend, 
on the other hand, wants to know what caused the fire, or why the 
man is trying to escape. He is promptly silenced on the ground that 
his inquiries are beside the point. Or approach a man in the heat 
of business and offer him advice. You will soon find out whether 
your advice is practical or not. If you have invented something, a 


physical or industrial mechanism, that will facilitate the matter in 
hand, you show that you are a practical man, and there is a chance 
that you will be listened to. But if you ask the business man why 
he is trying so hard to make money, and express some doubt as to 
its being worth while — well, let the veil be drawn. He may see you 
"out of hours," but you will scarcely recover his confidence. "Prac- 
tical," therefore, would seem to mean relevant to the matter in hand. 
It is usual with adults to have something "in hand," to be busy about 
something, to be pursuing some end. The practical is anything that 
will serve the end already being pursued; the unpractical is anything 
else, and especially reflection on the end itself. Now the philosopher's 
advice is usually of the latter type. It is felt to be gratuitous. It 
does not help you to do what you are already doing; on the con- 
trary, it is calculated to arrest your action. It is out of place in the 
office, or in business hours. What, then, is to be said for it? The 
answer, of course, is this: It is important not only to be moving, but 
to be moving in the right direction; not only to be doing something 
well, but to be doing something worth while. This is evidently 
true, but it is easily forgotten. Hence it becomes the duty of 
philosophy to remind men of it; to persuade men occasionally to 
reflect on their ends, and reconsider their whole way of life. To have 
a philosophy of life is to have reasons not only for the means you 
have selected, but for what you propose to accomplish by them. 


Common sense also condemns what is "too general." In life it 
is said to be a "situation" and not a theory that confronts us. The 
man who is trusted is the man of experience, and experience is 
ordinarily taken to mean acquaintance with some group of individual 
jacts. In political life what one needs is not general ideas, but 
familiarity with concrete circumstances; one must know men and 
measures, not man and principles. Historians are suspicious of 
vague ideas of civilization and progress; the important thing is to 
know just what happened. In the industrial world, what is needed 
is not a theory of economic value, but a knowledge of present costs, 
wages, and prices. As a preparation for life it is more important to 
train the eye and the hand, which can distinguish and manipulate, 


than the reason and imagination, which through their love of 
breadth and sweep are Hkely to blur details, or in their groping 
after the ultimate are led to neglect the immediate thing which 
really counts. Common sense would not, of course, condemn gen- 
eralization altogether. It has too much respect for knowledge, and 
understands that there is no knowing without generalizing. There 
must be rules and classifications, even laws and theories. But the 
generalizing propensity of mind must be held in restraint; after 
a certain point it becomes absurd, fantastic, out of touch with fact, 
"up in the clouds." The man of common sense, planted firmly on 
the solid ground, views such speculations with contempt, amuse- 
ment, or with blank amazement. 

Philosophy offends against common sense, then, not because it 
generalizes, for, after all, no one can think at all without generaliz- 
ing; but because it does not know when to stop. And the philosopher 
is bound to offend, because if he is true to his calling, he must not 
stop. It is his particular business to generalize as far as he can. He 
may have various motives for doing this. He may be prompted by 
mere "idle curiosity" to see how far he can go. Or he may beUeve 
that the search for the universal and the contemplation of it con- 
stitute the most exalted human activity. Or he may be prompted 
by the notion that his soul's salvation depends on his getting into 
right relations with the first cause or the ultimate ground of things. 
In any case he is allotted the task of formulating the most general 
ideas that the nature of things will permit. He can submit to no 
limitations imf)osed by considerations of expediency. He loses his 
identity altogether, unless he can think more roundly, more com- 
prehensively, or more deeply, than other men. He represents no 
limited constituency of facts or interests; he is the thinker at large. 


It is significant that facts are reputed to be "solid," general ideas 
to be of a more vaporous or ghostly substance. Thus facts possess 
merit judged by the third standard of common sense, that of 
"tangibihty." If we go back to the original meaning, the tangible, 
of course, is that which can be touched. Doubting Thomas was a 


man of common sense. Now we have here to do with something 
very original and elemental in human nature. Touch is the most 
primitive of the senses. And if we consider the whole history of 
living organisms, it is the experience or the anticipation of contact 
that has played the largest and the most indispensable part in their 
consciousness. That which can have contact with an organism is a 
body; hence bodies or physical things are the oldest and most 
familiar examples of known things. The status of other alleged 
things is doubtful; the mind does not feel thoroughly at home and 
secure in dealing with them. Physical science enjoys the confidence 
of common sense because, though it may wander far from bodies 
and imagine intangible ethers and energies, it always starts with 
bodies, and eventually returns to them. Furthermore, even ethers 
and energies excite the tactual imagination; one can almost feel 
them. The human imagination cannot abstain from doing the 
same thing even when it is perfectly well understood that it is 
illegitimate. God and the soul are spirits, to be sure; for that there 
is the best authority. But when they have passed through the 
average mind they have a distinctly corporeal aspect, as though the 
mind were otherwise helpless to deal with them. 

Philosophy is not governed by an animus against the physical. 
Indeed philosophy is bound to recognize the possibility that it may 
turn out to be the case that all real substances are physical. But 
philosophy is bound to point out that there is a human bias in favor 
of the physical; and it is bound so far as possible to counteract or 
discount that bias. Philosophy must nurture and protect those 
theories that aim especially to do justice to the non-physical aspects 
of experience, and protest against their being read out of court as 
"inconceivable" or inherently improbable. A generation ago philos- 
ophy was usually referred to as "mental and moral" philosophy. 
There is a certain propriety in this, not because philosophy is to 
confine itself to the mental and moral, but because philosophers alone 
can be depended upon to recognize these in their own right, and 
correct the exaggerated emphasis which common sense, and science 
as developed on the basis of common sense, will inevitably place on 
the physical. 



Philosophy, then, can afford to accept the unfavorable opinion of 
common sense, and may even boast of it. Philosophy is unpractical, 
too general, and intangible. If the condemnation implied in these 
terms were decisive and final, then philosophy would be compelled 
to give up. But philosophy is not merely contrary to common sense, 
for it emancipates the mind from common sense and establishes the 
more authoritative standards by which it is itself justified. 

Though I should have persuaded you that philosophy is a strange 
thing which you must visit abroad in its own home, nevertheless I 
now hope to persuade you that you once entertained it unawares. 
Though, if philosophy is now to enter, you must expel from your 
mind the ideas that make themselves most at home there, this same 
philosophy was once a favorite inmate. Only you were too young, 
and your elders had too much common sense, to know that it was 
philosophy. Unless you were an extraordinary child you were very 
curious about what you called the world; curious as to who or what 
made it, why it was made, how it was made, why it was made as 
it is, and what it is like in those remote and dim regions beyond 
the range of your senses. Then you grew up, and having grown up, 
you acquired common sense, or rather common sense acquired you. 
It descended like a curtain, shutting out the twilight, and enabling 
you to see more clearly, but just as certainly making your view more 
circumscribed.' Since then you have come to feel that the questions 
of your childhood were foolish questions, or extravagant questions 
that no busy man can afford to indulge in. Philosophy, then, is 
more naive than common sense; it is a more spontaneous expression 
of the mind. And when one recovers this first untrammeled curiosity 
about things, common sense appears not as the illumination of 
mature years, but rather as a hardening of the mind, the worldliness 
and complacency of a life immersed in affairs. It would not be unfair 
to say that the philosophical interest is the more liberal, common 
sense having about it something of the quality of professionalism. 

But there is another and a more important sense in which philos- 

' Cf. Wordsworth's "Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of 
Early Childhood," in Harvard Classics, xli, 595. 


ophy is entertained unawares. It underlies various mature activities 
and interests whose standing is regarded as unquestionable. When 
these activities or interests are reflected upon, as sooner or later they 
are sure to be, it appears that they require the support of philosophy. 
This is most evident in the case of religion. We all of us participate 
in a certain religious tradition, and with most of us the principal 
elements of that tradition are taken for granted. We assume that 
there is a certain kind of life, a life of unselfishness, honesty, fortitude 
and love, let us say, that is highest and best. We assume that the 
worth of such a life is superior to worldly success; that it betokens a 
state of spiritual well-being to which every man should aspire, and 
for which he should be willing to sacrifice everything else. We 
assume, furthermore, that this type of life is the most important 
thing in the world at large. Thus we may suppose that the world 
was created, and that its affairs are controlled, by a being in whom 
this type of life is perfectly exemplified. God would then mean to 
us the cosmic supremacy of unselfishness, love, and the like. Or we 
may suppose that God is one who guarantees that those who are 
unselfish and scrupulous shall inherit the earth, and experience 
eternal happiness. 


Now observe what happens when one is overtaken with doubt. 
One may come to question the worthiness of the ideal. Is it not 
perhaps a more worthy thing to assert one's self, than to sacrifice 
one's self? Or is not the great man after all one who is superior 
to scruples, who sets might above right.'' Who is to decide such a 
question? Surely not public opinion, nor the authority of any in- 
stitution, for these are dogmatic. Once having doubted, dogma will 
no longer suffice. What is needed is a thoughtful comparison 
of ideals, a critical examination of the whole question of values 
and of the meaning of life. One who undertakes such a study, every 
one who has made even a beginning of such a study in the hope 
of solving his own personal problem, is ipso facto a moral philos- 
opher. He is following in the steps of Plato and of Kant, of Mill and 
of Nietzsche, and he will do well to walk for at least a part of the 
way with them. 


Or suppose that our doubter questions, not the correctness of the 
traditional ideal, but the certainty of its triumph. Suppose that, like 
Job, he is impressed by the misfortunes of the righteous, and set to 
wondering whether the natural course of events is not utterly in- 
different to the cause of righteousness. Is not the world after all a 
prodigious accident, a cruel and clumsy play of blind forces.'' Do 
ideals count for anything, or are they idle dreams, illusions, a mere 
play of fancy ? Can spirit move matter, or is it a helpless witness of 
events wholly beyond its control ? Ask these questions and you have 
set philosophical problems; answer them, and you have made 

It is possible, of course, to treat doubt by the use of anaesthetics. 
But such treatment does not cure doubt. With many, indeed, 
ansesthetics will not work at all. They will require an intellectual 
solution of intellectual questions; their thought once aroused will 
not rest until it has gone to the bottom of things. And problems for- 
gotten in one generation will reappear to haunt the next. But even 
if it were possible that the critical and doubting faculty should be 
numbed or atrophied altogether, it would be the worst calamity that 
could befall mankind. For the virtue of religion must lie in its 
being true, and if it is to be true it must be open to correction as 
enlightenment advances. Salvation cannot be won by a timid cHng- 
ing to comfortable illusions. 

What should be done for the saving of our souls depends not upon 
an imaginary state of things, in which the wish is father to the 
thought, but upon the real state of things. Salvation must be founded 
on fact and not on fiction. In short, the necessity of philosophy fol- 
lows from the genuineness of the problems that underlie religion. 
In religion, as in other activities and interests, it will not do forever 
to assume that things are so; but it becomes important from time to 
time to inquire into them closely and with an open mind. So to 
inquire into the ideals of life and the basis of hope, is philosophy. 


Let us turn to another familiar human interest, that of the fine 
arts. There exists a vague idea, sometimes defended by the con- 
noisseur, but more often ignored or repudiated by him, that the 


greatest works of art must express the general or vhe universal. 
Thus we feel that Greek sculpture is great because it portrays man, 
whereas most contemporary sculpture portrays persons; and that 
Italian painting of the Renaissance, expressing, as it does, the Chris- 
tian interpretation of life, is superior to the impressionistic landscape 
which seizes on some momentary play of light and color. Now I 
do not for a moment wish to contend that such considerations as 
these are decisive in determining the merit of art. It may even be 
that they should not affect our purely aesthedc judgments at all. 
But it is clear that they signify an important fact about the mind 
of the artist, and also about the mind of the observer. The Greek 
sculptor and the Italian painter evidently have ideas of a certain 
sort. They may, it is true, have come by them quite unconsciously. 
But somehow the Greek sculptor must have had an idea not of his 
model merely, but of human nature and of the sort of perfection that 
befits it. And the Italian, over and above his sense of beauty, must 
have shared with his times an idea of the comparative values of 
things, perhaps of the superiority of the inner to the bodily life, or 
of heaven to this mundane sphere. And the observer as well must 
have a capacity for such ideas, or he will have lost something which 
the artist has to communicate. The case of poetry is perhaps clearer. 
Historical or narrative poems, love poems to a mistress's eyes or lips, 
evidently dwell on some concrete situation or on some rare and 
evanescent quality that for a moment narrows the mind and shuts 
out the world. On the other hand, there are poems like Tennyson's 
"Higher Pantheism," and "Maud," Browning's "Rabbi Ben Ezra," 
Wordsworth's "Tintern Abbey," or Matthew Arnold's "Dover 
Beach," " in which the poet is striving to express through his peculiar 
medium some generaUzation of hfe. He has had some wider vision, 
revealing man in his true place in the whole scheme of things. Such 
a vision is rarely clear, perhaps never entirely articulate; but it be- 
tokens a mind struggling for Hght, dissatisfied with any ready-made 
plan and striving to emancipate itself from vulgar standards. 

And one who reads such poetry must respond to its mood, and 
stretch the mind to its dimensions. 

It is not necessary for our purpose to argue that the merit of poetry 
*See H. C, xlii, 1004, 1015, 1103, 1137; xli, 635. 


is proportional to the breadth of its ideas; but only to see that breadth 
of ideas is an actual feature of most poetry that is with general 
consent called great. The great poets have been men whose imag- 
ination has dared to leave the ground and ascend high enough to 
enable them to take the world-wide view of things. Now such 
imagination is philosophical; it arises from the same impulse as 
that which generates philosophy, requires the same break with com- 
mon sense, and fundamentally it makes the same contribution to 
life. There is this difference, that while the poetic imagination either 
boldly anticipates the results of future arguments, or unconsciously 
employs the results of arguments already made, philosophy is an 
argument. Poetry, because it is a fine art, must present a finished 
thing in sensuous form; philosophy, because it is theory, must 
present definitions of what it is talking about, and reasons for what 
it says. And there is need of both poets and philosophers since for 
every argument there is a vision and for every vision an argument. 


The term "science" is now commonly employed to designate a 
band of special knowledges, headed by physics, pushing rapidly 
into the as yet unknown, and converting it first into knowledge, 
then into invention, and finally into civilization. Science is patron- 
ized and subsidized by common sense; and it is a profitable invest- 
ment. But science, although often like Peter it repudiates philosophy 
and disclaims ever having known it, is of philosophical extraction 
and has philosophical connections that it cannot successfully conceal. 
Precisely as you and I were philosophers before the exigencies of life 
put a constraint upon the natural movements of the mind, so human 
knowledge was philosophical before it was "scientific," and became 
divided into highly specialized branches, each with a technique and 
plan of its own. There are many ways in which the philosophical 
roots and ligaments of the sciences are betrayed. The different 
sciences, for example, all have to do with the same world, and their 
results must be made consistent. Thus physics, chemistry, physiology, 
and psychology all meet in human nature, and have to be reconciled. 
Man is somehow mechanism, life, and consciousness all in one. 
How is this possible? The question is evidently one that none of 


these sciences alone can answer. It is not a scientific problem, but a 
philosophical problem; and yet it is inseparably connected with the 
work of science and the estimate that is to be put on its results. 

Again, science employs many conceptions with no thorough exam- 
ination of their meaning. This is the case with most, if not all, of 
the fundamental conceptions of science. Thus mechanics does not 
inform us concerning the exact nature of space and time; physics 
does not give us more than a perfunctory and formal account of the 
nature of matter; the greater part of biology and physiology proceeds 
without attempting carefully to distinguish and define the meaning 
of life; while psychology studies cases of consciousness without tell- 
ing us exactly what, in essence, consciousness is. All of the sciences 
employ the notions of law and of causality; but they give us no 
theory of these things. In short, the special sciences have certain 
rough working ideas which suffice for the purposes of experimenta- 
tion and description, but which do not suffice for the purposes of 
critical reflection. All of the conceptions which I have mentioned 
furnish food for thought, when once thought is directed to them. 
They bristle with difficulties, and no one can say that science, in 
the limited sense in which the specialist and expert use the term, 
accomplishes anything to remove these difficulties. Science is able 
to get along, to make astonishing progress, and to furnish the instru- 
ments of a triumphant material civilization, without raising these 
difficulties. But suppose a man to ask, "Where do I stand, after all 
is said and done.? What sort of a world do I live in? What am 
I myself? What must I fear, and what may I hope?" and there is 
no answering him except by facing these difficulties. There is no 
one who will even attempt to answer such questions except the 


When philosophy goes about its work it proves necessary to 
divide the question. There are no sharply bounded subdivisions of 
philosophy; as problems become more fundamental, they tend to 
merge into one another, and the solution of one depends on the 
solution of the rest. But the mind must do one thing at a time in 
philosophy as in other aflairs. Furthermore, the need of philosophy 


is felt in quite different quarters, which leads to a difference of 
approach and of emphasis. 

Perhaps that portion of philosophy that is most easily considered 
by itself is Ethics, or what was a generation ago usually referred to 
as Moral Philosophy. There is no better introduction to Ethics 
than Plato's famous dialogue, "The Apology," ^ in which Socrates, 
defending himself against his accusers, describes and justifies the 
office of the moralist. As moralist, Socrates says that he took it upon 
himself to question men concerning the why and wherefore of their 
several occupations. He found men busy, to be sure, but strangely 
unaware of what they were about; they felt sure they were getting 
somewhere, but they did not know where. He did not himself 
pretend to direct them, but he did feel sure that it was necessary to 
raise the question, and that in that respect, at least, he was wiser than 
his fellows. The moral of Socrates's position is that life cannot be 
rationaUzed without some definite conception of the good for the 
sake of which one lives. The problem of the good thus becomes the 
central problem of Ethics. Is it pleasure, or knowledge, or worldly 
success? Is it personal or social? Does it consist in some inward 
state, or in external achievement? Is it to be looked for in this 
world, or in the hereafter? These are but variations of the same 
problem, as it is attacked in turn by Plato, Aristotle, Christian 
theologians, Hobbes, Rousseau, Kant, Mill, and the whole line of 
moral philosophers. Other special problems emerge, and take their 
place beside this. What, for example, is the relation of moral virtue 
to the secular law? In Plato's "Crito,"^ Socrates teaches that it is 
the first duty of the good man to obey the law, and submit to punish- 
ment, even though he be innocent; because the good life is essentially 
an orderly life, in which the individual conforms himself to the 
political community to which he belongs by birth and nature. Hobbes 
reached the same conclusion on different grounds. Morality, he 
says, exists only so far as there is authority and law; to save himself 
from the consequences of his own inherent selfishness and un- 
scrupulousness, man has delivered himself up forever to the state, 
and save so far as enforced by the state there are no rights or duties 
at all. Either one obeys the law or one lapses into that primitive 
3H. c, ii. 5. ■'H. c, ii, 31. 


outlawry in which every man is for himself, the hunter and the 
prey. How different is the teaching of Rousseau/ who prophesied 
for an age in which men were sore from the rub of the harness, and 
longed to be turned out to pasture. The law, Rousseau preaches, is 
made for man, not man for the law. Man has been enslaved by his 
own artificial contrivances, and must strive to return to the natural 
goodness and happiness that are his rightful inheritance. These 
are the questions that still lie at the basis of our political philosophy, 
and divide the partisans of the day, even though they know it not. 
A somewhat different and perhaps more familiar turn is given to 
moral philosophy by Kant.^ With him the central idea in the moral 
life is duty. It is not consequence or inclination that counts, but the 
state of the will. Morality is founded on a law of its own, far deeper 
than man-made statutes. This law is delivered to the individual 
through his "Practical Reason," and it is the last word in all matters 
affecting the regulation of conduct. Thus Kant puts the accent where 
Protestant and Puritanic Christianity puts it; whereas Plato, bidding 
us look to the rounding and perfecting of life, is the spokesman of 
that perennial Paganism that flourishes as vigorously to-day as it 
did before the advent of Christianity. 


Closely connected with Moral Philosophy there stands a group of 
problems that forms the nucleus of what may be called Philosophy 
of Religion. Suppose that a provisional answer has been obtained 
to the questions of Ethics. The good has been defined, and the duty 
of man made clear. What hope, then, is there of the realization 
of the good ? May we be sure that it lies within the power of man 
to perform what duty prescribes.'' Thus there arises, first of all, the 
question of the status of man. Is he a creature, merely — a link in 
the chain of natural causes, able at most to contemplate his own 
helplessness ? Or is he endowed with a power corresponding to his 
ideals, a power to control his destinies and promote the causes which 
he serves? This is the old and well-known problem of freedom. 
If you want to know what can be said for the prerogatives of man, 
read Kant; if you want to know what is made of man when he is 
^H. C, xxxiv, 165. ^H. C, xxxii, 305, 318. 


assigned the status of creature merely, read Hobbes.' And what 
shall be said of the chance of man's surviving the dissolution of his 
body, and entering upon another life in which he is not affected by 
the play of natural forces? The immortality of man is most 
elaborately and eloquently argued in Plato's "Phacdo,"' and again 
in Kant's "Critique of Practical Reason." But the crucial question 
in this whole range of problems is the question, not of man, but of 
God. What, in the last analysis, controls the affairs of this world? 
Is it a blind, mechanical force, or is it a moral force, which guaran- 
tees the triumph of the good, and the salvation of him who performs 
his duty? This is the most far-reaching and momentous question 
that can be asked, and it takes us over to that branch of philosophy 
that has acquired the name of "Metaphysics." 


The term "Metaphysics" has acquired a colloquial meaning that 
will mislead us unless we are on our guard. It is commonly used 
to mean such theories as have to do with the mysterious or occult. 
There is a certain justification for this usage, in that metaphysics is 
speculative rather than strictly experimental, and in that it takes us 
beyond the first appearances of things. But this is a question of 
method, and not of doctrine. To be a metaphysician one must push 
one's thinking to the uttermost boundaries, and one must not rest 
satisfied with any first appearances, or any common-sense or con- 
ventional conclusions. But there is no unnecessary connection what- 
ever between metaphysics and the doctrine that reaUty is mysterious 
or transcendent or supernatural or anything of the kind. It is 
entirely possible that metaphysics should in the end conclude that 
things are precisely what they seem, or that nature and nature alone 
is real. Metaphysics is simply an attempt to get to the bottom of 
things, and ascertain if possible what is the fundamental constitu- 
tion of reality, and what its first and last causes. There are two 
leading alternatives: the theory that justifies the belief in God; the 
theory that discredits it, reducing it to a work of the imagination, 
an act of sheer faith, of an ecclesiastical fiction. The classic example 
of the latter type of metaphysics, ordinarily known as Materialism, 

'H. C, xxxiv, 311. ^H. C ii, 45. 


is to be found in Hobbes. An excellent example of the former is to 
be found in the writings of Bishop Berkeley.' As Hobbes sought 
to show that the only substance is body, so Berkeley sought to show 
that the only substance is spirit. The nature of spirit, according 
to Berkeley, is first and directly known in that knowledge which 
each man has of himself. Then, in order to account for the inde- 
pendent and excellent order of nature, one must suppose a universal 
or divine spirit that causes and sustains it, a spirit that is like our- 
selves in kind, but infinite in power and goodness. 


A fourth group of problems that assumes great prominence in 
the literature of philosophy is called the Theory of Knowledge. 
Although of all philosophical inquiries this may seem at first glance 
most artificial and academic, a little reflection will reveal its crucial 
importance. Suppose, for example, that it is a question of the 
finality of science, or the legitimacy of faith. The question can be 
answered only by examining the methods of science in order to 
discover whether there is anything arbitrary in them that limits 
the scope of the results. And one must inquire what constitutes 
genuine knowledge, or when a thing is finally explained, or whether 
there be things that necessarily lie beyond the reach of human 
faculties, or whether it be proper to allow aspirations and ideals to 
affect one's conclusions. Bacon'" and Descartes," the founders of 
modern philosophy, devoted themselves primarily to such questions, 
so that all thought since their time has taken these questions as the 
point of departure. Furthermore, philosophy has called attention 
to a very peculiar predicament in which the human thinker finds 
himself. He seems compelled to begin with himself. When Des- 
cartes sought to reduce knowledge to a primal and indubitable cer- 
tainty he found that certainty to be the knowledge that each thinker 
has of his own existence, and of the existence of his own ideas. And 
if a thinker begins with this nucleus, how is he ever to add anything 
to it; how is he ever to be sure of the existence of anything which 
is not himself or his ideas ? On the other hand, while my knowledge 
is most certainly of and within myself, yet it can scarcely be knowl- 

'H. C, xxxvii, 189. '"H. C, xxxix, 116, 143. " H. C, xxxiv, 5. 


edge unless it takes me beyond myself. This has become the central 
difficulty of philosophy. It is a genuine difficulty, and yet everybody 
neglects it except the philosopher. Berkeley was led by an exam- 
ination of this difficulty to conclude that if reality is to be assumed 
to be knowable, then it can be composed of nothing but thinkers 
and their ideas. And in this conclusion Berkeley has been followed 
by the whole school of th6 idealists, the school which has numbered 
among its members the most eminent thinkers of later times, and 
has inspired notable movements in German and English literature. 
Other schools have been led by an examination of the same difficulty 
to quite different conclusions. But this difficulty has been the crux 
of modern thought, and no one can hope to debate fundamental 
issues at all without meeting it. 

Such, then, are some of the matters that at once come under dis- 
cussion when one attempts to think radically and fundamentally. 
Philosophy is brought to these and like problems because it expresses 
the profound restlessness of the mind, a dissatisfaction with ready- 
made, habitual, or conventional opinions, a free and unbounded 
curiosity, and the need of rounding up the world and judging it for 
the purposes of life. 


By Professor Charles Pomeroy Parker 

WHEN Socrates grew up in the city of Athens, in the gen- 
eration just after the Persian Wars, any Athenian citizen, 
however poor he might be, was at hberty to arrange his 
own hfe as he wished. Socrates made up his mind that money- 
making was not worth while, in comparison with the Hberty to 
spend his time in thinking about truth. There was a great deal of 
lively thinking in the Greek world then, and Athens, under Pericles,' 
not only was winning her empire, but was finding that great 
thinkers, or at any rate their thoughts, loved to come to her. Pythag- 
orean philosophers were wide awake in those days. They were 
discovering truth about the art of healing, they spent much successful 
work on astronomy, they were making progress in music, they 
studied mathematics, especially geometry. Many philosophers of 
other schools were studying fire, air, water, and earth, claiming that 
they changed into each other, as we say solids melt into liquids, 
and liquids dissolve into gases, and as some thinkers suppose that 
gas atoms are made up of electric units. Others were impressed by 
the great expanse of the sky, and said that the only way to find 
truth was to think of the universe as a great unchanging sphere. 
Others, again, held a doctrine of atoms, tiny invisible shapes of 
hard matter, which by combining or separating made the changing 


Socrates, eagerly studying all these theories, heard at last of a 
philosopher, Anaxagoras, who said that Thought makes the world; 
but Anaxagoras did not seem to him to show the rational way in 
which Thought would work. Rational Thought, as Socrates viewed 

' Harvard Classics, xii, 35ff. 


it, always tries to obtain some practical good. Merely to show how 
one physical thing changes into another, or sets another in motion, 
does not account rationally for the world; and Anaxagoras, though 
he talked about Thought, did not seem to Socrates to get at the 
heart of rational activity. But Socrates, having once caught the 
suggestion of Thought as a cause, never could set it aside. To 
inquire into the nature of rational activity implies a careful study 
of men and of human minds. 


Now in that Age of Pericles there was a great interest in men 
and all that concerned human life. Socrates loved to talk with 
men. This put him in especial sympathy with the Pythagoreans, 
who valued human souls and said that men are immortal. Pythag- 
oras, the founder of that school of thought in the previous century, 
had organized a brotherhood of students, bound to each other by 
ties of religion, austere life, and high thinking. This brotherhood 
had tried to influence and improve the political life of the cities 
where they lived. In the days of Socrates they had given up politics, 
but never had lost their religious and human interest. Not only did 
they work in healing, in astronomy, in music, and in geometry; they 
wanted to find the essence of justice, beauty, life, and health. Such 
essences seemed to give all the reality to human life. The Pythag- 
oreans conceived of them, strangely enough, as somehow mixed up 
with geometry. Indeed, we ourselves are apt to speak of justice as 
the square thing; but this metaphor of ours was perhaps a reaUty to 
their minds. Different forms or shapes, cubes, spheres, pyramids, 
triangles, circles, and squares, may have seemed to them the essences 
of the world, and they took a Greek word, I8ka, which meant form 
in those times, to express their notion of essence; in that sense they 
tried to find the ideas of beauty, or of temperance, or of health. 
Socrates, being interested in this line of thought, made up his mind 
to find the ideas. But he was not satisfied with such a geometrical 
notion of things as the Pythagoreans seem to have held. He wanted 
to talk with men, and study life as it was reflected in human thoughts, 
hoping thus to get clearer notions of reality which would be practical 
help to himself and others. A thing is made beautiful by the beauty 


in it. What is beauty ? This was an important question for a Greek 
thinker; and to find the ideally beautiful life might be worth our 
effort also. An act is made just by the justice in it. What is the 
essence of justice? We and Socrates alike want to know that. 
Socrates found such inquiries puzzling, and was reduced to a kind 
of despair. 


Perhaps it was at this time that the Oracle of Delphi which was 
controlled by influences highly sensitive to all the life of the time, 
said one day to an inquirer that Socrates was the wisest of men. 
This declaration was very perplexing to Socrates himself, who felt 
keenly his own ignorance. Eagerly questioning all kinds of men, to 
see if they could not give him wisdom after all, he soon found that 
their notions about the real essences of things were confused and 
contradictory. He realized that his mission was to clear up the 
thoughts of men. This is the first step in rational thinking, to define 
clearly our thoughts and agree about the essential nature of the 
things which our words denote. 


The "Apology," "Crito," and "Phxdo"^ of Plato present to us 
dramatically, in Plato's words, the thoughts of Socrates. They all 
deal with the last days of his life, in which his thoughts may well 
have been at their ripest. Very probably Plato developed some of 
the thoughts of Socrates to their logical results, going beyond what 
the master actually said, and giving the tendencies of his thinking. 
But we shall hardly get nearer to the essence of the real Socrates 
than by reading these dialogues. For instance, he would seem to 
have felt that souls are the permanent things; their very essence 
is to live and give life; justice, temperance, piety, beauty, and such 
ideas are eternal essences which give reality to the human world. 
Possibly the greater flights of imagination in the "Phaedo" belong to 
Plato, and the perfecting of the whole theory; many have supposed 
that all the philosophy of the dialogue is Plato's. To disentangle his 
thought from his master's is hard; the two are really one great 
2//. C, ii, 5, 31, 45ff. 


movement of human thought, which has aflected the world pro- 
foundly. One line of its influence is seen in Aristotle, who, in spite 
of all his differences, was strongly influenced by the doctrine of real 
essences. Another line of Socrates's influence is seen in Stoicism. 


Zeno, the founder of the Stoic school of philosophy, was a native 
of Cyprus, perhaps a merchant, who was shipwrecked on a certain 
voyage, and as a result of this apparent misfortune turned to 
philosophy. Men who wanted to be philosophers were likely to 
come to Athens in those days, two or three generations after 
Socrates, Zeno, being at Athens, one day sat down, so the story 
goes, by a bookseller's stall, where the bookseller was reading aloud 
from a book of Xenophon, the "Memorabilia," which described the 
conversations of Socrates. Greatly interested, Zeno inquired of the 
bookseller where such men as Socrates hved. Just at that moment 
Crates, a good man, a poor man, who formed his life on the life 
of Socrates, was passing by. The bookseller pointed to him, saying: 
"Follow this man." Zeno rose up and followed Crates; and the 
result was that Socrates's belief in the supremacy of reason and in 
the human soul and in the value of human life and freedom pro- 
foundly affected the teaching of Zeno. We may not search out now 
the other influences felt in Stoicism. The scientific, religious, and 
logical doctrines of this school are very important, and their develop- 
ment is interesting. But certainly the Socratic thought is strongly 
felt in this famous school. 


Four or five centuries later, Epictetus,' a slave (afterward a freed- 
man), and Marcus Aurelius,'' an emperor of Rome, in their medita- 
tions or conversations on human life show the living flame of thought 
which was kindled in Socrates, and handed down from him for 
many generations. We are apt to think of Stoics as men who crushed 
all their feelings, and went about the world with solemn faces and 
sad hearts, bearing trouble as they might. But the best Stoics of all 
times cared much for human nature and human freedom. They 
s H. C, ii, 1 17S. * H. C. ii, I93ff. 


Studied men, and found man's nature to be essentially rational. The 
terrible thing to them was to see this rational soul losing its self- 
control and, bewildered in a vain struggle to find happiness by sub- 
mission to the outside world, getting into a turmoil of fluttering 
excitement over things which were not in its own power. But what 
was in their own power they tried to handle divinely, with real 
energy. For they felt that man's rational soul is akin to the good 
Power which makes and moves the universe. And herein they agreed 
with Socrates. The slave and the emperor were in harmony with 
the free Athenian. 


By Professor Ralph Barton Perry 

WE WERE once taught that after having slept soundly 
through "the Dark Ages," Europe was suddenly awakened 
in 1453 by the Fall of Constantinople. We now know 
that it had been light all the while and that Europe had, to say the 
least, been in a very lively state of somnambulism. We know that 
for many centuries before 1453 men had been living very intensely 
and very nobly; and with a seriousness and elevation of thought 
that have perhaps had no parallel. The age that created Gothic art, 
and dreamed so splendid a dream as the Holy Roman Empire, can 
scarcely be said to be lacking in imagination and enlightenment. 
But that something important happened to the European mind in 
and about the fifteenth century no scholar is so iconoclastic as to 
deny. It was not so much an awakening of thought as a change of 
direction which proved in the sequel to be amazingly fruitful. It 
may perhaps best be described as a return to the sources. This is 
characteristic of all of its more notable manifestations, such as the 
retrospect of antiquity, the reexamination of institutions, and the 
more direct observation of nature. This turn of thought back to the 
originals and roots of things, this general freshening up by the 
admixture of new experiences, had its effects upon every interest 
and work of man. So there was, among other things, a Renaissance 
philosophy, which meant chiefly a new study of some ancient philos- 
ophy. Pico of Mirandola founded a new cult of Plato; Pomponatius 
defended the Greek or Alexandrist interpretation of Aristotle against 
the Averroist and orthodox interpretations; while Montaigne' re- 
vived the ancient scepticism. But what was more significant for the 

'For Montaigne, see Harvard Classics, xxxii, 5, 9; and on the Renaissance in 
general see Lecture III in the series on History and Lecture III (on Cellini) in the 
series on Biography. 



future of philosophy, came not directly through the influence of the 
spirit of the age upon philosophy, but through the influence of this 
spirit first upon science, and, indirectly through science, upon 
philosophy. The great men of the age, so far as the future of 
philosophy is concerned, were not Pico and Pomponatius, but Coper- 
nicus and Galileo. 


Copernicus^ ventured to assert that the earth moved. He could 
scarcely have astonished and disturbed men more if he had 
actually set it moving. The belief in the earth as the firm center of 
creation, lighted by sun and moon, encircled by celestial spheres, 
and furnished for the great drama of man's fall and redemption — 
this belief w^as itself the firm center of all human belief. It seemed 
impossible to move it without bringing down in ruin that whole 
grand scheme of things to which man had been fitting himself for 
centuries, and where he had at length come to feel himself at home. 
How shall one find a place for God, and a place for man, and how 
shall they find one another, in a universe with neither beginning 
nor end, neither center nor boundaries? This was the problem to 
which the great martyr Bruno devoted himself, and his death in 
1600 may well serve as a monument to mark the beginning of 
modern philosophy. 

Bruno saw that the world can no longer be divided into terres- 
trial and celestial regions, with the empyrean beyond. There can 
be no God above nature, or before or after nature, because nature 
itself is infinite. The universe is a system of countless worlds, none 
more divine than the rest. God is therefore not local, but universal; 
he is the life and beauty of the whole. This idea, recovered by 
Bruno from Stoicism and Neo-Platonism, and appropriated to the 
needs of the age which Copernicus had robbed of its ancient land- 
marks, persisted in the latent pantheism of Descartes and his fol- 
lowers, and in the avowed pantheism of Spinoza, was suffered to 
lapse during the eighteenth century, was revived again by Lessing* 
and Herder, and became one of the central ideas of the great 

^ See Copernicus's Dedication of his "Revolutions o£ the Heavenly Bodies," H. C, 
xxxi* 52. 

' See Lessing's "Education of the Human Race," H. C, xxxii, 185. 


Romantic and Hegelian movements in Germany in the nineteenth 


Copernicus contributed to modern thought an epoch-making 
hypothesis. Galileo contributed something less definite, but even 
more germinal — a new method. It would be safer to say that he 
represented two methods, the method of discovery, and the method 
of exact or mathematical description. He was neither the only dis- 
coverer of his age nor the only mathematical physicist, but he was 
the preeminent embodiment of both of these moving ideas. 

In 1610, a year or so after the construction of his telescope, Galileo 
published his "Sidereal Messenger," "announcing," to quote from 
the title-page, "great and very wonderful spectacles, and offering 
them to the consideration of every one, but especially of philosophers 
and astronomers; which have been observed by Galileo Galilei . . . 
by the assistance of a perspective glass lately invented by him; 
namely, in the face of the moon, in innumerable fixed stars in the 
milky-way, in nebulous stars, but especially in four planets which 
revolve round Jupiter at different intervals and periods with a 
wonderful celerity." This is the Galileo of the telescope, the prophet 
of an age of discovery. But greater than the Galileo of the telescope 
is the Galileo who formulated the three laws of motion, and so 
became the founder of the modern science of dynamics. He ex- 
plained the fall of bodies to the earth, not by ascribing them to a 
vague force of gravity, but by formulating exact mathematical ratios 
of time and distance, so that it was possible to deduce, predict and 
prove, with quantitative exactness. In other words he brought the 
clearness and certainty of mathematics into the field of physical 


Now this twofold influence of Galileo is the most important 
source of what is new in modern philosophy. Bacon and Locke 
were philosophical observers, trusting sense above reason, and ani- 
mated by the spirit of discovery. Descartes, Hobbes, and Spinoza 
were mathematical philosophers, advocates of reason, not so much 
concerned at first to widen knowledge as to make it more certain. 

Bacon (1561-1626) was the founder of modern "empiricism," or 


the philosophy of sense-experience. He criticized those fauhs o£ his 
age that he thought stood in the way of clear seeing, such faults 
as verbalism, anthropomorphism, or undue regard for tradition 
and authority. He formulated a new "Organon" ("Novum Or- 
ganum"^), a logic and methodology which was to correct and 
supplement the Aristotelian organon, and afford a basis for scientific 
procedure. But Bacon was significant not so much for what he 
formulated as for what he prophesied. He was the first to dream 
that magnificent dream which has been so largely realized in the 
course of the last century: the dream of the progressive control of 
nature through the patient and self-denying study of it. The king- 
dom of man, the "New Atlantis," ^ is to be founded on knowledge. 
"Human knowledge and human power meet in one; for where the 
cause is not known, the effect cannot be produced. Nature to be 
commanded must be obeyed; and that which in contemplation is as 
the cause, is in operation as the rule." Observe nature in order that 
you may use nature, thus converting it into the habitation, instru- 
ment, and treasure of man. Here is the supreme maxim of our 
modern world, and the chief ground of its peculiar confidence and 


Descartes and Hobbes were the founders of modern rationalism, 
but each in a different way. Descartes (1596-1650) found mathe- 
matics a model of procedure. In other words, he proposed that men 
should philosophize after the manner of mathematics. He did not 
believe that mathematics, with its applications to physics, was itself 
the highest knowledge. He sought rather to formulate a logic that 
should be as exact as mathematics, but more fundamental and 
universal; thus affording a basis for the demonstration of the 
higher truths concerning God and the soul. The "Discourse on 
Method" ° is a record of the author's profound regard for mathe- 
madcs and of his own search for a like certainty in philosophy. 

But Hobbes (1588-1679) was a follower of Galileo in a different 
sense. He proposed not so much to imitate mathematics as to adopt 
and extend it. He represents that idea which La Place so eloquently 
proclaimed a century later, and which the work of Newton seemed 

*H. C. xxxix, n6, 143. ^H. C. iii, 143. «H. C, xxxiv, 5. 


so nearly to realize, the idea of a universal mechanism, in which 
the laws of bodily motion should apply even to the origins of nature 
and to man. It was hoped thus to bring it about that all things 
should be as demonstrably known, and as certainly predictable, as the 
velocities and orbits of the planets. To this end the author of "The 
Leviathan" ' regards both man and society, the little man and the 
giant composite man, as simply delicate and complicated mechan- 
isms, moved by an impulse of self-seeking. 

These, then, are the three forms in which the science of the 
Renaissance as embodied in Galileo is communicated to modern 
philosophy. Bacon, Descartes, and Hobbes became in turn the 
sources of the new tendencies that make up the philosophy of the 
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The empiricism of Bacon 
was renewed in Locke,' who applied "the plain historical method" 
to the study of the human mind; continued by Berkeley,' who 
reduced even being to perception ("esse est, percipi") ; was brought 
to a sceptical crisis in Hume;'° but persisted as the national philos- 
ophy of England. The rationalism of Descartes afforded a basis 
for the great metaphysical systems of Continental philosophy, for 
the monism of Spinoza and the pluralism of Leibnitz; was degraded 
to a mere formalism and dogmatism in Wolff; but nevertheless per- 
sisted in the new idealistic German philosophy which was inspired 
by Kant. The physical philosophy of Hobbes, mingled with similar 
elements drawn from the philosophies of Locke and Descartes, de- 
veloped into the French materialistic movement which attended the 
outbreak of the Revolution, and remains the model for all philos- 
ophers who seek to make a metaphysics out of physics. The forms 
which these three tendencies assumed during the eighteenth century, 
and especially their excessive emphasis on facts and necessities, pro- 
voked the great reaction which bore fruit in the following century, 
but which was already anticipated in Pascal's philosophy of faith,^^ 
in Rousseau's philosophy of feeling," and in Lessing's philosophy of 

' H. C, xxxiv, 311. ^ H. C, xxxvii, 9. 

'H. C. xxxvii, 189. ">//. C. xxxvii, 289. 

" //. C, xlviii. "H. C, xxxiv, 165. "H. C, xxxii, 185. 


By Professor Ralph Barton Perry 

IT IS generally admitted that Kant is one of the great epoch- 
making philosophers, like Socrates and Descartes. There are 
two things that are universally true of intellectual epoch- 
makers: first, they embody in themselves certain general tendencies 
of their age, which are usually due to a reaction against the more 
pronounced tendencies of the previous age; second, their thought 
is peculiarly germinal, and among their followers assumes a maturer 
form, in which the originators would scarcely recognize it as their 
own. Let us consider these two aspects of the philosophy of Kant. 


From among the pronounced tendencies of the seventeenth and 
eighteenth centuries I shall select two for special emphasis. In the 
first place, it was characteristic of these two centuries to isolate and 
over-emphasize either one or the other of the two great sources of 
human knowledge, sense-perception or reason. Locke and his fol- 
lowers attempted to convert reason into a mere echo of sense; while 
for Descartes and his followers, sense was always viewed with sus- 
picion as confusing the intellect, or as supplying only an inferior 
sort of knowledge which must yield precedence to "rational science." 
Extreme sensationalism or empiricism seemed to have reached an 
impasse in Hume; while rationalism degenerated into formalism and 
word-making in Wolff. Thus Kant's greatest work, the "Critique 
of Pure Reason" (1789), was an attempt to correct these extreme 
views by making the necessary provision for both sense-perception 
and reason. Perception without conception, he said, is blind; while 
conception without perception is empty. Kant's critique was aimed 
first at excessive emphasis on sense-perception. He showed that the 
bare sequence of sense-impressions can never yield the connections, 
necessities, unities, laws, etc., which are required for science. The 



intellect must supply these itself. They constitute what Kant called 
"categories," the instruments which the mind must use when it 
works in that peculiar way which is called knowing. But it follows 
that they are not by themselves sufficient for knowledge. They 
cannot themselves be known in the ordinary way because they are 
what one knows with. And since they are instruments, it follows 
that they require some material to work upon; they cannot spin 
knowledge out of nothing. Hence the data of sense are indispensable 
also. In short, to know is to systematize, by the instrumentalities 
native to the mind, the content conveyed by the senses. This is the 
Kant of the first Critique, the Kant of technical philosophy who 
numbers many faithful devotees among the thinkers of to-day. 


A second and more general tendency of seventeenth and eighteenth 
century philosophy was its comparative neglect of what are vaguely 
called the "spiritual" demands. These centuries themselves may be 
regarded as a reaction against what was thought to be the excessive 
anthropomorphism of earlier times. Man had erred by reading him- 
self into his world; now he was to view it impersonally and dis- 
passionately. He might prefer to record the findings of perception, 
or the necessities of reason, but in either case he was to repress his 
own interests and yearnings. Of course at the time it was confidently 
expected that morality and religion would in this way be served best. 
Men believed in the possibility of a "natural religion," without 
mystery or dogma, a rational morality without authority, and a 
demonstrable theology without either revelation or faith. But 
gradually there developed a sense of failure. Man had left himself 
too much out of it, and felt homeless and unprotected. Early in 
the seventeenth century Pascal had announced the religious bank- 
ruptcy of the mathematical rationalism of Descartes.' Natural 
religion was readily converted into atheism by Hume. The most 
vigorous and stirring protest against the whole spirit of the age 
was made by Rousseau, who urged men to trust their feelings, make 
allowance for the claims of the heart, and return to the elemental 
and spontaneous in human nature. The same note was caught up by 
1 See Pascal's "Thoughts," Harvard Classics, xlviii, 34ff.; 4o8ff. 


Jacobi and Herder. Finally Lessing, in his "Education of the Human 
Race" (1780),' turned the attention of philosophy to the history of 
culture, to the significance of human life in its historical unfolding. 
It is a strange paradox that Immanuel Kant, valetudinarian and 
pedant that he was, should have represented this rising revolt of 
sentiment and faith. But such was the fact. Let us, then, view him 
in this light. 


One of the most famous of Kant's remarks was that he proposed 
to effect a Copernican Revolution in thought. As Copernicus had 
established a new center for the planetary system, so he proposed to 
establish a new center for knowledge. This new center was to be 
the mind itself. The errors of the earlier period had been largely 
due, he thought, to the attempt to make knowledge center in the 
object, it being exf»ected that the mind should reflect, either by per- 
ception or reason, the nature of an outward and independendy exist- 
ing thing. This method leads inevitably, said Kant, either to 
scepticism or to what is just as bad for philosophical purposes, 
dogmatism. The new way is to expect that the object shall conform 
to the mind. Thus nature, which in the earlier view was construed 
as an external order by which the mind is affected, or which the 
mind is somehow to reproduce by its own ratiocination, is now con- 
strued as the original creation of the mind. It owes all of its arrange- 
ments and connections, even its very distribution in space and time, 
to the constitution of the knower. The mind imposes its conditions 
on the object, and thus gets out of nature what it has already put 
into it. The bearing of this on man's spiritual claims is apparent. 
It is now nature that is creature; and man, in virtue of his intelli- 
gence, that is creator. The fatal world of fact and necessity, that 
seemed so alien to spirit, turns out to be but an expression of the 
intellectual part of spirit. 


But a Rousseau might still complain that this victory of spirit 
over matter was dearly bought, since it left the rest of spirit in 

^H. C, xxxii, 185. 


harsh subjection to the intellectual part. What guarantee is there 
that the intellect, thus clothed with authority, will make due 
allowance for the claims of sentiment and conscience ? Kant's answer 
lies in his famous doctrine of the "primacy of the practical reason." ' 
Nature, he says, is indeed the work of the theoretical faculties; and 
the theoretical faculties can recognize only facts and laws. But the 
theoretical faculties are themselves but the expression of something 
deeper, namely, the will. Thinking is a kind of action, and action 
in general has its own laws, revealed in conscience, and taking 
precedence of the rules that govern any special department of action, 
such as knowing. This does not mean that conscience over-rules 
the understanding, or that the will can violate nature; but that 
conscience reveals another world, deeper and more real than nature, 
which is the proper sphere for the exercise of the will. This is the 
world of God, freedom, and immortality. It cannot be known in 
the strict sense, only nature can be known; but it can and must be 
believed in, because it is presupposed in all action. If one is to live 
at all, one must claim such a world to live in. So Kant, who began 
by justifying science, ended by justifying faith. 


I have said that it was the fate of epoch-makers to have their ideas 
promptly converted into something that they never meant. Kant 
was a cautious, or as he terms it, a "critical" thinker. He concerned 
himself with questions regarding the possibility of knowledge and 
the legitimacy of faith; and avoided so far as possible making 
positive assertions about the world. But his followers were fired 
with speculative zeal, and at once passed over from "criticism" to 

There resulted the great Romantic and Idealistic movement that 
formed the main current of philosophical thought during the nine- 
teenth century. 

In the idealistic movement the Kantian theory of knowledge is 
united with a pantheistic tendency that may be traced continuously 
back even to Plato himself. According to this pantheistic view, 
nature and God are the same thing viewed differently. God, fore- 

'//. C, xxxii, 305ff, 318^. 


shortened and taken in the Hmited perspectives defined by man's 
earth-bound inteUigence, is nature; nature, consummated, seen in 
its fullness and harmony, is God. 

For all we have power to see, is a straight staff bent in a pool; 

And the ear of man cannot hear, and the eye of man cannot see; 
But if we could see and hear, this Vision — were it not He?'' 

Nature, on Kantian grounds, is the work of intelligence, and 
intelligence, in turn, obeys some deeper spiritual law. That law, 
when interpreted according to the Platonic-pantheistic tradition, is 
the perfection of the whole. There are many possible variations of 
the view. The perfection of the whole may be regarded as a moral 
perfection, the ideal of the moral will, as suggested by Kant, and 
more positively and constructively maintained by Fichte; or as the 
ideal of reason, as was maintained by Hegel and his followers; or 
as a general realization of all spiritual values, a perfection transcend- 
ing moral and rational standards, and more nearly approached in 
the experience of beauty, or in flashes of mystical insight, as was 
proclaimed by the sentimentalists and romanticists. In the popular 
literary expressions of the view, these varieties have alternated, or 
have been indiscriminately mingled. But it is this view in some 
form that has inspired those English poets and essayists, such as 
Coleridge, Wordsworth, Carlyle, Emerson, Tennyson, and Brown- 
ing, who so profoundly influenced the men of the last generation. 
There is thus a continuous current of thought from the closest 
philosophy of the sage of Konigsberg to the popular incentives and 
consolations of to-day. 

* Tennyson, "The Higher Pantheism," H. C, xlii, 1004. 


By Professor Chester Noyes Greenough 

'T ^E IS," said Matthew Arnold of Emerson, "the friend and 

I 1 aider of those who would live in the spirit." These well- 

JL JL known words are perhaps the best expression of the 
somewhat vague yet powerful and inspiring effect of Emerson's 
courageous but disjointed philosophy. 


Descended from a long line of New England ministers, Emerson, 
finding himself fettered by even the most liberal ministry of his 
day, gently yet audaciously stepped down from the pulpit and, with 
little or no modification in his interests or utterances, became the 
greatest lay preacher of his time. From the days of his undergraduate 
essay upon "The Present State of Ethical Philosophy" he continued 
to be preoccupied with matters of conduct: whatever the object of 
his attention — an ancient poet, a fact in science, or an event in the 
morning newspaper — he contrives to extract from it a lesson which 
in his ringing, glistening style he drives home as an exhortation to 
a higher and more independent life. 


Historically, Emerson marks one of the largest reactions against 
the Calvinism of his ancestors. That stern creed had taught the 
depravity of man, the impossibility of a natural, unaided growth 
toward perfection, and the necessity of constant and anxious effort 
to win the unmerited reward of being numbered among the elect. 
Emerson starts with the assumption that the individual, if he can 
only come into possession of his natural excellence, is the most god- 
like of creatures. Instead of believing with the Calvinist that as a 
man grows better he becomes more unlike his natural self (and 



therefore can become better only by an act of divine mercy), Emer- 
son believes that as a man grows in excellence he becomes more like 
his natural self. It is common to hear the expression, when one is 
deeply stirred, as by sublime music or a moving discourse: "That 
fairly lifted me out of myself." Emerson would have said that such 
influences lift us into ourselves. 


For one of Emerson's most fundamental and frequently recurring 
ideas' is that of a "great nature in which we rest as the earth lies in 
the soft arms of the atmosphere," an "Over-Soul, within which every 
man's particular being is contained and made one with all other," 
which "evermore tends to pass into our thought and hand and be- 
come wisdom and virtue and power and beauty." ^ This is the 
incentive — the sublime incentive of approaching the perfection which 
is ours by nature and by divine intention — that Emerson holds out 
when he asks us to submit us to ourselves to all instructive influences. 

These instructive influences, according to Emerson, are chiefly 
Nature, the Past, and Society. Let us notice how Emerson bids us 
use these influences to help us into our higher selves. 


Nature, which he says' "is loved by what is best in us," is all about 
us, inviting our perception of its remotest and most cosmic prin- 
ciples by surrounding us with its simpler manifestations. "A man 
does not tie his shoe without recognizing laws which bind the 
farthest regions of nature."* Thus man "carries the world in his 
head."' Whether he be a great scientist, proving by his discovery 
of a sweeping physical law that he has some such constructive sense 
as that which guides the universe, or whether he be a poet beholding 
trees as "imperfect men," who "seem to bemoan their imprisonment, 
rooted in the ground," ^ he is being brought into his own by per- 
ceiving "the virtue and pungency of the influence on the mind of 
material objects, whether inorganic or organized." ' 

' Perhaps most clearly put in "The Over-Soul," Harvard Classics, v, I33fl. 
"H. C, V, 134. 'H. C, V, 227. *H. C, V. 230. 5f/ c., V, 230. 

«H. C, V, 229. '' H. C. V, 237. 



Ranging over time and space with astonishing rapidity and bind- 
ing names and things together that no ordinary vision could connect, 
Emerson calls the Past also to witness the need of self-reliance and a 
steadfast obedience to intuition.' The need of such independence, 
he thought, was particularly great for the student, who so easily 
becomes overawed by the great names of the Past and reads "to 
believe and take for granted." ' This should not be, nor can it be if 
we remember what we are. "Meek young men grow up in libraries 
believing it their duty to accept the views which Cicero, which 
Locke, which Bacon have given, forgetful that Cicero, Locke, and 
Bacon were only young men in libraries when they wrote these 
books." '° When we sincerely find, therefore, that we cannot agree 
with the Past, then, says Emerson, we must break with it, no matter 
how great the prestige of its messengers. But often the Past does not 
disappoint us; often it assists us in our quest to become our highest 
selves. For in the Past there have been many men of genius; and, in- 
asmuch as the man of genius has come nearer to being continually 
conscious of his relation to the Over-Soul, it follows that the genius 
is actually more ourselves than we are. So we often have to fall 
back upon more gifted souls to interpret for us what we mean but 
cannot say. Any supreme triumph of expression, therefore, should 
arouse in us not humility, still less discouragement, but renewed 
consciousness that "one nature wrote and the same reads." " So it 
is in travel or in any other form of contact with the Past: we cannot 
derive any profit or see any new thing except we remember that "the 
world is nothing, the man is all." " 


Similar are the uses of Society. More clearly than in Nature or 

in the Past, we see in certain other people such likeness to ourselves, 

and receive from the perception of that likeness such inspiration, 

that a real friend "may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature." " 

' The uses of the past and the right spirit in which to approach it, are finely set 
forth in "The American Scholar" (H. C, v, $R). 
'Bacon, "Of Studies" {H. C, iii, 122). 
•»//. C, V, 9. "f/. C, V, 10, II. '2/^. C, V, 22. "H. C, V, 112. 


Yet elsewhere Emerson has more than once urged us not to be "too 
much acquainted" ": all our participation in the life of our fellows, 
though rich with courtesy and sympathy, must be free from bending 
and copying. We must use the fellowship of Society to freshen, and 
never to obscure, "the recollection of the grandeur of our destiny." " 


Such, in some attempt at an organization, are a few of Emerson's 
favorite ideas, which occur over and over again, no matter what 
may be the subject of the essay. Though Emerson was to some 
degree identified, in his own time, with various movements which 
have had little or no permanent effect, yet as we read him now we 
find extraordinarily little that suggests the limitations of his time 
and locality. Often there are whole paragraphs which if we had 
read them in Greek would have seemed Greek. The good sense 
which kept him clear of Brook Farm because he thought Fourier 
"had skipped no fact but one, namely life," kept him clear from 
many similar departures into matters which the twenty-first century 
will probably not remember. This is as it should be in the essay, 
which by custom draws the subjects for its "dispersed meditations" 
from the permanent things of this world, such as Friendship, Truth, 
Superstition, and Honor. One of Emerson's sources of strength, 
therefore, is his universality. 


Another source of Emerson's strength is his extraordinary com- 
pactness of style and his range and unexpectedness of illustration. 
His gift for epigram is, indeed, such as to make us long for an 
occasional stretch of leisurely commonplace. But Emerson always 
keeps us up — not less by his memorable terseness than by his 
startling habit of illustration. He loves to dart from the present to 
the remotest past, to join names not usually associated, to link pagan 
with Christian, or human with divine, in single rapid sentences, 
such as that'^ about "Scipio, and the Cid, and Sir Philip Sidney, and 
Washington, and every pure and valiant heart, who worshiped 
Beauty by word or by deed." 

"H. C, V, 208. i^H. C. V, 209. "«■. c., V, 213. 


Not less notable than his universality of thought, his compactness 
of style, and his swiftness and range of illustration, is Emerson's 
delightful benignity of tone. It would be hard to find any one whose 
opposition is so high minded, whose refusal is so gentle, whose good 
will — though perhaps never anxious — is so uniformly evident. The 
sweetness of Emerson's face, as we know it from his most famous 
portrait, is to be felt throughout his work. 

If, in spite of all these admirable qualities, Emerson's ideas seem 
too vague and unsystematic to satisfy those who feel that they could 
perhaps become Emersonians if there were only some definite articles 
to sign, it must be remembered that Emerson wishes to develop inde- 
pendence rather than apostleship, and that when men revolt from a 
system because they believe it to be too definite and oppressive, they 
are likely to go to the other extreme. That Emerson did go so far 
toward this extreme identifies him with a period notable for its 
enthusiastic expansion of thought. That he did not systematize or 
restrict means that he was obedient to the idea that what really 
matters is not that by exact terminology, clever tactics, and all the 
niceties of reasoning a system of philosophy shall be made tight and 
impregnable for others to adopt, but rather that each of us may 
be persuaded to hitch his own particular wagon to whatever star for 
him shines brightest. 



By William Roscoe Thayer 

BIOGRAPHY is the key to the best society the world has ever 
had. By the best society I do not mean those exclusive circles, 
based on wealth, privilege, or heredity, which have flourished 
at all times and in every place. I mean the men and women who, 
by the richness of their talents or the significance of their careers, or, 
it may be, by some special deed, have emerged from the throng. One 
of the strongest instincts planted in us is our aversion to bores. 
Biography, as by a short cut, admits us to the fellowship of the 
choice spirits of the past four thousand years, among whom we shall 
find entertainment in endless variety. And not entertainment only; 
for entertainment is not the end of life, but its sweetener and 

To develop our talents for good, to build up character, to fit our- 
selves, like the cutwater of a ship, to cleave whatever seas of ex- 
perience Fate may steer us into, to set ourselves a high, far goal and 
always consciously, through storm or shine, to seek that goal that is 
the real concern of life. On this quest biography shows the way by 

Most of us have intervals of tedium or depression when we try to 
get out of ourselves. Or it may be some stroke of ill-fortune, some 
sorrow, some moral lapse, some desperate blunder, locks us up within 
ourselves as in a dungeon. Then biography comes to our rescue, 
and we forget ourselves in following the career of other men and 
women who may have passed through similar ordeals. The loneli- 
ness of grief loses some of its poignancy, the agonizing isolation 
which sin creates round the sinner is broken in upon by the knowl- 
edge that others have sufiered or failed, and yet found strength to 
endure and to return. 



Evidently, great fiction, whether it be in the form of drama, 
tragedy, or novel, serves the same purpose of taking us out of our- 
selves, by teaching us how imaginary persons plan and act, uiidergo 
joy or pain, conquer or fall. I do not wish to belittle any fiction 
which can justify itself by substantial charm or symbolical import; 
and as I shall discuss later some of the relations between fiction and 
biography, it will suffice to remark now that the highest praise that 
can be bestowed on the creations of fiction is that they are true to 
life. Achilles, sulking in his tent; Othello, maddened by jealousy; 
visionary Don Quixote, mistaking windmills for giants; Mephis- 
topheles, Becky Sharp, Colonel Newcome, Silas Marner, and all the 
other immortals in the world of fiction live on by virtue of their life- 
likeness. But life itself, and not its counterfeit, is the very stuff of 


One reason why biography dropped behind in the race for popular- 
ity with fiction is that it was taken for granted that the biographer 
must deal in eulogy only. His subjects were usually marvels — we 
may almost say monsters — of virtue. Most of us are so conscious of 
being a composite of good and bad that we are properly sceptical 
when we read of persons too pure and luminous to cast a shadow. 
We tolerate the pious fibs carved in an epitaph on a tombstone— 
the lapidary, as Dr. Johnson remarked, is not under oath; we dis- 
count the flattery of the avowed panegyrist, but when the epitaph or 
the eulogy is puffed out through a volume or two of biography, we 
balk and decline to read. 

Lives of this kind are seldom written nowadays. They are too 
obviously untrue to deceive any one. Candidates for political or 
other office may connive at pen portraits of themselves which no 
more resemble them than Apollo; but these productions, like the 
caricatures of the day, are soon forgotten. In earlier times, even 
among English-speaking folk, laudation was the accepted tribute 
which the lower paid to the higher. Among monarchs, prelates, 
nobles, generals, poets, artists, or persons of the smallest distinction 
whatsoever, modesty could not be called a lost art, because it had 
never been found. And only recently a prime minister, equally 


cynical and subtly subservient, divulged that even he could not ap- 
pease his sovereign's appetite for adulation. In general, however, 
it is now commonly the fashion to assume the virtue of modesty by 
those who have it not, and the professional flatterer finds fewer 
opportunities than formerly. Yet we need only glance at the biog- 
raphies which have come down to us from the ages most addicted to 
artificial manners and speech in order to see that these, too, bear the 
stamp of sincerity. There is always the unconscious record, the 
expression or tone peculiar to the time, to betray them; and then, 
few writers have ever been cunning enough to dupe more than one 
generation — ^their own. 

Nobody need forego the inestimable delights of biography from 
fear of being the dupe of some devious biographer. It requires no 
long practice to train yourself to sift the genuine from the false — a 
branch of intellectual detective work which possesses the zest of 
mystery, abounds in surprises, and can be carried on at your own 

So inevitably does temperament register itself that it cannot be 
concealed even in autobiography, which some persons unwisely avoid 
because they suppose that those who write their lives set out with the 
deliberate purpose of painting themselves as more wise or virtuous, 
clever or courageous, than they really were. But though any special 
incident narrated by a Benvenuto Cellini cannot be verified, the sum 
of his amazing "Life" ' reveals to us Cellini himself, that perfect 
product of the Italian Renaissance in its decline — versatile, brilliant, 
wicked, superstitious, infidel, fascinating, ready to kill himself toil- 
ing to perfect a medal, or to kill a neighbor for some passing whim. 
Even Goethe, who wrote the most artificial of autobiographies, re- 
composing the events of his childhood and youth so as to give them 
sequence and emphasis that belong to a work of fiction, even he, 
Olympian poseur that he was, could not by this device have hidden, 
if he had wished, his essential self from us. 

We may well dismiss, therefore, the suspicion which has some- 

times hovered over biography. The best lives are among the most 

precious possessions we have; even the mediocre, or those less than 

mediocre, can furnish us much soUd amusement; and there are 

' Harvard Classics, xxxi; and cf. Lecture III, below. 


many biographical fragments which reveal to us the very heart of 
their subject, as surely as a piece of ore-bearing quartz the metal 
embedded in it. 


The delights of biography are those of the highest human inter- 
course, in almost limitless diversity, which no one could hope to 
enjoy among the living. Even though you were placed so favorably 
that you became acquainted with many of the most interesting per- 
sonages of your own time, were it not for this magic art, which 
makes the past present and the dead to live, you would still be shut 
out from all acquaintance with your forerunners. But, thanks to 
biography, you have only to reach out your hand and take down a 
volume from your shelf in order to converse with Napoleon or Bis- 
marck, Lincoln or Cavour. You need spend no weary hours in ante- 
chambers on the chance of snatching a hasty interview. They wait 
upon your pleasure. No business of state can put you off. They 
talk and you listen. They disclose to you their inmost secrets. Carlyle 
may be never so petulant, Luther never so bluff, Swift never so 
bitter, but they must admit you, and the very defects which might 
have interposed a screen between each of them living and you are 
as loopholes through which you look into their hearts. So you may 
come to know them better than their contemporaries knew them, 
better than you know your intimates, or, unless you are a master 
of self-scrutiny, better than you know yourself. 

The mixed motives which we seldom dissect in our own acts can 
usually be disentangled without difficulty in theirs. Through them 
we discover the true nature of traits, fair or hideous, of which we 
discern the embryos in ourselves; and however far they rise above 
us by genius or by fortune, we see that the difference is of degree 
and not of kind. The human touch makes us all solidaire. Were it 
not so, the story of their lives would interest us no more than if 
they were basilisks or griffins, phantasmal creatures having no pos- 
sible relations with us. 

Just now I mentioned at random some of the very great statesmen 
and leaders in religion and letters, access to whom in the flesh would 
presumably have been impossible, but with whom the humblest of 


US find many contacts in their biographies. Often we are surprised 
by a thought or feeling or experience such as we have had and 
scarcely heeded, but which at once takes on dignity from being 
shared with the illustrious man. Still, the touchstone of biography 
is not merely greatness, but interest and significance; and herein it 
coincides with its twin art, portraiture. The finest portraits, assum- 
ing equal skill in the technique of their painting, are not of kings 
and grandees, but those which embody or suggest character. Queen 
Victoria's face, though a Leonardo had painted it, could never rivet 
the world's attention or pique the world's curiosity as Monna Lisa's 
has done. In ten minutes one has revealed the uncomplex and 
uninspired nature behind it; while after four hundred years the 
other still fascinates us by its suggestive and perpetually elusive 

So the lives of persons who were inconspicuous, measured on the 
scale of international or enduring fame, are sometimes packed with 
the charm of individuality. Such, for instance, is "The Story of My 
Heart," by Richard Jeffries. You may not like it — one friend to 
whom I recommended it told me he found it so exasperating that 
he threw it into the fire — but you cannot deny, if you are reasonably 
sympathetic, that it is the genuine utterance of a genuine man. 
Solomon Maimon's biography is another of this sort, in which we 
see an unusual personality shackled by the cruelty of caste. John 
Sterling had talent, but he died too young to achieve any work of 
lasting note; and yet, thanks to Carlyle's exuberantly vital memoir 
of him — which reminds me of one of Rembrandt's portraits — 
Sterling will hve on for years, 


These examples will suffice to prove that a great biography does 
not require a great man for its original; but it does require a great 
biographer. For biography is an art, a very high art; and, if we judge 
by the comparatively small number of its masterpieces, we must 
conclude that the consummate biographer is rarer than the poet, the 
novelist, or the historian of similar worth. 

The belief that anybody can write a life is one of the widespread 
fallacies. As if anybody could paint a portrait or compose a sonata! 


When some notable person dies, it is ten to one that his wife or 
sister, son or daughter, sets to work to compile his memoir. The 
result, at its best, must present a partial, family point of view, 
hardly more to be trusted than the official biographies of kings 
and queens. 

It was the public relations of the gentleman that warranted writ- 
ing about him at all; but from his wife — doting, perhaps — or from 
his child — spoiled, possibly — we shall hear of him chiefly in his 
role as husband or as father. 

Personal affection, devotion even, may be and usually is a handi- 
cap, which the family biographer cannot overcome. The wise sur- 
geon does not trust himself to perform an operation on his dearest; 
neither should a biographer. 

Knowledge, sympathy, and imagination the biographer must 
possess; these, and that detachment of the artist which is partly 
intuition and partly a sort of conscience, against which personal con- 
siderations plead in vain. Thus, although Boswell, the master biog- 
rapher among all those who have written in English, felt toward 
Johnson admiration little short of idolatry, yet, when he came to 
write, he was the artist striving to make a perfect picture, and not the 
worshiper hiding his idol in clouds of incense. Sir George Trevelyan 
was Macaulay's nephew, and therefore likely to be hampered by 
family reserves; but in him the quality of biographer so far surpassed 
the accident of nephew that he, too, was able to produce a biography 
which portrays Macaulay as adequately as Boswell's portrays 

Such exceptions simply prove the rule: detachment — which ensures 
fairness — and knowledge, sympathy, and imagination — uniting in 
a faculty which we may call divination — are indispensable. 


The taste for biography, if it be not born in you, is quickly 
acquired. Many and many a person has had it first aroused in boy- 
hood by Frankhn's "Autobiography," ^ that astonishing book, which 
enchants you when you are young by its simplicity and its teeming 
incidents, and holds you when you are old by its shrewdness, its 
^H. C, i; and cf. Lecture IV, below. 


tonic optimism, its candor, its wisdom, its humor. Franklin has 
done for himself what Defoe did for the fictitious Robinson Crusoe; 
but his sphere was as wide as Crusoe's was confined. Follow his 
fortunes and you will soon be swept into the main currents of 
history, not in Philadelphia or the Colonies only, but in Europe. 
And after you have digested the information which Franklin pro- 
vides so naturally, you will recall again and again the human touches 
in which his book abounds: his remarks on his marriage: his con- 
fession that, when he began to take an account of stock of his moral 
condition he found himself much fuller of faults than he imagined; 
his admission that he acquired the appearance of humility though 
he lacked the reality; the irony of his report of Braddock's con- 
versation; — but to mention its characteristic passages would be to 
epitomize the book. Each reader will have his favorites and when 
he reaches the end of the fragment, with its unfinished sentence, he 
will regret to part from such a mellow companion. What a treat 
the world missed because Franklin died before he had narrated his 
experiences between 1775 and 1785, that decade when, we may 
truly say that, if Washington was the Father, Franklin was the 
Godfather of his country. 

Perhaps, however, you were led into biography through other 
channels. The life of Napoleon or of Caesar, of some painter, poet, 
man of letters, inventor, or explorer, may have been the first to 
attract you; but the outcome will be the same. You will feel that 
you have gained a new companion, as real as your fiesh-and-blood 
intimates, but wittier, wiser, or more picturesque than they; a friend 
whose latchstring is always out for you to pull; a crony who will 
gossip when you desire, who will never desert you nor grow cold 
nor yawn at your dulness, nor resent your indifference. For the 
relation between you is wholly one-sided. His spirit is distilled in 
a book, like some rare cordial in a flask, to be enjoyed or not accord- 
ing to your mood. He bestows his all — himself: but only on con- 
dition that you supply the perfect sympathy requisite for understand- 
ing him. 

This relationship between the reader and the dead and gone who 
have perpetuated themselves in literature is absolutely unique. In 
all other affairs there must be reciprocity, the interplay of tempera- 


ments, the stress of moral obligation; but in this transaction the 
author gives all, and the reader takes all (if he can) without thought 
of making returns, and without incurring the imputation of being 
a sponge or a parasite. If you are a free man, no intermediary stands 
between you and the author who draws you or repels you according 
to the subtle laws of affinity. Rarely, rarely among the living is that 
condition for ideal companionship realized. 


Because of the unique terms which exist between author and 
reader, we associate with sinners not less than with saints, and are 
unburdened by a sense of responsibility for their acts. In daily life 
few of us, happily, come face to face with perverts and criminals; 
but through biography we can, if we will, measure the limits of 
human nature on its dark side in the careers of such colossal rep- 
robates as Caesar Borgia and his father; or monsters of cruelty like 
Ezzelino and Alva; or traitors, spies, and informers, from Judas to 
Benedict Arnold and Azefl; or of swindlers and more common 
scoundrels, George Law and Cagliostro and latter-day "promoters," 
and that peculiarly offensive brood — the pious impostors. 

In the long run, however, we make our lasting friends among 
those who are normal but not commonplace, who seem to carry our 
own better traits to a degree of perfection which we have not 
attained, or who have qualities which we lack but envy. Unlikeness 
also is often a potent element of charm. I recall a frail little old lady, 
the embodiment of peace, so gentle that she could not bear to have 
a fly harmed, who devoured every book about Napoleon and seemed 
almost to gloat over the details of his campaigns. Conversely, more 
than one great captain has concentrated his reading in one or two 
books of religion. 

Having entered the realm inhabited by thoss who live through 
the magic of biography, we cannot dwell there long without meet- 
ing friends for whom we have sought in vain among our actual 
associates. In finding them we often find our best selves. They 
comfort us in our distress, they clarify our doubts, they give fresh 
impetus and straight aim to our hopes, they whisper to us the 
mystic word which unfolds the meaning of life; above all — they 


teach us by example how to hve. Then we feel that our gratitude 
is barren and unworthy unless it spurs us to emulation. Unenviable 
indeed is he whose heart never 

ran o'er 
With silent worship of the great of old! 
The dead but sceptered sovereigns, who still rule 
Our spirits from their urns. 

No matter what his creed may be, no man is so self-sufficient and 
original as not to be under the sway, whether he acknowledges it 
or not, of dead but sceptered kings; and biography brings them 
nearer to us and humanizes them, and thereby adds to the perti- 
nence of their teaching. These are the supreme benefits conferred 
by biography; but as no healthy soul lives continuously in a state 
of ecstasy, so there are many moods in which we turn to other com- 
panions than the prophets. We require relaxation. Our intellect not 
less than our spirit craves its repast. Honest amusement is its own 
justification. Biography offers the widest possible choice for any 


One of the surest ways to secure unfailing pleasure is to naturalize 
yourself as a member of some significant group. Take, for instance, 
Dr. Johnson and his circle. Having disclosed to you the imperish- 
able Doctor, Boswell will whet your curiosity as to the scores of per- 
sons, great and small, who figure in the biography. You will go 
in pursuit of Sir Joshua Reynolds and of Garrick, of Gold- 
smith and of Burke: and you will soon discover that a mere 
bowing acquaintance with any of these will not satisfy you. When 
Gibbon enters the scene, you will be drawn to his autobiography. 
Chatham and Fox, North and Sheridan, must all be investigated. 
You will wonder why the other members of the Club unite in de- 
claring Beauclerk the peer of the best of them in wit; and after 
much digging, you will conclude that, for lack of other evidence, 
you must accept Beauclerk on the strength of their commendation. 
As your circle widens, it will take in Fanny Burney — whose memoirs 
are so much more readable now than her "Evelina"; Mrs. Thrale — 
that type of the eternal feminine, whose mission it is to cheer Genius 


by appreciating the man in whom it dwells; Mrs. Montague, the 
autocratic blue-stocking, who made and unmade literary reputations; 
and many others, from Paoli the vanquished patriot of Corsica to 
Oglethorpe the colonizer of Georgia. 

The material for knowing Johnson's group is extraordinarily 
rich. It consists not only of formal biographies and histories, but 
of letters, recollections, diaries, anecdotes, and table talk which are 
often the very marrow of both history and biography. You cannot 
exhaust it in many seasons. Horace Walpole alone will outlast any 
fashion. Little by little you will come to know the chief per- 
sonages in youth and in age, from every point of view. You can 
watch them develop, or trace the interactions of one upon the other. 
The minor folk also will become real to you — Lovett, the trusty 
servant, and the old ladies with whom the Doctor drank tea, the 
chance frequenters of the coffeehouses where he thundered his 
verdicts on books and politics, the pathetic derelicts whose old age 
he solaced with a pension. You will experience the pleasure of 
filling gaps in the dramatis personce and the stage setting, or in dis- 
covering a missing link of evidence. And so at last you can mix 
with that company at will. No matter what the cares and torments 
of your day, at evening you can enter their magic city, forget your 
present, and follow in imagination those careers which closed in 
time so long ago, but live on with undimmed luster in the timeless 
domain of the imagination. And during all this delightful ex- 
ploration, you have been learning more and more about human 
nature, the mysterious primal element in which you yourself have 
your being. 

Instead of the province over which Dr. Johnson rules, you can 
choose from among many others. Take up the Lake School of poets 
— Byron, Shelley, and Keats — the mid-Victorian statesmen and men 
of letters — the founders of our Republic — Emerson and his con- 
temporaries — and by the same method you will find your interest 
wonderfully enhanced. It is not the surface of life, but its depth 
and height that it behooves us to know; and we can get this knowl- 
edge vicariously from those who have soared highest or dropped 
their plummet farthest into the unfathomable deeps. 



Autobiography is an important and often very precious product 
of biography. The common prejudice, that because it is egotistical 
it must be tedious, does not hold water. The impulse toward self- 
expression exceeds all others save the instinct of self-preservation. 
The artist blessed with great talent expresses himself through that 
talent, whether it be painting or sculpture, literature or eloquence. 
Let him strive never so hard to be impersonal, the tinge of his mind 
will color it; the work is his work. Men of pure science discover 
abstract laws by experimenting with material sterilized as far as 
possible from any taint due to a personal equation; but this does not 
lessen our interest in them as human beings. Far from it. We are 
all the more curious to learn how men, subject to our passions, contra- 
dictions and disabilities, have succeeded in exploring the passionless 
vastitudes of astronomy and the incomputably minute worlds of 
atoms and electrons. 

We rejoice to find Darwin worthy of being the prophet of a new 
dispensation — Darwin, the strong, quiet, modest man, harassed 
hourly by a depressing ailment, but patient under suffering, and 
preferring truth to the triumph of his own opinions or to any other 

If self-conceit, or egotism, be rather too obtrusive in some auto- 
biographies, you will learn to bear it if you regard it as a secretion 
apparently as necessary to the growth of certain talents as is the 
secretion which produces the pearl in the oyster. If a pearl results, 
the pearl compensates. And, after all, such conceit, like the make- 
believe of little children, is too patent to deceive us. It is the 
thought that they are trying to humbug us into supposing them 
greater than we know them to be that irritates us in the conceit of 
little men. But since conceited men have been great, even very 
great, although this blemish in them offends us, it ought not to 
bUnd us to their other positive accomplishments! And how much 
harmless amusement we owe to such unconscious humorists! When 
Victor Hugo grandly announces: "France is the head of civilization; 
Paris is the head of France; I am the brains of Paris," are we seized 
with a desire to refute him? Hardly. We smile an inward smile. 


too deeply permeating and satisfactory for outward laughter. So 
Ruskin's inordinate vanity in "Praeterita" cannot detract from the 
iridescent beauties of that marvelous book; it seems rather to be 
the guarantee of truthfulness. 

Whatever may be your prepossessions, you cannot travel far in 
the field of biography without recognizing the value, even if you 
do not feel the fascination, of autobiographies, of which in English 
we have a particularly rich collection. I have spoken of Franklin's, 
to which Gibbon's may serve as a pendant. It discloses the eigh- 
teenth-century cosmopolite, placid, rational, industrious, a consum- 
mate genius in one direction, but of tepid emotion; who immor- 
talized in a single line his betrothal which he docilely broke at his 
father's bidding: "I sighed as a lover," he writes, "but I obeyed as 
a son." 

Halfway between the man of pure intellect, like Franklin and 
Gibbon, and the man of sentiment, comes John Stuart Mill,' in 
whom the precocious development of a very remarkable mind did 
not succeed in crushing out the religious craving or the life of the 
feelings. Newman's "Apologia," largely occupied in the vain en- 
deavor to transfuse the warm blood of the emotions into the hardened 
arteries of theological dogmas, stands at the other extreme in this 
class of confessions. 

Contrast with it John Woolman's "Journal," * the austerely sincere 
record of a soul that does not spend its time in casuistical inter- 
pretations of the quibbles propounded by medieval theologians, 
but dwells consciously in the immediate presence of the living God. 

Our only quarrel with Woolman is that, owing to his complete 
other-worldiness, he disdains to tell us facts about himself and about 
his time that we would gladly hear. 

In other fields there is equal abundance. Many soldiers have 
written memoirs; enough to cite General Grant's, to parallel which 
we must go back to Caesar's "Commentaries." Authors, poets, men 
of affairs, the obscure and the conspicuous, have voluntarily opened 
a window for us. From Queen Victoria's "Leaves from a Journal," 
to Booker T. Washington's "Up from Slavery," what contrasts, what 
richness, what range! 

'H. C, xxv; and cf. Lecture V, below. *H. C, i, i69ff. 


And in other lands also many of the pithiest examples of human 
faculty are to be sought in autobiographies. To Benvenuto Cellini's 
life I have already referred. Alfieri, Pellico, Massimo d'Azeglio, 
Mazzini, Garibaldi are other Italians whose self-revelations endure. 
The French, each of whom seems to be more conscious than men 
of other races that he is an actor in a drama, have produced a 
libraryful of autobiographies. At their head stands Rousseau's "Con- 
fessions," in style a masterpiece, in substance absorbing, by one of 
the most despicable of men. 


In the larger classification of literature, biography comes midway 
between history and fiction. One school of historians, indeed, un- 
wilHng to cramp their imaginations into so mean a space as a 
generation or a century, reckon by millenniums and lose sight of 
mere individuals. They are intent on discovering and formulating 
general laws of cosmic progress; on tracing the collective action of 
multitudes through long periods of time; on watching institutions 
evolve. In their eyes, even Napoleon is a "negligible quantity." 

I would not for a moment disparage the efforts of these investi- 
gators. Most of us have felt the fascination of moving to and fro 
over vast reaches of time, as imperially as the astronomer moves 
through space. Such flights are exhilarating. They involve us in 
no peril; we begin and end them in our armchair; they attach to 
us no responsibility. The power of generalizing, which even the 
humblest and most ignorant exercise daily, sheds upon us a peculiar 
satisfaction; but we must not value the generalizations we arrive at 
by the pleasurableness of the process. Counting by the hundred 
thousand years, individual man dwindles beyond the recall of the 
most powerful microscope. So we may well disregard an aeon or 
two in speculating on the rate of progress between oligocene and neo- 
lithic conditions. But after mankind have plodded out of geology 
into history there is nothing more certain than that the masses have 
been pioneered by individuals. You can prove it wherever two or 
more persons meet — one inevitably leads. 

As the race emerged from barbarism, the number and variety of 
individuals increased. Men in the mass are plastic; or, to change 


the figure, they are Uke reservoirs of latent energy, awaiting the 
leader who shall apply their force to a special work. In many cases 
the great man is far from being the product of his time, but he has 
some interior and unborrowed faculty for influencing, controlling, 
we may even say hypnotizing, his generation. It is idle to suppose 
that a Napoleon can be explained on the theory that he is the sum 
of a hundred, or ten thousand, of his average French contemporaries. 
He shared certain traits with them, just as he had organs and 
appetites common to all normal men; but it was precisely those un- 
common attributes which were his and not theirs that made him 

We may safely cultivate biography, therefore, not merely as an 
adjunct of history, but as one of history's mighty sources. In pro- 
portion as the materials concerning a given period or episode abound, 
it becomes easier to trace the significance of the great men who 
directed it — easier and most entrancing, for in this detective work we 
are shadowing Destiny itself. We see how some apparently trivial 
personal happening — Napoleon's lassitude due to a cold at Borodino, 
Frederick the Second's seasickness on starting on his crusade, 
McDowell's cholera morbus at the first battle of Bull Run — was 
the hazard on which Fate hung the issue of history. We see, further, 
that men and women are not abstractions — that what we regard as 
laws in human evolution are the result of the motives and deeds — 
motives and deeds — of human beings; and that a flaw or twist in a 
single individual may break the current of development or deflect it 
into an unexpected channel. 

The lives of state builders and of state preservers and pilots offer, 
accordingly, a double attraction: they show us history at those 
moments when, ceasing to be abstract and impersonal, it turns upon 
us recognizable human features and works through the heart and 
brain of highly individualized genius. They show us also biography, 
when individual genius becomes so powerful that it diffuses itself 
through multitudes, yet is never more truly itself than in this 


On the other hand, biography touches fiction at many points. 
Novelists discovered long ago the allure which any period except 


the present — ^for the present has always been Time's black sheep — 
exerts over the imagination. 

The three-legged stool was only that and nothing more to our 
Puritan ancestors; now it is a piece of old Plymouth or old Salem, 
glorified by that association, and by the possibility that Governor 
Bradford or Priscilla Mullens may have sat on it. There lies the 
spell which historical novelists have cast wdth stupendous effect; 
and, having the environment, they introduce into it the historical 
personages who once belonged there. 

The novelist, by his trade, may take or reject what he pleases; 
so that, if he finds the facts of history intractable, he may change or 
omit them. Or, since his deepest interest, like the biographer's, is in 
persons and the unfolding of character, he may achieve a lifelike 
portrait. At best, however, historical personages, as they appear in 
fiction, can never escape from the suspicion of being so far modified 
by the novelist that they are no longer real. 

As to the larger question of the relative value of fiction and 
biography, we would not dogmatize. We would no more promote 
biography by abolishing fiction — if it were possible — than we would 
magnify sculpture by dwarfing painting. And yet, if talents equal 
to those of the foremost novelists had been or were devoted to writ- 
ing biography, the popularity — at least among cultivated readers — 
of the two branches of literature might be reversed. As I have said, 
the utmost achievement for the novelist is to create an illusion so 
perfect that the characters in his books shall seem to be real. 

In other words, so far as concerns reality, the novelist leaves off 
where the biographer begins. And if the novelist has an apparent 
advantage in dealing with unruly facts, he is under the immense 
disadvantage of being restricted in his choice of characters. So 
true is this that, if all other records except the novels of the past 
century were to be destroyed, posterity five hundred years hence 
would have slight means of knowing the men and women through 
whom human evolution has really operated in our age. In no art 
has the process of vulgarization gone so far as in fiction. The novelist 
to-day dares not paint goodness or greatness; his upper limit is 
mediocrity; his lower is depravity, and he tends more and more to 
exploit the lower. 


An art which, pretending to mirror life, instinctively shuts out a 
large province of life — an art which boasts that it alone can display 
human personality in all its varieties and yet becomes dumb before 
the highest manifestations of personality — has no right to rank 
among the truly universal arts — painting and sculpture, the Eliza- 
bethan drama and biography. 

All the myriad novelists writing in English since 1850 have not 
created one character comparable to Abraham Lincoln or to Cavour, 
nor have the romances imagined any hero to match Garibaldi. Or, 
to take contemporary examples, what novelist would venture to 
depict, even if his imagination could have conceived, a Theodore 
Roosevelt or a J. P. Morgan? For myself, if it were necessary, in a 
shipwreck, to choose between saving the Georgian novelists and 
Boswell's "Life of Johnson," I would unhesitatingly take Bosweli. 


Before concluding, let me recur to biography as an art. You 
cannot read far in this field without being struck by the great 
differences in the ability of biographers. One makes a brilliant 
subject dull, or a juicy subject dry; while a biographer of other 
quality holds you spellbound over the life story of some relatively 
unimportant person. Gradually you come to study the laws of 
the art; to determine how much depends upon the biographer and 
how much on the biographee; above all, to define just what portion 
of a given subject's life should be described. Remember that not a 
hundredth part of any life can be recorded. The biographer must 
select. But what? The significant, the individual, the revealing. 
How shall those be setded? By the judgment of the biographer. 
Selection and perspective are the sun and moon of all art, and 
unless they shine for him, his portrait will be out of drawing. When, 
for instance, the writer on Havelock devotes almost as much space 
to his piety as to his military achievement, you recognize the faulty 
selection; or when another describes General Grant's later mis- 
fortune as the dupe of a financial sharper as amply as his Vicksburg 
campaign, you have a fine example of bungled perspective. With 
practice, you will learn how to recover some of the true features of 
the victims of such distortions. 


Comparison, the mother of Criticism, will help you to ampler 
pleasures. I have already suggested comparing Woolman's, Frank- 
lin's and Mill's autobiographies; but the process can be carried for- 
ward in many directions. You can investigate what matters were 
regarded as essential for a biographer to tell at any period. Plutarch, 
for instance, has left a gallery of portraits of ancient statesmen and 
soldiers.^ Wherein would the method and results of a modern 
Plutarch differ from his.? If Boswell, and not Xenophon, had written 
the familiar life of Socrates, what would he have added.? What do 
you miss in quaint Izaak Walton's lives of Wotton and Donne and 
Herbert ? ° Do we really know Napoleon better, for all the thousands 
of books about him, than we know Caesar ? How far does sameness 
of treatment in Vasari's "Lives" blur their individuality? 

These and many other questions will stimulate you in any com- 
parative reading of biography. They all refer to three deeper 
matters: differences in the skill of biographers; changes in the angle 
of curiosity from which the public regard celebrities; and, finally, 
the variation, slowly effectuated, in human Personality itself. 

The outlook for biography never was brighter. Its votaries will 
practice it wdth a constantly increasing skill. The demand for 
veracity will not slacken. The public, grown more discerning, will 
read it with greater relish. 

The fact that the persons and events whom the biographer depicts 
were real will lend to them an additional attractiveness. 

Given life, the first impulse of life, the incessant, triumphant 
impulse, is to manifest itself in individuals. From the beginning 
there has never been a moment, or the fraction of a second, when 
the universe, or the tiniest part of it, became abstract. In the world 
of matter, not less than in the organic world of animals and plants, 
always and everywhere and forever — individuals! from atom to 
Sirius, nothing but individuals! Even in the protean transmutation 
of one thing into another, of life into death and death into life, 
individuality keeps pace with each changing stage. 

Since the process of individualization is from lower to higher, 
from simple to complex, the acknowledged great men in history, or 
the persons who stand out from any mass, are endowed with 

5 H. C, xii, and C£. Lecture II, below. ^ H. C, xv, 323, 373ff. 


unusual qualities, or with common qualities in an uncommon degree 
— an endowment which gives them more points of contact, more 
power, more interest, more charm. These are the men and women 
whom biography perpetuates. The master creations of fiction spring 
from the human brain; the subjects of biography are the very 
creations of God himself: the realities of God must forever transcend 
the fictions of man. 


By Professor W. S. Ferguson 

PLUTARCH was a kindly man, well educated in philosophy 
and rhetoric. He lived between 46 and 125 A. D. in little, 
out-of-the-way Boeotian Chaeronea. He spent his days lecturing 
and in friendly correspondence and conversation with many culti- 
vated contemporaries among both Greeks and Romans. He was for- 
tunate in his age. "If a man were called to fix the period in the 
history of the world during which the condition of the human race 
was most happy and prosperous, he would," says Gibbon, "without 
hesitation, name that" in which Plutarch wrote. It was the twilight 
time of antiquity; and in the works of Plutarch' are clearly mirrored 
the charm and languor, the incentive to stroll and loiter, and the 
dimming of vision, characteristic of the hour before "the sun sank 
and all the ways were darkened." 

Plutarch's superstition 

His versatility is remarkable, and he has ever at hand an apt 
illustration for every situation; but his fertility tempts him to digress, 
and his learning is not matched by critical power. An admirable 
example of his mode of thought as well as an epitome of his natural 
philosophy appears in the following passage from his "Life of 
Pericles": "There is a story, that once Pericles had brought to him 
from a country farm of his, a ram's head with one horn, and that 
Lampon, the diviner, upon seeing the horn grow strong and solid 
out of the midst of the forehead, gave it as his judgment, that, there 
being at that time two potent factions, parties, or interests in the 
city, the one of Thucydides and the other of Pericles, the govern- 
ment would come about to that one of them in whose ground or 
estate this token or indication of fate had shown itself. But that 
Anaxagoras, cleaving the skull in sunder, showed to the bystanders 
' For a volume of selected "Lives," see Harvard Classics, xii. 


that the brain had not filled up its natural place, but being oblong, 
like an egg, had collected from all parts of the vessel which con- 
tained it, in a point to that place from whence the root of the horn 
took its rise. And that, for that time, Anaxagoras was much admired 
for his explanation by those that were present; and Lampon no 
less a little while after, when Thucydides was overpowered, and 
the whole affairs of the state and government came into the hands 
of Pericles. And yet, in my opinion, it is no absurdity to say that they 
were both in the right, both natural philosopher and diviner, one 
jusdy detecting the cause of this event, by which it was produced, 
the other the end for which it was designed. For it was the business 
of the one to find out and give an account of what it was made, 
and in what manner and by what means it grew as it did; and of 
the other to foretell to what end and purpose it was so made, and 
what it might mean or portend. Those who say that to find out the 
cause of a prodigy is in effect to destroy its supposed signification as 
such, do not take notice that, at the same time, together with divine 
prodigies, they also do away with signs and signals of human art 
and concert, as, for instance, the clashings of quoits, fire-beacons, 
and the shadows on sun-dials, every one of which things has its 
cause, and by that cause and contrivance is a sign of something else. 
But these are subjects, perhaps, that would better befit another place." 


Plutarch was a widely read man. The world in which he lived 
was rather the world which his mind portrayed than that upon 
which his eyes looked. In other words, he lived in his past much 
more fully than in his present. For everything that had happened 
he had a gende but persistent curiosity. Customs hallowed by time 
evoked in him the utmost tenderness; but his nature was without 
a vestige of fanaticism. To the hot, strenuous youth of his age, to 
zealots for preserving the old, and to harsh innovators alike he 
seemed probably a trifler and perhaps a bore. They must have 
turned with impatience from his universal charity; for he was a 
widely loyal man, loyal to his petty civic duties, his family obliga- 
tions, his friends, his reputation, his race. 

By his interest in, and profession of, practical morality Plutarch 


was called to be a biographer, but it is to his loyalty to his people 
that we owe his "Parallel Lives." In their composition he was 
guided by the desire to show the arrogant Romans and the later 
Greeks in whose midst he lived, that a great Hellenic man of affairs 
could be put in worthy comparison with every outstanding Roman 
general and statesman. 


Biography in antiquity was a branch of science and also a branch 
of philosophy. Scientific biography was interested in facts as such, 
in the collocation of miscellaneous information about persons. It 
laid claim to objectivity of details, but left free room for individuality 
to display itself in their selection. The principle of choice might 
be pruriency, political, class, or philosophic animosity, or mere love 
of scandal. Such biography might be with or without style, with 
or without painstaking: it was commonly without critical method. 
The precipitate of much lost scientific biography lies before us in 
the "Lives of the Twelve Czsars" by Plutarch's contemporary, 

In Plutarch's "Parallel Lives," we have, on the other hand, the 
precipitate of much lost philosophic biography. He stands for us at 
the end of a long development, in the course of which many con- 
temporary, or approximately contemporary, biographies were pro- 
duced, each to be superseded perhaps by its successor, as they all 
were finally superseded and destroyed by those of Plutarch. The 
plundering of the countless books and pamphlets, plays, and 
memoirs, cited in the "Parallel Lives," the culling of the multitude 
of anecdotes and bans mots with which they are set and enlivened, 
were by no means the personal work of Plutarch. Many, if not 
most, of them he found gathered for him by his nameless predeces- 
sors. He was under no professional sense of duty to look up and 
verify his references, and he regularly omitted to do it. Mistakes 
abound in Plutarch's "Lives." But even the historian finds them 
pardonable when he has the assurance that the materials in con- 
junction with which they appear were taken by men of greater 
patience and leisure than Plutarch from works, many of them lost, 
reaching back over the centuries to the earliest Greek literature. 


Plutarch's own contribution to his "lives" 

The "Lives" of Plutarch are thus in a sense the product of many 
ages and of many minds. But, Uke mediKval cathedrals, they have 
unity of design and style. This is not vi^hoUy the result of their 
origin in a community of philosophic biographers. It is in large 
part the result of Plutarch's own architectonic powers. He was far 
from being a colorless and characterless compiler. His "Lives" 
seldom seem "lumpy." They reveal, throughout, the quaint per- 
sonality of the author. His philosophic standpoint is betrayed in 
almost every line of criticism they contain. His mastery of literary 
technique is never wanting. The quiet humor, unobtrusive and 
delicate, is unmistakably his. Piquancy is a Greek trait, and Plutarch 
was a Greek. He is never indecent, as his contemporaries under- 
stood that term, but he never forgot the natural human interest in 
the intimate relations of men and women. His dramatic sense needs 
no more than mention: Shakespeare's debt to Plutarch in his "Julius 
Czsar," "Coriolanus," and "Antony and Cleopatra" speaks volumes 
on this point. 

Yet, when everything has been said in praise of his fine qualities, 
it is still true that his mind, like that of the philosophic biographers 
who preceded him, was an unfortunate medium for the great men 
of affairs of antiquity to have to pass through on their way to us. 
They were all sicklied over by the pale cast of ethical interpretation. 
Men of flesh and blood, actuated by all the reasons and passions of 
which human beings of diverse but distinguished endowments were 
capable, tend to appear as puppets exemplifying laudable virtues and 
deterrent vices. Man whose natures are truly revealed only in the 
work which they accomplished are isolated from their societies, and 
characterized by what they did or said at insignificant moments. 
Trivialities serve Plutarch's purpose of ethical portraiture as well as 
or better than the historic triumphs and failures of his heroes. Trite 
ethical considerations are made decisive for the formation of policies 
and the reaching of decisions instead of the realities of each historical 
situation. Hence one of the chief duties of modern historians and 
modern historical biographers has been to murder "Plutarch's men," 
and put in their stead the real statesmen and generals of ancient 


times. The latter part of their task, however, they could not even 
attempt without the materials Plutarch furnishes to them. As for the 
difficulty of the former, it is well disclosed by the story Mahafly tells 
of the illiterate Irish peasant who said of a certain fortunate neighbor 
that "he had as many lives as Plutarch." 

By Professor Chandler Rathfon Post 

THE Italian Renaissance' produced many works, such as the 
polemics of the humanists upon subjects that have long since 
lost their significance, which are interesting rather as illus- 
trations of cultural conditions than for their intrinsic value. Com- 
positions like the pastoral romance of Sannazzaro, or the dramas 
based upon Senecan or upon Plautine and Terentian models, acquire 
importance as revivals of ancient literary types and as the seeds 
from which later great masterpieces were to be evolved. Much 
smaller is the number of works in which, as in the sonnets of Michel- 
angelo, the absolute value preponderates over the historical. Still 
fewer, such as the writings of Machiavelli,^ have the distinction of 
possessing an equal interest archseologically and in themselves, and 
to this class the "Autobiography" of Benvenuto Cellini^ belongs. 
No other production of the period embodies more vividly the 
tendencies of the Renaissance or enjoys a more universal and endur- 
ing appeal. We can best appreciate it by considering it under these 
two aspects. 


Its great importance as a document for the study of contemporary 
Italian life is obvious to the reader, but its temper also is strikingly 
related to certain spiritual movements of the day. Of the two 
determinative characteristics of the Renaissance, humanism, or the 
devotion to antiquity, and individualism, or the devotion to self- 
development, Benvenuto emphasizes the latter. The very natural 
transition from a study of self to the study of other personalities 
gave rise to the genre known as biography, eminent instances of 

' See Professor Potter's lecture on the Renaissance in the course on History. 
^ Harvard Classics, xxxvi, yff; and xxvii, 363ff. 

^H. C, xxxi. The dates of his life are 1500-1571; the "Autobiography" was first 
published in 1568. 



which are Vespasiano da Bisticci's "Lives o£ Illustrious Men," and 
Giorgio Vasari's more renowned "Lives of the Most Excellent 
Painters, Sculptors, and Architects." Autobiography, however, is 
an even more pronounced manifestation of individualism, and as 
the composer of the first great and definite example of this literary 
form in modern times, Benvenuto stands forth as a brilliant ex- 
ponent of his age. It is possible, doubtless, for an author to exhibit 
in an autobiography little of his own individuality, confining him- 
self largely, like Trollope, to a narrative of events and a discussion 
of his books; but such was not the spirit of the sixteenth century, and 
Benvenuto even exceeds his time. He strips to the very soul. Un- 
blushingly he lays bare alike his virtues and his vices, his public 
and his most private actions, his loves and hatreds. He seems un- 
conscious of modesty's existence, and takes a palpable delight, which, 
by the magic of his style, he causes the reader to share, in analyzing 
his own passions and in recounting his own deeds and misdeeds; 
typical and widely varying examples are the affair with the Sicilian 
girl, Angelica,* the terrible revenge for his brother's assassination,^ 
the celestial visions experienced in his long and gruesome in- 


Hand in hand with this attitude struts an exalted opinion of his 
own charms, prowess, and artistic superiority. In his conceit (for 
it is only a heroic form of this defect), he embodies not only 
individualism but also the concurrent phenomenon of humanism, 
which resurrected from ancient Rome such self-appreciation as 
appears so disagreeably in Cicero. With his high estimate of his 
own art modern criticism does not unqualifiedly agree. Of his labor 
as goldsmith so little that is certainly authentic remains that judg- 
ment is difficult; the chief extant example, the saltcellar of Francis I. 
now in the Imperial Treasury at Vienna, is unpleasant in com- 
position and too ornate. In his few plastic works on a large scale, 
one of which, the bronze bust of Bindo Altoviti, America is for- 
tunate enough to possess in the wonderful collection of Mrs. John L. 

*H. C, xxxi, 127-138. ^H. C, xxxi, 98-106. 

^H. C, xxxi, 235, 241. 


Gardner, Boston, he is perhaps less affected than most of his rivals 
by the degeneration into which Italian sculpture lapsed in the second 
and third quarters of the Cinquecento; but in comparison to the 
productions of the earlier Renaissance, or of his contemporary Michel- 
angelo, his profound affection and admiration for whom form one 
of his noblest traits, he betrays too close a dependence upon the 
antique, a tendency to excessive nicety and elaboration, derived from 
his training as a jeweler but unsuited to the broader manner of 
monumental statuary, a leaning toward ostentatious and luxuriant 
decoration, and a fatal predilection for sacrificing aesthetic con- 
siderations to the display of virtuosity in composition and in 
processes. All these characteristics are exemplified in what remains 
from his work, and may also be read between the lines of the "Auto- 
biography." The inclination to a display of skill is especially evident 
in the absorbing and famous description of the casting of the Per- 
seus.' Over his whole art, as indeed over most of the art of the 
later sixteenth century, there broods a certain deadness and a sense 
of the perfunctory, which are strangely contrasted with the spon- 
taneity that runs from his pen. The somewhat unjustifiable bragga- 
docio about this phase of his activity arouses suspicions as to the 
veracity of the tales about his courage and other achievements. Some 
of the details, such as the worm that he vomited forth after his long 
sickness,'* or the sight of the demons in the Colosseum,' seem 
hardly credible, but it must be remembered that we are dealing with 
a man of a high-strung, nervous temperament, whose imagination 
easily materializes the visions of his mind. Other episodes, like the 
various brawls and homicides in which he engaged, or the escape 
from the Castel Sant' Angelo, are improbable from our standpoint, 
but not in an epoch of extravagances like the Renaissance or for one 
of those supermen of Cellini's caliber, in which the period was so 
rich. Much of the "Autobiography" receives confirmation from con- 
temporary documents, and its main fabric is certainly trustworthy, 
though highly colored, doubtless to increase its artistic worth and 
to set off to advantage the central figure of the writer. 
I have spoken of Benvenuto as a superman, and herein, too, he is 

^See frontispiece in H. C, xxxi, and pp. 376-383. 
*//. C, xxxi, 170. 'H. C, xxxi, 127-128. 


a result of the astounding development of the individual witnessed 
by the Renaissance. In his versatility he is second only to such giants 
of universal talent as Leon Battista Alberti, Leonardo da Vinci, and 
Michelangelo. He excels equally as musician, goldsmith, and sculp- 
tor; he is an adept with the sword and with the musket; his skill as 
a diplomatist is paralleled only by his merriness as a jester; a lan- 
guishing lover one day, he is a fierce murderer the next; a part of his 
imprisonment he spends in devising a miraculous escape, and the 
rest in mystic religious trances; he can write you passable occasional 
sonnets and respectable treatises on art; and finally he bequeaths to 
the world what is probably the most remarkable autobiography in 

Cellini's morality 

Much of his activity is far from Christian. Benvenuto vies with 
Pietro Aretino for notoriety as an exponent of that Paganism which 
was a consequence, on one hand, of the indiscriminate acceptance of 
all that was ancient, even the license of decadent Rome, and, on 
the other, of the inevitable degeneration of self-development into 
self-gratification. The loose morals of the Renaissance have been 
much exaggerated by such writers as John Addington Symonds, 
who base their assertions too confidently upon the prejudiced Prot- 
estant accounts of the north and upon the short stories or novelle 
of the period, which magnify current abuses for humorous purposes. 
The ethical condition of Italy had still remained fairly sound in 
the fifteenth century, and it was not until now in the sixteenth that 
a debased humanism and individualism were developed to the bitter 
end with an effect that was baneful, but not so entirely fatal as is 
very commonly supposed. Almost every page of the "Autobiog- 
raphy," however, betrays the absence of any adequate moral standard. 
Cellini fathers an illegitimate child or cuts down an enemy as lightly 
as he sallies forth on a hunting expedition. There is little or no reali- 
zation of sin; religion he has, but a religion \vhich, however fervent, 
is divorced from morality and consists chiefly in an emotional mysti- 
cism and an observance of lovely and impressive ceremonies. He 
has shaken off the Christian curb upon the passions, and emulating 
the Paganism, not of the great days of antiquity, but of the Greek 
and Roman decline, he gives free rein to self. 



The historical importance of the work, then, lies, not only in its 
painting of contemporary life, but also in its lively presentation of 
the individualism, the versatility, and the Paganism of the late 
Renaissance; its intrinsic value is proved by an almost unique and 
widespread popularity from among so much ItaUan literature of 
the sixteenth century that is forgotten or known only to specialists. 
Benvenuto has succeeded in transfusing it with the magnetism of his 
own personality. So intimate is the manner which he adopts that 
we seem to be, not readers, but a company of boon companions 
listening to good tales, half the attraction of which is afforded by 
the very force and charm of the speaker's genial character. The 
matter is often such as should be bruited only in this society; the 
style is distinctly that of an easy conversationalist, full of picturesque 
Tuscan idioms, colloquial to the last degree, frequently lapsing into 
the loose grammar that is permitted to the raconteur. Behind this 
apparent facility, however, is concealed the art of a supreme master 
of narrative, who knows how to choose the piquant episodes and 
details and to exclude the irrelevant; who dexterously avoids monot- 
ony by contrasts of high lights and shadows; who is all the greater 
because he nowhere reveals the methods of his craft, but appears 
always the clever and spontaneous entertainer. 


By Professor Chester Noyes Greenough 

IN ALL the literature of fact — as distinguished from the literature 
of fiction — hardly any kind of book surpasses a good biography 
in its power to interest and instruct. It combines the suspense 
of the novel with the actuality of history. It fills in the detail with- 
out which history would be too impersonal, and it shows us how peo- 
ple, not at all points unlike ourselves, have ordered their lives — what 
their guiding principles have been, and how principles have some- 
times been modified to meet circumstances. Especially in the case 
of autobiography is all this true, for here we have the pleasure of 
feeling that the record is both authentic and intimate. The best 
of biographers, however learned, vivid, or philosophical, leaves 
between us and the past an interval which only a good autobiography 
can span. Such an autobiography may possess great historical value 
if its author was intimately connected with significant events and 
had some capacity to perceive their causes and their effects. But 
if the writer happens to be earnest about his career, free from self- 
consciousness, and blest with a good prose style, we have sufficient 
reasons for valuing the record of his life even though the historical 
importance of it may be quite secondary. Such is the basis of our 
permanent regard for autobiographies like those of Benjamin Frank- 
Un' (1706-1790) and John Woolman'' (1720-1772). 

the breaking down of PURITANISM 

Neither Franklin nor Woolman would have been at home among 
the makers of the literature which is most significant of America 
before their time. The latter as a Quaker, the former as a person 
whose general attitude may be indicated by his casually uttered 
remark^ that he was usually too busy to go to church, would have 
been either punished or cast out (if not both) by most New England 
^Harvard Classics, i, jff. ^H. C, i, i69ff. ^H. C, i, 16, 17. 



communities, who acquiesced in tlie banishment of some and the 
whipping or execution of others, in order that by uniform obedience 
to the theocratic ideal the purpose of the founders might be fulfilled. 
But in the eighteenth century there began to be a change. The 
growing interest in science, the influence of such writers as John 
Locke, the rise of other learned professions than the ministry, the 
advance of the merchant class, the increasing concern about political 
relations with the mother country, the founding of other churches 
than the Congregational ones which hitherto had virtually consti- 
tuted an Establishment — all of these influences make American life 
and letters in the eighteenth century radically different from the 
century of colonization. Strikingly unlike each other as Franklin 
and Woolman are in most respects, they agree in representing as- 
pects of the American mind that could hardly flourish in American 
literature until in the eighteenth century that literature began to 
move out of New England and its intolerant church. 

franklin's methods in literature and science 

The career of Franklin well illustrates these changes. He finds 
himself cramped in Boston and moves to Philadelphia. He pays 
the most careful attention to the matter of writing well,* because 
he sees that it pays to consult the convenience of the reader. In his 
writing he employs the secular arts of humor and irony and takes 
particular care to "forbear all direct contradiction to the sentiments 
of others, and all positive assertions of [his] own." '' He seeks the 
convenience of mankind also by various mechanical improvements 
and by the better organization of certain departments of the public 
service. His experiments in pure science mark him as patient, ob- 
servant, and logical to an unusual degree. But most of his attention — 
in business, science, and public service — is given to matters of im- 
mediate utiUty, 

franklin in politics 

In politics he was eminently successful, though probably not en- 
tirely uncorrupt. He managed delicate affairs of state with con- 
spicuous coolness and skill. He was particularly useful to the colo- 

*H. C, i, 16. ^H. C, i, 87. 


nies in explaining abroad the actual condition and views of the 
average American. His solid merits and unusual tact made him a 
great favorite in France, where, as commissioner for the colonies, 
he attained a personal popularity which was of the greatest advantage 
to his country. In spite of some loss of reputation from the suspi- 
cion that he had not always used his privileges unselfishly, Franklin 
returned to America to spend his last years in a position of honor not 
much below that of Washington himself. 

franklin's morals and religion 

Such eminence was not achieved without the most careful manage- 
ment. Indeed, the fact that most strongly impresses a reader of 
Franklin's "Autobiography" is the astonishing degree to which he 
regulated his acts and developed his character by a system of what, 
in the language of our day, might almost be termed "scientific man- 
agement." For example, he drew up,* as many others have done, 
a list of virtues and of precepts for attaining them. Then, apparently 
untroubled by any suspicion that what he was doing was at all 
funny, he kept a tabular record which showed, week by week, how 
good a score he was making in the important game of living a 
moral Ufe. His entire attitude toward life was of this prudential 
sort. Sins which would have prostrated a Puritan in the fear of 
eternal torment are to Franklin a matter of regret because of their 
expense and their injurious effect upon his health. Virtue he seems 
to have regarded chiefly as a means to the favor of man. The favor 
of God, which the Puritan implored in fasts and vigils, Franklin 
tranquilly expected as the outcome of a life regulated by prudence 
and virtue. "Having experienced the goodness of that Being in con- 
ducting me prosperously through a long life," he wrote to President 
Stiles of Yale, "I have no doubt of its continuance in the next, 
though without the smallest conceit of meriting such goodness." 

JOHN WOOLMAn's religion 

Strikingly different in almost every respect are the life and aims 
of John Woolman. "There was a care on my mind," he writes, "so 
to pass my time that nothing might hinder me from the most steady 

^H. C, i, 79ff. 


attention to the voice of the true Shepherd." ' This is the guiding 
principle of a hfe so inconspicuous in its outward circumstances and 
immediate rewards that we cannot possibly apply to it that some- 
what worldly and dubious word "career," yet so steadily and un- 
consciously holy as to deserve our most affectionate regard. 

Even as a young man Woolman began to be troubled by his own 
sins and by the dissolute life of many around him. Sometimes he 
felt moved to speak to others of their manner of life; oftener he 
concerned himself only with his own shortcomings and found that 
although "nature was feeble," yet "every trial was a fresh incitement 
to give himself up wholly to the service of God." ^ From the humility 
of Woolman's utterances one can hardly doubt that his own sins 
were less grave than he felt them to be, or that his warnings to 
others had no touch of the pharisaical about them, but came from 
a heart that unaffectedly desired the good of all men. 


Having learned the trade of a tailor, and having perceived that 
large possessions are an unnecessary temptation and trouble, Wool- 
man began to journey about and to "pursue worldly business no fur- 
ther than as truth opened [his] way."" He presently began to be much 
concerned about the evils of slavery, at that time practiced by 
Quakers as by others, and quietly set his face against an institution 
which he believed was destined to be "grievous to posterity." "* To 
act upon his convictions in this matter was not always easy or profi- 
table, as we see from the account" of his refusal to write the will 
of a certain Quaker slaveholder. Woolman felt regret at the loss of 
the employment and at the necessity of giving offence. But far more 
deeply he felt "that acting contrary to present outward interest, from 
a motive of Divine love and in regard to truth and righteousness, 
and thereby incurring the resentment of people, opens the way to a 
treasure better than silver, and to a friendship exceeding the friend- 
ship of men." " 

The temper shown in this incident is typical of the entire journal, 
and it inclines one to believe that such beautiful serenity and modesty 

'H. C, i, i8o. SH.C, 1,176. 8//. C, 1,177. '»//. C, i, 183. 

" H. C, i, 188, 189. 12 u c i_ i8g_ 


as Woolman's are perhaps more rare, as they are certainly more lovely, 
than mere avoidance of sin. Woolman's care was not to be seen of 
men, but to be prompted by "the pure spirit which inwardly moves 
upon the heart." " A man taught, as he was, "to wait in silence, 
sometimes many weeks together," '" until he hears God's voice, is 
not hkely to offend by an appearance of self-seeking or self-praise. 

Yet it would be a mistake to leave these two interesting and in- 
structive autobiographies with the feeling that one is the record of 
a pure and exalted spirit, the other a story of mere self-seeking. 
Woolman, though both in deed and in temper, far above this world, 
wrought no small part of a great practical reform. If Franklin's life 
seems earthy in comparison, it should be remembered that, what- 
ever his motives, he did manage to confer upon his country such 
benefits in science, in literature, diplomacy, practical arts, and public 
welfare as should entitle him to a respect which we may well deny 
to many of his rules for practicing the art of life. We could spare 
the practical advantages of having had among us a man like Frank- 
lin only if it were necessary to do so in order that the inner light 
which guided John Woolman might not be extinguished. 
"H.C, 1,175. "H.C., 1,176. 


By Professor O. M. W. Sprague 

THE first three chapters of the "Autobiography of John Stuart 
Mill," ' by far the most interesting part of the work, are 
concerned with the methods and results of his extraordi- 
nary education. Under the direct supervision of his father he began 
serious study with Greek at the tender age of three; at twelve he had 
covered the equivalent of the classical and mathematical requirements 
for graduation at the English universities, while in history and phil- 
osophy he had gone far beyond the requirements of those institu- 
tions of learning. Thereafter he continued his studies with unflagging 
industry, though along more special lines and in large measure in- 
dependently, very much after the manner of scholarly graduates of 
the universities ten years his senior. Before he was twenty he had 
edited a ponderous legal treatise in a fashion which would have 
been highly creditable to any scholar in the full maturity of his pow- 
ers. He was then, at twenty, clearly five, and perhaps ten, years in 
advance of that stage of intellectual acquirement which he would 
presumably have reached if he had received the education then, or, 
indeed, now, customary. 


By Mill himself this industrious childhood and youth was looked 
upon as an unmixed blessing. In the opening paragraph of the 
"Autobiography" he expresses the opinion that his experience shows 
that usually the early years of life are little better than wasted. 
But though no one can doubt that the rigorous mental discipline 
to which the younger Mill was subjected by his father was highly 
effective, educational methods fortunately have not been influenced 
by it in the slightest degree. Contrasted with accepted methods, 
his education was superior in only one respect — it did save time. 
' Harvard Classics, xxv. 


It enabled Mill to begin work as a mature writer at an unusually 
early age. But even so it does not follow that he was consequently 
able to do more or better work during his life than he would have 
otherwise accomplished. The addition of five or ten years at the 
outset of a life of normal length, and the work accomplished during 
those particular years, are not necessarily a net addition to its total 
achievement. Before drawing this conclusion we should need to be 
sure that physical strength and mental alertness were not prematurely 
lessened in consequence of the early training. After all, for contin- 
uous constructive intellectual work, the keeping of the mind open to 
new impressions and ideas is the one thing fundamentally important; 
and, while Mill was far superior to many of the world's great think- 
ers in this respect, this trait does not seem to have been due to the 
character of his education. 


That he was deprived of the ordinary activities and pleasures of 
childhood and youth does not seem to have been an occasion of regret 
to Mill. As a philosopher and psychologist he might have been 
expected to recognize that his exclusive absorption in study during 
his early years must have narrowed the range of his knowledge of 
life and his capacity to act with and to lead other men. Mill's atti- 
tude toward life was always, and especially in the earlier years of 
his career, excessively intellectual. He exaggerated the force of 
reasoned conclusions as a factor in individual conduct and as a 
means of bringing about social improvement. One cannot but feel 
that the few years saved by Mill in the acquiring of knowledge from 
books involved some sacrifice of knowledge and understanding of 
the ordinary impulses and motives of men and women. 

Still another defect in an education such as Mill received remains 
for consideration, though happily he escaped its threatened conse- 
quences. His father was one of the foremost of the utilitarian phil- 
osophers. He applied the principles of that school to the various 
problems of individual and of social improvement earnestly and with 
no lack of dogmatism. He impressed his views upon the mind of 
his son when he was far too young to subject them to critical 
analysis and to form an independent judgment regarding them 


through comparison with the opinions of other thinkers and from 
experience of Ufe itself. Mill's early writings are, therefore, and quite 
naturally, little more than the expression of the views of his father 
with such acute modifications as might be expected from one gifted 
with his powerful intellect. 


In the course of time the utilitarian philosophy, in the form in 
which it had come to him from his father, ceased to satisfy the dis- 
tinctly more emotional nature of the son. He became so completely 
disillusioned with the dry content of this philosophy that he became 
depressed, lost all joy in work and therewith the capacity for con- 
structive intellectual effort.^ Perhaps the most valuable part of the 
"Autobiography" is the account of this distressed and anxious period, 
and of the various influences which widened his horizon and 
humanized his views of life and its significance. Being a man of 
books, it was largely through a change in the character of his read- 
ing that he found solace. The poems of Wordsworth were the most 
potent single influence. It is altogether likely that a person born with 
less varied natural endowments would have remained content with 
and fixed in the cast of thought resulting from premature acquaint- 
ance with a single school of philosophy. 

mill's contribution to utilitarianism and liberalism 

This experience is reflected in the contribution made by Mill to 
utilitarian ethical theories. While adhering to the position that 
happiness is simply the sum total of pleasures, he made a distinction 
between higher and lower qualities of pleasure, regarding the higher 
as indefinitely more desirable than the lower. The criteria for 
making an exact classification of pleasures were, however, not fully 
and adequately worked out by Mill. Various branches of knowledge, 
in particular psychology and sociology, had not been developed 
sufficiently far for the purpose. On this, as on many other subjects, 
the work of Mill has been superseded, owing to fundamental differ- 
ences in methods of approach even more than to the accumulation 
of additional data. Among influences of special far-reaching impor- 

2 See H. C, xxv, 85-95. 


tance may be mentioned the evolutionary hypothesis, and what may 
be called, in contradistinction to the intellectual analytical psychology 
of Mill's time, the scientific psychology of the present. 

The most influential of all Mill's writings has been "The Prin- 
ciples of Political Economy," pubhshed in 1848. In writing this 
treatise. Mill had two purposes in view. In the first place, he wished 
to bring together the many improvements which had been made 
in the principles of the subject since the appearance of "The 
Wealth of Nations" ^ in 1776 and, following the example of Adam 
Smith, to illustrate their practical applications. Here he was con- 
spicuously successful. Many writers in recent years have set them- 
selves the same task with no such measure of accomplishment. 
In the second place, he wished to relate economic principles and 
phenomena to his own social ideals and social philosophy. The 
character of these social ideals and the nature of his social philosophy 
are abundantly set forth in the "Autobiography," * where particular 
attention is given to the influence upon his mind of his wife and of 
Auguste Comte, the father of the science of sociology. It can hardly 
be said that Mill was fully successful in this effort. The purely 
economic part of the treatise and the social philosophy are not fused 
together and at times are positively contradictory. Nevertheless, the 
treatise gained in human interest from the effort thus made, and at 
all events the way was indicated toward a broader treatment of 
social and economic questions than had been customary among econ- 
omists since the time of Adam Smith. 

The personality revealed in the "Autobiography" is one that can- 
not fail to command respect and admiration. An ardent desire for 
social as well as individual progress is conspicuous both in the analy- 
sis of the growth of his own mind and in what is said about his own 
writings. Detailed consideration of the various reforms which he 
advocated in his writings is impossible within the narrow limits 
of a single lecture. In a general way it may be noted that Mill 
expected greater results from the removal of obstructions to freedom 
of thought and action' and from education than in fact have been 
realized. It is now more clearly evident that the removal of re- 

' H. C, X, and see lecture on Adam Smith in the course on PoUtica! Science. 

*H. C, XXV, 141— 147. 

' See also the lecture on "The Idea of Liberty" in the series on Political Science. 


strictions is often no more than an indispensable preliminary to posi- 
tive means of improvement and that opportunities thus provided 
are by no means certain to be made use of. After making every 
qualification, however, the liberal movement of the nineteenth cen- 
tury surely made possible a long step forward in human progress. 
In this movement the writings of John Stuart Mill were a potent 



By Professor W. A. Neilson 

WHEN the literary historian seeks to assign to each age its 
favorite form of literature, he finds no difficulty in deal- 
ing with our own time. As the Middle Ages delighted in 
long romantic narrative poems, the Elizabethans in drama, the Eng- 
lishman of the reigns of Anne and the early Georges in didactic 
and satirical verse, so the public of our day is enamored of the 
novel. Almost all types of literary production continue to appear, 
but whether we judge from the lists of publishers, the statistics of 
public libraries, or general conversation, we find abundant evi- 
dence of the enormous preponderance of this kind of literary enter- 
tainment in popular favor. 


Though the instinct for a good story, on which the interest in 
fiction is based, is of immemorial antiquity, and may well be as old as 
human speech, the novel, as we understand it, is comparatively mod- 
ern. The unsophisticated folk tale, represented by the contents of 
such collections as that of the brothers Grimm,' lacks the element 
of lifelikeness both in incident and character, and is too limited in 
scale to be regarded as anything but a very remote ancestor. The "Fa- 
bles" ascribed to ^sop^ are mere anecdotes with a moral. The myths' 
of both the Mediterranean and the Northern nations are not pri- 
marily concerned with human life at all. Epic poetry,* besides de- 
riving from its verse a sustained emotional elevation usually im- 

' Harvard Classics, xvii, 47ff. ' H. C, xvii, iiff. 

' As contained, for example, in the "Odyssey," H. C, vol. xxii, and the "Song 
of the Volsungs," xlix, 249)?. 

^For examples in H. C, see "Odyssey," vol. xxii; "^neid," vol. xiii; "Paradise 
Lost" and "Paradise Regained," iv, %^&. and 359fl.; and cf. the lectures on Poetry. 


possible in prose, finds its central interest, not in individual personal- 
ity or the passion of love, but in some great national or racial issue. 
The romances^ of the Middle Ages, though usually centering in 
the fortunes of individuals and often dealing with love, are super- 
ficial in treatment, loose in construction, and primarily interesting 
as marvelous adventure. The fabliaux^ of the same period, which, 
with the novelle' of the Renaissance, belong to the ancestry of the 
short story of the modern magazine, are concerned with single 
situations, and do not attempt to display a whole phase of life in 
its subtlety and complexity. All these forms contain, in the imagina- 
tive nature of their material, an element common to them and the 
novel; but the negative statements which have been made regarding 
each show how much they fall short or go beyond our modern 
conception of prose fiction. 


Yet, though diflfering in these important and often fundamental 
respects from the modern novel, these earlier varieties of imagina- 
tive narratives contributed in a number of ways to the making of 
the type dominant to-day. In the sixteenth century, for instance, we 
find appearing, first in Spain and then in England, the so-called 
picaresque novel,' a story told in the first person by a roguish servant, 
who passes from master to master and exposes both his own rascality 
and the seamy side of the more fashionable life of his time. Many 
of the episodes are of the kind narrated in the fabliaux and novelle, 
but they are strung together by the history of the rogue hero. This 
type has persisted with variations, especially the loss of the servant 
element, down to our own time, and reached its highest pitch of art in 
English in Thackeray's "Barry Lyndon." 

The Elizabethan romance, represented by such a work as Sir 
Philip Sidney's "Arcadia," is in respect of realism much farther from 
our novel than the picaresque tale. But in its abundance of senti- 
ment and frequency of moral purpose, it has elements which the 
novel of roguery lacked. Characterization, which so far had rarely 

^Cf., especially Malory, H. C, xxxv, I03ff. 

^ Such as the Tales of the Miller and the Reeve in Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales." 

^ Such as the stories in Boccaccio's "Decameron." 

* The earliest English example is Nash's "Jack Wilton, or the Unfortunate Traveller." 


been a prominent feature in any form of fiction except the drama, 
was developed in the seventeenth century in a pecuUar species of 
writing known as the Character^ outside of fiction altogether. The 
character was a short sketch of a typical figure of the time, used 
largely for purposes of social satire, apparently general in its appli- 
cation, but not infrequently written with an individual in view. 

We find this form elaborated in a slight setting of situation and 
narrative in the De Coverley papers'" contributed by Addison and 
Steele to the "Spectator"; and when the novel in the modern sense 
arose about a generation later, the practice in the analysis and pres- 
entation of typical human beings which the character had afforded 
proved of considerable service. 


Perhaps more contributive than either the older story of romantic 
adventure or the character sketch, was the drama. The seventeenth 
century had seen, especially in comedy, the drama descending from 
heroic themes of kings and princes to pictures of contemporary life 
in ordinary society, not highly realistic as we understand the term, 
yet reproducing many of the types and much of the atmosphere 
existing around the author. It had cultivated the sense of a well-knit 
plot, of effective situation, and of the interplay of character and action 
— all elements transferable to prose narrative. And when, in the 
middle of the eighteenth century, we find the novel beginning to 
take the place of the stage as the dominant kind of imaginative 
entertainment, it is easy to see how much the younger form owed 
to the elder. There had long been an interchange of material be- 
tween the two species. In the time of Shakespeare, to go no farther 
back, the playwrights frankly dramatized familiar stories from his- 
tory, romance, and novella, and occasionally the story of a popular 
play was retold in prose narrative. Both processes are familiar 
to-day. Many successful novels appear later on the stage, and not 
a few successful plays are "novelized." There are, of course, marked 
differences in the kind of thing that can be best told by narrative 
or action respectively, and the failure to recognize these differences 
accounts for the frequent ill success of this kind of translation. But, 

' Among the best-known collections is that of Overbury. '" H. C, xxvii, 83fE. 


after all allowance for this has been made, many of the elements of 
effective story-telling remain common to both novel and play. 


The two chief claimants for the credit of founding the modern 
English novel are Daniel Defoe" and Samuel Richardson. Defoe's 
stories depend for their unity chiefly upon the personality of the 
leading character. They are usually series of episodes strung along 
the thread of the hero's or heroine's life. Many of them, from their 
pre-occupation with the criminal classes, approach the picaresque; 
and even "Robinson Crusoe," justly the most popular, is more an 
adventure tale than a novel. His most notable characteristic is a 
singular realism, achieved by a skillful selection of matter-of-fact 
details, which produces a circumstantial effect like that of a modern 
newspaper report. But the realism, clever though it is, is mainly 
external; and comparatively little in the way of insight into charac- 
ter or motive is to be found in most of his stories. 

The great works of Richardson, "Pamela," "Clarissa Harlowe," 
and "Sir Charles Grandison," are novels without question. Not only 
does he achieve a large unity of action, building into a shapely 
structure round his central figure a complex of persons, motives, 
and social conditions, but he deals in detail with the inner life of his 
characters, and he gives to passion and sentiment the pervading 
importance that has now become traditional in this form of litera- 
ture. Sentiment, indeed, with him often enough degenerated into 
sentimentahty, and he dwelt on the emotional and pathetic elements 
in his narrative with a deliberation and an emphasis successfully 
calculated to draw from his readers the greatest possible lachrymose 


It was largely this exaggeration of the pathetic, and the idealizing 
of the chief character in order to gain an opportunity for the pa- 
thetic, that led Fielding" to begin his first novel, "Joseph Andrews," 
as a parody of Richardson's "Pamela." Pamela had been pictured 
as a virtuous maid-servant, chastely resisting the approaches of her 
"H. C, xxvii, 132. ^^H. C, xxxix, 176. 


young master, and Fielding planned the story of Pamela's brother 
Joseph, placed in a corresponding position toward his mistress, to 
ridicule the absurdities of his predecessor's method. But he soon 
became interested in his hero for his own sake, and in this novel, 
and still more in his masterpiece, "Tom Jones," he treated human 
nature with a robust frankness that earned for him the famous com- 
pliment of his disciple, Thackeray, that he was the last English 
novelist who dared to draw a man. 

Some of Fielding and perhaps more of Defoe is to be found in 
the sordid tales of Tobias Smollett; and in Laurence Sterne we have 
the sentimental tendencies of Richardson carried to the last extreme, 
but mingled in extraordinary fashion with a conscious humor that 
doubles back on the sentiment, the whole related in a style of re- 
markable individuality and brilliant wit. In the same period, Oliver 
Goldsmith produced his one novel, "The Vicar of Wakefield," a 
delicately drawn picture of a phase of contemporary society enriched 
with a group of characters, broadly typical, but delineated with an 
abundance of tender sympathy and gentle humor. 


Meantime, there had begun in England, as elsewhere, that com- 
plex reaction against the intellectualism of the eighteenth century 
known as the Romantic Movement. Among its more obvious 
phases was the revival of interest in remote places and periods, and 
especially in the Middle Ages. The extent to which this interest 
was ill-informed and merely sentimental is nowhere better illustrated 
than in the rise of the so-called "Gothic Romance." This variety of 
fiction is usually regarded as beginning with "The Castle of Otranto" 
of Horace Walpole, the son of the great Whig minister, Sir Robert 
Walpole, and the type of the fashionable dilettante of the London 
of his day. Walpole had no real understanding or sympathy for 
the spirit of the Middle Ages, but one of his fads was medieval ar- 
mor, furniture, and architecture, and out of this arose his curious half- 
sincere experiment in fiction. The real leader in the production of 
this sort of "thriller," however, was Mrs. Radclifle," who was fol- 
lowed by Clara Reeves" and scores of minor imitators. The novels 

" For example "The Mysteries of Udolpho." '* As in 'The Old English Baron." 


of these ladies were set in a vaguely remote period of chivalry, their 
scenes were ancient castles, with concealed panels, subterranean 
passages, and family ghosts; their plots turned upon the usurpation 
of family estates by wicked uncles or villainous neighbors, and on 
the reparations and sufferings of missing heirs and heroines of "sensi- 
bility"; and their characters were the stereotyped figures of ordinary 
melodrama. A special development of this type appeared in the 
"School of Terror" headed by M. G. Lewis, whose nickname of 
"Monk" Lewis was derived from his novel of "Ambrosio, or the 
Monk," in which the terrifying and, it must be said, the licentious 
possibilities of the Gothic romance were carried to a high pitch. 
This, on the whole, rather worthless species, which had been 
accompanied by many feeble attempts at a more definitely historical 
type of novel, culminated surprisingly in the romances of Sir Walter 
Scott. Scott, however, had in his training and in his vast reading a 
basis for historical and romantic fiction all his own. He stripped the 
Gothic type of romance of its sentimentality and absurdity, strength- 
ened it with his great fund of historical and legendary information, 
gave it stability with his sanity and humor, and interest by his crea- 
tion of a great series of vigorous and picturesque creations. The art 
of fiction has gained in technical dexterity since Scott's day, stories 
now begin sooner and move more rapidly, conversation is reported 
with a greater life-likeness, the tragedy in human life is more often 
given its due place; but the entrancing narratives of Scott, with all 
their deliberation, are likely to retain their charm, and his men and 
women still have blood in their veins. He created the historical 
novel, not only for Britain but for Europe, and all its writers since 
have been proud to sit at his feet. 


In the time of Doctor Johnson, Fanny Burney, the daughter of 
a noted musician, and lady-in-waiting to the Queen, gathered out 
of her experience of London society materials for her "Evelina," 
a novel of manners shrewdly observed and acutely chronicled. She 
is the chief predecessor of Scott's contemporary and rival, Jane 
Austen, the daughter of a provincial clergyman, whose knowledge 
of the world was practically confined to the county in which she 


lived and the watering places, like Bath, where she spent an occa- 
sional vacation. But she had tact enough to confine her books'^ to 
the life she knew; and this life, with its squires, its curates, its old 
ladies, its managing mothers and eligible daughters, is pictured with 
a minuteness and fidelity that has scarcely been surpassed. She writes 
smoothly, with an evasiveness in her characteristic irony that makes 
her personality hard to grasp, while it prevents that personality 
from coming between the picture and the spectator. Limited in 
scope, commonplace in incident, and deliberately ordinary in type 
of characters, her novels have the exquisite finish and perfection 
of a miniature. 

Parallel in some respects to Miss Austen's novels of English pro- 
vincial life are Miss Edgeworth's,'* dealing with the Irish, and Miss 
Ferrier's" with the Scottish field. Together these ladies stand at 
the head of that still vigorous branch of fiction which in America is 
mapping the Ufe of the whole country with sectional novels, like 
those of New England by Miss Jewett, Miss Wilkins, and Mrs. 
Riggs, of the South by James Lane Allen, George W. Cable, and 
Thomas Nelson Page, of the Middle West by Meredith Nicholson 
and Booth Tarkington. 


Fifty years ago the world of readers was divisible into the parti- 
sans of two great novelists, who, despite their limitations, made more 
obvious by the development of fiction on the Continent, still rank 
among the highest. WiUiam Makepeace Thackeray, who went back, 
as has been said, to the work of Fielding for his models, devoted 
himself chiefly to the picturing of EngUsh society, in the more re- 
stricted sense of the word, from Queen Anne to Queen Victoria. 
Definitely and perhaps restrictedly English in his outlook on life, 
his view of the human scene is somewhat insular. His natural senti- 
ment was tempered by an acute perception of the meaner elements 
in human nature to such a degree that his work has a strong satirical 
element, and some have even been misled into thinking him charac- 

^ E.g., "Pride and Prejudice," "Sense and Sensibility," "Emma." For a satire on 
the Gothic Romance, cf. her "Northanger Abbey." 
"£.^., "Castle Rackrent," and "The Absentee." ^^ E.g., "Marriage." 


teristically a cynic. Gifted with a superb style, with profound sym- 
pathy and insight into human emotion, and with a power of render- 
ing the picturesque aspects of a society, Thackeray remains a great 

The work of his contemporary, Charles Dickens, has had an even 
greater popular success. Dickens's early career gave him a knowledge 
of a much humbler grade of society than Thackeray pictures, and 
at the same time left him with a vivid sense of the wrongs under 
which the more unfortunate members of that society suffered. This 
led him to devote many of his works to the redress of social griev- 
ances, and connects him with the general humanitarian movements 
of modern times. Powerful as was Dickens's influence for reform 
in his own time, it seems clear that the very specific nature of the 
evils he attacked is bound to impair the permanence of his work, as 
it always impaired the artistic value. But we relish still his buoyant 
humor and geniality, the binding interest of his complex though 
sometimes confusing plots, and the charm of his immense throng 
of creations, typical to the point of caricature, but in their setting 
vital, appealing, and eminently memorable. 


In spite of the abundant humor in both Thackeray and Dickens, 
the novel with them had become a very serious form, the vehicle of 
important moral and social truths. In the hands of its more notable 
masters, serious it has remained. The prevalence of the scientific 
point of view, so marked since the promulgation of the theories 
of Charles Darwin, has left distinct traces on the history of fiction. 
The philosophical and scientific learning of George Eliot appears 
in her work in the emphasis on the reign of law in the character of 
the individual, and, although she too possesses a rich vein of humor, 
the charming playfulness in which her immediate predecessors per- 
mitted themselves to indulge is replaced by an almost portentous 
realization of the responsibilities of art and life. In Thomas Hardy, 
too, the scientific influence is plainly felt, the overwhelming power 
of environment and circumstance being presented with a force so 
crushing as to leave the reader depressed with a sense of the help- 
lessness of the individual, without any compensating faith in a benev- 


olence controlling the external forces which overwhelm him. Yet 
these writers display profound psychological insight, and make 
distinguished contributions to the progress of the art of fiction in its 
advance toward a more and more complete and penetrating por- 
trayal of the whole of human life. 

Less somber in tone, but no less brilliant in workmanship, are 
the novels of George Meredith. Hampered in regard to the greater 
public by a style at once dazzling and obscure, Meredith has been 
acclaimed by his fellow craftsmen as a great master. Beginning 
partly under the influence of Dickens, Meredith gained for himself 
at length a peculiar and distinguished position as perhaps the most 
intellectual of the English novelists, or, at least, the novelist who 
concerns himself most with the intellectual processes of his character. 
Yet he is far from impoverished on the emotional side, and there are 
few scenes in fiction more poignant in their tragedy than that which 
closes "The Ordeal of Richard Feverel." 

Besides the influence of modern science, English fiction has latterly 
been much affected by foreign models, especially French and Rus- 
sian. The tracing of these streams, however, would bring us to the 
consideration of men still writing, and involve us in a mass of pro- 
duction which cannot be characterized here, and on which we can- 
not hope to have as yet a proper perspective. The great amount 
of distinguished writing in the field of the English novel which has 
been revealed even in this rapid survey of its history will have sug- 
gested to the reader why it was found hopeless to try to represent 
it in The Harvard Classics. But these writers are easy of access, 
and this is the side of literature which the modern reader is least 
apt to ignore. Yet it is also the side which is most likely to be read 
carelessly, without consideration of purpose or method; so that it 
may now be worth while to try to come to some understanding 
as to its aim and the conditions of its excellence. 



In considering the purpose which works of fiction may be sup- 
posed to fulfill, it will be of interest and value to note what some 


of the more prominent writers have said with regard to their rea- 
sons for practicing the art. The more selfishly personal motives may 
be passed over quickly. Money and fame have been desired and 
welcomed by most authors, as by most men, but they help us little to 
an understanding of the purpose of literature. Yet there are some 
who have written with neither of these in view, like Jane Austen, 
who died leaving a considerable part of her work unpublished, and 
apparently without having sought to publish it. Since the motives 
of men are more usually complex than simple, it is a safe assumption 
that even those who have frankly written for a living, or who have 
acknowledged the lure of ambition, have had other things in view 
as well, and have not found profit or honor incompatible with 
deeper and more altruistic aims. 

Of these last, the most commonly claimed is the moral improve- 
ment of the reader. No one has been more explicit about this than 
Richardson, whose preface to "Pamela" is characteristic enough 
to quote at length: 

"If to divert and entertain, and at the same time to instruct and 
improve the minds of the youth of both sexes; 

"If to inculcate religion and morality in so easy and agreeable a 
manner as shall render them equally delightful and profitable; 

"If to set forth, in the most exemplary Ughts, the parental, the 
filial, and the social duties; 

"If to paint vice in its proper colours, to make it deservedly 
odious; and to set virtue in its own amiable light, and to make it 
look lovely; 

"If to draw characters with justness and to support them dis- 

"If to effect all these good ends in so probable, so natural, so 
lively, a manner, as shall engage the passions of every sensible 
reader, and attach their regard to the story; 

"If these be laudable or worthy recommendations, the editor of the 
following letters ventures to assert that all these ends are obtained 
here, together." 

In similar vein his "Clarissa" is "proposed as an exemplar to her 
sex," and is made as perfect as is "consistent with human frailty." 


her faults being put in chiefly lest there should be "nothing for the 
Divine grace and a purified state to do." 

Fielding, though less verbose, is no less explicit. He claims for 
"Tom Jones" that "to recommend goodness and innocence hath 
been my sincere endeavour in this history," and that he has "en- 
deavoured to laugh mankind out of their favourite follies and vices." 
Of "Amelia" he says: "The following book is sincerely designed to 
promote the cause of virtue." The frequent satirical tone of Thack- 
eray, as well as the nature of his analysis of human motive, testifies 
to his sharing Fielding's desire to drive men out of their follies and 
vices by ridicule and contempt. 

Dickens characteristically combines the improvement of the indi- 
vidual with the reform of institutions. Of "Martin Chuzzlewit" 
he says: "My main object in this story was to exhibit in a variety 
of aspects the commonest of all the vices; to show how selfishness 
propagates itself, and to what a grim giant it may grow from small 
beginnings." Again, "I have taken every possible opportunity of 
showing the want of sanitary improvements in the neglected dwell- 
ings of the poor." 

In contrast to such ethical claims as these, Scott's confession, "I 
write for general amusement," sounds more than humble. Yet he 
frequently repeats it. He hopes "to relieve anxiety of mind," "to 
unwrinkle a brow bent with the furrows of daily toil." At times 
he approaches the moral aim of his more serious brethren, "to fill 
the place of bad thoughts and suggest better," "to induce an idler 
to study the history of his country." 


In contrast with these older statements of purpose is the assumption 
prevailing among the more serious of modern novelists that fiction 
is primarily concerned with giving a picture of life. This aim is 
set forth not only in explanation of their own work, but as a test 
of the value of that of others, irrespective of intention. By it is 
displayed the peculiar danger of "novels with a purpose," whether 
that purpose is moral or social. They point out that Richardson's 
method of "exemplars," whether of virtue to be imitated or vice to 


be shunned, is apt to result in creations snow-white or pitch black, 
which fail in truth because human nature, even in the best and 
worst, is a complex of good and evil; and which fail in effectiveness, 
because the reader finds no corroboration in his experience and re- 
mains unconvinced of their reality. Similarly the novelist with a 
theory to prove, of the stupidity or cruelty of bad poor laws, foul 
prisons, red tape and the law's delays, as in Dickens; of the rights 
of women, the falsity of Calvinism, the wickedness of commercial 
marriages, as in more modern writers, is likely to drive his point 
home by exaggeration, false proportion, some interference with the 
natural way of the world. The aim to recommend virtuous action by 
the display of "poetic justice" is open to the same objections. In 
both cases there results loss of both truth and effectiveness. The same 
may be true of both the satirical and the merely entertaining aims: 
in the first, the emphasis on the traits held up to ridicule runs the 
risk of going beyond the bounds of the normal; in the second, the 
curious, the marvelous, the mysterious, or the amusing may be 
sought for at the expense of the natural, with the result that the 
reader's skepticism prevents his submitting himself to the illusion 
of reality necessary for the enjoyment of the pleasure or the advan- 
tages to be derived from imaginative art. 


The zeal for true pictures of life which thus censures the older 
theories of "instruction and delight" is part of the modern tendency 
to realism, and is connected with the triumph of the scientific point 
of view. Indeed, its most extreme advocates are at times quite 
explicit about this : "We should work," says Zola, "upon characters, 
passions, human and social facts, as the physicist and chemist work 
with inorganic bodies, as the physiologist works with living organ- 
isms." On this theory he believed himself to have constructed his 
novels; and though he did not carry it out as rigorously as he sup- 
posed he did, the results of it are all too evident in the assembling 
in his pages of vast masses of almost statistical facts, set down with- 
out regard to taste, convention, or decency. 

But not all modern realists interpret their creed in so mechanical a 
manner. Many have held to the belief in true pictures of life with- 


out committing themselves to the extreme view that the record 
should be untinged with the personality of the writer. And, indeed, 
it is now fairly well agreed that such absolute objectivity, is neither 
possible nor desirable. It is not possible for many reasons. All the 
facts concerning any human episode, not to say life, cannot be re- 
corded in a book, so infinitely numerous and complex are they, 
linked to thousands of others which are necessary to a full statement 
of them, and themselves involving a life history and an immemorial 
ancestry. Thus in the most severely realistic work selection is nec- 
essary, the selection of what seems significant to the author; and 
with this selection the personal element has already entered. Again, 
the sympathy of the author unconsciously determines questions of 
relative stress and emphasis; and intimate qualities of temperament 
and imagination affect the atmosphere in which the most baldly 
reported incidents take place. 

ARTISTIC versus literal truth 

So we arrive at the important distinction between artistic and 
literal truth. This is a distinction which everyone is accustomed to 
recognize in daily intercourse, yet which even professional critics 
are liable to muddle at times in the discussion of art. We all know 
how it is possible to report the bare facts of an action or the actual 
words of a conversation so as to convey to the hearer a totally false 
impression. On the other hand, an accurate view of what was done 
and said, with the right impUcations as to character, motive, and tone, 
may be conveyed without any reproduction of facts, in the nar- 
row sense, at all. The second method is clearly that at which the 
artist should aim. His business is with the typical, not the individual; 
the permanently characteristic, not the temporarily actual; the spirit, 
not the letter. 

Most of us have heard discussions of a book in which a critic has 
urged as an objection that a certain incident. is not lifelike, when a 
friend of the author has triumphantly answered that that precise 
incident is the thing in the work which actually happened. Sup- 
posing that the criticism was just, we see at once that one of two 
things must have occurred; either the author did not understand 
what happened in real life, failed to see its true causes and relations. 


and so did not himself know the real facts; or else he reported 
it out of its true relations, and so deprived the reader of the means 
of knowing the real facts. An apparent third possibility might also 
be mentioned; that the episode in question was what might be called 
a "freak" happening, an abnormal occurrence like the birth of an 
eight-legged calf, which, while historically actual, is really out of 
the order of nature, and not in itself fit to be a link in the chain of 
happenings which a true picture of life represents. Of course, such 
an abnormality has a cause; but the obscurity of the cause makes 
this possibility a special case under our first explanation — it is not 
easily displayed in connection with its true causes. 

THE author's philosophy OF LIFE 

It is evident, then, that the recording of mere detached fact, un- 
touched by the author's personality, is not only impossible, but may, 
when attempted, lead to the violation of actual truth. The door is 
thus opened to the exercise of the artistic judgment, both in the 
selection of material and in its manipulation and presentation. The 
background of this judgment, as it were, is the general view of 
human nature and of the world at large which the individual 
author entertains. This view has been arrived at by the observation 
and meditation which he has practised throughout his life; the 
conclusions which it involves affect the interpretation of every- 
thing that comes under his notice; and its first effect on his art is 
in determining the choice of subjects to be treated. Individual peo- 
ple and events will arrest his attention and suggest artistic treatment 
according as they are happy illustrations of what he has perceived 
to be general truths; and in his treatment he will not scruple to 
modify them to make them more apt. He will choose what Bagehot 
calls "literatesque" subjects, subjects fit to be put in a book, as he calls 
picturesque subjects those fit to be put in a picture; and he de- 
fines both as those summing up in a single instance the character- 
istics that mark the class as a whole to which they belong. 


Let us now compare this conclusion as to the legitimate purpose of 
the novel with such a moral aim as that of Richardson. As a matter 


of fact, the difference lies more in his way of stating his theory than 
in his practice. So far as his observation of life led him to believe 
that people of the type of Pamela and Clarissa act in general as 
these heroines do, and that their fortunes in general are determined 
by their character and their society in the manner he represents, 
so far he is merely using them properly as illustrations of the view 
of life of which experience has convinced him. So far, however, 
as he modifies their characters or careers to conform not to the way 
the world is, but to the way he wants people to believe the world 
is, he is artistically false, his picture fails in truth, and the modern 
reader declines to be interested or convinced. The whole question 
turns on which the author puts first, artistic truth or effect. If 
he is more concerned with specific effects than with truth, his 
"novel with a purpose" will deserve the contempt with which the 
phrase is usually employed. If his main concern is with truth, his 
"purpose," being merely a special illustration of the truth with what- 
ever practical result in mind, will do no harm, but may add greatly 
to the zest with which he paints his picture. 


Assuming the correctness of the view that the novelist's business 
is to give true pictures of life, we are met by the question of the 
value of this result. The answer to this is twofold: there is an 
intellectual value and an emotional value. 

The amount and range of experience that comes to the ordinary 
man is of necessity limited. Most of us are tied to a particular locality, 
move in a society representing only a few of the myriad human 
types that exist, spend the majority of our waking hours attending 
to a more or less monotonous series of duties or enjoying a small 
variety of recreations. In such a life there is often no great range 
of opportunity; and the most adventurous career touches, after all, 
but a few points in the infinite complex of existence. But we have 
our imaginations, and it is to these that the artist appeals. The dis- 
criminating reader of fiction can enormously enlarge his experience 
of life through his acquaintance with the new tracts brought within 
his vision by the novelist, at second hand, it is true, but the vivid 
writer can often bring before our mental eyes scenes and persons 


whom we can realize and understand with a greater thoroughness 
than those we perceive directly through our senses. The materials 
for the understanding of men and life are thus greatly increased, and 
at the same time the data for the forming of those generalizations 
which collectively make up our philosophy. 

The basis of all sound altruistic activity is sympathy, and sym- 
pathy again depends on the imagination. We acr tactfully and 
effectively for the relief of another's suffering when we are able 
imaginatively to put ourselves in that other's place. Now, familiarity 
with well-described characters in fiction not only makes us ac- 
quainted with a much wider variety of human beings and enables 
us to understand them, but it provides us with a kind of emotional 
gymnastic, increasing our capacity for putting ourselves whole- 
heartedly and clear-mindedly in the other man's place. Thus such 
familiarity is a corrective of both provincialism and selfishness, 
broadening the outlook and enlarging the emotional range through 
the development of the imagination. Here is an ethical result more 
effective by far than that indicated by the old formula of "ex- 
emplars," warnings, and poetic justice, and one that implies no 
forcing of the truth to bring its lessons home. 


In what has been said about fiction as a picturing of life, some- 
thing has already been implied as to the methods involved. There 
remain, however, some otheo: important questions of technic on 
which we may briefly touch. 

However true a writer's picture of life, it is of little value if it 
does not impress itself on the reader. The question of effectiveness 
is thus of great importance, and with certain classes of authors it 
not infrequently absorbs them to the exclusion even of the question 
of truth. 

The most comprehensive element of effectiveness is structure. 
A story that does not hang well together, in which the scenes are 
mere scattered episodes, which has no palpable thread, no climaxes, 
and no conclusion, is not likely to be read through, and, if it is, it 
rouses no deep interest, intellectual or emotional, and leaves no 
definite stamp on the memory. The factors which it lacks are 


those that give unity of structure. From this point of view, the 
problem of the novelist is to make as close-knit and thoroughly 
organized a plot as possible without violating natural probability 
in appearance or reality. This is the greatest of technical problems 
for the author, as the critical appreciation of structure is the last 
power to be acquired by the careless reader; yet no sound capacity 
for judging or enjoying fiction is possible to him who cannot thus 
view the work as a whole. 

Somewhat similar faculties are required on a smaller scale in the 
handling of situation and incident. Many writers are able to pre- 
sent these effectively in isolation; but the great writer treats them 
not as beads on a string, but as stones in a great building. 

Both plot and incident in turn must be vitally related to character. 
Not only must the persons stand out clearly described and recog- 
nizable as the people we know, but the things that happen and the 
kind of characters through and to whom they happen, must re- 
ciprocally explain each other. Much discussion has taken place with 
regard to the propriety of explicit analysis of character in the novel, 
some writers feeling bound to let a character's words and deeds 
alone explain him as they do in the drama, others feeling free to 
come forward in their own persons and explain frankly the motives 
and feelings of their creatures. Much naturally depends on the way 
it is done. Thackeray's friendly gossip with the reader behind the 
backs of his dramatis persotice is often so charming that we should 
be loath to lose it; and often the explicit statement of the author 
saves us much labor and prevents important misunderstanding. 
On the other hand, there is unquestionably great satisfaction in 
the drawing of our own inferences, and a considerable gain in the 
illusion of reality when the actors are allowed to exhibit their quality 
unaided by a talking showman. 

The attempt has here been made to outline some of the main 
principles of the art of fiction without adopting the partisan attitude 
of any one school. Within the limits of these principles there is 
room for a great variety of type, for realism and romance, for chroni- 
cles of the commonplace and annals of adventure, for stirring tales of 
action and subtle psychological analysis. The endless variety of 


human life supplies an equally endless variety of themes; and the 
nature of the theme will properly lead to emphasis now on the ex- 
ternal, now on the internal, now on the ordinary, now on the extraor- 
dinary, with appropriate variation of the technical methods em- 
ployed. But with all this variation the demand holds for truth to 
the permanent and essential traits of human nature and human life, 
and for vitality and interest in the presentation of this truth. 

But what, the reader may ask, of the pleasure from novels? natu- 
rally, since the giving of pleasure is usually assumed as the main end 
of fiction. Well, pleasure largely depends on who is to be pleased: 
there are readers who could demand no greater pleasure than that 
sense of enlargement of personality, of the scope of experience 
and sympathy, which has been put down as the chief value of the 
novel. It may be claimed, also, that in the demand that fiction 
should impress vividly and hold the interest powerfully we have pro- 
vided for the seekers after pleasure. The greatest pleasure is to live 
broadly and intensely, to feel oneself in a world significant at every 
point and palpitating in response to our activities, and this the 
greatest fiction surely tends to give. One of the finest of modern 
masters of the art, Mr. Henry James, has summed up the matter 
in an epigram as true as it is brilliant, that we are entertained by 
the novelist because we live at his expense. 


By Professor F. N. Robinson 

THE works to be dealt with in the present lecture are widely 
separated in time and place. They include "iEsop's Fables," 
a collection which bears the name of a Greek slave of the 
sixth century, but is actually a growth of many generations before 
and after him; the "Arabian Nights," which contains Oriental 
stories of diverse origin; the sagas of mediaeval Ireland, as repre- 
sented by "The Destruction of Da Derga's Hostel"; and the folk 
origin; the sagas of medieval Ireland, as represented by the Grimms 
or imitated by Hans Christian Andersen. In so broad a range of 
writings there is naturally great variety of matter and style, and 
there might seem at first to be few common characteristics. But 
all the works mentioned — or all except Andersen's tales — are alike 
in being popular prose fiction, and Andersen's collection is an artis- 
tic imitation of similar productions. 


The term "popular" is here employed, of course, in a technical 
meaning, and does not have reference to vogue or popularity, in the 
ordinary sense. Popular works, in the stricter definition of the term, 
are anonymous and are held to be the product of many successive 
authors. They commonly pass through a long period of oral trans- 
mission before being committed to writing, and they are conse- 
quently cast in a conventional or traditional, rather than an indi- 
vidual, style and form. The exact nature and extent of popular 
composition is a matter of dispute. In the case of ballad poetry, 
with its dancing, singing throng, the process of communal author- 
ship can sometimes be actually observed; but in the case of the prose 
tales no such opportunity exists for collective composition. Still even 
there the changes and additions introduced by successive narrators 
make of a story a conmion product, for which no single author is 



responsible. Popular works in both prose and verse show various 
stages of artistry; and just as in the Anglo-Saxon epic of "Beowulf," ' 
there is evidence of the hand of a single poet of high order, so in the 
"Arabian Nights," ^ for example, one may suspect that the style and 
structure were largely molded by a single writer, or group of writers, 
of skill and literary training. There are many mooted questions 
as to the history of the whole type, or as to the exact nature of 
particular works, but there can be no doubt of the existence of a 
great body of literature which is in a real sense public property — 
popular somehow in origin and transmission, and thereby deter- 
mined in its character. Both the verse and the prose of this popular 
sort are well represented in The Harvard Classics, the former by 
the traditional ballads and the latter by the works enumerated above. 


Writings of the kind under consideration would probably have 
had a less conspicuous place in a literary or educational collection 
a few generations ago. For interest in popular literature, or, at 
least, formal attention to it on the part of the learned and cultivated, 
is largely a growth of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In 
earlier periods, and especially in those when classical standards pre- 
vailed, the study of literature meant primarily the study of great 
masterpieces of poetry, philosophy, or oratory, and the art of criti- 
cism consisted largely in the deduction of rules and standards from 
such models. The products of the people, if noticed at all by men 
of letters, were likely to be treated with condescension or perhaps 
judged by formal standards, as Addison praised the ballad of "Chevy 
Chase," ' for conforming in great measure to the narrative method 
of the "^neid." '' But in more recent times the spirit of criticism 
has changed, and writers have even swung to the opposite extreme 
of adulation of all popular products. The part of the people in 
composition has been magnified, until the "Iliad" or the "Beowulf" 
has been conceived as the actual production of a whole community. 
With this renewed admiration for popular literature in its highest 
forms has come an enthusiastic interest in all the minor products 

^Harvard Classics, xlix, 5ff. ^H. C, xvi, isff. 

' H. C, xl, 93. ■< H. C. xiii. 


of popular or semi-popular composition, and vast numbers of schol- 
ars have devoted themselves to the collection and investigation of 
folk songs and folk tales from every corner of the world. Most in- 
terest has doubtless centered in the poetry, as most labor and inge- 
nuity has been spent upon the great epics, such as the "Iliad" or the 
"Nibelungenlied." But the excellence of much popular prose narra- 
tive has also been recognized, and this also has been very extensively 


Though popular fiction has not always occupied a dignified place 
in the works on literary history, it has long exerted an important 
influence on the more sophisticated forms of literature. In the an- 
cient world, it is almost too obvious to point out, the myths upon 
which drama and epic turned were at the outset often popular tales 
of gods and heroes. The fable, as the embodiment of moral wisdom, 
has been, of course, the constant resource of speakers and writers, 
and in the hands of such poets as Marie de France in the twelfth 
century, or La Fontaine in the seventeenth, it has received the highest 
finish of art. Though the "Arabian Nights" collection, as a whole, 
is of recent introduction into European literature, Oriental tales of 
the sort which compose it circulated extensively in Europe from the 
time of the crusades and supplied much material for the fiction of 
the Middle Ages. In the last century, too, poets have found a rich 
storehouse in the traditions of the days of "good Haroun Alraschid." 
The folktales of northern Europe, again, as represented by Celtic and 
Scandinavian sagas or by the modern German collection of the 
Grimms, have been the source of much lofty poetry and romance. 
Many a great play or poem goes back in substance to some bit of 
fairy mythology or to a single tale like that of a persecuted Cinde- 
rella, or of a father and son unwittingly engaged in mortal combat. 
The splendid romances of King Arthur^ have derived many of their 
essential elements from popular sagas not very different in character 
from the account of Da Derga' printed in this series. In the hands 
of court poets or polite romancers the original stories were, of course, 
often disguised beyond easy recognition. Their motives were 

= //. C, XXXV, I03ff. «H. C, xlix, iggff. 


changed, and they were transferred to the setting of a higher 
civilization. Oftener than not the authors who treated them were 
wholly unaware of the history or meaning of the material. Yet a 
chief result of the critical scholarship of the last hundred years 
has been to show how the highest products of literary art are de- 
rived from simple elements of popular tradition. 


From the historical point of view, then, popular fiction has an 
important place in literary education. But in and for itself also, 
without regard to historical standards, this great body of writings 
possesses a direct human interest not inferior to that of the literature 
of art. The works selected for the present series illustrate very 
well the varieties of the type and the phases of life with which it 
may be concerned. The collections of Andersen' and the Grimms' 
offer, in general, the least complicated of narratives. The tales, or 
Mdrchen (as they have come to be called in English as well as in 
German), deal with simple episodes, localized, to be sure, but hav- 
ing for the most part no marked national or personal character. 
They are universal in appeal, and almost universal in actual occur- 
rence wherever folklore has been collected. A very simple stage 
of narrative is likewise exhibited by the ^sopic fable.' The hero 
tale of Ireland, on the other hand, is a more complex product. Here 
there is accumulation of episodes, with something like epic structure; 
and definite characters, half-historic and half-legendary, stand out as 
the heroes of the action. The localization is significant, and the 
stories reproduce the life and atmosphere of the northern heroic age. 
Both the narrative prose and the numerous poems that are inter- 
spersed in the sagas testify to the existence of a distinct literary tra- 
dition, still barbaric in many respects, in the old bardic schools. 
Finally, the "Arabian Nights" presents a still more elaborate devel- 
opment in a different direction. The fundamental elements again are 
beast fables, fairy lore, and popular anecdotes of love, prowess, or 
intrigue; but they are worked up under the influence of a rich and set- 
tled civilization and depict, with something like historic fullness, the 
life and manners of the Mohammedan Middle Ages. The collection, 

'//. C. xvii, 22iff. «H. C, xvii, 47ff. »H. C, xvii, iiff. 


like the works mentioned earlier, is of unknown authorship, and is 
plainly the product of many men through many generations. But 
the style gives evidence of a finished literary tradition; the nameless 
and numerous contributors appear to have been men of books rather 
than the simple story-tellers of an age of oral delivery. Though not 
in the stage of individual authorship, the "Arabian Nights" stands 
yet outside the range of the strictly popular and within the realm 
of literary composition. 

Even in its most elaborate development, however, popular fiction 
remains something quite different from the customary modern novel 
or narrative poem. It commonly lacks a sustained plot, worked out 
with close regard to cause and effect. Still more characteristically it 
lacks the study of character and the intellectual analysis of such varied 
problems as occupy the fiction of the present age. The popular ro- 
mances lay their stress chiefly on incident and adventure or simple 
intrigue, and set forth only the more familiar and accepted moral 
teachings. They represent, on the whole, an instinctive or tradi- 
tional, rather than a highly reflective, philosophy of life. For all 
these reasons they have come to be regarded chiefly as the literature 
of children; a natural result, perhaps, of the fact that they origi- 
nated largely in the childhood of civilization or among the simple 
peoples in more advanced ages. But it is noteworthy that they 
were not, in most cases, really intended for the young; and the man 
or woman who has outgrown them completely has one serious loss 
to set down against the gains of advancing years. 

By Dr. G. H. Maynadier 

SIR THOMAS MALORY is unique among English writers. 
His famous "Morte d'Arthur," which came from the press 
of WiUiam Caxton, the first EngHsh printer, in 1485, he com- 
pleted probably in 1470. Thus he wrote at a time when the printing 
press was beginning to make the various European languages less 
changeable than they had been when a gentleman's library might 
consist of but a single parchment manuscript; he was near enough 
to our own day to be the first English author whose work can now 
be read with enjoyment and yet without special study. Save for an 
occasional word which one must look up in a glossary — like the ob- 
solete wood, meaning frenzied — a page of Malory, despite its archa- 
isms of grammar and expression, is as intelligible as one of the latest 
magazines or novels. Nevertheless, when he wrote, the world of 
European civilization was still narrow materially and intellectually. 
The Atlantic was its bound to the west; the Sahara, to the south; 
the Far East was an almost mythical Cathay. The Renaissance had 
scarcely made itself felt beyond Italy; to all but a very few scholars, the 
old worlds of Greece and Rome and Palestine were known solely 
through stories from poetry and history so metamorphosed that 
King David, Julius Caesar, and Alexander the Great wore mediaeval 
armor and held splendid court like Capet and Plantagenet kings. 
In spirit Malory is as much of the Middle Ages as if he had died two 
hundred instead of two score years before Columbus set out to 
solve the mystery of the western seas. It is hard to believe that only 
half a century after his death Englishmen should be reading Homer 
at Oxford and Cambridge, and Luther translating the New Testa- 
ment into German; that a few years more, and the leading countries 
of Europe should be making plans for colonial empire which have 
resulted in the world-powers of the present. Thanks to his living 
in just the years that he did, Malory has left us in his "Morte d'Ar- 



thur" a work full of medieval spirit with almost no medizval 
difficulty of language, though with a very charming suggestion of 
medievalism in style. 


Even if the "Morte d' Arthur" had not this charm of style, it 
would be important in literature as giving the modern world the 
most easily intelligible medixval version of what Tennyson called 
"the greatest of all poetic subjects." Of the several valuable contri- 
butions of the Middle Ages to the general store of European art and 
thought, none is richer than their mass of legend — stories of saints 
and martyrs, of many local champions of more or less fame, and of 
a few who attaining wider fame became great epic heroes of the 
world. In nearly every case, poetic fame has a basis of historical 
fact, but most of the superstructure, and all its adornment, is popular 
story. Such a hero is Siegfried,' now the typical representative of 
the Germanic hero-age, but at first no better known than half a 
dozen other warriors, like Dietrich of Verona, whose stories grew 
out of the unsettling migrations of the Germanic peoples in the 
fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries. Another is Charlemagne,^ as colos- 
sal a figure in medieval romance as in history is the monarch who 
was crowned Holy Roman Emperor on Christmas Day in the year 
800. An even greater epic hero of the Middle Ages is Arthur, who 
is much better known to English readers than the others largely 
because of Sir Thomas Malory. 


The historical basis of the Arthur-legends is the Anglo-Saxon con- 
quest of Britain. In the three centuries after the first settlement of 
the Germanic invaders in that island, the Britons were gradually 
driven into the mountains of Wales and Cumberland and the penin- 
sula of Cornwall, or they fled across the Channel to turn Armorica 
into Brittany. Meanwhile they suffered almost uniform defeat. But 
for a while about the year 500 they won victories that for nearly 
half a century checked the Saxon advance. Their leader was Arthur, 

' See "The Song of the Volsungs" in Harvard Classics, xlix, 249ff. 
' See "The Song of Roland" in U. C, xlix, g^S. 


a good general, but probably not a king. Now men much in the 
public eye attract stories to themselves, as witness the countless 
anecdotes related of Abraham Lincoln. With peoples of sHght 
civilization, such stories are full of marvels and portents. Thus hero- 
legends are made; thus the Arthur-legend grew up. Probably imme- 
diately after Arthur's death, popular story began to increase his 
fame. In the so-called chronicle of a British monk, Nennius, written 
three hundred years after Arthur's victories, we have our sole liter- 
ary glimpse of the romantic hero-legend in the making, for Nennius 
associates several supernatural tales with the British leader. Presum- 
ably among Britons on both sides of the Channel — for Arthur won 
his victories before the principal migration to Armorica — similar 
association of marvel and adventure with the national champion 
was common. By degrees these hero-tales passed to the neighbors 
of the Britons. Because of their interest and poetic charm they came 
to be known in both France and England, though always purely 
popular — "old wives' tales" beneath the notice of serious writers. 

The Norman Conquest, however, had quickened tremendously 
interest in everything connected with Britain, even its legendary 
heroes; and so, early in the reign of Stephen, grandson of the Con- 
queror, the clerk, Geoffrey of Monmouth, drawing on the store of 
British legend and altering it freely, ventured to publish his "History 
of the Kings of Britain," an alleged chronicle in Latin prose. Here 
we have for the first time in literary form the story of Arthur, King 
of Britain, of his wide conquests, and of his death at the hands of 
traitorous Mordred. Soon other authors, mostly Anglo-Norman 
or subject to Anglo-Norman influence, began to use material 
similar to Geoffrey's. They celebrated Arthur's Round Table, and 
various knights whom Geoffrey had not mentioned. By the begin- 
ning of the thirteenth century, the stories of Arthur and his knights 
had become world literature, for Geoflrey's "Chronicle" and the first 
French Arthurian romances had been translated or adapted into every 
language of western Europe. Wherever they went, these stories re- 
tained certain common traits. In all was poetic wonder; in all was 
utter geographical confusion and historical inaccuracy; kings, 
knights, and ladies were characters contemporary with the authors 
who wrote about them; instead of the rough manners of the sixth 


century, there was the pohsh of mediaeval chivalry. And with the 
exception of Geoffrey's work, the first Arthur-stories were in verse, 
and the adventures of different knights formed the subjects of differ- 
ent romances. 

In historical inaccuracies, medieval authors did not change. Nor, 
for that matter, did post-mediaeval authors; Arthur and his knights 
remain for all time typical romantic representatives of the age of 
chivalry. But early in the thirteenth century, writers began to turn 
metrical romances into prose. Then they began to combine the ad- 
ventures of one knight with another in one romance, till by degrees 
there grew up vast j umbles of adventure which clumsily tried to give 
something like comprehensive tales of the adventures of Arthur and 
all his principal knights. Owing to multiplicity of sources and mis- 
takes of scribes, these composite stories were sometimes contradictory 
and confusing in the extreme. A late copy of one of them seems to 
have been Malory's principal source. Probably he modified this 
source by information from other manuscripts, and by independent 
judgment in putting materials together. However that may be, he 
has by no means brought order out of chaos. Yet, taken as a whole, 
Malory's work has some organic structure. It is the best and clearest 
comprehensive story of "King Arthur and of his Noble Knights of 
the Round Table" that the Middle Ages have left us. 


Like the other principal Round Table stories, the story of the Grail 
came from ancient folk-tales, if not from the mythology, of the in- 
sular Celts. Both British and Gaelic Celts knew tales of life-giving 
or healing vessels analogous to the Grail; and they frequently asso- 
ciated with such a vessel a spear and sometimes a sword. There is 
even a tale of Irish fairies who had a caldron from which no man 
ever went away unsatisfied, a spear, a sword, and a "stone of fate" 
that is perhaps related to the stone "hoving on the water" from which 
Galahad draws his fated sword. Explanations of the way in which 
pagan talismans of old Celtic story changed into objects of Christian 
significance in mediaval story can probably never be more than con- 
jecture. There is no doubt, though, that after the Grail story was 
incorporated in the great Arthur cycle about 1175, the tendency was 


to make it more and more significant of mediaeval Christianity, per- 
haps because the mysterious vessel called Grail suggested the sacred 
mystery of the sacramental cup. So Percival, a good worldly knight, 
the first hero of the Grail, was superseded in the early thirteenth 
century by Galahad, invented by an unknown romancer for the sole 
purpose, apparently, of being an ideally ascetic hero. Already the 
Grail had become the cup from which Christ drank at the Last Sup- 
per, and symbolical of the Communion Cup. A long account had 
been written of its journey from Palestine to Britain, which is not 
included in the "Morte d'Arthur." Marvels in the story were ex- 
plained after the fashion of the scriptural interpretation of dreams. 
Sir Lancelot, Galahad's father, was made to "come but of the eighth 
degree from our Lord Jesu Christ." And among the many monkish 
grafts on the old pagan tree was that so-called "wonderful tale of 
King Solomon and his wife," and their three spindles, and Solomon's 
ship, all of which is not so "wonderful" as senseless. 

If Malory's version of the Grail legend is characteristic of mediaeval 
romance in introducing the superstition and ignorance of medieval 
Christianity, it introduces also its mystical beauty. Galahad in his 
incomprehension of human temptation may lack human sympathy, 
but he is a very fair picture of innocent youth when, led by "a good 
old man, and an ancient, clothed all in white," he comes to sit in the 
siege perilous, in red arms himself and a "coat of red sendal," and 
"a mantel upon his shoulders that was furred with ermine." He 
must be a very hard-headed agnostic or insensitive puritan who is 
not awed by the "alighting" of "the grace of the Holy Ghost" on the 
Tcnights when the Grail appears miraculously at Arthur's court, and 
impressed by the celebration of the Mass at Carbonek and Sarras. 

Also in secular ways, Malory's Grail chapters are typical of me- 
diaeval romance. The institution of "courtly love" — that is, a knight's 
unquestioning obedience to his lady, such as we see in Lan- 
celot's devotion to Guinevere — the obligation to the vows of 
knighthood, with its ideals of frankness, chastity, courtesy, and serv- 
ice to all who are weak and suffering, and also the forgetting of 
these vows in the heat of human passion — all this may be found in 
Malory's chapters of the Grail, as in the rest of his "Morte d'Arthur." 


As Caxton' says in the oft-quoted words of his Preface to Malory's 
book: "Herein may be seen noble chivalry, courtesy, humanity, 
friendliness, hardyhood, love, friendship, cowardice, murder, hate, 
virtue, and sin." But the general impression of it all is of good rather 
than evil, "of many joyous and pleasant histories, and noble and re- 
nowned acts of humanity, gentleness, and chivalry." 

'H. C, xxxix, 2off. 


By Professor J. D. M. Ford 

the little Spanish university town of Alcala de Henares, 
in 1547. His father was a poor physician with a large 
family and with somewhat nomadic propensities, haling his offspring 
about from Alcala to various other cities, such as Valladolid, Madrid, 
and Seville. The chances are that Miguel did not receive a university 
training. It is conjectured, on fairly reasonable grounds, that he 
qualified for teaching and became a tutor in a school at Madrid. 
At all events, by 1569 he was attached to the train of the Italian prel- 
ate, Acquaviva, who had come to Spain as papal nuncio, and with 
the latter he went to Rome toward the end of that year. 

He did not long remain there, for in 1570 he was a gentleman vol- 
unteer on one of the vessels which, under Don John of Austria, in- 
flicted a crushing defeat upon the Turk at the battle of Lepanto. In 
the engagement Cervantes was wounded quite seriously in his left 
hand, which remained forever after somewhat crippled. Still, after a 
period of convalescence spent in Italy, he played a part in other cam- 
paigns. Wearying of warfare, he took ship for Spain in September 
of 1575, having first provided himself with letters of recommendation 
from his military superiors and the viceroy of Naples. These cre- 
dentials, by means of which he had hoped to obtain preferment at 
home, proved to be his undoing, for his vessel was captured by 
Moorish pirates and he was carried off to Algiers, where, because of 
the terms of praise in which these letters spoke of him, he was deemed 
a person of high degree and held for an excessively large ransom. 

As his family and his friends could not raise the exorbitant sum 
demanded for his release, he remained five years a captive at Algiers, 
passing through most varied experiences. Finally, as a result of a 
happy chance, he was liberated and could return to Spain. He has 
himself adverted to the manner of his life as a slave at Algiers in 



his play, "El trato de Argel," and in the episode of "El cautivo" in 
"Don Quixote," and tradition has even more to say respecting it. 
It would seem that he headed many attempts at escape on the part 
of the Christian captives and nevertheless was not subjected to the 
penalties for such attempts, of which empalement was the most 
usual. Possibly his captors regarded him as a madman and therefore, 
according to Mohammedan ideas, exempt from punishment for his 


Back in Spain, he may have engaged again in military service 
for a brief period, but, at all events, by 1584 he had entered seriously 
upon a literary career, for in this year he had completed his pastoral 
romance, "Galatea." This is a work of little merit, being as un- 
natural and tedious in its treatment of the life of shepherds and 
shepherdesses as are the many native and foreign works of its kind; 
yet, occasionally it does betray some real emotion, and it is thought 
to have brought to a happy termination his courtship of Catalina 
de Palacios. A man without private means, now facing the exigen- 
cies of married life, Cervantes conceived the idea of supplying his 
needs by providing plays for the Spanish stage, which was already 
entering upon its age of glory. The idea was a bad one, for of the 
more than a score of pieces composed by him at this time not one 
was either a dramatic or a financial success. Defeated in this purpose, 
he was fain to fall back upon the meager salary which he gained as 
a minor officer of the Royal Treasurer, for during some years after 
1587 he was engaged in collecting provisions for the royal forces or 
in extracting taxes from reluctant subjects of the king. 

The sober facts at our command would incline us to believe that 
Cervantes was leading a life of misery. No doubt he was, but in 
spite of this he was constantly producing lyric effusions in praise of 
one or another friend, or celebrating this or that event. Once for all 
be it said that as a lyric poet Cervantes occupies quite a minor rank; 
his verses are rarely imaginative or sprightly, and now and then, 
as when he strikes the solemn note, does he rise to any great poetic 
height. But Cervantes was not only versifying during all this time 
that he was meeting with misfortune in carrying out the duties of 


his humble public office; he was doing something vastly more im- 
portant for us all; he was contemplating the composition of the "Don 
Quixote." Legend has it that he wrote the "Don Quixote" in prison, 
but the legend is based on an unjustifiable interpretation of a pas- 
sage in the Prologue to that novel. Still, the first thought of it may 
have occurred to him in the enforced leisure of some one of his in- 
carcerations, although the chances are that the actual writing of the 
First Part extended over some years of the last decade of the six- 
teenth century and through the first three or four years of the seven- 
teenth. In 1605 the first edition of the First Part appeared, and the 
story met with an acclaim which called forth speedily new editions 
at home and abroad, and no few translations into foreign languages. 


But eleven years more of life remained for Cervantes, and during 
these, in so far as our knowledge goes, he met with no more worldly 
prosperity than in the past; although it is possible that his pecuniary 
distress was alleviated somewhat by modest returns from his books, 
and by the bounty of his patron, the Conde de Lemos. In one of the 
chapters of the First Part of the "Don Quixote" Cervantes mentions 
by name a little tale of roguish doings, the "Rinconete y Cortadillo." 
This, his own composition, reappears with eleven additional short 
stories in the collection entitled "Novelas ejamplares," which was 
issued from the press in 1612. Had he written nothing but the "Ex- 
emplary Tales," his fame would be secure in the annals of Spanish 
literature. They were the best-framed short stories so far produced 
in Spanish; they are interesting and realistic, although at times 
brutally offensive to morality. One of the proofs of the interest that 
they excited abroad is to be found in the fact that English drama- 
tists like Fletcher, Massinger, Middleton, and Rowley drew upon 
them for the plots of some of their plays. 

While composing these dramatic pieces, Cervantes was carrying 
on apace a sequel to the First Part of the "Don Quixote." This 
Second Part and conclusion of the story of the adventures of Don 
Quixote and Sancho Panza he completed hurriedly and published 
in 1615, upon learning that a spurious Second Part had been put 
forth at Tarragona in Aragon in 1614 by a person who masquer- 


ades under the pseudonym of Fernandez de Avellaneda, and whose 
identity remains an enigma. The days of Cervantes were drawing to 
their close, but he continued to labor to the end, and on his dying 
couch he put the finishing touches to a novel of love and adventurous 
travel, the "Persiles y Sigismunda." On April 23, 1616, Cervantes 
passed away at Madrid, nominally on the same day as Shakespeare, 
but not precisely so on account of the difference still existing be- 
tween the Spanish and the English calendar. His remains are sup- 
posed to rest in a community house of the Redemptionists in the 
Spanish capital. 


For the modern world at large, the "Don Quixote" is that one 
among the works of Cervantes which exercises a paramount claim 
upon attention, and this it does both because it is the greatest novel 
as yet produced in the literatures of civilization and because it is the 
sole work of cosmopolitan importance that Spain has given to the 
rest of humanity. But in giving it Spain gave a noble gift, one which 
has brought unfeigned delight to the hearts and the minds of mil- 
lions of human beings peopling both the Eastern and the Western 
Hemisphere, and this delight remains ever fresh although three 
centuries have passed since Don Quixote made his first sally forth. 

Cervantes began the "Don Quixote" with the intention of making 
it a satirical burlesque of the romances of chivalry, which for more 
than a century before had beguiled the Spanish fancy with accounts 
of absurdly impossible deeds of derring-do. Their influence served 
only to entrance the Spanish mind, fascinating it with the glamour of 
aspects of medievalism that had long since ceased to exist, and di- 
verting its attention from the real world with its serious daily tasks. 
As a matter of fact, the sway of the chivalric romances had begun 
to weaken even before the close of the sixteenth century, but it was 
from the "Don Quixote" that they received their death stroke, for 
no new work of their kind appeared after the "Don Quixote" was 
published. How did Cervantes achieve his purpose? Simply by 
adopting the methods of the romance of chivalry and showing the 
falseness of their application to modern life; in a word, by demon- 
strating that they were out of date. But Cervantes built a structure 


far more grandiose than at first he had planned, for his work grew 
under his hand and, transcending the author's original intent, be- 
came a great modern novel which may be read and is generally read 
with intense interest by countless thousands who know not at all and 
care not at all that it is an attack upon a literary genre. "Under 
Cervantes's vagabond pen," says Morel-Fatio, a masterly critic of the 
work, "governed only by the inspiration of the moment, his 'Don 
Quixote,' issuing forth from a simple idea [that of ridiculing the 
novels of chivalry], of which no great development could have been 
expected, has become little by litde the great social novel of the 
Spain of the beginning of the seventeenth century, in which all that 
marks this epoch, its sentiments, passions, prejudices, and institu- 
tions, has found a place. Hence the powerful interest of the book, 
which, independently of its value as a work of the imagination, and 
as an admirable treatise in practical philosophy, possesses in addition 
the advantage of fixing the state of civilization of a nation at a pre- 
cise moment of its existence, and of showing us the depths of its 


By Professor J. D. M. Ford 

AT AS early a date in their literary history as the thirteenth 
L\ century, the Italians began to evince a propensity for tale- 
A. JL telling, and they have continued to indulge it unremittingly 
down to our own times. Until the nineteenth century, however, 
they favored the short story or tale, rather than the longer and more 
ambitious form of narrative prose fiction called the novel or romance. 
If in the fourteenth century Boccaccio wrote his "Fiammetta," if 
about the end of that century or at the beginning of the next 
Andrea de Barberino compiled the "Reali di Francia," and if the 
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries saw the appearance of the pastoral 
romance (the "Arcadia"), and of novels of adventure as well as 
others infused with the erotic, or the sentimental, or the moralizing 
spirit, it must be admitted that all these works are either of poor 
vein, or, as is the case for the "Fiammetta," the "Reali di Francia," 
and the "Arcadia" of Sannazaro, they are far more important in 
other connections than as examples of prose fiction. The seventeenth 
and eighteenth centuries present hardly anything of interest; with 
the early nineteenth century and the publication of the "Lettere di 
Jacopo Ortis" of Foscolo (1802) the true novel was inaugurated in 
Italian, and with the historical romance, "I Promessi Sposi," of 
Manzoni, first put forth in 1827, its lasting success was achieved. 


Alessandro Manzoni (he never used his title of Count) was born 
of a patrician family at Milan, on March 7, 1785. His maternal 
grandfather was the noted publicist, the Marquis Cesare Beccaria. 
In his early studies, pursued mainly at Milan, he inclined naturally 
towards belles lettres, and, reading assiduously by himself, he devel- 
oped the seeds of genius within him. Toward the literary career 
his steps were guided also by his relations with the kindly Italian 



poet, Monti, whom he venerated. In 1805 his mother took him to 
Paris, where he frequented salons, the atmosphere of which was 
wholly rationalistic and Voltairean, and in which he imbibed doc- 
trines of skepticism. These, however, were not to last with him. At 
this time there was formed his friendship with the French scholar 
and man of letters, Claude Fauriel, who now and for many years 
later helped to mold his mind. Back in Milan in 1808, he married 
there in that year the Protestant lady, Enrichetta Blondel. Two 
years later, she became a Catholic, and Manzoni, impelled by her 
example and by a deep-rooted love, hitherto latent, for the ancestral 
religion, followed her into the Church, to remain thereafter a sin- 
cere and devout communicant. Abiding in the Milanese region, he 
wrote there in 1821 his remarkable ode, the "Cinque Maggio," 
commemorating the death of Napoleon, and at about this same 
time he commenced the composition of "I Promessi Sposi." When 
it was fully published in 1827, he removed with his family to Flor- 
ence, and for a while enjoyed the favor of the grand duke, — who 
decorated the walls of his palace with scenes from "I Promessi 
Sposi," — and the society of leading statesmen and writers, such as 
Giusti, Capponi, Niccolini, and Leopardi. Returning ere long to 
Milan, he had the misfortune to lose (1833) his wife, as well as his 
daughter, Giulia, who was married to the novelist Massimo d'Azeg- 
lio. In the sorrow of this period he derived no little comfort from his 
friendship with the brilliant although impetuous philosopher Ros- 
mini and the novelist Tommaso Grossi. He remarried in 1837. 
During the stirring days of 1848, he showed himself a sterling Italian 
patriot, and urged his three sons to fight valiantly against the Aus- 
trian arms then engaged in subjugating his native region of Lom- 
bardy. With the success of the Austrians he retired voluntarily to 
a villa on Lake Maggiore, but the liberation of Lombardy again in 
1859 brought him prominently to notice. King Vittorio Emmanuele 
bestowed honors upon him and assigned him a pension, which to 
one in his straitened circumstances was very grateful. He was made 
a senator in i860, and played a part in the Assembly which proclaimed 
the Kingdom of Italy. Shortly after, in 1864, he was one of the 
National Assembly that voted for the transference of the capital from 
Turin to Rome. The Holy City he never visited, but in 1872 he was 


elected an honorary citizen o£ Rome, and in the letter in which he 
thanked the mayor for the courtesy shown him he expressed his joy 
at the consummation of Italian unity. He died on May 22, 1873. 


Among modern Italian poets Manzoni takes high rank. Besides 
some minor lyrics and other poems of an occasional nature he wrote 
the "Inni Sacri," hymns in which he gives poetical form to the 
noblest and highest manifestations of the Christian religion, em- 
phasizing especially the principles of charity, hope, and eventual 
comfort for all human ills; the ode "Cinque Maggio," already men- 
tioned; the ode "Marzo, 1821," dealing with the aspirations and 
endeavors of the liberal party in Piedmont; and the two-verse 
dramas, the "Conte di Carmagnola" and the "Adelchi." These 
tragedies figure among the best productions of the Romantic move- 
ment in Italy, and they are the first examples of the historical play 
in Italian. The "Conte di Carmagnola" is concerned with the story 
of the famous captain of free lances, Francesco Bussone, called Car- 
magnola, who in the fifteenth century was undeservedly done to 
death by his employers, the Venetians; the "Adelchi" turns upon 
events in Lombardy back in the time of its king Desiderius and his 
foe and conqueror, Charlemagne. 

Noteworthy among the minor prose works of Manzoni are the 
documents in which he discusses the validity of the French system 
of unities as applied to dramatic composition ("Lettre a M. 
Chauvet") and the purposes of the Italian Romantic school ("Lettera 
al Marchese Cesare d'Azeglio sul Romanticismo") . In various writ- 
ings he discusses the often-mooted question as to what is the true 
form of speech for Italian literary expression, and he ranges himself 
on the side of sanity by advocating the use of the Florentine vocabu- 
lary on the part of Italian authors from all parts of the peninsula. 


His masterpiece is, of course, "I Promessi Sposi," ' which, begun 

as we have seen in 1821, occupied Manzoni for some six years with 

its composition and its printing; yet, hardly had it appeared when, 

faithful to his belief that the Florentine speech was the correct lan- 

' See Harvard Classics, vol. xxi. 


guage of cultured Italians, he set to work to eliminate the dialectisms 
and Gallicisms in it, and the result was that in pure Tuscan the novel 
appeared, after seventy-five reprints of the first edition had been 
made, in the perfected form of 1842. Its main plot is simple; for 
the central story is that of the long-deferred marriage of two peasants, 
Lorenzo and his beloved Lucia. A tyrannical local potentate, aided 
by the proverbial Italian bravos, forbids their nuptials, because his 
own evil fancy has fallen upon the girl, and her parish priest, whose 
duty it is to perform the marriage ceremony irrespective of all 
exterior influences, avoids doing so through terror of the tyrant, 
Don Rodrigo, and his bloodthirsty satellites. Eventually a pest 
carries away Don Rodrigo, and the union of the lovers is effected. 
They are married by their own timid parish priest, Don Abbondio, 
who has, in the meantime, been taught his duty by his noble superior, 
the saintly Cardinal Carlo Borromeo. 

Following Sir Walter Scott, whom he expressly acknowledges as 
his model for his methods, Manzoni gave to his novel an historical 
setting, adapting it to the Romantic sentiments then dominating the 
literary world. He chose for the period of action the three years 
between 1628 and 1631, during the Spanish supremacy at Milan, 
when a terrible famine and pestilence made desolate that part of 
Italy, and he confined operations between Lake Como, which he 
knew so well, and the city of Milan. Before undertaking the wridng 
of his great work he made a serious study of works deaUng with the 
pestilence and with administrative affairs of the time in which it 
occurred. Then, with the intuition of the true artist, having the 
historical and social conditions well in mind, and possessing the 
power to analyze the most delicate of human feelings, he assembled a 
number of characters of divers sorts, through the play of which he 
presents us with a vivid picture of Lombardy in the early seven- 
teenth century. 

Next to Dante and Ariosto, Manzoni is, perhaps, the greatest of 
Italian authors, the most universal in appeal. His worth was quickly 
acknowledged abroad, by Goethe in Germany, by Chateaubriand in 
France, by Scott in the British Empire, and the last named was 
proud to have provoked imitation on the part of a genius of so high 
an order. 



By Professor Bliss Perry 

NO ONE can turn over the pages o£ The Harvard Classics 
without realizing how much o£ the most delightful writ- 
ing of the last three hundred years has taken the form of 
the essay. No literary form is more flexible than this, and no form 
except lyric poetry has touched upon a wider variety of topics. Yet 
there is one subject of enduring human interest to which essayists 
are perpetually turning, and upon which they always find something 
new to say. It is the subject of Books and Reading. In the essays 
which deal with this perennially interesting topic, there is a con- 
stant expression of literary judgments — ^judgments that convey racial 
and national convictions, the ruling ideas of a generation or a school, 
or the likes and dislikes of individuals. These judgments, properly 
collected and classified, become the material for a history of literary 
criticism. Indeed, a surprisingly large proportion of the epoch- 
making documents of criticism are really essays, both in form and 


The significance of the essay in the formation and perpetuation 
of critical doctrine is also apparent if one turns to the formal his- 
tories of criticism. Systematic treatises on the theory of the fine 
arts, including literature, have appeared at intervals since the time 
of Aristotle. The science of aesthetics, as we know it, was developed 
in Germany during the latter half of the eighteenth century, and 
it forms an integral portion of the philosophical system of Kant 
and of many other philosophers. But these formal treatises upon 
the nature of beauty, involving as they do the analysis of the beautiful 
as it exists in the natural world and in works of art, appeal primarily 



to a few thinkers and scholars, and not to the general public. It is 
true that men of genius like Goethe, Schiller, and Burke have the 
faculty of discussing the philosophic basis of sesthetic theories in 
such a way as to make them interesting and highly instructive to 
the general reader. But as a rule the systematic treatises upon the 
nature and history of the fine arts, and of literature in particular, 
have been necessarily addressed to a limited audience. The dis- 
cussions which have really caught the ear of the public have been 
the casual utterances of brilliant men in the act of attacking or 
defending a literary creed, of writing a preface to a book or a play, or 
of hazarding, in some dialogue, pamphlet, or essay, a new opinion 
about beauty, a new theory of poetry or of prose. 


To understand, therefore, the history of actual critical opinion, 
one must study the essay. It is a very variable, highly personalized 
literary form: resembling now a dinner-table monologue or dialogue, 
and now a letter to a friend. Here it is a mere sparkling fragment 
of some solid mass of philosophical theory, and there it is a tiny jewel 
of paradox, interrogation, or fancy; here an echo of some great his- 
torical debate over tragedy or comedy, and there the first faint stirring 
of some new, living idea, which by and by will be tossed about with 
all the winds of doctrine. But however changeable this literary type 
may be, one who reads the various essays in The Harvard Classics 
can hardly fail to get a general notion of the nature of "the essay." 
The type will gradually make itself clear to him, as something 
different from the formal treatise, the dialogue or the letter or the 
magazine article. He will learn to watch the type emerge into clear 
outline with Montaigne' and Bacon.^ He will see that it modifies 
itself under the influence of national traits or of the fashions of 
successive historical periods, that it differentiates itself into species 
and varieties, precisely as other literary types undergo variation and 
development under specific conditions. It will flourish in one age 
and decline in another, as do the drama and the lyric, although, 
like them, the essay represents a certain permanent mood which 
never goes wholly out of fashion. 

1 Harvard Classics, xxxii, sff. * H. C, iii, ^&. 



The reader who is interested in literary criticism will soon find 
that the essay has been a particularly convenient form for conveying 
literary theories from one mind or age to another. The "critical 
essay," while conforming in general to the flexible laws of "the 
essay," is used for a specific purpose. It deals with the emergence, 
continuance, and disappearance of critical opinions; it records, in 
an informal but none the less effective manner, the judgment of 
Europe upon books. Let us take a specific example. Charles Lamb's 
"Essay on the Tragedies of Shakespeare"' is a singularly perfect 
specimen of "the essay" type. It is personal and casual. It opens with 
the sentence: "Taking a turn the other day in the Abbey, I was 
struck with the affected attitude of a figure, which I do not re- 
member to have seen before, and which upon examination proved 
to be a whole-length of the celebrated Mr. Garrick"; and then Lamb 
passes, with apparent artlessness, from the affectations and tricks of 
actors to the profound question of the possibility of an adequate 
representation of the personalities of Hamlet and Lear upon the 
stage. This personal essay, with its odd whims and fancies, deepens 
page by page into a masterly critical essay, which makes a distinct 
phase of the attitude of the English mind toward England's greatest 

In similar fashion, Victor Hugo's preface to his drama "Crom- 
well" ^ is a capital example of a personal essay — an essay "rampant" 
in its defense of the author's own literary creed. But that creed as 
it happens, becomes also the triumphant creed of the young French 
Romanticists. They rallied around the preface to "Cromwell" as 
soldiers rally around a flag, and the essay became a concrete embodi- 
ment of a new reaction against Classicism, a significant document 
in the literary history of modern Europe. 


The two essays which have just been mentioned — personal in 
their immediate character, and yet even more significant as repre- 
senting doctrines which came to be held by a generation or a school 
' H. C, xxvii, 299. * H. C, xxxix, 337S. 


— may also serve to illustrate a third aspect from which essays may 
be regarded. One may study them, in chronological order, as suc- 
cessive indications of a national point of view^. Thus the English 
critical essay, in the Elizabethan period, in the seventeenth century, 
or in any subsequent epoch, reveals the precise extent to which the 
English mind accepts, modifies, or rejects the main body of European 
critical doctrine. As affording material for such a chronological 
study, it is not essential that any particular English critical essay 
should be marked by personal distinction of style, or by special 
critical acumen. The undistinguished mass of book reviews, of 
gossip about writers, about the stage and other forms of contem- 
porary art, is often the most valuable evidence of the instinctive 
working of the English mind. What does an average bookish Eng- 
lishman, in a given decade, understand by the words "tragic," 
"comic," "heroic," "the unities," "wit," "taste," "humor," "Nature".? 
The historian finds the answer in a thousand casual expressions, 
each one of which bears the stamp of the period and the race. The 
Englishman interprets the general laws and phrases of European 
criticism in terms of his own neighborhood and time, and a collec- 
tion of English critical essays thus illustrates the traits of the English 
national character. 


Let us now turn from the broader relations of the essay with 
criticism, and endeavor to ascertain precisely what the word "essay" 
means. The older English form of the word is "assay," i. e., a trial 
or experiment. It is derived, through the French, from a late Latin 
word "exagium," which means a standard weight, or more precisely, 
the act of weighing. The word "examine" comes from the same 
Latin root. As defined by the "Century Dictionary," "essay" means i, 
A trial, attempt or endeavor; 2, An experimental trial or test; 3, An 
assay or test of metal; 4, In literature, a discursive composition con- 
cerned with a particular subject, usually shorter and less methodical 
and finished than a treatise; a short disquisition. Dr. Samuel John- 
son, who was himself one of the most famous essayists of his day, 
defines "essay" in his Dictionary as "A loose sally of the mind; an 


irregular indigested piece; not a regular and orderly composition." 
Possibly it was the Doctor's happy word "sally" which suggested to 
a recent writer, Mr. F. N. Zabriskie, the following excellent defini- 
tion: "The essay is properly a collection of notes, indicating certain 
aspects of a subject, or suggesting thoughts concerning it; . . . not 
a formal siege, but a series of assaults, essays or attempts upon it." 
It is for this reason that Mr. Zabriskie calls the essayist the ex- 
cursionist of literature, the literary angler, the meditator rather than 
the thinker; and he points out that the German mind is not adapted 
to the essay, since the Germans are not satisfied to make mere 
assaults upon a subject, mere excursions into it; they must go through 
a subject from end to end and leave it a conquered territory. 


Montaigne, who was the initiator of the modern essay (1580), 
laid stress upon its essentially autobiographic nature. He confesses 
that he writes "not to discover things, but to lay open myself." He 
thinks that an essay should be spontaneous and free from every 
artificial trammel. It should have the characteristics of open, varied, 
wide-ranging talk: "I speak unto paper as unto the first man I 
meet." Lord Bacon, whose first edition of essays appeared in 1597, 
is more orderly than Montaigne. He masses his material more 
closely, keeps to his topic, packs his sentences as full as they will 
hold. He is too austere for the leisurely, personal method of Mon- 
taigne; he imparts his concentrated worldly wisdom coolly, almost 
impassively; he loves the pregnant opening and close. "To write 
just treatises," he says, "requireth time in the writer and leisure in 
the reader, which is the cause that hath made me choose to write 
certain brief notes, set down rather significantly than curiously, 
which I have called essays; the word is late, but the thing is ancient. 
For Seneca's Epistles to Lucilius, if one mark them well, are but 
essays — that is, dispersed meditations." And finally, Addison, whose 
essays sum up the early eighteenth century as completely as Mon- 
taigne and Bacon represent the late Renaissance, is quite as explicit 
as they are in emphasizing the informal character of this type of 
literature: "When I make choice of a subject that has not been 


treated on by others, I throw together my reflections on it without 
any order or method, so that they may appear rather in the looseness 
and freedom of an essay, than in the regularity of a set discourse." 


"The thing is ancient"; there is no doubt of that. Analogies to the 
mood of the modern essay and to its urbane, free, flexible 
methods of discussion, may be found in the "Dialogues" of Plato,^ 
in the "Lives" ° and "Morals" of Plutarch, in the letters of Cicero,' 
Horace, and the younger Pliny,' in the gossipy "Attic Nights" of 
Aulus Gellius, in the talks of Epictetus,' and the Meditations of 
Marcus Aurelius.'" There is nothing new under the sun; and there 
were Greek and Roman gentlemen quite as capable as Montaigne of 
writing with frankness, ease, quaintness, and an open-minded atti- 
tude of skeptical inquiry. But though they often revealed the spirit 
of the modern essayist, they were groping uncertainly after the 
appropriate literary form. Montaigne's great achievement was to 
hazard his fortunes in an unsurpassed series of "sallies," "assaults," 
"assays" upon a hundred entrenched topics, and always to come 
bravely off — so that his tactics became the model for all literary 
skirmishes. To think and feel and write hke Montaigne was to 
produce the modern essay. Without his example, it is doubtful if 
we should have had the essays of Lamb, of Emerson, and of 


Supporting the whole theory and practice of Montaigne, un- 
doubtedly, Stood the Renaissance itself. This "re-birth" of the human 
mind, this new awakening of vital energies and intellectual powers, 
involved a new way of looking at the world. Nothing seemed quite 
the same as it had been. Church and empire and feudal system were 
apparently weakening; new nationalities, new languages were to 
be reckoned with; new continents were explored, new inventions 
altered the face of daily life; a new intellectual confidence, inquiry, 
criticism, supplanted the mediaeval obedience to authority. There 

5 See, for example, H. C, ii, 5ff. ^ H. C, xii, sff. ^ H. C, ix, gS. 

»H. C, ix. 187. »H. C, ii, ii7ff. ">H. C, ii, igsff. 


was a new "weighing," "assaying" of all things. The actual world 
was changing before men's eyes, and the inner world changed no 
less. There was universal curiosity about individual capacities and 
opinions, experiences and tastes. The whole "undulating and 
various" scheme of things — to use a favorite expression of Montaigne 
— was a direct provocative of the essay state of mind; and the essay 
form, in turn, in its looseness, vagueness, and range, was singularly 
adapted to the intellectual spirit of the period. 


One type of Renaissance essay, for example, concerned itself with 
a casual survey of the fragments of the classical and mediaeval world. 
Modern books like Taylor's "Classical Heritage of the Middle Ages," 
and "The Mediaeval Mind," Einstein's "Italian Renaissance in Eng- 
land," Sir Sidney Lee's "French Renaissance in England," Spingarn's 
"Literary Criticism in the Renaissance," and Saintsbury's "History 
of Criticism" set before us, with abundance of detail, the kind and 
extent of knowledge of the past which was possessed by Renaissance 
essayists. Caxton's naive Prologues and Epilogues" to the popular 
classical and mediaeval books which he issued in English, Sir Philip 
Sidney's chivalrous "Defense of Poesy," " and Edmund Spenser's 
explanation to Sir Walter Raleigh of the purpose of "The Faerie 
Queene" " are good illustrations of the attitude of typical English- 
men toward the imaginative life of the past. Gregory Smith's col- 
lection of "Elizabethan Critical Essays" affords a fairly complete view 
of the critical ideas which sixteenth-century England had inherited 
from Europe. The evolution of the English critical essay, during the 
three hundred years which have elapsed since then, is mainly the 
story of the preservation of these ideas and their modification or 
transformation under the successive impacts of new intellectual 
forces, and of differing social and literary conditions. 


Another type of essay, originating in the Renaissance, and a 
favorite with Montaigne, deals not so much with books as with life 
itself. The new culture, the novel intellectual perceptions, altered 

" H. C. xxxix, 5ff. 12 H. C. xxvii, sff. " H. C, xxxix, 61. 


at once the accepted theories of man's duty and destiny. Montaigne 
does not dogmatize about these matters: he asks questions, he sug- 
gests possible answers. The speculative essay, the philosophical and 
scientific essay, the social essay which draws its materials from the 
ever-renewed revelation of the actual life of man, all find their 
source in an awakened curiosity. The enthusiasm, the gusto, with 
which sixteenth-century men discussed every topic within their 
range of vision, has remained an integral element of the effective 
essay. A man may set himself sadly and grimly to work upon his 
formal treatise, and write it through to the end with disillusion in 
his soul. But the born essayist, though knowing well enough that 
his raids into unconquered territory must be merely a perpetual 
series of sallies and retreats, nevertheless advances gayly to the 
assault. Like Lamb and Stevenson, he preaches without being a 
preacher; like Huxley and Tyndall, he teaches when he means only 
to inform; so communicable and infectious is this gift of curiosity 
about life. 


There is a third type of essay, originating in the Renaissance 
emphasis upon individualism, and confidently asserting itself upon 
the pages of Montaigne," Addison, Hazlitt, De Quincey," Emer- 
son,'° Thoreau," and a hundred other men. It is the autobiographic, 
"egotistic" essay — in which there is rarely any insolence of egotism, 
but only an insatiable curiosity about oneself, and an entire willing- 
ness to discuss that question in public. If you like the man who is 
talking, this kind of essay is the most delightful of all. But it be- 
trays a great deal, and like lyric verse — the most intensely per- 
sonalized mode of poetry — it sometimes betrays too much. When 
the right balance is struck between openness and conceit, or when, 
as with Emerson, the man is sweet and sound to the core, the self- 
revealing essay justifies itself. Indeed, it is thought by some critics 
that the subjective or lyrical quality of the essay is a part of its 
essential character. Thus Professor A. C. Bradley has asserted: 
"Brevity, simplicity, and singleness of presentation; the strong play 

"H. C, xxxii, sff. "H. C, xxvii, 78ff., 26^S., sigff. 

i^H. C, V, 5ff. "H. C, xxviii, 395ff. 


of personality, the subjective charm, the deUcate touch, the limited 
range of theme and of treatment, and the ordered beauty through 
exclusion of all disordered moods and fiercer passions — these flow 
directly from the presence and dominance of the lyrical element, 
and these are the constant features of the Essay." 

One should add, perhaps, that all three of the essay types here 
touched upon — the "critical," the "ethical" or "philosophic," and the 
"personal" — were strongly colored during the Renaissance, as they 
have been at intervals ever since, by the spirit of nationalism. French 
criticism, in the sixteenth century as in the nineteenth, is very French. 
English criticism, in Dryden and Arnold, is very English; the moral- 
izing of Milton's tractates and of Samuel Johnson's "Lives of the 
Poets," the personal assertiveness of Thoreau's essay on "Walking," 
and Lowell's essay on "Democracy" '* bear the unmistakable accents 
of England and of America. Blood tells, in the essay as else- 


In fact, one of the most interesting studies made available through 
The Harvard Classics is the survey of various national moods in suc- 
cessive historical periods. Take, for instance, the English essayists 
of the eighteenth century. Here are characteristic utterances of men 
so differently yet richly endowed as Addison and Swift, Steele and 
Defoe," Sidney and Samuel Johnson, Hume^" and Burke,^' yet the 
student of the eighteenth century, whether he is reading Hume or 
Burke on Taste, or Johnson explaining the plan of his great Dic- 
tionary,''^ Defoe's ironical scheme for ridding the world of Dis- 
senters, or Addison's delicately sentimental musings in Westminster 
Abbey, detects, beneath all the differences in style and varieties of 
personal opinion, the unmistakable traits of race, nation, and period. 
These essays are thus historical documents of high importance. One 
understands better, for reading them, the England of Marlborough 
and of Walpole, the England of the Pitts and the four Georges. Any 
one century, as Carlyle said long ago, is the lineal descendant of all 
the preceding centuries, and an intelligent reading of the English 

"H. C, xxviii, 45 iff. 

"H. C, xxvii, giff., 83ff., 133S. ^"H. C, xxvii, 203. 

"H. C, xxiv, II. "^H. C, xxxix, iSiff. 


essays of the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries is 
one of the best ways of learning that significant lesson. 


Even if the reader of these essays has no special knowledge of 
English history, and has hitherto paid but little attention to the in- 
fluence of one school of thought upon its successors, he cannot 
help discovering one difference between what we have called "the 
essay" and its more specialized form "the critical essay." "The 
essay" moves in a circle. Its orbit tends to return perpetually upon 
itself. One may even say that the type was already complete in 
Montaigne, and that since then it has made no real advance; that we 
have only a succession of essayists, doing, of course with infinite 
personal varieties of pattern, precisely what Montaigne showed them 
how to do. But the critical essay advances, albeit by zigzag lines. 
It is obliged to tack, as the winds of doctrine shift and the tides of 
opinion ebb and flow, yet it is always steering, and not merely 
drifting. Take, for example, the most famous critical essay of the 
Greeks, the "Poetics" of Aristotle. It is an attempt to establish certain 
fundamental principles of aesthetic criticism, such as the laws of 
epic poetry and the nature of tragedy. It analyzed the structure of 
contemporary works of literary art, tested the psychological effect 
of poem and play upon the mind of the reader and spectator, and 
laid down some shrewd rules for the guidance of poets. It is an 
essay rather than an exhaustive treatise, but it is by no means the 
sort of essay which Montaigne would have written had he been a 
Greek. It is impersonal, analytical, scientific. And so logical is its 
matter, so penetrating its insight, that it became a model of sound 
critical procedure. 

The "rules" of Aristotle, based as they were upon the facts of 
human nature and the character of the literature of his day, de- 
served the reverence with which they were treated by the men who 
rediscovered them in the Renaissance. Trouble came only when the 
attempt was made to apply them rigidly and mechanically to poems 
and dramas of a type different from anything that Aristotle had 
known. Yet out of this very confusion and necessity for readjust- 
ment came the "critical essay" as we know it. Aristotle had set up 


Truth as his beacon mark: Truth to the physical and psychological 
facts, to the laws of beauty which are also laws of the mind. When 
the critics of the Renaissance and of the age of Neo-Classicism in 
France and England, confronted as they were by new facts, tried 
loyally to adjust the Aristotelian formulae to the writings of Tasso, 
Shakespeare, and Moliere, they made queer work of it. They en- 
deavored to keep in mind both "the polestar of the ancients" and 
the "rules of the French stage among the moderns," to say nothing 
of the cross currents of actual contemporary fact. It was a difficult 
course to sail, and it is no wonder that the history of the critical 
essay exhibits every variety of daring or faltering seamanship. But 
the beacon mark of Truth was there all the while, and though no 
navigator has ever succeeded in beating quite up to it, it is reward 
enough for the critical essayist if he seems to be making headway. 


The writer of the critical essay, in short, finds that his course has 
been laid out for him by the very nature of the task which he has 
undertaken. The mere essayist, as we have seen, can sail in a circle, 
starting and ending with his own fancies; but the man who uses 
the essay as the vehicle of criticism must use chart and compass; 
must proceed from a given starting point to a definite point of 
arrival. And he cannot do this if he is ignorant of the efforts of his 
predecessors, and unaware of the general aims and methods of 
critical procedure. If he is writing, for instance, on the theory of 
poetry, he does not wish to leave the matter where he found it: he 
desires to make, if he can, a contribution to that branch of human 
knowledge. But he is not likely to succeed unless he has a tolerably 
clear notion of just how far the world-old discussion has proceeded 
at the point where he himself takes up the debate. When Horace 
wrote that clever versified essay on the poet's art, an essay which 
has been irreverently termed "the business man's guide to poetry," 
he had no intention of slavishly imitating the rules of the Greek 
theorists. But after all, his father had sent him to a Greek Uni- 
versity, and the ghosts of his old professors were peeping over his 
shoulders as he wrote. And when, long afterward, the Italian Vida 
and the Frenchman Boileau came to write their own verse essays on 


the same topic, the ghost o£ the clever Roman held their pens. Sidney 
and Shelley, in composing their eloquent Defences of Poetry," had 
probably no conscious thought of continuing the formal discussion 
of poetic theory which the Greeks began and the Renaissance resus- 
citated; nevertheless, their confessions of faith in poetry form an 
essential chapter in the evolution of criticism. So with the prefaces 
of Wordsworth and Coleridge and Walt Whitman.^* These men 
are innovators in theory and practice of their craft, but, like most 
of the successful innovators and "modernists" in art, they possessed a 
fairly accurate knowledge of the ancient defenses which they were 
trying to carry by assault. Yet these assaults, no matter how bril- 
liant, never really end the siege. The final truth escapes complete 
analysis and definition. The history of the critical essay shows only 
a series of approximations, a record of endeavors which must be 
constantly renewed. 


Out of all this variety of effort, however, three tendencies of 
criticism emerge. They are usually called the "judicial," the "inter- 
pretative," and the "impressionistic." The theoretical distinction 
between these tendencies of criticism is clear enough. "Judicial" 
criticism passes judgment upon established facts. It deals primarily 
with rules, with the "canons" of criticism, although it may, of 
course, examine the principles upon which these rules are based. 
Its estimates are likely to be dogmatic and magisterial. It says 
bluntly, in the voice of Jeffrey, that Wordsworth's "Excursion" "will 
never do"; that his "White Doe of Rylstone" is "the very worst 
poem we ever saw imprinted in a quarto volume." It declares, with 
Professor Churton Collins, that "Criticism is to literature what 
legislation and government are to states." The aim of "interpreta- 
tive" criticism, on the other hand, is not so much to pass judgment 
upon a specific work, as to explain it. It seeks and establishes, if 
possible, correct texts; it makes clear the biographical and historical 
facts essential to an understanding of the work in question. It 
finds and reveals the meaning and beauty there contained. It points 
out the ethical and social significance of the literary product. To 
^'H. C, xxvii, 5ff. and 329/!. ^^See Lecture III, below. 


explain a book, no doubt, is often tantamount to judging it; for if 
the book be demonstrated to be full of corruption, that is the most 
effective way of declaring it a corrupt book. Nevertheless, the object 
of the "interpretative" or "appreciative" critic is primarily expository, 
and he prefers that the reader himself should pass ultimate judgment, 
in the light of the exposition which has been made. He puts the 
needful facts before the jury, and then rests his case. Sainte-Beuve^^ 
is a master of this sort of criticism, as Jeffrey is of the magisterial. 
The "impressionistic" critic, finally, does not concern himself over- 
much with the canons. He leaves "universal considerations" and 
"the common sense of most" to his rivals. Textual criticism bores 
him. The examination of principles strikes him as too "scientific," 
the massing of biographical and historical details seems to him the 
work of the historian rather than the critic. He deals frankly in his 
own "impressions," his personal preferences, the adventures of his 
soul in the presence of masterpieces. He translates the sensations 
and emotions which he has experienced in his contact with books 
into symbols borrowed from all the other arts and from the inex- 
haustible stores of natural beauty. His rivals may call him a man 
of caprice rather than a man of taste, but they cannot really confute 
him, for such are the infinitely varied modes of physical and 
psychological reaction to the presence of the beautiful, that nobody 
knows exactly how the other man feels. We must take his word 
for it, and the words of impressionistic criticism have often been 
uttered with an exquisite delicacy and freshness and radiance that 
make all other types of literary criticism seem for the moment mere 
cold and formal pedantries. 


So much for the theoretical distinction between the three tend- 
encies. But no one can read many pages of the masters of modern 
criticism without becoming aware that all three tendencies frequently 
reveal themselves in the same man, and even in the same essay. Some 
of the famous "impressionists," like Lamb, Stevenson, Lemaitre, and 
Anatole France, know a great deal more about the "canons" than 
they wish at the moment to confess. They play so skillfully with the 

25//. C, xxxii, losff. 


overtones of criticism because they know the fundamental tones so 
well. Stevenson attempts "scientific" criticism in his essay on "Style," 
"historical" criticism in his essay on Pepys.^^ Jeffrey occasionally 
writes "national character" criticism quite in the expository method 
of Sainte-Beuve. Coleridge and Emerson, Arnold and Ruskin," are 
too many-sided and richly endowed men to limit their literary 
essays to any one type of criticism. 

The justification of this eclecticism of practice is found, as we 
have tried to show, in the nature of the essay itself. It is the most 
sinuous, varied, and individualized of all the forms of prose literature. 
The moment it begins to deal with critical theory, however, it is 
obliged to make its reckoning with some one or more of the processes 
of judgment which have been evolved in the history of the race; it 
tends then to become "historical," "scientific," "expository," "ju- 
dicial"; it sails, as we have said, by the chart, instead of in the 
capricious circle of purely personal preferences. And it is in this 
relation of "the essay" to "the critical essay" that we discover some- 
thing of the literary and social significance of essay writing. It meets 
a need of the individual, and performs at the same time a function 
for society. The individual reader turns to the essayists for delight, 
for stimulus, for consolation, for a fortification of the will. Cicero 
and Montaigne and Thoreau will talk to him about friendship and 
books and behavior. What more can he ask for? He finds in the 
essayists, as in the lyric poets, the reflection of his own moods, his 
own tastes, his own varied contact with experience. In their com- 
pany, as in the company of every form of art, he becomes intimately 
aware of the fullness and richness of life. As for society at large, 
the essayists — and particularly those who have occupied themselves 
with criticism — have aided in the establishment of standards of 
judgment. These standards are impersonal and relatively stable. 
They alter somewhat, it is true, with the progress of civilization, and 
with the temper of successive historical periods in each of the civil- 
ized races of the world. But for any one generation the "norm" 
exists. The departures from it and the returns to it constitute the 
aesthetic and intellectual activity of that generation. Expansion and 
contraction, the study of mankind followed by the study of individual 
^o H. C, xxvili, 285ff. " u c.. xxviii, 93!!. 


men and women; then a new series o£ generalizations followed by 
another series of concrete applications of ideas to life — that is the 
history of culture. And while "the essay" has from time to time 
asserted the claims of liberty in all matters of the mind, "the critical 
essay" has with equal persistence recognized and maintained the 
claims of authority. One generation needs, no doubt, that its literary 
skirmishes should fight mainly on the side of freedom, and another 
generation will need no less that they should rally to the defense of 
law. There can be little doubt of the primary need of our own 
generation in America. We shall find most profit in reading those 
essayists who have a respect for literary standards, who are on the 
side of law. 


By Professor W. A. Neilson 

THE history of English Uterary criticism may be said to begin 
with Sir Philip Sidney's "Defense of Poesy." ' A few treatises 
on rhetoric and prosody preceded it, but it was with this 
book that there reached England the first important influx from 
the main current of the Italian and French criticism of the Renais- 
sance. In the preceding centuries men had, of course, expressed 
opinions about books; but these were random and personal, backed 
by no theory, part of no system, the casual utterances of men who 
merely knew what they liked. 


But the taste of an age can be inferred from other sources than 
the formal judgments of official critics. The evidence of vogue, 
when it can be obtained, is more significant, for the obvious reason 
that a man's spending tells us more than his words of what he 
values. For the centuries when books circulated in manuscript only, 
the facts as to popularity are hard to get at, since the numbers of 
those that have survived are the residuum of a thousand accidents; 
but the introduction of printing in the latter part of the fifteenth 
century affords an opportunity of an exceptional kind to learn which 
of the works then in existence were judged most promising and most 
worthy of the wider publicity which the new process made possible. 
It is for this reason that William Caxton, the first of English printers, 
is really an important figure in the history of literary opinion; for 
not only did he preface the books he printed with quaint and in- 
genuous statements of his own reasons for thinking them important, 
but the mere fact of his choosing them is a valuable evidence of their 
popularity as estimated by a shrewd man of business. 

^Harvard Classics, xxvii, 5-51; and cf. Professor Bliss Perry's lecture on "Theories 
of Poetry" in this series. 




As a matter of fact, this evidence coincides remarkably with the 
inferences that Hterary historians have drawn from other data. The 
fables which pass under the name of "^sop," ^ to begin with what 
is probably the most ancient of the works he issued, had been popular 
for many centuries, and the tangle of the relationships of the endless 
medieval collections in various languages is one of the most puzzling 
problems left for the modern scholar to solve. Their value Caxton 
seems to take for granted, largely, we may presume, because the 
didactic purpose which he always looks for first lies upon the sur- 
face and did not need to be pointed out. Indeed, more than half of 
the publications of Caxton, the Prologues and Epilogues of which 
are printed in The Harvard Classics, are confessedly of that im- 
proving kind for which the Middle Ages had so insatiable an appe- 
tite. The "Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers" ^ and the "Dis- 
tichs" * of Cato were collections of aphoristic wisdom, the appeal of 
which is apparent, not merely from the number of copies made, 
but also from the frequency with which we find them quoted by all 
kinds of medisval writers. 


The "Golden Legend" ° was more specifically pious. It is the 
best-known collection of those marvelous stories of saints which 
happily performed the double service of cultivating faith and of 
providing entertainment by their constant stimulation of the sense 
of wonder. It is only the former of those services, however, which 
is explicitly recognized by Caxton. "As gold is most noble above all 
other metals, in like wise is this legend holden most noble above 
all other works," he says, and he prays "that it profit to all them 
that shall read or hear it read, and may increase in them virtue, and 
expel vice and sin, that by the example of the holy saints amend 
their living here in this short life." 

^H. C, xxxix, I7ff. '^H. C, xxxix, 9. 

^H. C, xxxix, 15. ^H. C, xxxix, 13. 



Of Chaucer's works he prints the immortal "Canterbury Tales"; 
and in the "Proem" ' to this book he expatiates in praise of Chaucer's 
style and substance, both because "he comprehended his matters in 
short, quick, and high sentences, eschewing prolixity, casting away 
the chaff of superfluity, and shewing the picked grain of sentence 
uttered by crafty and sugared eloquence" — a characterization of the 
first great master of English which few of his later critics have 
bettered. The whole tone of this "Proem" is of a singularly noble and 
elevated enthusiasm, and in its evident genuineness and warmth it 
makes us forget that we are reading one of the earliest of English 
publishers' advertisements. 


The story of Troy, as everyone is aware, was unknown to the 
Middle Ages in the Homeric version. Two Latin prose works pur- 
porting to be derived from Greek contemporary accounts by Dares 
the Phrygian and Dictys the Cretan formed the basis of the mediaeval 
tradition. These were elaborated into a French metrical romance 
by Benoit de Sainte Maure in the twelfth century, and from him the 
Sicilian Guido delle Colonne derived the material for his Latin prose 
history of Troy. For the later Middle Ages Guido was the main 
source. It is to this tradition that Boccaccio's romance of "Filostrato" 
belongs, with Chaucer's expansion and paraphrase of it in his 
"Troilus." On Guido also depends that French priest Raoul le 
Feure," whom Caxton translated in Bruges and Ghent, and "finished 
in Cologne, in the time of the troublous world," when England was 
torn by the Wars of the Roses, and there was little peace for letters 
at home. Under these circumstances it is perhaps little wonder that 
the chief justification he offers for his labor in translation is the hope 
that the destruction of Troy "may be example to all men during 
the world how dreadful and jeopardous it is to begin a war, and 
what harms, losses, and death followeth." 

The Troy story he continued in his translation of a French version 

^ H. C, xxxix, j8. For examples of the "Canterbury Tales," see H. C, xl, 11-51. 
''H. C, xxxix, 5fT. 


of the "iEneid" ' of Virgil, "that noble poet and great clerk." In 
this work he tells us he stood in great doubt between those advisers 
who urged him to use language which could be understood of the 
common people and those who wanted him to use the most curious 
terms he could find. He chose a middle path, "forasmuch as this 
present book is not for a rude uplandish man to labour therein ne 
read it, but only for a clerk and a noble gentleman that feeleth and 
understandeth in feats of arms, in love and in noble chivalry." 


Finally, we have his Prologue to the great book of "King Arthur" ' 
compiled by his contemporary, Sir Thomas Malory. If the Troy 
story was the favorite classical tale in mediaeval times, the romances 
connected with King Arthur were the most notable and the most 
widely diffused of more recent imaginative literature. Founded on a 
minute basis of old British history, the Arthurian legends had passed 
from the chronicles into romance, finding their most important 
artistic development in France, but spreading in translation and 
paraphrase into every country of western Europe. At the close of 
the Middle Ages, an English knight. Sir Thomas Malory, collected, 
chiefly from French prose versions, materials for a loosely organ- 
ized compilation of all the more important adventures, and retold 
them in a style and spirit that make his book one of the great monu- 
ments of English prose. For this book Caxton had the warmest 
admiration; and, though here, if anywhere, we have a literature of 
entertainment, in it also Caxton finds a possibility of moral and 
spiritual improvement. Few of his words are better known than his 
worthy praise of Malory: "And I, according to my copy, have down 
set it in print, to the intent that noble men may see and learn the 
noble acts of chivalry, the gentle and virtuous deeds that some 
knights used in those days, by which they came to honour, and 
how they that were vicious were punished and oft put to shame and 
rebuke; humbly beseeching all noble lords and ladies and all other 
estates, of what estate or degree they be of, that shall see and read 
in this said book and work, that they take the good and honest 

' H. C, xxxix, 24. For a modern translation, see H. C, vol. xiii. 

'//. C, xxxix, 20. For the story of the Holy Grail from Malory, see H. C, xxxv, 
105-214, and c£. Dr. Maynadier's lecture in the series on Prose Fiction. 


acts in their remembrance and to follow the same, wherein they 
shall find many joyous and pleasant histories and noble and re- 
nowned acts of humanity, gentleness, and chivalry. For herein may 
be seen noble chivalry, courtesy, humanity, friendliness, hardyhood, 
love, friendship, cowardice, murder, hate, virtue and sin. Do after 
the good and leave the evil and it shall bring you to good fame and 
renown. And for to pass the time this book shall be pleasant to 
read in; but for to give faith and believe that all is true that is con- 
tained herein, ye be at your liberty. But all is written for our 

This last sentence sums up the chief points in the professional 
faith of the father of English printing. Edification was assumed 
by him as by his age as the prime, if not the only, justification for 
writing and publishing. Yet, in spite of this narrow assumption, 
Caxton and the authors he did so much to make accessible were 
clearly sensitive to the element of delight as well as of instruction 
in literature; and enough has been said of the contents of these 
Prologues to show how rich they are in indications not only of what 
the Middle Ages read, but why they read it. 

As for Caxton's own motives, if we took him literally, we should 
suppose that he translated and printed mainly to save himself from 
the sin of idleness. Yet a more generous impulse is easily read be- 
tween the lines; and it is no mere self-regarding purpose that finds 
utterance in the words he penned as he closed wearily his long labor 
on the "Recuyell of the Histories of Troy": "Thus end I this book, 
which I have translated after mine Author as nigh as God hath 
given me cunning, to whom be given the laud and praising. And 
for as much as in the writing of the same my pen is worn, my hand 
weary and not steadfast, mine eyne dimmed with overmuch looking 
on the white paper, and my courage not so prone and ready to labour 
as it hath been, and that age creepeth on me daily and feebleth all 
the body, and also because I have promised to divers gentlemen and 
to my friends to address them as hastily as I might this same book, 
therefore I have practised and learned at my great charge and dis- 
pense to ordain this said book in print, after the manner and form as 
ye may here see, and is not written with pen and ink as other books 
be, to the end that every man may have them at once." 


By Professor Bliss Perry 

AMONG the various critical essays presented in The Harvard 
JL\ Classics no group is more interesting than that w^hich deals 
jL JL with the theory of poetry. Our consideration of the literary 
form or quality of the essay has already shown us that we should 
not expect from the essayist an exhaustive treatise, but rather a free 
and spirited and suggestive discussion of certain aspects of his sub- 
ject. To write adequately upon the general theme of poetry, ex- 
pounding its nature, its esthetic and social significance, and its 
technique, would be an enormously difficult task. But there are few 
poets who have not uttered at one time or another some of the 
secrets of this craft, or some phase of their admiration for it. Let us 
glance at the essays of eight English and American poets, ranging 
in time from the age of Elizabeth to the Victorian epoch: Sidney, 
Dryden, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Poe, Whitman, and 
Arnold. Four of this group, Dryden, Coleridge, Poe, and Arnold, 
are acknowledged adepts in general literary criticism; while Sidney 
and Shelley, Wordsworth and Whitman, have given expression to 
some of the most eloquent and revealing things that have ever been 
written about their own art of poetry. 


Sidney's "Defense of Poesy," ' like Shelley's, is a reply to an attack, 
but neither poet is very angry, nor does either believe that his oppo- 
nent has done much harm. Shelley's antagonist was a humorously 
Philistine essay by his friend Peacock. Sidney is answering some- 
what indirectly a fellow Puritan, Gosson, whose "School of Abuse" 
(1579) had attacked the moral shortcomings of ancient poetry and 
the license of the contemporary stage. Yet Sidney's "pitiful defense 
of poor poetry," as he playfully terms his essay, is composed in no 
1 Harvard Classics, xxvii, sff. 


narrowly controversial spirit, but rather in a strain of noble en- 
thusiasm. He brings to his task a sufficient learning, a knowledge 
of the poetics of Plato and Aristotle, and an acquaintance with the 
humanistic critics of Italy and France. He knows his Homer and 
Virgil, his Horace and Ovid, but he does not on that account despise 
the "old song of Percy and Douglas." The nobility of Sidney's tone 
and his beauty of phrasing are no less notable than the clear ordering 
of his thought. In one close-packed paragraph after another, he 
praises the poet as a teacher and creator, compares poetry with his- 
tory and philosophy, and finds, as Aristotle has done before him, 
that it is nobler than either. He discusses the various types of poetry, 
testing their capacities for teaching and moving the reader. Then, 
after a skillful refutation of the current objections against poetry, 
he turns, like a true Englishman, to the poetry of his own race, 
which was just then beginning, though Sidney did not foresee it, its 
most splendid epoch. He condemns, for instance, as being "neither 
right tragedies nor right comedies," that type of tragi-comedy which 
Shakespeare was soon to make illustrious. This opinion is now 
reckoned, of course, a heresy, as is Sidney's other opinion that verse 
is not essential to poetry. Yet no one who loves Sidney can quarrel 
with him over this or that opinion. His essay has proved itself, for 
more than three centuries, to be what he claimed for the beautiful 
art which he was celebrating — a permanent source of instruction 
and delight. 


One hundred years after Sidney's untimely death, the prince of 
English criticism was John Dryden. He made no pretense of actual 
government: he "follows the Rules afar off." He is full of contra- 
dictions, reflecting the changing hues of contemporary taste, com- 
promising between the classic and the romantic, changing his views 
as often as he likes, always readable and personal, always, in the 
best sense, "impressionistic," always, as Professor Ker has said of him, 
"sceptical, tentative, disengaged." His early essay "Of Dramatic 
Poesy" is full of youthful zest for Shakespeare and romance. Then 
he turns conformist, aiming "to delight the age in which I live" 
and to justify its prevalent neo-classic taste; but presently he comes 


back to his "incomparable Shakespeare," praises Longinus, and aban- 
dons rhyme. In his next period he turns rationaUst, and exalts 
"good sense" and "propriety." In the last dozen years of his life his 
enthusiasm for highly imaginative literature returns; he translates 
Juvenal and Virgil, and modernizes Chaucer; he is "lost in admira- 
tion over Virgil," though at heart he "prefers Homer." It is in this 
final stage of his career as a critic that he writes the charming praise 
of Chaucer, which is reprinted in The Harvard Classics.^ It is the 
perfection of essay writing. "Here is God's plenty," as he exclaims 
of the elder poet, in whom he finds a soul congenial to his own. 
Dryden did not, it is true, quite understand Chaucer's verse, else 
he could never have found it "not harmonious," yet he makes royal 
amends by admitting that "there is the rude sweetness of a Scotch 
tune in it, which is natural and pleasing, though not perfect." In 
his earlier "Apology for Heroic Poetry" (1677) ^^ salutes "the de- 
ceased author of 'Paradise Lost,' " then three years dead, and calls 
Milton's masterpiece "one of the greatest, most noble, and most 
sublime poems which either this age or nation has produced." 


Dryden's best pages of criticism tempt one, in brief, to agree with 
him in declaring that "Poets themselves are the most proper, though 
I conclude not the only critics." The critical writings of Wordsworth 
and Coleridge confirm us in that opinion. Wordsworth is less facile 
than Dryden, and he does not range so far. Coleridge, by natural 
endowment one of the greatest of literary critics, is desultory and in- 
dolent. But the two men, when focusing their masterly powers upon 
the defense and interpretation of that mode of Romantic poetry in 
which their own creative energies were for a time absorbed, produced 
criticism which has affected the whole subsequent development of 
English literature. Coleridge's lecture on "Poesy or Art," ^ for in- 
stance, is full of those flashes of penetrative insight which reveal 
the born critic: Art "is the power of humanizing nature"; "passion 
itself imitates order"; "beauty is the union of the shapely with the 
vital"; "the subjects chosen for works of art should be such as really 
are capable of being expressed and conveyed within the limits of 

^H. C, xxxix, I53ff. ^-H. C, xxvii, 255(1. 


those arts." Wordsworth's "Preface"^ to his epoch-making early 
poems should be read in connection with Coleridge's comments in 
the "Biographia Literaria," and in the light of the well-known fact 
as to the proposed division of labor between the two young poets in 
the composition of the "Lyrical Ballads." Coleridge intended to 
treat supernatural objects as if they really existed. Wordsworth 
wished to find in natural objects elements of novelty and surprise, 
that is, the romance of everyday experience. The two methods 
blended of course, like the colors at the extreme edges of the 
spectrum. Wordsworth's successive statements of his purpose em- 
phasize now his use of "the language of conversation in the middle 
and lower classes," as if it were mainly a question of poetic diction; 
then he stresses the necessity of truth to "the primary laws of our 
nature," and debates the aesthetic question of "the association of 
ideas in a state of excitement"; finally, he qualifies his first utterances 
by pointing out that the diction should be a "selection of language 
really used by men," and that the incidents and situations treated by 
the poet should have "a certain colouring of the imagination." Such 
criticism as this, if accompanied by close study of the verbal altera- 
tions which Wordsworth made in the text of his poems as his theories 
changed, is in the highest degree stimulating and profitable. 


The influence of Coleridge is traceable throughout Shelley's "De- 
fence of Poetry" ^ (1821). Shelley rides into the lists with as high a 
heart as Sidney, to repel the attack, not of the "moralists" but of 
the utilitarians. He is not conscious, like Sidney, Dryden, and 
Arnold, of the history of criticism. He has steeped himself, it is 
true, in Plato, but he writes with the enthusiasm of a new and per- 
sonal vision. Poetry, to him, is primarily the expression of the 
imagination: "it redeems from decay the visitations of the divinity 
in man"; "it is the record of the best and happiest moments of the 
happiest and best minds"; "a poem is the very image of life ex- 
pressed in its eternal truth"; poetry "acts in a divine but un- 
apprehended manner, beyond and above consciousness"; "a poet 
participates in the eternal, the infinite, and the one." Though the 

*H. C, xxxix, 2670., 292ff., 3 nil. ^H. C, xxvii, 329(1. 


Student of poetical theory can easily claim that such sentences as 
these are post-Coleridgean, they are really timeless, like the glorious 
spirit of Shelley itself. 


Poe's essay on "The Poetic Principle," ^ written to serve as a 
lecture during the last year (1849) of his brief life, illustrates his 
conviction that "the truly imaginative mind is never otherwise than 
analytic." As applied to Shelley, this dictum is far from true, but 
it expresses Poe's idealization of his own extraordinary gift for 
logical analysis. He was a craftsman who was never weary of 
explaining the trade secrets of his art, and though his criticism is 
uneven in quality and uninformed by deep and accurate scholar- 
ship, he expounded certain critical principles with incomparable 

In "The Poetic Principle," together with some popularization of 
Coleridge, and some admixture no doubt of that "fudge" which 
Lowell thought so inextricably compounded with Poe's "genius," 
there will be found the famous definition of the "Poetry of words 
as The Rhythmical Creation of Beauty." Poetry, according to Poe, 
excites, by elevating the soul. But as all excitements, by psychological 
necessity, are transient, it is only short poems that are truly poems 
at all. Such brief and indeterminate glimpses of the supernal loveli- 
ness, "the creation of supernal beauty," is the poet's struggle — and 
despair. If Poe's formulation of the task and method of poetry 
lacks, as it doubtless does, universal validity, it is nevertheless a key 
to the understanding of his own exquisitely musical fragments of 
lyric verse. 


Walt Whitman, like Poe and Coleridge, is mystic and transcen- 
dental in his theory of poetry. Unlike them, he is an arch-rebel in 
poetic practice. The Preface to "Leaves of Grass" ' (1855) i^ 1^°' s° 
much a critical essay as a manifesto. It is vociferous, impassioned, 
inconsecutive. Some paragraphs of it were later turned into verse, 
so rich was it in emotion. The central theme is the opportunity 
^H. C, xxviii, 37iff. 'H. C, xxxix, sSSif. 


which the immediate age in America offers to the poet. The past has 
had its fit poetical expression, but the new world of democracy and 
science now demands a different type of bard. The qualifications are 
obdurately clear: he must love the earth and animals and common 
people; he must be in his own flesh a poem, at one with the universe 
of things; his soul must be great and unconstrained. He must per- 
ceive that everything is miraculous and divine. The poet is to be 
the priest of the new age, and of all the coming ages. Whitman 
does not enter, in the Preface, upon the discussion of the technique 
of his own unmetrical, rhapsodic verse. Yet this verse, which has 
challenged the attention of two generations, and which is slowly 
making its way toward general recognition, is scarcely to be under- 
stood without a knowledge of the theory of poetry which underlies 
it. The Preface states that theory, confusedly, if one tries to parse 
and weigh it sentence by sentence, but adequately, if one watches 
simply, as Whitman bids, the "drift" of it. 


"I do not contest Mr. Walt Whitman's powers and originality," 
wrote Matthew Arnold in 1866, but he adds this warning: "No one 
can afford in literature to trade merely on his own bottom and to 
take no account of what the other ages and nations have acquired: 
a great original literature America will never get in this way, and 
her intellect must inevitably consent to come, in a considerable 
measure, into the European movement." It is not the least useful 
service of Arnold's own essay on "The Study of Poetry"' that it 
takes us at once into this European movement. The essay was 
written as a preface to a collection of English verse — "one great 
contributory stream to the world river of poetry." Arnold insists 
throughout, in characteristic fashion, upon the necessity of develop- 
ing a sense for the best, for the really excellent. He points out the 
fallacies involved in the purely historical and the purely personal 
estimates. He uses lines and expressions of the great masters as 
"touchstones" for detecting the presence or absence of high poetic 
quality. He takes Aristotle's remark about the "higher truth" and 

• H. C, xxviii, 65ff. 


"higher seriousness" of poetry as compared to history, and tests 
therewith the "classic" matter and manner of English poets. 

There are pitfalls, without question, lurking in the path of Arnold's 
apparently sure-footed and adroit method, but the temper of his 
performance needs no praise. He brings us steadily and serenely back 
to "the European movement," to the laws and standards that endure. 
But he also teaches that life and art are inexhaustible in their re- 
sources. "The future of poetry is immense"; that is the first sentence 
of Arnold's essay; and it will be also the confirmed final truth of 
any reader who has taken pains to acquaint himself with the 
utterance of poets about poetry. Walter Bagehot wrote long ago: 
"The bare idea that poetry is a deep thing, a teaching thing, the 
most surely and wisely elevating of human things, is even now to 
the coarse public mind nearly unknown. . . . All about and around 
us a faith in poetry struggles to be extricated, but it is not extricated. 
Some day, at the touch of the true word, the whole confusion will 
by magic cease; the broken and shapeless notions will cohere and 
crystallize into a bright and true theory." We are still waiting, no 
doubt, for that true and final word, but if it is ever spoken, it is 
likely to be uttered by one of the poets. 


By Professor W. G. Howard 

GOETHE admonishes the artist to create in forms of beauty, 
■ not to talk about beauty, and it is certain that no man 
ever became a poet from the study of an "art of poetry." 
Language is abstract, and art is concrete, the understanding is slow 
and emotion is swift, the reason may be convinced, but the senses 
cannot be persuaded. There is no disputing about tastes. Neverthe- 
less, we know that taste can be cultivated, and that understanding 
not only makes the taste more discriminating but also multipHes 
the sources of aesthetic pleasure. Artists as well as amateurs and 
philosophers have ever sought to further such understanding. 

The sculptor or the painter, whose primary means of expression 
are forms and colors, assumes the secondary function of teacher when 
he places at the disposal of his "school" the results of his studies in 
technique or theory. The philosophical lover of art delights to 
speculate on the constituents of beauty, and the critic boldly formu- 
lates the laws upon the basis of which he judges and classifies. 
Poetry, probably the earliest of the fine arts, was first subjected to 
this aesthetic legislation; but music, dancing, sculpture, and painting 
were soon brought under the same dominion, and have long been 
regarded as sisters of one and the same household with poetry. 


Especially since the revival of learning in the fifteenth and six- 
teenth centuries, practice in the arts has been accomplished by a 
running commentary of theory. The men of the Renaissance, having 
before them not merely numerous examples of Greek sculpture and 
the epics of Homer and Virgil, but also Aristotle's "Poetics" and 
Horace's "Art of Poetry," and seeing in these products of antiquity 



the height o£ human achievement, attempted in various ways to 
apply the canons of ancient taste to the settlement of contemporary 
problems. Accordingly, we find in Italy and, following the Italians, 
in France, England, and Germany, many writers on aesthetics only 
gradually emancipating themselves from the constraint of certain 
axioms which, being ancient, are unhesitatingly received as authori- 
tative. Thus, all of the fine arts are, with Aristotle, regarded as arts 
of imitation — imitation, not of real but of ideal nature, of beautiful 
nature, as the French call it; and this vague and elusive conception 
is usually left without any very illuminating definition. Similarly, 
a painting is thought of, after Simonides, as a dumb poem, and a 
poem as a speaking picture; and, repeating a misunderstood phrase 
of Horace, men confidently say, "Like picture, like poetry." 

The tendency is, then, to assimilate or at most to compare the 
several arts, and few observations penetrate beneath the surface. 
Artists calculated proportions and devised elaborate rules of technical 
procedure; writers of poetics discussed diction and rhetorical figures; 
but in treatises on painting and poetry alike, three "parts" — inven- 
tion, disposition, and coloring — ^furnished the traditional subdivisions. 
Intelligence and industry seemed competent, if not to vie with the 
ancient genius, at least to follow the paths that the ancients had trod. 
With all their formalism, however, the critics seldom failed to insist 
that the end of art is to arouse emotion; to instruct, indeed, but also, 
as Horace had said, to please. Now pleasure is a personal reaction. 
We may ask what it is that pleases us in a work of art, or what there 
is in us that makes us sensitive to aesthetic pleasure; and the principal 
advance that modern theory has made beyond the point reached by 
the Renaissance consists in a better answer to the second question. 
In other words, our theory has, or seeks, a psychological foundation. 


To be sure, that modern work in which the sharpest line is drawn 
between the fields of painting and poetry, Lessing's "Laocoon," ap- 
pears to treat the two arts in their most objective aspect, and is, in 
fact, far more concerned with the means than with the purpose or 
the substance of artistic expression. Lessing argues that if the means 


of painting be lines and colors in space, and the means of poetry 
articulate words in time, then evidently painting most properly 
addresses itself to the treatment of stationary bodies, and poetry to 
the treatment of successive actions; so that the attempt, carried too 
far, to represent actions in painting and to describe bodies in poetry is 
a perversion of the legitimate means of painting and poetry. We 
should not forget the qualifications that Lessing made to this rigid 
principle, nor the fact that he published only the first part of his 
projected treatise. He referred the effect of painting as well as of 
poetry to the imagination. But his purpose was to establish 
boundaries determinable by the difference in artistic means; and his 
"Laocoon" is a rationalistic document based upon knowledge and 
observation of external facts, not upon a study of internal reactions. 


Among the many predecessors of Lessing in the realm of aesthetic 
speculation, two men, not philosophers by profession, are conspic- 
uous for attention to the personal phenomena which he did not 
much consult; the Abbe Dubos in France and Edmund Burke' in 
England. Dubos recognizes differences in the arts conditioned by 
their symbols of expression; but he compares and rates the arts ac- 
cording to their effect upon the senses, and so prepares the way for 
a purely impressionistic criticism. Burke did not agree with the 
Frenchman's ratings, nor did he in any manner imitate his book, 
however much he respected it; but he was in substantial agreement 
with Dubos as to the operation of aesthetic causes; and just as Dubos 
saw in the desire of the mind to be stimulated by something the 
prime motive for interest in the arts, Burke found in two of our 
strongest passions, love and terror, a definition of the chief ends 
of artistic endeavor, the beautiful and the sublime.^ Burke was 
not much affected by painting. This art, the aim of which is to 
represent the beautiful, has, he says, little effect on our passions. 
But poetry, to which he was sensitive, and which, he holds, does 
not depend for its effect upon the power of raising sensible images, 
is capable of stirring the passions with a vague sense of the sublime, 
and is, strictly speaking, not an art of imitation. 

^Harvard Classics, xxiv, iiff. ^H. C, xxiv, 2gS. 



Though reached by a different process, Burke's conclusion as to 
the province of poetry is, in its negative aspect, identical with 
Lessing's: words are ill adapted to the vivid presentation of objects 
by means of detailed description. And though crude and mate- 
rialistic, his "Inquiry" is an excellent introduction to the study of 
aesthetics as a branch of psychology. The real founder of this 
science, however, and the philosopher from whom it derives its 
name, was a contemporary of Burke's in Germany, Alexander Gott- 
lieb Baumgarten. 

Adopting the monistic system of Leibnitz and Wolf, Baumgarten, 
a clear thinker and a lover of poetry, but no connoisseur of the forma- 
tive arts, undertook to fill the gap left by his forerunners in the 
logic of the lower powers of the soul, that is, the senses. His theory 
of the beautiful is general; he defines beauty as the perfection of 
sensuous perception; but clinging to the maxim, "Like picture, like 
poetry," he does not, in his application of the theory, progress far 
beyond the treatment of poetry as the typical art, rating it, like 
Burke, higher than painting. Poetry he defines as perfect sensuous 
speech. So Milton says that poetry is more simple, sensuous, and 
passionate than prose. And that perfection which is the definition 
of beauty and of poetry is a set of harmonious relationships in the 
object and between the object and the sensitive soul, of which the 
intellect may take cognizance, but of which, above all, the senses 
make us conscious, being impressed with an extensive clearness sep- 
arable from intensive distinctness; so that a poem is a poem not for 
the accuracy of any "imitation," nor for the loftiness of its idea, 
nor for the elegance of its forms, but for the fullness of its appeal 
to those functions which most immediately respond to man's con- 
tact with his material environment; that is to say, for intuitively per- 
ceptible reality, 


Baumgarten's doctrine was taken up by Lessing's friend, Men- 
delssohn; it furnished fundamental presuppositions for "Laocoon"; 
and it persisted to the time of Kant and Schiller. Kant, the analyst 


and rationalist, tended to separate the spheres of reason, sense, and 
morals, and to refer all three to subjective judgment. But Schiller,' 
his disciple, fired as he was by moral enthusiasm, wished to find an 
objective foundation for a theory of the beautiful that should make 
Esthetics a mediator between science and ethics, and should give 
to the beautiful the sanction of a perfecter of the mind, the heart, 
and the will. Not unlike Lessing, whose "Education of the Human 
Race" * meant a gradual liberation from leading strings and final 
reliance upon trained natural faculties, Schiller conceived aesthetic 
education as a process of freeing man from bondage to the senses and 
leading him through culture to a state of more perfect nature, in 
which, as of old among the Greeks, truth and goodness shall be 
garbed in beauty. Civilization has been won through specialization, 
division of labor; it is a gain for the community, but at the loss 
of harmonious development of powers in the individual life. The 
beaudful soul longs to restore the balance. If this be impossible in 
the world of actuality, it is attainable in the world of appearance. 
There the mind is free to follow the image of beauty and to endow 
this image with the wealth of all its knowledge and all its goodness — 
not for any ulterior purpose, but in obedience to a native impulse. 
And so the poet is the sole modern representative of perfect human- 
ity, with all his powers, intellectual, sensuous, and moral, cooperat- 
ing toward the realization of an ideal. 

' H. C, xxxii, 2096. 

*H. C, xxxii, i85ff. See also Goethe's "Introduction to the Propylaen," xxxix, 
26411, and Hume, "On the Standard of Taste," xxvii, 203. 


By Dr. Ernest Bernbaum 

OF THE critical essays not discussed in the previous lec- 
tures the most important are those by Hugo, Sainte-Beuve, 
Renan, Taine, and Mazzini. As their doctrines are quite 
obviously related to those expounded in the foregoing pages, it seems 
desirable to consider here the manner in which their opinions are 
expressed. The critical essays published in this series are classics, 
not merely because they contain significant doctrines about literature 
but also because they are in themselves literary works. They con- 
fer pleasure as well as profit. What distinguishes them from the 
journalistic book review on the one hand, and the pedantic study 
on the other, is their artistic composition. By what methods are 
their artistic effects produced? 


The title of a work cited by Sainte-Beuve suggests what a literary 
criticism should not be. It runs as follows: "Michel de Montaigne, 
a collection of unedited or little-known facts about the author of the 
Essays, his book and other writings, about his family, his friends, 
his admirers, his detractors." Sainte-Beuve, Taine, and the other 
masters never present us with a "collection." They marshal their 
numerous facts into a system, and dominate them with a thought 
which, however complex, is coherent. Most of us arise from the 
perusal of an author with a chaotic throng of impressions. But in 
the mind of a true literary critic the chaos becomes order. Renan, 
in his "Poetry of the Celtic Races," ' "giving a voice to races that are 
no more," lets us hear not a confusion of tongues but an intelligible 
unity of national utterance — sad, gentle, and imaginative. Hugo, 

^Harvard Classics, xxxii, 137. 


surveying in his "Preface to Cromwell" ^ the highly intricate roman- 
tic movement, sees therein the harmonious union of the grotesque 
and the sublime. Sainte-Beuve answers his sweeping question, "What 
is a Classic?" with the succinct definition — a work that reveals in 
a beautiful and individual manner an eternal truth or emotion. 
Mazzini characterizes Byron as a subjective individualist, and Goethe 
as an objective one. Taine, prefacing his "History of English Litera- 
ture,"^ unlocks the riddle of literary growth with the keys "race, 
environment, and epoch." The truth of these doctrines does not for 
the moment concern us. What is important for us is that each of 
these long essays may be summed up in a single sentence; for in 
each a powerful mind grasps and expresses a single idea. 

When a critic has conceived the leading idea of his essay, he is 
still in danger of obscuring its presentation. The more richly in- 
formed he is, the more he is tempted to introduce facts not strictly 
related to his dominant thought. But the great critical essayists, 
resisting that temptation, subordinate all details to the general design. 
Hugo, in sketching the development of the world's literature, se- 
lects only those phases which forecast the timeliness of romanticism. 
Sainte-Beuve and Mazzini, in dealing with the lives of Montaigne* 
and Byron,* which offer many opportunities for recounting interest- 
ing but irrelevant incidents, mention only those which illustrate 
their conception of the authors. 


In the arrangement of the materials, the same conscious art is 
observable. Each of the sections of the essays of Taine and Renan 
is a firm and necessary foundation for those that succeed it. Not 
until Renan has described the secluded national existence of the 
Celts does he draw the resultant national traits of character, which 
thereupon we are ready to trace intelligently in the various branches 
of Celtic literature. The method of Taine's essay is even more ad- 
mirably logical. To understand the growth of literature, he tells 
us, we must know first "the visible man," next "the invisible man," 
then the race, environment, and epoch which determined his char- 

^ H. C, xxxbc, 337. 3 H. C, xxxix, 410. 

*H. C, xxxii, 105. ^H. C, xxxii, 377. 


acter, and finally the way in which those causes distribute their 
effects. Thus is our progress through unknown fields made easy: we 
are not asked to leap from point to point, or to retrace our way; our 
guide takes us step by step along the path of his discovery. 


The sustained and methodically expounded idea which is the 
basis of every great critical essay would, however, like all abstrac- 
tions, seem dull or unintelligible if it were not constantly and vividly 
illustrated. The logical must flower in the picturesque. This even 
the great critics occasionally forget : one or two passages in Mazzini's 
essay would be more convincing if more fully illustrated by ref- 
erences to Goethe's works; and the only pages of Hugo where our 
interest flags a little are those in which he describes, without ex- 
amples, the character of romantic verse. But such lapses are highly 
exceptional. Taine, the most intellectual and least emotional of 
these men, makes it a rule to clothe the skeleton of his theory in 
flesh and blood. To show what he means by "the visible man," he 
clearly portrays a modern poet, a seventeenth-century dramatist, a 
Greek citizen, and an Indian Purana. Renan, to exhibit the Celtic 
love of animals and nature, tells the story of Kilhwch and Olwen; 
and to explain Celtic Christianity, recounts the legend of St. Bran- 
dan. Sainte-Beuve states his definition of classicism in a few lines, 
and devotes the rest of his essay to applying it to particular authors. 

All these masters have the gift of happy quotation. Montaigne's 
"I commend a gliding, solitary, and silent life," quoted by Sainte- 
Beuve, and Goethe's "I allow objects to act tranquilly upon me," 
quoted by Mazzini, clarify and confirm out of the authors' own 
mouths those impressions which the critics wish to impart. The as- 
tonishing effectiveness of the close of Hugo's essay is due to his apt 
quotations from Aristotle and Boileau, which seem to bring over 
those great classicists to Hugo's romantic party. 

The illustrations are not derived only from literary works. Taine, 
insisting upon the delicacy with which a literature records changes 
in national character, likens it to the sensitive instrument of a 
physicist. The similes of Hugo are exceptionally frequent and 
elaborate. "To make clear by a metaphor the ideas that we have 


ventured to put forth," he writes, "we will compare early lyric 
poetry to a placid lake which reflects the clouds and stars; the epic 
is the stream which flows from the lake, and rushes on, reflecting 
its banks, forests, fields, and cities, until it throws itself into the 
ocean of the drama. Like the lake, the drama reflects the sky; like 
the stream, it reflects its banks; but it alone has tempests and measure- 
less depths." His poet "is a tree that may be blown about by all 
winds and watered by every fall of dew; and bears his works as his 
fruits, as the jablier of old bore his fables. Why attach one's self to 
a master, or graft one's self upon a model? It were better to be a 
bramble or a thistle, fed by the same earth as the cedar and the 
palm, than the fungus or the lichen of those noble trees." Mazzini 
begins his comparison of Byron and Goethe by contrasting an Alpine 
falcon bravely floating in the midst of a storm, with a tranquil stork 
impassive amid the warring elements; and Renan prepares us for his 
conception of Celtic literature by giving us at the outset the charac- 
teristic tone of the Breton landscape. What the intellect has firmly 
outlined, fancy and imagination paint in Uvely colors. 


An essay which has by these means achieved clearness may be 
pleasant to read but still lacking in power. To give force to his 
ideas about an author or a Uterature, the masterful critic exhibits 
the peculiarity of his subject by the use of contrast. The briUiancy 
of Mazzini's essay proceeds largely from its striking antithesis be- 
tween Byron and Goethe. Renan enforces his doctrine of the indi- 
viduality of Celtic literature by emphasizing the differences between 
the French "Roland" and the Celtic "Peredur," between the gende 
Isolde and the "Scandinavian furies, Gudrun and Chrimhilde." 
Hugo intensifies our conviction of the complex character of modern 
life by describing the simplicity of the ancients. 

If a critic does not observe this principle, we may say of his 
essay: "These ideas are, to be sure, clear and enjoyable; but what 
do they matter?" The great critics do not leave us calmly indifferent; 
they are on occasion critics militant. Even the gende Sainte-Beuve 
admonishes the "Montaignologues," who, he feels, do not imder- 
stand the spirit of Montaigne. Taine manifests the novelty and 


importance of his method of criticism by mentioning the imperfec- 
tions of the eighteenth-century method. Mazzini reproves the ene- 
mies and misinterpreters of Byron. Hugo above all shows the stim- 
ulating value of pitting one's ideas against those of others. He calls 
his essay his "sling and stone against the classical Goliaths"; and by 
making his opponents utter their arguments against him gives to 
his work the force of dramatic combat. Critical essays that thus 
add vigor to lucidity arouse and delight our minds. When we rec- 
ognize how skillfully they fuse logic, imagination, and emotion, we 
perceive the superficiality of the distinction between so-called criti- 
cism and so-called creative literature. Good criticism is indeed 
creative, and its composition is a high art. 


By Professor H. W. Holmes 

IN ALL profitable thinking about modern education one cen- 
tral fact is stated or assumed — the fact that education has 
become a pubHc enterprise. To think of it as a matter mainly 
of private interest, to discuss it chiefly in terms of personal develop- 
ment, is to ignore the achieved conditions of civilized life and the 
clear trend of progress. The spread of public schools is but the 
obvious outward sign of a growing conviction concerning all edu- 
cational endeavor. That conviction was long ago proclaimed and 
has now become a guide to action — the conviction that the commun- 
ity has a vital stake in the education of every child. Education is 
a common concern not merely because there are many children to 
be educated, but because there can be no significant outcome in the 
education of any child which is not of importance, not to him only, 
but also to others, immediately to many, more remotely to all. 


This has always been true. Modern life, with cities and the in- 
ventions which belittle time and space, has only made it more 
apparent and action upon it more pressing. No one can think with 
penetration upon the results of education who does not come at 
last to a fuller vision of the interdependence of men. That men 
shall live less and less each for himself, more and more each for 
the common good, is not merely a consequence of increasing num- 
bers on the earth, but an essential condition of human progress, in 
the individual as well as in society. It is a poor and meager culture 
which does not end in greater power to serve. To become a man 
is to become capable of living effectively with others and for all, in 



the normal relationships of life — not in subservience to custom, but 
in devotion to a welfare larger than one's own, a welfare at least not 
incompatible, in the end, with the welfare of the world. It is not 
enough to say that the common interest is at stake in the education 
of every child; the very process of education is properly a training 
for effective membership in the common life. 

Such is the reasoning behind the great outlay of public money 
on schools, libraries, museums, and other educational agencies. 
Civilized communities undertake education as a part of their proper 
business, not as a charity, but as a necessary public function. Schools 
are tax supported and education is compulsory. The state claims 
final authority to prescribe standards and to supervise even private 
educational ventures. It calls on all citizens for their full support in 
this task of conserving and developing human resources. It con- 
siders every taxpayer as much in duty bound to support ultimate 
social improvement through education as to direct social improve- 
ment through public enterprises of any other sort. Personal return 
cannot be taken into the account; the good to be achieved is primarily 
a public good, in which the childless also share. And the problems of 
education are problems of public policy, involving the whole theory 
of the state, of government, of the social order, and of civic progress. 

All educational questions have thus become increasingly com- 
plex. The character of modern life makes even well-rounded per- 
sonal development a matter of much difBculty, for the life of the 
individual child is in some ways narrower to-day than it was in 
simpler times. To secure for modern children the full exercise 
of body, intellect, imagination, sympathy, and will is in itself a task 
which calls for insight, energy, and cooperation, to say nothing of 
money. Yet to provide for the formal cultivation of personal capac- 
ities, faculties, and powers, is by no means to solve the problem of 
education, even for a given child. The results may happen to be 
good, but the problem has not been solved, for it has not been 
adequately stated. 


It happens, in the first place, that "body, intellect, imagination, 
sympathy, and will" are poor terms to use in the actual direction 


of teaching. They name abstractions which have induced more 
futile educational discussion and more useless educational effort 
than can ever be reckoned. No child is a collection of general 
faculties which can be trained for universal use. But even when we 
have discovered the special capacities with which the individual is 
actually endowed, and with which we may therefore profitably 
work, the problem is only in part before us. It is quite as important 
to consider what our child is to do with his capacities, what stuff 
he is to exercise them on. It is the content of education that gives 
it social direction and social importance; from the public standpoint 
it is the school, the course, the subject that mean most, for these 
determine the concrete character of the individual's later activities 
and interests. That ancient educational saw, "I care not what you 
study, if you study it well," is profoundly misleading — a mischievous 
piece of common sense which hides the truth in order to emphasize 
a part of it. No matter what "faculty" a subject "trains," it is the 
information, the ideas, the ideals, principles, points of view, methods, 
interests, enthusiasms, purposes, and sympathies it imparts that chiefly 
determine its educational value. It is the content of a man's education 
which helps most to fix his place in the community, his vocation, 
his avocations, and his availability for special service. 


Education presents not one problem, therefore, but many. In the 
earlier years, to be sure, all children need much the same intellectual 
experience, at least in school. "The fundamentals" are the subjects 
everybody ought to master. Thus at first there is only the complexity 
of meeting individual differences among children — the brilliant, 
the backward, the well nurtured, the neglected. Complexity enough! 
And even so, each subject presents, besides, its own problem of 
social interpretation: "What everybody ought to master" in arithme- 
tic or in geography is by no means clear, and new definitions of the 
aim and scope of each subject are continually needed. Such defini- 
tions must be made from the standpoint of public service and the 
real demands of Hfe, not from the standpoint of complete mastery 
of the subject. A social view of education demands selection and 
reorganization of the elements of knowledge. But beyond this is 


the fact that children cannot long be kept in the same educational 
highway. The need to separate arises at least as early as adolescence, 
the end of childhood and the gate of youth. Here differences of 
native endowment, economic condition, and conscious purpose 
force the first fundamental differentiation of schools, courses, and 
classes. Even if, in some millennium of social justice, the stern 
necessity of earning a living in the teens were to be done away, the 
social necessity for variety of schooling would remain. Society needs 
many kinds of thinkers and workers, just as there are many kinds 
of aptitude to be trained. There is no "general course" which can 
provide an "all-round education," in the sense of providing all that 
is really needful for anybody who knows what is good for him. 
To discover the best in education for one child or class of children, 
though with the public interest well in mind, is to answer but one 
of the questions the educator must hereafter always ask. 

For the public interest goes far beyond the need of supplying 
to all a uniform minimum of schooling. Democracy means far more 
in education than the warding off of danger from ilhteracy. It is 
a crude and at bottom a wholly mistaken view of public education 
which confines it to "the three R's," or to those admitted necessities 
and such other subjects as the common good may dictate for the com- 
mon school. The public interest is not met by merely elementary edu- 
cation. It is met only when every prospective citizen may secure with- 
out undue sacrifice that extent and kind of education which will 
make him most efficient in his fundamental social relationships, 
including his vocation. The state needs knowledge, efficiency, in- 
sight, and idealism in industry, commerce, the arts, science, philos- 
ophy, religion, and family life as much as in citizenship more nar- 
rowly defined. The only logical result of the thoroughly social 
character of education is public support of every socially profitable 
kind of schooling, with commensurate public authority. 

Democracy in education invites, to be sure, the evils of political 
control; yet education is one of the few permanent means of coun- 
teracting f)olitical evil. No one need fear to trust educational au- 
thority to a public aroused to the meaning and value of education, 
and this essential condition of pubhc support depends on the slow 
growth of public conscience and public intelligence. In any case. 


private initiative will long have an honorable part to play in educa- 
tion and the very policy of the state may often best be served by 
leaving the special and the higher schools in private hands: but 
there are a few communities in which the extension of public pro- 
vision and public authority in education is not imperative. 

Of that extension what must be the guiding conceptions? Before 
all else must come the honesty of an attitude at once scientific and 
ethical. Educators must face the facts, without abatement of their 
enthusiasm for ideals. 


Teachers and school officers find before them not mere types of 
humanity, with abstract virtues and vices, general habits, faculties, 
and powers waiting to be cultivated for "life" as it may be philosophi- 
cally defined; they have to deal with real and ever-varying human 
beings, whose impulses, emotions, and purposes reach forward to 
the actual challenge of the specific duties, interests, and rewards 
of the real world. To provide, for every normal individual, whatever 
his endowment, nurture, or experience, an opportunity to prepare 
himself for a part in the legitimate work of the world, a share in its 
proper pleasures, and an understanding of the meaning and value 
of the life he leads — this is the problem to be solved. What are the 
things men do in which the public interest calls for intelligence and 
efficiency such as may be got in schools? For the getting of such 
intelligence and efficiency in the doing of such things, what schools 
are needed? In these schools what subjects shall be taught and how? 

These questions present the problem of education as it must be 
viewed from the standpoint of the common good — and the questions 
presented by education viewed from any other standpoint are far less 
important. No doubt we need, in the crash and strain of modern 
life, remembrance of the old ideal of personal distinction. Grace is 
worth too much to lose it beyond retrieving, even for efficiency. 
But how impoverished now appears that aristocratic ideal which 
made much of personal charm and little of social worth — for which 
the education of women could consist chiefly of dancing, French, and 
hand embroidery! Whatever its faults and dangers, it is a stronger 
age which approves for women schools of household economy, of 


nursing, or philanthropy, so say nothing of clerical training, medi- 
cine, or law. But he interprets the modern ideal too narrowly who 
would have it take no account of beauty, leisure, or reflection. The 
work of the world is fundamental, and in itself neither selfish nor 
undignified; but the world's play — ^its generous sport, its curious 
science, its philosophic speculation, its art, and its worship — ^is a re- 
gion of enduring values. It is only the separation of work and play 
that belittles either. A social conception of the ends of education 
finds reason for folk-dancing and pageants in the public schools, 
but none for the exploitation of children through premature indus- 
trial training. The common good demands education for play no 
less than education for work, education for the larger efficiency of 
insight, breadth of view, and reflective intelligence no less than 
education for the narrower efficiency of habit. Democracy cannot 
perpetuate slavery through schools. 


But the essential conditions of freedom cannot be established 
through education; only the love of it, the understanding of it, and 
the power and will to use it for service can be gained from the most 
Uberalizing of curricula. The possibility and the extension of free- 
dom are the work of direct social and political reform. It is futile, 
meanwhile, to insist that liberal studies shall be all that schools shall 
offer. It is simple error to insist that a traditional range of studies — 
the classics, science, mathematics, even history, or English — provide 
the only possible culture for freedom. Schools must meet the need 
of the world as frankly and directly as they can, without squeamish 
prejudice against practical or vocational studies. Shopwork may 
afford more liberal culture to a given boy than Greek — and the 
problem of educational values is always thus specific. The only profit- 
able distinction between liberal studies and vocational studies is one 
which looks out and forward to the life the individual is to lead. 
A man's calling, if it be of much difficulty, demands vocational 
training; his life in the family, the community, the state, and the 
church demands an education which may justly be called liberal; 
the worthy use of his leisure demands an education which may 
properly be called cultural. But what is vocational for the artist 


will be cultural for others; and a given subject may serve many 
uses in every normal life. A complete education will prepare for 
life in all its relationships, either by direct study of the problems 
they present, or by the study of subjects valuable in one of them or 
in all. 

This conception of the ends to be attained is clear enough; it is 
the means that fail. And the failure of means is due less to public 
apathy than to inherent difficulty in finding them. New schools, 
new courses, new subjects must be created. A new interpretation 
of old subjects and a new method of teaching them must be worked 
out. Much of our traditional teaching, especially in high schools, 
academies, and colleges, goes quite astray; it is fruitless because its 
uses are not clear or because they are not made clear; and the 
"intellectual discipline" which is supposed to result from it either 
does not occur or is not carried over into the conduct of mature life. 
Mental and moral habits and ideals, such attitudes, tendencies, and 
principles of conduct as "thoroughness," "order," "concentration," 
"self-reliance," may be taught by precept and example in the work of 
any subject; in every case they must be generalized and held con- 
sciously in mind, practiced and renewed in vision if they are ever 
to permeate life. In this general training of the mind and will, the 
unconscious effect of one subject is little better than that of another 
of similar complexity and scope. Science is as good as Latin, and 
mechanical drawing may be better than either. Much depends on 
the ethical enthusiasm, the insight, the sympathy, and the leadership 
of the teacher; much on the methods of teaching and class manage- 
ment he employs. More depends on the traditions and the admin- 
istrative, disciplinary, and social policies of the school. This is to 
say that these precious moral results of education are chiefly matters 
of personal contagion, direct inspiration, and experience in the com- 
mon effort of work and play. They are achieved as much in the 
home or on the playground as in the school. It is the specific habits 
of attention, the special methods of observing, comparing, classify- 
ing, and reacting on facts, the particular forms of skill, the definite 
information, the peculiar outlook, the actual incentives which a given 
subject may possess that make it serviceable in education. In these 
things subjects differ and lend themselves to different uses. In these 


things history differs from dressmaking, science from agriculture. 
And in these things the same subject will differ as it is taught 
for different purposes, to pupils of different ages and different capac- 
ities and motives. Literature cannot yield the same fruit in a night 
school that it yields in a college. Under a conception of education 
which demands preparation for all the essential activities of life, in 
schools designed to meet the needs of every age and class, subjects 
must be evaluated and organized anew. 


The schools and courses now most needed are partly known, 
pardy to be conceived. Vocational education has come to stay, but 
its various forms and alliances have yet to be completely determined. 
The fear that vocational training will materialize and lower educa- 
tion is groundless, even in theory. To train carpenters and printers 
in schools instead of by apprenticeship is not a threatening educa- 
tional revolution; doctors, lawyers, and engineers were once trained 
by personal tuition under practitioners. Vocational training has long 
existed in the higher professions; its establishment for industry 
and business is the result of social changes which have undermined 
apprenticeship; and the fact that this training is now given at 
public expense shows a new sense of the social importance of labor. 
In the life of the modern world artisans are no more to be neglected 
than artists, farmers than philosophers. Vocational education is a 
mighty step in advance, which offers inspiring opportunities for 
the extension of general education, as an accompaniment of technical 
training, to those who might otherwise have secured neither. Ought 
we not to rejoice at the retention of boys and girls in schools, where 
they can be under the disinterested influence of teachers, whereas 
they might have drifted from one shabby and depressing experience 
to another until they had been able, perhaps, to "pick up a trade," 
acquiring their views of life and their ethical principles and habits 
who knows how? The pressing problem of vocational training is 
not the problem of justification and defense, but of organization and 

The kind and number of vocational schools to be established must 
be settled partly by the economic return for special forms of voca- 


tional efBciency. In the long run the social need for efficiency in a 
trade or profession determines the legitimate rewards of success 
in that calling. The fact that people will pay well for medical skill 
is an indication of social need for it. It cannot be said, of course, 
that schools should be established to train men for every calling in 
which they may earn a good living. A school may be established as 
much to teach men the Value of training for knowledge and power 
in a special form of service as to prepare individuals to profit by 
rendering that service; for it is only in the end that economic demand 
justly reflects true social need. Accordingly, the public interest calls 
upon the educator to define social need and correct social demand, 
no less than to meet it. To plan a system of schools requires vision 
of a new and better order, in which the wants of men, and their con- 
sequent willingness to pay for the satisfaction of them, are more 
reasonably founded in the general welfare. Yet in discussing the 
advisability of training for any occupation, the possibility of earning 
a living in it cannot be ignored. If agriculture could not be made 
to pay we should not have agricultural high schools or agricultural 
colleges. Even a school of philanthropy finds added sanction in the 
fact that trained social workers are paid for their services. In voca- 
tional education, then, there is at least an obvious basis for discussion 
concerning schools, courses, and curricula. The state must train its 
workers, and work for which there is fundamental need is work 
which pays. Vocational education presents problems of the most 
vexing sort, but its rationale is clear. 


It is the persistent need for general education that complicates 
the issue. Economic demand may justify child labor, but educational 
theory does not. A theory of education which finds no place for vo- 
cational education is antiquated and meager; but a theory which 
considers only the requirements of work is meager and inhuman. 
No training for special skill in a trade is conceivable in the elemen- 
tary school: manual training, gardening, sewing, cooking, and agri- 
culture have a place in childhood because children cannot learn by 
books alone, but need a training of body, hand, and eye, of purpose, 


loyalty, and leadership which these subjects can provide. This need 
does not disappear with adolescence, but generalized manual train- 
ing — constructive work on objects without economic value, the 
making of childish gimcracks, o£ joints which join nothing, or of 
seams which sew no garment — ceases early to have even an educa- 
tional value. The purely educational worth of any form of manual 
training comes gradually to depend on the economic value of the 
ends for which the pupil works. Manual training as a part of the 
general curriculum of a high-school pupil must be practical training 
in some form of manual skill of actual value in the working world. 
Even a pupil who intends to go to college may well take one or two 
courses of handwork in the secondary school, for the broadening 
of his experience and outlook and the specific training he may thus 
secure: a course in the elements of many occupations would be better 
still. But this is not vocational education. True vocational education 
aims at efBciency in a special field of work — ^it trains printers, sten- 
ographers, dressmakers, carpenters, mechanicians, doctors, lawyers, 
clergymen, journalists, engineers. It brings into play the purpose to 
earn a living by what one learns — which President Eliot has called 
the "life-career motive." It narrows, not unjustifiably, but inevitably. 
The difficulty is to educate for citizenship, for the duties of parent- 
hood and social living, for leisure, and for the interpretation of life — 
in spite of the need for early specialization, when that need is present. 
That need does not arise altogether from differences in wealth. 
After adolescence many pupils lack incentive for an education that 
has no direct reference to a career. But the demand for vocational 
training is so overlaid and entangled with economic pressure that 
selection of candidates for vocational schooling on the ground of 
individual aptitude and free choice is visionary. While our social 
system permits comparative poverty to constrain the vast majority 
of young men and women to go to work at the earliest possible age, 
we must face the necessity of early specialization in training, what- 
ever their capacity or need for further general culture. Education 
can only emphasize the value of liberal studies and strive to include 
in every curriculum as many as possible, and in profitable form. 
It can also resist the tendency to specialize too soon. 



Education has thus to struggle, like government or philanthropy, 
beneath the burdens imposed by the injustice of our economic order. 
We must make educational provision for social conditions which 
ought not to exist — night schools for illiterate foreigners, specialized 
vocational training for factory workers and shopgirls who ought to 
have at least the time for a much extended general education in ad- 
dition to their preparation for work. We must also be content to see 
the high privilege of general education seized by boys and girls 
whose easy lives make them careless of its value and inconstant in 
its pursuit. These conditions schools themselves cannot change. But 
by public provision and by scholarships the opportunity for prolonged 
education may be kept open to the able and ambitious. The spirit 
of teaching and school administration may help to prevent the forma- 
tion of social caste. By precept and example democratic ideals and 
the will to serve may be encouraged in those who are in danger 
of losing them. And no academic bars need be hastily and blindly 
set up — ^as in the narrow interpretation of college entrance require- 
ments or in failure to provide a reasonable opportunity for higher 
education of some desirable sort — against those who seek further 
training after mistaken choice of a high-school course or the early 
disadvantages of having to earn a Living. In a democracy the educa- 
tional system must at least guard jealously against the perpetuation 
of special privilege. Schools must discourage the advance of the unfit, 
not of the unfortunate. 

Obviously there is need for wise guidance of individuals into the 
kind of schoohng which will best fit them for the life they can best 
lead. Vocational guidance is but part of the larger problem of "the 
redistribution of human talent" (a phrase recently and aptly coined 
by Professor Carver) and it is often best to be accompUshed as a 
part of an educational guidance which takes account of the need for 
liberal culture as well as for vocational training. Transcendent 
abihty is doubtless seldom obscured through lack of counsel or of 
privilege; educational guidance will not discover many a mute in- 
glorious Milton nor send to schools of pharmacy many a discouraged 
Keats. It may prevent, however, less disastrous misfittings in a 


thousand cases, and therein is its sufficient sanction. But guidance 
will be futile if there are no proper paths to tread. The money now 
provided for schools must be increased many fold, if schools are to 
become for all men the gates of opportunity and the highways to 
service. We must remember, to be sure, that there are many educa- 
tional agencies besides schools; libraries often do far more toward ed- 
ucation. But any systematic education is schooling, and if the interests 
of society are to be adequately met, all valuable forms of educational 
activity must be organized, supported, and made available to the 
individuals who seek to use them. 


To increase the size of schools is not enough. Schools and classes 
are already far too large. System is not enough. More schools and 
courses, of greater variety; smaller schools and smaller classes, with 
greater opportunity for personal contact between teachers and taught; 
more teachers, of higher native capacity and better training — all these 
are needed. But these things we shall not have until the common 
conception of schools and teachers has suffered change. We still 
think of teaching too narrowly or too vaguely — too narrowly if we 
look upon teachers as purveyors of learning for its own sake, too 
vaguely if we think of them as taskmasters in a dubious abstract 
discipline of mind. The task of the teacher must be reconceived; 
we must think of him and he must become a guide to worthy living, 
teaching not only his subject but how to use it and what it is for, 
making clear its incentives and ideals, its methods and its values, and 
helping his pupils to interpret life more justly because they have 
seen it in a new light. This is the larger opportunity of every teacher, 
but especially of the teacher of a traditional subject in a traditional 
course. The teacher of stenography may more safely confine himself 
to skill and speed with dots and dashes than the teacher of Latin 
to exactness in the use of tenses. The first task of any teacher is to 
teach his subject well, but he cannot leave the social interpretation 
and application of education wholly to principals, parents, school 
pamphlets, and chance. If the public is to value the teacher's work 
more highly, he must make it more valuable. 

To become more valuable, teaching must develop both a science 


and a philosophy of its own, teachers must study their problems as 
physicians study theirs and as statesmen theirs. For the problems of 
teaching are at once problems of efficiency and problems of destiny. 
The teaching of any subject calls for scientific study of methods and 
ethical study of ends. How shall we teach it well? depends for its 
answer in part on the answer to What shall we teach it for ? These 
questions have not yet been answered with finality for any subject. 
With due change of wording they may be asked of any school or 
course: How shall we manage it well? and, What shall we manage 
it for? All questions of educational practice are thus both scientific 
and philosophical. 


In the elementary school we need better methods of drill — greater 
efficiency in the formation of habits, as for instance in arithmetic. 
To gain it we must turn to experiments in the psychological labora- 
tory and to exact measurement of arithmetical progress in the school. 
It is only in the last few years that we have had an adequate knowl- 
edge of what arithmetical ability is. We do not yet know with 
much precision how it develops under different methods of instruc- 
tion. The teaching of every subject suffers for want of accurate 
records of results. We lack standards, fundamental tests, and a 
sufficiently detailed knowledge of the psychology of the subjects 
we teach. But measurement and experiment apply in the main to 
memory work and the formation of habits. They will not quickly 
show us how to relate one subject to another or to the life outside 
school walls; they cannot yet help us to vitalize our subjects and make 
them yield opportunity for independence and cooperation on the part 
of our pupils. They will not soon teach us how to make learning a 
light to life. In the arithmetic of the elementary school we need a 
social philosophy to govern our selection of topics to be taught or 
omitted, to justify varying emphasis on logical conceptions, drill in 
calculation, or exercise with real problems. So in the teaching of 
every subject we need new study, both exact and broad, 


In the work of the high school this double duty is even more 
apparent. We face the immediate necessity of extending the period 


o£ compulsory school attendance far into the period of secondary 
education. But we cannot hghtly set aside both the need to earn 
and the impulse to work, and the demand for workers will not 
readily yield to the idealism of the educator who would ignore it in 
favor of general culture. Compromise must be the outcome, but also 
cooperation: we must have many forms of vocational training, and 
employers of young workers must aid the state to educate them 
through schemes of part-time schooling. Such schemes are already 
in operation and commend themselves as both efficient and humane. 
In this increased provision for schooling the purely technical sub- 
jects lend themselves readily to measurement of results and standard- 
ization of method; it is the subjects of larger social value, such as 
civics or English, that must be studied anew, in the light of clearer 
conceptions of their aims and closer observation of their effects. We 
have to learn how to use these traditional means of education (and 
such newer ones as the study of household sanitation or personal 
hygiene) under new and trying conditions and with new purposes, 
as the liberal adjuncts of many forms of vocational training. 

Yet in the secondary school which aims wholly at general culture 
(or at preparation for college, which is not supposed to be an ob- 
stacle to general culture), the problems of aim and method in the 
teaching of traditional subjects are more pressing still. How shall a 
modern language be taught to some real purpose? For what pur- 
pose shall it be taught? The actual mastery of the tongue can be 
achieved very much more effectively than it is now achieved if 
methods of teaching can be based on fuller knowledge of the 
psychology of learning and completer tests of classroom work and 
home study. The fundamental values of the subject can be more 
clearly conceived and more directly pursued if we can shake our- 
selves free from the befogging belief in general discipline as the 
goal of teaching in this or any given subject. Ability to handle the 
language as an instrument of thought and expression — ^for the 
achievement of this aim we need a new analysis of the fundamentals 
and more accurate standards of progress: appreciation of the foreign 
civilization represented in its literature — for the achievement of this 
aim we need new selection of material and more vital reference to 
life. In this and in many traditional subjects teachers are constantly 


at work at this double adjustment, and from them as well as from 
psychologists and students of education we may look for progress 
and reform. 

For scientific study of method, whether by experiment in the psy- 
chological laboratory, by classroom test, or by exact statistical record, 
can but provide the basis for constructive reorganization of teaching 
in any subject; discussion of aims by educational leaders can but 
define in general terms a new interpretation of material; the teachers 
in the schools must make effective or prove visionary the ideals 
thus achieved. If they cling to traditional conceptions and tried 
methods — as many do, especially in private schools — they block 
progress; and if by personal worth and the power of leadership 
they win respect and affect deeply the lives of their pupils, the 
weight of their conservatism is the harder to bear. But the hasty 
and ill-considered application of scientific generalization or social 
conception is an equal if a rarer fault. The teacher must master for 
himself the science and the philosophy of his subject and be critical 
practitioner as well. He must be open-minded, critical, constructive. 


This attitude is more general among teachers and principals of 
elementary schools and among school superintendents than among 
teachers and masters of secondary schools; among public second- 
ary-school teachers than among private secondary-school teachers; 
and least general among college teachers. Yet to these latter the call 
to professional study of the problems of their own work is loudest. 
They have greatest need to test their results and possibly revise their 
methods, to reconceive their aims and discover new ways to achieve 
them. In America the college stands perforce for culture; yet it 
clears itself with difficulty from the snares of technical specialization 
in chosen fields of knowledge — a specialization essentially vocadonal. 
College professors must be specialists — scholars in the full sense of 
the term; but college students do not for their part commonly intend 
or care to specialize in the same sense. To study one field with 
greater thoroughness than others; to gain from it a disinterested en- 
thusiasm for learning; to approach in one direction the limits of 
achieved knowledge; to taste the joy of constructive intellectual 


effort; these are essential elements in a college student's curriculum. 
But this does not call for the methods or ideals of graduate speciali- 
zation, even in the student's chosen field. The privilege of college 
study is the opportunity to reach safe ground, in all the more im- 
portant fields of scholarship, for the exercise of reflective intelligence. 
With a view to providing this opportunity college teachers may vs^ell 
spare time from research for that close observation of methods and 
results and that unprejudiced discussion of aims which are needed 
in the teaching of all subjects everywhere. 


By Dr. Ernest Bernbaum 

WE HONOR Francis Bacon as the prophetic inspirer of 
modern science. In perusing the long Hst of the activities 
of that scientific estabHshment which is described in the 
closing pages of "The New Atlantis," ' we are astonished by again 
and again recognizing in its imaginary methods and achievements 
precise anticipations of what is actually being done in modern medi- 
cine, meteorology, engineering, aeronautics, etc. Bacon himself, to 
be sure, modestly protested that he was but "stirring the earth a 
little about the roots of science." He was indeed no great discoverer 
of data, and from Harvey to Huxley the scientific specialists have 
sneered at his rather futile experiments. Even his method, which 
he sincerely believed a new and rapid way to complete mastery of 
our environment, is now considered somewhat impractical. Yet the 
prefaces to his "Instauratio Magna," ^ though no longer accurate 
guideposts, are revered as monuments in the history of scientific 
progress. They served an even nobler purpose than to show the 
scientist just where to go; they sent him forth to seek his way with 
a new and conquering spirit, the spirit of confidence and of coopera- 
tion. The works of Bacon instilled in his successors the faith that 
by united effort they would presently understand, and thus control, 
those physical forces which in the past had toyed with the life of man, 
and exposed him to poverty, disease, and all the accidents of circum- 
stance. In this hope were undertaken the Royal Society and the 
French "Encyclopedie" — leading enterprises in advancing respec- 
tively the discovery and the dissemination of rational knowledge. 
"We shall owe most," says Diderot in his prospectus to the "Encyclo- 
pedic," "to the Chancellor Bacon, who threw out the plan of a 
universal dictionary of sciences and arts at a time when, so to speak, 
neither sciences nor arts existed. That extraordinary genius, at a 

^Harvard Classics, iii, I43ff. ^H. C, xxxix, Ii6ff., I43fl. 



time when it was not possible to write a history of what was known, 
wrote one of what it was necessary to learn." Wherever experimental 
investigators are to-day discovering new laws of nature, and thus 
more and more subjecting the physical world to the welfare of 
man, the spirit of Bacon is fruitfully at work. 


Among writers on education, the very magnitude of Bacon's po- 
sition in the history of science has tended to overshadow his influence 
in other respects. Yet he urged the development of science because 
in his day it was relatively the most neglected and chaotic depart- 
ment of human endeavor, and not because he thought it absolutely 
and forever the most important. Newman himself does not insist 
more strongly than Bacon on the truth that science, though great, is 
not the complete satisfier of human needs. In "The Advancement of 
Learning," the first part of the "Instauratio Magna," Bacon pleads 
for the discovery and application to life, not merely of pure scientific 
truth, but also of clear ideals of mental, moral, and spiritual well- 
being. Religion and the so-called liberal studies had his eloquent and 
loyal support. "The New Atlantis" presents us not only with the 
model of a public institution of scientific research, but also with ideals 
of social and personal character. His Utopia was not, as some mistak- 
enly declare, a merely industrial civilization, but a Christian common- 
wealth which exalted the humane feelings, family life, and artistic 


Both in the prefaces to the "Instauratio Magna" and in "The New 
Atlantis," Bacon is thinking of the world as he believed it should 
and would become. The assumption that he had a similar purpose 
in his famous "Essays" ' unfortunately misleads many modern critics, 
and tends to obscure the peculiar merits of his most popular work. 
Yet Bacon himself tells us that in his opinion we already had enough 
books which enthusiastically described moral ideals, and that what 
we really needed were accurate observations on the extent to which 

' H. c. Hi, 7ff. 


those ideals were attainable, and on the methods by which, under 
the actual conditions of everyday life, they might be put into prac- 
tice. What he wished to present in the essays was human life, not 
as it ought to be, but as it is. "Let us know ourselves," he said, "and 
how it standeth with us." 


The result is a portrait of mankind beneath which may be in- 
scribed his characteristic sentence: "It is good to retain sincerity." 
So accurate and candid an observer of human life is instinctively 
disliked by persons of sentimental temperament, and they call Bacon 
cynical and heartless. Ignoring his realistic intention, they turn, for 
instance, to the essays on love and on marriage,* expecting eloquent 
praise of what love and marriage may be at the very best; and they 
are disappointed, perplexed, and sometimes disgusted with what they 
find. In their haste they exclaim: "What a cold and calculating crea- 
ture! All he says of the love between husband and wife is 'Nuptial 
love maketh mankind!' " These accusations, which may substantially 
be found in one of the best known editions of the "Essays," are as 
inaccurate as they are typical. Any careful reader, not led astray by 
the usual misconception of Bacon's purpose, will observe that the 
kind of love which he discusses in his essay on that subject is "the 
wanton love which corrupteth and embaseth," the condemnation 
of which should hardly be considered objectionable. As for family 
life (which, as I have mentioned, he idealizes in "The New Atlan- 
tis"), it is true that he dispatches it briefly in the essay on love; but 
in the essay on marriage he does not estimate it as cynically as we 
are led to suppose. He points out, to be sure, that, as a matter of 
sober fact, marriage may interfere with extraordinary public ambi- 
tion; but he gives it preference over a selfish single life, he scorns 
those who consider children mere "bills of charges" instead of "dear- 
est pledges," and he calls matrimony a "discipline of humanity," 
that is, a school of kindness or a humane education. To study the 
comparative merits and defects of many conditions of human life, 
to mark the extent and the limitations of human faculties, and to 
do so with even handed justice, is his ruling purpose. 

*H. C, iii, 21, 26. 



To create an ideal of life is a noble task; but to penetrate some of 
the perplexing realities of existence is as difficult and at least as 
serviceable. This Bacon does with supreme success. A lawyer, 
judge, and statesman, he knew the vicissitudes of Hfe and the va- 
rieties of human character. He observed his fellow men with the 
eye of a genius, pondered their motives with the thoughtfulness of 
a student, and recorded his observations with the precision of a 
scientist. Time has wrought superficial changes in some of the so- 
cial and poUtical conditions he examined; but human nature and 
human intercourse are essentially immutable, and the impressive 
truth of his judgments is enduring. To this day he guides his 
readers in the conduct of life; and if it be too much to say that 
those who heed his advice will make no mistakes, it is certain that 
they will blunder less frequently than does the average man who 
knows him not. 


Bacon does more than enrich us with practical maxims applicable 
to particular situations; he trains us to think more wisely in the face 
of any and all occasions. He begins by informing, he ends by 
educating. His essays, valuable as discussions of special topics, are 
precious as exercises in a peculiar way of approaching all aspects of 
life. This way is one unusual and not inborn; it runs counter to the 
ways of the untrained mind. Just as children are apt to regard a 
person as either "nice" or "horrid," many of larger growth tend to 
look on anything as wholly good or wholly bad. Bacon method- 
ically weighs advantages and disadvantages, and seeks to discover 
which predominate. In many of his essays he reasons somewhat after 
this manner: "This thing is good in this respect, but bad in that; it 
is useful to this extent, but harmful beyond; it will aid this kind of 
person, but will hinder that sort." For example, in describing youth 
and age he assigns distinct superiority to neither, but points out the 
special strength and the special weakness of each. Innovation, to 
the radical pure delight, to the conservative mere destructiveness, 
is to him neither the one nor the other. "Discriminate!" is his motto: 


things that men call by the same name are really of different values; 
"some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few 
to be chewed and digested." What he says about any given subject, 
we may forget; but by frequent recourse to him we shall form the 
judicious habit of mind. 


Most of us can be judicious on a few occasions, especially on occa- 
sions in which we are not deeply interested; but to be so habitually 
has always been among the rarest of virtues. It probably never was 
more rare than in this country at this time. In approaching the in- 
tricate problems that confront us, we display boundless enthusiasm, 
aspiration, and self-confidence. The defects in human character, the 
fast-rooted evils in society, that have baffled the efforts of saints 
and sages from the beginning of history, we hope to dispel by the 
sheer energy of emotional fervor. We are too impatient to ascertain 
the exact facts that are to be dealt with, we heartily dislike those 
facts which disturb our preconceived notions; in plain words, we do 
not love truth and we distrust the intellect. To Bacon, the intellect 
was the indispensable aid to moral progress, whether of the indi- 
vidual or of society. He does not dry up enthusiasm, but he teaches 
us to make it effective by directing it into rational channels. In his 
day he helped to rescue science from superstition, and in our own 
he may save morality from sentimentalism. 


By Professor H. W. Holmes 

IN THE history of education the seventeenth century is a period 
of much interest and importance. It is a time of earnest thought, 
of noble expression, and of zealous and faithful effort; yet 
throughout the century educational progress is at best sporadic. 
For education, it is a century of preparation. That the reformers 
of the period were thus pioneers whose endeavor bore, for the most 
part, little immediate fruit, was an almost inevitable consequence 
of the circumstances of their day. 

Theirs was an age of reorganization in religion, in political life, 
and in philosophy and science. The Thirty Years' War and the 
Civil War in England were conflicts in which the basis of modern 
religious toleration was laid in sufifering and desolation. In America 
the Colonies were begun. In England the continued struggle with the 
House of Stuart resulted in the assurance of political liberty, to be 
secured at length by an evolution without the price of blood which 
the Continent, and especially France, had later on to pay. On the 
Continent itself, despotisms, big and little, were strengthened, often 
to the direct detriment of education. Meanwhile modern science 
had its birth in the work of many a courageous intellectual adven- 
turer, from Kepler and Galileo, astronomers, to Harvey, physiolo- 

Francis Bacon was herald and journalist of that revolt against 
scholasticism which attacked mediasval error and superstition by the 
new method of observation, experiment, and inductive reasoning. 
With the writings of Descartes and his contemporaries began mod- 
ern philosophy. In a century of such spiritual and material disturb- 
ance, what wonder that there should have been much inspiration 
to educational effort, with but little fixed accomplishment? 

A new world of knowledge had already been partly explored; 
but the schoolmasters had not entered it, and it was only years 



afterward that science became even meagerly available for school 
purposes. A new method had also been discovered, a method not 
more important in the search for truth than in the attainment of 
intellectual freedom; but the schoolmasters did not know it, or 
thought less of intellectual freedom than of more obvious results in 
linguistic proficiency. A new need for universal education had 
begun to be foreseen; but to the schoolmasters of the seventeenth 
century democracy was not even a Utopian promise. Schools re- 
mained, therefore, narrow in curriculum and authoritative in 
method, and education the opportunity of the privileged. Writers 
on practical school keeping, such as John Brimsley and Charles 
Hoole, were more concerned over improvements in the teaching of 
the classics than over fundamental changes in programs of study, 
in the spirit of instruction and discipline, or in the extension of 
educational opportunity. 


To dream, therefore, in that time, of an educational system, state- 
administered, state-supported, compulsory, and hence democratic; 
a system serving the varying need of all individuals, yet aiming in 
the education of each at a socially valuable result; a system culminat- 
ing in great academies of research and experiment, with parallel 
graduate schools for professional training, including the training 
of teachers; a system, finally, in which all subjects were to be taught 
and learned by the mind-freeing method of science, and all schools, 
classes, and subjects to be ordered and managed in natural yet 
effective ways: this was an achievement, even among reformers. 
This dream and a life of effort to realize it must be credited to the 
greatest educator of the century, who was neither John Locke nor 
John Milton, but the Moravian bishop, John Amos Comenius. 


It cannot be denied that neither Locke's "Thoughts on Educa- 
tion" ' nor Milton's "Tractate on Education" ' is a document of such 
historical importance as the chief work of Comenius, "The Great 
1 Harvard Classics, iii, 2335. ^ H. C, £xxvii, gff. 


Didactic." Indeed we might well wish that both Locke and Milton 
had studied this treatise and had written in the light of it. Their 
minds, better trained, both of them, than that of the Moravian, and 
more highly endowed by nature, might have given more perma- 
nently profitable form to his far-reaching projects. At it is, Locke does 
not refer to Comenius's work at all, and Milton refers to it only slight- 
ingly, as by hearsay. Accordingly, although we have in the 
"Thoughts" an essay on the education of a gentleman's son at home, 
with the improvements on current practice suggested by the sound 
sense of one of the first modern psychologists and one of the most 
clear-headed of moral philosophers, and in the "Tractate" a scheme 
for the education of the better classes under requirements suggested 
by the vigorous mentality of a great poet and an ardent patriot, we 
can find in neither much sympathy with the new movement for 
science nor any forecast of democracy in and through education. 

Yet these works of Locke and Milton are still readable and profit- 
able English essays, whereas the "Didactica Magna" (which was 
first written in Czech and later translated by its author into Latin) 
is now to be remembered chiefly as an important document in the 
history of education. 

The power of Milton's prose, his generous vision, and his place 
in Enghsh literature and English history lend an interest to the 
"Tractate" aside from any present pertinence in Milton's practical 
suggestions. Locke's place in English philosophy and the insight 
and consistency of his views, especially as to the government of 
children in the home, give to the "Thoughts" a permanent value. 
If we read Milton's essay for the vigor and dignity of its style and 
for its general inspiration, admitting the present inapplicability of 
most of its detailed proposals, it will well repay us. If we take into 
account the avowed limitation of scope in Locke's treatise and make 
due allowance for the conditions of life and schooling in his day, we 
may still find his advice worthy of careful study. 


The aim of education set forth in the "Tractate" is majestic: "I 
call therefore a compleat and generous Education that which fits a 


man to perform justly, skilfully, and magnanimously all the offices, 
both private and publick, of Peace and War." It is plain that the 
complexity of modern life makes it hopeless for any individual now 
to realize this ideal. But it may be noted that Milton's conception 
of education agrees with the modern conception in that it is social. 
The individual is to be prepared for the duties of life, not cultivated 
merely for the possession of accomplishments or learning. Indeed 
the burden of the "Tractate" is that learning is to be put to use. 
Milton insists, therefore, that the first principle of that "better 
education in extent and comprehension far more large" for which 
he pleads, shall be emphasis on matter rather than on form. Educa- 
tion is to be primarily through literature and is to begin with Latin 
grammar — to this extent is Milton conventional; but it is to come 
rapidly to the place where the content and meaning of the books 
to be studied — "the substance of good things" — shall be chiefly the 
aim in view. This advice is as sound to-day as it ever was; and if it 
is less needed, it is still not without application. Abstractions and 
technicalities of form so easily encumber teaching that we may 
hardly expect ever to outgrow the warning not to give our pupils 
"ragged notions and babblements, while they expected worthy and 
delightful knowledge." 

If, then, Milton's scheme of national academies wherein picked 
youths are to be brought to a mastery of every art, science, and pro- 
fession be impracticable, we need not therefore fail to find in this 
brief but pithy essay an ideal to be cherished. It is a plea for sound 
learning. Learning to-day may be had from sources unknown to 
Milton, and many sources he esteemed highly are to-day quite un- 
important; but sound learning, now as then, is learning which 
comes at the reaUties of life. The author of "Lycidas" and "Comus" 
can never be accused of forgetting the requirements of form. We 
may heed him the more, therefore, when he warns us against "in- 
tellective abstractions" for "young unmatriculated Novices" and 
the learning of "meer words or such things chiefly, as were better 
unlearnt." Happily it is one effort of modern education, from the 
first teaching of reading and arithmetic to the highest studies of the 
university, to make learning serve life and to make life illuminate 



In Locke's "Thoughts" we have no such comprehensive scheme as 
is presented in the "Tractate." At another time Locke sketched in 
outline a national system of education; here he deals only with the 
home training of a gentleman's son. He scorns the schools of the 
day, and urges great care in the selection of a tutor. Since Locke's 
time schools have so improved that he might now revise his opinion 
on this point, as he might on others; for it must be confessed that 
Locke was not in the modern sense a student of child psychology, 
nor of mental and physical development in general. Thus his 
advice on the feeding of children, the general tenor of which is 
good, could hardly be followed with safety in detail. But for us 
the chief interest of Locke's essay is in his conception of the moral 
discipline of children by their parents and teachers; and since he 
was a man of keen observation, wide experience, clear principles, 
and much human sympathy, his remarks on this subject are worth 
careful study. 

The gist of his counsel may be put thus: abandon the rod, except 
as a last resort; abandon scolding, threats, rules, rewards, arguments, 
and persuasion; train to right thinking and right action through the 
use of approval and affection, with all their normal accompaniment 
of benefits, when children behave properly, and of disapproval and 
coldness, with their natural consequences in the withdrawal of 
pleasures and companionship, when children misbehave. But above 
all, use this moral discipline morally — that is, with direct reference 
to your child's motives, to his will in the matter, not with reference 
merely to the outward effect of his actions. Locke urges, in reality, 
a steady, consistent, sympathetic, yet dispassionate moral pressure 
as the surest means of bringing children to good conduct. He would 
have them learn "to love what they ought to love and hate what 
they ought to hate" as a matter first of habit, to be approved by 
reason only as they mature: but from the beginning he would have 
children act not in mere conformity to external requirements, but 
with a willing adoption of standards always clearly revealed and, 
as time goes on, properly explained. He would use authority as a 
moral agent to induce purpose. 


There is wisdom in Locke's words. Even under more modern 
conceptions of child nature, parents can hardly find general prin- 
ciples better than those he gives for guidance in the concrete exi- 
gencies of moral training in the home. All moral training is difficult, 
because it demands character and judgment: it is truly as much a 
"training of parents" as of children. But although there is much to 
be learned from modern writing on many an aspect of child life of 
which John Locke was wholly ignorant, he put in his way certain 
essential truths which have often been put since in different terms 
but to the same effect. 

As to learning, Locke agrees with the fundamental point in Mil- 
ton's "Tractate." In Latin, he decries overemphasis on grammar 
and would substitute for it extended reading. He would also com- 
bine with literary study a training in handicraft, which parallels 
Milton's scheme of learning from workers in the various fields of 
practical activity. But the contrast between Locke's point of view, 
which is individualistic, and Milton's, which is national, is brought 
out by the fact that Milton would have practical men teach his 
young academicians with a view to the serious use of their knowl- 
edge and skill in public affairs, whereas Locke looks upon a handi- 
craft chiefly as a good gentlemanly avocation. 

On one point Locke has been generally misinterpreted. He has 
been held to be a typical advocate of the "doctrine of formal dis- 
cipline" — the doctrine which asserts that studies are to be chosen 
not because of their objective usefulness but because of their sup- 
posed efficacy in the training of some intellectual "faculty" or in the 
production of an obscurely defined (and in reality wholly mythical) 
"general power." The passage on the training of memory, § 176, is 
clear proof that Locke held no such views as have been imputed to 
him. He did insist, to be sure, on the necessity of intellectual and 
moral discipline, but only on such discipline of specific habits of 
mind and will as is generally admitted to be possible and desirable. 

These two essays were written some three hundred years ago. 
They reflect many customs, standards, and traditions foreign to 
modern thought. They name men and books most modern readers 
never heard of. Their authors were not even ixnbued with some 


of the most forward-looking conceptions and ideals of their own 

day. But, these things admitted, we must also admit that the essays 

are essentially fresh and valuable still — and profit by their wisdom if 

we can. ' 

' The best single book on education in the seventeenth century is Adamson's 
"Pioneers of Modern Education," Cambridge University Press. 


By Frank Wilson Cheney Hersey, A. M. 

j4 MONG the great voices that stirred England in the early years 

/L\ of the Victorian era, none were more eloquent than those 
jL. JLl. of Newman and Carlyle — the one a suave ecclesiastic who 
lighted again the candles of the mediaeval church; the other a volcanic 
Scots peasant who set the Thames on fire. We may still hear the 
sound of their voices, and note the vast difference in their appearance, 
their manner, their tone and method, their appeal to their generation. 
Matthew Arnold's description of Newman at Oxford' remains for- 
ever in the memory: 

"Who could resist the charm of that spiritual apparition, gliding 
in the dim afternoon light through the aisles of St. Mary's, rising 
into the pulpit, and then, in the most entrancing of voices, breaking 
the silence with words and thoughts which were a religious music 
— subtle, sweet, mournful? I seem to hear him still, saying: 'After 
the fever of life, after weariness and sickness, fightings and despond- 
ings, languor and fretfulness, struggling and succeeding; after all 
the changes and chances of this troubled, unhealthy state, — at length 
comes death, at length the white throne of God, at length the beatific 
vision.' " 

Now the other man comes before us (noted by Caroline Fox in 
her journals) : 

"Carlyle soon appeared, and looked as if he felt a well-dressed 
London audience scarcely the arena for him to figure in as a popular 
lecturer. He is a tall, robust-looking man; rugged simplicity and 
indomitable strength are in his face, and such a glow of genius in it 
— not always smouldering there, but flashing from his beautiful gray 
eyes, from the remoteness of their deep setting under that massive 
brow. His manner is very quiet, but he speaks like one tremendously 
convinced of what he utters, and who had much — very much — ^in 

' See Newman's description of Oxford in Harvard Classics, xxviii, 47-50. 



him that was quite unutterable, quite unfit to be uttered to the 
uninitiated ear; and when the Englishman's sense of beauty or 
truth exhibited itself in vociferous cheers, he would impatiently, 
almost contemptuously, wave his hand, as if that were not the kind 
of homage which Truth demanded." 

And this man flung forth such ringing words as: "Be no longer a 
Chaos but a World or even Worldkin. Produce! Produce! Were 
it but the pitifullest infinitesimal fraction of a Product, produce it, 
in God's name! 'Tis the utmost thou hast in thee: out with it, then. 
Up, up! Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy whole 
might. Work while it is called To-day: for the Night cometh, 
wherein no man can work." 


The careers of Newman and Carlyle were no more similar than 
their personalities. Newman spent his life in the heat of theological 
controversy. He was the leader and kindling spiritual force of the 
Oxford Movement, 1 833-1 845, often called the Tractarian Move- 
ment from "Tracts for the Times." This was a movement within 
the Church of England to revive the Catholic doctrines which had 
always been retained in the Prayer Book. These doctrines were the 
apostolic succession, the priesthood, the sacramental system, and the 
real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. The Anglican Church was 
sadly in need of zeal. "Instead of heroic martyr Conduct," said 
Carlyle'' in 1831, "and inspired and soul-inspiring Eloquence, where- 
by Religion itself were brought home to our living bosoms, to live 
and reign there, we have 'Discourses on the Evidences,' endeavoring, 
with smallest result, to make it probable that such a thing as Religion 
exists." "Soul-inspiring eloquence" was just what Newman brought 
to the Movement. Sunday after Sunday, year after year, his sermons 
and tracts quickened the spirit of men. A mysterious veneration 
gathered round him. "In Oriel Lane light-hearted undergraduates 
would drop their voices and whisper, 'There's Newman.' " In his 
eyes the Christian Church was "the concrete representative of things 
invisible." The pageant of ritual was necessary to bring home the 
symbolism of the Church to the imagination. Dogmas, far from 

^ H. C, XXV, 338. 


being barnacles on Scriptural tradition, were defenses erected by 
authority to preserve the spirit of primitive Christianity against bar- 
nacles. Newman had defended the Church of England as the Via 
Media — the middle road — ^between the theology of the Church of 
Rome and the theology of Calvinism. But he and his younger fol- 
lowers gradually came to believe that the weight of authority and 
permanence was on the side of Rome. Tract 90, on the Catholic 
doctrines in the Thirty-nine Articles, the bulwarks of the Protestant 
Church, raised a storm of opposition in that church. And finally in 
a dramatic scene at the Convocation of February 13, 1845, the Oxford 
Movement was snuffed out. Newman at once left the Via Media 
for the Via Appia and entered the Roman Catholic Church. Several 
years later, in 1864, he became involved in a controversy with Charles 
Kingsley, during which he wrote his religious autobiography, the 
"Apologia pro Vita Sua." ' This famous book, though it cannot be 
considered a convincing refutation of the charges which Kingsley 
brought against Rome, was a triumphant vindication of Newman's 
integrity and nobiUty of spirit. 


With Newman, Carlyle had little sympathy. "John Henry New- 
man," he said, "has not the intellect of an average-sized rabbit." 
Carlyle's own life'' was spent in writing the histories of great move- 
ments such as the French Revolution, and of great men such as 
Cromwell and Frederick the Great. He thundered forth denuncia- 
tions of the evils of society. The gospel he preached was of Books, 
Silence, Work, and Heroes. "In Books lie the soul of the whole 
Past Time." "Silence is the eternal Duty of a man." "Work while 
it is called To-day." "Universal history is at bottom the history of 
the Great Men who have worked here." These doctrines you will 
find summed up in the Inaugural Address at Edinburgh.^ "Carlyle," 
wrote George Meredith in one of the most luminous estimated of the 
Sage of Chelsea, "Carlyle was one who stood constantly in the 
presence of those 'Eternal verities' of which he speaks. . . • The spirit 

' See George Moore's "Salve," chap, xv, for a vigorous attack on Newman's style. 

* For a full account see H. C, xxv, 315. 
'H. C, xxv, 359. 

* See "The Letters of George Meredith," Vol. 11, 332. 


of the prophet was in him. . . . He was the greatest of the Britons 
of his time — and after the British fashion of not coming near per- 
fection : Titanic, not Olympian : a heaver of rocks, not a shaper. But 
if he did no perfect work, he had Hghtning's power to strike out 
marvelous pictures and reach to the inmost of men with a phrase." 


Could men so apparently antipodal as these in temperament, 
utterance, and life have a thought or doctrine in common? Yet it 
was the great paradox of the Victorian era that the heart of their 
mystery, the source and pivot of their teaching, was the same domi- 
nating idea. The same idea led one man to insist on the value of 
the oldest clothes, and led the other to insist on getting rid of them. 
This dominating principle was the "Doctrine of the Unconscious." ' 

Carlyle first expounded this doctrine in his essay "Characteristics." ' 
"The truly strong mind," he says, "view it as Intellect, as Morality, 
or under any other aspect, is nowise the mind acquainted with its 
strength; here as before the sign of health is unconsciousness. In our 
inward, as in our outward, world what is mechanical lies open to 
us; not what is dynamical and has vitality. Of our thinking, we 
might say, it is but the mere upper surface that we shape into articu- 
late Thoughts; underneath the region of argument and conscious 
discourse lies the region of meditation; here, in its quiet mysterious 
depths, dwells what vital force is in us; here, if aught is to be created, 
and not merely manufactured and communicated, must the work go 
on. Manufacture is intelligible, but trivial; Creation is great, and 
cannot be understood." What is intuitive and spontaneous should 
be our guide. "The healthy understanding is not the Logical, 
argumentative, but The Intuitive." "The characteristic of right per- 
formance is a certain spontaneity, an unconsciousness; 'the healthy 
know not of their health, but only the sick.' " On this idea Carlyle 
bases his doctrines of Work and Heroes. By work the spontaneous 
self has a chance to reveal itself. Heroes are those Great Men who 
are spontaneous and sincere, those masters of their time who draw up 
into themselves the thoughts of masses of men. 

'For an extended account see Professor J. B. Fletcher's article "Newman and 
Carlyle" in the "Atlantic Monthly," Vol. XCV, p. 669. 
*H. C, XXV, 319. 


Newman's belief in the power of the unconscious was equally firm 
and thoroughgoing. In his sermon on "Explicit and Implicit Rea- 
son," he means by "implicit reason" "unconscious meditation." 
"Reasoning is a living, spontaneous energy within us, not an art." 
"Progress," he said later, "is a living growth, not a mechanism; and 
its instruments are mental acts, not the formulas and contrivances 
of language." "As each individual has certain instincts of right and 
wrong antecedently to reasoning, on which he acts — and rightly — 
so has the world of men collectively. God gave them truths in His 
miraculous revelations. . . . These are transmitted as the 'wisdom 
of our ancestors.' " It was Newman's staunch belief in what is 
intuitive and instinctive that made him accept the wisdom of the 
race as more trustworthy than the reason of the individual. Con- 
sequently he believed that Christian truth is preserved not by the 
reasoning of the individual but by the diversified powers, insight, 
and feeling which are found in a long-continuing society. For New- 
man, therefore, the Catholic Church was the articulate voice of the 
body of Christian believers in the past — "the concrete representative 
of things invisible." ' 

These two great men, who did not understand each other, based 
their teachings on the same initial principle — the "doctrine of the un- 
conscious." However far apart they were at the end, they insisted 
with graceful pleading or with tumultuous eloquence on these high 
moral truths: faith in what is spontaneous and sincere in one's own 
nature, and spontaneous and instinctive submission to those highly 
endowed men whose innate sincerity will redeem the world. 

' Readers interested in Newman should see the new "Life" by Wilfrid Ward. 


By Professor A. O. Norton 

HUXLEY'S address on "Science and Culture" ' was delivered 
in 1880, at the opening o£ Mason Science College in Bir- 
mingham, England. Like many academic addresses, it not 
only celebrates a local event, but also deals with questions of the 
day, chosen to suit the occasion. Unlike most such addresses, how- 
ever, it is of permanent value as a document in the history of a great 
epoch in English educational progress. The event which it celebrates 
marks "a crisis in the long battle, or rather of the long series of 
battles" which were fought over education during the nineteenth 
century; the discussion concerns two of the most significant edu- 
cational reforms of that century; the speaker was a great leader in 
the struggle which brought those reforms to pass; the style of the 
address illustrates the "strenuous and attractive method of exposi- 
tion" which characterizes all of Huxley's writings, and which was 
a powerful means of winning public support for his views. 

Huxley's opponents: (i) the business men 

The full significance of "Science and Culture" appears only when 
it is placed in its historical setting. To-day Huxley's views seem 
commonplace, because to-day everyone accepts them. Who, now- 
adays, disputes his proposition that the sciences are an essential 
element of modern culture? And who denies that "the diffusion 
of a thorough scientific education is an absolutely essential condition 
of industrial progress" ? 

In England in 1880, however, these ideas seemed shockingly radical 

to a very large majority of the people who were doing the thinking 

of the country and managing its affairs; and the advocates of scientific 

' Harvard Classics, xxviii, aogff. 



Studies faced a powerful opposing party composed of two groups — 
the practical men of business, and the men of liberal education. 

Scientific education was despised by practical business men be- 
cause it seemed not only unnecessary, but actually harmful as a 
preparation for business. EngUsh industries had flourished amaz- 
ingly without the aid of the sciences, and the captains of industry 
saw no reason to believe that "rule of thumb," by which they had 
succeeded, would not continue to suffice for their needs. They 
failed to see the importance of the connection between scientific 
education and the industries; but it was even then perceived in Ger- 
many, that "land of damned professors," with the result that Ger- 
many rose, in the next twenty-five years, from industrial insignifi- 
cance to the position of England's leading industrial competitor. 

A further result was a general outcry in England for the kind of 
training which Huxley advocated. 


The entrance of the sciences into the circle of liberal studies also 
met powerful opposition. School and university men in general 
doubted, and most of them denied, that the sciences — physics, chemis- 
try, biology, geology, and the like — were at all essential to culture. 
And Huxley's conviction that, "for the purpose of attaining real 
culture, an exclusively scientific education is at least as effective as 
an exclusively literary education" was as shocking to the academic 
world of that day as the advent of a band of shooting cowboys would 
have been to an English garden party. Huxley states very fairly the 
working ideal of culture which was held by "the great majority of 
educated EngHshmen" of 1880, and which had shaped the whole 
course of liberal education during the three centuries preceding: "In 
their belief," he says, "culture is obtainable only by a liberal educa- 
tion; and a liberal education is synonymous, not merely with educa- 
tion and instruction in literature, but in one particular form of litera- 
ture, namely that of Greek and Roman antiquity. They hold that 
the man who has learned Latin and Greek, however little, is edu- 
cated; while he who is versed in other branches of knowledge, how- 
ever deeply, is a more or less respectable specialist, not admissible 
into the cultured caste. The stamp of the educated man, the Uni- 


versity degree, is not for him." The best-trained university men 
undoubtedly took a more liberal attitude than this, but schoolmasters 
in general, and university men of mediocre quality, often maintained 
this position with patronizing, not to say insolent, superiority. 


Another group of educated men also opposed scientific studies — 
especially biology — on religious grounds. Since the appearance of 
Darwin's "Origin of Species" in 1859 there had been "endless battles 
and skirmishes" between scientists and theologians over the doctrine 
of evolution. It is almost impossible for readers of this generation 
to realize the bitterness of the feelings aroused over this doctrine, or 
the violence with which, during the sixties and early seventies, 
evolution and its champions were attacked. To clergy and the 
devout laity alike it seemed to undermine theology and to sap the 
very foundations of Christian belief. Scientists who defended it — 
Huxley chief among them — were regarded as the deadly enemies 
of religion, as rationalists, materialists, atheists beyond redemption. 
Naturally, scientific studies were opposed on the ground that they 
were anti-religious in their effect, the breeders of atheism, and the 
destroyers of faith. The stormiest period of the debate had passed 
by 1880, but the feelings which it aroused were still strong. And, 
although Huxley does not directly address these opponents in 
"Science and Culture," some reminiscences of the conflict may be 
traced in its pages. 

Under these circumstances, the address was hardly the tame affair 
which it seems to readers of the younger generation. On the contrary, 
it was the challenging utterance of a champion in the warfare of 
science, at the crisis of the battle. 

As above suggested, the two great reforms for which Huxley con- 
tended in this address, and elsewhere, were, first, the diffusion of 
scientific education as a benefit to industrial workers and an aid to 
the industries themselves; second, the revision of the program of 
liberal studies to include modern studies, especially the natural 
sciences, as well as the traditional Latin and Greek. Thus he con- 
fronted two of the three groups of opponents of scientific studies — 
the practical men of business, and the men of Uberal culture. 


Huxley's appeal to the business world 

The first thing to note in reading the address is the skill with 
which Huxley meets each of these antagonists. To the practical 
men he appeals in a practical way. His appeal, summarized, is this : 
I won't try to reason you out of your opposition to scientific educa- 
tion. But consider what Sir Josiah Mason, the founder of this Col- 
lege, has done. He is a practical man like yourselves, and yet he 
believes in scientific education enough to spend a great part of his 
fortune in providing it for young men and women who are to 
enter the industries of Birmingham. No one is better qualified to 
judge than he. This College is his practical answer to your practical 
objections. I can say nothing which will add to its force. 

Toward the close of the address Huxley returns to the charge 
with evidence that the general sciences are of practical value to the 
industries, and with the further remark that considered as culture 
alone they are of practical value, for they both ennoble character 
and increase and improve in quality the variety of desires which are 
satisfied by the products of industry. 

HIS appeal to the university men 

Huxley's method of dealing with the second group of antagonists 
is very different from this. Here his appeal is to reason. He begins 
with a definition of culture which hardly anyone could refuse to 
accept. Next, he points out that the real matter on which they dis- 
agreed is the answer to the question, How is culture to be obtained ? 
Why do we differ so sharply on this matter? he asks. History tells 
us why. The studies which have been supposed to give culture have 
changed from age to age. In the Middle Ages theology was the sole 
basis of culture, because it furnished the best ideals and standards 
then available for the criticism of life. In the fifteenth century the 
great body of classical literature was revealed to western Europe. 
This in turn became the basis of culture, displacing theology, be- 
cause in many ways it furnished better ideals and standards — 
especially in literature, sculpture, and above all in the use of reason. 
But since the fifteenth century vast new sources of culture have de- 
veloped — the modern literatures, modern music, modern painting. 


and above all the great structure o£ modern science, which gives us 
ideals and standards of judgment drawn from a new field, the 
book of Nature herself. The reason why we differ is clear. You 
still live in the views of the fifteenth century, and you take no account 
of the vast changes in our knowledge since that time. But if culture 
is to be an effective criticism of modern life — as we agree — is it not 
clear that the ideals and standards given by these new fields of learn- 
ing must form a part of any scheme of complete culture? Thus by 
clear definition, and by reasoning based on the historic facts, Huxley 
drives home his conclusion with telling power. 


The style of the address deserves notice. It is characteristic of all 
Huxley's writings. Perfect clearness and simplicity are its most 
obvious quahties. So clear and simple is it, indeed, that one con- 
stantly forgets that the printed page is before one. One seems to 
be looking directly at the thought expressed rather than at the words 
themselves, just as one looks through a clear window at a landscape. 
At the same time, the style is never dry. The "bottled life" which, 
according to a reviewer, Huxley always "infused into the driest topic 
on which human beings ever contrived to prose," is evident here as 
in all his writings. Forcible and interesting, as he always is, Huxley 
also makes this address pungent by picturesque phrases and keen 
thrusts at his antagonists. 

A last word must be given to Huxley as a man. He was one of 
the most distinguished and striking personahties of his day in Eng- 
land. Hardly any character will better repay study. Let the reader 
turn to his "Collected Essays," and especially to the two volumes 
of his "Life and Letters," edited by his son. There he will find a 
portrait, sharply drawn. It is the portrait of a passionate seeker of 
truth, fearless in its defense against all odds, and at any cost to him- 
self — a man ruggedly honest and straightforward, big of mind, 
broad of vision, the soul of simplicity, sincerity, and honor. 


By Professor Thomas Nixon Carver 

or. The Art 
of Household 


(Getting an Income (Business Economics) 
Utilising an Income (.Home Economics) 



' Finance . 

(.How the 
state can 
nuinage its 
own affairs) 

Social Econ- 

(How the 
general wel- 
fare may be 


f Direct 
I Indirect 


Public Domain 

.Public Trading 

Public Expenditure 

By encouraging tlie production of 

By facilitating the exchange of com- 

By securing an advantageous distribu- 
tion of wealth 

By directing the wise consumption of 

THE term Economics, as originally used by the Greeks, meant 
the art of household management, or the principles which 
govern the wise management of the household. Xenophon's 
treatise on this subject is a description of the management of a simple 
agricultural household where problems of revenue and expenditure, 
of business and home life, are not very sharply separated. In modern 
times, particularly in urban life, the business, or the source of income, 
is so sharply separated from the home, where the income is utilized, 
that we now have two distinct branches of the subject instead of one. 
To one branch we now give the name business economics, business 
management, or business administration. The other is known by 
such names as home economics, household economics, household 



management, domestic science, etc. That these two branches are now 
so sharply separated as to seem unrelated is a commentary on how 
far we have departed from the simple conditions of the self-sufficing 
rural household, and how thoroughly we have divorced business 
from life. 

Xenophon also wrote a treatise on the Revenues of Athens. While 
this cannot be regarded as a general treatise on public finance, it 
serves at least to show that he had some interest in that field, which 
may not inaptly be called public housekeeping. Every government, 
considered as a corporate body, has needs of its own apart from those 
of the people whom it governs. Whether it be a city, a state, or a 
smaller governing unit, it must solve the problems of revenue and 
expenditure just as a private household. Later writers applied the 
term economics mainly to this group of problems to which we now 
apply the name public finance, rather than to that group which in 
the diagram above are included under Private Economics. In a 
monarchy the providing of revenues for the king's household, and 
the expenditure of those revenues in the support of the household, 
may approximate very closely to the character of private economics, 
as when the chief source of revenue is the royal demesne, or to public 
economics when the chief source of revenue is taxation, and the king 
is regarded merely as a public official to be supported as other pubHc 
officials are. 


In the medieval and early modern period, the chief interest in 
economics had shifted from the private to the public aspects of the 
science, but was still centered mainly in problems of public revenue 
and expenditure, or, as we should now say, public finance. The chief 
students in this field were the finance ministers, who were charged 
with the office of raising revenue for the royal household and the 
enterprises both constructive and military of the king. It was soon 
apparent that the amount of royal revenue was strictly limited by 
the wealth of the people. If larger revenues were needed, the people 
must be made more prosperous in order that they might pay heavier 
taxes. From that time forward students gave increasing attention 
to the problems of national prosperity, until, at the present time, 


that is the primary object of interest, problems o£ public revenue and 
expenditure being strictly subordinated. That is to say, instead of 
trying to promote national prosperity in order that there may be 
more taxes and other forms of public revenue, the modern policy 
is to promote general prosperity for its own sake, and to raise 
revenue for the government only when, and to the extent that, it is 
necessary to do so in order to promote the general welfare. 


Even when students began to focus their attention upon general 
economic prosperity, it took them some time to develop a really 
broad view of that problem. One school, known as the mercantilists, 
emphasized commerce, particularly foreign commerce, to such an 
extent as to make it seem that they identified prosperity with foreign 
trade. Writers of this school, for example, were accustomed to point 
out that an abundant supply of cheap labor was one factor in the 
development of foreign trade, because with cheap labor the country 
could compete with rival nations in international trade. This was 
obviously not intended to promote the prosperity of the laborers 
who were to supply the cheap labor. Another school, the physiocrats, 
emphasized the importance of agriculture as the industry which 
really produced a surplus over and above the cost of production. 

Both these schools made the mistake of assuming an analogy 
between public prosperity and private prosperity. A private business 
which sells more than it buys, or takes in more money than it pays 
out, is said to be prosperous. The mercantile school assumed the 
same to be true of the nation at large, overlooking the fact that in 
the nation at large what is profit to one man may be cost to some one 
else, as in the case of the merchants who exported goods at a profit 
because they paid the laborers so little for their work. Again, a 
private business may be said to be prosperous when its products are 
greater than its costs. In agriculture there is the rent of land, which 
is not, strictly speaking, a cost, but a surplus income to the owner. 
This surplus income is the surplus value of the produce over and 
above the cost of producing it. Since very little rent was produced 
by the handicraft manufacturers of the day, the physiocrats assumed 
that these were not very profitable industries for the country at large. 


but that its main prosperity came from agriculture, where the main 
surplus, namely rent, accrued. Like the mercantilists, they over- 
looked the fact that this surplus might be the result, in part at least, 
of the poverty of the farm laborers. With a given efhciency, the 
cheaper they would work the lower the cost of growing crops and 
the higher the rent of the land. 

It was not until Adam Smith's epoch-making work, the "Wealth 
of Nations," ' was given to the world that students began to take a 
really broad and comprehensive view of the problems of national 
welfare. Different students naturally have different special interests, 
but they generally realize the bearing of their specialties upon the 
larger problem. It has seemed at times that too many were focusing 
their attention upon production or exchange, and too few upon 
problems of distribution. For the last twenty-five years the problem 
of distribution has attracted more attention than all the others; but 
now the idea is beginning to dawn that consumption is the most 
important field of all, though it has been receiving the least attention 
of any. 


Now that economics is definitely focusing attention upon prob- 
lems of national prosperity, it is important that the student should 
understand clearly the leading concepts of the science before pro- 
ceeding to study its literature. The leading concept is that of wealth, 
but this is a term with two distinct but closely related meanings. 
In the first place, it is the name of a condition of well-being, in 
which sense it is not very different from the Saxon term weal, from 
which it is descended. In the second and more usual sense, wealth 
is the collective name for a category of goods. Goods are the means 
of satisfying desires, but not all goods are wealth. Only those goods 
are wealth upon which the satisfaction of desires depends in a very 
special and practical sense. People desire air, sunlight, and a number 
of other things which do not constitute wealth. But if they not only 
desire a thing, but desire more than they have, or more than there 
is to be had at once, then that thing is wealth. Their state of satis- 
faction is definitely affected by the question of more or less of this 

' See Harvard Classics, x, and Lecture III in this Course. 


thing. More of it, more satisfaction; less of it, less satisfaction. 
Though we could not live at all without air, yet we do not ordinarily 
desire more than we have. There is enough to go around and satisfy 
everybody. We should not notice the difference if there were a 
little less. If special conditions should arise in any time and place 
where there was not enough air for everybody, so that people should 
desire more than they had, air would then and there be wealth. 

Wealth may also be defined, tentatively, as the name of those 
goods upon which weal or well-being depends, in this immediate and 
practical sense. If our weal is increased by having more of a certain 
class of things, and decreased by having less of them, those things 
therefore constitute wealth. They become the objects of conscious 
and active human desire and therefore of conscious and active 
human endeavor. More bread, more weal; less bread, less weal. 
Because we can say that, bread is wealth. Broadly speaking, every- 
thing to which we can apply that formula in any time and place is 
then and there wealth. Nothing is wealth which cannot be brought 
under that formula. 

This statement calls for one qualification, namely, that men may 
not know upon what their weal or well-being depends. That upon 
which they thin\ that their well-being depends they will regard as 
wealth. In other words, if they desire a thing, and desire more of it 
than they have, that indicates that they think their weal, or state 
of satisfaction, would be increased by having more of it. The fact 
that they want more, and try to get it, either by producing or pur- 
chasing it, indicates that they regard it as wealth, or as the means 
to well-being. Therefore it sometimes happens that the student is 
compelled to include some things under wealth which he regards as 
not only useless but deleterious and immoral — the means of satis- 
fying vicious appetites, such as opium, tobacco, and alcohol. If one 
were to make much of this qualification, he would probably choose 
to divorce the word wealth from well-being, and define it as scarce 
means of satisfying desires. 

Any of these definitions will be found to harmonize perfectly with 
another that has had some currency, namely, that wealth is the col- 
lective name for all goods which have value or power in exchange; 
for only those things which are desirable and scarce will have power 


in exchange, or value. In fact they are evaluated, bought and sold, 
solely because they are scarce and some one wants more than he has. 


The idea of scarcity as an essential to the concept of wealth sug- 
gests, next, the meaning of economy, which is another fundamental 
concept of the science of economics. Economy suggests the adjust- 
ing of means to ends, making a little go a long way, or, in the last 
analysis, choosing among one's desires and sacrificing the less im- 
portant in order that the more important may be satisfied. This 
choice is forced upon us by the fact of scarcity, without which such 
choosing would be unnecessary, since we could, if everything were 
sufficiently abundant, satisfy all our desires without sacrificing any. 
It is in the utilization of those things which are scarce that economy 
is called for. These things which, being scarce, need to be econ- 
omized in the interest of the largest satisfaction or well-being con- 
stitute economic goods, for which wealth is only another name. 
These are the things which have to be appraised, evaluated, and 
compared with one another with respect to their utility, in order that 
the limited supplies may be meted out and made to go as far as 
possible in the satisfaction of human desires, and in order that they 
may satisfy the greater rather than the lesser desires. 

The economizing of scarce goods cannot be dissociated from such 
outstanding facts as production and exchange. The things toward 
which we must practice economy come to be esteemed or evaluated 
in a very direct and practical sense which is not true of anything 
else. When we desire a thing and desire more than we have, we 
not only try to get more, either by purchase or by production, but 
the more intensely we desire more of it the more we will give in 
exchange for a given unit of it, or the harder we will try to produce 
more of it. This process of evaluation gives such a thing power in 
exchange in proportion to its scarcity, or rather in proportion to 
the intensity of our desire for more. It also determines the direction 
in which the productive energies of society will be turned. Whether 
a given individual himself desires more of a thing or not, if there 
is somewhere in the community such a desire for more as will give 
the thing a high power in exchange, or a high value, that value will 


serve as effectively to induce the individual to produce it as though 
he desired the thing itself. 


The process of production, in turn, calls for a new exercise of 
economy, because the means of production are scarce in some cases 
and abundant in others. In the last analysis, all industry consists in 
moving materials from one place to another. That is all that the 
moving-picture machine, or the human eye as a mechanical device, 
would reveal. But the mind sees plans, purposes, and laws back of 
this process of moving materials. One of the great generalizations 
of the scientific observer is that all this moving of materials is for 
the purpose of getting things together in the right proportions. Of 
course there are purposes back of all this, but the observed fact is 
that every industrial purpose is carried out by getting materials to- 
gether in the right proportion. All this moving of materials which 
the eye sees is dominated by the law of proportionality, and the 
skill of the producer consists first in knowing the right proportions 
in which to combine materials, and, second, in his ability to bring 
them together. 

This applies everywhere from a chemical experiment to the 
irrigation of a desert, from the work of the artist in his studio to 
that of the farmer in his field. The chemist, however, works under 
a law of definite proportions, under which chemical elements have 
to be combined in exact mathematical ratios, whereas the greater 
part of the work of production is under the law of variable pro- 
portions. In the irrigation of a piece of land, for example, there are 
variable quantities of water which may be used in the growing of a 
crop. One cannot say that an exact quantity of water must be 
applied, otherwise there will be no crop at all, or that the slightest 
variation either way would utterly ruin the crop. Within fairly 
wide limits of moisture a crop can be grown, though within these 
limits the crop will vary somewhat — ^but not exactly — according to 
the quantity of moisture provided. 

Wherever the law of variable proportions holds, that is, wherever 
the law of definite proportions does not hold, the product may vary 
whenever any of the factors which are necessary to its production 


varies; but the product will seldom vary in exact proportion as any 
single factor is varied. Adding one-tenth to the quantity of moisture 
in the soil will seldom, and only accidentally, result in the increase 
of exactly one-tenth to the crop. The same may be said with respect 
to fertilizer, or to any single element of fertility, with respect 
to the labor of cultivation, or with respect to any other single factor 
which enters into the determination of the size of a crop. Moreover, 
all this can be repeated with respect to any productive plant, say a 
factory, and of the factors of production which have to be combined 
in it. 

The work of assembling the factors of production in any productive 
establishment, whether it be a shop, farm, factory, or transportation 
system, calls for a degree of knowledge and care comparable with 
that of the chemist in the assembling of chemical elements, though, 
as stated before, the chemist must follow definite formulae with 
mathematical precision, because of the law of definite proportions. 

This law of variable proportions is difficult to state concisely, but 
the following formulse may serve to give a fairly accurate notion as 
to its meaning and import. Let us assume that three factors, x, y, 
and z, are necessary to get a certain desirable product, which we 
will call p. 

If 10 a: with 20 y with 30 2: will produce 100 p, 

(i) more than no p; 

(2) no p; 

(3) less than 1 10 but more than 100 p; 

(4) loop; 

(5) less than 100 p. 

If it should be found by experiment that the addition of one unit 
of X resulted in (i) more than no p, or (2) no p, that would indi- 
cate that the proportion of x to the other factors y and z was too 
low. Since an additional unit of x will resiilt in such a large increase 
in the product, it is evident that more of x will be strongly desired, 
as compared with more of y and z, for if there is too little of x in 
the combination there must be too much of y and z. If, however, 
it were found that the addition of one unit of x resulted in (4) 100 p 
— that is, no increase at all — or (5) in less than 100 p — that is, less 

then II X with 20 y with 
30 z will produce 


than was produced before — it is obvious that the proportion of x 
to the other factors is too high. Consequently, more of x will be 
little desired as compared with y and z, because if there is too much 
cf X in the combination there must be too little of y and z. But if 
the increase in x results in an increase of five units of product pro- 
portional increase, in the product, then the factors are nearing the 
right proportions. Whether it is better to increase x by one unit 
will then depend upon the cost of x and the value of the increased 
product. Let us suppose that the increase in x results in an increase 
of five units of product (105 p). If one unit of x cost less than five 
units of p, it will be profitable to increase the factor x from 10 to 1 1 ; 
otherwise it will not. 

Of course the formula and all that comes after it could be repeated 
with respect to y or z, as well as of x, if either were regarded as the 
variable factor, x, y, and z may represent labor, land, and capital in 
industry in general; they may represent different grades of labor in 
any industry; they may represent nitrogen, potash, and phosphorus 
in the soil; or they may represent any group of factors anywhere 
combined to get any product. The essential thing to remember is 
that in any combination the scarcest factor is the limiting factor, 
and the product will vary more directly with that than with any 
other. Since the variation in the product follows more sharply the 
variation in this scarce factor than that of any of the more abundant 
factors in the combination, it is not uncommon to speak of the 
scarcest factor as having the highest productivity. Whether that 
be an accurate use of terms or not, there is not the slightest doubt 
that it will be most highly prized, will command the highest price, 
and will need to be economized most carefully. This formula and 
the remarks under it will serve to bring out the underlying physical 
fact of productivity upon which the law of supply and demand is 


That utility and scarcity, and these alone, are the factors which 
give value to a thing, whether its utility consists in its power to 
satisfy wants directly or indirectly, that is, whether it be an article 
of consumption or a factor of production, is now perhaps sufficiently 


clear. That the factor of scarcity creates the necessity for economy 
is also fairly obvious. That it is the source also of the conflict of 
human interests out of which most of our moral and social problems 
grow may not be quite so obvious, but the following considerations 
will show it to be true. The fact of scarcity means that man has 
wants for which nature does not spontaneously provide. This in 
turn implies a lack of harmony between man and nature, which it 
is the purpose of productive industry to restore. 

That phase of the disharmony between man and nature which 
takes the form of scarcity gives rise also to a disharmony between 
man and man. Where there is scarcity there will be two men want- 
ing the same thing; and where two men want the same thing there 
is an antagonism of interests. Where there is an antagonism of 
interests between man and man, there will be questions to be settled, 
questions of right and wrong, of justice and injustice; and these 
questions could not arise under any other condition. The antagonism 
of interests is, in other words, what gives rise to a moral problem, 
and it is, therefore, about the most fundamental fact in sociology and 
moral philosophy.'' 

This does not overlook the fact that there are many harmonies 
between man and man, as there are between man and nature. There 
may be innumerable cases where all human interests harmonize, 
but these give rise to no problem and therefore we do not need to 
concern ourselves with them. As already pointed out, there are 
many cases where man and nature are in complete harmony. There 
are things, for example, which nature furnishes in sufficient abun- 
dance to satisfy all our wants, but these also give rise to no problem. 
Toward these non-economic goods our habitual attitude is one of 
indifference or unconcern. Where the relations between man and 
nature are perfect, why should we concern ourselves about them? 
But the whole industrial world is bent on improving those relations 
where they are imperfect. Similarly with the relations between man 
and man; where they are perfect, that is, where interests are all 
harmonious, why should we concern ourselves about them? As a 
matter of fact we do not. But where they are imperfect, where inter- 

' of. "The Economic Basis of the Problem of Evil," by T. N. Carver, in "Harvard 
Theological Review," Vol. I, No. 6. 


ests are antagonistic and trouble is constantly arising, we are com- 
pelled to concern ourselves whether we want to or not. As a matter 
of fact, we do concern ourselves in various ways; we work out 
systems of moral philosophy and theories of justice, after much 
disputation; we establish tribunals where, in the midst of much 
wrangling, some of these theories are applied to the settlement of 
actual conflicts; we talk and argue interminably about the proper 
adjustment of antagonistic interests of various kinds, all of which, 
it must be remembered, grow out of the initial fact of scarcity — 
that there are not as many things as people want. 

That underneath all these disharmonies there is a deep underlying 
harmony of human interests is the profound belief of some. But 
this belief, like that in a harmony between man and nature, is not 
susceptible of a positive proof. It rests upon philosophical conjecture 
— and faith. To be sure, it is undoubtedly true that most men, even 
the strongest, are better off in the long run under a just government, 
where all their conflicts are accurately and wisely adjudicated, than 
they would be in a state of anarchy, where everyone who was able 
did what he pleased, or what he could if he was not able to do what 
he pleased. This might possibly be construed to imply a harmony of 
interests, in that all alike, the strong as well as the weak, are inter- 
ested in maintaining a just government. But the argument is vio- 
lently paradoxical, because it literally means that interests are so 
very antagonistic that in the absence of a government to hold them 
in check there would be such a multiplicity of conflicts, wasting the 
energies of society, that in the end everybody would suffer, even 
the strongest. This is an excellent argument in favor of the necessity 
of government, but it is the poorest kind of an argument in favor of 
the universal harmony of human interests. 

Fundamentally, therefore, there are only two practical problems 
imposed upon us. The one is industrial and the other moral; the 
one has to do with the improvement of the relations between man 
and nature, and the other with the improvement of the relations 
between man and man. But these two primary problems are so 
inextricably intermingled, and they deal with such infinitely varying 
factors, that the secondary and tertiary problems are more than we 
can count. 



But whence arises that phase of the conflict with nature out of 
which grows the conflict between man and man? Is man in any 
way responsible for it, or is it due wholly to the harshness or the 
niggardliness of nature ? The fruitf ulness of nature varies, of course, 
in different environments. But in any environment there are two 
conditions, for both of which man is in a measure responsible, and 
either of which will result in economic scarcity. One is the indefinite 
expansion of human wants, and the other is the multiplication of 

The well-known expansive power of human wants, continually 
running beyond the power of nature to satisfy, has attracted the 
attention of moralists in all times and places. "When goods increase, 
they are increased that eat them; and what good is there to the 
owners thereof, saving the beholding of them with their eyes?" is 
the point of view of The Preacher.' It was the same aspect of life, 
obviously throwing man out of harmony with nature, which gave 
point to the Stoic's principle of "living according to nature." To 
live according to nature would necessarily mean, among other 
things, to keep desires within such limits as nature could supply 
without too much coercion. Seeing that the best things in life cost 
nothing, and that the most ephemeral pleasures are the most ex- 
pensive, there would appear to be much economic wisdom in the 
Stoic philosophy. But the pious Buddhist in his quest of Nirvana, 
overlooking the real point — that the expansion of wants beyond 
nature's power to satisfy is what throws man inevitably out of har- 
mony with nature and produces soul-killing conflicts — sees in desire 
itself the source of evil, and seeks release in the eradication of all 

Out of the view that the conflict of man with nature is a source 
of evil grow two wddely different practical conclusions as to social 
conduct. If we assume that nature is beneficent and man at fault, 
the conclusion follows as a matter of course that desires must be 
curbed and brought into harmony with nature, which is closely 
akin to Stoicism, if it be not its very essence. But if, on the contrary, 

'H. C, xliv, 341-342. 


we assume that human nature is sound, then the only practical con- 
clusion is that external nature must be coerced into harmony with 
man's desires and made to yield more and more for their satisfac- 
tion. This is the theory of the modern industrial spirit in its wild 
pursuit of wealth and luxury. 

Even if the wants of the individual never expanded at all, it is 
quite obvious that an indefinite increase in the number of individuals 
in any locality would, sooner or later, result in scarcity and bring 
them into conflict with nature, and therefore into conflict with one 
another. That human populations are physiologically capable of 
indefinite increase, if time be allowed, is admitted, and must be 
admitted by anyone who has given the slightest attention to the 
subject. Among the non-economizing animals and plants, it is not 
the limits of their procreative power but the limits of subsistence 
which determine their numbers. Neither is it lack of procreative 
power which limits numbers in the case of man, the economic 
animal. With him also it is a question of subsistence, but of sub- 
sistence according to some standard. Being gifted with economic 
foresight, he will not multiply beyond the point where he can main- 
tain that standard of life which he considers decent. But — and this 
is to be especially noted — so powerful are his procreative and domes- 
tic instincts that he will multiply up to the point where it is difficult 
to maintain whatever standard he has. Whether his standard of 
living be high or low to begin with, the multiplication of numbers 
will be carried to the point where he is in danger of being forced 
down to a lower standard. In other words, it will always be hard 
for us to make as good a living as we think we ought to have. Un- 
satisfied desires, or economic scarcity, which means the same thing, 
are therefore inevitable. It is a condition from which there is no 
possible escape. The cause lies deeper than forms of social organiza- 
tion: it grows out of the relation of man and nature. 


These considerations reveal a third form of conflict — perhaps it 
ought to be called the second — a conflict of interests within the 
individual himself. If the procreative and domestic instincts are 
freely gratified, there will inevitably result a scarcity of means of 


satisfying other desires, however modest those desires may be, 
through the multiplication of numbers. If an abundance of these 
things is to be assured, those instincts must be only partially satisfied. 
Either horn of the dilemma leaves us with unsatisfied desires of one 
kind or another. We are therefore pulled in two directions, and this 
also is a condition from which there is no possible escape. But this 
is only one illustration of the internal strife which tears the indi- 
vidual. The very fact of scarcity means necessarily that if one desire 
is satisfied it is at the expense of some other. What I spend for 
luxuries I cannot spend for necessaries; what I spend for clothing I 
cannot spend for food; and what I spend for one kind of food I 
cannot spend for some other kind. This is the situation which calls 
for economy, since to economize is merely to choose what desires 
shall be gratified, knowing that certain others must, on that account, 
remain ungratified. Economy always and everywhere means a three- 
fold conflict; a conflict between man and nature, between man and 
man, and between the different interests of the same man. 


This suggests the twofold nature of the problem of evil. Evil in 
the broadest sense merely means disharmony, since any kind of 
disharmony is a source of pain to somebody. But that form of dis- 
harmony which arises between man and nature has, in itself, no 
moral qualities. It is an evil to be cold or hungry, to have a tree 
fall upon one, to be devoured by a wild beast, or wasted by microbes. 
But to evils of this kind, unless they are in some way the fault of 
other men, we never ascribe any moral significance whatever. It is 
also an evil for one man to rob another, or to cheat him, or in any 
way to injure him through carelessness or maUce; and we do ascribe 
a moral significance to evils of this kind — to any evil, in fact, which 
grows out of the relations of man with man. But, as already pointed 
out, this latter form of evil — ^moral evil — grows out of, or results 
from, the former, which may be called non-moral evil. Any true 
account of the origin of moral evil must therefore begin with the 
disharmony between man and nature. 

Let us imagine a limited number of individuals living in a very 
favorable environment, where all their wants could be freely and 


fully gratified, where there was no scarcity nor any need for economy. 
Under a harmony with nature so nearly perfect as this, there could 
arise none of those conflicts of interests within the individual, since 
the gratification of one desire would never be at the expense of some 
other; nor could there arise any conflict of interests among indi- 
viduals, since the gratification of one individual's desire would never 
prevent the gratification of another's. There being no conflict of 
interests either within the individual or among different individuals, 
there could never arise a moral problem. That would be paradise. 
But suppose that wants should expand, or new wants develop; or 
suppose that, through the gratification of an elemental impulse, num- 
bers should increase beyond any provision which nature had made. 
Paradise would be lost. Not only would labor and fatigue be neces- 
sary, but an antagonism of interests and a moral problem would 
arise. Human ingenuity would have to be directed, not only toward 
the problem of increasing the productivity of the earth, but toward 
the problem of adjusting conflicting interests. Questions of justice 
and equity would begin to puzzle men's brains. 

It would be difficult to find in this illustration any suggestion of 
original sin or hereditary taint of any kind. The act which made for 
increase of numbers, instead of being a sinful one, for which punish- 
ment was meted out as a matter of justice, would, on the contrary, 
be as innocent of moral guilt as any other. But the inevitable con- 
sequence of it would be the destruction of the preexisting harmony, 
giving rise, in turn, to a conflict of human interests. Nor does the 
illustration suggest or imply any "fall" or change in human nature, 
but rather a change of conditions under which the same human 
qualities would produce different social results. Moreover, the illus- 
tration does not depend for its validity upon its historical character. 
That it to say, it is not necessary to show that there ever was a har- 
mony between man and nature so nearly complete as the illustration 
assumes to begin with. The fundamental basis of conflict is clearly 
enough revealed by the illustration when it is shown to be inherent 
in the nature of man and of the material world about him. 

This theory of the origin of evil is already embodied in a well- 
known story, which need not be interpreted as having a historical 
basis in order to have a profound meaning — more profound, prob- 


ably, than its most reverent students have seen in it. Once upon a 
time there was a garden in which lived a man and a woman, all of 
whose wants were supplied by the spontaneous fruits of the earth. 
There was no struggle for existence, no antagonism of interests; in 
short, that was paradise. But the gratification of a certain desire 
brought increase of numbers, and increase of numbers brought 
scarcity, and paradise was lost. Thenceforward man was to eat 
his bread in the sweat of his brow. The struggle for existence had 
set in. Man had to contend against either natural or human rivals 
for the means of satisfying his wants, and every form of greed and 
rapacity had a potential existence. When his eyes were opened to 
these inherent antagonisms, that is, when he became a discerner of 
good and evil, of advantages and disadvantages, both near and 
remote, he became an economic being, an adapter of means to ends; 
a chooser between pleasures and pains. In short, the process of in- 
dustrial civilization, of social evolution, had made its first faint be- 
ginning. The human race was caught in a network of forces from 
which it was never to extricate itself. It was adrift upon a current 
which set irresistibly outward — no man knew whither. 


In this antagonism of interests, growing out of scarcity, the in- 
stitutions of property, of the family, and of the state, all have their 
common origin. No one, for example, thinks of claiming property 
in anything which exists in sufficient abundance for all. But when 
there is not enough to go around, each unit of the supply becomes a 
prize for somebody, and there would be a general scramble did 
not society itself undertake to determine to whom each unit should 
belong. Possession, of course, is not property; but when society rec- 
ognizes one's right to a thing, and undertakes to protect him in that 
right, that is property. Wherever society is sufficiently organized to 
recognize these rights and to afford them some measure of protection, 
there is a state; and there is a family wherever there is a small group 
within which the ties of blood and kinship are strong enough to 
overcome any natural rivalry and to create a unity of interests. This 
unity of economic interests within the group is sufficient to separate 
it from the rest of the world, or from other similar groups among 


which the natural rivalry of interests persists. Saying nothing of the 
barbaric notion that wives and children are themselves property, 
even in the higher types of society it is the desire to safeguard those 
to whom one is bound by ties of natural affection, by sharing the 
advantages of property with them, which furnishes the basis for the 
legal definition of the family group. 


Closely associated with the right of property — as parts of it in 
fact — is a group of rights such as that of contract, of transfer, of 
bequest, and a number of other things with which lawyers occupy 
themselves. It would be difficult to find any question in the whole 
science of jurisprudence, or of ethics, or politics, or any of the 
social sciences for that matter, which does not grow out of the initial 
fact of economic scarcity and the consequent antagonism of interests 
among men. This reveals, as nothing else can, the underlying unity 
of all the social sciences, that is, of all the sciences which have to do 
with the relations between man and man; and it shows very clearly 
that the unifying principle is an economic one. Even the so-called 
gregarious instinct may very probably be the product of the 
struggle for existence, which, in turn, is the product of scarcity — 
the advantage of acting in groups being the selective agency in the 
development of this instinct. But that question, like a great many 
others, lies beyond the field of positive knowledge. This does not 
necessarily constitute economics as the "master science," with the 
other social sciences subordinate to it; but it does signify that, if 
there is such a thing as a master science, economics has the first 
claim to that position among the social sciences. The economic 
problem is the fundamental one, out of which all other social and 
moral problems have grown. 


This conflict of man with man, when uncontrolled by society, 
either through moral codes or legal procedure, does not differ 
materially from the struggle for existence among brutes. But there 
is no human society which does not control the struggle in some way. 
In fact the one purpose for which organized society exists is that of 


controlling the struggle and directing it into productive channels. 
The self-interested individual cares nothing for production as such. 
What he is interested in is the acquisition of things which are scarce. 
If the easiest method of acquisition is that of production, then he 
will produce. If there is some easier way, he will pursue that way. 
The purpose of the law and government is to make it difficult and 
dangerous to acquire by any other method than that of production, 
or free and voluntary exchange of products, which means the same 
thing. In so far as the state succeeds in this attempt and thus forces 
all individuals to acquire by methods of production, it is justifying 
its existence. 

When the struggle for existence is thus turned into productive 
channels, when every individual finds that he can acquire desirable 
things only by producing them, or by offering the producer some- 
thing of equal value in exchange for them, then the brutal struggle 
for existence is transformed into economic competition. Perfect 
economic competition is merely a system under which each indi- 
vidual finds it most advantageous to acquire by productive or 
serviceable effort of some kind, and so, in Adam Smith's words, "to 
promote the public good while trying to promote his own." 

When we consider that the individual's value to the rest of society 
is measured by the excess of his production over consumption, while 
his position in industry is determined by his rate of accumulation, 
which is merely his acquisition minus his consumption, we shall see 
how important it is that acquisition and production should be 
identified. This may be expressed by means of the following 

The value of a man=his production— his consumption. 

His competing power^his acquisition— his consumption. 
When acquisition=production 
Then his value=his competing power. 

The purpose of the state is to make acquisition=production. 


By Professor O. M. W. Sprague 

A VERY small number of books on political and social subjects 
/ \ have exerted a profound and continuous influence both 
JL JL upon the development of thought and upon the determina- 
tion of the policies adopted regarding public questions, Aristotle's 
"Politics" and Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations" ' are notable 
works belonging to this exceptionally distinguished group. A much 
greater number of political writings had a potent influence at the 
time of their composition but now possess little other than historical 

Among such works may be mentioned Luther's "Address to the 
German Nobility" and "Concerning Christian Liberty," ^ and Rous- 
seau's "Social Contract." Machiavelli's "Prince"' and More's 
"Utopia" * do not fall exactly within either of these categories. They 
were not the starting points from which great and fruitful advance 
in knowledge has been made, and at no time have they been power- 
ful factors in determining the legislation or policy of any nation. 
Both are indeed highly significant and characteristic products of 
the age in which they were written; compared with the writings of 
Luther, they were immensely less influential in shaping contemporary 
opinion; but they are quite as representative of the thought of the 
time and so possess great historic interest. Moreover, although the 
specific conclusions of Machiavelli and of More have never been 
followed closely in practice, they do exemplify in their work the 
two strikingly different attitudes, one or the other of which in- 
variably appears in the methods and conclusions of writers upon 
political and social problems. 

' Harvard Classics, x, gff. ' H. C, xxxvi, 2635., 336ff. 

^H. C, xxxvi, 7ff. *H. C, xxxvi, I35ff. 




The "Prince" aod the "Utopia" were both written in the second 
decade of the sixteenth century, at the time when those various in- 
fluences which made the Renaissance period in history were being 
most completely exemplified in education, art, morals, and indeed 
in virtually every field of human activity and aspiration. In almost 
every direction the human spirit had freed itself from mediaeval 
traditional limitations; political and social arrangements among 
others were subjected to philosophic analysis and investigation 
unrestrained by ancient concepts and regardless of the revolutionary 
conclusions that might be the outcome. Among the political writers 
of the period, Machiavelli and More exhibited in pre-eminent 
measure the working of the Renaissance spirit. Machiavelli sub- 
jected governmental machinery and policy to the test of facts. More 
subjected not only political but also social arrangements to the test 
of what he deemed ideally desirable. Both are in agreement that 
nothing in the social order is necessarily perfect even at the moment 
and certainly not for all time. Institutions and customs are to be 
judged by results, and all may be changed if something better can 
be devised. This is distinctly the modern point of view. It is quite 
as essentially the Renaissance point of view. Modern history begins 
with the Renaissance. 


In an age like the present, marked by swift advance in the exact 
sciences, the test of fact is apt to seem the one promising method of 
approach to the investigation of political and social problems. The 
test of the ideal exemplified in the "Utopia" has given the language 
an adjective, "Utopian," which connotes the impractical, the 
visionary, and even the fanciful. The test of fact exemplified in 
Machiavelli has also, however, yielded an adjective, "Machiavellian," 
of even more damning connotation. If the test of fact is to be a true 
test, all significant facts must be considered, and ideals are facts 
of vast importance in the development and maintenance of social 
arrangements. Machiavelli's method was scientific in its general 
character; but his low estimate of human nature, founded as it was 


upon an assumption contrary to fact, rendered much of his analysis 
fundamentally inexact and unscientific. 


Even within the field of the kind of facts to which he attaches 
significance, Machiavelli's analysis was far from being compre- 
hensive. At the time he wrote, and indeed for a century and more 
before, Italy had been split up into a large number of political 
entities, most of which were in a chronic state of political instability 
not unUke that of many Central American countries to-day. Few 
Italian rulers were secure from either domestic or foreign foes. 
Machiavelli made much use of the comparative method in his 
analysis, and properly; but as he was mainly concerned with the 
means of securing and maintaining personal rule under conditions 
which at best could not provide a solid basis for governmental 
authority, his conclusions seldom possess general validity. They 
were not applicable to the centralized governments of large terri- 
torial areas then in process of development north of the Alps, where 
the ruUng dynasties were already strongly entrenched in power. It 
is even more evident that his analysis affords litde of practical value 
in the solution of modern problems of government. Possibly there 
is some analogy between the conditions described by Machiavelli 
and the struggle for political power carried on upon a low plane 
between rival bosses in misgoverned municipalities. One would, 
however, search the pages of the "Prince" in vain for a remedy for 
such ills of democratic government. 

In the field of international politics, Machiavelli's analysis has 
undoubtedly been measurably in accord with practice in his own 
time and since. Ethical restraints have been relatively weak in the 
dealings of the nations one with another; and it is a significant fact 
that nowhere has Machiavelli found so many close readers as among 
those statesmen who have been mainly concerned with foreign 

After making every qualification, it must still be recognized that 
in the "Prince" Machiavelli took a long step in advance toward the 
development of a sound method of analyzing political problems. 
His example was, however, not followed very generally by writers 


on government in his own and the two succeeding centuries. Ques- 
tions of divine right and theories of natural rights and natural law 
rather than the facts of government absorbed the attention of most 
publicists. In the nineteenth century more exact methods have been 
adopted in this as in other fields of knowledge; but in bringing 
about this desirable change little or no direct influence can be 
attributed to the work of Machiavelli. 


With the exception of Plato's "RepubHc," the "Utopia" is the best 
instance of the use of the device of an imaginary society as a vehicle 
for analysis, and indeed arraignment, of social and political con- 
ditions. During the mediaeval period, uniformity of ideals and con- 
ditions throughout Europe was too great to suggest writings of this 
character, but the discoveries in the New World disclosed the exist- 
ence of societies which had never been in touch with the European 
world. The assumption of the finality of European arrangements 
was consequently somewhat weakened, at least for men of a re- 
flective cast of mind. In placing his "Utopia" somewhere in the New 
World, More must have greatly heightened the imaginative effect 
of the work to readers of his own time. The sense of illusion thus 
given at the outset is remarkably well maintained throughout. No 
other creator of imaginary societies has been so successful in directly 
impressing the reader with the feasibility of his scheme of social 

Later writers of Utopias have been commonly too anxiously con- 
cerned to put together a society which should meet the criticisms of 
experts in economics, sociology, and government. To attempt this, 
is to miss the true aim and lose much of effectiveness in this style of 
composition. It is certain that society will never be suddenly trans- 
formed into something quite different which may be worked out in 
advance by thoughtful investigators. Quite evidently also the exact 
course of social evolution in the distant future cannot be foreseen. 
Books like the "Utopia" are effective means of weakening the feel- 
ing of complete satisfaction with the existing social order, a state 
of mind which is neither helpful nor conducive to human betterment. 

Effectiveness is far from being in direct ratio to the scientific pos- 


sibilities of the imaginary society described. The imaginary society 
is simply the vehicle for satire and criticism of things as they are. 
In other words, it is as literature and not as a scientific treatise that 
ideal commonwealths should be considered. The possession of lit- 
erary qualities has made a few of them effective. More's "Utopia" 
meets this test admirably and is, therefore, properly included among 
the Five-Foot Shelf of Books. 


Some acquaintance with social conditions and politics in the time 
of More adds much to the significance and interest of the book; but 
society, and even more human nature, changes so slowly from age 
to age that much of it can hardly fail to prove full of stimulating 
suggestion even to readers familiar only with present conditions. 
Speaking generally, our own society is no nearer that depicted in 
the "Utopia" than was that of More's own period. In some respects 
it is further removed from Utopian conditions, notably in the greater 
relative importance of manufacturing and commercial as contrasted 
with agricultural activities. In some directions changes have taken 
place which all would agree are for the better, though they are con- 
trary to the Utopian ideal. The government of "Utopia" was dis- 
tinctly aristocratic. To a modern idealist the best of all conceivable 
societies would certainly be democratic in form and in practice. 
Slavery, though of an ameliorated sort, was an essential foundation 
of the Utopian polity. No better illustration may possibly be found 
of the difficulty experienced in getting away from the blinding in- 
fluence of one's own environment, even when gifted with an ex- 
ceptionally humane spirit and a powerful imagination. One may 
hazard the hope, in this connection, that in the distant evolution of 
society a higher level of improvement may be reached than can now 
be foreseen. 


By Professor Charles J. Bullock 

FROM 1752 to 1764 the author of "The Wealth of Nations" 
occupied the chair of moral philosophy at Glasgow College, 
and his writings were the natural outgrowth of the lectures 
delivered to his college classes. Following an unbroken tradition 
received from Greek philosophy, Smith conceived the province of 
moral philosophy to be as broad as the entire range of human con- 
duct, both individual and social. "Wherein," says Smith, "consisted 
the happiness and perfection of a man, considered not only as an 
individual, but as a member of a family, of a state, and of the great 
society of mankind, was the object which the ancient moral philos- 
ophy proposed to investigate." Smith's own lectures followed sub- 
stantially this plan of treatment. 


At Smith's hands, however, many of the traditional subjects re- 
ceived new treatment and development. In 1759, Smith published 
his "Theory of Moral Sentiments," a treatise on ethics which imme- 
diately won for him international fame as a philosopher. This 
work presented the doctrine that the moral judgment is, in the last 
analysis, an expression of impartial sympathy with the motives and 
result of human action. From sympathy Smith derives the sense 
of justice, which is "the main pillar of the social structure." Un- 
derlying the book is the common eighteenth-century theory of a 
beneficent natural order, by which it was held that a benevolent 
Creator had so ordered the universe as to produce the greatest possi- 
ble human happiness. In this view of the matter the problem of 
philosophy, including politics and economics, is to discover the 
natural laws which make for the happiness of God's creatures. Of 



these laws the chief seems to be that Providence has commended 
the welfare of every man chiefly to his own keeping, not to that of 
others; and has so ordered things that men, in pursuing their own 
welfare within the limits set by justice, are ordinarily contributing 
to the general welfare. Upon this doctrine of a natural harmony of 
interests. Smith based his theory of natural liberty, according to 
which every man, "as long as he does not violate the laws of jus- 
tice," is naturally free to pursue his own welfare in his own way. 
Smith projected, but never published, a treatise on jurisprudence 
and government, subjects which in his lectures had naturally fol- 
lowed ethics. His "Wealth of Nations," which was published in 
1776, treated of political economy which in his lectures had followed 
the subject of government. 


"The Wealth of Nations" ' combines a firm grasp of principles with 
a remarkable knowledge of the facts of economic life, derived from 
reading and personal observation. Smith's generalizations are usu- 
ally supported by an appeal to the facts of economic life, and in this 
manner he gives the work an air of reality that is lacking in many 
economic treatises. He does not deal extensively with definitions. 
Without defining wealth he plunges directly into the causes of 
national opulence, but in the last sentence of his "Introduction" 
states, parenthetically, that "real wealth" is "the annual produce 
of the land and labor of the society." Even here he merely indicates 
that he considers the annual income of a society as its real wealth: 
whereas most economists prior to his time had conceived wealth 
as the accumulated stoc1{ of durable goods which a society possesses. 
Again Smith commences the treatise without offering a definition 
of political economy, and the nearest approach to such a definition 
is found in the first sentence of the fourth book : "Political economy, 
considered as a branch of the science of a statesman or legislator, 
proposes two distinct objects: first, to supply a plentiful revenue 
or subsistence for the people, or, more properly, to enable them to 
provide such a revenue or subsistence for themselves; and secondly, 
to supply the state or commonwealth with a revenue sufficient for 
^Harvard Classics, Vol. x. 


the public services. It proposes to enrich both the people and the 


Captious critics have pronounced the arrangement o£ "The Wealth 
of Nations" unsystematic, but it is in fact well suited to Smith's pur- 
pose. The first book studies the process by which wealth is produced 
and then distributed among laborers, entrepreneurs, and landlords. 
It lays down the doctrine that the increased productivity of the indus- 
try of modern societies is due to division of labor. The discussion of 
this subject is an economic classic, and the reader should observe 
that Smith finds here an illustration of his cardinal doctrine that it 
is self-interest, not the action of government, that has brought about 
the improvement of economic conditions. Division of labor pre- 
supposes exchange, and so Smith naturally proceeds to consider 
money and price. His study of price leads to an investigation of its 
component parts — wages, profits, and rent; and thus Smith is led 
to consider fully the subject of the distribution of wealth. His theory 
of value at the hands of certain later writers becomes the classical 
cost-of-production theory; while, given another slant, it becomes 
the labor theory of Marx and the socialists. His theory of wages 
becomes, at the hands of later writers, the wage-fund theory of the 
classical English school. His theory of profits supplied much mate- 
rial for his followers, particularly concerning the difference of profits 
in the various employments of capital. His theory of rent, or rather 
his three different theories,^ needed to be reconstructed by Ricardo 
before it could be added to our stock of economic principles. 


The second book investigates the nature and employment of 
"capital stock," which is the force that sets laborers at work and 
puts industry in motion. Smith holds that capital originates in sav- 
ing, that its function is to maintain productive labor, and that it 
may be either fixed or circulating. 

^ He first treats rent as the surplus product of land above the substance of the 
laborers. He also speaks of it as a form of monopoly income extorted by landlords; 
and again, in treating of the rent of mines, says that it varies with fertility and 


Unproductive labor, the reader should observe, is not useless labor; 
it may, indeed, be very useful'; but it does not produce any durable 
material product, and for that reason Smith does not consider it 
productive. Parsimony, or saving, leads to an increase of the capital 
available for the employment of productive labor; while spending 
consumes funds which otherwise might have been given such em- 

Private frugality, due to the desire to better one's condition, is 
the cause of the growth of capital and the increase of national opu- 
lence; while government can do nothing more than protect the indi- 
vidual and allow him liberty to act in the manner he finds most 
advantageous. Finally Smith considers the different employments 
of capital. Agriculture gives more employment to productive labor 
than manufactures, and both are superior, in this regard, to trans- 
portation and trade. Domestic trade gives more employment than 
foreign, and foreign trade gives more than the carrying trade. 

All these employments are useful; but a country with insufficient 
capital to engage in all of them will increase in opulence most rap- 
idly if it employs its capital in agriculture first of all, then engages 
in manufactures and the home trade, and refrains from entering 
upon foreign commerce and the carrying trade until the natural 
increase of capital makes such a course advantageous. If govern- 
ments merely withhold their hands, this is the course that industrial 
development will actually follow under the free play of individual 
self-interest. Smith's argument at this point is exceedingly important, 
for it lays the foundation for his doctrine of freedom of trade. 


After examining in the third book the various policies of restric- 
tion and preference adopted by the countries of Europe, Smith in 
the fourth book launches into the famous polemic against the so- 
called mercantile system of political economy. Smith shows that 
the restrictive measures of the mercantilists tended rather to prevent 
men serving each other than to promote public opulence. He as- 
sailed the theory of the balance of trade, much as David Hume had 
done. Everywhere he vindicated the system of natural liberty, and 
3 See "The Wealth o£ Nations," H. C, x, 258, 259. 


maintained that prosperity is not manufactured by governments but 
comes from "the natural effort of every individual to better his own 
condition." After disposing of the mercantilists, Smith treats of the 
"agricultural system" of political economy, vi^hich held that the net 
produce of the land is the sole source of national opulence. Since 
economists of this school had maintained that perfect liberty is the 
only policy that can raise this annual produce to a maximum, Smith 
considered their doctrines "the nearest approximation to the truth 
that has yet been published upon the subject of political economy." 


The fifth book treats of public finance. His chapter upon the ex- 
penses of the sovereign is the first philosophical investigation of this 
important subject. The second chapter presents a noteworthy treat- 
ment of the subject of taxation, and lays down the celebrated maxims 
which, perhaps, have been quoted oftener than any other paragraphs 
in economic literature. Smith was especially successful in correlat- 
ing his theory of taxation with his theory of the production and dis- 
tribution of wealth, while on the practical side he proposed reforms 
many of which were later adopted. The chapter on public debts, 
while unduly pessimistic, cridcizes forcibly the unwise financial 
policies pursued by Great Britain and other countries during the 
eighteenth century. In his theory of the essential nature of a public 
debt Smith was undoubtedly correct. 

"The Wealth of Nations" achieved instant success, went through 
five editions in the author's lifetime, and was soon translated into 
French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Danish. In the United States 
it began to be quoted by statesmen before the end of the Revolution, 
and an American edition was published at Philadelphia in 1789, 
Alexander Hamilton's state papers show the clearest evidence of his 
indebtedness to Smith's masterpiece. In time the book began to in- 
fluence legislation, and to contribute powerfully to the removal of 
obsolete restrictions on industry and commerce. Its place as an eco- 
nomic classic is secure, and the lapse of time seems to detract nothing 
from its eminence. 


By Professor W. B. Munro 

IF HISTORY is to perform properly its function as an agency of 
instruction, it must be careful to record human events fairly 
and with accuracy, otherwise the lessons which it asks posterity 
to draw from the past are sure to be misleading. Now the most 
reliable sources of information concerning all that has happened in 
the public life of past generations are of course the contemporary 
records, the writings of those who had a hand in the events them- 
selves and the public documents which set new historical landmarks. 
The makers of history are the men most competent to write about it; 
they are the ones best qualified to interpret their own experience. 
These writings are the piers upon which the historian builds his 
long bridge of narrative, and the historical structure can be no 
stronger than its foundations. American history is well supplied with 
them, for it spans a period of only three centuries — three modern 
centuries in which men have written much concerning the outstand- 
ing events of their own day. Due allowance must of course be made 
for human shortcomings even in the records left to us by the wisest 
and most open-minded of writers. But the fact remains that con- 
temporary materials afford the only sure basis on which to build our 
knowledge of what has gone before. The history of America, ac- 
cordingly, may be best studied in the chronicles of early explorers, 
in the narratives of those who first made their homes on this side 
of the Atlantic, in the colonial charters and later State laws, in the 
messages and decrees of presidents, the treaties with foreign nations, 
the decisions of courts, the correspondence of public men, or, to put 
it broadly, in the great mass of official and unofficial writings which 
constitute the public literature of the New World. 




The English settlements in America, during the century and a half 
of their existence as colonies, encountered many difficult problems. 
In the earlier years of this period there were troubles with the In- 
dians; in the later years there were almost incessant bickerings with 
the French colonists to the north. But in due time the redskins were 
humbled and France was expelled from her American territory. 
Then there were religious troubles which at times rent the English 
colonies in twain. Some of these settlements, it is true, had been 
founded as a protest against ecclesiastical bigotry at home; but that 
did not make them tolerant of heresy within their own borders. 
Those who failed to make outward compliance with the established 
religious practices were in some cases harried out of the land, and 
a rigid enforcement of this policy in Massachusetts led to the found- 
ing of Rhode Island and Connecticut as separate colonies. 

Another difficult problem was that of providing a satisfactory 
frame of civil government. Every colony had its own series of ex- 
periments embodied in charters,' fundamental laws^ and bodies of 
liberties.' At this historical distance these quaint documents make 
instructive reading, for they portray with great fidelity the earUest 
political ideals of the American people. Despite the rigor with which 
these codes attempted to regulate the daily walk and conversation 
of citizens, one can nevertheless trace in every line a firm loyalty 
to the principle that governments should be of laws and not of men. 
The faith in constitutional guarantees of civil liberty goes back to 
the very origins of American government. 


But the most difficult of all colonial problems was that of deter- 
mining proper political relations with the motherland. While the 
colonies were weak and exposed to external dangers these relations 
gave rise to no acute controversies; but after 1760, when America's 
economic interests had grown greatly in importance, and when the 

■ First Charter of Virginia, Harvard Classics, xliii, 49-58. 

^The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut (1639). 

'The Massachusetts Body of Liberties (1641), etc., H. C, xliii, 6ofI. 


treacherous arm of France had been removed from the northern 
frontiers — then it was that serious estrangements began. Matters 
which might have been easily adjusted under earher conditions 
became sources of open friction and ill-feeling; the breach widened 
and active resistance to the authority of the home government ensued. 

It is to be borne in mind, however, that the causes of the American 
Revolution were neither superficial nor few. The Declaration of 
Independence catalogues the colonial grievances as the colonists saw 
them, and their name is legion." 

The thirteen revolted colonies could not very well manage their 
struggle for independence as a joint enterprise without some form of 
central government, and a congress of delegates, sitting at Philadel- 
phia, was established to meet this necessity. With no legal basis 
during the early years of its existence, this congress eventually 
framed and secured the adoption of the Articles of Confederation 
which served as a working constitution for the body of States during 
the next decade.* These articles gave very little power to the central 
government and while they served a useful purpose in their time, 
facilitating the settlement of matters at the close of the war, it was 
realized everywhere that they could not afford a permanently satis- 
factory basis of union. 


Two outstanding defects in the Articles of Confederation were 
the failure to give the central government an assured annual revenue 
and the lack of any provision for securing uniformity in the regula- 
tion of commerce. The urgent necessity of strengthening the articles 
on these points inspired the calling of a constitutional convention 
at Philadelphia in the spring of 1787. Most of the leaders of public 
opinion were members of this convention, among them Washington, 
Madison, Hamilton, and Benjamin Franklin. It was deemed imprac- 
ticable to secure the desired ends by merely amending the Articles of 
Confederation; so an entirely new constitution was prepared. The 
task occupied the entire summer of 1787, and when the document 
was finished it went to the thirteen States for their approval.* In 

*H. C, xliii, 150-155. 'H. C, xliii, 158-168. '//. C, xliii, 180-198. 


some of them the issue of adoption was doubtful, for many provisions 
in the new constitution were bitterly attacked. But its friends were 
as active in its defense; Hamilton and Madison wielded their pens 
to good purpose in a publicity campaign, and in the course of time 
all thirteen States gave the document their indorsement. These letters 
of Hamilton and Madison in advocacy of the new constitution, 
subsequently published as "The Federalist," form a notable treatise 
on the principles of federal government.^ The new central govern- 
ment began its career forthwith; and in his first inaugural Washing- 
ton called upon the representatives of the people "to lay the founda- 
tions of national policy" in a way that would "command the respect 
of the world." ' 


Three outstanding features marked the trend of American political 
history during the first thirty years after the nation became welded 
into a federal unit. The first of these was the steady extension of 
those powers which the Constitution had intrusted to the new central 
government. A dozen years after the establishment of the United 
States Supreme Court the post of Chief Justice was given to John 
Marshall and was occupied by him with firmness and dignity until 
1835. Marshall was a believer in an efficient central government; he 
was sure that this was what the framers of the Constitution had 
meant to establish; and for thirty-four years he devoted his great 
powers to the work of assaying from the nation's organic law all the 
jurisdiction it could yield to the authorities of the union. It was 
under his leadership that the court took the epoch-marking step of 
declaring that the Constitution gave to the Federal Government not 
only express but implied powers, and that where the Constitu- 
tion gave a power to Congress it intrusted to that body a choice of 
the means to be used in carrying its authority into practical opera- 
tion. "Let the end be legitimate, let it be within the scope of the 
Constitution, and all means which are appropriate, which are plainly 
adapted to that end, which are not prohibited, but consist with the 
'H. C, xliii, 199-207. *H. C, xliii, 227. 


letter and spirit of the Constitution, are constitutional."' When 
Marshall put aside his robes o£ office in 1835, the Constitution had 
been securely anchored in its station as the supreme law of the land 
and the Washington government, chiefly through his masterly legal 
skill, had been brought to a dominating place in the national life. 

These three decades covered, in the second place, an era of terri- 
torial expansion, the successive steps of which have been traced in 
another lecture.'" 

In the third place the relations between the United States and 
European powers were placed on a better footing during the first 
quarter of the nineteenth century. The withdrawal of France and 
Spain from contiguous territory removed a source of possible danger. 
The war with England (1812-1815) cleared the international atmos- 
phere of some noxious features, and in the era of better feeling 
which followed its conclusion came the virtual neutralization of the 
Great Lakes — a stroke of great and statesmanlike prudence." Within 
a few years came the promulgation of the Monroe Doctrine with its 
unfaltering enunciation of American diplomatic policy in relation 
to the lands of the New Hemisphere." In the twenty years inter- 
vening between 1803 and 1823 the Republic has cleared her bounda- 
ries to the south, removed a possible menace from her boundaries 
to the north, and frankly made known the fundamentals of her 
future policy as respects all surrounding lands. 

'Opinion of Chief Justice John Marshall in the case of McCulloch vs. the State 
of Maryland, H. C, xliii, 208-224. 

'" See Professor F. J. Turner in the lecture on "The Territorial Development of 
the United States," History, V. 

*' Arrangement as to the Naval Force to be Respectively Maintained on the 
American Lakes, H. C, xliii, 265—267. 

'* The Monroe Doctrine, H. C, xliii, 277-279. 


By Professor Roscoe Pound 

FOR what end does the legal order exist? What do we seek 
to achieve through the political organization? What is the 
ultimate purpose in lawmaking, that is, in the selection and 
formulation of the standards for the public administration of jus- 
tice which organized society establishes or recognizes ? These are the 
first questions in legal and in political philosophy. The history of 
juristic thought and of political thought is chiefly a history of the 
way in which men have answered them. 


In primitive societies the answers are that the legal order exists 
simply to keep the peace, that men seek through the legal order to 
avert individual self-redress and prevent private war, and that the 
purpose of lawmaking is to establish rules by which controversies 
may be adjusted peaceably. Accordingly, whereas to-day we seek, 
as we say, to do justice, seeking to preserve the peace and to adjust 
controversies peaceably simply as means thereto and incidents thereof, 
primitive legal systems make peace the end. Where to-day we 
think of compensation for an injury, primitive law thinks only of 
composition for the desire to be avenged. Where to-day we seek 
to give to each what he ought to have or the nearest possible equiva^ 
lent, primitive law seeks only to give him a substitute for vengeance 
in case he is wronged. 


Greek philosophy and Roman law soon passed beyond the crude 
conception of the end of the legal order in primitive society. Instead, 
they gave these answers : The legal order exists to preserve the social 
status quo; men seek through the legal order to keep each individual 
in his appointed groove, and thus to prevent the friction with his 



fellowmen which primitive law sought only to mitigate. This is 
brought out very clearly in Greek political philosophy. Thus, in 
Plato's ideal state the state is to assign everyone to the class for which 
he is best fitted and the law is to keep him there, in order that a per- 
fect harmony and unity may prevail. St. Paul's well-known exhorta- 
tion (Ephesians v, 22fl. and vi, 1-5) in which he calls on all the 
faithful to exert themselves to do their duty in the class in which 
they find themselves, proceeds upon the same conception. The 
Roman lawyers turned this idea of political philosophy into law. 
In the great institutional book of Roman law, the Institutes of Jus- 
tinian, we are told that the precepts of law come to three; to live 
honorably, not to injure another, and to give to everyone his due. 
The idea here is that the state and the law exist to maintain harmo- 
niously the existing social order. What the interests of another 
are, which one is not to injure, what makes anything another's due, 
so that it is to be given him, are matters which are left wholly to 
the traditional social organization. 


On the downfall of the Roman empire the Germanic invaders 
brought back for a season the primitive ideas of buying off vengeance 
and keeping the peace through arbitrary peaceful solution of disputes 
by mechanical modes of trial and hard and fast rules. But during 
the Middle Ages these conceptions gradually yielded to the classical 
idea of the legal order as a means of preserving the social status quo, 
the more since the latter was fortified by the unassailable authority 
of texts of scripture and of the Roman law. Moreover, from the thir- 
teenth century on, philosophers more and more sought to sustain 
authority by reason, and in this way they prepared the way for a 
new conception which developed in the seventeenth century. For 
by that time two events of capital importance had compelled a 
complete revolution in legal and political philosophy. In the first 
place the Reformation had divorced the philosophy of law and of 
politics from theology and had set them free from the authority of 
the church. This was the work of the Protestant jurist theologians 
of the sixteenth century.' Secondly, following the nationalist move- 

' See Harvard Classics, xxxvi, 336. 


ment which resulted from the breakdown of the unifying and uni- 
versal authorities of the Middle Ages, the church and the empire/ 
the Germanists overthrew the idea of the binding authority of the 
Roman law in modern Europe. Accordingly it became necessary to 
find new bases for legal and political authority, and those bases 
were found in reason and in contract, or the consent and agreement 
of the individual.' 


In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries reason was made the 
measure of all obligation. Seventeenth-century legal and political 
philosophers considered that law existed in order to produce con- 
formity to the nature of rational creatures. In practice, however, 
though they had broken with authority as such, they accepted the 
Roman law as embodied reason and essayed very little that did not 
have authority behind it. In consequence the Roman maxim — not 
to injure another and to give to everyone his own — was taken to 
express the nature of rational creatures, and respect for personality 
and respect for acquired rights remained the two cardinal principles 
of justice. But these principles raised two obvious questions: (i) 
What is there in personality that makes aggression an injury, and 
(2) what is it that makes anything one's own? The answer was 
sought in a theory of natural rights, or of certain qualities inherent 
in individual human beings and demonstrated by reason to which 
society, state, and law were bound to give effect. According to this 
theory, justice is the maximum of individual self-assertion; it is the 
function of the state and of the law to make it possible for the indi- 
vidual to act freely. Hence the sphere of law is limited to the mini- 
mum of restraint and coercion necessary to allow the maximum 
of self-assertion by each, limited by the like self-assertion by all. 
This purely individualist theory of justice culminated in the eight- 
eenth century in the Declarations of the Rights of Man and Bills of 
Rights which are so characteristic of that time.^ 

At the close of the eighteenth century the foundations of the 
seventeenth and eighteenth century theory were shattered by Im- 

^ For this nationalist idea see H. C, xxxvi, 7. ' H. C, xxxiv, 309. 
*H. C. xliii, 66, 147, 150. 


manuel Kant.* But he furnished a new metaphysical foundation 
for the conception of justice as the maximum of individual self- 
assertion and in consequence it survived for about a hundred years 
and was given complete logical development in the polidcal, eco- 
nomic, and juristic writing of the nineteenth century, although the 
actual law began to break away from this idea in Europe by the mid- 
dle of the century and was definitely breaking away in America in 
the last decade thereof. 

In the nineteenth century, then, legal and political philosophers 
were agreed that the end of the legal order, the purpose of political 
organization and purpose of lawmaking, were to secure and main- 
tain individual liberty. The historian found in history the unfolding 
of this idea in human experience. The philosophical jurist postu- 
lated free will as the fundamental principle and deduced therefrom 
an ideal system of principles of liberty to which law ought to con- 
form. The utilitarian legislator took individual liberty for the one 
sure means of producing human happiness and so made it the goal 
of all lawmaking. Mill's treatise "On Liberty" ° is the best example 
of a thoroughgoing exposition of this nineteenth-century idea of 
abstract liberty. Moreover, it is much more tempered and reasonable 
in its attitude toward what we now call social legislation, so far as 
it restrains an abstract liberty of action whereby under pressure the 
weak barter away their actual liberty, than most contemporary or 
even subsequent writing from the same standpoint. 


To-day the social-philosophical school has given us a new con- 
ception of the end of the legal order. Instead of the maximum 
of individual self-assertion consistent with a like self-assertion by all 
others, we are now putting as the end the maximum satisfaction of 
human wants, of which self-assertion is only one, even if a very im- 
portant one. Hence juristic and political theory to-day thinks of inter- 
ests, that is of claims which a human being may make, and of secur- 
ing or protecting the greatest number of these interests possible with 
the least sacrifice of other interests. Moreover there are public inter- 
ests, or claims which the organized political society may make, and 

^H. C, xxxii, 305. ^H. C, xxv, I95ff. 


social interests, or claims of society at large. Ultimately all interests, 
individual and public, are secured and maintained because o£ a social 
interest in so doing. But this does not mean that individual inter- 
ests, the details of which the nineteenth century worked out so well, 
are to be ignored. On the contrary, the chiefest of social interests 
is the moral and social life of the individual, and thus individual 
interests become largely identical with a social interest. In securing 
them because of the social interest in the moral and social life of the 
individual, however, and in recognizing that individual self-assertion 
is only one human want, which must be weighed with others in a 
finite world where all wants cannot be satisfied, a governmental 
paternalism or even maternalism may become proper, which would 
have seemed intolerable to thinkers in the last century. In this con- 
nection, Mill on Liberty has a permanent value, despite the entire 
change in our views as to the end of law and of the state. Just as in 
the seventeenth century an undue insistence upon public interests, 
thought of as the interests of the sovereign, defeated the moral and 
social life of the individual and required the assertion of individual 
interests in Bills of Rights and Declarations of Rights, there is a 
like danger that certain social interests will be unduly emphasized 
and that governmental maternalism will become an end rather than 
a means and will defeat the real purposes of the legal order. Hence, 
although we think socially, we must still think of individual inter- 
ests, and of that greatest of all claims which a human being may 
make, the claim to assert his individuality, to exercise freely the will 
and the reason which God has given him. We must emphasize 
the social interest in the moral and social life of the individual, but 
we must remember that it is the life of a free-willing being. 


By Professor George Pierce Baker 

RARE is the human being, immature or mature, who has never 
felt an impulse to pretend he is some one or something else, 
k- The human being who has never felt pleasure in seeing 
such a pretending is rarer still. Back through the ages of barbarism 
and civilization, in all tongues, we find this instinctive pleasure 
in the imitative action that is the very essence of all drama. The 
instinct to impersonate produces the actor; the desire to provide 
pleasure by impersonations produces the playwright; the desire to 
provide this pleasure with adequate characterization and dialogue 
memorable in itself produces dramatic literature. Though dramatic 
literature has been sporadic, dramatic entertainment by imitative 
action has been going steadily on since we first hear of it in connec- 
tion with the Bacchic festivals of early Greece; and the dramatic 
instinct has been uninterruptedly alive since man's creation. We 
do not kill the drama, we do not really limit its appeal by failing 
to encourage the best in it; but we do thereby foster the weakest and 
poorest elements. In 1642 the English Parliament, facing war, closed 
the theatres and forbade all plays. Yet, though the years following 
were so troublous as not to favor drama, it was necessary in 1647 
to repeal the edict, because surreptitious and garbled performances 
of plays formerly popular had been given, and because vulgarized 
excerpts from comic portions of past plays had been given at fairs 
and other public gatherings. Clearly, so strong was the instinct, the 
craving for drama, that if the public could not get new plays, or even 
its old plays as wholes, it would accept far less worthy entertainment 
rather than go without. Even in this country, far more recently, in 
many communities where theatres were regarded at least with hesi- 
tation, the panorama was popular, and local branches of the G. A. R. 


DRAMA 353 

gave to enthusiastic audiences "The Drummer Boy of Shiloh." To- 
day, many who will not attend the theatre do attend the moving- 
picture show. One cannot annihilate an instinct of the races old 
as time: to legislate against it is to risk repressing only the better part; 
what is necessary is to make the undesirable unattractive. 


The only sound basis for this result is a widespread taste in the 
public for good drama. While it is not true, as George Farquhar 
wrote, that "Plays are like suppers, poets are the cooks," there is 
yet truth in Samuel Johnson's saying that "The drama's laws the 
drama's patrons give." He who serves his dramatic meal, cooked and 
seasoned exactly for what he takes to be the tastes of his public, 
merely writes plays: he does not create drama. To try to hit public 
taste in the drama is like trying to hit the bull's-eye of a rapidly 
shifting target on a very foggy day. On the other hand, the public 
speaker who should try to present his subject to a public knowing 
nothing of it, and to a public of which he knows nothing, must 
skillfully interest them by finding in his subject some appeal of a 
general nature. In similar fashion works the dramatist. He cannot 
write comedies and farces for a community lacking in humor. He 
can do little in grim story play or tragedy with a laughter-loving 
public. Granted a public fond of the theatre, he is sure of a hearing 
and probably an appreciative one; but the fuller and the more ac- 
curate his public's knowledge of good drama in the past, the greater 
his chance for an attentive and comprehending hearing when he 
writes what should be good drama to-day. 


In reading plays, however, it should always be remembered that 
any play, however great, loses much when not seen in action. As 
John Marston wrote in 1606: "Comedies are writ to be spoken, 
not read; remember the life of these things consists in action"; or, 
as Moliere put it : "Comedies are made to be played, not to be read." 
Any play is so planned that it can produce its exact effect only with 
its required scenery, lighting, and acting. And that acting means the 
gesture, movement, and voice of the actor. Above all, it means the 

354 DRAMA 

voice, the instrument which conveys to the audience the exact 
shade o£ meaning of the author and, like music, opens up the 
emotions. Drama read to oneself is never drama at its best, and 
is not even drama as it should be. Usually, too, just because readers 
do not recognize the difference between drama and other forms 
of fiction, they lose the effects they might gain even in reading. 
Closer attention than with a novel or short story is required. The 
dramatist does not guide us by explanations, analysis, and comment 
in our visualizing of his figures. Instead, he depends on a few 
stage directions as to their movements, and on the Tightness of his 
chosen words in the dialogue. Unfortunately, many a reader, ac- 
customed to hasty reading of the sketchy stories so common in the 
magazines, does not piece out what is given him but sees only just 
what the words of the text force him to see with no effort on his 
part. He is not active and cooperative. No play read in this way 
yields its real value. First, see in your mind the setting as described. 
Then, reading sympathetically, thoughtfully, and slowly if need be, 
visualize the figures as they come and go. The lines of any good 
play mean more than appears at a hasty glance. They have been 
chosen not simply because they say what the character might have 
said, but because what is said will advance the plot, and, because 
better than some half dozen other phrases considered by the author, 
they will rouse the emotions of the audience. Keep the sympathetic, 
not the critical mood, to the fore. Reading to visualize, feel because 
you visualize, and feel as fully as you can. Then when you close the 
book, moved and admiring, and then only, let your critical training 
tell you whether you have done well to admire. Don't let prejudices, 
moral or artistic, cause prejudgments: keep an open mind as you 
read. A writer may so treat a subject for which you have never 
cared as to make you care for it. He may so treat a subject you have 
regarded as taboo as to make it acceptable and helpful. Don't assume 
because a play is different from the plays you have known that it 
is bad. As the general editor has said: "It is precisely this encounter 
with the mental states of other generations which enlarges the out- 
look and sympathies of the cultivated man." When a play of a 
different nation or period at first proves unattractive, don't assume 
that it will remain so. Rather, study the conditions of stage and 

DRAMA 355 

audience which gave it being. Usually this will transmute a seem- 
ingly dull play into a living, appealing work of art. In any case, 
when you have finished reading, judge with discretion. Say, if you 
like, "This play is not for me — for a person of my tastes," but not, 
"This is a bad play for all," unless you are able to explain why 
what is poison for you should be poison for the general public. In 
all the great periods of the drama perfect freedom of choice and 
subject, perfect freedom of individual treatment, and an audience 
eager to give itself to sympathetic listening, even if instruction be 
involved, have brought the great results. If a public widely read in 
the drama of the past and judging it as suggested would come to 
the acting drama of to-day in exactly that spirit, almost anything 
would become possible for our dramatists. 


But what is drama? Broadly speaking, it is whatever by imitative 
action rouses interest or gives pleasure. The earliest of the mediaeval 
plays, the trope of the church in which the three Marys go to the 
tomb to find that Christ has risen, and make their way thence 
rejoicing, does not differentiate one Mary from another. The words, 
which were given to music, have only an expository value. Here, as 
through the ages succeeding, it is action, not characterization, how- 
ever good, not dialogue for the sake of characterization or for its 
own sake, which counts. Of course, this very early drama is too 
bald and too simple to have value as literature. As the trope in the 
tenth to the thirteenth centuries adds to the episode of the Resurrec- 
tion or the Nativity preliminary or continuing Biblical material, so 
story develops around the original episode. Almost inevitably, in 
order to make these differing episodes convincing, characterization 
appears, for, unless the people are unlike, some of the episodes could 
not occur. The dialogue ceases to be merely expository and begins 
to characterize each speaker. Later it comes to have charm, amusing- 
ness, wit, that is, quality of its own. When the drama attains a 
characterization which makes the play a revelation of human con- 
duct and a dialogue which characterizes yet pleases for itself, we 
reach dramatic literature. 

So, too, as time goes on, there develop the play of story, the play 

356 DRAMA 

mainly of characterization, the play in which dialogue counts almost 
as much as plot or character, and the great masterpieces in which 
all these interests, plot, character, and dialogue are blended into a 
perfect whole. "The Duchess of Malfi"' of Webster is a story play 
which illustrates a change in public taste. For a modern reader, 
probably more interested in the character of the Duchess than in 
the story itself, the last act doubtless lacks the interest it had for its 
own public. In Jonson's "Alchemist" ^ it is character mainly which 
interests us. In Sheridan's "School for Scandal," ' as in Congreve's 
"Way of the World," dialogue counts as much as character. In 
"Hamlet," "Lear," and "Macbeth" * there is a perfect union of story, 
characterization, and dialogue. 


Once the idea was widespread that tragedy and comedy differ 
essentially in material. Dryden maintained that tragedy must deal 
with people of exalted rank in extraordinary situations, expressing 
themselves in speech befitting their extraordinary circumstances. 
This idea, first stated by Aristotle in his "Poetics" as a result of his 
observation of the Greek Tragedy — which the definition perfectly 
fits — was fostered and expanded by critical students of dramatic 
theory till it found expression in the exaggeration of the Heroic 
Drama in England and the dignified if somewhat cold tragedies of 
Corneille and Racine.^ The coming of the Sentimental Comedy in 
England in the first thirty years of the eighteenth century, the related 
"Drame Larmoyante" of France, and the "Biirgerliche Drama" in 
Germany, showed that tragedy may exist in all ranks from high 
to low, from educated to uneducated. 

What then is tragedy.? In the Elizabethan period it was assumed 
that a play ending in death was a tragedy, but in recent years we have 
come to understand that to live on is sometimes far more tragic 
than death. Nor is the presence of tragic incidents in a play suffi- 
cient reason for calling it a tragedy, for many plays that end happily 
have in them profoundly moving episodes. Why, then, is it that 
we are so agreed in calling "Hamlet," "The Duchess of Malfi" and 

' Harvard Classics, xlvii, 755ff. ^ H. C, xlvii, 543ff. 

'H. C, xviii, logff. *H. C, xlvi, 93, 215, 321. ' H. C, xxvi, 77, 133. 

DRAMA 357 

"The Cenci" * tragedies ? Because in them character clashing with 
itself, with environment, or with other temperaments, moves through 
tragic episodes to a final catastrophe that is the logical outcome of 
what we have observed. By "logical" I mean that the ending is seen 
to grow from the preceding events in accordance with the characters. 
That is, it conforms with human experience as known to us or as 
revealed to us by the dramatist in question. 


Suppose, however, that we have tragic circumstance not justified 
by the characterization of the figures concerned. For instance, in 
some play on Cleopatra the special scenes may move us even if they 
do not put before us a character whose willfulness and exacting 
love seem great enough to bring about the final catastrophe. Then 
what have we ? Melodrama in the broadest sense of the word. Melo- 
drama in this sense of plays insufficiently motivated in characteriza- 
tion has existed from the beginning of drama. Technically, the word 
came into England early in the nineteenth century to designate an 
importation from France of sensational scenes with frequent musical 
accompaniment. As this particular combination disappeared, the 
name remained for plays of sensational incident and inadequate 


Between the two — melodrama and tragedy — 'both perhaps sensa- 
tional in episode, but only the second justifying its episodes by 
perfectly motivated character, lies the story play. In this the light 
and the serious, the comic and the tragic, mingle, though the ending 
is cheerful. "The Merchant of Venice," regarded as Shakespeare 
regarded it as the story of Portia and Bassanio, is clearly not a trag- 
edy but a story play. If, however, we sympathize with Shylock as 
modern actors, especially by their rearrangement of the scenes, often 
make us, is it not a tragedy? There lies the important distinction. 
There is no essential difference between the material of comedy and 
tragedy. AH depends on the point of view of the dramatist, which, 
by clever emphasis, he tries to make the point of view of his au- 
«H. C, xviii, 28iff. 

358 DRAMA 

dience. The trial scene of Shy lock perfectly illustrates the idea: to 
the friends of Bassanio, as to most of the Elizabethan audience, this 
Jew-baiting was highly delightful; to Shylock it was torture and 
heartbreak. The dramatist who presents such material so as to em- 
phasize in it what would appeal to the friends of Bassanio, writes 
comedy. He who presents it to an audience likely to feel as Shylock 
felt, writes tragedy. 


Comedy divides into higher and lower. Low comedy concerns 
itself directly or indirectly with manners. "The Alchemist" of Jon- 
son busies itself directly with manners by means of characters vary- 
ing from types of a single aspect to well-individualized figures. Com- 
edy of intrigue, centering about a love story, deals in complicated 
situations arising therefrom, but indirectly paints manners as it char- 
acterizes. "The Shoemaker's Holiday" ' may perhaps stand as a speci- 
men of this type, though Fletcher's "The Wild-Goose Chase" is a 
better example. High comedy, as George Meredith pointed out in 
his masterly "Essay on Comedy," deals in thoughtful laughter. This 
laughter comes from the recognition, made instantaneously by the 
author, of the comic value of a comparison or contrast. For instance, 
in "Much Ado About Nothing" it is high comedy at which we 
laugh when from moment to moment we contrast Benedick and Bea- 
trice as they see themselves and as we see them in the revelatory 
touches of the dramatist. 

Farce treats the improbable as probable, the impossible as possible. 
In the second case it often passes into extravaganza or burlesque. 
"The Frogs" ' of Aristophanes illustrates farcical burlesque. In the 
best farce to-day we start with some absurd premise as to character 
or situation, but if the premises be once granted we move logically 
enough to the ending. 


Yet, even if one understands these differences, one may find it 
difficult at first to appreciate the drama of a past time. Modern drama 
from 980 A. D. onward passes from the simple Latin trope, already 
'H. C, xlvii, 469ff. »«. C, viii, 439!!. 

DRAMA 359 

described, by accumulation of incident, developing characterization, 
and a feeling for expression for its own sake, to similar work in the 
vernacular, be it English, French, or German. Then slowly it gains 
enormously in characterization till some of the miracle and morality 
plays of the late fifteenth century equal or surpass any English 
drama up to Marlowe. But what lay behind all this drama of miracle 
play and morality was an undivided church. With the coming of 
the Reformation and its insistence on the value and finality of indi- 
vidual judgment, the didactic drama gave way to the drama of 
entertainment — the interludes and the beginnings of the live-act 
plays. Yet, fine as are some of the plays of the days of Elizabeth and 
James I, we find in them a brutality of mood, a childish sense of the 
comic, a love of story for mere story's sake that make them oftentimes 
a little hard reading. Moreover, their technique — their frequent 
disregard of our ideas of unity, their methods of exposition by chorus, 
soliloquy, and aside — ^frequently appears to us antiquated. Except 
for the greatest of these plays — mainly by Shakespeare — ^the Eliza- 
bethan drama seems strange to us at a first reading. Only coming 
to know the conditions from which it sprang can give us its real 

Even the great dramas of iEschylus, Sophocles, and to a less ex- 
tent of Euripides, because he is more modern, are best read when we 
know something of the Greek life around these dramas and of the 
stage for which they were written. To these plays a great audience 
of perhaps 10,000 brought a common knowledge of the myths and 
stories represented, akin to our universal knowledge a generation 
ago of Biblical story. The audience brought also memories of suc- 
cessive and even recent treatments of the same myth by other drama- 
tists, taking delight, not as we do in something because it seems 
new, but in the individual treatment of the old story by the new 
dramatist. The same attitude held for the Elizabethan public which 
delighted in successive versions of "Romeo and Juliet," "Julius 
Caesar," and "Hamlet." In judging the drama of Greece or Eliza- 
bethan England this fact must be kept constantly in mind. 

As one turns from Greek and Elizabethan drama, written for the 
dehght and edification of the masses, to the work of Corneille and 
Racine, one faces plays written primarily for the cultivated, and 

360 DRAMA 

worked out, not spontaneously by individual genius, but carefully 
according to critical theory derived not so much from study of 
classic drama as from commentators on a commentator on the Greek 
drama — Aristotle. From him, for instance, came the idea as to the 
essentiality of the unities of time, action, and place, themselves the 
result of physical conditions of the Greek stage. By contrast, then, 
this French tragedy of the seventeenth century is a drama of intellec- 

Then as the spirit of humanitarianism spread and men shared 
more and more in Samuel Johnson's desire "with extensive view" to 
"survey mankind from China to Peru," the drama reflected all this. 
No longer did the world laugh at the selfish complacency and in- 
dulgence of the rake and fop, but it began to sympathize with his 
wife, fiancee, or friend who suffered from this selfishness and com- 
placency. Illustrating that the difference between tragedy and com- 
edy lies only in emphasis. Restoration comedy turned from thought- 
less laughter to sympathetic tears. But such psychology as the 
sentimental comedy shows is conventional and superficial. It is in 
the nineteenth century that the drama, ever sensitive to public moods 
and sentiment, undergoes great changes. In France and Germany it 
breaks the shackles of the pseudo classicism which had for centuries 
held the drama to empty speech and a dead level of characterization. 
Goethe, Schiller, Hugo, Dumas pere, and Alfred de Vigny reveal 
a new world of dramatic romance and history. In turn this romance 
leads to realism with an underlying scientific spirit which takes noth- 
ing at its old values. 


This searching scrutiny of accepted ideas of personality, conduct, 
right, wrong, and even causation in general, is seen in Ibsen and 
all his followers. Planting themselves firmly on the new and develop- 
ing science of psychology, guided by the most intense belief in indi- 
viduaHsm, demanding its passports from every accepted idea, the 
dramatists of the last half century have steadily enlarged the scope 
of their art. From mere story-telling they passed to ethical drama. 
Convinced by practice that it is difficult for a play in its limited time 
—two and a half hours at the most — to do more than state a prob- 

DRAMA 361 

lem or paint a set of social conditions, they have taken to merely 
drawing pictures or raising questions rather than attempting even 
to suggest an answer. As we have seen, in the eighteenth century 
the writer of sentimental comedy painted social conditions, but with 
a psychology purely intuitional. To-day we have swung to the other 
extreme. Recognizing the limited space of the dramatist, confused 
by contrasting psychological theories, puzzled by the baffling intri- 
cacies of the human soul, convinced that the great questions raised 
cannot be settled in a breath, or with any ready-made panacea, 
many a dramatist to-day merely pictures an evil condition, waiting 
for others to find its exact significance or, better still, a solution. 
"Justice" of Mr. Galsworthy, like "La Robe Rouge" of M. Brieux, 
offers no solution, yet both led to changes in the conditions portrayed 
— in the former, conditions of prison life; in the latter, evils attend- 
ing the life of the petty judiciary of France. 


A veritable passion for the theatre is shown by the younger gen- 
eration to-day in the United States. It crowds the theatres — if we use 
the word to include not only places giving performances of legiti- 
mate drama but also vaudeville houses and picture shows — as in this 
country it never has crowded them before. To go to a theatre of the 
older type one must usually travel some distance and often one must 
save beforehand. Vaudeville and picture shows cheap enough for 
almost any purse are provided at our very doors. The difficulty is 
that what they offer is sometimes as low in art as in price. Yet 
surely, it may be said, there is good vaudeville, and surely proper 
legislation ought to dispose of what is poor or dangerous in it or the 
picture show. Granted, but there are inherent dangers which legis- 
lation cannot reach. In the first place, the balcony and galleries 
of our theatres are far less filled than they used to be before vaude- 
ville and the picture show provided at much less expense and with 
greater comfort entertainment to many as satisfactory as the theatre 
itself. This decrease in attendance at the theatres naturally jeopard- 
izes the chances of many a play which can be produced only if the 
manager feels reasonably sure of large houses or a public more 
general than usually frequents the orchestra. Vaudeville, too, like 

362 DRAMA 

the collections of short stories we read in the train, is usually a mere 
time killer, making the least possible demand on our application and 
attention. In vaudeville, if something grips our interest we pay at- 
tention; if one "turn" does not interest us we simply wait for the 
next. Sooner or later, without any effort on our part, something will 
win our absorbed attention. Now drama that has literary value 
demands, when read, as I have pointed out, concentration, an effort 
to visualize. Acted drama requires surrender of one's self, sympa- 
thetic absorption in the play as it develops. These absolutely essen- 
tial conditions grow less possible for the person trained by vaudeville. 
The moving picture show, too, is at best drama stripped of everything 
but motion. The greatest appeal of all, the voice, except in so far 
as the phonograph can reproduce it, is wanting. But can any com- 
bination of mechanical devices such as the cinematograph and the 
graphophone ever equal in human significance, in reality of effect, 
in persuasive power, the human being — most vividly seen and felt 
in drama at its best? A combination of the cinematograph and the 
phonograph can be at best only a dramatic Frankenstein's automaton. 
Dramatic literature is really threatened by the picture show and 


All this would be discouraging were not these conditions some- 
what counteracted by drama as we find it in our schools, colleges, 
and social settlements. As far back as the sixteenth century in 
England and on the Continent the value for pronunciation, enuncia- 
tion, and deportment of acting by school children was recognized. 
Ralph Radcliffe, a schoolmaster of Hitchen in Hertfordshire, wrote 
many plays for his scholars. Nicholas Udall, successively a master 
of Eton and Westminster schools, left us one of the early landmarks 
of English drama, "Ralph Roister Doister," a mixture of early Eng- 
lish dramatic practice and borrowings from the Latin comedy. On 
the Continent, fathers and mothers gathered often, fondly to watch 
their boys in similar Latin or vernacular plays. In like manner 
to-day, all over this country, in grammar and high schools, wise 
teachers are guiding their pupils in varied expression of their dra- 
matic instinct. Many a high school to-day has, as part of its equip- 

DRAMA 363 

ment, a small stage on which standard plays of the past, plays 
selected from the best written to-day, and, occasionally, even plays 
written by the students themselves are given. From participation 
in such performances more results than a mere gain in enunciation, 
pronunciation, and deportment. The standards of a youth who as- 
sociates often with the best in dramatic literature must improve. 
Inculcate thus pleasantly right standards of drama, and the lure of 
vaudeville and picture show is weakened. But the training must 
be broad: our youth must know the best — comedy, tragedy, farce, 
burlesque — in the drama of to-day and yesterday. 

No such training of our youth can ever be complete if in the home 
there is no real understanding, at least from reading, of what the 
best in drama has been. Otherwise how can the elders sympathize 
with this natural demand of the young, for probably they will not 
recognize either the worthiness or the permanence of the appeal 
which the drama properly makes. While youth inevitably seek 
entertainment in the theatre, their elders must see to the kind of 
entertainment provided. That is a fair and natural division. 

Year by year we receive at Ellis Island people from all over the 
world, people little fitted for the responsibilities of a citizenship 
that was planned for a people relatively homogeneous and trained 
for centuries in a growing political power which rested on the re- 
sponsibility of the individual. How shall we reveal to this immigrant 
what this great varied American life means and thus assimilate him 
into the body politic ? Seeking an answer to this problem, the settle- 
ment houses have found one of their most effective means in the 
drama. The southern or southeastern European, filled with emotion, 
loves to act. In the settlement house, through carefully selected plays, 
he learns our language and gains the ideals of the land in which he 
is to live. 


Responsive to all this widespread interest of the people at large, 
men and women all over the country are busied with the difficult 
art of the dramatist. In turn responsive to their needs, our colleges 
are developing courses in dramatic composition, though ten years 
ago not one existed. But to these playwrights comes sooner or later 

364 DRAMA 

the question: "Shall I write so as surely to make money, but pander- 
ing to the lower artistic and moral taste of my public; or shall I 
keep to my inculcated and self-discovered standards of dramatic art 
till I win my public to them?" For the latter result there must be 
a considerable part of the public which so understands and loves 
the best of the drama of the past that it can quickly discover promise 
in the drama to-day. Out of the past come the standards for judging 
the present; standards in turn to be shaped by the practice of present- 
day dramatists into broader standards for the next generation. The 
drama possesses a great literature growing out of an eternal desire 
of the races. The drama is a great revealer of life. Potentially, it is 
a social educative force of the greatest possibilities, provided it be 
properly handled. You cannot annihilate it. Repressing it you bring 
its poorer qualities to the front. How, then, can any so-called edu- 
cated man fail to try to understand it.'' But to understand it one 
must read closely, sympathetically, and above all widely. 

For such results a collection like this must be but the fillip that 
creates a craving for more. Here is only a little of all the Elizabethan 
and Jacobean drama. Here it is possible to represent only by a few 
masterpieces the vast stores of the drama in France, Germany, Eng- 
land, Scandinavia, Italy, Spain, and Russia in the nineteenth and 
twentieth centuries. To-day, English drama, with only a few ex- 
ceptions better than any written since the seventeenth century, comes 
often to the stage. From month to month the drama is making 
history. In England and the United States to-day it is wonderfully 
alive, independent, ambitious, seeking new ways of expression on 
an infinite variety of subjects. Yet it is often crude, especially in 
this country. It will never know how crude till its public forces it 
to closer, finer thinking, more logical characterization, and stern 
avoidance of mere theatricality. Back of any such gains must stand 
a public with a love for the drama, gained not merely from seeing 
plays of to-day but from wide reading in the drama of different 
periods and different nations in the past. 


No drama, however great, is entirely independent of the stage on 
which it is given. In a great period the drama forces its stage to 

DRAMA 365 

yield to its demands, however exacting, till that stage becomes plastic. 
At a time of secondary drama, plays yield to the rigidities of their 
stage, making life conform to the stage, not the stage to life. Con- 
sequently, just as different periods have seen different kinds of 
drama, they have seen different kinds of stage. In the trope the 
monks acted in the chancel near the high altar, to come out, as the 
form developed, to the space before the choir screen under the 
great dome of the cathedral where nave and transepts met. In that 
nave and in the adjoining aisles knelt or stood the rapt throng of 
worshipers. Forced by numbers who could not be accommodated 
in the cathedral and by other causes, the monks, after some gen- 
erations, brought their plays out into the square in front of the 
cathedral. That all might see them to the best advantage they were 
ultimately given on raised platforms. Certainly by the time these 
plays passed from the hands of the churchmen to the control of the 
trade guilds, they were on pageant cars, a construction not unlike 
our floats for trade processions except that they contained two stories, 
the lower high enough to use for a dressing room. These pageant 
cars the journeymen drew, between daylight and dark, from station 
to station across a city like York or Chester. At each station people 
filled the windows of the houses, the seats built up around the sides 
of the square, and even the roofs. The very nature of this platform 
stage forbade scenery, though elaborate properties seem to have 
been used. By contrast, on the Continent, especially in France, con- 
structions resembling house fronts, city gates, or walls could be freely 
set up on the large, fixed stage for miracle plays which was built in 
some great square of the city. To this one place flocked all the 
would-be auditors. The point to remember is that down to the 
building of theatres the stage meant a platform, large or small, 
movable or stationary, in some public place. Simply treated, as 
was the case when it was movable, it would have a curtain at the 
back, shutting off a space where costumes could be changed and 
where the prompter could stand: scenery was out of the question. 
Elaborately treated, when it was stationary, constructions suggesting 
houses, ships, town walls, etc., might be shown at the back or side 
of the stage, but they seem never to have been shifted from the 
beginning to the end of the performance. Such houses, walls, etc., 

366 DRAMA 

were used when needed, but when not in use were treated as non- 

In the sixteenth century when playing passed from the hands of 
the guilds to groups of actors, the latter sought refuge from the noise 
and discomforts of the public square in the yards of inns. In those 
days galleries like the balconies of our theatres were on all four sides 
of such an inn yard, sometimes two and sometimes three. The 
players, erecting a rough platform opposite the entrance from the 
street, hung a curtain from the edge of the first gallery to their 
stage. In the room or rooms behind this they dressed. Thus they 
gained a front stage; a rear stage under the first gallery to be re- 
vealed when the curtain was drawn; an upper stage in the first 
balcony representing at will city walls, a balcony for Romeo and 
Juliet, or an upper room. High above all this one or more galleries 
rose which could be used for heavens in which gods and goddesses 
appeared. In the yard stood the pittites; in the side and end galleries 
sat the people who paid the higher prices. 


When, in 1576, London saw its first theatre just outside Bishops- 
gate, it was circular, in imitation of existing bull4)aiting arenas. 
So far as a stage projecting into the pit, the rear stage underneath 
the balcony, and the use of the first balcony itself were concerned, 
the actors merely duplicated conditions to which they had grown 
attached in the old inn yards. As under the older conditions, scenery 
was impossible except as painted cloths might be hung at the back 
of the balcony or under it. Hence the care of the Elizabethan 
dramatists to place their scene by some hint or description in the 
text. Moreover, a play lacking the stage settings of a century later 
must be given atmosphere, reality, and even charm from within. 
More and more, however, influenced by increasingly elaborate per- 
formances at court of the masks, the public pressed the theatre 
manager as far as possible to duplicate their gorgeous and illusory 
settings. But such settings at the court were on stages behind an 
arch like our modern proscenium. Consequently by 1660 the stage 
of 1590 to 1642 had shrunk behind a proscenium arch. Then follow 
two centuries of very elaborate staging by painted drops at the back, 

DRAMA 367 

side flats set in grooves, and painted borders. It should be remem- 
bered that till the second half of the sixteenth century public per- 
formances were given by daylight, largely because of the difficulty 
in using flaring and unsteady links or cressets for artificial light. 
When evening performances became the vogue, candles gave the 
hght till the discovery of illuminating gas made a revolution in 
theatrical lighting. About i860, the so-called box set, a means of 
shutting in the whole stage, replaced for interiors a back drop and 
painted side flats. Undoubtedly, some of the splendid and imag- 
inative settings of Macready, Charles Kean, and Sir Henry Irving, 
seemed the last word on the subject. Steadily, however, producer 
and dramatist have worked together to make the stage as illusive as 
possible. On the one hand, realism has strained it to the utmost; on 
the other, poetic and fantastic drama have forced it to visualize for 
us the realms of imagination. Responding to all this, modern science 
and invention have come to the aid of drama. Electricity has opened 
up ways of lighting not even yet fully explored. At present, par- 
ticularly in Germany, most ingenious devices have been invented 
for shifting scenery as quickly as possible. There and elsewhere, 
especially in Russia and England, skill and much artistry have been 
shown in quickening the imagination of the audience to the utmost 
by suggestion rather than by representation of minute and confusing 
detail. Frequently to-day the elaborate scenery of the past is im- 
proved upon by a stage hung about with curtains, with some prop- 
erties here and there or a painted drop at the back to give all the 
suggestion needed. Alert and responsive, the stage of to-day at its 
best, in sharpest contrast with the bare stage of the sixteenth century, 
is calling on architects to make it flexible, on physicists and artists 
to light it elusively, on great designers to arrange its decorations. 
In brief, the stage throughout its history, longing always and trying 
always to adapt itself to the demands of the dramatist, is to-day, as 
never before, plastic. 


Nor has the drama changed merely in these respects. Once the 
drama was almost wholly national. Then just because a play 
smacked so of its soil, it could not be intelligently heard elsewhere. 

368 DRAMA 

In the seventies, as far as the Anaerican pubHc was concerned, this 
was true of the plays of Dumas fils and Augier. Now, increased 
travel and all the varied means of intercommunication between 
nations make for such swift interchange of ideas that the dramatic 
success of Moscow, St. Petersburg, Stockholm, Paris, London, or 
Madrid is known quickly the world over. With the drawing together 
of the nations more common interests have developed, so that in- 
tellectual and moral movements are not merely national but world- 
wide. All this makes any national treatment of a world question 
widely interesting: it even makes the world interested in local prob- 
lems. Most marked change of all, this free intercommunication of 
ideas tends to make even the humor of one nation comprehensible 
by another. 

To-day, then, the drama has become cosmopolitan. Broadway 
sees Reinhardt's Berlin productions: Paris and Berlin see "Kismet." 
Broadway knows Gorki, Brieux, and Schnitzler; English and Ameri- 
can plays have a hearing on the Continent. For two generations 
the drama has been fighting to take for its motto "Nihil mihi 
alienum." It has won that right. Sensitive, responsive, eagerly wel- 
comed everywhere, the drama, holding the mirror up to nature, 
by laughter and by tears reveals to mankind the world of men. 


By Professor Charles Burton Gulick 

THE word "drama" is Greek, and means action — or, as the 
Greeks limited its use, action that goes on before our eyes. 
In this way they distinguished the product of the theater 
from the action of epic poetry and the action of history, both of 
which, as understood and written by the Greeks, had highly dramatic 

Three centuries roughly coincide with the three periods of de- 
velopment into which the history of the Greek theater naturally 
falls. The sixth century B. C. is the time of preparation. The fifth 
witnessed the full flowering of Athenian genius. In the fourth the 
so-called New Comedy, largely inspired by the realism of Euripides, 
took shape in the comedy of manners, the portrayal of domestic 
life, and the foibles of society. 


A superficial glance at any play contained in The Harvard Classics 
will at once reveal the prominence of the chorus. To understand this, 
as well as other features in the structure of a play, we must inquire 
into the origin of tragedy and comedy. 

This inquiry, slight though it must be, is the more essential be- 
cause it was the constructive genius of the Greeks that discovered 
and developed the drama as all countries and ages have since 
known it. 

The drama is founded in religion. In the Greek consciousness it 
had its spring in the worship of Dionysus, who in one of his aspects 
was a god of the underworld, latest comer into the Greek Pantheon, 
whose religion had evoked much opposition, and whose story was 
full of suffering as well as triumph and joy. He represented the life- 
giving forces of nature; he was god of the vine and of wine, and at 
the vintage festival the country folk celebrated him in dance and 


370 DRAMA 

song. They smeared their faces with wine lees and covered their 
bodies with goatskins, to imitate the goatHke attendants of the god, 
who were called satyrs. Thus their song, tragoedia, was the "song 
of the goats," tragoi, and many years elapsed before it became 
dignified. Toward the end of the seventh century B. C. the poet 
Arion of Corinth adapted this folksong to his own purposes and 
gave it, under the name of dithyramb, something like literary dis- 
tinction. It was capable of great variety in form and matter, but 
maintained its characteristic pathos throughout. The chorus gave 
expression to cries of joy or ejaculations of pity and terror as the 
story of the god unfolded itself. A refrain, in which the same words 
were repeated, was a constant element. 

The dithyramb remained purely lyric; but during the sixth cen- 
tury, we know not how or through what personality, it underwent 
a modification of profound importance. Some genius, perhaps 
Thespis, conceived the idea of impersonating the god or some hero 
connected with his myth, in the presence of his chorus of worshipers. 
He wore a mask and carried other properties appropriate to his 
nature, and with the leader of the chorus interchanged a dialogue 
which was interrupted from time to time by the comments of the 
chorus, accompanied by dancing and gestures. 

Thespis, whose name has become familiar in all the literatures 
of Europe, was a native of Icaria, a village in Attica, at the foot of 
Mt. Pentelicus. The region, excavated by American explorers some 
years ago, is still known as Dionysos. It lies in a valley which leads 
to Marathon, and the scanty ruins, hidden among olive groves and 
vineyards, betray no sign that it is the birthplace of European drama. 
Thespis exhibited here during the latter half of the sixth century. 

None of his works have survived. They were probably merely 
sketched, not written out, and still followed the method of im- 
provisation which, Aristotle says, was in vogue in the early steps 
of the drama. 


The fifth century begins with authentic names and shows more 
positive progress toward an imposing achievement. By this time 
the country festivals of Dionysus had been taken up by the city. 

DRAMA 371 

As early as the middle of the sixth century the god had been brought 
in pomp to Athens, and a precinct was consecrated to him at the 
southeast slope of the Acropolis. Beside his temple the ground was 
smoothed and laid out in a great dancing circle — orchestra — with an 
altar in the center. The spectators, or theatron, were ranged on the 
slope of the Acropolis. Opposite at some distance from the circle, 
was the temple, and beyond that Mt. Hymettus made a distant back- 
ground. There was no scenery except what nature had thus pro- 
vided, but a convention soon arose whereby it was understood that 
an actor entering from the right of the spectators came from the 
city or the immediate vicinity, whereas one coming from the left 
came from some distant country. 

The early composers of tragedy — for the author composed music, 
invented dance steps, and trained the chorus to sing — were content 
with one actor who by changing mask and costume in a neighbor- 
ing booth {s\ene) could take different roles. The chorus leader 
was his interlocutor and bore the most difficult part, if we may 
judge from the plays of ^schylus. Among the earliest poets was 
Phrynichus, noted for his lofty patriotism, for the sweetness of his 
lyrics, for vigorous inventiveness — which dared on one occasion to 
employ a historical theme, "The Fall of Miletus" — and for the intro- 
duction of female roles among those assigned to the actor. The 
progress, as Aristotle emphasizes, was slow and tentative, and it is 
clear that the audience did not willingly allow any wide departure 
from the limits imposed by the religious origin and occasion of the 
performance. More than once the conservative complaint, "This 
has nothing to do with Dionysus," would restrain an author from 
breaking too hurriedly with tradition, and the high purpose and 
seriousness of tragedy was due not so much to any latent germ at its 
beginning — for comedy had the same popular origin in the vintage 
festival — as to the serious intent and deep religious conviction of the 
poets of the time, whose minds were also impressed by the gravity 
of the coming conflict with Persia. 


iEschylus was thirty-five years old when he fought at Marathon. 
Born at Eleusis, near the Greek sanctuary where the Mysteries of 

372 DRAMA 

Demeter, Persephone, and Dionysus (here worshiped as Bacchus) 
were celebrated, his soul was charged with influences which affected 
his plays and explain why religious problems, like that of sin and 
the justice of God, are so prominent in his thought. Externally, the 
gorgeous vestments of the Eleusinian priests inspired him with the 
idea of perfecting the costume of his players; but it was his own 
genius which led him to take the step that entitles him to be called 
the Father of Tragedy. This was the introduction of a second actor, 
which made it possible to portray two contrasted characters, two 
sets of emotions or purposes, and to bring before the sympathizing 
chorus and spectators a conflict of ideals which, according to Hegel, 
is the essence of tragedy. 

The dithyramb was a comparatively short piece; hence an early 
tragedy was short. When, as the constructive faculty increased, it 
became evident that a theme could not be worked out within the 
limits of a single play, the custom arose of treating it in a group of 
three plays, to which was added, in deference to the festival, a 
satyr play, wherein the chorus took the part of satyrs, as in the 
ancient time. Thus the great theme of the commission, transmission, 
and remission of sin has its beginning, middle, and end in the 
"Agamemnon," "The Libation-Bearers," and "The Furies," ' the 
only trilogy that is extant. Even this lacks the satyr play which once 
made the group a normal tetralogy. The "Prometheus Bound" ^ is 
obviously incomplete. We have lost the part of the trilogy in which 
the reconciliation between the rebellious Titan and his enemy, Zeus, 
was effected, and the justice of Zeus vindicated. 

All the Greek plays contained in The Harvard Classics belong to 
the period of Athenian expansion following the successful fight 
against Persia. Poets, painters, sculptors, joined in celebrating the 
achievement of Greece, due mostly to Athens, in ridding Europe 
for centuries from the fear of Oriental despotism. Exploration and 
commerce brought new wealth into Attica, which now controlled 
the sea, and the outburst of lyric and dramatic genius has had no 
parallel except in England after the destruction of the Spanish 

1 For the complete trilogy see Harvard Classics, viii, "jR. 
2H. C, viii, i66ff. 

DRAMA 373 


Sophocles,' the tragedian who represents the purest type of the 
classical Greek, was in his teens when the Battle of Salamis was 
won. Beautiful in person and clear sighted in intellect, he was the 
first to use the new Greek art in the theater. For he introduced 
scene painting. Heretofore even ^schylus had been content with 
only the altar in the orchestra and a few statues of gods on the outer 
edge away from the audience. Sophocles now erected a scene build- 
ing, the front of which showed to the audience the fagade of a temple 
or palace, pierced by a single door. The two side entrances were 
retained. yEschylus adopted the innovation readily, and thus we 
find the scenery of the "Agamemnon," simple as it is, far advanced 
from the earlier conditions. Sophocles also enlarged the chorus from 
twelve to fifteen singers, securing greater volume of tone and variety 
of motion and gesture. But from this time onward we note a steady 
diminution of the choral parts and the greater prominence of the 
actors, whose nupiber Sophocles increased to three. 


In Euripides we have the boldest innovator, both in the resources 
of dramaturgy and in the moral problems which he treats. Even he 
cannot break entirely with tradition, and it is a curious chance that 
the latest play of this great period, "The Bacchae,"* harks back to 
the theme of the earliest tragedies, the savage triumph of Dionysus 
over his persecutors. But the method of Euripides leads him to 
devices for which he was bitterly criticized. His characters are no 
longer gods, the motive power in his plots no longer divine. They 
are men and women, often moved by sordid and trivial causes, yet 
none the less pathetic. To Aristotle he is the most tragic of the three, 
and his appeal to sympathy is strong because his personages are 
human. The effects of tragedy, pity and terror, become more vivid 
because the sufferers are made of the same stuff as the audience. In 
plot he is less skillful than Sophocles at his best, and he sometimes 
has recourse to the deus ex machina to cut the complicated knot of 
his own tying. Yet even here the appearance of the god, as at the 
end of the "Hippolytus," ' is justified by its spectacular effect. 
5 H. C, viii, 209. * H. C viii, 368. ^ u c., viii, 303. 


By Professor W. A. Neilson 

WHEN the great European movement known as the Renais- 
sance reached England, it found its fullest and most lasting 
expression in the drama. By a fortunate group of coin- 
cidences this intellectual and artistic impulse affected the people of 
England at a moment when the country was undergoing a rapid 
and, on the whole, a peaceful expansion — when the national spirit 
soared high, and when the development of the language and the 
forms of versification had reached a point which made possible the 
most triumphant literary achievement which that country has seen. 


Throughout the Middle Ages the English drama, like that of 
Other European countries, was mainly religious and didactic, its 
chief forms being the Miracle Plays, which presented in crude 
dialogue stories from the Bible and the lives of the saints, and the 
Moralities, which taught lessons for the guidance of life through 
the means of allegorical action and the personification of abstract 
qualities. Both forms were severely limited in their opportunities 
for picturing human nature and human life with breadth and 
variety. With the revival of learning came naturally the study and 
imitadon of the ancient classical drama, and in some countries this 
proved the chief influence in determining the prevalent type of 
drama for generations to come. But in England, though we can 
trace important results of the models given by Seneca in tragedy 
and Plautus in comedy, the main characteristics of the drama of the 
Elizabethan age were of native origin, and reflected the spirit and 
the interests of the Englishmen of that day. 


Of the various forms which this drama took, the first to reach a 
culmination was the so-called Chronicle History. This is represented 


DRAMA 375 

in The Harvard Classics by the "Edward 11" ' of Marlowe, the 
greatest of the predecessors of Shakespeare; and Shakespeare him- 
self produced some ten plays belonging to the type. These dramas 
reflect the interest the Elizabethans took in the heroic past of their 
country, and before the vogue of this kind of play passed nearly the 
whole of English history for the previous three hundred years had 
been presented on the stage. As a form of dramatic art the Chronicle 
History had many defects and limitations. The facts of history do 
not always lend themselves to effective theatrical representation, and 
in the attempt to combine history and drama both frequently 
suffered. But surprisingly often the playwrights found opportunity 
for such studies of character as that of the King in Marlowe's 
tragedy, for real dramatic structure as in Shakespeare's "Richard III," 
or for the display of gorgeous rhetoric and national exultation as in 
"Henry V." These plays should not be judged by comparison with 
the realism of the modern drama. The authors sought to give the 
actors fine lines to deliver, without seeking to imitate the manner 
of actual conversation; and if the story was conveyed interestingly 
and absorbingly, no further illusion was sought. If this implied some 
loss, it also made possible much splendid poetry. 


Closely connected with the historical plays was the early develop- 
ment of Tragedy. But in the search for themes, the dramatists soon 
broke away from fact, and the whole range of imaginative narrative 
also was searched for tragic subjects. While the work of Seneca 
accounts to some extent for the prevalence of such features as ghosts 
and the motive of revenge, the form of Tragedy that Shakespeare 
developed from the experiments of men like Marlowe and Kyd 
was really a new and distinct type. Such classical restrictions as 
the unities of place and time, and the complete separation of comedy 
and tragedy, were discarded, and there resulted a series of plays 
which, while often marked by lack of restraint, of regular form, 
of unity of tone, yet gave a picture of human life as affected by sin 
and suffering which in its richness, its variety, and its imaginative 
exuberance has never been equaled. 

^Harvard Classics, xlvi, yS. For "Doctor Faustus" see Professor Francke's article 

376 DRAMA 

The greatest master of Tragedy was Shakespeare, and in Tragedy 
he reached his greatest height. "Hamlet," ^ "King Lear," ' and 
"Macbeth"* are among his finest productions, and they represent 
the noblest pitch of English genius. Of these, "Hamlet" was perhaps 
most popular at the time of its production, and it has held its interest 
and provoked discussion as perhaps no other play of any time or 
country has done. 

This is in part due to the splendor of its poetry, the absorbing 
nature of the plot, and the vividness of the drawing of characters 
who marvelously combine individuality with a universal and typical 
quality that makes them appeal to people of all kinds and races. 
But much also is due to the delineation of the hero, the subtlety of 
whose character and the complexity of whose motives constitute a 
perpetual challenge to our capacity for solving mysteries. "King 
Lear" owes its appeal less to its tendency to rouse curiosity than to 
its power to awe us with an overwhelming spectacle of the suffering 
which folly and evil can cause and which human nature can sustain. 
In spite of, or perhaps because of, its intricacy of motive and super- 
abundance of incident, it is the most overwhelming of all in its 
effect on our emotions. Compared with it, "Macbeth" is a simple 
play, but nowhere does one find a more masterly portrayal of the 
moral disaster that falls upon the man who, seeing the light, chooses 
the darkness. 

Though first, Shakespeare was by no means alone in the produc- 
tion of great tragedy. Contemporary with him or immediately fol- 
lowing came Jonson, Marston, Middleton, Massinger, Ford, Shirley, 
and others, all producing brilliant work; but the man who most 
nearly approached him in tragic intensity was John Webster. "The 
Duchess of Malfi"^ is a favorable example of his ability to inspire 
terror and pity; and though his range is not comparable to that of 
Shakespeare, he is unsurpassed in his power of coining a phrase 
which casts a lurid light into the recesses of the human heart in 
moments of supreme passion. 

2//. C, xlvi, 93ff. 'H. C, xlvi, 2i5ff. <//. C, xlvi, 32iff. 
5 H. C, xlvii, 755ff. 

DRAMA 377 


In the field of comedy, Shakespeare's supremacy is hardly less 
assured. From the nature of this kind of drama, we do not expect 
in it the depth of penetration into human motive or the call upon 
our profounder sympathies that we find in Tragedy; and the con- 
ventional happy ending of Comedy makes difficult the degree of 
truth to life that one expects in serious plays. Yet the comedies of 
Shakespeare are far from superficial. Those written in the middle of 
his career, such as "As You Like It" and "Twelfth Night," not only 
display with great skill many sides of human nature, but with in- 
describable lightness and grace introduce us to charming creations, 
speaking lines rich in poetry and sparkling with wit, and bring 
before our imaginations whole series of delightful scenes. "The 
Tempest" ° does more than this. While it gives us again much of 
the charm of the earlier comedies, it is laden with the mellow wisdom 
of its author's riper years. 

"The Alchemist,'" representing the work of Ben Jonson, be- 
longs to a type which Shakespeare hardly touched — ^the Realisuc 
Comedy. It is a vivid satire on the forms of trickery prevailing in 
London about 1600 — alchemy, astrology, and the like. The plot is 
constructed with the care and skill for which its author is famous; 
and though its main purpose is the exposure of fraud, and much of 
its interest lies in its picture of the time, yet, in the speeches of Sir 
Epicure Mammon, for instance, it contains some splendid poetry. 
Dekker's "The Shoemaker's Holiday"' in a much gayer mood, 
shows us another side of London life, that of the respectable trades- 
folk. Something of what Jonson and Dekker do for the city, 
Massinger does for country life in his best known play, "A New 
Way to Pay Old Debts," ' one of the few Elizabethan dramas outside 
of Shakespeare which have held the stage down to our own time. 
Massinger's characters, Hke Jonson's, are apt to be more typical 
embodiments of tendencies, less individuals whom one comes to 
know, than Shakespeare's; yet this play retains its interest and power 
of rousing emotion as well as its moral significance. The "Philas- 

«H. C, xlvi, 397ff. 'H. C, xlvii, 5435. 

« H. C. xlvu, 469ff. *«• C.. xlvii, 859ff. 

378 DRAMA 

ter" "" of Beaumont and Fletcher belongs to the same type of romantic 
drama as "The Tempest" — the type of play which belongs to Comedy 
by virtue of its happy ending, but contains incidents and passages in 
an all but tragic tone. Less convincing in characterization than 
Shakespeare, Beaumont and Fletcher yet amaze us by the brilliant 
effectiveness of individual scenes, and sprinkle their pages with 
speeches of poetry of great charm. 

The dramas of the Elizabethan period printed in The Harvard 
Classics serve to give a taste of the quality of this literature at its 
highest, but cannot, of course, show the surprising amount of it, 
or indicate the extreme literary-historical interest of its rise and de- 
velopment. Seldom in the history of the world has the spirit of a 
period found so adequate an expression in literature as the Eliza- 
bethan spirit did in the drama; seldom can we see so completely 
manifested the growth, maturity, and decline of a literary form. 
But beyond these historical considerations, we are drawn to the 
reading of Shakespeare and his contemporaries by the attracdon of 
their profound and sympathetic knowledge of mankind and its 
possibilities for suffering and joy, for sin and nobility, by the enter- 
tainment afforded by their dramatic skill in the presentation of their 
stories, and by the superb poetry that they lavished so profusely on 
their lines. 

"> H. C, xlvii, 667ff. 


By Professor Kuno Francke 

THE Faust legend is a conglomerate of anonymous popular 
traditions, largely of mediaeval origin, which in the latter 
part of the sixteenth century came to be associated with an 
actual individual of the name of Faustus whose notorious career 
during the first four decades of the century, as a pseudoscientific 
mountebank, juggler, and magician, can be traced through various 
parts of Germany. The "Faust Book" of 1587, the earliest collection 
of these tales, is of prevailingly theological character. It represents 
Faust as a sinner and reprobate, and it holds up his compact with 
Mephistopheles and his subsequent damnation as an example of 
human recklessness and as a warning to the faithful to cling to the 
orthodox means of Christian salvation. 


From this "Faust Book," that is, from its English translation, 
which appeared in 1588, Marlowe took his tragedy of "Dr. Faustus" ' 
(1589; published 1604). In Marlowe's drama Faust appears as a 
typical man of the Renaissance, as an explorer and adventurer, as a 
superman craving for extraordinary power, wealth, enjoyment, and 
worldly eminence. The finer emotions are hardly touched upon. 
Mephistopheles is the mediaeval devil, harsh and grim and fierce, 
bent on seduction, without any comprehension of human aspirations. 
Helen of Troy is a she-devil, and becomes the final means of Faust's 
destruction. Faust's career has hardly an element of true greatness. 
None of the many tricks, conjurings, and miracles, which Faust 
performs with Mephistopheles's help, has any relation to the deeper 
meaning of life. They are mostly mere pastimes and vanity. From 
the compact on to the end hardly anything happens which brings 
Faust inwardly nearer either to heaven or hell. But there is a sturdi- 

' Harvard Classics, xix, 205. 

380 DRAMA 

ness of character and stirring intensity of action, with a happy ad- 
mixture of buffoonery, through it all. And we feel something of the 
pathos and paradox of human passions in the fearful agony of 
Faust's final doom. 


The German popular Faust drama of the seventeenth century, 
and its outgrowth, the puppet plays, are a reflex both of Marlowe's 
tragedy and the "Faust Book" of 1587, although they contain a 
number of original scenes, notably the Council of the Devils at the 
beginning. Here again, the underlying sentiment is the abhorrence 
of human recklessness and extravagance. In some of these plays the 
vanity of bold ambition is brought out with particular emphasis 
through the contrast between the daring and dissatisfied Faust and 
his farcical counterpart, the jolly and contented Casperle. 

In the last scene, while Faust in despair and contrition is waiting 
for the sound of the midnight bell which is to be the signal of his 
destruction, Casperle, as night watchman, patrols the streets of the 
town calling out the hours and singing the traditional verses of 
admonition to quiet and orderly conduct. 

To the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, then, Faust appeared 
as a criminal who sins against the eternal laws of life, as a rebel 
against holiness who ruins his better self and finally receives the 
merited reward of his misdeeds. He could not appear thus to the 
eighteenth century. The eighteenth century is the age of Rationalism 
and of Romanticism. The eighteenth century glorifies human reason 
and human feeling. The rights of man and the dignity of man are 
its principal watchwords. Such an age was bound to see in Faust a 
representative of true humanity, a champion of freedom, nature, 
truth. Such an age was bound to see in Faust a symbol of human 
striving for completeness of life. 


It is Lessing who has given to the Faust Legend this turn. His 
"Faust," unfortunately consisting only of a few fragmentary sketches, 
is a defense of RationaUsm. The most important of these fragments, 
preserved to us in copies by some friends of Lessing's, is the prelude, 

DRAMA 381 

a council of devils. Satan is receiving reports from his subordinates 
as to what they have done to bring harm to the realm of God. The 
first devil who speaks has set the hut of some pious poor on fire; 
the second has buried a fleet of usurers in the waves. Both excite 
Satan's disgust. "For," he says, "to make the pious poor still poorer 
means only to chain him all the more firmly to God"; and the 
usurers, if, instead of being buried in the waves, they had been 
allowed to reach the goal of their voyage, would have wrought new 
evil on distant shores. 

Much more satisfied is Satan with the report of a third devil, who 
has stolen the first kiss from a young, innocent girl and thereby 
breathed the flame of desire into her veins; for he has worked evil 
in the world of spirit, and that means much more and is a much 
greater triumph for hell than to work evil in the world of bodies. 
But it is the fourth devil to whom Satan gives the prize. He has 
not done anything as yet. He has only a plan, but a plan which, 
if carried out, would put the deeds of all the other devils into the 
shade — the plan "to snatch from God his favorite." This favorite 
of God is Faust, "a solitary, brooding youth, renouncing all passion 
except the passion for truth, entirely living in truth, entirely absorbed 
in it." To snatch him from God — that would be a victory over 
which the whole realm of night would rejoice. Satan is enchanted; 
the war against truth is his element. Yes, Faust must be seduced, 
he must be destroyed. And he shall be destroyed through his very 
aspiration. "Didst thou not say he has desire for knowledge? That 
is enough for perdition!" His striving for truth is to lead him into 
darkness. With such exclamations the devils break up, to set about 
their work of seduction; but, as they are breaking up, there is heard 
from above a divine voice : "Ye shall not conquer." 

goethe's earlier and later treatments 

It cannot be denied that Goethe's earliest Faust conception, the 
so-called "Urfaust" of 1773 and 1774, lacks the wide sweep of thought 
that characterizes these fragments of Lessing's drama. His Faust of 
the Storm and Stress period is essentially a Romanticist. He is a 
dreamer, craving for a sight of the divine, longing to fathom the 
inner working of nature, drunk with the mysteries of the universe. 

382 DRAMA 

But he is also an unruly individualist, a reckless despiser o£ accepted 
morality; and it is hard to see how his relation with Gretchen, which 
forms by far the largest part of the "Urfaust," can lead to anything 
but a tragic catastrophe. Only Goethe's second Faust ^ conception, 
which sets in with the end of the nineties of the eighteenth century, 
opens up a clear view of the heights of life. 

Goethe was now in the full maturity of his powers, a man widely 
separated from the impetuous youth of the seventies whose Prome- 
thean emotions had burst forth with volcanic passion. He had mean- 
while become a statesman and philosopher. He had come to know 
in the court of Weimar a model of paternal government, conservative 
yet liberally inclined, and friendly to all higher culture. He had found 
in his truly spiritual relation to Frau von Stein a safe harbor for his 
tempestuous feelings. He had been brought face to face, during his 
sojourn in Italy, with the wonders of classic art. The study of Spinoza 
and his own scientific investigations had confirmed him in a thor- 
oughly monistic view of the world and strengthened his belief in a 
universal law which makes evil itself an integral part of the good. 
The example of Schiller as well as his own practical experience had 
taught him that the untrammeled living out of personality must go 
hand in hand with incessant work for the common welfare of man- 
kind. All this is reflected in the completed Part First of 1808; it 
finds its most comprehensive expression in Part Second, the bequest 
of the dying poet to posterity. 

Restless endeavor, incessant striving from lower spheres of life 
to higher ones, from the sensuous to the spiritual, from enjoyment 
to work, from creed to deed, from self to humanity — this is the 
moving thought of Goethe's completed "Faust." The keynote is 
struck in the "Prologue in Heaven." Faust, so we hear, the daring 
idealist, the servant of God, is to be tempted by Mephisto, the 
despiser of reason, the materialistic scoffer. But we also hear, and 
we hear it from God's own lips, that the tempter will not succeed, 
God allows the devil free play, because he knows that he will 
frustrate his own ends. Faust will be led astray — "man errs while 
he strives"; but he will not abandon his higher aspirations; through 
aberration and sin he will find the true way toward which his inner 

2H. C, xix, 9ff. 

DRAMA 383 

nature instinctively guides him. He will not eat dust. Even in the 
compact with Mephisto the same ineradicable optimism asserts itself. 
Faust's wager with the devil is nothing but an act of temporary 
despair, and the very fact that he does not hope anything from it 
shows that he will win it. He knows that sensual enjoyment will 
never give him satisfaction; he knows that, as long as he gives him- 
self up to self-gratification, there will never be a moment to which 
he would say: "Abide, thou art so fair!" From the outset we feel that 
by living up to the very terms of the compact, Faust will rise superior 
to it; that by rushing into the whirlpool of earthly experience and 
passion his being will be heightened and expanded. 

And thus everything in the whole drama, all its incidents and all 
its characters, become episodes in the rounding out of this grand, 
all-comprehensive personality. Gretchen and Helena, Wagner and 
Mephisto, Homunculus and Euphorion, the Emperor's court and 
the shades of the Greek past, the broodings of medieval mysticism 
and the practical tasks of modern industrialism, the enlightened 
despotism of the eighteenth century and the ideal democracy of the 
future — all this and a great deal more enters into Faust's being and is 
absorbed by him. He strides on from experience to experience, from 
task to task, expiating guilt by doing, losing himself, and finding 
himself again. Blinded in old age by Dame Care, he feels a new 
light kindled within. Dying, he gazes into a far future. And even 
in the heavenly regions he goes on ever changing into new and 
higher and finer forms. It is this irrepressible spirit of striving 
which makes Goethe's "Faust" the Bible of modern humanity.' 

' For further critical comments on Goethe, see General Index, H. C, I. 


By Dr. Ernest Bernbaum 

THE modern English drama is represented in The Harvard 
Classics by two comedies of the eighteenth century and by 
four tragedies of the seventeenth and the nineteenth. Since 
literary fashions change from age to age, and since the authors of 
these plays were, even when contemporaries, men of markedly differ- 
ent tastes, it is natural that the six dramas should be more or less 
conspicuously dissimilar. Each is great because it follows an ideal; 
each is great in a different way because its ideal is not that of the 
others. Which of these ideals is absolutely the best, is a question 
that critics have much debated, sometimes acrimoniously: Dryden 
has been pitted against Shakespeare, Goldsmith against Sheridan, 
Shelley against Browning, and so on. Interesting as such contentions 
may be, they tend to obscure rather than enlighten the mind of him 
who approaches these plays simply with the desire to enjoy each to 
the full. To him comparisons are odious because, instead of leading 
him to appreciate many plays of many kinds, they may confine his 
enjoyment to those of one school. Yet, though he may set aside the 
vexatious question of the relative worth of the purposes that inspired 
these dramatists, he will not gain the greatest possible delight from 
them until he understands what each of them was trying to do. 


Genial Goldsmith' delighted in the kind of humo.- that is char- 
acteristic of "the plain people" and that is spontaneously enjoyed by 
them. The accidental predicaments into which all of us stumble, 
to our embarrassment and the amusement of bystanders; the blunders 
of well-meaning but untrained servants; the practical jokes, without 
malice, that ever delight youth; the shy awkwardness of lovers; even 
the clownish tavern jest and joviality; these are in Goldsmith's 
• Harvard Classics, xviii, 205. 

DRAMA 385 

merry eyes sources of wholesome laughter. It troubles him not that 
Young Marlow continues to believe a country house an inn, and 
the host's daughter a maidservant, nor that Mrs. Hardcastle mis- 
takes her own garden for a distant heath; he ignores the improb- 
ability of such situations as arouse instinctive laughter. It is the un- 
sophisticated human beings who blunder in and out of these straits 
that he wishes to depict; and he draws simple folk like Mr. and 
Mrs. Hardcastle, Tony Lumpkin, and Diggory, with extraordinary 
zest, fidelity, and kindly yet shrewd humor. 


Sheridan, the statesman, orator, and wit, wrote of the fashionable 
world, and for it. In conformity with its conventional existence, 
and its taste for regularity, he admitted no improbabilities into the 
plot of "The School for Scandal." ^ As men and women of fashion 
tried to be elegant, witty, or epigrammatic in speech, he aimed to 
bestow like graces upon the dialogue of his personages — to make 
Joseph Surface sententious, Charles sprightly. Lady Teazle invincible 
in repartee. To a society that was too fastidious to be entertained 
by naive simplicity, rude manners, and boisterous merriment, 
Sheridan wanted to reveal the comic aspects of its usual life. He 
laughed at the scandal mongers who, after tearing others' reputa- 
tions to tatters, departed without a shred of their own, at the foolish 
though innocent young wife who was fascinated by the perilous 
pleasures of a fast set, and at the affected young hypocrite whose 
devious schemes undid him. He was not without kindliness of 
heart, as the humor of the final scene between Sir Peter and Lady 
Teazle shows; but satire was his aim. 


Like most tragedies, Dryden's "All for Love," ' shows the pitiable 
outcome of a struggle between good and evil. Among the innumer- 
able manifestations of this eternal strife there are some which attract 
by their singularity, but these were not of interest to Dryden. To 
him the really important tragic conflicts were those which are 
frequent in human life, such as that between duty and passion. He 
* H. C. xviii, 109. 3 f/_ c., xviii, 23. 

386 DRAMA 

chose the theme of Antony and Cleopatra, not because it was new 
or extraordinary, but because it was a noble illustration of a normal 
dilemma of human existence. He knew of course that the defeat in 
the decisive battle of Actium of the last kingdom of the Grecian 
empire by triumphant Rome was epoch making,^ and offered superb 
opportunities for historical and scenic contrasts; but he did not 
wish to write a "world drama." When he raises the curtain, Actium 
has already been fought and the destiny of nations decided; what 
remains is the personal fate of Antony and of Cleopatra, the former 
vainly though nobly endeavoring to reanimate his former manhood 
and loyalty, the latter trying amid the wreck to save her domination 
over him, and each tortured by lack of true faith in the other. Their 
emotions in the brief final crisis of their lives Dryden sought to trace 
with clearness and truth to nature, and to express with majestic 


When Shelley in his preface to "The Cenci" ^ speaks of "teaching 
the human heart, through its sympathies and antipathies, the knowl- 
edge of itself," he expresses intentions not widely different from 
those of all dramatists, including Dryden; but when he mentions 
his desire to "make apparent some of the most dark and secret 
caverns of the human heart," he indicates his own predilection. 
This he followed in choosing as his subject a "dark and secret" 
crime, the situation into which the monstrous Cenci forces Beatrice 
being unspeakable and abnormal. As suitable backgrounds, Shelley 
selects a sinister banquet, a gloomy castle at night, and a prison with 
instruments of torture. Yet he wishes not to fix attention upon 
physical horrors, but to use them to call forth in his characters 
extreme revelations of vice and virtue. He feels that only under 
such dread circumstances can the deepest potentialities of human 
nature be displayed. The very extremity of Beatrice's plight lays bare 
the core of her womanhood, revealing to the full the sensitiveness of 
chastity and the courage of innocence. 

* "Lectures on Dr. Eliot's Five-Foot Shelf of Books," History, p. 7. 
' H. C, xviii, 281. 

DRAMA 387 


Byron, like Shelley, sought what lay beyond the commonplace, 
but found it in another aspect of life. His "Manfred" ° succumbs not 
to man or society, but in a solitary struggle with the mysteries of 
Nature. From her he has wrested secrets, her forces he has learned 
to command; but his proud knowledge and power have been gained 
by stifling the social feelings of humanity, and his life is now a 
penitent search for oblivion, in which science, philosophy, and 
religion can give him no consolation. "I was," he laments, "my 
own destroyer, and will be my own Hereafter!" Byron's tempera- 
ment enabled him to fathom a lonely soul like Manfred's, and urged 
him to express its passions with fiery vigor. The subject offered 
almost insuperable obstacles to dramatic treatment, since most of 
the forces that acted upon Manfred were either abstractions or 
inanimate objects. Byron, however, felt, and used all the energy of 
his imagination to make us feel, that these physical phenomena and 
laws were not vague or dead things, but that earth and air, moun- 
tains and cataracts, were to the distracted wanderer real personalities, 
and exercised upon him an influence more intimate than that of 
any fellow man. 


With Browning's "A Blot in the 'Scutcheon" ' we return to the 
kind of tragedy that arises amid normal conditions of life. Yet 
here again a peculiar aspect of the tragic is emphasized. Both 
Dryden's Antony and Shelley's Cenci know clearly that they are 
committing wrong. Browning perceived that there are tragic cases 
in which a character acts in accordance with his highest moral 
standard, and comes too late to realize that his standard is false or 
inapplicable. The personages in "A Blot in the 'Scutcheon" are of 
admirable nobility, and among them Thorold is not the least 
scrupulously conscientious, but the code of honor which he loyally 
obeys becomes an instrument of fatal cruelty. The very intensity 
with which he looks up to a splendid ideal blinds his judgment 
regarding the apparent dishonor of his beloved sister, so that he 

*H. C, xviii, 407. '' H. C, xviii, 359. 

388 DRAMA 

fails to see "through the surface of crime a depth of purity unmov- 
able." It is thus a subtle as well as a natural course of events that 
Browning aims to trace, and only a rich and pregnant style could 
express the complex thoughts and feelings of so highly cultivated 
and exquisitely sensitive beings as his Thorold, Mildred, and Guen- 

The reader of these six dramas who understands their main pur- 
poses will surely admire the conscientious manner in which those 
aims are carried out. He will perceive that the plot, characterization, 
and dialogue of each are designed with remarkable skill to conform 
to its dominant ideal. In fact, the chief reason why these plays are 
among the very, very few dramatic masterpieces of their time is 
that their authors clearly knew what they wanted to do, and came 
about as near to doing it as human limitations permit. The different 
means they had to employ interestingly exhibit the varieties of 
dramatic technique; and the diverse views of human life that they 
held serve to enlarge the bounds of our sympathy with many sorts 
and conditions of men. 


By Professor R. B. Dixon 

For to admire and for to see, 
For to behold this world so wide. 

IT IS probable that from the very earliest times the spirit o£ these 
familiar lines has been a potent factor in human history. One 
might be led, because of the marked development of curiosity 
in monkeys and apes, to suppose that, even before the complete de- 
velopment of the human type had been attained, our precursors were 
tempted to explore beyond their customary haunts. Be that as it 
may, it seems certain that the first spread of the human race over 
the face of the globe must have been preceded by more or less con- 
scious exploration and travel. As population grew and began to 
press upon the food supply and available hunting grounds, and the 
need for expansion and emigration was recognized, the relative 
availability and attractiveness of the country in different directions 
must have been investigated, and movement have taken place toward 
the most favorable. This would, of course, not hold true where 
movement was due to war or the pressure of conquest, but much of 
this earliest movement of peoples must have been largely voluntary. 
Travel has thus in these primitive scouts and explorers its earliest 
exponents, and the history of travel is seen to be as old as the race, 


This primitive travel was moreover in the truest sense exploration, 
for these travelers were the first to penetrate into lands wholly un- 
known and previously untrodden by the feet of man. Once the 
greater part of the world was overrun, however, the need for travel 
was by no means at an end. Intensive exploration in the search for 
the best hunting grounds and fishing places, or, with the advent of 



agriculture, for suitable and fertile soils, must have continued for 
generations. During the long period in which human civilization 
has been developing it is clear, moreover, that in the shifting of 
populations, which has constantly been going on, the same areas 
have thus been explored again and again, now by this people, now 
by that. Of these countless travels and travelers, little definite trace 
of course remains, and it is only with the beginning of the historic 
period that records of travel become available. 

Although of this prehistoric travel we can find no accounts, yet 
we can gain some idea of its character from observation of the 
savage and barbarous peoples of the world to-day. Now, as then 
probably, there are sedentary, stay-at-home peoples, contented to 
live and die within a narrow horizon, people whose individual radius 
of travel may in a whole lifetime not exceed a score of miles, and 
whom neither commerce nor conquest can tempt beyond their own 
small sphere. Now, as then, there are other peoples in whom the 
spirit of travel is strong, in whom is a great restlessness, an inborn 
tendency to wander in quest of food or trade or conquest. The 
radius of travel of a single individual in such a tribe may, as for 
example in the case of certain Eskimos, reach as much as a thousand 
miles. But such extensive wanderings are, on the whole, rare among 
savage peoples, and we may well admire the courage and skill of 
those old Polynesian travelers who, according to tradition, dared in 
their small canoes to push their search for new lands far to the 
south beyond their sunny seas, until they reached the fogs and 
drift ice of the Antarctic. 


Leaving this period of early and unrecorded travel, however, and 
turning to historic times, two facts force themselves upon our 
attention, first, that the volume of travel has apparently been con- 
stantly increasing, and, second, that the motives which induce men 
to travel are of many kinds; that there are indeed many sorts of 

First by right comes the true explorer, for whom travel is not a 
means, but an end in itself. For others religion, commerce, science, 
may be the goal, the "long trail," with all its beauties, its hardships, 


and its dangers, mere incidents along the way. Not so for the true 
explorer. Impelled by an inborn curiosity, an intense craving to 
see new lands, new peoples, and driven by an incurable restlessness 
of spirit, he penetrates to the remotest corners o£ the earth, braving 
every danger, surmounting every difHcuIty, and asks but little of 
the world in the way of tangible returns. For him the life of the 
trail, the triumph over obstacles, the thrill of danger, are things in 
themselves desirable and beyond price; his reward lies not in the 
attainment, but in the quest. There may be few indeed for whom 
no other motives enter, but it is nevertheless true that for most 
great travelers, however much they may deceive themselves into 
thinking that they follow other and, as they beUeve, higher calls, it 
is the master motive. 


A different force, but one which has at all times been effective, 
is that of war or conquest. To the explorer enrichment of ex- 
perience, not increase of possessions, is the aim; he does not care 
to whom the world belongs if only he may be free to travel therein. 
The conqueror, however, demands possession, and the lust for it 
and for revenge has, in the case of savage and civilized alike, led 
men into distant lands and among strange people. From the Iroquois 
who, sometimes alone, sometimes in company with a handful of 
others, went from the Hudson a thousand miles westward to the 
Mississippi to strike a blow at the hated Sioux, to Attila and the 
other leaders of those hordes which poured their thousands into 
medieval Europe from the farthest East; from Alexander and his 
conquest of most of the old world to Cortez and Pizarro and their 
conquest of much of the new, in varying degree and at different 
times war has made of the conqueror a traveler. To such as these 
it is not the beauty but the wealth of a country that makes it desirable, 
and interest in its people lies more in their exploitation than in any 
other field. 


Another very potent incentive to travel has been religion. From 
its influence have developed the pilgrim and the missionary, types 


which have furnished some of the greatest travelers of historic times. 
Pilgrims, led by the desire to visit the holy places of their faith, often 
undertake journeys of great length and difficulty. Singly or in com- 
panies they traverse their hundreds or thousands of miles, their eyes 
fixed always on the distant goal, and too absorbed in anticipation 
of the things to be to take notice of the things about them as they 
go. Treading the same paths which generations before them have 
trod, whose ups and downs, whose hardships and dangers have 
become a matter of tradition, they follow like sheep in each other's 
footsteps. So they have journeyed and still journey in their thousands, 
century after century; in early times from China and other parts 
of Asia to the sacred places of India; from the uttermost parts of 
Europe to Jerusalem in the Middle Ages; from every corner of the 
Mohammedan world to Mecca to-day. Each and all are seeking 
for salvation, for all the reward is of the spirit; we may not blame 
them, therefore, that they do not heed the world through which 
they pass. 

In one sense pilgrim travel may be said to be centripetal, in that 
it draws the traveler by known roads to some great center of his 
faith; missionary travel on the other hand may be said to be cen- 
trifugal, in that it leads away from these centers, by untraveled paths 
into the unknown. Thus the missionary, far more than the pilgrim, 
has been an explorer; and whether it be the early Buddhist monks 
who brought their faith from India to much of eastern and south- 
eastern Asia; or Christians who have preached their doctrines in 
every clime; or fierce followers of the Prophet, who with the sword 
in one hand and the Koran in the other carried Islam alike to Spain 
and the Spice Islands of the East — all alike have journeyed far and 
faithfully, led always by the fire of their zeal. They had no fore- 
knowledge of what they might expect, for them new vistas opened 
as they went; Mohammedans excepted, their lives were spent, their 
journeys were made, not for their own but for others' sake; and 
their interest or pity was aroused in no small degree in the strange 
peoples whose souls they went to save. It is not surprising, therefore, 
that they should show a keener interest in what they saw, or that 
they should have left far more of record than the pilgrim has. 



Great as has been the influence of conquest and reUgion upon 
travel, a greater impulse and one leading to even wider results has 
been that of trade and commerce. In earlier times in search of foreign 
commodities and products, in modern days of new markets to which 
to export the products of home manufacture, men have penetrated 
to the ends of the earth, and to this commercial impulse is attributable 
most of the great travels and explorations from the thirteenth century 
to the beginning of modern scientific exploration at the end of the 
eighteenth. To the merchant traveler, even more than to the mis- 
sionary, observation of the country and its products, its peoples and 
their needs, is important. The easiest and safest roads by which 
his merchandise may be transported, new materials, new sources, 
new markets, are the basis of his success; and the character and 
customs of the people are of vital import in the prosecution of his 
work. A new and shorter road gives him an advantage over his com- 
petitors, and it was this search for new ways to reach the Indies which 
led to the greatest fifty years in the whole history of travel — a period 
in which the area of the world as known to civilized Europe was far 
more than doubled.' 


Although purely scientific curiosity became an important element 
of travel only toward the end of the eighteenth century, there were 
in earlier times a few for whom this was a great incentive. To seek 
for knowledge for its own sake, to be fired with the desire to extend, 
if only by a little, the limits of the known, is not wholly a modern 
trait; but before this could be in large measure an important factor, 
the extraordinary widening and development of scientific interest 
characteristic of the last century and a half was necessary. Each has, 
however, contributed to the advance of the other, and the vast 
additions to knowledge gained by scientific exploration have in large 
degree provided the materials from which the present structure of 

'See Harvard Classics, xliii, 21, 28, 45; xxxiii, 129, 199, 229, 263, 311; and the 
lecture below on "The Elizabethan Adventurers." 


science has been built. As once for religion, so now for science men 
plunge into the unknown; now as then they strive, not for them- 
selves, but for an ideal. 

Travel is then, as we have seen, as old as the human race, and of 
travelers there are and have been many kinds, according to the 
motives which induced them to fare forth. The records of these 
many travelers form a body of literature whose interest is undying, 
for besides the facts which they have gathered, and the additions to 
our knowledge which they have made, they give us often a clear 
and vivid picture of the character of the travelers themselves, their 
courage in the face of danger, their patience in overcoming every 
kind of obstacle; and heroism and self-sacrifice of the truest and 
highest types have been exemplified again and again in their lives. 
Of all these many travelers but a part have left a record, and, as 
might be expected, the earlier have left far less than those of later 
times. From the historical point of view, the records fall into several 
fairly definite groups or periods, each differing from the other not 
only in time, but also to a considerable extent in the character of the 
motive which was dominant. 


The first or early period may be said to begin about the fifth cen- 
tury B. C. with Herodotus,^ who in his travels in Egypt, Babylonia, 
and Persia gives us our first accurate accounts of those countries, 
and seems to be one of the earliest of scientific travelers. He traveled 
widely, gathered information assiduously both as to the actual con- 
dition and the history of the countries he visited, and seems to have 
been an accurate and painstaking observer. The bold explorations 
of the Carthaginian Hanno, at about this same time, along the west 
coast of Africa possibly as far as the Gulf of Guinea, were designed 
to extend the growing commerce of this great mercantile people, 
and show how, even at this early date, trade was one of the most 
potent incentives to travel. It is perhaps of interest to note that on 
this expedition gorillas were seen apparently for the first time, being 
described as hairy men of great ferocity and strength. Several of 
them were captured, and Hanno attempted to carry them back to 
^ H. C, xxxiii, ^R•, and lecture on "Herodotus on Egypt," below. 


Carthage alive, but was forced to kill them because of their violence, 
and so brought back only their skins. A century or so later, the 
expedition of Alexander, while primarily actuated by the desire for 
conquest, was also in part exploratory, and resulted not only in 
bringing back the earliest authentic accounts of India, but demon- 
strated the feasibility of reaching that country by sea. With the rise 
of the Roman Empire, this early period came to an end, and from 
then on until the fourth or fifth century is a time of relative 
quiescence, during which the attention of the Mediterranean world 
was devoted to the intensive occupation of the world as already 
known, rather than to exploration beyond those limits. 


With the fourth century, however, the second period begins and 
lasts for some seven or eight hundred years. Perhaps the most char- 
acteristic feature of travel during this time was the prominence of 
the religious motive, for the travelers were largely pilgrims and 
missionaries, or, toward the latter end, those who, making religion 
their war cry, journeyed as Crusaders to wrest Jerusalem from the 
Saracen. The pilgrim, as already pointed out, was, although a 
traveler, usually an unobservant one; his interest was centered in 
his goal and in the spiritual benefits which were to accrue from his 
long and perilous journey, so that for the incidents of the day he 
had little care. To a large extent, also, the pilgrims were humble 
folk, illiterate, unlearned, and so left as a rule no records of what 
they saw. There were, of course, exceptions, and many persons of 
high rank as well as some scholarly attainment were to be found 
among the throngs who from all parts of Europe made the 
journey to Palestine. Not all the pilgrims, it should be noted, were 
men, for both during the early as well as the later portions of the 
period many women performed the arduous trip.' Such, for example, 
was Sylvia of Aquitaine, apparently a woman of rank, who about 
380 not only visited Jerusalem and the usual sacred places, but went 
on into parts of Arabia and Mesopotamia, and has left brief but 
interesting accounts of her years of travel. She may thus be con- 

' Cf. The Wife of Bath in Chaucer's Prologue to "The Canterbury Tales," H. C, 
xl. 24. 


sidered one of the first great woman travelers. In the seventh and 
eighth centuries the volume of pilgrim travel seems to have increased, 
or at least we have more abundant records of it; and in the accounts 
left by Willibald, a man of rank apparently from Kent, we have one 
of the earliest stories of English travel. This pilgrim gives us an 
interesting incident of his return journey from Palestine. It seems 
that he wished to bring back with him to England a supply of a 
certain balsam, but feared that this would be taken from him by 
the customs officials whose duty it was to see that none of this 
precious substance left the country. Accordingly he devised an 
ingenious smuggling scheme. Taking a reed which was of a size 
such that it exactly fitted the mouth of the calabash in which the 
balsam was contained, he plugged up one end and filled the tube 
thus formed with petroleum. This he carefully inserted into the 
opening, cutting off the end flush with the mouth of the calabash 
and inserting a stopper. On arriving at Acre the customs officials 
searched his luggage, found the calabash and opened it, but seeing 
and smelling only the petroleum, suspected nothing and allowed 
him to pass. From this it is clear that travelers of old as well as 
modern times were more or less at the mercy of customs regulations, 
and that then as now they took such means as they could to evade 
the laws. 

Although in Europe the records of pilgrim travel are not only 
meager but generally disappointing in their brevity and lack of de- 
tail, conditions were somewhat different in far-away China. There, 
although the number of pilgrims was much smaller, the records 
which they left were of much greater value. The names of two of 
the Chinese pilgrims stand out as of particular importance, those 
namely of Fa Hian and of Hiuen Thsang. Journeying to India 
from northern China to visit the places made holy by the life and 
death of Gautama, the Buddha, and to consult and copy some of 
the sacred writings, they have left us records which are not only 
of the greatest interest as stories of travel, but which are of quite 
inestimable value as giving practically the only information to be had 
in regard to the condition of India and the life of its people at this 
time. Both pilgrims journeyed to India by way of Turkestan and 
across the Pamirs, and the former returned, after nearly fifteen years 


of travel, from Ceylon by sea to his home. Both give very full and 
detailed accounts of all that they saw and heard, and both showf far 
more than the European travelers of the time an appreciation of the 
beauties of the scenery through which they passed. That travelers 
then as now, and of other races as well as our own, felt at times their 
loneliness and yearned to return, is shown by an incident related 
by Fa Hian. He had then been absent from his home living among 
strange people in strange lands for nearly fifteen years, when one 
day in Ceylon he saw in the hands of a merchant a small Chinese 
fan of white silk which had found its way thither. The sight of this, 
he says, brought back to him so keenly thoughts of his home that he 
was able to endure his exile no longer, so soon after set out on his 
return journey, and after many perils by the way ultimately reached 
his native place. 

The poverty of record which characterizes the pilgrim travel of 
Europe at this time is even more marked in the case of those who 
were led by missionary zeal. The two directions in which mis- 
sionary enterprise seems to have been most marked at this period 
were south to Abyssinia, and east to China and India. Of the former 
we have but the slightest record, of the latter practically none at all. 
That missionary activity was great throughout India, Central Asia, 
and China, however, we know from various sources. The Nestorian 
missions which were thus founded between the seventh and the 
ninth centuries are known to have been abundant, and the mis- 
sionaries must have been great travelers for they seem to have 
penetrated throughout much of China and widely along the Indian 
coasts, but of records they left nothing. Indeed their names are 
not even known for the most part, although two, Olopan and Kiho, 
are given in the Chinese annals. Curiously enough, it is at the 
opposite end of the world that the other missionary travelers of the 
time are found, namely in Ireland. Here there are a few accounts of 
explorations northward to the Faroes and Iceland during the eighth 
century, but little information of value was recorded. 


Another and very important group of travelers during this period 
were the Arabs. With the rise of Mohammedanism in the seventh 


century a strong impulse, in part due to missionary fervor, in part 
to a desire for conquest, was given to Arab travel. For some time 
previous to the Hegira, merchants and others from Arabia had 
visited Ceylon, India, and the African coast, but with the rapid 
spread of Islam this trade was greatly stimulated, as the militant 
forces of the faith carried the banner of the Prophet with un- 
exampled rapidity not only to Central Asia, China, and the east 
African shores, but into western Europe as well. The missionary 
conquerors themselves have left little in the way of record of their 
journeys, but the traders and travelers who followed in their wake 
have. We have thus a case in which the religious impulse, combined 
with that of conquest, impelled many to travel, and also prepared 
the way for a host of others whose journeyings would not have been 
made had not the former paved the way. Perhaps the best known 
of these early Arab travelers are Soleyman and Masoudi; the first 
a merchant who in the course of his business journeyed as far as the 
Chinese coast; the second more a geographer-traveler, who not 
only visited and described the Far East, but also the African coasts 
as well. Both, and particularly the latter, have left voluminous 
records of their travels, and give us many interesting glimpses into 
the life and conditions of their day. In many ways of greater 
interest were the numerous less known travelers, for on some of 
their accounts, now in part lost, the familiar voyages of Sindbad the 
Sailor* in the collection known to us as the Arabian Nights were 
based. It is possible to identify with a fair degree of accuracy 
many of the places referred to in those well-known exploits; India, 
Ceylon, Madagascar, and China are all among the localities visited 
by that redoubtable sailor; his accounts of the gathering of camphor 
represent the actual process as employed in the Indian Archipelago; 
and without much doubt the famous Old Man of the Sea refers to 
the orang-utan of Sumatra and the adjacent regions. Not only did 
the Arabs themselves thus become great travelers, but they also 
supplied the means by which in large measure the great development 
of travel in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries was made possible. 
From their contact with the Chinese the Arabs learned the use of 
the compass, and from them it passed to the sailors of the Medi- 
*H. C, xvi, 231-294. 


terranean, thus bringing to European navigators one of the means 
which enabled them to prosecute those long sea voyages, resulting 
among other things in the discovery of the New World. 


Although religion and religious motives were thus directly or 
indirectly the dominant features of the travel of this period, they 
were not the only ones, and if the spirit of exploration was almost 
dormant in the lands about the Mediterranean, it was very much 
alive in northern Europe. Beginning at first in piratical raids to the 
southward along the rich coasts of France and Spain, the Vikings, 
the "men of the fiords," after a time turned their attention westward, 
and in the spirit of true discovery pushed out into the unknown 
Atlantic. Here they first reached Iceland, then Greenland, and at 
last in the eleventh century the northern shores of America. In the 
sagas the records of many of these voyages are preserved, and in the 
Saga of Eric the Red* we have the first account, albeit a meager 
one, of the New World. 

Following close upon this activity of the Norsemen in the north 
of Europe there begins a new period, in which there is a great revival 
of interest in travel among the nations farther south. This was in 
part a continuation of the religious travel of the previous period, 
now transformed into the militancy of the Crusaders; in part due 
to political events occurring far away in China; and in part to a 
great and rapid development of trade. So far as the Crusaders are 
concerned they may be considered largely as military pilgrims who 
sought to drive the Moslem conqueror from the holy places of 
their faith. Like the peaceful pilgrims of an earlier age, they were 
inflamed by a great purpose which kept their eyes and thoughts 
upon their goal. They have left, it is true, considerable in the way 
of record, but as travelers their importance falls far behind others 
of a different type. 


One of the most important, perhaps the most important, event of 
the thirteenth century was the sudden rise of the great Mongol 

^H. C. xliii, 5. 


power in eastern Asia under Genghiz Khan. Once secure in the 
East, the Mongols turned their attention toward the West, swept 
through all Central Asia, and invaded Europe. Although they were 
repulsed at the battle of Liegnitz in 1241, Europe feared for the 
future, and accordingly a diplomatic mission was sent by the Pope 
to the capital of the Great Khan. Of these ambassadors the most 
important was the Franciscan, John of Piano Carpini. Two years 
were occupied by him on his mission, and he returned with a glow- 
ing account of the countries and peoples he had seen. Others fol- 
lowed, part diplomat, part missionary, such as Rubruquis, and as a 
result Europe for the first time began to realize the greatness and 
the wealth of this kingdom of Cathay. Merchants and traders were 
not slow to respond, and as Venice was then the leader in the 
eastern trade, it was not unnatural that her merchants should attempt 
to make use of the route to this rich market made known by the 
papal envoys. It was under these circumstances, then, that Marco 
Polo began his famous travels toward the end of the century. 

For twenty years he was absent from his home, traveling during 
this time through most of Central Asia, China, and Tibet, and 
voyaging to Java and India from the China coasts, in large part as 
an appointed official of the Mongol Empire, which at this time 
under Kublai Khan was the greatest the world had ever seen. Re- 
turning at last to Europe, he fell into prison, and his wonderful story 
was only saved to the world by the interest of one of his fellow 
prisoners, who wrote it down from his lips. Polo's account is on the 
whole remarkably accurate, but as much cannot be said for some of 
the other travelers, merchants, or others of the time. Many showed 
great credulity in reporting all sorts of marvelous things, and on 
some of these accounts the famous but wholly mythical travels of 
Sir John Mandeville were based. This, in its day, most popular 
book seems to have been written by an obscure physician of Liege 
who, so far as is known, never left his native town. Thus the 
fabrication of travels is not by any means a wholly modern accom- 
plishment. Great as were the achievements as travelers of Polo 
and other Europeans, their records are equaled or even surpassed by 
some of the Arabs who still showed until the fifteenth century great 
activity in this field. The greatest of these and of all Arab travelers 


was Ibn Batuta, a physician of Tangier. For twenty-five years he 
traveled uninterruptedly, visiting not only every part of the East 
and the Indian Archipelago, but the steppes of southern Russia, the 
east African coast as far as the equator, and crossed the Sahara to 
Timbuktu and the valley of the Niger on the west. 


With the fifteenth century a sudden impetus was given to travel 
by the recently greatly developed trade with the Indies. The intro- 
duction of the compass had greatly stimulated sea travel, and the 
closing of the overland routes to the East, due to political conditions 
of the time, forced Europe to seek for new routes by sea. From 
Portugal first, under the influence of Prince Henry the Navigator, 
there sailed a long series of travelers and explorers who sought a 
way around Africa to the Indies. Little by little they edged their 
way south along the western coast, until, six years before Columbus^ 
started on his great voyage, Diaz discovered and rounded the Cape 
of Good Hope, and eleven years later was followed by Vasco de 
Gama who, passing around the Cape, continued on to India. Three 
years later, Cabral, bound for the same goal but steering too far to 
the west, reached the Brazilian coast and established the claim of 
Portugal to a great section of the southern New World. 

While Portugal thus can claim for her travelers the discovery of 
most of southern Africa, to Spain falls the greater honor of the 
unveiling of the New World. The discoveries of the great Genoese 
were the signal for a host of other explorers to follow, such as 
Vespucci,^ who, sailing first for Spain, discovered Venezuela, and 
later for Portugal, explored the South American coast as far as the 
La Plata. The goal of all these travelers was the Indies and the 
discovery of a trade route thither, but it was not until the second 
decade of the sixteenth century that Magellan, another Portuguese, 
although sailing in the service of the Spanish king, at last succeeded 
in the quest. Far to the south he found a passage through the wall 
that had stood between Europe and the tempting markets of the 
East, and, first to cross the great Pacific, reached the Philippines in 
1521, only to be killed there in a skirmish with the natives. Although 
6 H. C, xliii, 2iff. ' f/. C, xliii, 28ff. 


he himself did not hve to complete the remainder of the voyage, 
one of his ships with a part of the original crew returned to Spain 
by way of the Cape of Good Hope, these men being thus the first 
to travel around the world. 


The first fifty years of the sixteenth century were so crowded with 
explorations and conquests of new lands that they may well be re- 
garded as the most wonderful years in the whole history of travel. 
Not only were further great discoveries made by sea of new lands, 
but travelers such as Coronado in North and Orellana in South 
America, explored great areas and journeyed thousands of miles in 
the interior of the new continents — the latter traveler being the first 
to cross South America and to descend the Amazon. Cortez in 
Mexico and Pizarro in Peru, although led by somewhat different 
motives, traveled far and wide in their conquests of these, the two 
greatest and most cultured of the countries of the New World. 

Although so great a mark was made during this period by Italian, 
Portuguese, and Spanish travelers, the nations of northern Europe 
soon entered the lists. England, France, and Holland began to take 
their part, and such names as Cabot, Cartier, and Hudson attest 
their prowess in the field. Raleigh's ill-fated expedition to Guiana,' 
and Drake's great achievement in circumnavigating the globe,' 
supply records of great interest, and bear witness to the part played 
by Englishmen in these stirring times. Drake and the sea rovers 
of the Elizabethan period" were largely actuated by the desire to 
attack and pillage the rich commerce of Spain in the New World; 
Raleigh, Gilbert," and others, on the contrary, sought more the 
settlement and colonization of the new-found lands; yet the older 
impulse of the search for a shorter trade route to the East was still 
a factor, as one can see from the attempts by Frobisher, Davis, and 
others, to find the ever-elusive Northwest Passage. 

With the beginning of the seventeenth century France supplies 
the names of many who deserve to rank among the great travelers 
of all time. Champlain, La Salle, Marquette, Verendrye, and many 

*H. C, xxxiii, 3iiff. '//. C, xxxiii, iggff. 

>" See Lecture III, below. " H. C, xxxiii, 263ff. 


Others both lay and cleric, were the pioneers in the exploration of 
New France, and the story of their journeys and lives forms a record 
of which any traveler might well be proud. 

While France was thus engaged in America, the Dutch were no 
less bold explorers at the Antipodes. Although Australia had first 
been seen by the Spaniards in the middle of the previous century, the 
Dutch now, as the Portuguese before them had done in the case 
of Africa, began to push south along the western coast, their travels 
culminating in the expedition of Tasman, who not only showed that 
Australia was an island, but also was the first to see New Zealand. 


The last great period in the history of travel may be said to begin 
with the voyage of Captain Cook, who in 1768 sailed from England 
on what was virtually the first purely scientific expedition. The 
primary object was for the observation at the newly discovered Society 
Islands in the southern Pacific of the transit of Venus, an astronom- 
ical phenomenon in which the men of science of the time were 
much interested. Several scientists were among the members of 
the expedition, which was further charged with the duty of making 
collections and surveys. From this time on, in ever-increasing num- 
bers, individual travelers and great expeditions have scoured the 
world in order to observe and collect for scientific purposes. One 
after another the great nations of the world have taken up the task, 
until to-day the volume of scientific travel is immense. Darwin's 
famous voyage in the Beagle," and Wallace's years of travel in the 
East Indies have revolutionized much of the science of our times, 
and show how great may be the outcome of travel when directed 
toward a purely ideal end. As part and parcel of this growth of 
science as an inspiration to travel, we have the splendid records of 
the search for the Poles. Here the goal was also an ideal, the price 
was shorn of any practical value, and trade and commercial motives 
were wholly barred; yet generation after generation men strove 
against tremendous odds, and faced suffering and death a thousand 
times in their attempts to reach these, the last strongholds of the 
unknown. The light that led them was, however, not alone the cold 

12 H. C, xxix, I iff. 


flame of ideal science, although for many this may indeed have 
burned with pale but steady glow; for them, perhaps as much as 
for any men, it was the fiercer flame which burns in the hearts of 
all true explorers, for whom the doing is more than the deed, who 
go because in very truth they must. 

Such a hasty glance at the history of travel from earliest times 
can do little more than suggest the vastness and the interest of the 
field. In so wide a prospect only the larger features of the landscape 
can be seen, and if we have, so to speak, had only glimpses of the 
higher mountain peaks, it does not follow that there is less of interest 
in the valleys that nestle at their feet. We have of necessity con- 
sidered only the great travelers, the great journeys, but those more 
humble and of lesser compass are not therefore to be despised. Of 
such more modest travelers, whose little journeys lay in narrower 
fields, there are a host; and from the best, with their intimate local 
knowledge, their keen and critical observations, their sympathetic 
descriptions, we may gain great pleasure and be stimulated perhaps 
to make all the use possible of the opportunities which come to us 
to see more thoroughly and with a more observing eye the country 
and the people round about. 


No one can read the records of the travelers of different periods 
without being struck by the differences in the character and method 
of travel which they reveal. Although reference to the comfort, 
the rapidity, and the safety of modern travel, at least along the 
great highways of the civiUzed world, is a commonplace, yet the 
contrast of the present conditions with those that formerly obtained 
is none the less noteworthy. The earlier travelers had frequently 
to go alone, sometimes disguise was their only hope, and they were, 
far more than at present, subject to hardship, suffering, and danger. 
They made, indeed were able to make, little in the way of special 
preparation for the journey; they carried with them little in the 
way of special outfit; and they traveled as a rule very slowly, often 
halting or being obliged to halt long on the way. Dependent for 
guidance frequently on the information of suspicious or unfriendly 
folk, they often went astray, and lacking regular or direct means of 


communication, they had often to journey by very roundabout 
routes to reach their goal. To-day the conditions have vastly 
changed. The lonely traveler or the elaborately organized expedi- 
tion aUke are spared much of the hardship and danger, and both 
may secure all sorts of cunningly devised special equipment and 
supplies, which not only add enormously to comfort and safety, 
but to the certainty of success. Travel away from the beaten track 
or exploration in untraveled regions is still and of necessity slow 
compared with what it is in civilized lands, but the traveler and 
explorer in remote places to-day has at least this inestimable ad- 
vantage, that he is able to reach quickly and easily the actual point 
of departure into the unknown. 


Of the advantages and of the pleasures of travel there is little 
need to speak — they are too obvious. New lands, new peoples, new 
experiences, all alike offer to the traveler the opportunity of a wider 
knowledge. He may add almost without limit thus to his stores, 
although in this field as in most others it must be remembered 
that "he who would bring back the wealth of the Indies must take 
with him the wealth of the Indies" — in other words he will gain 
just in proportion to the knowledge and appreciation which he 
brings. But greater than any knowledge gained is the influence 
which travel exerts or should exert on habits of thought, and on 
one's attitude to one's fellow man. A wider tolerance, a juster appre- 
ciation of the real values in life, a deeper realization of the oneness of 
mankind, and a growing wonder at the magnitude of the achieve- 
ments of the race — these are some of the results which travel rightly 
pursued cannot fail to produce. Quite apart, moreover, from any or 
all of these things, desirable as they are, is the pleasure of travel 
in and for itself. It has been already pointed out that this is for 
some the main, and for many at least an important if unadmitted, 
motive. To the real traveler there is no joy which is keener, no 
pleasure more lasting, no call more imperious, than that of travel. 
There is fatigue, hardship, perhaps suffering, to be endured — ^for 
him this is of small moment, for they will soon pass; the recollection 
even of them will fade away — all these will be forgotten, while the 


memory holds with almost undiminished clearness the wonder and 
the beauty of the past. For him the colors of old sunsets glow with 
undimmed splendor, in his ears the winds of other days still make 
their music, and in his nostrils is still the perfume of flowers that 
long passed away. 

We cannot all be travelers; there are many who must be content 
to do their traveling in an arm chair. Rightly read, however, the 
records of others' journeys may bring to the reader much not only 
of value but of pleasure. He may play consciously the part which 
for the traveler memory plays unconsciously, and from the mass of 
experience select and hold only the best. For him thus the patience, 
the heroism, and the indomitable perseverance revealed in the lives 
and deeds of great travelers may serve as an inspiration; and from 
their description of the wonder and the beauty of the world he may 
gain some understanding of and sympathy with those who have in 
all ages set their faces toward the unseen; whose spirit has been 
that put into the mouth of Ulysses : 

my purpose holds 
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths 
Of all the western stars, until I die." 

" Tennyson's "Ulysses," H. C, xlii, 977. 


By Professor George H. Chase 

HERODOTUS is called "the father of history." The phrase 
goes back to Cicero, and its justice has been universally 
recognized, for Herodotus was the first writer in the 
course of European literature to use the word "history" with the 
meaning in which it has since been used, and to exemplify this mean- 
ing by the composition of a history in the modern sense of the word. 
Before his time there was a literature which in certain ways resembled 
history, the writings of the so-called logographers, consisting of 
"logoi" or "tales" which treated, in a manner closely resembling the 
epic, the stories connected with the foundation of the Greek cities, 
or the genealogy of single families, or the marvels of remote regions. 
Herodotus himself shows the influence of this earUer sort of writing; 
his history is full of "logoi," and he shows great interest in the 
geography of distant lands and the manners and customs of foreign 
peoples. But what distinguishes him from his predecessors and gives 
him a unique place in the history of literature is the fact that he was 
the first writer to undertake the narration of a series of events of 
world-wide importance upon a comprehensive plan and to trace in 
those events the relations of cause and effect. 


The theme of the History of Herodotus is the struggle between the 
Persians and the Greeks, which, more than any other single event, 
determined the later history of Europe. There are many digressions, 
but the main subject is never lost sight of through all the nine books 
into which the work was divided by later grammarians. The earlier 
books trace the gradual growth of Persian power, the conquest of 
the Lydian Empire, of Babylon, and of Egypt,' and the Persian 
expeditions to Scythia and Libya; with Book V we come to the 

' Harvard Classics, xxxiii, 7ff. 


Ionian revolt and the burning of Sardis — events which led up to 
the Persian attacks on Greece; Book VI describes the punishment 
of the Ionian cities and the first invasion, ending with the glorious 
victory of Marathon; and the remaining books record the great 
invasion of Xerxes. 

Herodotus's inspiration came largely, no doubt, from the time 
in which he lived. He was born early in the fifth century, and so 
was of the next generation to those who took part in the Persian 
struggle. He must have known and talked with many men who had 
fought at Marathon and Salamis. His own native city, Halicarnassus 
in Caria, was subject to Persia, so that he must early have learned to 
know and to fear the Persian power. Fate and inclination seem to 
have combined to make him a traveler. He was twice exiled from 
his native city, and was for many years "a man without a country," 
until at last he obtained citizenship in the town of Thurii in south- 
ern Italy, a sort of international colony which had been established 
by the Athenians in 443 B. C. on the site of the old city of Sybaris. 
He certainly spent some time in Athens, where he enjoyed the friend- 
ship of Sophocles, and doubtless of others of that briUiant group of 
writers and artists whose works have made the "Age of Pericles" ^ 
a synonym for the "great age" in Greek literature and art. There are 
traditions that he gave public readings at Athens, Olympia, Corinth, 
and Thebes; and he speaks with first-hand knowledge of many 
other places in Greece. 


But the journeyings of Herodotus were not confined to Greece and 
its immediate neighborhood. From his own statements we learn 
that he had traveled through the Persian Empire to Babylon, and 
even to distant Susa and Ecbatana; had visited Egypt and gone 
up the Nile as far as Elephantine; had gone by sea to Tyre and to 
Libya; and had made a journey to the Black Sea, visiting the Crimea 
and the land of the Colchians. 

He seems also to have traveled through the interior of Asia 
Minor and down the Syrian coast to the borders of Egypt. 

2H. C, xii, 35ff. 


The purpose of these travels presents an interesting problem. The 
simplest and most natural supposition would be that they were 
undertaken simply as a means of preparation for writing the History. 
But many other theories are possible. It has been thought that 
Herodotus was a merchant and that his journeys were primarily 
business undertakings. Against this it may be urged that the 
History shows no evidence of a commercial point of view, and that 
Herodotus speaks of merchants as he speaks of many other classes, 
with no suggestion of special interest. Again, it has been maintained 
that the journeys were made simply to collect evidence about foreign 
lands, with no direct reference to the History. Those who hold this 
theory believe that Herodotus was a professional reciter, like the 
rhapsodes who recited the Homeric poems, only that he took as his 
subject, not the great events of the heroic age, but the description of 
distant countries and their inhabitants — that he was, in short, a sort 
of ancient Stoddard or Burton Holmes. To such a belief the tra- 
dition that he read parts of his work at different places in Greece 
and the amount of space devoted to the aspect of foreign countries 
and the ways of foreign peoples in the History itself lend a certain 
amount of color. Finally, it is possible that some of the journeys had 
a political significance. Most of the countries which Herodotus 
visited were regions of which a knowledge was of great importance 
to the Greek statesmen of the fifth century, especially to Pericles, with 
his well-known scheme for founding an Athenian Empire, and it is 
pointed out that the large sum of ten talents (over |io,ooo) which 
Herodotus is said to have received from the Athenian Assembly 
can hardly have been paid simply for a series of readings, but must 
have been a reward for political services. All these theories suggest 
interesting possibilities, but none of them can be proved. Herodotus 
himself merely states that his History was written "that the deeds of 
men may not be forgotten, and that the great and wondrous works 
of Greek and barbarian may not lose their name." In any case, the 
fact remains that he did at last put his materials into the form in 
which we have them and thus established his fame as the first writer 
of history. 



The fitness of Herodotus for the task that he undertook is another 
question which has been vigorously debated. Even in antiquity the 
History was violently assailed. Plutarch wrote an essay "On the 
Malignity of Herodotus," and a late grammarian, Aelius Harpocra- 
tion, is said to have written a book entitled "The Lies in the History 
of Herodotus." In modern times, the judgments passed upon the 
work have often been severe, and even the greatest admirers of the 
historian are forced to admit that it shows many serious defects. 
Like most of his contemporaries, Herodotus knew no language but 
his own, and he was therefore forced to rely on interpreters or on 
natives who spoke Greek. He himself is perfectly frank about the 
matter, and usually tells the source of his information. "This is what 
the Persians say," "Thus the priests of the Egyptians told me," are 
types of expressions which recur again and again. Even when Greek 
matters are involved, he seems usually to have relied on oral tradi- 
tion, rather than on documentary evidence; he rarely mentions an 
inscription as the source of his information. It is not quite fair to 
call him entirely credulous and uncritical, for he often questions the 
truth of the statements he records and tries to weigh one theory 
against another, as when he discusses the inundation of the Nile. 
But in him, as in the majority of his contemporaries, the critical 
faculty was not developed, and his work suffers in consequence. He 
was, moreover, an inveterate story-teller, and it often seems as if he 
recorded stories for the mere love of telling them. Not a few of 
the tales he tells, like the story of the treasure chamber of Rhampsi- 
nitos, belong rather to the realm of folklore than to that of history. 


Another quality in Herodotus which resulted disadvantageously 
for his History was his strong religious bent. His was still the age of 
faith, when men saw the hand of the gods revealed in all human 
affairs, and Herodotus was deeply imbued with this belief. In the 
History, therefore, much attention is paid to oracles and signs, 
and the chapters that treat of foreign lands are filled with attempts 
to correlate the gods of the barbarians with the gods of Greece. The 


Second Book, with its constant striving to prove an Egyptian origin 
for many of the Greek divinities, is only the most striking example 
of a general tendency. 

Regarded as history, therefore, the work of Herodotus suffers 
from grave defects, and it is not to be wondered at that ancient and 
modern critics have vied with one another in pointing them out. 
The attitude of many of these critics is well expressed by an Oxford 

The priests of Egypt humbugged you, 
A thing not very hard to do. 
But we won't let you humbug us, 
Herodotus! Herodotus! 

Yet it must be said that in spite of much adverse criticism, few 
people have been led to believe in any bad faith on Herodotus's part. 
The defects which his work betrays are defects of his race and his 
time; and to offset them he has many merits. Few Greeks of any 
age showed themselves so fair-minded in dealing with barabarian 
nations. He is as ready to praise what seems good in the customs 
of foreign races as he is to praise the customs of the Greeks. If he 
is too fond of stories to be a good historian, at least he is a prince 
of story-tellers. His style is lucid, simple, and straightforward, 
showing everywhere the "art which conceals art" — a wonderful 
achievement, when one considers that this is the first literary prose 
that was written in Europe. Finally, few writers of any age have 
succeeded so well in impressing on their work the stamp of person- 
ality. As we read the pages of the History, the picture of the author 
rises vividly before us. We can almost see him as, tablet and stylus 
in hand, he follows the interpreter or the priest through the great 
cides of the Persian Empire or the temples of Egypt, eagerly listen- 
ing and questioning, quick to notice differences from his own Greek 
way of doing things, courteous, sympathetic, always on the watch 
for the story that will adorn his narrative. Quite apart from its value 
as a record of facts, the History of Herodotus is intensely interesting 
as a human document, as a record of the beliefs and the impressions 
of a remarkable member of a remarkable race at the period of its 
highest development. 


By Professor W. A. Neilson 

AMONG the many manifestations of the spirit of intellectual 
l-\ inquiry which marked the Renaissance in Europe, the new 
X Jl impetus toward geographical exploration is one of the 
most notable. The discovery of the New World by Columbus in 
1492 had given this a fresh start, and not many years had passed 
before Spain had followed it up by large settlements and annexations 
of territory, chiefly in Central and South America. Spain was in the 
sixteenth century the leading Catholic power in Europe, and after 
England under Elizabeth had definitely and finally broken with 
Rome, her position as leading Protestant power added a religious 
motive to that of political ambition to lead her to seek to share with 
her rival the wealth and dominion of the Americas. Further, there 
was a powerful commercial interest in this rivalry. The peaceful 
development of England under the great Queen led to a need for 
wider markets, and besides the hope of plunder and the settlement 
of colonies, the Elizabethan merchant adventurers were seeking to 
build up a large commerce overseas. Curiosity, piety, patriotism, 
and trade were, then, the leading motives that led these daring "sea 
dogs" on their perilous voyages to the ends of the earth. 


The diversity of routes traversed in these quests is not always 
realized. It was not merely the Spanish Main to which these men 
looked for profit and adventure. Seeking a northeastern route to 
China in 1553, English sailors found themselves in the White Sea and 
made their way to the Court of the Czar, thus establishing a trade 
route to Russia which rendered them independent of the Baltic 
route previously blocked by the jealousy of the Hansa league. They 



pushed into the Mediterranean, sending expeditions to Tripoli and 
Morocco, and trading with the Greek Archipelago. Others cultivated 
intercourse with Egypt and the Levant, and, penetrating Arabia and 
Persia, carried their samples overland to India, while still others 
reached the same goal by way of the Persian Gulf or round the Cape 
of Good Hope. Here they came into competition with the Portu- 
guese; and in 1600 was founded the East India Company, and with 
it the beginning of the British Empire in India. 


But it was in the regions where they came into conflict with the 
Spaniards that those exploits occurred which most touched the 
imaginations of their contemporaries, and of which we have pre- 
served the most picturesque accounts. The three voyages of Sir Fran- 
cis Drake,' Sir Humphrey Gilbert's "Voyage to Newfoundland," ^ 
and Sir Walter Raleigh's "Discovery of Guiana,"^ all printed in 
The Harvard Classics, are good representative records of the manner 
and results of these expeditions, partly scientific and religious, but 
more patriotic and piratical. Few narratives are more absorbing than 
these, with their pictures of courage against terrible odds, of en- 
durance of the most frightful hardships on sea and land, of gener- 
osity and treachery, of kindliness and cruelty. Drake was still young 
when he first voyaged to the west, and in 1572 he made the expedi- 
tion against Nombre de Dios in which they all but secured the 
contents of the great King's Treasure House. "By means of this 
light," says the narrator, "we saw a huge heap of silver in that nether 
room; being a pile of bars of silver of, as near as we could guess, 
seventy feet in length, of ten feet in breadth, and twelve feet in 
height; piled up against the wall, each bar was between thirty-five 
and forty pounds in weight" — altogether over 360 tons, as it turned 
out. This vast treasure, with as much more in gold, they left un- 
touched, however, preferring to save the life of their wounded 
captain.^ How they plagued the Spaniards in spite of this abstinence 
may be judged from the summary statement at the close of the 
narrative: "There were, at this time, belonging to Cartagena, Nom- 

^ Harvard Classics, xxxiii, 129, 199, 229. ^H. C, xxxiii, 263. 

^H. C, xxxiii, 311. " H. C, xxxiii, 138, 140-141. 


bre de Dios, etc., above 200 frigates . . . the most of which, during 
our abode in those parts, we took; and some of them twice or thrice 
each; yet never burned nor sunk any unless they were made out 
men-of-war against us, or laid as stales to entrap us."° 


To the narratives of these adventurers we owe much of our early 
knowledge of America and its aborigines. The information they 
give, it is true, is not always to be taken at its face value, and often 
is more of the nature of travelers' tales than scientific geography. 
But it has value, and, reflecting as it does the inflamed imagination 
of the time, vast entertainment. Thus in an account of one of 
Hawkins's voyages we read of the crocodile: "His nature is ever, 
when he would have his prey, to cry and sob like a Christian body, 
to provoke them to come to him; and then he snatched at them! 
And thereupon came this proverb, that is applied unto women, 
when they weep, 'Lachrymae Crocodili': the meaning whereof is, 
that as the crocodile when he crieth goeth then about most to de- 
ceive; so doth a woman, most commonly, when she weepeth." The 
wondrous properties of tobacco are thus described in the same narra- 
tive: "The Floridans, when they travel, have a kind of herb dried, 
who with a cane and a earthen cup in the end, with fire and the 
dried herbs put together, do suck through the cane the smoke 
thereof; which smoke satisfieth their hunger, and therewith they 
live four or five days without meat or drink. And this all the 
Frenchmen used for this purpose; yet do they hold opinion withal, 
that it causeth water and phlegm to void from their stomachs." 
The potato is hardly less glorified: "These potatoes be the most 
delicate roots that may be eaten; and do far exceed our parsnips or 
carrots. Their pines be of the bigness of two fists, the outside whereof 
is of the making of a pine apple, but it is soft like the rind of a cu- 
cumber; and the inside eateth like an apple, but it is more delicious 
than any sweet apple sugared." 

Besides descriptions of plants and animals, these stories of travel 
and conquest contain much interesting information, though colored 
by fancy, of the native tribes encountered and of their habits of 

^ H. C, xxxiii, 195—196. 


life. Especially is the reader struck by the vast riches in gold and 
pearls ascribed to the Indians, such description as that of El Dorado, 
quoted by Raleigh in his account of the Emperor of Guiana,^ sound- 
ing like a fairy tale. Not content with kitchen utensils of gold and 
silver, the Emperor was believed to have adorned his pleasure 
gardens with flowers and trees of the same precious metals. 


These stories, as the reader is not likely to forget, are all told 
from the English point of view. Religious animosity and political 
and commercial rivalry whetted the English hatred of Spain, and 
produced accounts of Spanish cruelty to the natives and to English 
prisoners which must be taken with much modification. For the 
English adventurers themselves were no saints. Many of them were 
nothing more than pirates, and many were engaged in the slave 
trade between Africa and the Indies. At times our admiration for 
their intrepid courage and persistence, and for their loyalty to one 
another and to the Queen, is overcome by the evidence of their 
inhumanity in the treatment of their human cargoes, and their lack 
of all consideration of the rights of negroes as men. They con- 
tracted for the delivery of African slaves to the West Indies precisely 
as if they were cattle or hides, and in case of danger at sea they 
lightened their ships of these miserable wretches with apparently 
little less compunction than if they had been mere bales of mer- 

Yet, amid all the horrors induced by lust of gold and conquest, 
one finds often enough incidents of striking generosity to enemies, 
of tender affection to their own people, and of a code of honor and 
an adherence to the rules of the game as they understood it, which 
go far to brighten the picture. 


Nothing was farther from the minds of the writers of these voy- 
ages than the production of literature. The glorification of their cap- 
tains and their country, the inciting of their fellow citizens against 
the enemy, and the fondness of the returned traveler for narrating 
'H. C, xxxiii, 318-319. 


his adventures, these were the main motives which induced them to 
write; and they told their stories with no thought of style or orna- 
ment. They have thus almost the flavor of actual conversation, and 
reveal, none the less truly because unconsciously, the temper of the 
writers and the spirit of the time. It was a time of great enthusiasms 
and boundless ambitions, of undertakings conceived under the in- 
fluence of an almost fantastic imagination, and carried out with 
absolute unscrupulousness, but with complete devotion and invincible 
courage. The modern world has largely outgrown the temptation 
to many of the vices which beset these buccaneers, but our blood is 
still stirred by the spectacle of their magnificent energy, and our 
imaginations are roused by those 

heroic hearts, 

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will 

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield. 


By Professor W. B. Munro 

W[TH the close of the fifteenth century the Dark Ages 
came to an end. The great mediaeval institution of feu- 
dalism was everywhere losing its hold, for the growth of 
monarchical power and the rise of standing armies made the 
feudal system no longer necessary. Small states were being consoli- 
dated into nations — Castile and Aragon had become the kingdom 
of Spain; the various provinces of France were now welded together 
under the House of Bourbon; while England had settled her internal 
quarrels and was now safely unified under the dominant Tudor 
dynasty. With this consoHdation and unity came national conscious- 
ness and a desire for territorial expansion. The revived study of 
geography, moreover, and the adaptation of the compass to marine 
use were features which led mariners to proceed more boldly away 
from the shores, so that when the Turkish conquests shut off the 
old trade routes between the Mediterranean ports and the Orient, 
the time was ripe for venturesome voyages out into the western 


It was altogether appropriate that the first successful expedition 
of discovery into the New Hemisphere should have been under 
the guidance of a Genoese navigator in the service of the Spanish 
crown. Genoa was one of the first commercial cities of the Mediter- 
ranean; Spain was one of the most powerful and progressive among 
European monarchies. Columbus had the maritime skill and daring 
of his own race together with the financial backing of a nation which 
from its location had much to gain from western discoveries. The 
story of his thirty-three-day voyage to the new Indies, his reception 
by the natives, and his glowing accounts of the new lands are known 
to every American schoolboy; but never can it be better recounted 



than in the discoverer's own words.' It is true that the honor of 
having been the first to touch upon the shores of the New World 
has been claimed by others. Nearly four centuries before Columbus 
set sail from Palos, some Norse navigators under the leadership 
of Leif Ericson, son of Eric the Red, are said to have sailed from 
the Norse colony in Greenland and to have reached the coasts of 
Wineland the Good. Whether this Wineland was Labrador or 
Nova Scotia or New England is something upon which historians 
have never agreed; but the general drift of opinion at present is that 
Leif and his followers in all probability never came south of Labra- 
dor, if, indeed, they proceeded so far.^ But in any event these Norse 
forays never led to any permanent colonization; the planting of a 
new nation was reserved to those who followed where Columbus 
led the way. 

The return of Columbus with his news concerning the wealth 
and resources of Hispaniola made a profound impression upon the 
imagination of all Europe. The Spanish Court hastened to follow 
up its advantage by sending Columbus on further voyages in order 
that the entire fruits of the discovery might be monopolized. The 
navigators of other nations also bestirred themselves to get some 
share of the New World's spoil. Among these was the Florentine 
sea captain Amerigo Vespucci, who made his way across the Atlantic 
in 1497, and on his return presented the geographical information 
which led the map makers of Europe to name the new continent 
after him.' Likewise the Cabots, father and son, sailed from Bristol 
in the same year under the auspices of King Henry VIII, and by their 
explorations along the Labrador coast laid the basis of later English 
claims to great regions of North America.* France, for her part, 
sent Jacques Cartier on his errands of discovery and in due course 
established French claims to the valley of the St. Lawrence in this 

' The letter of Columbus to Luis de Sant Angel announcing his discovery, in 
Harvard Classics, xliii, 21-44. 

^The VoyaKcs to Vinland, H. C, xliii, 5-20. 

^ Amerigo Vespucci's Account of his First Voyage, H. C, xliii, 28-44. 

^John Cabot's Discovery of North America, H. C, xliii, 45-48. 



But to get secure possession of the new territories it was necessary 
that European nations should do more than discover. They must 
make settlements and colonize. Spain, being first in the field, di- 
rected her energies to those regions which seemed to constitute the 
largest prize, that is to say, the West Indies, Central America, and the 
western slopes of the South American continent. In the Indies there 
was a fertile soil which could be made to yield its increase without 
much labor; on the mainland there were great areas of gold and silver 
ore. Portugal, coming hard on the heels of her peninsular neighbor, 
went still further to the south and took as her patrimony the sea 
coast of Brazil, a region which also promised a rich tribute in pre- 
cious metals. England, being rather slow to follow up the beginnings 
made in her behalf by John and Sebastian Cabot, was forced to be 
content with territories north of the Spanish claims — the coast from 
Florida to the Bay of Fundy — where there were no great stores of 
mineral wealth to attract the adventuresome. In the long run, how- 
ever, this selection proved to be the most prudent of them all. France, 
coming last into the field, found herself pushed still farther north- 
ward to the regions of Acadia, the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes. 
Other countries of Europe, Sweden, and the Netherlands, were 
also in the race and both managed to get a precarious foothold in the 
new territories, the former on the Delaware and the latter on the 
Hudson. But both were in due course dislodged and these colonies 
passed into English hands. So did the territories of France after a 
century of conflict. 


In the region along the Atlantic seaboard which England claimed 
for her own, two settlements were made at dates not far apart. Early 
in 1607 a group of about one hundred settlers established at James- 
town in Virginia the first permanent Anglo-American colony, and 
through the inevitable hardships of a pioneer community managed to 
hold the settlement on its feet. With them they had brought a royal 
charter couched in the legal diction of the time, and in due course 
established their own system of local self-government with its 


boroughs and its House o£ Burgesses reproducing in miniature the 
old English administrative system.^ Farther to the north unsuccess- 
ful attempts to found settlements had been made near the mouth 
of the Kennebec as early as 1607; but it was not until 1620 that the 
Mayflower Pilgrims made their landing at Plymouth and laid the 
foundations of New England. The Pilgrims had gone first from 
England to Holland, biit finding that they were being drawn into 
the vortex of an alien environment, reached a decision to set forth 
for a new land where they could create their own surroundings. 
Before they went ashore the Pilgrims made a political compact 
among themselves whereby they created a "civill body politick" 
and covenanted each with each to enact just laws for the welfare 
of the new community .' The early years of this settlement were 
passed in great hardship and the population grew very slowly. Ten 
years after the disembarkation at Plymouth Rock it numbered but 
three hundred in all. The first economic and social system was 
communistic, but in due course this was abandoned and by dint of 
persistent effort the colony rounded the corner on the road to 

A more important settlement in New England, however, was that 
made by John Winthrop and his followers on the shores of Massa- 
chusetts Bay. In 1630 Winthrop brought to Salem a body of nearly 
a thousand setders, and these, during the ensuing two years, founded 
a half-dozen towns, including Boston. The colonies of Plymouth and 
Massachusetts Bay continued a separate existence for more than a 
half -century after their foundation; in 1690 they were amalgamated 
into the province of Massachusetts. 

By 1630, therefore. Englishmen had firmly established their out- 
posts on the Atlantic seaboard both to the north and to the south; 
their next enterprise was to dominate the interval between. From 
Massachusetts the settlers, driven forth in some cases because of 
their refusal to observe stringent religious requirements, moved 
southward into the Rhode Island and Connecticut territories. 
William Penn, Lord Baltimore, and others proved ready to under- 
take colonization as a private enterprise and, being favored by the 

^ First Charter of Virginia, H. C, xliii, 49-58. 
' The Mayflower Compact, H. C, xliii, 59. 


Crown in their ambitions, laid the foundations of Pennsylvania and 
Maryland. The Swedes on the Delaware and the Dutch on the Hud- 
son were overpowered and their lands brought under English control. 
Then having possessed herself of the whole region from Virginia 
to Massachusetts it was England's next task to expel France from 
her menacing position still farther above. 


This colonizing movement went hand in hand with the explora- 
tion of the interior. During the seventeenth century the Great 
Lakes and the Mississippi were traversed by the French voyageurs, 
while the hinterlands of the New England colonies were penetrated 
by the English fur traders. Missionaries followed in the footsteps 
of the traders and in due course the two chief colonizing powers 
of North America were using both as agents for enlarging their 
respective spheres of influence. Even before the earUest settlements 
were made to the westward of the Alleghenies, the initial skirmishes 
of a long struggle for the possession of these territories were taking 
place. The French colonists, though inferior in numbers and in 
material resources, were far more daring, more enterprising as ex- 
plorers and as coureurs-des-bois, and more persevering than their 
southern neighbors — that is why the task of securing and enlarging 
the English frontiers proved so difficult. But in the end sheer numer- 
ical superiority determined the issue, and England, for the time 
being, became master of the whole area from the Atlantic to the 

'For a sketch of the subsequent movements, see section on History: V. "Territorial 
Development o£ the United States," by Professor F. J. Turner, in this course. 


By Professor George Howard Parker 

HAD Charles Darwin never published more than "The Voy- 
age of the Beagle," ' his reputation as a naturalist of the 
first rank would have been fully assured. Even before the 
close of that eventful circumnavigation of the globe, the English 
geologist Sedgwick, who had probably seen some of the letters sent 
by the young naturalist to friends in England, predicted to Dr. Dar- 
win, Charles Darwin's father, that his son would take a place among 
the leading scientific men of the day. As it afterward proved, the 
voyage of the Beagle was the foundation stone on which rested that 
monument of work and industry which, as a matter of fact, made 
Charles Darwin one of the distinguished scientists not only of his 
generation but of all time. 

The conventional school and university training had very little 
attraction for Darwin. From boyhood his real interests were to be 
found- in collecting natural objects; minerals, plants, insects, and 
birds were the materials that excited his mind to full activity. But 
it was not till his Cambridge days, when he was supposedly studying 
for the clergy, that the encouragement of Henslow changed this 
pastime into a serious occupation. 


About 1831 the British Admiralty decided to fit out the Beagle, 
a ten-gun brig, to complete the survey of Patagonia and Tierra del 
Fuego begun some years before, to survey the shores of Chili, Peru, 
and some of the islands of the Pacific, and to carry a chain of chron- 
ometrical measurements round the world. It seemed important to 
all concerned that a naturaUst should accompany this expedition; 
and Captain Fitz-Roy, through the mediation of Professor Henslow, 
' Harvard Classics, xxix. 


eventually induced Charles Darwin to become his cabin companion 
and naturalist for the voyage. Henslow recommended Darwin not 
as a finished naturalist but as one amply qualified for collecting, 
observing, and noting anything worthy to be noted in natural his- 

The Beagle, after two unsuccessful attempts to get away, finally 
set sail from Devonport, England, December 27, 1831; and, after 
a cruise of almost five years, she returned to Falmouth, England, 
October 2, 1836. Her course had lain across the Atlantic to the Bra- 
zilian coast, thence southward along the east coast of South America 
to Tierra del Fuego, whence she turned northward skirting the sea- 
board of Chili and Peru. Near the equator a westerly course was 
taken and she then crossed the Pacific to Australia whence she tra- 
versed the Indian Ocean, and, rounding the Cape o£ Good Hope, 
headed across the South Atlantic for Brazil. Here she completed 
the circumnavigation of the globe and, picking up her former course, 
she retraced her way to England. 

When Darwin left England on the Beagle, he was twenty-two 
years old. The five-year voyage, therefore, occupied in his life the 
period of maturing manhood. What it was to mean to him he only 
partly saw. Before leaving England he declared that the day of sail- 
ing would mark the beginning of his second life, a new birthday to 
him. All through his boyhood he had dreamed of seeing the tropics; 
and now his dream was to be realized. His letters and his account of 
the voyage are full of the exuberance of youth. To his friend Fox he 
wrote from Brazil: "My mind has been, since leaving England, in 
a perfect hurricane of delight and astonishment." To Henslow he 
sent word from Rio as follows: "Here I first saw a tropical forest 
in all its sublime grandeur — nothing but the reality can give you any 
idea how wonderful, how magnificent the scene is." And to another 
correspondent he wrote: "When I first entered on and beheld the 
luxuriant vegetation of Brazil, it was realizing the visions in the 
'Arabian Nights.' The brilliancy of the scenery throws one into a 
delirium of delight, and a beetle hunter is not likely soon to awaken 
from it when, whichever way he turns, fresh treasures meet his 
eye." Such expressions could spring only from the enthusiasm of 
the born naturalist. 



But the voyage of the Beagle meant more to Darwin than the 
mere opportunity to see the world; it trained him to be a naturaHst. 
During his five years at sea he learned to work, and to work under 
conditions that were often almost intolerable. The Beagle was small 
and cramped, and the collections of a naturalist were not always 
easily cared for. The first lieutenant, who is described by Darwin in 
terms of the highest admiration, was responsible for the appearance 
of the ship, and strongly objected to having such a litter on deck as 
Darwin often made. To this man specimens were "d — d beastly 
devilment," and he is said to have added, "If I were skipper, I would 
soon have you and all your d — d mess out of the place." Darwin 
is quoted as saying that the absolute necessity of tidiness in the 
cramped space of the Beagle gave him his methodical habits of 
work. On the Beagle, too, he learned what he considered the golden 
rule for saving time, i. e., take care of the minutes, a rule that gives 
significance to an expression he has somewhere used, that all life is 
made of a succession of five-minute periods. 

Darwin, however, not only learned on the Beagle how to work 
against time and under conditions of material inconvenience, but 
he also acquired the habit of carrying on his occupations under con- 
siderable physical discomfort. Although he was probably not seri- 
ously ill after the first three weeks of the voyage, he was constantly 
uncomfortable when the vessel pitched at all heavily, and his sensi- 
tiveness to this trouble is well shown in a letter dated June 3, 1836, 
from the Cape of Good Hope, in which he said: "It is lucky for me 
that the voyage is drawing to a close, for I positively suffer more 
from seasickness now than three years ago." Yet he always kept 
busily at work, and notwithstanding the more or less continuous 
nature of this discomfort, he was not inclined to attribute the diges- 
tive disturbances of his later life to these early experiences. 

The return voyage found his spirits somewhat subdued. Writing 
to his sister from Bahia in Brazil where the Beagle crossed her out- 
ward course, he said: "It has been almost painful to find how much 
good enthusiasm has been evaporated in the last four years. I can 
now walk soberly through a Brazilian forest." Yet years after in 


rehearsing the voyage in his autobiography he declared: "The 
glories of the vegetation of the Tropics rise before my mind at the 
present time more vividly than anything else." 


Darwin's opinion of the value of the voyage to him can scarcely 
be expressed better than in his own words. In his later years he 
wrote: "The voyage of the Beagle has been by far the most important 
event of my Hfe," and again: "I have always felt that I owe to the 
voyage the first real training or education of my mind; I was led 
to attend closely to several branches of natural history, and thus my 
powers of observation were improved, though they were always 
fairly developed." And finally in a letter to Captain Fitz-Roy he 
said: "However others may look back on the Beagle's voyage, now 
that the small disagreeable parts are well nigh forgotten, I think it 
far the most fortunate circumstance in my life that the chance af- 
forded by your offer of taking a naturalist fell on me. I often have 
the most vivid and delightful pictures of what I saw on board the 
Beagle pass before my eyes. These recollections, and what I learned 
on natural history, I would not exchange for twice ten thousand 
a year." 

But the voyage of the Beagle was not only training for Darwin, 
it was the means of gathering together a large and valuable collec- 
tion of specimens that kept naturalists busy for some years to come, 
and added greatly to our knowledge of these distant lands and seas. 
In the work of arranging and describing these collections, Darwin 
was finally obliged to take an active part himself, for, to quote from 
his "Life and Letters," it seemed "only gradually to have occurred to 
him that he would ever be more than a collector of specimens and 
facts, of which the great men were to make use. And even of the 
value of his collections he seems to have had much doubt, for he 
wrote to Henslow in 1834: 'I really began to think that my collec- 
tions were so poor that you were puzzled what to say; the case is 
now quite on the opposite tack, for you are guilty of exciting all my 
vain feelings to a most comfortable pitch; if hard work will atone for 
these thoughts I vow it shall not be spared.' " Thus the collections 
made on the Beagle served to confirm Darwin in the occupation of a 


naturalist and brought him into contact with manj of the working 
scientists of his day. 


Darwin, however, not only brought back, as a result of his work 
on the Beagle, large collections of interesting specimens, but he came 
home with a mind richly stored with new ideas, and one of these 
he put into shape so rapidly that it forms no small part of "The 
Voyage of the Beagle." During much of the latter part of the journey 
he was occupied with a study of coral islands and his theory of the 
method of formation of these remarkable deposits was the first to 
gain general acceptance in the scientific world. In fact, his views 
gained so firm a foothold that they are to-day more generally ac- 
cepted than those of any other naturalist. But coral islands were 
not the only objects of his speculations. Without doubt he spent 
much time reflecting on that problem of problems, the origin of 
species, for, though there is not much reference to this subject 
either in the "Voyage" itself or in his letters of that period, he states 
in his autobiography that in July, 1837, less than a year after his 
return, he opened his first notebook for facts in relation to the 
origin of species about which, as he remarks, he had long reflected.^ 
Thus the years spent on the Beagle were years rich in speculation as 
well as in observation and field work. 

Doubtless the direct results of the voyage of the Beagle were ac- 
ceptable to the British Admiralty and justified in their eyes the 
necessary expenditure of money and energy. But the great accom- 
plishment of that voyage was not the charting of distant shore lines 
nor the carrying of a chain of chronometrical measurements round 
the world; it was the training and education of Charles Darwin 
as a naturalist, and no greater tribute can be paid to the voyage 
than what Darwin himself has said: "I feel sure that it was this 
training which has enabled me to do whatever I have done in 

* For Darwin's conclusions on tliis subject see "The Origin of Species" in H. C, xi. 



By Professor R. B. Perry 

THERE are two ways of reading the documents of religion. 
In the first place one may read the book of one's own faith, 
as the Christian reads his Bible. In this case one reads for 
instruction or education in some source to which one attributes 
authority, and finds there the familiar and well-loved symbols of 
one's own belief and hope. Such a relation between a man and a 
book is only possible under peculiar conditions. It is the work of 
time and tradition and social experience. A book does not become 
a man's "bible" unless it has been the principal quickening influence 
in his spiritual life and the source of his illumination, so that he 
returns to it when he needs to reanimate his purposes or confirm 
his belief. A "bible" is the proved remedy to which a man con- 
fidently resorts for the health of his own soul. It becomes associated 
in his mind with all that he owes to it, and all that he hopes from 
it; so that it is not only an instrument, but a symbol. The sacred 
book of any racial or historical religion is, of course, more than 
such a personal bible, by as much as a race is more than an individual 
or history than a lifetime. But it is the personal relation, that be- 
tween a man and the book that has become his sacred book, that I 
want here to emphasize. It is evident that in such a relation the 
reader's attitude will be unique; it will differ from his attitude to 
any other book. Religious documents are usually and normally 
read in this way. Each man reads his own bible. And it is only 
when a document is somebody's bible in this sense that it is a 
religious document at all. 

other men's bibles 
But there is a second way in which such documents may be read, 
and it is this second way that must be adopted fay those who wish to 



read religious literature with any comprehensiveness. One may 
read another man's bible. Now this requires a quite different atti- 
tude, and one that may need to be cultivated. It will not do to look 
for the same value which one finds in the book of one's own religion; 
or to judge by one's own peculiar spiritual standards. For then the 
other man's bible will seem cold, repugnant, superstitious, or 
heretical. Nor will it do to read another man's bible as so much 
secular literature, for then it will appear curious, fantastic, or at 
best poetical. It is necessary to bring one's self by imagination and 
sympathy to an understanding of the other man's outlook and needs. 
The outward aspect of Mohammedanism is to the Christian traveler 
only a curious local custom. But, "I would have you," says H. Field- 
ing in his "Hearts of Men," "go and kneel beside the Mohammedan 
as he prays at the sunset hour, and put your heart to his and wait 
for the echo that will surely come." It is in the inward value of this 
outward posture that its religion lies. And the same is true of any 
sacred writings. Their religious meaning is relative to the believer 
whom they exalt, stir, comfort, enlighten, or strike with awe. And 
no one can apprehend that meaning who cannot bring himself at 
least for the moment into the believer's attitude. 

Perhaps this seems to ask too much. How can one convert oneself 
in turn into a Buddhist, a Mohammedan, a Christian, a Brahman, 
and a Confucian ? There is, however, a saving possibility. May there 
not be some attitude common to all believers? May one not divest 
oneself of what is peculiar to one's own religion and yet retain a 
something which is in all religion, and by this come to a better 
understanding of each religion? An Englishman may understand 
a Frenchman by becoming less English and more human. Similarly 
it is possible that a Christian may understand Mohammedanism by 
becoming less Christian and more religious. "No matter where you 
go," says Fielding, "no matter what the faith is called, if you have 
the hearing ear, if your heart is in unison with the heart of the 
world, you will hear always the same song." There is, in other 
words, a sameness in all religion, which is the link between one 
special cult and another; and by coming to know and feel this 
common religion one may pass beyond the limits of one's native 
religious province. 


There is a danger that this important truth should be misunder- 
stood. Some years ago a Parliament of Religions was held in con- 
nection with the World's Fair at Chicago. It was a spectacular and 
impressive event which no doubt did much to liberalize and broaden 
religious opinion in America. But it encouraged the mistaken 
opinion that because all religions are equally religious they must be 
equally good or true. It would be equally reasonable to argue that 
because all forms of political organization are equally political, one 
must be as sound or equitable as another. All polities arise in re- 
sponse to the same fundamental need for order and justice, and in 
so far as they are accepted and persist, they must to some extent 
satisfy that need. And to understand a foreign polity I must see 
how it accomplishes in its way and for its place and time what my 
polity accomplishes in another way for me. But it does not follow 
that the two are equally sound in principle, or that the one might 
not be corrected in the light of the other. Similarly religion arises 
in response to the same fundamental need, a need that is world-wide 
and for all time. But one religion may meet that need more 
genuinely and permanently than another; it may be based on a 
truer notion of man or God, and so deserve preference in a com- 
parative and critical study. 

It is also important to avoid the error of supposing that religions 
should lose their individuaUty and retain only what they have in 
common. A religion which consisted only of what it had in common 
with all other religions would probably be no religion at all. There 
are peculiar needs as well as common needs. A religion must satisfy 
the concrete community or individual, and not the abstract man. 
Perhaps, in all strictness, there must be as many religions as there 
are believers or worshipers. But this is quite consistent with the im- 
portant truth that there is one constant factor in life from which 
all religions spring, and which makes of religion a common necessity. 
And if one is to study the forms or read the literature of a religion 
that is not one's own, one must see therh in this light. One must 
become for the purpose simply religious; one must become alive 
not only to one's peculiar needs, but to that deeper and identical 
need from which all religions have sprung. 

I have suggested that this attitude requires cultivation. This is 


doubtless the case with the great majority even of enlightened readers 
of the present day, and is very apparent in the history of European 
thought. By a curious working of the laws of habit and imitation 
we are for the most part blind to the meaning of our commonest 
social practices. How many men who obey law and authority, or 
who are loyal to the peculiar political institution under which they 
live, reflect upon the utility of government ? Most men take govern- 
ment for granted, or fail to think of it at all; and merely assert their 
factional differences or personal grievances. Similarly for most men 
religion as a general fact, as a human institution, does not exist. 
They are conscious only of their particular religious differences; or 
they identify religion so thoroughly with a special religion that they 
can think of alien religions only as irreligion. For the vast majority 
of Christians to be religious means the same thing as to be Christian; 
not to believe as they believe means the same thing as to be an 
"unbeliever." Nevertheless a great change has taken place in the 
course of the last three centuries, and it will be worth our while 
briefly to trace it. 


As everyone knows, modern thought arose as a protest against a 
tendency in the Middle Ages to take too many things for granted. 
Reason was to be freed from authority, tradition, and pedantry. But 
this meant, at first, only that man was to exercise his reason in the 
fields of physics and metaphysics. It was supposed in the seventeenth 
century that he could do this and yet not question the authority of 
the state, the church, and the established ethical code. The man of 
reason was to be internally free, but externally obedient. Institutions, 
in short, were still to be taken for granted. But in the eighteenth 
century the liberated reason was directed to institutions themselves, 
and there arose a rational ethics, a new political science, and a theory 
of "natural reHgion." Hobbes, a century earlier, was the forerunner 
of this movement, and so the original author of all modern social 
revolutions in so far as these arose from ideas and not from im- 
mediate practical exigencies. Of religion Hobbes wrote as follows: 
"In these four things, opinion of ghosts, ignorance of second causes, 
devotion toward what men call fear, and taking of things casual for 


prognostics, consisteth the natural seed of 'religion'; which by reason 
of the different fancies, judgments, and passions of several men, 
hath grown up into ceremonies so different, that those which are 
used by one man are for the most part ridiculous to another." This 
passage appears in the "Leviathan," ' published in 1651. In 1755 
Hume wrote a treatise bearing the title "The Natural History of 
Religion," in which he contended that polytheism is the original 
form of religion, and that "the first ideas of religion arose not from 
a contemplation of the works of nature, but from a concern with 
regard to the events of life, and from the incessant hopes and fears 
which actuate the human mind." Agitated by "the anxious concern 
for happiness, the dread of future misery, the terror of death, the 
thirst of revenge, the appetite for food, and other necessaries . . . 
men scrutinize, with a trembling curiosity, the course of future 
causes, and examine the various and contrary events of human life. 
And in this disordered scene, with eyes still more disordered and 
astonished, they see the first obscure traces of divinity." Both of 
these passages represented a manner of regarding religion which 
was revolutionary and offensive to the conservative opinion of the 
time. They meant that in a certain sense Christianity must be re- 
garded as on a par with the most despised superstitions, since all 
spring from the same seed in human nature, or from the same 
general situation in which all men find themselves. It is man's fear 
of fortune, his hope of controlling the deeper forces of nature for his 
own good, from which his religion has sprung, and all religions 
alike may be judged by their power to dispel this fear and fulfill this 
hope. So there arose the difference between "natural religion," 
religion conceived as springing from the constitution of man and 
the common facts of life, and "positive religion," which consists in 
some specific institution, tradition, and dogma. One now has a new 
standard by which to judge of religion. Just as one may compare 
monarchy and democracy with reference to their utility as instru- 
ments of government, so one may compare Christianity and 
Buddhism with reference to their fulfillment of the general religious 
need. Which is the better religion, in the sense of doing better what 
a religion is intended to do? And quite apart from the question 

'See Harvard Classics, xxxiv, 31 iff. 


of comparative merits there is a new field of study opened to the 
human mind, the study of religion as a natural historical fact. 


Hume's "Natural History of Religion" has developed in two 
directions. First, the emphasis in the nineteenth century on history 
and evolution, the interest in the sources and manifold varieties of 
all growing things, promoted the development of what is now called 
"Comparative Religion." Missionaries, travelers, and in recent years 
students of anthropology and ethnography have collected the 
religious literature and described the religious customs of India, 
China, and Japan, as well as of primitive and savage peoples in all 
parts of the globe. Ancient religions have been made known through 
the development of archaeology. Most important of all for the re- 
covery of the past has been the increased knowledge of languages. 
The knowledge of Sanskrit opened the way to an understanding of 
the sources of the ancient Indian religions; the translation of hiero- 
glyphics and cuneiform characters has brought to light the ancient 
religions of Egypt, Babylonia, and Assyria. More refined methods 
have shed a wholly new light upon Greek and early Semitic religions. 
The possession of this wealth of material has made possible new 
generalizations concerning the generic character of religion, or con- 
cerning its origin and evolution. 

The work of Tylor, Spencer, Max Miiller, Andrew Lang, and 
Frazer may be said to signalize a genuinely new branch of human 
knowledge in which religion as a universal human interest or aspect 
of life is made an object of dispassionate and empirical study. 


Second, toward the close of the nineteenth century a great impetus 
was given to the science of psychology, and this is reflected in an- 
other extension of Hume's "Natural History of Religion," in what 
is called "Psychology of Religion." There is the question of the 
genesis of the religious consciousness from instincts and sentiments 
such as fear and reverence. There are psychological types of religion 
such as James's "sick soul" and "religion of healthy mindedness." 
There is the elaborate analysis of the mystical experience, with its 


"rhythm," its "disconnection," and its characteristic stages. Special 
psychological importance attaches to religious crises, such as "con- 
version," and their relation to physiological conditions such as 
adolescence. Certain religious states border upon hysteria and be- 
long to the domain of abnormal psychology, others illustrate the 
play of the great social forces of imitation and suggestion. Professor 
James's great book has given currency to its title "Varieties of Re- 
ligious Experience," and these varieties are being collected, described, 
and catalogued by an ever-increasing body of observers. 

But both Hobbes and Hume, as we have seen, attempted to name 
the generic essence of religion. What amid all its varieties external 
and internal, amid its bewildering manifoldness of ritual, dogma, 
and mental state, is its common character? Were these authors cor- 
rect in tracing all religion to man's fear of the influence of the 
deeper causes of nature on his fortunes? This question is still the 
interesting question which vitalizes the patient empirical studies in 
comparative religion and the psychology of religion, and constitutes 
the problem of philosophy of religion. 


To what universal fact does religion owe its existence? Is it per- 
chance a fact concerning human nature? It has often been taught 
that man possesses a distinct and original faculty called "the religious 
consciousness" by which he forms the idea of God. All men, pos- 
sessing the same mental constitution, will thus agree in conceiving 
of a God. But this view is based upon an obsolete psychology. It is 
now generally believed that a man is born with instincts and 
capacities which enable him to cope with his world, but which do 
not predetermine his ideas. These result from experience, from the 
interaction between his instincts and capacities and the environment 
in which he is called upon to exercise them. As respects religion in 
particular it has become fairly evident that it calls into play various 
factors of human nature, such as the instincts of fear or of curiosity, 
no one of which is in itself peculiarly religious. The religious con- 
sciousness, in other words, is complex and derived rather than 
original; a product of experience rather than an innate possession 
of the mind. How then is the universality of religion to be accounted 


for? There is a second possibility. Perhaps God, the object of 
religion, is a common and familiar object, like the sun — so palpable, 
so ubiquitous that no man can fail to acquire a notion of it. But if 
one sets aside all preconceived ideas and looks out upon one's world 
with the eye of a first discoverer, or of a Martian just arrived upon 
earth, one does not find God. God is not an evident fact in any 
ordinary sense. Herbert Spencer attempted to trace religion to a 
belief in ghosts founded upon the experience of dreams. To one 
who interprets dreams naively it is doubtless a fact that persons 
"appear" after death and seem to speak and act where their bodies 
are not. But in so far as a ghost is such a commonplace and evident 
fact it is not a God. It is merely one sort of curious creature that 
inhabits this teeming world. And the religious man finds objects 
of worship in what is most substantial and least ghostlike. It is a 
forced and far-fetched hypothesis that would have us explain the 
worship of the sun, or the sea, or the Creator, by supposing that man 
has projected into nature the substances of his dreams. God is not a 
substance. He is not more vaporous or incorporeal than he is 
liquid or solid, except in sophisticated theologies. And it is certainly 
only in a careless or figurative sense that God can be said to be 
manifest in his works, in the splendor or terrors of nature. He may 
be inferred or interpreted from these, but he is not perceived as 
literally present in their midst. "The heavens declare the glory of 
God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork," but not to the 
eye of the mere observer of fact even though it be placed at the end 
of a telescope. 

There seems to me to be only one alternative left. We must, I 
think, conclude that in so far as religion is universal it arises from 
the conjunction of man and his environment. Its seed is the situation 
in which man finds himself, a situation made up of two interacting 
parts, man and his world. Let us see if we can describe this situation 
so as to see the inevitableness of religion. 

Life may be broadly described as see\ing something under given 
circumstances. Man is impelled toward ends, and limited by an 
existing situation. If we view our world dramatically, and assign 
to man the role of hero, the fundamental fact is his dependence on 
environment. He exists, as it were, despite the environment, which. 


though it has given birth to him, is ever threatening to devour him; 
and whatever he gains must be wrung from that environment. Life 
must be conducted, in short, on terms dictated by its environment. 
But before reUgion we must suppose Hfe to have already conquered 
something of nature and made it its own. When man finds himself, 
there is already much that he can control. He can move about freely 
on the surface of the earth; he can manipulate physical objects and 
so procure himself food and shelter; and through individual prowess 
or through combination he can control other men. Within certain 
limits, then, man has the upper hand, and may make his fortune as 
he wills. But these limits are narrow. They are, of course, most 
narrow in the early stages of human development. But there has 
been no time in which they have not been pitifully narrow. Man 
may deceive himself. He may so magnify his achievements or be so 
preoccupied with his affairs as to enjoy illusions of grandeur and 
self-sufficiency. But it is a question if our Western, modern, and 
"civilized" boastfulness does not betoken a more imperfect sense of 
proportion than that consciousness of dependence which was once 
felt more keenly and is still felt wherever man finds himself in the 
immediate presence of the unharnessed energies of nature. In any 
case man is periodically reminded, if he is not perpetually mindful, 
of the great residual environment that is beyond his control. Man 
proposes, but after all something beyond him disposes. Floods, 
droughts, pestilence, rigors of climate, subjection, error, failure — 
these are the facts that teach and drive home the lesson of depend- 
ence. The most impressive and unanswerable fact is death. The 
whole fabric of personal achievement, woven by innumerable pains- 
taking acts, all the fruits of struggle and of growth — possessions, 
power, friendship — are apparently annihilated in an instant, and 
with an ease that would be ridiculous if it were not so deeply tragic. 
Now how shall man profit by this bitter lesson? He must not 
despair if he is to live; for to live is to hope for and to seek a way 
out of every predicament. To live in the consciousness of finitude 
and dependence means to look for help. If the forces that man 
cannot control do actually determine his destiny, then he must seek 
to win them over, or to ally himself with them. Here, I believe, is 
the root of religion: the attempt of man, conscious of his helplessness. 


to unite himself with the powers which do actually dominate. Re- 
ligion is a sense of need, a conviction of the insecurity of any merely 
worldly advantage that he may gain for himself, and a way of salva- 
tion through coming to terms with that which controls his destiny. 
Religion is both founded on fear and consummated in hope. 

It will perhaps seem strange that one should thus have attempted 
to describe religion without referring to deity. But the reason for 
the attempt lies in the fact that deity is not the cause of religion, but 
the product of religion. God is not, as we have seen, a manifest fact 
among facts; but is an object invoked to meet the religious need. 
Let us consider briefly the various types of deity to which religion 
has given rise. 


The commonest of all objects of worship is some prominent aspect 
of nature, such as the sky, sun, moon, and stars, the earth, the sea, 
rivers, winds, the seasons, day, and night. Before the development 
of science man cannot control the operations of these phenomena. 
Whether they shall favor him with moderate rains, fertility, a calm 
passage and temperate weather, or torture and destroy him with 
drought, flood, storm, and the extremes of heat and cold, he can 
neither foretell nor predetermine. He can only wait and tremble, 
hope and pray. That he should hope and pray is inevitable. It is the 
instinct of any living thing toward that which is to decide its fate 
and which it is impotent otherwise to control. The sun thus re- 
garded as able either to bless or to destroy, and therefore an object 
of importunity, already begins to be a god. But there is lacking a 
factor which if it be not absolutely indispensable to deity, is almost 
invariably present. I refer to what is commonly called "personifica- 
tion." What is worshiped is the "spirit" in the sun, or the sun con- 
strued as spirit. But this factor, too, arises, I believe, directly from 
the practical situation and not from any metaphysics on the part 
of the worshiper. It is the sequel to the famiUar fact that we impute 
interest or will to any agency that helps or hurts. I do not mean that 
there is any express judgment to that effect, but that our emotional 
and practical response is similar to that which we accord to other 
living individuals. The animal will exhibit rage toward the rod 


with which he is prodded, the child will chastise the blocks which 
"refuse" to stand up, as his father will revenge himself upon the 
perverse golf stick by breaking it across his knee. Similarly it is 
natural to love, eulogize, caress, or adorn any object to which one 
owes pleasure or any other benefit. These responses are equivalent 
to imputing an attitude to their objects, an attitude of malice or 
hostility when the effect is hurtful, and one of benevolence when the 
effect is helpful. This, I believe, is the root of religious personifica- 
tion. The sun, in so far as its effects are good, is an object of gratitude 
for favor shown; in so far as its effects are bad, it is an object of 
solicitous regard in the hope that its hostility may be averted and 
its favor won. The sun so regarded or worshiped is the sun god. 
The extent to which the will or intent, and the power over man, are 
divorced from the visible and bodily sun and regarded as a "spirit" 
is of secondary importance; as is also the extent to which such a god 
has a history of his own apart from his treatment of man. For the 
exuberant imagination of the Greeks the sun god becomes an in- 
dividuality vividly realized in art, poetry, and legend. But for prac- 
tical people like the Chinese, "it is enough," as Professor Moore 
points out, "to know what the Gods do, and what their worshipers 
have to do to secure their favor, without trying to imagine what 
they are like." ^ 

A second type of deity is the ancestor; the actual human ancestor, 
as worshiped by the Chinese, the mystical animal ancestor of totem- 
ism, or any deity adopted as ancestor, as the Christian God is claimed 
as Father by his believers. The idea of kinship with the object of 
worship is very widespread, and its motive is clearly intelligible in 
the light of what has been said above. Kinship implies alliance, the 
existence of friendly support and the right to claim it. One's de- 
parted ancestors belong to that world beyond from which emanate 
the dread forces that one cannot control. Their presence there means 
that there are friends at court. Man is not surrounded by indifferent 
strangers, but by beings bound to him by nature and inseparable 
ties, partisans who are favorably inclined. 

A third type of deity is the tutelary god, conceived ad hoc to render 
some special service. He may be the personal, tribal, or national 
^G. F. Moore: "History of Religions," p. 22. 


protector; or the good genius of some human or social activity, such 
as is the god who presides over husbandry, vi^ar, or navigation, or 
the homely household god of the hearth and the "cooking furnace." 
Here the insistent need invents and objectifies its own fulfillment. 
All three notions of deity may be united in a local tribal deity, 
"who on the one hand has fixed relations to a race of men, and on 
the other hand has fixed relations to a definite sphere of nature," so 
that "the worshiper is brought into stated and permanent alliance 
with certain parts of his material environment which are not subject 
to his will and control." ' 


There is one further notion of deity that demands recognition in 
this brief summary, the notion, namely, of the supreme deity. As 
men develop in intelligence, imagination, and in range of social 
intercourse, it is inevitable that one god should be exalted above all 
others, or worshiped to the exclusion of all others. Such a religious 
conception arises from the experience of the unity of nature or of the 
unity of man. There is an evident hierarchy among the powers of 
nature; some are subordinated to others, and it is natural to con- 
ceive of one as supreme. Most evident to sense is the exultation of 
the heavens above the earth and the intermediate spaces. So we 
find Heaven to be supreme God among the Chinese, and Zeus 
among the Greeks. On the other hand, there is a hierarchy among 
tutelary and ancestral gods. As the patron gods of individuals, of 
special arts, or of tribes and provinces are subordinated to the 
national god, so the national god in turn is subjected to the god of a 
conquering nation. Allied with the idea of universal conquest is 
the idea of an all-dominant god, the god of the ruling class. Or a 
tutelary god may be universal in proportion to the universality of 
the activity over which he presides. The gods of the same activity 
though belonging originally to different cults may come to be 
identified; so that there arises the conception of a god that shall be 
universal in the sense of presiding over the common undertaking in 
which all men are engaged. And similarly the god from whom all 
men are descended will take precedence of the gods of families, 

'W. Robertson Smith: "Religion of the Semites," p. 124. 


tribes, and nations. Tlius there are several more or less independent 
motives which may lead to a universal religion, such as Christianity, 
whose god is a god of all men, regardless of time, place, race, or 

Deity, then, in the generic sense common to all religions, high and 
low, is some force beyond the range of man's control, potent over 
his fortunes, construed as friendly or hostile, and so treated as to 
secure, if possible, its favor and support. It is important in the next 
place to point out two different motives in worship, connected with 
two different ways in which the worshiper and his god may be 
brought into unison. To put it briefly, one may propose to have 
one's own way, or surrender to the god's way. This is the religious 
apphcation of the fact that there are two ways to obtain satisfaction 
and peace of mind; to get what one wants, or to want what one 
gets. Religion may be said always to lie somewhere between these 
two extremes. It is natural and reasonable to try the former method 
first. And this is undoubtedly the earlier motive in worship. Man 
wants food, and long life, and victory over his enemies, and he seeks 
to gain the deity's support in these undertakings. But there is never 
a time when he does not recognize the necessity of making con- 
cessions. He pays sacrifices, or observes taboo, or adopts the code 
of conduct which his god prescribes. And it is the common religious 
experience that the conditions of divine favor become more exacting, 
while the benefit is less evident. Thus there arises what philosophers 
call the problem of evil, of which the classic Christian expression is 
to be found in the Book of Job,* who "was perfect and upright, and 
one that feared God, and eschewed evil," and nevertheless was 
visited with every misery and disaster. In so far as Job solved this 
problem he found the solution in entire surrender to the will of 
God. "Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall 
I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; 
blessed be the name of the Lord." Nevertheless in the end "the 
Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before." Certainly a religion 
of utter renunciation would be no religion at all. There would be 
no motive in worship unless one were in some sense blessed thereby. 
The tendency in the evolution of religion is to substitute for the 

*H. c. xliv, 71 ff. 


carnal or worldly blessing for which one had at first invoked divine 
aid a new and higher good which one learns to find in the mode 
of life which reHgion prescribes. Religion becomes thus not merely 
instrumental, but educative. From it one learns not so much the 
way to satisfy one's natural and secular wants, as the way to despise 
those wants and set one's heart on other things. It is this mingled 
self-assertion and self-surrender in religion that makes reverence its 
characteristic emotion. God is both the means by which one realizes 
one's end, and also a higher law by which one's end is reconstructed. 


The religion in which entire renunciation is most closely approxi- 
mated is the philosophical or esoteric religion of India. All the 
varieties of this religion reflect one fundamental attitude to life, the 
feeling that no good can come of persistent endeavor. The attempt 
to fulfill desire is hopeless. The Indian does not abandon himself 
to despair; but he differs from his occidental brother in this, that 
whereas the latter hopes by divine aid, or in the distant future, to 
achieve either personal happiness or the perfection of what he calls 
"civilization," the former regards the whole attempt as founded on 
error. Its inevitable failure does not signify real failure, but the 
adoption of a wrong standard of success. According to the teaching 
of the "Upanishads" even separate individuality is an illusion per- 
petuated by desire. 

When all the passion is at rest 
That lurks within the heart of man 
Then is the mortal no more mortal, 
But here and now attaineth Brahman.' 

In Brahman, the deeper unity of the world, the individual has his 
true being and is saved. 

The importance of regarding the conception of God, not as the 
root of religion, but as the product of religion, appears when we 
come to the consideration of Buddhism.' For Buddhism is, in fact, 
a godless religion, paradoxical as that may seem. It is true that 

' Quoted by G. F. Moore, op. cit., p. 270. 
' See lecture by Professor Lanman, below. 


Buddha himself has come like Confucius to be an object of religion. 
Every founder of a religion is almost inevitably deified by his fol- 
lovvfers. But Buddha did not deify himself. He taught men to regard 
even the soul itself as a transient and illusory experience. Suffering 
is the universal law of existence. Existence is the penalty of desire, 
a rebirth owing to Karma, the dispositions and desert which are the 
precipitate of a previous existence. There is a fatal recurrence of 
existence, for life tends ever to create the conditions of its own re- 
incarnation and continuance. Salvation means not successful exist- 
ence, the realization of actual desires, but escape from existence, 
through the conquering of desire. In such a religion there is no god, 
for there is no ulterior power in or through which man is to fulfill 
his positive longings. But it is nevertheless religion, in that it is a 
release of man from his predicament. Nirvana is perhaps from all 
other points of view equivalent to annihilation; but from the point 
of view of man, conscious of his helplessness and failure, it means 
salvation. It is a philosophy of life, an accord between man and his 
world by which he wins the greatest good that he can conceive. 

In order to understand the general scope of religious literature it 
is not suiBcient that one should grasp the general principle of 
religion. One must know something of the forms which religion 
assumes in human life; and especially important is it to know some- 
thing of its relations to science on the one hand, and to art and 
poetry on the other hand. 


By science let us understand knowledge founded on fact or 
rigorous reasoning. How far is one to construe religious literature 
as science, that is, as the work of man's theorizing and cognizing 
faculties? There is probably more confusion in this matter at the 
present time than there has ever been in the past. The increase of 
doubt, the scientific refutation of beliefs once authorized by religion, 
have led to various attempts to retain these beliefs by a sheer act of 
"faith," or on account of their subjective and imaginative values. 
Since the ascendancy of Catholic orthodoxy in the fourteenth cen- 
tury there has been a steady tendency to regard one Christian teach- 
ing after another, the story of Jonah and the whale, the account of 


creation in Genesis, and now even the miracles o£ the New Testa- 
ment, as fictions which are to be valued as symbols, tradition, poetry, 
or as parts of a system of faith which as a whole is to be judged not 
by reference to historic fact but by its comforting or regenerating 
effect upon the believer. But if we recall to our minds that original 
human need in response to which religion arises, it is unmistakably 
evident that there must be a nucleus of truth in a religion if it is to 
meet that need at all. In religion man seeks to relate himself profit- 
ably to things as they are. He seeks to save his soul by adopting the 
course that is consistent with the deeper reality. If he is misled as to 
the nature of reality, then his whole plan is founded on error and is 
foredoomed to failure. If the forces of nature have no power, or 
are not to be influenced by human importunity, then it is folly to 
worship them. If there be no deeper cause that guarantees the 
triumph of righteousness, then the Christian's hope is illusory, and 
his prayer and worship idle. In short, every religion is at heart a 
belief in something as true, and if that something be not true, then 
the religion is discredited. 

Nevertheless, although there is a scientific nucleus in every re- 
ligion, that nucleus is but a small fraction of it. In the first place 
religion differs from science proper in that it deliberately adopts a 
view of things according to which man is the central fact of the 
universe. Religion is interested in cosmic affairs only in so far as 
they bear upon human fortunes. Hence it finally expresses itself not 
in judgments of fact, but in emotion, such as hope, fear, confidence, 
despair, reverence, love, gratitude, or self-subjection. Its object is 
the cosmos or some ulterior cosmic agency, construed as helpful or 
hurtful, colored by the worshiper's solicitude. Hence much religious 
literature, such, for example, as the Psalms,' or St. Augustine's Con- 
fessions,' are essentially expressions of the religious emotions, char- 
acterizations of deity not by the use of cold scientific formulas, but 
by the use of epithets that signify the feelings and attitude of the 
worshiper himself. 

A second non-scientific factor in religion is that contributed by 
the imagination and by social tradition. Religion differs from theory 
in that it comes after and not before belief. Religion is not effective, 

' H. C, xliv, I45ff. « H. C. vii, 5ff. 


does not do its work, until after some interpretation of cosmic forces 
has been adopted by an individual and has become the accepted 
basis of his life. Buddhism begins as a religion when the individual 
enters upon that course of discipline by which he hopes to attain 
Nirvana; and Christianity begins when the believer actually follows 
the way of salvation by prayer, obedience, and good works. And in 
all important historical religions the underlying dogmas are assimi- 
lated not only to personal but also to social life. They are com- 
monly and collectively believed, and have become the unconscious 
presuppositions of a community worship. The office of the religious 
imagination is in making these scientific presuppositions vital and 
effective. A religion of hope is not a series of propositions concern- 
ing the favorable bearing of cosmic forces, but a vivid realization 
of the purport of such propositions, a hopefulness translated into 
emotional buoyance or confident action. By the imagination religious 
truth is made impressive, so that it evokes the affections and moti- 
vates action. The social counterpart is found in tradition and sym- 
bolism, which secures the continuity and solidarity of religious feel- 
ings and practices. In brief, then, we may expect to find in all ex- 
pressions of religion, such as religious literature, certain underlying 
assumptions which are capable of being converted into scientific 
propositions; but these will be overlaid and obscured by an imag- 
inative and symbolic representation in which their meaning is 
emotionally and practically realized. 

There is another important respect in which religion differs from 
science, namely, in its proceeding beyond the Umits of evidence. 
There never was and never will be a religion which possesses the 
same verification that is demanded in the case of a scientific theory. 
Religion is a leap in the dark. The reason for this is evident. For 
practical purposes it is necessary to conclude matters that for strictly 
theoretical purposes one would postpone in the hope of further light. 
Life is an emergency, a crisis, or as William James has said, a 
"forced option."" One must make up one's mind quickly, or live 
altogether at random. What shall one make of this world, and what 
shall one do to be saved? The decision cannot be postponed; and 
yet the evidence is, strictly considered, inconclusive. Faith means 
» "The Will to Believe," p. 3. 


to believe what seems probable, and to believe it not half-heartedly, 
but with conviction. For if one believes half-heartedly, one cannot 
proceed according to one's belief, or attain salvation by it. The ele- 
ment of sheer faith may be more or less, according to the degree of 
critical and philosophical power which the worshiper possesses. 
But in every case there will be some basis in experienced fact and 
in inference, and also some "will to believe" or reliance on authority. 
And we shall consequently find in religious literature a note of 
dogmatic certainty and of willfulness, which is as inevitable in such 
a context as it would be intolerable in science. 


There is one further topic to which even so brief an introduction 
as this must allude. What is the relation between religion and 
morality? Are we to regard ethical teachings such as those of the 
Book of Proverbs or the Sayings of Confucius '" as religious ? To 
answer this question, we have only, I think, to bear clearly in mind 
the generic meaning of reUgion. A mode of life becomes religious 
only when it is pursued under certain auspices; only when it is 
conceived as sanctioned by the general nature of the cosmos, and 
as constituting a way of salvation. If justice be prized as a means 
of social welfare, it is ethical; if it be adopted as a means of winning 
the favor of God, or as a means of achieving Nirvana, it is religious. 
The moral life takes on a religious character when it is in some way 
connected wdth the cosmic life. In the so-called "ethical religions" 
the mode of Hfe prescribed by religion tends to coincide with that 
prescribed by the moral consciousness, and righteousness is con- 
ceived as the way of salvation. Needless to say, such a contraction 
of morality greatly enhances its impressiveness and appeal. In all 
ethical religions that are inspired with hope, religion adds to a good 
conscience the sense of ascendency or victory over nature. Right 
living takes on the aspect of ultimate reality. To sheer duty is added 
confidence, inspiration, the expectation of limitless and durable 
achievement. Even in pessimistic religions of the ethical type, 
morality acquires prestige as having supreme importance for escape 
from the misery of existence. And from the religious consciousness 
'» H. C, xliv, 5ff.i and lecture by A. D. Sheffield, below. 


as such, irrespective of its special claims and beliefs, morality acquires 
a certain dignity and reinforcement. For religion encourages man 
to look at life roundly and seriously. It frees him from the obsession 
of passion and the circumscription of immediate interests. It keeps 
alive the cosmic imagination, and invites attention to the problem 
of life as a whole in all its bearings, internal and external. 

Thus it is fair to conclude that religion is universal in two senses. 
On the one hand it springs from a universal need. On the other 
hand, it possesses a universal value, and cannot fail, however much 
of error or blindness there may be in it, to elevate and dignify life. 
True religion is better than false, but it is not less certain that religion 
is better than irreligion. 


By Professor C. R. Lanman 

THE life of Gotama, the Enlightened One, or Buddha, a life 
of eighty years, is divided into two parts, one of thirty-five 
years and one of forty-five, by the event of his Enlightenment 
or Bodhi. This seeing of a new light is to a Buddhist the one supreme 
event of the incalculably long son now current, just as is the birth 
of Jesus in Occidental chronology. Those first thirty-five years are 
again divided into two parts, the period of his life as a prince or 
the time from his birth until (at the age of twenty-nine') he forsook 
the world to struggle for the Supreme Enlightenment, and the period 
of the six years of that struggle. Of these thirty-five years we have 
elaborate accounts.^ Of the last forty-five, tradition has little to say 
in the way of entertaining story, but very much by way of reporting 
"the Teacher's" teachings. These teachings as laid down in the 
canonical scriptures of Buddhism are in very deed his life in the 
truest sense. 


The belief that a man must be born and live and die, only to be 
born and die again and again through a weary round of existences, 
was widespread in India long before Buddha's day. And accordingly 
the "biography" of a Buddha must include an account of some of 
those former "births" or existences. The story of Sumedha' is one 
of these. The "Jataka," the most charming of all Buddhist story 
books,* contains the narrative of not less than 547 former existences 
of Gotama. Next after all this prenatal biography comes the account 
of Buddha's birth into the existence which concerns us most nearly, 

' Harvard Classics, xlv, 643. ^ H. C, xlv, 603-646. 

^H. C, xlv, 577-602. The story of the "Wise Hare," pages 697-701, is a Jataka 
or Birth story. 

* Translated by various hands under the editorship of E. B. Cowell, 6 vols., 
Cambridge, 1895-1907. 



the actual one of the sixth century before Christ, and this forms the 
subject of the second of Warren's translations, "The Birth of the 
Buddha."^ That translation is from a later work. It is most in- 
structive for the student of religious tradition to compare the meager 
statements of the oldest canonical account with such an account as 
this, in order to see how the loving imagination of devout disciples 
may embellish a simple and prosaic fact with a multitude of pic- 
turesque details. Thus the presages of Buddha's birth° are quite 
comparable, except for beauty of poetic diction, with those of the 
birth of Jesus in Milton's hymn "On the Morning of Christ's 
Nativity."' As an example of new accretions to the older story 
may be cited the later tradition that Buddha was born from his 
mother's right side, a trait that appears not only in the Lalita-vistara 
and in St. Jerome, but also in many of the sculptured representations 
of the scene. 


The teachings of Buddha are indeed his life, his very self. In 
the house of a potter the venerable Vakkali lay nigh unto death.' 
The Exalted One (Buddha) came to his pillow and made kindest 
inquiries. "Long have I wished to go to the Exalted One to see him, 
but there was not enough strength in my body to go." "Peace, 
Vakkali! what should it profit thee to see this my corrupt body.? 
Whoso, O Vakkali, seeth my teachings, he seeth me." Here the 
Teacher identifies himself with his teachings no less completely than 
does Jesus when he declares unto Thomas, "I am the way." And 
yet, despite Buddha's merging of his personality in his doctrine, it 
is of utmost importance to remember two things: First that Buddha 
most explicitly disclaims acceptance of his teachings on the score of 
authority; and secondly that it was, after all, their intrinsic excellence 
which (whether we take it as the fruit of a transcendental illumina- 
tion or as the outcome of his personality) has maintained them as a 
mighty world power for five and twenty centuries. 

First then his position as to authority. The Exalted One, when 
making a tour through Kosala, once stopped at Kesaputta, a town 

= H. C, xlv, 603-12. "H. C, xlv, 607-608. 'H. C, iv, 7. 

' Samyutta-Nikaya, xxii, 87 (3.1 19). 


of the Kalamans. They asked him: "Master, so many teachers come 
to us with their doctrines. Who of them is right and who is wrong?" 
"Not because it is tradition," he answers, "not because it has been 
handed down from one to another, not because ye think 'Our teacher 
is one to whom great deference is due,' should ye accept a doctrine. 
When, O Kalamans, when ye of yourselves recognize that such and 
such things are bad and conduce to evil and sorrow, then do ye 
reject them." * And again, "When a man's conviction of a truth is 
dependent on no one but himself, this, O Kaccana, is what con- 
stitutes Right Belief." '° It is hard for us of the twentieth century 
to estimate aright the significance of Buddha's attitude. He lived 
in a land and age when deference to authority was well-nigh uni- 
versal. To break with it as he did, implies an intelligence far beyond 
the common and a lofty courage. 

Secondly as to the intrinsic excellence of Buddha's teaching. That 
teaching is well characterized by a few brief phrases which occur 
as a commonplace in the canonical texts and are used as one of the 
forty subjects of meditation or "businesses" by devout Buddhists: 
"Well taught by the Exalted One is the doctrine. It avails even in 
the present life, is immediate in its blessed results, is inviting, is 
conducive to salvation, and may be mastered by any intelligent man 
for himself."" Frankly disclaiming knowledge of what happens 
after death, Buddha addressed himself to the problem of sorrow as 
we have it here and now, and sought to relieve it by leading men 
into the path of righteousness and good-will and freedom from lust. 
A would-be disciple once asked him to answer certain dogmatic 
questions about life after death. Buddha parried them all as irrele- 
vances in the dialogue which Warren gives'^ and which is one of 
the finest presentations of Religion versus Dogma to be found in 
antiquity. The holy life, he says, does not depend upon the answers 
to any of these questions. 

If a physician of forty years ago had been asked to foretell the 
then presumable advances of medical science, his guesses might 
well have included the discovery of new specifics, such as quinine 
for malaria; for medicine was then the healing art, its aim was to 

» Anguttara-Nikaya, iii, 65 (1.189). '"H. C, xlv, 661. 
" H. C, xlv, 749. " H. C, xlv, 647-652. 


cure. True, we had heard from our childhood that an ounce of 
prevention is worth a pound of cure. But how was the ounce of 
prevention to be had ? Doubtless by finding out the cause of disease. 
And this is on the whole the most significant achievement of modern 
medicine. Now it was precisely this problem in the world of the 
spirit that Buddha claimed to solve, the aetiology of man's misery. 
His solution he publicly announced in his first sermon, the gist of 
which was destined to become known to untold millions, the sermon 
of the Deerpark of Benares. 

His most important point is the cause of human suffering," and 
that he finds in the craving for existence (no matter how noble that 
existence) and for pleasure. If you can only master these cravings, 
you are on the road to salvation, to Nirvana. This, so far as the 
present life is concerned, means the going out of the fires of lust 
and ill will and delusion, and further a getting rid thereby of the 
round of rebirth. 


Without attempting to discuss so many-sided a subject as Nirvana, 
or rightly to evaluate Buddha's prescription of the abandonment of 
all craving, it is clear that his ethical teachings, like his spotless life, 
have stood and will stand the test of centuries. The Deerpark ser- 
mon urges the excellence of the golden mean between the life of 
self-castigation and the life of ease and luxury, and propounds the 
Noble Eightfold Path, which is, after all, in brief, the life of 
righteousness in thought and word and deed. Many notable sim- 
ilarities between the teachings of Buddha and those of Jesus have 
been pointed out." These need not surprise us. Nor is there any 
^ priori reason for assuming a borrowing in either direction. If I 
make an entirely original demonstration of the fact that the inner 
angles of a triangle amount to two right angles, my demonstration 
will agree in essence with that of Pythagoras because mathematical 
truth does not differ from land to land nor from age to age. Nor 

" Buddha's Four Eminent Truths concern suffering, its cause, its surcease, and 
the way thereto. They coincide with those of the Yoga system and are indeed the 
four cardinal subjects of Hindu medical science applied to spiritual healing — a fact 
which famous ancient Hindu writers have themselves not failed to observe. 

'*So by Albert J. Edmunds in his "Buddhist and Christian Gospels," 4th ed., 2 
vols., Philadelphia, 1908-9. 


yet does goodness. And accordingly many of the teachings of the 
great teachers of righteousness must coincide. 

On the other hand it is interesting to note that Buddha's teachings 
lay great emphasis, and lay it often, upon things about which in 
the Gospels comparatively little or nothing is expressly said. Don't 
hurry, don't worry, the simple life; don't accept a belief upon the 
authority of me or of anyone else; don't let your outgo exceed your 
income; the relation of master and servant; the duty not only of 
kindness but even of courtesy to animals: these are some of the 
themes upon which Buddha discourses, now with a touch of humor, 
now with pathos, and always with gentleness and wisdom and 

To the readers of Warren's faithful translations a word is due 
as to the extreme repetitiousness of much of the Buddhist writings. 
The charming stories are free from it. Not so the doctrinal dis- 
courses. Scientific opinion upon this strange and tedious fault is 
rapidly clearing.'^ These texts that claim to be the actual "Buddha- 
word" are in reality the product of conscious scholastic literary 
activity, and of a time considerably subsequent to that of Buddha. 
This is quite certain. But no less so is it that they do in fact contain 
the real sayings of Buddha. "Be ye heirs of things spiritual, not heirs 
of things carnal." '* This, we may confidently assert, is in its 
simplicity and pregnant brevity, an absolutely authentic utterance 
of Gotama Buddha. At the same time it is the substance, and in- 
deed we may say the entire substance, of a discourse of about four 
hundred Pali words attributed to Buddha." Of the lengths to which 
perverse scholasticism may go, the case is a luculent illustration." 

''See R. Otto Franke, Digha-Nikaya, Gottingen, 1913, p. x. 

"The antithesis of this saying o£ Buddha, we may note in passing, is familiar 
to readers of the New Testament. 

" Majjhima-Nikaya, vol. i, p. 12-13. 

'* The method of the expansion one may easily guess after reading Warren's 
"Questions," H. C, xlv, 647-652. Its motive is probably pedagogical. 


By Alfred Dwight Sheffield 

CONFUCIANISM, although spoken of with Buddhism and 
Taoism as one of the "Three Teachings," or three major 
religions of China, can hardly be defined as a religion in the 
precise way in which we can define Mahayana Buddhism or Roman 
Catholic Christianity. It has neither creed nor priesthood, nor any 
worship beyond what Confucius found already established in his 
day. The commemorative service, performed by local officials 
throughout China in spring and autumn in the red-walled shrines 
known as "Confucian temples" is not worship of the sage, but a 
civil rite in his honor, quite compatible with the profession of an- 
other religion. Indeed, when a few centuries after his death venera- 
tion approached to worship, and women began offering prayers 
to Confucius for children, the practice was stopped (A. D. 472) by 
imperial edict, as something superstitious and unbecoming. Con- 
fucianism may be said to have a bible in the nine canonical books 
associated with the sage's name; but it claims for them no divine 
revelation, nor other inspiration than such as speaks for itself from 
their pages. What these books yield to one who would define Con- 
fucianism is a conception of enlightened living, a social ideal which 
entails some allegiance to an old national religion blending nature 
worship and ancestor worship. One might say that the essence of 
Confucianism is a type of "eligible" life, the regimen of which in- 
cludes a worship only indirectly Confucian, much as Stoicism among 
the Romans included as a matter of principle some adherence to the 
established worship. 


Confucius can be appreciated only in his historical setting. It has 
been made a reproach to the sage that his vision was retrospective 
and conservative; but he cannot be charged with a mere desire to 



bring back "the good old days." When, at the court of Chou, he 
first inspected the ancestral shrines and the arrangements for the 
great annual sacrifices to Heaven and Earth, he exclaimed: "As we 
use a glass to examine the forms of things, so must we study the 
past to understand the present." The past, moreover, really held 
models of statecraft from which his own times had fallen away. The 
great Chou dynasty, which through a succession of able princes 
had ruled the whole valley of the Hoang Ho, had in the sixth cen- 
tury B. C. dwindled to a shadow of its early power. The emperor 
(or rather king for the title Huang-ti was then applied only to de- 
ceased monarchs) was reduced to a headship merely nominal, and 
the old imperial domain was broken up among turbulent vassals, 
each fighting for his own hand. The China of Confucius was pretty 
much in the condition of France before Louis XI broke the power of 
the feudal dukes and counts. With the tradition behind him of a 
nation united by wise leadership, Confucius is no more to be blamed 
for looking back than is Aristotle, whose Ethics and Politics show 
plainly that his sympathies were not with the advancing career of 
Macedon but with the old polity of Athens. 

The first group of the Confucian books, the Five Classics, are fruits 
of this regard for the past, the sage being the reputed compiler of 
four of them, and author of the fifth. These classics are the "Shu 
Ching" or "Book of History," made up of documents covering a 
period from the twenty-fourth to the eighth century B. C; the 
"Shih Ching" or "Book of Odes," 305 lyrics dating from the eight- 
eenth to the sixth century; the "Yi Ching" or "Book of Permuta- 
tions," an ancient manual of divination; the "Li Chi," a compilation 
of ceremonial usages; and the "Ch'un Ch'iu," annals (722-484) of 
Confucius's native state of Lu. The second group in the canon, the 
Four Books, convey his actual teachings. They are the "Lun Yii" 
or "Sayings of Confucius" '; the "Ta Hsueh" or "Great Learning," 
a treatise by his disciple Tsang Sin on the ordering of the individual 
life, the family, and the state; the "Chung Yung" or "Doctrine of the 
Mean," a treatise on conduct by his grandson K'ung Chi; and the 
"Book of Mencius," his great apostle. 

^Harvard Classics, xliv, 5ff. 


The distinctive features of Confucian doctrine may be summarized 
as follows: 

(i) Filial piety is the cardinal social virtue. A dutiful son will 
prove dutiful in all the five relationships: those of father and son, 
ruler and subject, husband and wife, elder brother and younger, 
and that of friend. Such a tenet was naturally acceptable to a social 
system like the Chinese, with its patriarchalism and insistence on the 
family rather than the individual as the unit of society. Loyalty to 
family it raises to a religious duty in the rite of ancestor worship. 
Here Confucius did no more than emphasize with his approval a 
national custom — mentioned in the earliest odes — of offering food 
and wine to departed spirits. How far this family cult is to be con- 
strued as actual worship is disputable: some would compare it merely 
with the French custom of adorning graves on All Souls' Day. But 
it effectively strengthens the family bond, impressing as it does the 
sense of family unity and perpetuity through the passing generations. 

(2) Between man and man the rule of practice is "reciprocity." 
"What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others." 
Benevolence — an extension of the love of son and brother — ^is the 
worthy attitude toward one's fellows, but it should not be pressed 
to fatuous lengths. When asked his opinion of Lao-tse's teaching 
that one should requite injury with good, Confucius replied: "With 
what, then, will you requite kindness? Return good for good; for 
injury return justice." 

(3) The chief moral force in society is the example of the "superior 
man." ^ By nature man is good, and the unrighteousness of society 
is due to faulty education and bad example. Virtue in superiors 
will call out virtue in common folk. The burden of Confucius's 
teaching is therefore "superior" character — character so disciplined 
to a moral tact and responsive propriety that in every situation it 
knows the right thing and does it, and so poised in its own integrity 
as to practice virtue for virtue's sake. "What the small man seeks 
is in others; what the superior man seeks is in himself." 

(4) Toward the world of spiritual beings the Confucian attitude 
is one of reverent agnosticism. The sage would have nothing to 

^ In the version printed in H. C, this term is translated "gentleman." 


say of death and the future state. "We know little enough of 
ourselves as men; what, then, can we know of ourselves as spirits?" 
In his habit of referring to "T'ien" or "Heaven," Confucius may not 
have deliberately avoided the more personal term "Shang-ti" (Su- 
preme Lord), and expressions of his are not lacking which suggest 
a personal faith: but speculation on the nature of being and the 
destiny of the world he treated simply as a waste of time. On a 
report that two bereaved friends were comforting themselves with 
the doctrine that life is but dream and death the awakening, he 
remarked: "These men travel beyond the rule of life; I travel within 

In summary one might say that Confucius did not found any 
religious system, but transmitted one with a renewed stress on its 
ethical bearings. His interest was in man as made for society. 
Religious rites he performed to the letter, but more from a sense of 
their efficacy for "social-mindedness" than from any glow of piety. 
His faith was a faith in right thinking. The "four things he seldom 
spoke of — wonders, feats of strength, rebellious disorder, spirits" — 
were simply the things not tractable to reason. 


Confucianism has so long dominated the intellectual life of China 
that western scholars have fallen into the habit of speaking as if 
there were a sort of preestablished harmony between it and the 
national mind. As a matter of fact it has had to win its way against 
vigorous criticism and formidable rivals. The two centuries follow- 
ing Confucius's death were rife with conflicting theories of ethics. 
Yan Chu presented a cynical egoism: death ends all; so make the 
most of life, every man for himself. To this doctrine Mo Ti opposed 
a radical altruism, with universal love as the cure of misgovernment 
and social disorders. Lao-tse impugned the Confucian idea of man's 
inborn goodness. Man's nature no more tends to goodness than 
water tends to run east, or willow wood to take shape in cups and 
bowls. Against all these contentions the teaching of Confucius was 
defended and elucidated by the greatest of his followers, Meng-tse 
(372-289), whose name has been Latinized as Mencius. But Con- 
fucianism had to meet systems of thought that carried a more posi- 


tive religious appeal than it admitted of. Taoism was already in 
the field, preaching a wise passiveness toward the Way of Heaven, 
and enlisting in Chuang-tse one of the most brilliant writers that 
China has produced. His teaching was mystical: "The universe and 
I came into being together; and I, with all things therein, are One." 
The repulse of this doctrine by that of Confucius is perhaps correctly 
explained by the historian Ssu-ma Ch'ien : "Like a flood its mysteries 
spread at will: hence no one, from rulers downward, could apply 
them to any definite use." But the reticence of Confucius as to the 
state of departed spirits left an opening for Buddhism, which de- 
scribes that state with the full detail craved by popular imagination. 
The pessimistic philosophy of Buddhism was indeed alien to the 
Chinese temperament, but its missionaries won a ready response 
to its doctrine of retribution and its offer of salvation. From the 
fifth century on it was increasingly in conflict with Confucianism, 
and succumbed only after sharp persecution. Even in its decline 
it has contributed many ideas and practices to the old animistic 
religion of the masses. The triumph of Confucianism in its fall, 
moreover, was not a mere reassertion of the teaching of Confucius 
and Mencius. Taoism and Buddhism had raised questions of cos- 
mology which could no longer be ignored. The Neo-Confucianism, 
therefore, that began with Chou Tun-i (1017-1073) built upon the 
Yi Ching a cosmic philosophy, describing the world in terms of two 
principles: a primal matter and an immanent intelligence, which 
give rise on the one hand to the five elements and all sense data, 
and on the other to all wisdom and moral ideals. The greatest name 
in Neo-Confucianism is Chu Hsi (1130-1200), whose commentaries 
on the canonical books are now authoritative, and whose manuals 
of domestic rites and manners have brought the Confucian code into 
the homes of the people. 

In 1906 Confucius was "deified" by imperial decree. With the rise 
of republicanism, however, there has appeared a disposition to reject 
not only such a canonization of the sage, but the whole conservative 
tradition for which he has stood. The movement has at the present 
writing called out a reaction, but the future of Confucianism amid 
the intellectual currents now flooding in from the West, can be only 
matter of conjecture. One may hope that the ethical code that has 


made so much of what is best in the national culture both of China 
and of Japan will keep its vitality under change of forms and 
formulas. Western critics sometimes talk as if Confucius had held 
his countrymen's regard by a sort of infatuation. If so, it has been 
given to no other man to captivate the imagination of his kind with 
sheer reasonableness. 


By Professor Clifford Herschel Moore 

GREEK religion includes all the varied religious beliefs and 
' practices of the peoples living in Greek lands from the be- 
ginning of history to the end of paganism. In contrast to 
Christianity it had no body of revealed teachings, no common 
dogma or fixed ritual binding at all shrines and on every worshiper, 
but each locality might have its own distinctive myths and practices, 
and the individual might believe what he pleased so long as he did 
not openly do violence to tradition. No priestly orders attempted 
to interpose their decrees upon society; local habit alone determined 
both ritual and belief. 

The religion of the Greeks exhibited at every stage its composite 
character. As early as the second millennium B. C, so far as we can 
judge from the results of excavations in Greece proper and in Crete, 
the inhabitants of these lands had anthropomorphic ideas about 
some of their deities, that is, they thought of them and represented 
them in their art essentially as human beings; on the other hand, 
we find in the later centuries such primitive elements as the worship 
of sacred stones, trees, and symbols still existing. Yet it is a mistake 
to suppose that Greek religion had its origin in a worship of natural 
objects and forces; undoubtedly the worship of natural phenomena 
and of inanimate objects, of ancestors, and possibly of animals, all 
contributed to the religious sum total, but it is impossible to trace 
to-day all the factors which made up religion in historical times. 
We can only say that the Greeks worshiped a multitude of spiritual 
beings who filled all nature and were to be found in every field of 
activity. Man, therefore, was always in social relation to the gods. 
The ordinary Greek felt that the world was filled with divine 
beings of varying ranks whose favor he must seek or whose ill nature 
he must propitiate by offerings and prayer. Only the most enlight- 
ened ever attained to anything like monotheism. 




The earliest Greek literature, the "Iliad" and "Odyssey," ' shows 
a circle of gods bound together in a social organization similar to 
that of the Homeric state. At the head is Zeus, father of gods and 
of men, possessing a power on Olympus like that of Agamemnon 
among the Greeks before Troy. With Zeus, Apollo and Athena hold 
the first rank; Hera, although the wife of Zeus, is in the second rank 
with Poseidon; Ares and Aphrodite represent little more than the 
passions of rage for slaughter and love; the god of fire, Hephaestus, 
Artemis, the sister of Apollo, Hermes, the higher servant of the 
greater gods and the companion of men, and others are of still lower 
rank; while Demeter and Dionysus, although known, have no place 
on Olympus. All these divine beings are represented as larger, 
stronger, wiser than mortals, but they are no whit less subject to the 
passions of body and mind; their superiority over men lies chiefly 
in the possession of immortality. Now no such system of gods was 
ever worshiped anywhere in the Greek world. It was created by a 
process of selection and elimination from local cults, and adapted 
to please the Ionic courts at which the epics were intended to be 
recited. These epic gods did not drive out local divinities; but the 
Homeric poems acquired such universal influence in Greece that 
wherever possible the local divinity was assimilated to the Homeric 
type, so that Athena, for example, the patroness of Athens, was en- 
dowed with the characteristics given her in the epics. There was a 
constant tendency in literature and art to represent the greater gods 
in the Homeric way. 

Hesiod (about 700 B. C.) also had a great influence on later times 
through his "Theogony," which was the first attempt to criticize 
myths and to bring the various accounts into a consistent and har- 
monious whole. Moreover, the Hesiodic poetry displays certain relig- 
ious elements which have little or no place in the Homeric epics. 
Of these the most significant is the worship of the dead and of 
heroes. On the side of ethics also we find higher concepts of justice 
and of the moral order; and in general there is much more reflection 
on man's relation to the gods and to society than we see in Homer. 
^ See Harvard Classics, xxii, gflf. 


In spite of the influence of Homer and Hesiod, no single god or 
system of gods ever became wholly universal, but each divinity was 
connected with some locality. The simple Greek conceived of his 
local god as individual, largely distinct from any other god of the 
same name, very much as the Greek peasant to-day thinks of his 
local saint. Yet with the growth of cities, when it became incon- 
venient to resort often to the ancient localities which might be 
remote, new shrines, offshoots of the old, were established in towns, 
so that there was, for example, at Athens, a certain concentration of 
cults. Furthermore, the chief divinity of a city acquired a position 
as patroness of a considerable area, as Athena of all Attica, but 
without completely overshadowing or expelling other gods. Likewise 
certain religious centers developed which served more than one 
state, such as the shrine of Apollo at Delos, which became a center 
for all lonians, or that of Zeus at Olympia, where representatives 
of all the Greek world assembled every four years. 


It will thus be seen that Greek religion was largely social and local. 
The members of the family, the clan, the tribe, and the state were 
bound together by worship in which the individual shared by virtue 
of his membership in the social body. These conditions gave solidar- 
ity to society and made religion the common and permanent concern 
of all citizens; yet this common worship tended to check all ten- 
dencies to personal religion. But from the eighth century B. C. on, 
many influences operated to bring the individual to self-conscious- 
ness. Men began to be dissatisfied with the sacred tradition of the 
state and to seek to establish such personal relations with the gods 
as should give them as individuals religious satisfaction. This de- 
sire found outlet from the sixth century B. C. in the Orphic Sect, 
whose members tried to secure satisfaction for religious emotion and 
to gain the warrant of a happy life hereafter through the mystic wor- 
ship of Dionysus and a fixed method of life. At about the same time 
the Mysteries began to be prominent. Of these the most important 
were at Eleusis in Attica, where a festival in honor of Demeter and 
certain associated gods had existed from a remote period. This festi- 
val was originally agricultural, intended to secure fertility and pros- 


perky for all admitted to it; but before 600 B. C. it had been trans- 
formed into an eschatological mystery, by initiation into which the 
individual was assured of a blessed future life. The movements thus 
started in Greek religion tended to break down men's real depend- 
ence on social worship, although the old cults continued to the end of 
paganism. Yet, in Athens especially, political events during the fifth 
century checked the individualistic movements in religion tempo- 
rarily. From the conflict with Persia (490-479 B. C.) Athens emerged 
as the chief state in Greece; during the fifty years which followed she 
enjoyed an unprecedented prosperity and an imperial position which 
bound all citizens closely together, in spite of the strife of political 
parties. Now in the preceding century Peisistratus had done much 
to exalt and estabUsh the Olympian type of religion at Athens; and 
it was natural that in the time of the power of Athens the ideal 
of the state reHgion should predominate. All citizens united in 
dedicating to the gods their material wealth and their noblest art. 


In this same time lived the great tragedians ^schylus, Sophocles, 
and Euripides, who were also great religious teachers. iEschylus 
endeavored to interpret the higher truths of religion as he saw them, 
and to bring these truths into relation with morals. He dwelt on 
the nature of sin, the stain it brings to each succeeding generation, 
the punishment of wrongdoing which the divine justice must inflict, 
and on the disciplinary value of suffering. These characteristics of 
his tragedies are well illustrated by the "Prometheus" ^ and by the 
Trilogy.^ Sophocles emphasized the divine source of the higher 
moral obligations which transcend all human laws. He further 
taught that pain may have its place even when the sufferer is inno- 
cent; and that purity of heart, faith in Zeus, and acquiescence in the 
divine will are fundamental principles of righteous life. These doc- 
trines underlie the "Antigone" * and "(Edipus the King." * Euripides 
belongs in temper to the rational age which followed him. He had 
no consistent message to his time. On the whole he contributed to the 
rejection of the old Olympic religion, but at the same time he con- 

^H. C, viii, i66ff. 

' "Agamemnon," "The Libation-Bearers," and "TTie Furies," H, C, viii, jB. 

*H. C, viii, 255il. ^H. C, viii, I97ff. 


stantly stirred men to ask fundamental questions about life. In his 
"Hippolytus" ° he shows his chaste hero brought to death because he 
will not yield to the goddess of love, and thus the poet belittles the 
sacred tradition; in "The Bacchae"' he exalts enthusiasm and in- 
spiration above reason, not, however, without a certain cynicism at 
the end. 

From the close of the fifth century philosophy began to take the 
place of the traditional religion for thinking men; yet philosophy 
did not break with the religious sentiment of the time. Eventually 
the spirit of individualism and cosmopolitanism destroyed men's 
faith in the state religions, and although the ancient rituals continued 
to the end of antiquity, they never regained the position which they 
had in the sixth and fifth centuries B. C. 

« H. C, viii, 3036. ' H. C, viii, 368ff. 


By Professor C. H. C. Wright 

THE name of Blaise Pascal not only belongs to the list of 
great French seventeenth-century writers, he is also to be 
included among the greatest authors of modern literature. 
He affected radically the thought of countless religious men of his 
own and later times; he was, even though in part unconsciously, 
one of the masters of style in the chief age of French literature. Men 
of science, also, consider him one of the most important of their 
number as a mathematician and a physicist. 


Pascal's name is inseparably connected with the history of Jansen- 
ism, and though varying phases of his intellectual development have 
caused him to receive all kinds of descriptive epithets ranging from 
skeptic to fideist, yet his temperament and his bodily condition re- 
flect the austere and gloomy theories of the Jansenist Augustinians. 

Born of a high-strung stock in a bleak part of the volcanic region 
of Auvergne, under the very shadow of the gloomy cathedral, built 
of Volvic lava, at Clermont-Ferrand, the child Pascal was from the 
beginning over-intellectualized. If we are to believe the accounts 
of a perhaps partial sister, this "terrifying genius" as Chateaubriand 
calls him, taught himself geometry and worked out problems in 
Euclid, while he still called lines and circles "bars" and "rounds." 
His intellect developed by leaps and bounds, and by the end of a 
life of recurring illnesses and of suffering, cut short at less than two 
score years, he had encompassed the field of knowledge, verified 
hypotheses of physics, descried unexplored realms of mathematics, 
and projected his thought into the vast chaos of conjecture concern- 
ing the relations of God and the world, of God and of created man. 

Pascal's adherence to religion was not immediate, and he went 
through successive stages of hesitation and of partial retrogression. 



A man of the world, he consorted with brilHant talkers, entered into 
scientific discussions against the Jesuits, or argued on philosophy 
with other thinkers. But the real interest of his life for our purpose 
begins with his conversion to the doctrines of Jansenius. 

Bishop Jansen of Ypres in Belgium had devoted his life to the 
study of Saint Augustine and to the elucidation of the doctrines of 
that great father of the church. Saint Augustine is the spiritual 
forefather of those who in religious thought are believers in deter- 
minism, in religious fatalism, with all the consequences which it 
involves, such as predestination and the doctrine of primitive sin 
which man is apparently endeavoring in vain to expiate. The theories 
of Jansen were propagated in France through the teachings of his 
friend the Abbe de Saint Cyran, a man of rigid and unbending 
principles, and the spiritual director of the convent of Port Royal. 
Port Royal was at the time dominated by members of the great 
Arnauld family, one of whom had in earlier days offended the 
strong and ambitious order of Jesuits. The Jesuits were by principle 
and temperament unfavorable to the theories of Jansen. A doctrine 
of self-concentration and of introspection, akin in almost every re- 
spect to Calvinism, which awoke in a human being a thousand cares 
and anxious doubts as to the why and wherefore of man's existence 
on earth — such a doctrine was diametrically opposed to the urbane 
teachings of the Jesuits, eager rather to acquire new converts by 
methods of amenity than to frighten them away by visions of dread. 
Therefore, with the Arnaulds and Jansenists all linked together at 
Port Royal, the convent became the storm center of religious dis- 


In the course of the controversy, Pascal was invited by one of 
the Arnaulds to help the cause of Jansenism. This he did by his 
"Provincial Letters," most of them purporting to be a narrative of 
the condition of religious affairs at Paris by a certain Louis de Mont- 
alte to a friend in the provinces. In these letters, which are con- 
sidered masterpieces of sarcastic polemic, Pascal did the Jesuits 
untold harm. By methods which may seem sometimes technically 
unfair, but which are after all employed by every controversial writer. 


he attacked the doctrines of certain Jesuit writers upon religious 
dogma, such as questions of Grace, and upon moral theories of 
casuistry, the science dealing with the solution of dilemmas of 
conscience and the exculpation of apparent offenses against righteous- 
ness. In the long and violent contest which raged in the seventeenth 
century, and of which the publication of the "Provincial Letters" 
was an incident, the Jesuits succeeded in having the Jansenists con- 
sidered heretics, and they managed to encompass the destruction of 
Port Royal, But, whether rightly or wrongly (and here antagonists 
will remain unreconciled), Pascal dealt them severe blows from 
which, in France at least, they have never fully recovered. 

THE "thoughts" 

The "Lettres Provinciales" are, however, m some respects, ephem- 
eral literature as compared with the "Pensees" or "Thoughts." ' 
In the "Thoughts" we have the sum and substance of Pascal's 
religious views as well as one of the masterpieces of French literary 
style. Pascal had long planned a work on religion in which he 
intended to set forth the defense of Christianity. This work never 
got beyond the stage of disconnected and fragmentary notes and 
"Thoughts," from which it is difficult, if not impossible, to extract 
the definite plan of the whole work. But, none the less, what we have 
deserves the deepest consideration. 

Pascal was by temperament a pessimist, and therefore he agreed 
the more easily with the gloomy Augustinian determinism of the 
Jansenists and their ideas of the sinfulness of man and of the neces- 
sity of grace. He was no less convinced of the impotence of man's 
reason *o deal with the problems of the unknowable and of the 
hereafter. Pascal had fed on the jesting skepticism of Montaigne 
and realized how logically unanswerable it was in spite of its incon- 
clusiveness. This realization made him feel that there was only one 
egress from the impasse, it was to reject all the help and conclusions 
of reason for or against, and to throw himself blindly into the arms 
of God, an act symbolized by his acceptance of faith and the in- 
fluence of grace upon him. It Is for these reasons that Pascal is 

' Harvard Classics, vol. xlviii. 


sometimes given such varying designations as "skeptic," "mystic," 
or "fideist"; that, moreover, his reUgious feeling is called by some the 
expression of diseased hallucinations, by others visions of a seer into 
the other world. 

The underlying idea of the fragmentary "Thoughts" is the despair 
of man, his weakness and powerlessness. But there remains some- 
thing in man's own nature which protests against this despair. We 
have a certainty that all is not as bad as it seems. Let us accept 
the truths of the Christian religion and we then have the consola- 
tion that our suffering is not without cause, that we are expiating 
the original and primitive sin of mankind. This will at least make 
us understand our condition. Thus we shall, in a way, be proving 
Christianity and even God himself, beginning with man. 

The fragmentary state of the "Thoughts" makes it impossible, 
however, for the reader to work out the stages of this argument. 
He will find it more profitable to take them as they stand, and he 
will then be fully satisfied by words of imagination and of true 
poetry. The language is permeated with lyrical inspiration: the 
poet is a thinker who sees the abysses of immensity, spatial and tem- 
poral, the infinitely vast and the infinitely small. He brings back 
from the contemplation of them a feeling of terror and yet of self- 
confidence. For though man be a prey to brutal outer nature, though 
he may be but a frail reed beaten before the blast, yet he feels that 
one thing lifts him above it all, the consciousness that he is a thinking 
reed. The work is full of the vagueness of love for the divine; conse- 
quently, in spite of Pascal's mathematical brain, it is no geometrical 
proof for the persuasion of reason, but rather a way to take hold of 
the feeling. Pascal is the intuitionalist of French classicism as Des- 
cartes,^ his philosophical rival, is its great rationalist. 

The influence of Pascal upon French thought has been tremendous. 
In his own day he helped to free French prose and its content from 
the stilted rhetoric of certain self<onscious Latinists like Guez de 
Balzac. He helped some of the men of letters of his age to acquire 
a new gentleness of feeling without the sacrifice of stoical self-control. 
He familiarized writers who were taken up by considerations of a 
* See pamphlet on Philosophy in this series, lecture HI. 


petty nationalism with visions of the boundless immensity which en- 
wraps this little earth. He helped to make the French prose of his 
day more clear and a mirror of the soul. And all this he accomplished 
by a work of which we have only disconnected fragments, and by a 
life tragic in its brevity, in its physical suffering, extraordinary by 
its mental torture and intellectual vigor, the life of an all-embracing 
genius such as the world produces scarcely once in many centuries.