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Full text of "Matthew Arnold"

ENGLISH 3MEN OF LETTERS 



MATTHEW ARNOLD 



BY 



HERBERT W. PAUL 



MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED 

ST. MARTIN'S STREET, LONDON 

1920 



COPYRIGHT 

First Edition, July 1902 
Reprinted Norember 1902, 1907, 1015, 
1920 



PREFATORY NOTE. 

THE only authority for the events of Matthew Arnold's 
life, besides Mr. Richard Garnett's excellent article 
in the Dictionary of National Biography, is the collection 
of his letters in two volumes, edited by Mr. George 
Russell (Macmillan, 1895). Sir Joshua Fitch's account 
of Mr. Arnold's public services as Inspector of Schools 
in the seventh volume of Great Educators (Heinemann) 
is admirably clear, and Mr. Burnett Smart's Biblio 
graphy (The Dryden Press, 1892) cannot be over 
praised. Professor Saintsbury's lively and learned 
study in Messrs. Blackwood's Modern English Writers 
(1899) is rather unsympathetic on the theological and 
political side, but full of interest and suggestion. I 
have sometimes owed most to Mr. Saintsbury when 
I have been least able to agree with him. 

H. W. P. 



CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER I. 
INTRODUCTORY ESSAY .... 



CHAPTER II. 
RUGBY AND OXFORD 



CHAPTER III. 
EARLY POEMS 16 

CHAPTER IV. 
WORK AND POETRY 30 

CHAPTER V. 

THE OXFORD CHAIR . . . . , .51 

CHAPTER VI. 

'ESSAYS IN CRITICISM" 72 

CHAPTER VII. 
THE END OF THE PROFESSORSHIP , 91 



viii MATTHEW ARNOLD. 

PAGE 

CHAPTER VIII. 
THE "NEW POEMS" 99 

CHAPTER IX. 
EDUCATION 106 

CHAPTER X. 
jr/MB._ABXOLD > s PHILOSOPHY ....,-_ 113 

CHAPTER XI. 
./ MB. ABNOLD'S THEOLOGY ...... 130 

CHAPTER XII. 
MR. ARNOLD'S POLITICS ....,,. 145 

CHAPTER XIII. 

THE AFTERMATH . . . . , , .159 

CHAPTER XIV. 
CONCLUSION , 170 

INDEX ....... 179 



MATTHEW ABNOLD. 

CHAPTER I. 

INTRODUCTORY. 

THE fourteen years which have elapsed since Matthew 
Arnold's death have added greatly to the number of 
his readers, especially the readers of his poems. No / 
poet of modern times, perhaps no English poet of any 
time, appeals so directly and so exclusively to the. 
cultivated taste of the educated classes. To say that 
a classical education was necessary for understanding 
him would perhaps be to go too far. But a capacity, 
nor appreciating form and style, the charm of rhythm, 
I and the beauty of words, is undoubtedly essential. 
It may be said of Mr. Arnold with truth, and it is 
his chief praise, that the more widely mental culture 
spreads, the higher his fame will be. He was not, 
| indeed, a profound thinker. He did not illuminate, 
* like Wordsworth, with a single flash, the abysses of 
man's nature, and the inmost recesses of the human 
soul. He was not, as Plato was, a spectator of all 
time and all existence. His aim was, as he said of 
| Sophocles, to see life steadily, and see it whole. But 
' he saw it as a scholar and a man of letters. He ** 
interpreted greater minds than his own. He almost 

A 



2 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

fulfilled his ideal. He knew, so far at least as the 
Western world is concerned, the best that had been 

(said and thought in all ages. Next to Milton, he was 
the most learned of English poets. 

How far Matthew Arnold will suffer from having 
been too much the child of his own age, it is as yet 
too soon to say. The " Zeit-Geist " has its limitations. 
It is the spirit of wisdom, not the spirit of a day, that 
is justified of all her children. "Thyrsis" is a very 
beautiful poem, not much less beautiful than " Adonais," 
though very unlike it. But Clough was not Keats. 
Keats is near to every one of us, while Clough is already 
far away. To Mr. Arnold, however, Clough was not 
merely a personal friend. He was the embodiment of 
Oxford in the thirties and forties, of a special type 
now rare, if not extinct. Matthew Arnold's passionate 
love of Oxford has inspired some of his noblest verse, 
and some of his most musical prose. All Oxford men 
know, or used to know, the exquisite sentences about 
the beautiful city with her dreaming towers, breathing 
the last enchantment of the middle age. It was the 
unreformed Oxford which Matthew Arnold knew, and 
he represented the high-water mark of what it could 
do. The "grand old fortifying classical curriculum" 
at which he laughed, and in which he believed, was 
seen at its best in the Oxford of those days. There 
was no "specialising." There were classics, and there 
were mathematics, and there was the river, and there 
was Headington Hill with Shotover beyond it. If 
that did not satisfy a man, he must have been hard to 
please. At any rate, he was not entitled to take a 
degree in Tamil, with a school and examiners all to 
himself. 



I.] INTRODUCTORY. 3 

Education was the business of Matthew Arnold's ! 
life. He understood it in the broadest sense. There ) 
was nothing narrow, technical, or pedantic about his 
scholarship or his criticism. But in the proper sense ^ 
of a much abused term his work is academic. It is/" 
stecpejl in, one might say saturated with, culture. It 
was written by a scholar for scholars, and only scholars 
can fully appreciate it. Matthew Arnold fulfilled the 
precept of Horace. He turned over his Greek models 
by day and by night. He brought everything to the 
classical touchstone. Whatever was not Greek was 
barbarian. " Except," wrote Sir Henry Maine, in a 
moment of rare enthusiasm, " except the blind forces 
of nature, nothing moves in this world which is not 
Greek in its origin." Such was substantially Mr. 
Arnold's creed, though as his father's son he recognised 
that Hebraism entered with Hellenism into the struc 
ture of the Christian Church. 

Yet both as a poet and as a critic Matthew Arnold 
was essentially a man of his time. He was singularly 
receptive of ideas, even when they were ephemeral. 
He loved to dabble in politics, but the best parts of his 
political writings are the quotations from Burke. He 
did more than dabble in theology. He took the 
doctors of the Tubingen school for apostles, and 
treated a phase of Biblical speculation as if it were 
permanent truth. Ho had no sympathy with dry and 
minute criticism of detail, like Bishop Colenso's. He 
addicted himself to Ewald and to Renan. He threw 
himself into the Liberal reaction against Tractarianism, 
whose attitude to the Great First Cause has been de 
scribed by a satirist in the memorable line 
"Philosophy is lenient ; he may go." 



4 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

Matthew Arnold's literary criticism, once regarded 
|" by young enthusiasts as a revelation, has long since 
I taken a secure place in English letters. Like his 
poetry, unlike his theology and his politics, it has 
original and intrinsic value. It is penetrating as well 
as brilliant, conscientious as well as imaginative. 
Matthew Arnold may be said to have done for 
literature almost what Euskin did for art. He re 
minded, or informed, the British public that criticism 
was a serious thing; that good criticism was just as 
important as good authorship; that it was not a 
question of individual taste, but partly of received 
authority, and partly of trained judgment. His own 
masters, besides the old Greeks, were chiefly Goethe 
and Sainte-Beuve. But few critics have been so 
thoroughly original, and still fewer have had so large 
a share of the "dsemonie" faculty, the faculty which 
awakens intelligent enthusiasm in others. Essays in 
Criticism is one of the indispensable books. Not to 
have read it is to be ignorant of a great intellectual 
event. 

In his double character of poet and critic, Matthew 
Arnold may be called our English Goethe. This is 
not to put the two men on a level ; for, of course, one 
could not without absurdity talk of Goethe as a 
German Arnold. Goethe is one of the world's poets, 
Matthew Arnold is little known to those who do not 
speak the English tongue. But among them his 
reputation widens, and will widen, as knowledge and 
the love of books spread through all classes of society. 
To all who care for things of the mind his work must 
ever be dear. Something of his own radiant and sym 
pathetic personality pervades all his writings, except 



i.] INTRODUCTORY. 5 

perhaps when he is dealing with Dissenters. It would 
have been well if he had applied the critical priming- 
knife to the exuberant mannerism which sometimes 
disfigures his style. The repetition of pet phrases is 
a literary vice. But Matthew Arnold is more than 
strong enough to live in spite of his faults. His best 
poetry, and his best prose, are among the choicest 
legacies bequeathed by the nineteenth century to the 
twentieth. If they belong to an age, they are the 
glory of it, for they show what golden ore it could 
extract, and hand down to the future, from the buried 
accumulations of the past. 



CHAPTER II. 

RUGBY AND OXFORD. 

MATTHEW ARNOLD was born at Laleham, near Staines, 
in the county of Middlesex, on Christmas Eve, 1822^ 
Laleham is situated on the Thames, for which from 
his earliest years he had a passionate love. His 
father, Dr. Arnold of Rugby, the famous schoolmaster, 
had nine children, of whom Matthew was the eldest 
son. Mr. Thomas Arnold, however, did not become 
Dr. Arnold, or go to Rugby, till 1828. In 1822 he 
( was taking private pupils, and forming the theories of 
(education which he afterwards carried out in a more 
conspicuous field. His wife, born Mary Penrose, who 
lived till 1873, having survived her husband more than 
thirty years, was a woman of remarkable character and 
intellect, with whom Matthew kept up to the day of 
her death a mentally sympathetic as well as personally 
affectionate correspondence. When the family re 
moved to Rugby, Matthew was five, but two years 
afterwards he returned to Laleham as the pupil of his 
uncle, the Reverend John Buckland. The country 
t round Rugby is, as Dr. Arnold used pathetically to 
[complain, among the dullest and ugliest in England. 
As a contrast he took a house at Fox How, near 
Grasmere, on the Rotha, where he spent most of the 
holidays with his wife and children. The eldest boy 



CHAP, ii.] RU<;BY AND OXFORD. 7 

thus grew up under the shadow of Wordsworth, whose 
brilliant and penetrating interpreter he was destined 
to become. In August 1836, being then thirteen and 
a half, Matthew was sent to Winchester, of which 
Dr. Moberly, an elegant scholar, long afterwards 
Bishop of Salisbury, had just been appointed head 
master. Dr. Arnold was himself a Wykehamist, and 
had a high opinion of his old school. But after a 
year, in August 1837, Matthew was removed from 
I Winchester to be under his father's eye in the school- 
I house at Rugby, where he remained until he went up 
to Oxford in 1841. 

Rugby under Arnold has been made familiar to 
millions of readers by Tom Brown's School Days. When 
Arnold was a candidate, Dr. Hawkins, the Provost of 
Oriel, prophesied that if elected he would revolutionise 
the public schools. He certainly revolutionised 
| Rugby. When he came there, it was little more than 
an ordinary grammar school with boarders. When he 
died, it was one of tho most famous and popular 
schools in England. The nfonitorial system was not 
/ really his invention. He introduced it from Win- 
J Chester. But he invested it with a moral significance 
which had not previously belonged to it, and he 
leavened the whole school by his own powerful person 
ality. As his accomplished biographer, Dean Stanley, 
says, "Throughout, whether in the school itself, or in 
its after effects, the one image that we have before us 
is not Rugby, but Arnold." Matthew Arnold bore very 
little resemblance to his stern Puritanical father. 
Dr. Arnold was in deadly earnest about everything, 
ami was wholly devoid of humour. He was always 
declaiming against the childishness of boys, which 



8 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

after all is not a bad thing, and better than the 
premature mannislmess which the monitorial system 
encourages. But he was in his way a great man. He 
had extraordinary force of character and strength of 
f will. He had a magnetic influence upon boys. He 
I was absolutely single-minded and sincere. His piety 
was deep and genuine, quite without suspicion of cant 
or conventionalism. His classical scholarship was not 
only sound and thorough, but broad, robust, and 
philosophical. As a teacher he stood high, as a 
preacher higher. There have been few better writers 
of English prose than Dr. Arnold, and it is perhaps his 
high literary sense which was his most distinctive 
bequest to his son. In a letter to his old pupil 
Vaughan, afterwards Master of the Temple, Dr. 
Arnold says : " There is an actual pleasure in contem 
plating so perfect a management of so perfect an 
instrument as is exhibited in Plato's language, even if 
the matter were as worthless as the words of Italian 
music; whereas the sense is only less admirable in 
many places than the language." But Thucydides was 
of course his favourite author ; and the general reader, 
as distinguished from the philological student, can 
have at this day no better guide to the greatest of all 
historians than Dr. Arnold. 

Dr. Arnold was, says Dean Stanley, "the elder 
brother and playfellow of his children." In that fine 
poem with the unfortunate metre, "Rugby Chapel," 
the son puts it rather differently : 

" If, in the paths of the world, 
Stones might have wounded thy feet, 
Toil or dejection have tried 
Thy spirit, of that we saw 



ii.] RUGBY AND OXFORD. 9 

Nothing ! To us thou wert still 
Cheerful, and helpful, and firm. 
Therefore to thee it was given 
Many to save with thyself ; 
And, at the end of thy day, 
O faithful shepherd ! to come, 
Bringing thy sheep in thy hand." . 

(The thought expressed in these lines, the idea of a 
good man not content with saving his own soul, but 
devoting himself also to the salvation of others, is 
repeated in one of Matthew Arnold's most touching 
letters to his mother many years after his father's 
death. It was a singularly delightful trait in a most 
endearing character, that Mr. Arnold always in writ 
ing to her dwelt upon what "Papa" would have 
thought of things if he had been alive. Dr. Arnold 
died in 1842; and he was, thought his son, the first 
English clergyman who could speak as freely upon 
religious subjects as if he had been a layman. He " 
was, however, strictly orthodox in all the essential 
doctrines of the Christian faith. He was suspected of 
I heresy on no better grounds than his dislike of the 
Oxford Movement, which was strong, and his know 
ledge of German, which was thorough. He took the 
Liberal side in the first Hampden controversy, but 
the charges against Dr. Hampden completely broke 
down. In politics he was a decided, though indepen- 

Ident Whig, and he wrote a pamphlet in favour of 
Catholic Emancipation. Yet he held as firmly as Mr. 
Gladstone once held the theory of a Christian state, 
and he consistently opposed the enfranchisement of 
the Jews. In one respect he was far in advance of his 
age. "Woe," he said, "to the generation which inhabits 



10 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

I England when the coal-fields are exhausted, and the 
j National Debt has not been paid." Although he died 
four years before the Repeal of the Corn Laws, he was 
a staunch advocate of free exchange. It is impossible 
not to trace the influence of the father in the politics 
of the son. 

We have the authority of Matthew Arnold's oldest 
and most intimate friend, Lord Coleridge, for the fact, 
which might perhaps have been surmised, that between 
father and son there was more affection than sympathy. 
Dr. Arnold abhorred "mere cleverness," and humour 
appeared to him a rather profane indiscretion. His 
eldest son was excessively clever, and full of a gaiety 
which he never at any time of life made the smallest 
attempt to subdue. Lord Coleridge hints that there 
were collisions between them, and one can partly 
believe it. But he adds that when the doctor had 
trouble, as even schoolmasters sometimes have, he 
found comfort in the filial piety of one whose genius 
he did not live to acknowledge. The only poem of 
Matthew Arnold's which his father saw was " Alaric at 
Rome," recited in Rugby School on the 12th of June 
1840. The motto from Childe Harold, prefixed to this 
composition, prepares one for its character, which is 
distinctly Byronic. It is not much above the ordinary 
level of such things, and many men have written as 
good verses when they were boys, who never came 
within measurable distance of being poets. One 
stanza, however, deserves to be quoted, because the 
first two lines are the earliest example of a figure the 
writer often afterwards employed : 

" Yes, there are stories registered on high, 
Yes, there are stains time's fingers cannot blot, 



ii.] RUGBY AND OXFORD. 11 

Deeds that shall live when tlu-y who did them, die ; 
Things that may cease, Imt never be forgot : 
Yet some there are, their very lives would give 
To be rememberM thus, and yet they cannot live." 

The last couplet is sadly wooden, and shows that the 
young versifier had not got his stride. Macaulay is 
almost the only man who has successfully imitated 
without parodying Byron. 

In this same year, 1840, Matthew Arnold won an 
[ open scholarship at Balliol, and in 1841 he went into 
residence. Oxford was then in the full swing of the 
Tractarian movement. Newman had not yet retired 
, to Littlemore, and was still drawing crowded congrega- 
[ tions at St. Mary's. The fascination of that extra 
ordinary man attracted minds so utterly dissimilar to 
his own as Mark Pattison's and Anthony Froude's. 
But upon Matthew Arnold he seems to have had no 
effect whatever. Perhaps the influence of Dr. Arnold, 

I who regarded Newman as something very like Anti 
christ, was too strong. In 1841, just before the 
Whigs went out of office, Lord Melbourne appointed 
Dr. Arnold Regius Professor of History, and in 
December of that year, to a crowded audience, largely 
composed of old Rugbeians, he delivered his inaugural 
lecture. In the following June he died, and his 
memory was consecrated by his early death. Matthew 
Arnold's own temperament, however, though not 
irreligious, was utterly unclerical, and he never con 
templated, as most undergraduates not in easy 
circumstances at that time did, the possibility of taking 
orders. 

Except for a few venerable landmarks, and the 
examination iu the school of Litenc Uunumiores, there 



12 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

is little left now of the Oxford which Matthew Arnold 
entered sixty years ago. Before the Commission of 
1850 the University was in form what it had been in 
the middle ages. All power was in the hands of the 
Hebdomadal Board, and the Hebdomadal Board was 
simply the Heads of Houses. The separate Colleges 
kept strictly to themselves, there were no combined 
lectures, and no unattached students. Every under- 
> graduate subscribed the Thirty-Nine Articles, so that 
only members of the Church of England could enter 
the University. 

Such, at least, was the theory, though of course in 
practice religious tests exclude only the conscientious. 
But a society confined to one ecclesiastical organisation 
gave itself up to the vehemence of ecclesiastical 
disputes. Nonconformity was not represented. Rome 
proved a powerful attraction, and young men, as 
Pattison puts it, spent the time that should have 
been devoted to study in discussing which was the 
true Church. At Balliol there was perhaps more 
intellectual activity than at any other college. The 
scholarships and fellowships, as was rare in those days, 
were open. Dr. Jenkyns, the Master, though no great 
scholar himself, was jealous for Balliol's intellectual 
reputation, and had some at least of the qualities 
which in a larger world are called statesmanship. 
Mr. Jowett, then a young Fellow, was beginning the 
long career which will always be associated with the 
name of Balliol. Of Dr. Arnold's old pupils at Balliol, 
Stanley had become a Fellow of University, and 
Clough a Fellow of Oriel. Among Matthew Arnold's 
contemporaries his closest friends were John Duke 
Coleridge, afterwards Lord Chief-Justice of England, 



ii.] RUGBY AND OXFORD. 13 

and John Campbell Shairp, afterwards Principal of the 
United College, St. Andrews. Shairp's lines about 
Matthew Arnold are too hackneyed for quotation. 
They describe the debonair gaiety with which all his 
friends are familiar, and which he never lost. The 
"home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and un 
popular names, and impossible loyalties," was dearer 
to Mr. Arnold than Rugby, or even Laleham. For 
the country round Oxford he had a passion, which 
found full vent in "The Scholar Gipsy" and in 
"Thyrsis." For the squabbles about Tract Number 
Ninety, and "Ideal Ward's" Degree, he did not care 
two straws. Max Miiller has described in his Auto 
biography the amazement which he, a young German, 
fresh from Leipzig and Berlin, felt at the spectacle 
of religious disputes having no intelligible connection 
with religion. Matthew Arnold's view of them was 
much the same as Max Miiller 's. 

In the year after his father's death, 1843, Matthew 
Arnold won the Newdigate with a poem on " Cromwell." 
He and Tennyson are exceptions to the rule that prizes 
for poetry do not fall to poets. But " Cromwell " is 
even less remarkable than " Alaric at Rome." Written, 
as all Newdigates must be, in heroic rhyme, it has flow 
and smoothness of numbers without inspiration, or 
even distinction of style. There is one obvious touch 
of Wordsworth, or, as some will have it, of Words 
worth's wife 

" Yet all high sounds that mountain children hear 
Flash'd from thy soul upon thine inward ear." 

But Wordsworth had as yet no reason to be proud of 
his pupil. There is more promise of the future in the 



14 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

Rugby poem than in the Oxford one, and more of the 
feeling for nature which was afterwards so conspicuous. 
Matthew Arnold's published Letters unfortunately do 
not date back to his Oxford days, which must have 
been among the fullest and the most enjoyable of his 
full and happy life. We know from Lord Coleridge 
that he belonged to " The Decade," a small debating 
Society, where, as that great lover of argument says, 
they "fought to the stumps of their intellects." Per 
haps the poet neglected the schools. At any rate, like 
his friend Clough a few years before him, he was placed 
in the second class at the final examination for Classical 
Honours. But this comparative failure was more than 
redeemed, in his case as in Clough's, by a Fellowship at 
Oriel, of which his father had also been a Fellow. He 
was elected in 1845, when an Oriel Fellowship was still 
regarded as the most brilliant crown of an Oxford 
career. Dr. Hawkins, the famous Provost, who brought 
to the government of a college an ability greater than 
has often been employed in the misgovernment of 
kingdoms, would not allow a vacancy to be advertised. 
If people, he said, wanted to know whether there was 
a vacant Fellowship at Oriel, they might come and 
ask. Certainly the College of Whately and New 
man, of Clough and Church, of Matthew Arnold and 
his father, had good reason to be proud of its sons. 
But it would not have suited Matthew Arnold to 
become a College Don. He was essentially a man of 
the world, loving society in its widest sense, a scholar 
by temperament and taste, but delighting to mix with all 
sorts and conditions of his fellow-creatures. Although, 
like most Oxford men of his generation, he had no 
scientific bent or training, his interests were too many 



ii.] RUGBY AND OXFORD. 15 

rather than too few. Narrowness was never among 
his faults. He was rather too apt to think that there 
was no subject upon which an educated man is not 
competent to form an opinion. Perhaps the free life 
of unreformed Oxford, with its lax discipline, its few 
examinations, its ample leisure for social intercourse of 
the best and highest kind, as of others with which the 
biographer of Matthew Arnold has no concern, fostered 
a tendency to diffusiveness, as well as a belief that 
everything was open for discussion. As a critic 
Matthew Arnold was not free from a dogmatism of his 
own. But the chief lesson which he took away from 
Oxford was the Platonic maxim, fttos di^roja-ros ov 
/Garros, "life without the spirit of inquiry is not 
worth living." 



CHAPTEE III. 

EARLY POEMS. 

AFTER taking his degree, which would have shocked 
his father, and winning his Fellowship, which would 
have delighted him, Matthew Arnold returned to 
Rugby, and taught classics in the fifth form. Thus 

w m began his long connection with education, which only 
ceased two years before his death. Dr. Arnold's suc 
cessor in the headmastership of Rugby was Dr. Tait, 
a less brilliant scholar, but a man of great dignity arid 
profound sagacity, whose full powers were not tested 
until he came to direct the Church of England, and to 
represent her in the House of Lords, at a period of 
momentous interest and importance. It is not too 
much to say that no other public school in England 
has been governed within so short a time by three men 

yso able, eminent, and influential as Dr. Arnold, Dr. Tait, 
and Dr. Temple. Two of them became Archbishops of 

* Canterbury. The third might have eclipsed them 
both if he had not been cut off prematurely in the 
plenitude of his physical and intellectual vigour. It is 
curious that not one of them was a Rugby man. Many 
years afterwards, at a dinner given within the walls of 
Balliol, Mr. Arnold, with characteristic irony and 
urbanity, contrasted Archbishop Tait and himself as 
types of the Balliol man who had succeeded and the 
IS 



CHAP, in.] EARLY POEMS. 17 

Balliol man who had failed in life. It is probable that 
these few months at Rugby improved and confirmed 
the accuracy of Matthew Arnold's scholarship, which 
distinguishes his classical poems, and his " Lectures on 
Translating Homer." There is a good deal more to be 
said for gerund-grinding than Carlyle would allow. 

Mr. Arnold, however, was not destined to remain/ 
long a schoolmaster. He soon became the citizen of a 
larger world than Rugby, and few indeed have been 
better qualified to instruct or to adorn it. In 1847 he 
was made private secretary to Lord Lansdowne, then 
President of the Council in the administration of Lord 
John Russell. Lord Lansdowne was one of those 
statesmen who play a great part in political history 
without filling a large space in the newspapers. Without 
striking abilities, and without ambition of any kind, he 
contrived by his personal tact and calm wisdom to 
reconcile the differences of the Whig party, to keep 
more brilliant men than himself out of mischief, and ' 
to lead the House of Lords. He had also the pleasant 
and valuable gift of recognising early promise, together 
with the rare and enviable power of bringing young 
men forward and giving them their chance. It was 
he who brought Macaulay into the House of Commons 
as Member for Calne, and to him the country owes it 
that Matthew Arnold had the opportunity of doing for 
popular education what no one else could have done. 
He was a real, though a very moderate, Liberal, and ' 
Matthew Arnold's politics were substantially those of 
his patron. 

The earliest of Mr. Arnold's Letters, edited by 
Mr. George Russell, and published by Messrs. Mac- 
millan, is dated the 2nd of January 1848, on his way to 

B 



18 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

Bowood, Lord Lansdowne's house in Wiltshire. It 
was apparently his first visit, for he tells his mother, to 
wjiom the letter is written, that he does not expect to 
"know a soul there." But Matthew Arnold was never 
shy ; and Lord Lansdowne, as Macaulay testifies, was 
the most gracious of hosts. Of the society at Bowood, 
however, we have in the letters no glimpse. On this 
January day in the year of Revolutions the writer had 
come from his old home at Laleham, and he gives an 

tf? enthusiastic description of the country. "Yesterday," 
he says, " I was at Chertsey, the poetic town of our 
childhood, as opposed to the practical, historical 
Staines ; it is across the river, reached by no bridges 
and roads, but by the primitive ferry, the meadow 
path, the Abbey river with its wooden bridge, and the 
narrow lane by the old wall ; and, itself the stillest of 
country towns backed by St. Ann's, leads nowhere but 
to. .the heaths and pines of Surrey. How unlike the 
journey to Staines, and the great road through the 

'^0 flat, drained Middlesex plain, with its single standing 
pollarded elms." No English poet, not even Words- 
> worth, had a more passionate love of the country than 
Matthew Arnold. But, unlike Wordsworth, he was an 
omnivorous reader, as familiar with German and French 
as with Latin and Greek. Writing again to his mother 
on the 7th of May in this same year 1848, he expresses 
a rather crude and hasty verdict on Heine, to whom he 
afterwards did more justice both in prose and verse. 
" I have just finished," he tells Mrs. Arnold, " a German 

Yjbook I brought with me here, a mixture of poems and 
travelling journal by Heinrich Heine, the most famous 
of the young German literary set. He has a good 
deal of power, though more trick; however, he has 



in.] KARLY POEMS. 19 

thoroughly disgusted me. The Byronism of a German, 
of a man trying to be gloomy, cynical, impassioned, 
wtHiueiir, etc., all // la fois, with their honest bonhom- 
mistic language and total want of experience of the 
kind that Lord Byron, an English peer with access 
everywhere, possessed, is the most ridiculous thing in 
the world." Happily, Matthew Arnold travelled soon 
and far from the state of mind in which he could 
regard the Reisebilder as "the most ridiculous thing in 
the world." The author of Heine's Grave knew that to 
speak of Heine as a man who tried to be gloomy was 
the reverse of the truth. Heine's model was not 
Byron, but Sterne, and it was beneath Matthew 
Arnold to bring the privileges of the peerage into 
literature. But there never was a more flagrant 
example than Byron in contradiction of the proverb 
Noblesse oblige, and it cannot be denied that Dr. Arnold 
would have highly disapproved of the Reisebilder. 

On the 21st of July 1849 there appeared in the 
Examiner the first of Matthew Arnold's sonnets. It 
was published anonymously, and addressed "To the 
Hungarian Nation." On the 29th of July he told his 
mother that it was "not worth much," and from this 
candid opinion I, at least, am not prepared to dissent. 
Such lines as 

" Not in American vulgarity, 
Nor wordy German imbecility," 

would almost have justified a repetition of the pro 
phecy which Dryden delivered to Swift. And yet, 
before the year was over, Mr. Arnold had brought out 
a volume which ought to have established his place in 
English poetry, though for some unexplained reason 



20 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

it did not. The "Sonnet to the Hungarian Nation" 
was not republished in the lifetime of the author. It 
may be found in Alaric at Rome and Other Poems, 
edited by Mr. Eichard Garnett in 1896. 

The Strayed Reveller and Other Poems, by "A.," appeared 
in the author's twenty-seventh year. Few volumes of 

\ equal merit have made so small an impression upon 
the public. Although every poem in it, except one, 
"The Hays water Boat," was afterwards reprinted with 
Mr. Arnold's sanction, and now forms a permanent 
part of English literature, scarcely any notice was 

*** taken of it at the time, and it was withdrawn from 
circulation when only a few copies had been sold. It 
is difficult to account for this neglect. The age was 

** not altogether a prosaic one. Wordsworth was still 
alive, and still Laureate, although it was long since 
he had written anything that wore -the semblance 
of inspiration. Tennyson was already famous, in spite 
of envious detraction and ignorant misunderstanding. 
Browning, tEough not yet popular, was ardently ad 
mired as the author of "Paracelsus " by a small circle 
of the best judges. Rogers was enjoying in his old 
age a poetical reputation which, though it may have 
been enhanced by his social celebrity, was yet 
thoroughly deserved. Matthew Arnold, unlike them 
%all, was as true a poet as any of them, and had 

* none of the obscurity which made Browning " caviare to 
the general." So far as the poem which gave its title 
to the book is concerned, the cold reception accorded 
to it was natural enough. Rhyme and blank verse 
have their own high and recognised positions. We 
may agree with Milton in holding that rhyme is "no 
necessary adjunct" of "poem or good verse," while 



III.] 



EARLY POEMS. 



yet humbly and reverently dissenting from his further 
opinion that it was " the invention of a barbarous age 
to set off wretched matter and lame metre," which 
indeed the noble and beautiful melody of " Lycidas " 
and "Comus" and "L' Allegro" and "II Penseroso" 
sufficiently refutes. But except for a few hexameters, 
such as some of Kingsley's, some of Longfellow's, all 
Dr. Hawtrey's, and a few of Clough's, there is hardly 
room in English for verse which is neither one nor 
the other. I say "hardly," remembering Tennyson's 
"Gleam" and Browning's "One Word More." But 
I do not think that any poem of Matthew Arnold's, 
not even "Rugby Chapel," could be included in the 
same category as these. The Strayed Reveller opens 
well with the impassioned address of the youth 
to Circe 

" Faster, faster, 

Circe, Goddess, 
Let the wild, thronging train, 

The bright procession 

Of eddying forms, 

Sweep through my soul." 

But a line which almost immediately follows 
" Lean'd up against thg column there," 

is surely cacophonous to the last degree. The idea / 
of the poem is as fascinating as it is fantastic. The 
spells of Circe have wrought no hideous transforma 
tion here. The youth's visions are the visions of the 
gods, and the appearance of Ulysses, the " spare, dark- 
featur'd, quick-eyed stranger," recalls that wonderful 
line, which sums up the spirit of all adventure 



22 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

But poets, from the least to the greatest, have to 
reckon with the necessity of external form. 

The " Fragment of an 'Antigone'" is a similar experi 
ment, and not in my opinion more successful. Such 
lines as 

" August laws doth mightily vindicate," 
or 

" A dead, ignorant, thankless corpse," 

v require an abnormal ear to appreciate their harmony. 
Moreover, this piece suffers by comparison with Mr. 
Browning's stately fragment of an Hippolytus called 
"Artemis Prologises," and with Cardinal Newman's 
verses, beginning " Man is permitted many things." 
They have beauty of form, and are cast in national 
moulds, for one is blank verse, and the other is 
rhyme. 

But these are spots on the sun. The little book, so 

^soon suppressed, contained some of Mr. Arnold's best 
work, and should have received, at least from all 
scholars, an enthusiastic welcome. The opening sonnet, 
suggested by Goethe's famous " Ohne Hast ohne East," 
is not equal to the later ones on Homer, Epictetus, and 
Sophocles, which may perhaps be called his best. But 

^ it raises at once the question where Matthew Arnold's 
sonnets deserve to rank. No one, I suppose, would 

* class them with Keats's or with Wordsworth's. They 
might fairly be put on a level with Eossetti's, and 
above Tennyson's, for Tennyson did not shine in the 
very difficult art of sonnet-writing. It may be con 
sidered a proof rather of Mr. Arnold's courage than of 
his discretion that he should have written a sonnet on 
Shakespeare. Shakespeare's own sonnets are beacons, 
and, like other beacons, they are warnings. Of fine 



in.] EARLY POEMS. 23 

writing on Shakespeare we have enough, and more 
than enough. 

" Self-school'd, self-scann'd, self-honour'd, self-secure," 

is but fine writing after all. The sonnet "Written in 
Emerson's Essays" is thoughtful and interesting. But 
the last line is open to an obvious criticism 

" Dumb judges, answer, truth or mockery ? " 

What is the use of asking dumb judges to answer ? 
The lines " To an Independent Preacher, who preached 
that we should be in Harmony with Nature," Jack 
the urbanity which Mr. Arnold always preached, and 
usually practised. But contact with Dissenters seems 
to have upset his moral equilibrium. The finest of 
these early sonnets is the first of the three addressed 
"To a Republican Friend." The friend was, I presume, 
Clough, to whom he wrote as " Citizen Clough, Oriel 
Lyceum, Oxford," assuring him, as Clough tells us, 
that "the Millennium was not coming this bout." 
Clough's republicanism was skin-deep, and before his 
premature death he might have said, with Southey, 
that he was no more ashamed of having been a repub 
lican than of having been young. Many Oxford 
Liberals, Stanley included, were enthusiastic demo 
crats in 1849, when France seemed to be showing the 
way, and no one suspected that the Second Empire 
was at hand. But few indeed, except John Duke 
Coleridge, retained their early faith to the end of their 
days. Matthew Arnold, however, was from the first 
a moderate Liberal, and a moderate Liberal he con 
tinued to the last. The excellent qualities of judgment 
and sympathy were his, but of political enthusiasm 
he was incapable. This beautiful sonnet deserves to 



'24 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

be quoted at length, not only for its intrinsic merits, 
but also because it is thoroughly characteristic of his 
thoughts and wishes 

" God knows it, I am with you. If to prize 
Those virtues, priz'd and practis'd by too few, 
But priz'd, but lov'd, but eminent in you, 
Man's fundamental life : if to despise 
The barren optimistic sophistries 
Of comfortable moles, whom what they do 
Teaches the limit of the just and true 
And for such doing have no need of eyes : 
m If sadness at the long heart-wasting show 
Wherein earth's great ones are disquieted : 
If thoughts, not idle, while before me flow 
The armies of the homeless and unfed : 
If these are yours, if this is what you are, 
Then am I yours, and what you feel, I share." 

This is not equal to Wordsworth's incomparable 
sonnet on Milton, which it inevitably suggests, but 
they are very noble lines, and they contain the essence 
of Mr. Arnold's political creed. 

Eeaders must have been blind, indeed, who could 
not see the beauty of "Mycerinus." The strange, 
weird, tragic story of this Egyptian king is familiar 
to all lovers of Herodotus. In that exquisitely simple 
v and pellucid style which none of his successors have 
equalled or approached the unconsciously great his 
torian tells how Mycerinus forsook the evil ways of 
his cruel father, and governed his people with a mild, 
paternal rule. The father lived to a green old age, 
feared and hated by his subjects. Against the son in 
the prime of life there went out a decree from the 
oracles of God that after six years he must die. Vainly 
did Mycerinus protest that, shunning bad examples, 



in.] EARLY POEMS. 25 

he had loved justice and hated iniquity. The stern 
answer came that he had misread the sentence of fate, 
which had determined that for a century the Egyptians 
should be oppressed. The father was wiser in his 
generation than the child of light. Then Mycerinus 
felt that the riddle of the painful earth was more than 
he could read ; that to struggle was useless ; and that 
all he could do was to make his six years into twelve 
by devoting every moment to pleasure, by turning 
night into day. But first he summoned the people, 
and told them the whole story. He described briefly 
his own youth 

" Sclf-govern'd, at the feet of Law ; 

Ennobling this dull pomp, the life of kings, 

By contemplation of diviner things." 

He took them into his confidence. He asked them, 
as if they could tell him, whether the gods were 
altogether careless of men and men's actions. 

" Or is it that some Power, too wise, too strong, 
Even for yourselves to conquer or beguile, 
Whirls earth, and heaven, and men, and gods along, 
Like the broad rushing of the column'd Nile ? 
And the great powers we serve, themselves may be 
Slaves of a tyrannous Necessity ? } 

No such verse had been written in English since 
Wordsworth's " Laodamia," and the poem abounds in 
single lines of haunting charm, such as 

" Love, free to range, and regal banquetings," 
" Sweep in the sounding stillness of the night," 

which has an echo of Theocritus, with perfect couplets, 
as, for instance 

" And prayers, and gifts, and tears, are fruitless all, 
And the night waxes, and the shadows fall." 



26 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

Or, in the concluding portion of the poem, which is 
blank verse 

" While the deep-burnish'd foliage overhead 
Splinter' d the silver arrows of the moon," 

where the Virgilian note will strike every scholar. 
"Stand forth, true poet that you are," should have 
been the discerning critic's invitation to the anonymous 
author of " Mycerinus." But it was not. > 

The contents of this little volume varied much in 
merit, as in other respects. "The Sick King in 
Bokhara" is almost prosaic. Mr. Arnold, who hated 
Macaulay, sneered at the Lays of Ancient Rome, of 
which his father was so fond, and selected for especial 
ridicule the lines from "Horatius" 

" To every man upon this earth 
Death corneth, soon or late." 

There is not much to be said for them, I admit. But 
if a poet is to be judged by his worst things, and not 
by his beet, there are lines from " The Sick King in 
Bokhara " which may be set beside Macaulay's 

" Look, this is but one single place, 
Though it be great : all the earth round, 
If a man bear to have it so, 
Things which might vex him shall be found." 

If this is poetry, what is prose ? Although I may be 
rash, I give my opinion for what it is worth, and it 
is that neither the story of this invalid monarch nor 
Mr. Arnold's treatment of it made the poem meet for 
republication, or for anything but repentance. 

"A Modern Sappho," in the style of Moore's Irish 
Melodies, is chiefly memorable for the fine couplet 

" But deeper their voice grows, and nobler their bearing. 
Whose youth in the fires of anguish hath died." 



in.] EARLY POEMS. 27 

"The New Sirens "is an especial favourite with Mr. ^ 
Swinburne, and was republished a quarter of a century 
afterwards at his request. No poet has been more 
generously appreciative of his contemporaries, whether 
older or younger than himself, than Mr. Swinburne ; 
and in this case, at all events, his insight was sure. 
"The New Sirens" is not unlike Mrs. Browning's 
" Wine of Cyprus," but it is less unequal, more ^ 
musical, more chastened and subdued. The poem 
"To a Gipsy Child by the Seashore" contains one 
most beautiful quatrain 

" Ah ! not the nectarous poppy lovers use, 
Not daily labour's dull, Lethaean spring, 
Oblivion in lost angels can infuse 
Of the soil'd glory, and the trailing wing." 

A critic of the Johnsonian school, however, might 
observe that it is the unsoiled glory and the soaring 
wing which the lost angels would remember. Remem 
brance is of the past, not the present. In its delicate 
loveliness " The Forsaken Merman " ranks high among *" 
Mr. Arnold's poems. It i a. jjjtfO r y Q * * tC * p - 



him f\Tifl 



heTcnlldren iinrjer^the impulse of a^Christ 
tion that she must return and pray for her .y'4 Her 
name was Mr. Arnold's favourite name, Margaret. 
The Merman saw her through the window as she sat 
in church with her eyes on "the holy book." But she 
came back to him no more. "Alone dwell for ever 
the kings of the sea." "Alone the sun rises, and alone 
Spring the great streams," says Mr. Arnold in another 
poem. 

Perhaps the most exquisite, and certainly the most 
characteristic, poem in the volume is "Resignation." 



28 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

One cannot doubt that into these lines of chiselled 
and classic perfection Matthew Arnold put his mind 
and soul. Everything in the book was republished, 
except " The Hayswater Boat," which hardly deserved 
exclusion. But " Resignation " is part of Mr. Arnold's 
life and character. We cannot think of him without 
it. At the very beginning we read of " the Goth, bound 
Rome-wards," and we remember Alaric. The "mist- 
wreath'd flock" and the "wet flower'd grass" recall 
the Sicilian poet he loved so well. But Theocritus is 
not the poet described here 

\ " Lean'd on his gate, he gazes : tears 
Are in his eyes, and in his ears 
The murmur of a thousand years ; 
Before him he sees Life unroll, 
A placid and continuous whole ; 
That general Life, which does not cease, 
Whose secret is not joy, but peace ; 
That Life, whose dumb wish is not miss'd 
If birth proceeds, if things subsist ; 
The Life of plants, and stones, and rain ; 
The Life he craves ; if not in vain 
Fate gave, what Chance shall not controul, 
His sad lucidity of soul." 

If Mr. Arnold was, as he must have been, sometimes 
^ sad, he never allowed the shadow of his gloom to rest 
upon others. Peace of mind and lucidity of soul he 
acquired, if he did not always possess them. Pro 
bably they were congenital, like the healthier and 
sounder parts of his father's Puritanism. A fastidious 
critic, Tennyson for instance, might have objected to 
the juxtaposition of "gate" and "gazes," or of "wish" 
and "miss'd." But apart from small blemishes of this 
kind, the lines are as symmetrical in form as they 



in.] EARLY POEMS. 29 

are full of calm and yet intense feeling. They sum / 
up Mr. Arnold's imaginative philosophy. They are r 
the man. Equal to them, perhaps in expression beyond 
them, are those which almost immediately follow : 

" Deeply the Poet feels ; but he 
Breathes, when he will, immortal air, 
Where Orpheus and where Homer are. 
In the day's life, whose iron round 
Hems us all in, he is not bound. 
He escapes thence, but we abide. 
Not deep the Poet sees, but wide." 

Shakespeare was not the only poet who saw deep as 
well as wide. It would be hard to fathom the thought 
of Wordsworth in his sublimest moments, and Orpheus 
was a mystic, if Homer was not. Sophocles was 
perhaps in Mr. Arnold's mind " singer of sweet 
Colonos, and its child." He never surpassed the best 
things in "Resignation," and for life's fitful fever the 
English language, rich as it is in all manner of refresh 
ing influences, contains no more healing balm. 



CHAPTER IV. 

WORK AND POETRY. 

ON the 14 th of April 1851, Matthew Arnold was 
appointed by Lord Lansdowne to an Inspectorship of 
Schools, which he retained for five-and- thirty years. 
His friend, Mr. Ralph Lingen, afterwards Lord Lingen, 
who had been his tutor at Oxford, was influential 
in procuring him this post, though it came to him 
naturally enough, being in the gift of his official chief. 
Mr. Lingen was Secretary to the Education Depart 
ment, then in its infancy, and he wished to attract 
young men of promise from the Universities. He 
never made a better choice than Matthew Arnold. 
It is no disparagement of the many able men who 
have been Inspectors of Schools to say that not one 
of them excelled Mr. Arnold in fitness for the post. 
He was very fond of children, he knew by instinct 
how to deal with them, and at the other end of the 
scale he had a real scientific knowledge of what educa 
tion in its highest sense ought to be. With lofty ideas 
of that kind, however, he had for some years little 
enough to do. Compulsory education was still the 
dream of advanced theorists. The Parliamentary 
grants were only five years old, and a school which 
chose, like Archdeacon Denison's, to dispense with a 
grant, could dispense with inspection too. But the 



CHAP, iv.] WORK AND POETRY. 31 

bribe was pretty high, few national schools could 
afford to despise it, and Mr. Arnold had plenty to do. 
Throughout his life, indeed, he worked hard for a 
moderate salary, never complaining, always promoting 
the happiness of others, and throwing into his daily 
duties every power of his mind. In one of his early 
letters to his sister, Mrs. Forster, Mr. Arnold naively 
observes that he is much more worldly than the rest 
of his family. He was fond of society, and a delightful 
member of it. Worldly in any other sense he was not. 
Few men have had less ambition, or a stronger sense 
of duty. On the 10th of June, in this same year, he 
married the lady who for the rest of his life was the chief 
source of his happiness. Her name was Frances Lucy 
Wightman, and her father was an excellent Judge of a 
good old school, much respected in Court, little known 
outside. Mr. Arnold, though neither a lawyer nor inter 
ested in law, accompanied Mr. Justice "Wightman on 
circuit for many Assizes as Marshal. Characteristic 
ally avoiding the criminal side, he liked to watch his 
father-in-law try causes. "He does it so admirably," 
he tells his wife. " It" is said to be a lost art. 

One of his first letters to Mrs. Arnold, dated from 
the Oldham Road Lancastrian School at Manchester, 
on the 15th of October 1851, shows the spirit with 
which he entered upon his regular functions. " I think 
I shall get interested in the schools after a little time," 
he writes ; "their effects on the children are so immense, 
and their future effects in civilising the next genera 
tion of the lower classes, who, as things are going, will 
have most of the political power of the counjbry in their 
hands, may be so important." But meanwhile he gave 
the public another volume of poems. 



32 MATTHEW ARNOLD. JCHAP. 

In October 1852 appeared Empedodes on Etna, and 
other Poems, by "A." Although this volume, with its 
predecessor, contains most of Mr. Arnold's best verse, 
and although he never afterwards wrote anything 
except "Thyrsis" and "Westminster Abbey," which 
added much to his poetical reputation, the one book 
fell as flat as the other, and was withdrawn before fifty 
copies had been sold. A greater reproach to the criti 
cism of the early Victorian age there could hardly be. 
Tennyson had succeeded Wordsworth as Poet Laureate, 
but he had not yet become really popular, and 
Browning was still only the idol of a clique. The 
one man in England fit to be compared with either 
Browning or Tennyson gave the public of his best, and 
the public neither praised nor blamed. They took no 
notice at all. The earliest of these most varied and 
interesting poems in point of time is the " Memorial 
Verses " on the death of Wordsworth, which happened 
in April 1850. The opening lines are familiar 

" Goethe in Weimar sleeps, and Greece, 
Long since, saw Byron's struggle cease. 
But one such death rernain'd to come. 
The last poetic verse is dumb. 
What shall be said o'er Wordsworth's tomb ?" 

To Tennyson, Matthew Arnold was always unjust, V 
and never appreciated his greatness. Whether "tomb" 
rhymes with "dumb " I shall not assume the province 

k of determining. Mr. Arnold had not a faultless ear. 
Indeed, some of his unrhymed lyrics lead one to ask 

* whether he had any ear at all, and for richness of 
melody he cannot be mentioned with Mr. Swinburne. 
Goethe and Wordsworth can hardly be compared, 
except for purposes of contrast. Wordsworth, as is 

i 



iv.] WORK AND POETRY. 33 

well known, objected to Goethe's poetry that it was 
"not inevitable enough," thereby introducing a word 
which has since been done to death in the service of 
the lower criticism. But Mr. Arnold's classic eulogy 
of Goethe is fine in itself, being indeed little more than 
a paraphrase of the great Virgilian hexameters 

" Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas, 
Atque metus oinnes, et inexorabile fatum, 
Subjecit pedibus, strepitumque Acherontis Averni." 

When we read 

" Time may restore us in his course 
Goethe's sage mind and Byron's force ; 
But where will Europe's latter hour 
Again find Wordsworth's healing power ? " 

we are tempted to ask why another Wordsworth is 
less possible, if there can be degrees of possibility, 
than another Goethe ? And indeed much of the healing 
power may be found in the best verse of Mr. Arnold 
himself. 

EzQgedocles on Etna was a special favourite with 
Robert Browning, at whose request it reappeared in 
1867. It was then new as a whole to the general 
public, for in 1852 its author almost immediately with 
drew it, and only fragments of it were reprinted in 
1855. That Browning should admire it was not 
wonderful, for both the subject and the treatment are 
suggestive of "Paracelsus," though "Paracelsus" is to 
my thinking a far finer poem. Empedocles was a 
Sicilian Greek of the fifth century before Christ, whose 
^ philosophical remains, such as they are, show him to 
have been a dreamy, mystical sceptic. The legend 
that in despair of attaining truth, he flung himself 
into the crater of Etna, is a mere tradition without 

' 



34 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

historic value. The blank verse of Empedocles is not 
equal to Mr. Arnold's best. Such a line as 

" I hear, Gorgias, their chief, speaks nobly of him," 

can neither be defended nor scanned. On the other 
hand 

" The Adriatic breaks in a warm bay," 

is a masterpiece of its kind. The unrhymed lyrics are, 
to speak plainly, both here and throughout this volume, 
detestable 

" Great qualities are trodden down, 

And- littleness united 

Is become invincible." 

This is not poetry. It is scarcely even prose. It is 
something for which literature has no name. The 
song of Empedocles to his harp, though far below 
" Rabbi Ben Ezra," contains some striking verses, as, 
for instance 

" We would have inward peace, 

Yet will not look within : 
We would have misery cease, 
Yet will not cease from sin," 

where the curiously Christian tone of Greek moral 
philosophy is well brought out. But the best parts of 
the drama, if drama it is to be calledj are the songs of 
Callicles. There is one passage clearly written under 
the influence of Gray, with whom Mr. Arnold has some 
times, not perhaps to much purpose, been compared 

" And the Eagle, at the beck 
Of the appeasing gracious harmony, 
Droops all his sheeny, brown, deep-feather'd neck, 
Nestling nearer to Jove's feet : 
While o'er his sovereign eye 
The curtains of the blue films slowly meet." 



iv.] WORK AND POETRY. 35 

One instinctively recalls the beautiful couplet in the 
" Progress of Poesy " 

" Quenched in dark clouds of slumber lie 
The terrors of his beak, and lightnings of his eye." 

The best consecutive passage of blank verse in the 
poem is undoubtedly the following 

" And yet what days were those, Pannenides ! 
When we were young, when we could number friends 
In all the Italian cities like ourselves, 
When with elated hearts we join'd your train, 
Ye Sun-born virgins ! on the road of Truth. 
Then we could still enjoy, then neither thought 
Nor outward things were clos'd and dead to us, 
But we received the shock of mighty thoughts 
On simple minds with a pure natural joy, 
And if the sacred load oppress'd our brain, 
We had the power to feel the pressure eas'd, 
The brow unbound, the thought flow free again, 
In the delightful commerce of the world." 

This is truly Wordsworthian, though Wordsworth 
would hardly have ended two lines out of three with 
the same substantive. But the song of Callicles at 
the end is the gem of the piece. The stanzas are 
familiar 

"Not here, Apollo ! 

Are haunts meet for thee. 

But, where Helicon breaks down 

In cliff to the sea," 

Here the third line halts badly. This, however, is 
almost perfect 

" 'Tis Apollo comes leading 

His choir, The Nine. 

The Leader is fairest, 

But all are divine." 






36 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

These, too, are lovely, though perhaps the word 
"hotness " is exceptionable 

" First hymn they the Father 
Of all things : and then 
The rest of Immortals, 
The action of men. 

The Day in its hotness, 
The strife with the palm ; 
The Night in its silence, 
The Stars in their calm." 

The question why the second of these two stanzas is 
/* inferior to the first lies at the root of poetry, and 
involves the true value of poetic style. 

The other long poem in this volume, " Tristram and j 
Iseult," contains some of Mr. Arnold's best lyrics, 
especially the noble stanza beginning 

" Raise the light, my page, that I may see her. 
Thou art come at last then, haughty Queen ! 
Long I 've waited, loDg I 've fought my fever : 
Late thou comest, cruel thou hast been." 

And the haunting couplet 

" What voices are these on the clear night air ? 
What lights in the court ? what steps on the stair ? " 

The story of Tristram and the two Iseults the Iseult 
he loved and the Iseult he married has been also 
versified by Mr. Swinburne, who treats it with less 
restraint. In Mr. Arnold's hands it is not so much 
interesting or complete in itself as the opportunity for 
stringing together some beauties of melody and niceties 
of phrase. Such lines as 

** Above the din her voice is in my ears 
I see her form glide through the crossing spears," 

can never be forgotten. 



iv.] WORK AND POETRY. 37 

Memorable also is the blank verse 

"She seems one dying in a mask of youth." 

But it may be safely said of this poem that no one has 
&ver read it, or ever will read it for the story, which / 
^indeed is rather suggested than told. It is a curious/ 
fact that in the first edition of " Tristram and Iseult" 
the place of King Marc's court was made a dactyl. It 
runs 

" Where the prince whom she must wed 
Keeps his court in Tyntgel." 

It is, of course, Tyntagel, and in later editions the 
second line became 

"Dwells on proud TyntagePs hill." 

In every other line where the name occurs a similar 
change was made. 

Among the miscellaneous poems published with 
"Empedocles," "On the Rhine" is chiefly remarkable 
for the pretty lines 

" Eyes too expressive to be blue, 
Too lovely to be grey." 

But "Parting" belongs to a much higher class. It 
is passionate, as Mr. Arnold's poetry so seldom is, and** 
it is wholly beautiful, with a rush and swing unusual 
in the apostle of philosophic calm, who desired, like 
the poor " Independent Preacher," to be at one with 
nature 

" But on the stairs what voice is this I lx>ar, 
Buoyant as morning, and as morning clear ? 
Say, has some wet bird-haunted English lawn 
Lent it the music of its trees at dawn ? 
Or was it from somo sun-fleck'd mountain-brook 
That the sweet voice its upluud clearness took V 



38 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

This is exquisite melody, and the antistrophe, 
beginning 

" But who is this, by the half-opcn'd door ? " 

is quite as good. The poem belongs to a collection 
afterwards called " Switzerland," of whom a lady called 
Marguerite is the subject. She can hardly have 
been a creature of the imagination, but there is no 
trace of her identity. Another of the series, called 
"Absence," is familiar for the pathetic verses 

" But each day brings its petty dust 
Our soon-chok'd souls to fill, 
And we forget because we must 
And not because we will." 

The lines especially addressed to Marguerite end 
with five words 

" The unplumb'd, salt, estranging sea," 

.which can hardly be surpassed for curious felicity in 
the English, if in any language. " Self-Dependence " is 
a characteristic exhortation to seek refuge from human 
troubles in the example of nature. We are invited to 
contemplate the stars and the sea 

" Unaffrighted by the bilence round them, 
Undistracted by the sights they see, 
These demand not that the things without them 
Yield them love, amusement, sympathy." 

The verses are pretty. But, as Gibbon said of 
Sulpicius' letter to Cicero, such consolations never 
dried a single tear. " The Buried Life " is so perfect, 
so finished, and so self-contained, that it would only 
be spoiled by quotation. It is, in fact, a variation of 
the old theme so finely expressed by Seneca 



i v.l WORK AND POETRY. 39 

" Illi mors gnu is incubat 
Qui, notus nimis omnibus, 
Ignotus moritur sibi." 

"A Farewell," on the other hand, which belongs to 
the Marguerite series, is much less equal, but two of 
its stanzas are conspicuously excellent 

" And though we wear out life, alas ! 
Distracted as a homeless wind, 
In beating where we must not pass, 
In seeking what we shall not find ; 

" Yet we shall one day gain, life past, 
Clear prospect o'er our being's whole ; 
Shall see ourselves, and learn at last 
Our true affinities of soul." 

The " StunzasJnjjemory of the Author of Obermann" 
are as much about Goethe as about Senancour ; and 
Goethe, though the prophet of Matthew Arnold as 
well as of Carlyle, belonged to the eighteenth century 
rather than the nineteenth. The unrhymed lyric 
called " Consolation " is, I confess, beyond me 

" And couLtless beings 
Pass countless moods," 

may be poetry, but it is poetry which I cannot dis- * 
tinguish from prose; and when "two young, fair 
lovers " cry, " Destiny prolong the present ! Time ! 
stand still here ! " I can only think of the immortal 
prayer 

" Ye gods, annihilate both space and time 
And make two lovers happy." 

It is strange indeed to turn from these craggy and 



40 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

spasmodic utterances to the layel^_^ine^jwritten in 
KensingtonJ>ardens "- 

" Calm Soul of all things ! make it mine 
To feel, amid the city's jar, 
That there abides a peace of thine, 
Man did not make, and cannot mar." 

Not Lucan, not Virgil, only Wordsworth, has more 
j beautifully expressed the spirit of Pantheism. 

"The Youth of Nature " and " The Youth of Man " 
are again neither one thing nor the other. " The Youth 
of Nature " is not otherwise remarkable than as it ex 
aggerates the Conservatism of Wordsworth, who was 
very much of a Radical in his early days, as the 
"Prelude," not published in his lifetime, shows. " The 
Youth of Man " contains the line 

"Perfumes the evening air," 

which those may scan who have the power, and those 
may like who scan. Written as prose, "And they 
remember with piercing untold anguish the proud boast 
ing of their youth," is well enough. But metrically 
^ arranged, it belongs to no metre under Heaven. " And 
the mists of delusion, and the scales of habit, fall away 
from their eyes," is irreproachable prose, but impossible 
poetry. " Morality," which follows, is a most refresh 
ing contrast, and begins at once with a fine stanza 

<l We cannot kindle when we will 
The fire that in the heart resides ; 
The spirit bloweth and is still, 
In mystery our soul abides : 

But tasks in hours of insight will'd 
Can be through hours of gloom fulfill'd." 

* This manly and dignified tone, so characteristic of 



iv.] WORK AND POETRY. 41 

Matthew Arnold, is the source of much of his influ 
ence. " Progress," an eloquent expression of his belief 
in purely spiritual religion, apart from all creeds and 
dogmas, was much altered in later editions. Some of 
the changes are certainly improvements. One, I 
think, can hardly be so considered. In the first 
edition we read 

" Quench then the altar fires of your old Gods ! 
Quench not the fire within ! " 

This became 

" Leave then the Cross as ye have left carved gods, 
But guard the fire within ! " 

Here the antithesis disappears, and so the expres 
sion becomes weaker. The tribute to all religions, 
Christian and other, is a very fine one 

" Which has not taught weak wills how much they can, 
Which has not fall'n on the dry heart like rain ? 
Which has not cried to sunk, self-weary man, 
' Thou must be born again' ?" 

The volume ended with an unrhymed piece called 
"The Future," beginning with the line 

"A wanderer is man from his birth," 

which to my ear has two superfluous syllables, and 
ending with the really beautiful verse 

"Murmurs and scents of the infinite Sea." 

But it is not by these metrical or unmetrical experi 
ments that Matthew Arnold lives. 

Empedodes on Etna, and other Poems, by "A.," 
was withdrawn immediately after publication. It 
was soon, however, followed, in 1853, by a new 



42 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

volume of poems, with the author's name on the title- 
page, and containing many pieces already published, 
besides nine which were new. " Empedocles " itself 
did not reappear, for reasons stated in the Preface. 
This essay expresses for the first time Mr. Arnold's 
conception of poetry, and^ must be regarded as an 
epoch in his life. After declaring that he had not 
withdrawn "Empedocles" because the subject was too 
remote from the present time, for that he held to be 
an invalid objection, he thus proceeds : 

"What then are the situations, from the representa 
tion of which, though accurate, no poetical enjoyment 
can be derived $ They are those in which the suffering 
finds no vent in action ; in which a continuous state 
of mental distress is prolonged, unrelieved by incident, 
hope, or resistance ; in which there is everything to be 
endured, nothing to be done. In such situations 
there is inevitably something morbid, in the description 
of them something monotonous. When they occur 
in actual life, they are painful, not tragic ; the repre 
sentation of them in poetry is painful also. 

" To this class of situations, poetically faulty as it 
appears to me, that of Empedocles, as I have en 
deavoured to represent him, belongs ; and I have there 
fore excluded the Poem from the present collection." 

This important Preface was Mr. Arnold's earliest 
publication in prose. It is written in his best and 
purest style, free from the mannerisms and affectations 
which did so much in later days to spoil the enjoy 
ment of his readers. But unless Mr. Arnold intended 
to suggest that Empedocles fell into the crater by 
accident, which is hardly conceivable, the theory does 
not quite fit the facts. Suicide is as much action as 



iv.] WORK AND POETRY. 43 

murder, and is as capable of dramatic treatment. The 
thinness of the boundary between the sublime and 
something quite different is a topic more relevant to 
voluntary cremation, following a lengthy philosophic 
song upon a harp. When Mr. Arnold goes on to ask 
and to ansner the question what are the eternal objects 
of poetry, he is at his best : 

"The Poet, then, has in the first place to select an\ 
excellent action ; and what actions are the most 
excellent 1 Those, certainly, which most powerfully 
appeal to the great primary human affections : to 
those elementary feelings which subsist permanently 
in the race, and which are independent of time." 

That is full of instruction, for ever memorable, and 
profoundly true. If Mr. Browning had borne it in 
mind, all his poetry would be, as his best poetry is, a 
permanent addition to the imaginative literature of 
the world. In these pages, thoroughly characteristic 
of the writer, appears one phrase which became 
familiar within a few years to all Mr. Arnold's readers. 
The Greeks, he says, are "the unapproached masters 
of the grand style" Professor Saints bury complains 
that he never defined what he meant by the grand 
style. But was it necessary ? The words are clear 
enough, and certainly intelligible to all classical 
scholars. The Greeks, says Mr. Arnold, kept style 
in the right degree of prominence. They suited, as 
Hamlet puts it, the word to the action, the action to 
the word. I am not, however, sure that he exhausts 
the matter when he adds that their range of subjects 
was so limited, because so few subjects are excellent. 
Another reason was that a story for dramatic represen 
tation before the Athenian people must be one which the 



44 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

Athenian people knew. They would have resented as 
a dangerous innovation a mere fancy of the dramatist's. 
But it must not be too recent, and touch too tender 
a place, as Phrynichus discovered to his cost when he 
was fined for his tragedy on the taking of Miletus. 
Most interesting is the passage in which Mr. Arnold 
traces the influence upon modern English poetry of 
Shakespeare's inexhaustible eloquence. This, he thinks, 
encouraged those who came after Shakespeare, and 
regarded him as the greatest of all models, to think 
too much of expression and too little of composition. 
As the chief example of this error he takes Keats, 
and especially "Isabella." He does not depreciate 
Keats, or even "Isabella." On the contrary, he says 
that " this one short poem contains, perhaps, a greater 
number of happy single expressions which one could 
quote than all the extant tragedies of Sophocles," 
which seems to me a preposterous overstatement. But 
he accuses him of subordinating the essential to the 
accidental. That is too large a conclusion to deduce 
from a single poem. It would not be borne out by 
the Sonnets, by the Odes, or by Hyperion. As for 
Shakespeare himself, it is mere idolatry to pretend 
that all he wrote was equally good. There is much 
bombast in his early work, and over-expression was 
always his besetting sin. It seems a fault in him, 
because he was so great. But his inferior contem 
poraries had it in a much greater degree. It was the 
vice of the age rather than of the man. He had at 
his best "the severe and scrupulous self-restraint of 
the ancients," which Mr. Arnold denies him. But he 
had it not always, as they had, and it is true, 
therefore, that he is a "less safe model." "I know 



iv.] \V< >RK AND POETRY. 45 

not how it is," says Mr. Arnold, with insight and 
felicity " I know not how it is, but their commerce 
with the ancients appears to me to produce, in those 
who constantly practise it, a steadying and composing 
effect upon their judgment, not of literary works only, 
but of men and events in general. They are like 
persons who have had a very weighty and impressive 
experience : they are more truly than others under the 
empire of facts, and more independent of the language 
current among those with whom they live." That is J 
admirably said, and it is the last word. 

One is rather surprised to find the author of this 
luminous Essay, in a letter to his sister, dated the 
14th of April 1853, comparing Villette unfavourably 
with My Novel. For though Bulwer was a brilliant 
novelist, and is now, perhaps, too much neglected, 
there is more genius in the pages of Villette than in all 
the books he ever wrote. But the letter contains also 
an announcement of much interest. " I am occupied," 
he says, " with a thing that gives me more pleasure 
than anything I have ever done yet, which is a good 
sign; but whether I shall not ultimately spoil it by 
being obliged to strike it off in fragments instead of 
at one heat I cannot quite say." He certainly did not 
spoil it. For the thing was "Sohm^ n,pf| "Rnstnm," 
which all admirers of Matthew Arnold would put in 
the front rank of his poems. It appeared for the 
first time in 1853; and though Clough "remained in " 
suspense whether he liked it or not," no work of its 
author's has more genuine beauty. Lord John Russell, 
who, in his dry fashion, was a sound judge of good 
literature, had already pronounced Mr. Arnold to be 
"the one rising young poet of the present day," but 



46 MATTHEW ARNOLD, [CHAP. 

his fame really began with the publication of this his 
third volume. "Sohrab and Rustum" is a story of 
Central Asia, or, as we used to say, Asia Minor, told 
in blank verse, and in the Homeric vein. It is called 
"An Episode," and begins in character with the word 
"And." Far more truly Homeric than Clough's jolting 
hexameters, it is as good a specimen of Homer's manner ' 
as can be found in English. Rustum is a barbarian, 
though not an undignified barbarian. But the gentle 
and sympathetic character of Sohrab is one of the best, 
and most delicate that Matthew Arnold ever drew. 
That he falls by the hand of his unconscious father 
is the simple tragedy of the piece. Very noble is his 
reply to the still sceptical Rustum 

" Truth sits upon the lips of dying men, 
And Falsehood, while I liv'd, was far from mine." 

And when Rustum, at last convinced that he has slain 
his son, prays that the Oxus may drown him, Sohrab 
replies, in the exquisite lines 

" ' Desire not that, my father ; thou must live. 
Foi some are born to do great deeds, and live, 
As some are born to be cbscur'd, and die. 
Do thou the deeds I die too young to do, 
And reap a second glory in thine age.' " 

"The Church of Brou" is chiefly valuable for its 
beautiful conclusion in heroic verse, beginning 

" So rest, for ever rest, Princely Pair ! 
In your high Church, 'mid the still mountain air." 

The church, however, is not in the mountains, but in 
the treeless, waterless Burgundian plains. The story 
is not interesting, nor otherwise well told. The 






iv.] WORK AND TOETRY. 47 

lovely stanzas called "Requiescat" (" Strew on her 
roses, roses ") is perhaps as familiar as anything that 
Matthew Arnold wrote. This perfect little lyric is 
worthily rendered into Greek Elegiacs in "Arundines 
Cami." "The Scholar Gipsy," though it specially 
appeals through its topography and atmosphere to 
Oxford men, is dear also to all lovers of poetry. The 
quaint and fantastic tale, first told by Glanvil, of the 
young Oxford student who was forced by poverty to 
leave Oxford and herd with the gipsies, is told again 
by a lover of the district, the most beautiful in the 
English midlands. The objection that the poem is 
too topographical seems to me irrelevant. No one 
quarrels with Burns for describing Ayrshire, and the 
scenery of the " Scholar Gipsy " is as familiar as their 
own homes to thousands of educated Englishmen. 
The poem is not one from which detached passages 
can easily be quoted. 

" Sad Patience, too near neighbour to Despair," 
is very close to Shelley. 

" Still nursing the unconquerable hope, 
Still clu telling the inviolable shade, 
With a free onward impulse brushing through, 
By night, the silvcr'd branches of the glade," 

are lines which, for a sort of magical charm, have 
seldom been surpassed. Fine as they are themselves, 
the last two stanzas of the "Scholar Gipsy" are a 
little out of place. 

" The young light-hearted Masters of the waves," 

is a line one would not willingly lose. But the 
elaborate simile of the "grave Tyrian trader" and 



48 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

the "merry Grecian coaster" is a less fitting end 
than the melancholy contrast between the scholar's 
blissful simplicity and our mental strife. The stanzas 
"In Memory of the late Edward Quillinan, Esq.," a 
forgotten poet, remembered, if at all, as Wordsworth's 
son-in-law, and the translator of Camoens, are rather a 
copy of verses than a poem. 

In 1855 appeared Poems ly Matthew Arnold, second 
series. Of these, two only, "Balder Dead" and 
"Separation," were new. By this time, though his 
popularity was not wide, his reputation was assured. 
Reviewers had begun to treat him with respect, 
though there was one curious exception. Writing on 
the 3rd of August 1854 to Mr. Wyndham Slade, he 
adds this postscript : " My love to J. D. C., and tell 
him that the limited circulation of the Christian 
Remembrancer, makes the unquestionable viciousness of 
his article of little importance. I am sure he will be 
gratified to think that it is so." After Mr. Arnold's 
death, Lord Coleridge, in obvious allusion tc this 
incident, said that the article in the Christian Re 
membrancer, of which he afterwards bitterly repented, 
did not make the slightest difference in the warmth of 
a lifelong friendship. Mr. Arnold was, indeed, as 
nearly incapable of resentment as a human creature 
can be. He was endowed with one of those perfect 
tempers which are of more value than many fortunes. 
"Balder Dead" is, like "Sohrab and Rustum," 
Homeric in tone, although the subject is taken from 
the Norse mythology. It has not the human interest 
of the earlier poem. Balder, though he died, was a 
god, and the whole machinery is supernatural. A 
Frenchman would have said that Mr. Arnold had 



iv.] WORK AND POETRY. 49 

accomplished a tour de force, and obtained a sucds 
d'estime. Nevertheless, "Balder Dead" is full of 
beauty, the verse is musical as well as stately, and the 
mourning of nature for " Balder," believed to be in 
vulnerable, but slain by a stratagem, is admirably 
described. Some passages in it are purely Greek, as, 
for instance, this speech of Balder 

" Hennod the nimble, gild me not my death ! 
Better to live a serf, a captured man, 
Who scatters rushes in a master's hall, 
Than be a crown'd king here, and rule the dead." 
cv 



While the line about " the northern Bear "- 

" And is alone not dipt in Ocean's stream," 

is exactly the beautiful 

" OIT; d' apropos t'ori Aofrpoii/ cu 



"Balder Dead" must always be a poem for the few. 
But it will have readers who enjoy it intensely, even 
though they feel that it lacks the peculiar fascination 
of "Sohrab and Rustum." "Separation," afterwards 
included in "Faded Leaves," has a tenderness and a 
depth of feeling quite foreign to academic exercises 
like "Balder Dead." It comes, like the songs of 
Burns, straight from the heart, and the last stanza, 
though not faultless in form, is indescribably 
pathetic : 

" Then, when we meet, and thy look strays toward me, 
Scanning my face and the changes wrought there : 
Who, let me say, is this Stranger regards me, 
With the grey eyes, and the lovely brown hair ? " 

The effect of the word "Stranger" could only have 

D 



50 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. iv. 

been produced by the art which conceals itself, and 
appears as simplicity. 

On the 17th of February 1856, Mr. Arnold wrote to 
his sister that he had been elected at the Athenaeum, 
and looked forward with "rapture" to the use of the 
library. One of the first books he read in it seems to 
have been the new volume of Ruskin's Modern Painters, 
upon which he passed, on the 31st of March, this 
singular judgment: "Full of excellent aper$us, as 
usual, but the man and character too febrile, irritable, 
and weak to allow him to possess the wdo concate- 
natioque veri." How he would have laughed at this 
pedantry if it had come from a Positivist. 



CHAPTER V. 

THE OXFORD CHAIR. 

ON the 5th of May 1857, Mr. Arnold was elected by 
Convocation to the Professorship of Poetry at Oxford. 
His unsuccessful competitor was the Reverend John 
Ernest Bode, author of Ballads from Herodotus, and a 
thoroughly orthodox divine. It is a curious fact, 
illustrating the difference between ancient and 
modern Oxford, that all Mr. Arnold's predecessors in 
the chair were clergymen. All his successors have 
been laymen. The Professorship was founded in 1808. 
The emoluments were trifling, not more than a hundred 
pounds a year. On the other hand, the duties were 
not heavy, while the statutory obligation to lecture 
in Latin, to which Milman and Keble were subject, 
had been removed. His inaugural lecture was, how 
ever, severely classical in tone. Its subject was "The 
Modern Element in Literature," and in it Mr. Arnold 
dwelt upon the close intellectual sympathy between 
Greece in the days of Pericles and the England of his 
own day. Both ages, he said, demanded intellectual 
deliverance, and obtained it from literature, especially 
from poetry. Thus, comparing the Periclean with the 
Elizabethan age, he showed how much more modern a 
historian was Thucydides than Raleigh. But the 
writers most akin to our own were, he contended, the 

61 



52 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

Greek dramatic poets, especially Sophocles and Aristo 
phanes. Latin poetry, being essentially imitative, did 
not interpret the time as Greek poetry did. This lecture 
was not published till February 1869, when it appeared 
in Macmillaris Magazine. It was followed by others on 
the same subject, which have never been published at 
all. Athough Mr. Arnold retained his Professorship 
for ten years, he disliked, as is well known, the title of 
Professor. It classed him, as he plaintively remarked, 
with Professor Pepper of the Polytechnic, Professor 
Anderson, "The Wizard of the North," and other 
great men with whom he could not aspire to rank. 
He never as Professor resided in Oxford. He wished 
to be considered a man of letters and of the world, 
provided with an honourable and advantageous plat 
form from which to expound his ideas. 

The real inauguration of Mr. Arnold's Professorship 
was his tragedy called "Merope," which appeared in 
1858 with an elaborate and justificatory Preface. In 
this Mr. Arnold described England as the stronghold of 
the romantic school, and renewed the plea for classical 
principles which he had put forward in the Introduc 
tion to his Collected Poems. The story of Merope, 
the widowed queen of Messenia, whose son ^Epytus 
avenges upon Polyphontes the murder of Cresphontes, 
his father, was well known to antiquity. Aristotle 
cites as specially dramatic the scene where Merope is 
on the point of killing ./Epytus, not recognising him 
for her son, but believing him to be her son's destroyer. 
Euripides made it the subject of a play, but only a few 
fragments have come down to us. Maffei, Voltaire, and 
Alfieri successively dramatised it, altering it more or 
less to suit modern taste. Mr. Arnold adhered more 



v.] THE OXFORD CHAIR. 53 

strictly to the authority, such as it is, of Hyginus, but 
omitted, as too revolting, the marriage of Merope with 
Polyphontes, who slew her husband. He seems to 
have forgotten that this was an incident in the 
greatest of all plays, and that the master of human 
nature had not shrunk from presenting Gertrude 
as the wife of Claudius. This Preface contains an 
attack upon French Alexandrines, which is quite 
unnecessary, and a criticism of Voltaire as a play 
wright which is a little out of place, though the com 
parison with Racine is good. But by far the best part 
of it is that which describes, with admirable brevity 
and clearness, the rise of the Greek drama. No one 
save Aristotle has explained in fewer words, or with 
more picturesque lucidity, the growth of the complete 
play from the chorus and the messenger. The chorus 
was originally part of the audience to whom the 
narrative was addressed, though they were the only 
part of the audience who ventured to interrupt. 
"The lyrical element," as Mr. Arnold well says, "was 
a relief and solace in the stress and conflict of the 
action," like the comic scenes which, as Coleridge 
observed, Shakespeare interposed after great tragic 
events. Mr. Arnold's ideas were excellent. It was 
in carrying them out that he failed. To criticise 
" Merope " is to dissect a corpse. ^v\dpiov 
vcK/>b', would be a better motto than 
per evTcAeias, which is the actual one. In vain does 
Mr. Arnold make Polyphontes a wise and strong king, 
endeavouring by years of virtuous rule to expiate the 
crime into which ambition has betrayed him. He does 
not excite our interest, nor does Merope, nor -<3Epytus, , 
nor any of them. The imitation is very skilful. 1 



54 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

" Merope" is far more strictly Greek in tone and style 
than " Atalanta in Calydon," which is not really Greek 
at all. But it has not the sweep, the ring, the melody, 
nor the sensuous beauty of that fascinating, though 
\irregular drama. It is the form without the spirit, 
ifhe body without the soul. "Merope " purports to be 
a Greek play in English dress. It is really a prize 
poem of inordinate length. Mr. Arnold himself hoped 
great things from it. "I must read 'Merope' to 
you," he says in a letter to Mrs. Forster of the 25th of 
July 1857. "I think and hope it will have what 
Buddha called the character of Fixity, that true sign 
of the Law." But literature is not law, and requires 
something more than fixity, something, as Carlyle 
would say, quite other than fixity. "Merope "had a 
kind of success, and not the kind which the author 
least valued. Dr. Temple, the new Headmaster of 
Rugby, an excellent judge, admired it. So did George 
Henry Lewes, so did Kingsley, and so, with some 
reservations upon the choice of a subject, did Froude. 
It even sold well. But the general public never took 
to it, and few competent critics would now, I think, 
say that they were wrong. There are good lines here 
and there, such as the gnome 

" For tyrants make man good beyond himself," 
arid the thoroughly Greek antithesis 

" Thy crown condemns thee, while thy tongue absolves," 
and the characteristic couplets 

" To hear another tumult in these streets, 
To have another murder in these halls." 

" So rule, that as thy father thou be loved ; 
So rule, that as thy foe thou be obey'd." 



v.] THE OXFORD CHAIR. 65 

But the unrhymed choruses are harsh almost beyond 
belief, as, for instance 

" She led the way of death. 
And the plain of Tegea, 
And the grave of Orestes 
Where, in secret seclusion 
Of his unreveal'd tomb, 
Sleeps Agamemnon's unhappy, 
Matricidal, world-famed, 
Seven-cubit-statured son 
Sent forth Echemus, the victor, the king." 

Perhaps the best of the choric lines are the following, 
which express one of Mr. Arnold's favourite ideas : 

" Yea, and not only have we not explored 
That wide and various world, the heart of others, 
But even our own heart, that narrow world 
Bounded in our own breast, we hardly know, 
Of our own actions dimly trace the causes." 

But how heavy and lifeless are these verses compared 
with the simple stanza in " Parting "- 

" Far, far from each other 

Our spirits have grown ; 
And what heart knows another ? 
Ah ! who knows his own ? " 

Mr. Arnold was anxious that "Merope" should be 
shown to Robert Browning, whose "Fragment of a 
Hippolytus," that is, " Artemis Prologises," he justly 
admired. But Mr. Browning, as we have seen, had 
the good taste to prefer "Empedocles," with which 
"Merope" was republished in 1885. Mr. Arnold 
considered Mrs. Browning as "hopelessly confirmed 
in her aberration from health, nature, beauty, and 
truth." The judgment \vas severe, but at this distance 



56 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

of time one can hardly say that it was unsound. 
What Mr. Arnold failed to see was that in these forced 
ejqaejriments he ran no small danger of the same kind 
himself. 

At the beginning of 1858, nearly seven years after 
his marriage, Mr. Arnold took a small house in Chester 
Square, and for the first timo acquired a settled home. 
Both he and his wife were fortunately fond of 
travelling. But his incessant movements as Inspector 
had more than satisfied the taste, and they were glad 
to have a fixed abode. Mr. Arnold, however, still 
continued his official tours, and on the 29th of October 
1858 he heard John Bright speak at Birmingham. 
"He is an orator of almost the highest rank voice 
and manner excellent ; perhaps not quite flow enough 
not that he halts or stammers, but I like to have 
sometimes more of a rush than he ever gives you. He 
is a far better speaker than Gladstone." That a "far 
better speaker than Gladstone" should not be an 
orator of the highest rank is a strange paradox. 
Otherwise the description is excellent, and the com 
parative merits of the two speakers will always divide 
opinion. 

Our feelings, says a poet not unlike Matthew Arnold, 
though inferior to him 

" Our feelings lose poetic flow 
Soon after twenty-seven or so." 

When Mr. Arnold became Professor of Poetry, he was 
thirty-four, and his creative work as a poet was almost 
finished. In quality some of his later poems are 
exquisite. But the quantity of them is very small. 
Perhaps the critical faculty superseded the poetical 



v.] THE OXFORD CHAIR. 57 

one. He himself said that the critic should keep out 
of the region of immediate practice. But his first 
published work in prose was a political pamphlet. It 
appeared in 1859 with the title England and the Italian 
Question, and a motto from the Vulgate, Sed nondum est 
fini S) But the end is not yet." This pamphlet, never 
republished, and now very scarce, is a philosophical 
argument for the freedom and independence of Italy. 
It contains some curiously bad prophecies, such as that 
Alsace must always be French, and ,that Prussia could 
not take the field against either Austria or France. But 
the historical argument for Italy is strong, and well 
put. Mr. Arnold shows that Italy was independent of 
a foreign yoke throughout the fourteenth and fifteenth 
centuries. His Liberalism, however, was always 
moderate, being, in fact, Whiggery ; and when he comes 
forward as the champion of Italian nationality, he is 
careful to disclaim all sympathy with such inferior 
races as the Hungarians, the Irish, and the Poles. In 
the true Whig spirit, which Mr. Arnold may have 
imbibed from Lord Lansdowne, is his eulogy of the 
English aristocracy, and the governing skill they had 
displayed since the Revolution of 1688. 

When Mr. Arnold praised the disinterestedness of 
France, he did not foresee the annexation of Savoy 
and Nice, which followed next year, having really 
been arranged before the war between the Emperor 
Napoleon and Count Cavour. Victor Emmanuel 
obtained for Italy Lombardy and the central Italian 
Provinces, except Venetia and the Papal States. The 
inhabitants of Nice and Savoy voted by overwhelming 
majorities for incorporation with France, but it can 
hardly be said with truth that Louis Napoleon's policy 



58 MATTHEW ARNOLD [CHAP. 

was disinterested. The opportunity of observing public 
opinion in France on the war was given to Mr. Arnold 
by his appointment, in January 1859, as Foreign Assis 
tant Commissioner on Education to visit France, 
Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, and Piedmont. "I 
cannot tell you," he wrote to his sister, Miss Arnold, 
"how much I like the errand, and, above all, to have 
the French district." Holland he did not appreciate, 
and he pronounced the Belgians to be the most con 
temptible people in Europe. But France he thoroughly 
enjoyed, especially Paris ; where he was always at 
home. At Paris he "had a long and very interesting 
conversation with Lord Cowley tete-a-tete for about 
three-quarters of an hour the other day. . . . He 
entirely shared my conviction as to the French always 
beating any number of Germans who come into the 
field against them " (Letters, vol. i. p. 96). Such are 
the prophetic powers of exalted diplomatists. In this 
same letter Mr. Arnold refers to that political classic, 
"Mill on Liberty," in language of very chastened 
enthusiasm. "It is," he says, "worth reading atten 
tively, being one of the few books that inculcate 
tolerance in an unalarming and inoffensive way." At 
Paris also Mr. Arnold met Prosper Merimee, and 
dined with Sainte-Beuve. He was much amused to 
find himself described as "Monsieur le Professeur 
Docteur Arnold, Directeur-General de toutes les 
ftcoles de la Grande Bretagne," which is certainly a 
comprehensive title. 

On Mr. Arnold's return to England he joined the 
Queen's Westminster Volunteers ; and it is strange to 
read in a letter to his sister, dated the 21st of 
November 1859, a refutation of the long since obsolete 



v.] THE OXFORD CHAIR. 59 

argument that it was dangerous to arm the people. 
"The bad feature in the proceeding," he says, "is the 
hideous English toadyism with which lords and great 
people are invested with the commands in the corps 
they join, quite without respect of any consideration 
of their efficiency. This proceeds from our national 
bane the immense vulgar-mindedness, and, so far, 
real inferiority of the English middle classes." It is 
important in these years, before Mr. Arnold took up 
definitely the business of a critic, to watch the 
development of his literary opinions. There was 
always something antipathetic to him in Tennyson. 
"The fault I find with Tennyson " (he wrote, on the, 
17th of December 1860, about the Idylls of the King), "is j 
that the peculiar charm and aroma of the Middle Age/ 
he does not give in them." That, I think, would bei 
generally admitted. Much more disputable is what 
follows. "The real truth is [always a suspicious 
beginning] that Tennyson, with all his temperament! 
and artistic skill, is deficient in intellectual power. '\ 
After all, he wrote In Memoriam. Matthew Arnold, 
despite his Sonnet, did not share the national idolatry 
of Shakespeare. Compared with Homer, he was 
imperfection to perfection. 

Like most of the upper and middle classes at the 
time, Mr. Arnold completely misjudged the situation 
in America at the outbreak of the Civil War. On the 
28th of January 1861 he wrote to Mrs. Forster : "I 
have not much faith in the nobility of nature of the 
Northern Americans. I believe they would consent to 
any compromise sooner than let the Southern States 
go. However, I believe the latter mean to go, and 
think they will do better by going, so the baseness 



60 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

of the North will not be tempted too strongly." Mrs. 
Forster's husband took a juster view. 

In 1861 appeared, first as a Parliamentary Blue 
Book, and afterwards as an independent volume, 
Mr. Arnold's Popular Education in France, with Notices 
of that of Holland and Switzerland. The Introduction, 
which alone has much interest now, was republished 
nearly twenty years afterwards in Mixed Essays, and 
called "Democracy." It is a State paper of great 
value and importance. Mr. Arnold was always a keen 
critic of his own countrymen. He had learned from 
his father's eloquent and dignified Lectures on Modern 
History, that Jo_ jflatter a great nation like England 
w^sJoin^iiliJier, and that it was part of true patriotism 
to tell her of her faults. In this paper, written with 
the admirable simplicity that always distinguished 
his style, and without the mannerisms that after 
wards disfigured it, he argues that the English dread 
of interference by the State, formerly natural and 
reasonable, had become irrational and obsolete. An 
aristocratic executive, he contended, was inclined to 
govern as little as possible, arid such an executive 
England had hitherto possessed. But with the spread 
of democratic ideas, which he observed with the cold 
but appreciative sympathy of a Whig, and the enlarge 
ment of the franchise, which he clearly foresaw, there 
would, he thought, be more need and less repugnance 
for the action of the Government. He cites the ex 
ample of France, where the " common people," or, as we 
should say, the masses, were in his opinion superior to 
our own. The moral he drew was, of course, the neces 
sity of public teaching, organised by the State. No 
other would have been relevant to his subject. Yet 



v.J THE OXFORD CHAIR. 61 

it is remarkable that the schools which he recommended 
were not those elementary establishments set up ten 
years later by his brother-in-law, but the secondary 
schools of France. He endeavoured therefore to combat 
the jealousy of the State which pervaded the middle 
classes, and to prove that they required its aid in bring 
ing order out of chaos. Admitting that there was too 
much government in France, he urged that there was 
too little in England, and as an Englishman he pleaded 
for more. High reason and fine culture were, he said, 
the great objects for which the nation should strive. 
He lamented the decline of aristocratic culture, of 
which the fine flower in the eighteenth century was 
Lord Carteret. But culture, except so far as it in 
volves leisure, has nothing to do with class, and Lord 
Carteret was a wholly exceptional man. If Mr. Arnold 
had taken the Lord Derby of his own day, and com 
pared him with the Duke of Newcastle in Lord Carteret's 
time, or if he had contrasted Mr. Gladstone with Sir 
Robert Walpole, the result would have been very 
different. But this is by the way Mr. Arnold's main 
principle in this excellent essay is perfectly sound ; and 
though popular education did not develop itself in the 
precise form he expected, a deep debt of gratitude is 
due to him for the interest he aroused in its progress. 

In 1861 Mr. Arnold published his three lectures " On 
translating Homer," followed the next year by a fourth 
on the same subject called "Last Words." These most 
interesting and valuable discourses have been the 
delight of all scholars ever since they appeared. They 
are among the author's most characteristic productions, 
showing even for the first time that tendency to the 
undue repetition of words and phrases which after- 



62 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

I wards became a vice of his style. From one of 

Mr. Arnold's main conclusions I respectfully, and in 

good company, dissent. I cannot think that the 

j English hexameter is the best metre for a translation 

' of Homer. The English hexameter is an exotic, which 

does not flourish in our soil. Occasional instances 

to the contrary may be quoted from Longfellow's 

"Evangeline " and from Kingsley's "Andromeda "- 

" Chanting the hundredth Psalm, that grand old Puritan 
anthem," 

which is Longfellow's, and 

" As when an osprey aloft, dock-eyebrowed, royally crested," 

which is Kingsley's, are perfect. But such successes 
cannot be maintained. So far as I know, the one 
example to the contrary in the English language is 
Dr. Hawtrey's famous translation from the third book 
of the Iliad, beginning 

" Clearly the rest I behold of the dark-eyed sons of Achaia," 
and ending 

" There in their own dear land, their fatherland, Lacedaemon." 

Mr. Arnold's own specimens do not rise much a*bove 
mediocrity, and he must have been misled by personal 
friendship when he compared dough's clever verse- 
making with the simple dignity of Homer. We 
may feel then that Mr. Arnold was right when he 
declined the proposal to translate Homer himself, 
and yet be supremely grateful to him for having 
dealt in so luminous a manner with the general prin 
ciples of translation. He was unfortunately led by the 
accidents of time and place, or perhaps by the spirit of 



v.j THK OXFORD CHAIR. G3 

mockery, to bestow too much notice upon a very l*.-ul 
translation of Homer made by a very learned man. 
Mr. Francis Newman of Balliol, brother of the cele 
brated Cardinal, though eccentric in many ways, never 
did anything more eccentric than his translation of the 
Iliad, which, but for Mr. Arnold, would have died 
almost as soon as it was born. Pope, on the other 
hand, Mr. Arnold dismisses with Bentley's scornful 
dictum, for which Pope put him in the "Dunciad," 
that it was a pretty poem, but not Homer. It is 
certainly not Homer, for the very good reason that 
Pope knew little or no Greek. But it is much more 
than a pretty poem, and it will never cease to be read. 
Such lines as 

" Let tyrants govern with an iron rod, 
Oppress, destroy, and be the scourge of God ; 
Since he who like a father held his reign, 
So soon forgot, was just and mild in vain," 

are imperishable, and no one would wish that they 
should perish. Pope's Iliad arid Pope's Odyssey are 
great English epics. To Chapman also Mr. Arnold is 
less than just. Even if Chapman had not inspired 
Keats's immortal Sonnet, the full proud sail of his 
great verse would still be the best English equivalent 
for the majestic roll of the Greek hexameter. 

Mr. Arnold's test of Homeric translation is to ask 
how it affects those who both know Greek and can 
appreciate poetry, such as Dr. Hawtrey of Eton, Dr. 
Thompson of Trinity, and Mr. Jowett of Balliol. Mr. 
Arnold rightly finds fault with Mr. Ruskin's fantastic 
theory, that in referring to the death of Castor and 
Pollux, Homer called the earth in which they lay 
"life-giving," because he wished to relieve the gloom of 



64 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

the picture. Homer called the earth life-giving, there 
as elsewhere, because it was a fixed epithet of the 
earth. But Mr. Arnold himself is almost as fantastic 
when he compares Homer with Voltaire because they 
are both lucid. Certainly this comparison will not 
help the translator "to reproduce on the general 
reader, as nearly as possible, the general effect of 
Homer." Mr. Arnold believed as passionately as 
Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Lang in the unity of Homer, 
which Sir Richard Jebb tells us is incredible. "The 
insurmountable obstacle to believing the Iliad the 
consolidated work of several poets is this : that the 
work of great masters is unique, and the Iliad [he does 
not here mention the Odyssey] has a great master's 
genuine stamp, and that stamp is the grand style." 
What, then, is the grand style? It "arises in poetry 
when a noble nature, poetically gifted, treats with 
simplicity or with severity a serious subject." The 
Iliad and the Odyssey are certainly not what we our 
selves mean by ballad-poetry, and attempts like Dr. 
Maginn's to translate them into a series of ballads 
have always failed. It is a pity that Mr. Arnold mixed 
up this wholesome doctrine with the highly contro 
versial statement, from which his own father would have 
been the first to dissent, that Macaulay's " pinchbeck " 
Lays were " one continual falsetto." The remark, more 
over, is quite irrelevant, for Macaulay never dreamed 
of imitating Homer. His only published translation 
from Homer is in the metre of Pope, and as unlike the 
Lays as possible. 

Homer, says Mr. Arnold, is rapid, plain, simple, and 
noble. The great mine of diction for the English 
translator of Homer, he adds, is the English Bible* 



v.] THK OXFORD CHAIR. 65 

So far, so good. But it is a long way from those 
premisses to the conclusion that the hexameter should 
be the form of verse employed. Mr. Arnold's case is 
here not a strong one. " I know all that is said," he 
tells us, "against the use of hexameters in English 
poetry ; but it comes only to this, that among us they 
have not yet been used on any considerable scale with 
success. Solmtur ambulando : this is an objection which 
can best be met by producing good English hexameters." 
That is not quite all that can be said against the use 
of hexameters in English. It may also be said that 
they depend upon quantity, and that English poetry 
depends upon accent. But taking Mr. Arnold at his 
word, I cannot think that his own hexameters justify 
his theory. Here are some of them 

" So shone forth, in front of Troy, by the bed of Xanthus, 
Between that and the ships, the Trojan's numerous fires. 
In the plain there were kindled a thousand fires : by each one 
There sat fifty men, in the ruddy light of the fire : 
By their chariots stood the steeds, and champed the white 

barley, 
While their masters sat by the fire and waited for morning." 

The last line is the best, but all are wooden. Compare 
Tennyson's rendering of the same passage in blank 
verse 

" So many a fire between the ships and stream 
Of Xanthus blazed before the towers of Troy, 
A thousand on the plain ; and close by each 
Sat fifty in the blaze of burning fire ; 
And eating hoary grain and pulse the steeds, 
Fixt by their cars, waited the golden dawn." 

These verses are far more truly Homeric than 
Mr. Arnold's limping hexameters. It is the more 

E 



C6 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

, strange that Mr. Arnold should have rejected the 
claims of blank verse, because his own "Sohrab and 
Rustum," to say nothing of " Balder Dead," is especially 
I Homeric. To Worsley's Odyssey, which adopts the 
^Spenserian stanza, Mr. Arnold pays in "Last Words" 
a due tribute of high praise. In this same lecture 
he alludes to the death of Clough, which he after 
wards lamented in verse not unlike that consecrated 
by Moschus to the death of Bion. 

Mr. Arnold's life, which was not an eventful one, can 
be traced with sufficient clearness from his letters. 
He thought "Essays and Reviews" a breach of the 
scriptural rule against putting new wine into old 
bottles, and had needless fears for their effect upon 
Dr. Temple's position at Rugby. Nothing has ever 
been able to keep Dr. Temple back, or to diminish the 
public respect for his rugged, massive character. Early 
in 1861 Sainte-Beuve published his volume on Chateau 
briand, with a French translation of Matthew Arnold's 
poem on " Obermann," which naturally gave the author 
much pleasure. In the same year Mr. Arnold contri 
buted to a volume called Victoria Regia, edited by 
Adelaide Procter, the lovely poem entitled "A Southern 
Night." These exquisite stanzas were written to com 
memorate his brother William, who died at Gibraltar 
on the way back from India in April 1859. The best 
known, and perhaps the best, lines in it, are those which 
describe us world-pervading English folk who are ever 
on the move 

" And see all sights from pole to pole, 

And glance and nod and bustle by 
And never once possess our soul 
Before we die." 



v.| TT1K OXFORD CHAIR. 07 

The Revised C<xle uf 1862, in which Mr. Arnold 
took a keen, though not a friendly interest, was a 
consequence of the Duke of Newcastle's Commission, 
appointed the previous year. But it went beyond 
the Report of the Commissioners. It was really the 
work of Mr. Lowe, the V ice-President of the Council, 
and Mr. Lingen, the Secretary to the Department. 
Mr. Lowe was, perhaps, the ablest, certainly the 
cleverest, man who ever held that important office 
Like Mr. Lingen, he had highly distinguished himself 
at Oxford, but his views on the education of the 
masses were strictly and exclusively utilitarian. He was 
very clear-headed ; he always knew what he wanted ; 
and though he rather liked flouting popular pre 
judices, he had the knack of coining popular phrases. 
Taking up a remark of the Commissioners that too 
much time was spent in the national schools upon the 
performances of prize pupils, while the work of teach 
ing the rudiments to the general mass was propor 
tionately neglected, he proposed a capitation grant, 
combined with payment by results. Thus, he said, 
if elementary education was not cheap, it would be 
efficient ; if not efficient, it would be cheap. The 
epigram was ingenious, and the phrase "payment by 
results " succeeded well. But Mr. Lowe soon found, as 
most ministers do find who touch education, that he had 
raised a storm. The protests of "born educationalists," 
like Sir James Kay-Shuttleworth and Mr. Arnold, 
might have been disregarded. But the Conservative 
Opposition, who were very strong in the Parliament 
of 1859, took the matter up. They had the Church 
of England behind them, and the Revised Code was 
itself revised. One-third only of the Government 



68 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

grant was given for attendance, the remaining two- 
thirds being awarded only after examination. Thus 
Mr. Arnold, who had from the first attacked the 
Revised Code as too mechanical, achieved at least 
half a victory. He was rather afraid of losing his 
place for writing against his chiefs. But nothing 
happened to him, and Mr. Lowe himself had soon 
afterwards to resign. 

The Creweian Oration at Oxford, which accompanies 
the bestowal of honorary degrees, is delivered alter 
nately by the Public Orator and the Professor of 
Poetry. It fell to Mr. Arnold's turn in 1862, when 
Lord Palmerston was made a Doctor of Civil Law. The 
Prince Consort and Lord Canning had both died 
within the year, so that there was no lack of topics 
for this annual exercise in elegant Latinity. But 
Mr. Arnold did not confine himself to his official work 
and his Professorial duties. He made a vigorous 
attack upon Bishop Colenso's book on the Penta 
teuch, which gave great offence to many of his Liberal 
friends. The article was published in Macmillan's 
Magazine for January 1863, with the title "The 
Bishop and the Philosopher." The Philosopher was 
Spinoza, with whom few Biblical critics, and certainly 
not Mr. Arnold himself, could be favourably com 
pared. Bishop Colenso's book has long been forgotten, 
and he himself is remembered rather as the fearless 
champion of the Zulus than as the corrector of 
figures in the Mosaic record. Mr. Arnold was, 
perhaps, needlessly severe when he described the 
Bishop as eliciting a "titter from educated Europe." 
But it was true that his arithmetical computations 
neither edified the many nor informed the few. When 



v. ] 'ill I : O X FORD CHAIll. 69 

Mr. Disraeli spoke of prelates whose study of theology 
commenced after they had grasped the crozier, he hit 
the point. These absurdities and impossibilities in 
Biblical arithmetic Colenso's "favourite science," as 
Mr. Arnold called it were not new to the learned 
world. Nor did they affect the questions of believing 
in God and leading a good life, which Spinoza, a lay 
saint, considered to be alone essential. In the follow 
ing number of Macmillan Mr. Arnold at once served 
a friend, and expressed the positive side of his theology, 
by a sympathetic review of Stanley's Lectures on the 
Jewish Church. On the death of Thackeray, which 
occurred at the end of this year, Mr. Arnold pro 
nounced him not to be a great writer. This is a 
judgment which, coming from any one else, Mr. 
Arnold himself would have called saugrenu. If 
Thackeray was not a great writer, no English novelist 
was so. Vanity Fair, Esmond, Barry Lyndon, and 
the first volume of Pendennis are scarcely to be 
matched in English fiction. 

Although Mr. Arnold was sent abroad to report on 
primary education only, he also contrived to see some 
of the best secondary schools in France, and upon his 
visits to them he founded his treatise on A French Eton, 
which appeared in 1864. The name was not very 
happily chosen. Mr. Arnold was easily convicted by 
Mr. Stephen Hawtrey of not understanding the tutorial 
system at Eton. Nobody understands the tutorial 
system at Eton except Eton men, and they cannot 
explain it. But for the rest the book, besides being 
most agreeably written, is both interesting and impor 
tant. Mr. Arnold's French Eton is the Lyceum at 
Toulouse, which he rather minutely describes. It is, 



70 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

or was, maintained partly by the State and partly 
by the Commune. It comprised both day-boys and 
boarders ; there were scholarships open to competition, 
and, by way of a conscience clause, there was a Pro 
testant minister to conduct the religious teaching of 
the Protestant pupils. The subjects of tuition, which 
were the same in all the French Lyceums, differed 
chiefly from what was then taught at Eton by in 
cluding science and French grammar. Science is now 
taught in all the public schools of England. English 
Grammar is still, I believe, neglected. Nobody made 
any profit out of these Lyceums, and the terms were 
therefore much lower than in our public schools, ranging 
from fifty pounds a boarder to twenty pounds a day 
boy. It is a misrepresentation to say that Mr. Arnold 
compared these French schools, and their too sys 
tematic routine, with Eton, or Harrow, or his own 
Rugby. He contrasted them with the schools avail 
able for the less wealthy portion of the middle classes 
in England, and, in spite of the excellent work since 
done by the Endowed School Commissioners, he 
might make the same contrast still. Our secondary 
education is still the weak point in our teaching, and 
it was not Mr. Arnold's fault that his timely counsels 
were neglected. 

But the most fascinating part of a delightful book 
is the account of Lacordaire's private school at Sorreze. 
Here the payment was astonishingly small, varying 
from five to fifteen pounds a year. Of Lacordaire 
himself, whom, with all his strictness, his pupils did not 
merely respect but love, Mr. Arnold paints a charming 
picture, as unlike his father as his conscience would 
let him. The conclusion he draws from the whole 



v.] THE OXFORD CHAIR. 71 

matter is that the law of supply and demand will not 
suffice for education in the true sense of the word. 
What made it, according to his view, more efficient in 
France than in England was first supervision, and 
secondly publicity. To the familiar maxim that the 
State had better leave things alone he opposed Burke's 
definition of the State as beneficence acting by rule. 
From Burke's political philosophy Mr. Arnold drew 
most of his own lessons in politics, and, as an inspector 
of schools appointed by the State, it was natural that 
he should disbelieve in the sufficiency of private enter 
prise. So far as elementary education was concerned, 
he had his way. He lived to see it made compulsory, 
though not to see it made free. The upper and middle 
classes were left to educate themselves, or to go 
uneducated, as they pleased. 



CHAPTER VI. 

ESSA YS IN CRITICISM. 

MR. ARNOLD was, as we have seen, elected Professor 
of Poetry at Oxford in 1857. The election was for a 
period of five years, but in accordance with custom he 
was re-elected for a similar term in 1862. He had 
more than justified the choice of the university, and 
his literary reputation was firmly established. At 
that time Mr. Disraeli was Leader of the Conservative 
party in the House of Commons, and at the very height 
of his Parliamentary powers. No politician except 
Lord Palmerston had then more influence in the 
country, for Mr. Gladstone's popularity was to come, 
and Lord Derby's never came. At Aston Clinton, Sir 
Anthony De Eothschild's house in Buckinghamshire, 
where he was in the habit of staying, Mr. Arnold 
met Mr. Disraeli on the 27th of January 1864. Mr. 
Disraeli was always at his best with men of letters. 
He sincerely respected them, and was proud to be 
one of their number. On this occasion he was very 
gracious to. Mr. Arnold. "You have a great future 
before you," he said, "and you deserve it." He then 
went on to add that he had given up literature because' 
he was not one of those who could do two things at 
once, but that he admired most the men like Cicero, 
who could. Bishop Wilberforce was another guest, 

72 



CHAP, vi.] ESS A YS IX CRITICISM. 73 

and preached the next day a sermon which, in Mr. 
Arnold's opinion, showed him to have no "real power 
of mind." "A truly emotional spirit," Mr. Arnold 
wrote to his mother, "he undoubtedly has, beneath 
his outside of society-haunting and men-pleasing, and 
each of the two lives he leads gives him the more zest 
for the other." It was clearly the Bishop from whom 
Mr. Arnold drew the type that " make the best of both 
worlds." There are probably few who would deny 
that he correctly estimated " the great lord bishop of 
England," as Wilberforce's satellites liked to call him, 
and as he liked to be called. His appreciation of 
Tennyson, on the other hand, was utterly inadequate. 
" I do not," he wrote to Mr. Dykes Campbell on the 
22nd of September 1864, "I do not think Tennyson 
a great and powerful spirit in any line, as Goethe was 
in the line of modern thought, Wordsworth in that of 
contemplation, Byron even in that of passion; and 
unless a poet, especially a poet at this time of day, 
is that, my interest in him is only slight, and my 
conviction that he will not finally stand high is firm." 
It is strange that any critic should attribute want of 
sympathy with modern thought to the author of 
In Memoriam. It is stranger still that he should 
consider Byron a greater poet than Tennyson. But, 
for some reason or other, Mr. Arnold did not appre 
ciate his English contemporaries. That reason was 
certainlyjiot envy or jealousy, for of such feelings he 
was incapable. As his friend Lord Coleridge said, 
they "withered in his presence." The prejudice did! 
not apply to foreigners. He idolised Sainte-Beuve.j 
Nor was it strictly confined to contemporaries. He 
w;is never just to Shelley, and not till the close of his 



74 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

life to Keats. He seems to have got it into his head 
that Tennyson was being "run" against Wordsworth, 
which is the last thing that Tennyson himself would 
have desired. But it is true that forty years ago 
Tennyson suffered a good deal from injudicious ad 
mirers. His May Queen, and his Airy, Fairy Lilian 
were extolled as gems of the purest water. Rash, 
however, as this indiscriminate praise may have been, 
it should not have prevented Mr. Arnold from admir 
ing Tithonus. 

^55ay^Lj2^^^a.swLJip^ared^in __1_865 1 It is Mr. 

/ Arnold's most important work in prose, the central 
book, so to speak, of his life. Although it was not i. 
first widely_read, it made an immediate and a pro 
found impression upon competent judges of literature. 
There had been nothing like it since Hazlitt. There 
has been nothing like it since. Mr. Arnold's judg- 

j ments are sometimes eccentric, and the place which he 
assigns to the two De Gu6rins is altogether out of 
proportion. But the value of Essays in Criticism does 
not depend upon this or that isolated opinion ex 
pressed by its author. Mr. Arnold did not merely 
criticise books himself. He taught others how to 
criticise them. He laid down principles, if he did not 
always keep the principles he laid down. Nobody, 
after reading Essays in Criticism, has any excuse for 
not being a critic. Mr. Euskin once lamented that 
he had made a great number of entirely foolish people 
take an interest in art, and if there were too few 
critics in 1865, there may be too many now. But 
Mr. Arnold is not altogether responsible for the 
quantity. He has more to do with the quality, and 
the quality has beyond question been improved. 



vi.] VSSAYS IN CRITICISM. 75 



The famous Preface to Essays in CrUin^n was in the 
second edition, the edition of 18G9, curtailed, and, 
perhaps wisely, shorn of some ephemeral allusions. 
It contains, as every one knows, the exquisite address 
to Oxford : " beautiful city, so venerable, so lovely, so 
unravaged by the fierce intellectual life of our century, 
so serene." The negative part of this praise could 
hardly be given now. Even in 18G5 Oxford was not 
quite so free from intellectual disturbances as in Mr. 
Arnold's undergraduate days. But the question he 
asked then may be asked still : " Arid yet, steeped 
in sentiment as she lies, spreading her gardens to 
the moonlight, and whispering from 4 her towers the 
last enchantments of the Middle Age, who will deny 
that Oxford, by her ineffable- charm, keeps ever calling 
us nearer to the true goal of all of us, to the ideal, 
to perfection to beauty, in a word, which is only 
truth seen from another side, nearer, perhaps, than 
all the science of Tubingen ? " Of science, in the 
narrow or physical sense, Mr Arnold knew little or 
nothing, and he had not his father's love of history. 
But of the old Oxford education, literce humaniwes, 
there have been few finer products. Excellent, in a 
lighter style, is his apology to Mr. Wright, the trans 
lator of Homer, for having been too vivacious. " Yes, 
the world will soon be the Philistines' ! and then with 
every voice, not of thunder, silenced, and the whole 
earth filled and ennobled every morning by the 
magnificent roaring of thq young lions of the Daily 
Telegraph, we shall all yawn in one another's faces 
with the dismallest, the most unimpeachable gravity." 

For it is in this volume, in his essay on Heine, that 
Mr. Arnold first uses the word "Philistine," borrowed 



76 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

of course from the German, and it played afterwards 
so large a part in his philosophy, that the passage 
may as well be quoted in full. 

"Philistinism! we have not the expression in 
English. Perhaps we have not the word because we 
have so much of the thing. At Soli I imagine they 
did not talk of Solecisms ; and here, at the very 
head-quarters of Goliath, nobody talks of Philistinism. 
The French have adopted the term tpicier (grocer), to 
designate the sort of being whom the Germans desig 
nate by the term Philistine ; but the French term- 
besides that it casts a slur upon a respectable class, 
composed of living and susceptible members, while the 
original Philistines are dead and buried long ago is 
really, I think, in itself much less apt and expressive 
than the German term. Efforts have been made to 
obtain in English some term equivalent to Philister or 
tpicier', Mr. Carlyle has made several such efforts: 
1 respectability with its thousand gigs,' he says; well, 
the occupant of every one of these gigs is, Mr. Carlyle 
means, a Philistine. However, this word respectable 
is far too valuable a word to be thus perverted from 
its proper meaning ; if the English are ever to have a 
word for the thing we are speaking of and so pro 
digious are the changes which the modern spirit is 
introducing, that even we English shall, perhaps, one 
day come to want such a word I think we had much 
better take the term Philistine itself." 

The Philistines should, perhaps, have been intro 
duced to our notice in the first essay, which deals 
with the function of criticism. Here, however, we 
get another of Mr. Arnold's favourite sentiments, his 
worship of Burke. Heaven forbid that I should say a 



vi. J ESSAYS IN CRITICISM. 77 

word against that great man great in politics, great 
in literature, passionate in patriotism, fertile in ideas. 
But to the proposition that he was the greatest writer 
of English prose I respectfully -demur. ; The greatest 
writer of English prose is Shakespeare. I do not 
think that Burke wrote as pure English as his com 
patriot Goldsmith, or even as Swift. Eloquent, 
massively eloquent, as he can be, he does not in my 
judgment rise to the level of Bacon, or Milton, or 
Dryden, or Sir Thomas Browne. In this essay, per 
haps the best he ever wrote, Mr. Arnold quotes Burke's 
" return upon himself " in the Thoughts on French 
Affairs, as one of the finest things in English literature, 
and yet characteristically un-English. Well, Burke 
was not an Englishman. He was an Irishman, and he 
sometimes indulged in the "blind hysterics of the 
Celt." The passage here quoted by Mr. Arnold is a 
very fine one, and deserves his panegyric. " If," says 
Burke, "a great change is to be made in human 
affairs, the minds of men will be fitted to it; the 
general opinions and feelings will draw that way. 
Every fear, every hope will forward it, and then they 
who persist in opposing this mighty current in human 
affairs will appear rather to resist the decrees of 
Providence itself than the mere designs of men. 
They will not be resolute and firm, but perverse 
and obstinate." Mr. Arnold, in citing these noble 
words, written in December 1791, has fallen into 
a strange historical error. He calls these Thoughts 
on French Affairs "some of the last pages" Burke 
"ever wrote." Burke died in 1797. The Letter 
to a Noble Lord and the three Letters on a 
Regicide Peace were written in 1796. He was past 



78 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

returning upon himself then. Except where Ireland 
was concerned, the French Revolution had made him 
incapable of seeing more than one side to a question. 
The British Constitution had always been his idol. 
He forgot, as Mr. Goldwin Smith says, that nothing 
human is sacredj 

fThe first principle of criticism was, said Mr. Arnold, 
disinterestedness. This end was to be attained by 
"keeping aloof from practice," by a free play of the 
f mind, and by the avoidance_of ulterior consiclejcations, 
i political, social, or religious. / Two of these rules are 
negativeT^^^ee^T^or that matter, are the Ten Com 
mandments. The third is vague. It is difficult to 
believe that Mr. Arnold would have been a worse 
critic if he had written more poetry after he was 
thirty-five. And he certainly did not agree with 
Mark Pattison in holding that the man who wanted 
to persuade anybody of anything was not a man of 
-letters. He was a missionar^airaost a n apostle, the 
\ antagonist of Philistinism, the champion of sweetness 
and light. His own particular criticisms were not 
always, to use his ow-n phrase, "of the centre." 
"""JlHis great and distinguishing merit as a critic was 
IJthat he had a theory, that he regarded his subject 
[pa whole, that he could not merely give reasons for 
his opinions, but show that they were something 
/(more than opinions, that they were the deliberate 
^judgments of a trained intelligence working upon 
a systematic order of ideas, f In this very Essay he 
\ contrasts the disinterestedness of French with the 
\ partisanship of English criticism, and the passage 
is important, on more grounds than one. "An 
organ," he says, "like the Revue des Deux Mondes, 



vi.) ESS A YS IN CRITICISM. 79 

having for its main function to understand and utter 
the best that is known and thought in the world, 
existing, it may be said, as just an organ for the free 
play of the mind, we have not; but we have the 
Edinburgh Jfcview, existing as an organ of the Old 
Whigs, and for as much play of the mind as may suit 
its being that ; we have the Quarterly Review, existing 
as an organ of the Tories, and for as much play of 
mind as may suit its being that ; we have the British 
Quaxierly_Review, existing as an organ of the political 
Dissenters, and for as much play of mind as may suit 
its being that ; we have the Times, existing as an 
organ of the common, satisfied, well-to-do Englishman, 
and for as much play of mind as may suit its being 
that." Even in the great days of M. Buloz, when the 
llevuc des Deux Mondes really was the first literary 
organ of Europe, it was too aristocratic and too 
orthodox to deserve the praise of pure intellectual 
impartiality. But it was true then, and, with quali 
fications, it is true now, that French magazines and/ 
newspapers treat literature far more seriously than*- 
our own. What change there has been since 1865 
on this side of the Channel is all for the better, and 
is due to no man so much as to Matthew Arnold., 
But, as I have said, I quote this passage for another 
reason. It is the first conspicuous instance of a 
fault which grew upon Mr. Arnold until at last it 
almost destroyed the pleasure of reading his prose. 
I mean the trick of repetition. Repetition is not 
always a vice. Delicately managed by great writers, 
it may be a powerful mode of heightening rhetorical 
effect. But the art of using without abusing it is a | 
very difficult, and a very delicate one. Beautiful 



SO MATTHEW ARNOLD. |CAP. 

examples of it may be found in the Collects of the 
English Church. Take, for instance, the Collect for 
St. John the Evangelist's Day : 

"Merciful Lord, we beseech thee to cast thy bright 
beams of light upon thy Church, that it, being en 
lightened by the doctrine of thy blessed Apostle and 
Evangelist Saint John, may so walk in the light of 
thy truth, that it may at length attain to the light 
of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord." 

Here the repetition of the word "light," with the 
still more beautiful repetition of the word "charity" 
in the great chapter of Corinthians, is a real artistic 
merit. It charms, and it tells. But the words "as 
may suit its being that " have no attraction or distinc 
tion of any kind. The first time they occur, one passes 
them over without much notice. The fourth time they 
become almost intolerable. It is amazing that a man 
of Mr. Arnold's fastidious taste and true scholarship 
should not have instinctively avoided so paltry a 
device. But the fact is that Mr. Arnold had the gift 
I of seeing his own faults without seeing that they were 
] his own. His Essay on the Literary Influence of Aca- 
1 demies is a most brilliant and entertaining one, much 
letter worth reading than Swift's on the same sub 
ject. He attributes to Academies the power of saving 
x nations from the "note of provinciality." Nowhere is 
Mr. Arnold's peculiar gift of urbane and humourous 
persuasiveness better displayed than in his own 
account of how the French Academy was founded by 
Richelieu. He quotes a sentence from Bossuet's 
panegyric of St. Paul, hardly to be surpassed for 
eloquence and grandeur. He contrasts it with some 
rather coarse specimens of Burke and Jeremy Taylor 



vi.] B88AY8 Itf ORtMClStf. 81 

at their worst. These, he says, arc provincial, I 
Bossuet's prose is prose of the centre. Very likely he 
is right. Very likely an academy, if it could not 
bring us all up to the level of Bossuet, would have 
kept great English writers more within bounds. An 
English Academy might, as Mr. Arnold implies, have 
given Addison more ideas. Joubert might have had 
fewer ideas if there had been no French Academy. 
Although it seems to me paradoxical, I will not deny it. 
But then suddenly one lights, or rather stumbles, upon 
this sentence. " In short, where there is no centre 
like an academy, if you have genius and powerful ideas, 
you are apt not to have the best style going ; if you 
have precision of style and not genius, you are apt not 
to have the best ideas going." Is that "prose of the 
centre " ? Is it not rather tricky, flashy, provincial 1 

Mr. Arnold's affection for Maurice and Eugenie de I 
Gue>in, that hapless brother and sister who excited 
the sympathy of Sainte-Beuve, is almost too gentle 
and touching for criticism. And his favourite 
quotation from Maurice de Guerin's Centaure has 
no doubt a singular charm. But when it conies 
to saying that the talent of this young Frenchman, 
now almost forgotten in his own country, had " more 
of distinction and power than the talent of Keats," 
the English reader must feel that if this is to be 
"central," provinciality has its consolations. But 
indeed, Mr. Arnold's reputation would have stood | 
higher if he had left Keats alone. He cannot even quote 
him correctly. Keats did not write, as in the essay 
on Maurice de Gue'rin Mr. Arnold makes him write, 

" moving waters at their priestlike task 
Of cold ablution round Earth's human shores." 



82 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

He wrote pure ablution. What a difference ! How 
tame and awkward is the one.; how supremely 
. perfect is the other. Matthew Arnold's avowed 
r\ master in criticism was Sainte-Beuve. He could 
I [hardly have had a better. The doctrine of dis 
interestedness is undoubtedly Sainte-Beuve's, and may 
1 be found at the beginning of the essay on Made- 
V moiselle de 1'Espinasse : 

" Le critique ne doit point avoir de partialite et n'est 
d'aucune cdterie. II n'epouse les gens que par un 
temps, et ne fait que traverser les groupes divers 
sans s'y enchainer jamais. II passe resolument d'un 
camp a 1'autre; et de ce qu'il a rendu justice d'un 
cdte ce ne lui est jamais une raison de la refuser a ce 
qui est vis-a-vis. Ainsi, tour a tour, il est a Eome 
ou a Carthage, tantdt pour Argos et tantdt pour Ilion. " 
" The critic ought not to be partial, and has no set. 
He takes up people only for a time, and does no more 
than pass through different groups without ever chain 
ing himself down. He passes firmly from one camp 
to the other ; and never, because he has done justice 
to one side, refuses the same to the opposite party. 
Thus, turn by turn, he is at Rome and at Carthage, 
sometimes for Argos, arid sometimes for Troy." 

" Tros Tyriusque mihi nullo discrimine agetur." 

But if it was to Sainte-Beuve, and not to George 
Sand, that Mr. Arnold owed his excessive fondness 
for the De Guerins, the benefit was a doubtful one. 
They fill, as Mr. Saintsbury says, too large a space in 
a volume which contains such subjects as Heine, 
Spinoza, and Marcus Aurelius. Mr. Arnold, if I may 
\ say so, carried too far his belief, sound enough so far 



vi.] ESSA ) .s' y.V CRITICISM. 83 

as it goes, in the superiority of French prose to French 
verse. It is perhaps impossible for an Englishman to 
appreciate French Alexandrines, unless, like Gibbon, 
he be half a Frenchman himself. But it is rash for a 
foreigner to say that the metre of Racine is inade 
quate, and the verse of the Phcdre not a vehicle for 
"high poetry." And what of this couplet from 
Victor Hugo 1 

" Et la Seine fuyait avec un triste bruit, 
Sous ce grand chevalier du gouftre et de la nuit." 

Mr. Arnold disliked Alexandrines as he disliked the \ 
" heroic " couplets of Pope. But then, these personal 
distastes are, as he has himself taught us, eccentricities, x 
which criticism rejects as irrelevant. That " Addison 
has in his prose an intrinsically better vehicle for his 
genius than Pope in his couplet " is not a self-evident 
proposition. It must be proved, and Mr. Arnold makes 
no attempt to prove it. " Pope, in his Essay on Man" 
says Mr. Arnold, is " thus at a disadvantage compared 
with Lucretius in his poem on Nature : Lucretius has 
an adequate vehicle, Pope has not. Nay, though 
Pope's genius for didactic poetry was not less than 
that of Horace, while his satirical power was certainly 
greater, still one's taste receives, I cannot but think, 
a certain satisfaction when one reads the Epistles and 
Satires of Horace, which it fails to receive when one 
reads the Satires and Epistles of Pope." Surely this 
is paradoxical, if not perverse. That Lucretius was 
a far greater poet than Pope few would, I suppose, 
deny, and his best hexameters are hardly equalled even 
by Virgil's. But few and far between are the poetical 
lines, such as 

" Graecia barbaria.- lento collisa duello," 



84 MATTHEW ABNOLB. [CHAP. 

in the Satires and Epistles of Horace. Horace wrote 
them in a professedly prose style (pedestris sermo) not 
in poetic form, and to an ordinary ear his numbers 
(I am not, of course, referring to the Odes) are far less 
tuneful than Pope's. Strange, too, almost grotesque, 
is the judgment that Shelley had neither intellectual 
force enough, nor culture enough, to master the use 
of words. Was it not this Shelley who wrote the 
" Adonais," and the "Ode to the West Wind" 1 The 
comparison of Mademoiselle de Guerin with Miss 
Emma Tatham is rather below Mr. Arnold. Poor 
Miss Tatham and her "union in church-fellowship 
with the worshippers at Hawley Square Chapel, Mar 
gate," might have been allowed to rest in peace. It is 
never worth while to sneer at other people's religion, 
even for the pleasure of contrasting Margate with 
Languedoc. 

The essay on Heine, from which I have already 
quoted the famous passage about the Philistines, con 
tains also a definition^ of_poetry as " the mo&t4>eautiful, 
impressive, and widely effective mode of saying 
things." Perhaps this is a description rather than a 
definition, and perhaps, on Mr. Arnold's own showing, 
it would not apply to the French language. But as 
a general truth it is striking, and it is justified by the 
experience of mankind. In this same essay, how 
ever, he broaches almost, if not quite, for the first 
time his theory of class, which led him altogether 
astray. Caste is a reality. Class is a fiction. To 
make classes real it would be necessary to prohibit 
intermarriage, or rather it would have been necessary 
to do so centuries ago. Even then there would still 
be, as Sam Slick says, a great deal of human nature in 



vi.] ESS A YS IN CRITICISM. 86 

people. "Aristocracies," Mr. Arnold tells us, -'are, as 
such, naturally impenetrable by ideas; but their in 
dividual members have high courage and a turn for 
breaking bounds ; and a man of genius, who is the 
born child of the idea, happening to be born in the 
aristocratic ranks, chafes against the obstacles which 
prevent him from fully developing it." All this is 
very fanciful. Byron and Shelley were " members of 
the aristocratic class." What then 1 They were Byron 
and Shelley. They were as unlike each other as two 
contemporary Englishmen could well be. Byron was) 
childishly and vulgarly proud of his social position.] 
Shelley cared no more for it than he cared for the[ 
binomial theorem. The Scottish peasantry are not 
naturally impenetrable to ideas. But Burns chafed 
against the obstacles which prevented him from fully 
developing his genius, and if, as somebody said, Byron 
was a Harrow boy, Burns was a plough boy. The per 
centage of impenetrability to ideas is probably much 
the same in one class as in another. Mr. Arnold 
pronounces Heine's weakness to have been, not as 
Goethe said, deficiency in love, but "deficiency in 
self-respect, in true dignity of character." But this is 
not literary criticism, arid to Heine's literary great 
ness no man has paid more sympathetic homage than 
Matthew Arnold. 

The essay on "Pagan and Mediaeval Religious 
Sentiment " is best known by the charming transla 
tion from the fifteenth Idyll of Theocritus which it 
contains. But the essay has other, and perhaps higher, 
merits than this. Gorgo and Praxinoe are indeed de 
lightfully natural characters. The Hymn to Adonis is 
a beautiful and highly finished piece of composition. 



86 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

But Theocritus was pre-eminently the poet of passion 
and of nature. This satirical sketch of town life 
is one of the least Theocritean things in him. It is, 
however, admirably suited to Mr. Arnold's purpose, 
\ which was to contrast Paganism with Medievalism, 
Theocritus jpith St. Francis. Side by side with the 
Hymn to Adonis he sets the Canticle of St. Francis, 
and thus he comments upon them. 

"Now, the poetry of Theocritus's hymn is poetry 
treating the world according to the demand of the 
senses ; the poetry of St. Francis's hymn is poetry 
treating the world according to the demand of the 
heart and imagination. The first takes the world 
by its outward, sensible side; the second by its in 
ward, symbolical side. The first admits as much of 
the world as is pleasure-giving ; the second admits 
the whole world, rough and smooth, painful and 
pleasure-giving, all alike, but all transfigured by the 
power of a spiritual emotion, all brought under a law 
of supersensual love, having its seat in the soul." 

That is Matthew Arnold, as it seems to me, at his 
very best. Admirable also is this : "I wish to decide 
nothing as of my own authority; the great art of 
criticism is to get oneself out of the way and to let 
humanity decide." But at the close of the essay he 
strikes a lower note, he almost touches slang. After a 
fine translation of a noble passage in Sophocles, he says, 
" Let St. Francis nay, or Luther either beat that ! " 
This is not a dignified finale to a classical piece. 

The essay on Joubert is one of Mr. Arnold's most 
charming and most characteristic studies. Joubert is 
not, perhaps indeed Mr. Arnold admits it a great 
writer. But he is a most subtle and suggestive one. 



vi.] ES8A Y8 IN CRITICISM. 87 

He is also one whom few English readers would have 
found out for themselves, and is therefore very well 
suited for the sort of essay in which Matthew Arnold 
shone. The comparison with Coleridge, though striking \ 
and brilliant, is not very fruitful, for it is rather a con- ( 
trast than a parallel. The translations from Joubert's 
Thought*, exquisitely felicitous as they are, seem to 
me too / paraphrastic, |too far from the original. The 
rich excellence of this essay lies in its description of 
Joubert's character, and of the intellectual atmosphere 
in which he lived. There is a good deal in Joubert, | 
whose life covered the second half of the eighteenth ^ 
century, more like Newman than Coleridge. This, for 
instance : " Do not bring into the domain of reasoning 
that which belongs to our innermost feeling. State 
truths of sentiment, and do not try to prove them. 
There is a danger in such proofs, for in arguing it is 
necessary to treat that which is in question as something 
problematic : now that which we accustom ourselves to 
treat as problematic, ends by appearing to us as really 
doubtful. . . . ' Fear God ' has made many men pious ; 
the proofs of the existence of God have made many 
men atheists." There is a passage in the Grammar of 
Assent which may well have been suggested by that. 
Joubert is not, and never could be, a popular author, \ 
and much of his peculiar aroma cannot be preserved] 
in translation. But of religious sentiment, as dis 
tinguished from theological dogma, there have been 
few such fascinating teachers, and this no doubt it 
was, not merely the praise of Sainte-Beuve, which 
recommended him to Matthew Arnold. Those who 
deny the possibility of undogmatic Christianity must, 
among other things^ explain Joubert away. 



88 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

The two strictly philosophical essays are devoted re- 

\ spectively to Spinoza and to Marcus Aurelius. For the 
essay on Joubert is more than half literary, while the 
others are literature pure and simple. Of Matthew 
Arnold as a philosopher it may be said that, though 
clear, he was not deep, and that though gentle, he was 
not dull. He abhorred pedantry so much that he shrank 
from system, but he always had a keen insight into his 
author's meaning, and he was a master of^ lucid ex- 

l position. His account of Baruch, or Benedict, Spinoza, 
cast out of the Portuguese synagogue at Amsterdam 
with a curse that Ernulphus might have envied, is 
singularly attractive, as indeed is the man himself. 
Expelled by the Jews, Spinoza never became a 
Christian. But in his life he was faultless, and no 
man better fulfilled the injunction of the prophet 
Micah, " Do justice and -love mercy, and walk humbly 
with thy God." Although he laboured, like so many 
profoundly religious men, under the imputation of 
atheism, he was really, as Goethe said of him, " Gott- 
betrunken," intoxicated with the divine nature, which 
he felt around him as well as above him. The Bible, 
I that is to say the Old Testament, was his favourite 
I book, and the subject of his constant study. He was 
the first and greatest of Biblical critics in the free, 
modern sense of the term. Being, of course, a Hebrew 
scholar, and thoroughly acquainted with Oriental 
modes of expression, he readily perceived, even in the 
seventeenth century, that many scriptural stories 
which popular theology even now regards as miraculous 
were not so intended by those who wrote them. Mr. 
\ Arnold does not deal with Spinoza's ethics. They go 

deeper than he cared to penetrate. But he gives an 



vi.] ESS A YS IN CRITICISM. 89 

excellent summary of the Tradatus Tfieologico-Politicus, 
a treatise on Church and State. That grand old text, 
"Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty," 
illustrates at once the politics and the theology of 
Spinoza. When Mr. Arnold wrote, the only English 
translation of Spinoza, who composed in Latin, was 
almost incredibly bad. Tfyere is now a remarkably 
good one by the late Mr. Robert Elwes of Corpus 
Christi College, -Oxford. 

Of Marcus Aurelius Mr. Arnold was a devotee. And 
indeed there are few nobler figures in history than) 
this humble and pious man who, placed at the head of 
the Roman Empire when the Roman Empire was co 
extensive with the civilised world, wrote his imperish-, 
able maxims of morality in the intervals of his! 
Dacian campaigns. It is true that he persecuted the^ 
Christians. Polycarp of Smyrna suffered under him. 
But, as Mr. Arnold says, he did it in ignorance. > 
He died in 180, and never saw the Sermon on the 
Mount, or the Gospel of St. John. In his Meditations 
he never speaks of the Christians at all. He knew * 
nothing about the teaching of Christ, which would/ 
have interested him so profoundly. Like Tacitus 
a century earlier, he regarded the Christians as an / 
obscure sect of the Jews, morose fanatics, despisers of | 
law and reason, enemies of the human race. Constan 
tino in the next century discovered the truth, and 
became a Christian. But Marcus Aurelius was an 
infinitely better man than Constantine. In him we 
have Pagan morality at the highest point it ever 
attained, as in Petronius we have it at the lowest. 
No comparison between Christianity and Paganism 
can be fair which rejects either one of these pictures or 



90 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. vi. 

the other. The world, said Plato, would never be 
perfect until kings became philosophers, or philo 
sophers became kings. The world is not likely ever 
to be perfect. But Marcus was a true philosopher 
on a throne. He was a real Stoic, yet with some 
thing strangely like Christian humility, which the 
Stoics altogether lacked. He "remains," says Mr. 
. Arnold, " the especial friend and comforter of all 
I clear-headed and scrupulous, yet pure-hearted and 
up ward- striving men, in those ages most especially 
that walk by sight, not by faith, and yet have no open 
vision : he cannot give such souls, perhaps, all they 
yearn for, but he gives them much ; and what he gives 
them they can receive." The Greek of Marcus 
^ Aurelius is hard and crabbed the Greek of a Roman. 
Even scholars will be glad to read him in the accurate, 
if not very elegant, version of Mr. Long. He owed 
\ much, perhaps more than Mr. Arnold allows, to 
I Epictetus, and he gratefully acknowledges his debt. 
Epictetii3 was a slave. At the opposite ends of the 
long ladder which made up Roman civilisation before 
Christianity became the faith of the Roman Empire, 
these two great men are inseparably connected by 
affinity of soul. "The idea of a polity," wrote the 
Emperor, "in which there is the same law for all, a 
polity administered with regard to equal rights and 
equal freedom of speech, and the idea of a kingly 
government which respects most of all the freedom of 
the governed." This ideal was very imperfectly 
realised in the Roman State. But is it perfectly 
realised now 1 



CHAPTER VII. 

THE END OF THE PROFESSORSHIP. 

MR. ARNOLD held the Professorship of Poetry at 
Oxford for ten years, from 1857 to 1867. He was 
twice elected for periods of five years each. But for 
him, as for the President of the United States, a third 
term was impossible. In 1867 he retired, and was 
succeeded by Sir Francis Doyle, author of that noble 
poem " The Return of the Guards," that justly popular 
poem "The Private of the Buffs," and "The Doncaster 
St. Leger," the best description of a horse-race ever 
written in English verse. There were parts of 
Mr. Arnold's professorial duties, such as reading the 
Creweian Oration and examining for the Newdigate, 
which he heartily disliked. But, on the whole, the 
position gave ^iim great pleasure, and he laid it down 
with sincere regret. He was anxious that Mr. Brown 
ing should succeed him. Mr. Browning, however, was 
not an Oxford man, and though an honorary Master's 
Degree had been conferred upon him, the objection 
was held to be fatal. 

The Chair of Poetry is not an exhausting burden, 
and all the time he held it Mr. Arnold was zealously 
fulfilling his duty to the Department of Education. 
In 1865 he undertook another of those Continental 
investigations which he so thoroughly enjoyed. The 

91 



92 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

Schools Inquiry Commissioners charged him with the 
agreeable task agreeable at least to him of reporting 
upon the system of teaching for the upper and middle 
classes which prevailed in France, Italy, Germany, and 
Switzerland. At the beginning of April he left London 
for Paris, where he began his work. In Paris he met 
a citizen of the United States who might almost have 
walked out of Martin Chuzzlewit. Such are scarcely to 
be found now. "I have just seen," he writes to his 
mother on the 1st of May, "an American, a great 
admirer of mine, who says that the three people he 
wanted to see in Europe were James Martineau, 
Herbert Spencer, and myself. His talk was not as 
our talk, but he was a good man." The last touch is 
characteristically and ironically urbane. At this time, 
seven years after "Merope," appeared "Atalanta 
in Calydon," which proved as popular as "Merope" 
was the reverse. It did not, however, satisfy Mr. 
Arnold, and in a critical letter to Professor Conington, 
dated the 17th of May, he thus speaks of it: "The 
moderns will only have the antique on the condition 
of making it more beautiful (according to their own 
notions of beauty) than the antique i.e. something 
wholly different." This is just criticism so far as it 
goes. "Atalanta" is not Greek. It is far too violent 
and impulsive to be Greek. But its magnificent verses, 
with their rush and ring, their surge and flow, will 
always raise the spirits and charm the ear. Conington, 
a profoundly learned man, but a pedant if ever there was 
one, was also, it seems, a great admirer of "Merope." 
He must have taken it with him to the grave, for it 
died long before its author. Mr. Arnold did not 
enjoy Italy so much as he might have done if he had 



vi 1. 1 THE END OK THE PROFESSORSHIP. 93 

known more about architecture and painting. But he 
was a keen critic of national character, and being at 
Florence just after Florence had become, for a short 
time, the capital of Italy, he saw in a moment the 
weak point of the modern Italians. "They imitate 
the French too much," he wrote to his mother on the 
24th of May. " It is good for us to attend to the 
French, they are so unlike us, but not good for the 
Italians, who are a sister nation." Luminous ideas of 
this kind light up the not very brilliant atmosphere of 
Mr. Arnold's correspondence, most of which he dashed 
off at odd moments, without having any special turn 
for the art. We could well have spared his comparison 
between the sham, gimcrack cathedral at Milan, which 
contains half a dozen more beautiful churches, and the 
great Duomo at Florence, with the cupola of Brunel- 
leschi, unequalled in the world. But the fascination 
of Italy overcame Mr. Arnold at last, for on the 12th 
of September he wrote from Dresden to Mr. Slade, 
that "all time passed in touring anywhere in Western 
Europe, except Italy, seemed to him, with his present 
lights, time misspent," and it does not appear that 
he ever changed this opinion. 

Mr. Arnold was at Zurich in October 1865, when 
he heard of Lord Palmerston's death. Palmerston, 
though an aristocrat, as this word is generally under 
stood, had none of the cosmopolitan culture which 
aristocracies are supposed to affect. He was as typical 
an Englishman as Bright or Cobden, far too typical 
for Mr. Arnold's taste. But with some allowance for 
personal prejudice, the following extract from Mr. 
Arnold's letter to his mother on Palmerston's career 
has truth as well as point in it. " I do not deny his 



94 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

popular personal qualities, but as to calling him a 
great Minister like Pitt, Walpole, and Peel, and 
talking of his death as a national calamity, why, 
taking his career from 1830, when his importance 
really begins, to the present time, he found his 
country the first power in the world's estimation, and 
he leaves it the third ; of this, no person with eyes to 
see and ears to hear, and opportunities for using them, 
can doubt; it may even be doubted whether, thanks 
to Bismarck's audacity, resolution, and success, Prussia 
too, as well as France and the United States, does not 
come before England at present in general respect." 
This contemporary judgment of a calm observer, whose 
political opinions were those of an independent Whig, 
may be commended to believers in the Palmerstonian 
legend. Matthew Arnold was the best of sons, and 
the allusions to his father in his letters to his mother, 
are really a more affectionate form of the feeling which 
prompted Frederick the Great's filial presents of 
gigantic grenadiers. Thus, on the 18th of November 
1865, after reading Mr. Stopford Brooke's excellent 
Life of Frederick Robertson, he writes : " It is a mistake 
to put him with papa, as the Spectator does: papa's 
greatness consists in his bringing such a torrent of 
freshness into English religion by placing history and 
politics in connection with it; Robertson's is a mere 
religious biography, but as a religious biography it is 
deeply interesting." Mr. Arnold was, of course, be 
fore all things a man of letters, and of physical science 
he knew little or nothing. It is, therefore, an in 
teresting proof of his mental width that he should 
have strongly recommended to his sister, Mrs. Forster, 
science, especially botany, as better suited to cultivate 



vii.] THK KND OF THE PROFESSORSHIP. 95 

perception in a child than grammar or mathematics. 
Perhaps he felt the want of scientific training himself. 
But he was intensely practical, and did his official 
work far more efficiently than many drudges who never 
wrote a verse. Just before Lord Russell's Government 
resigned in 186G, he applied for a Commissionership 
of Charities. It would, as he told his mother, have 
given him another three hundred a year, and an 
independent instead of a subordinate position. No 
man in England was better qualified for it. His 
views on charitable endowments were, as almost 
every one would now admit, thoroughly wise, en 
lightened, and sound. But the post was wanted for 
a lawyer, and lawyers, in this country, are made 
everything except judges. The appointment was 
Lord Russell's, and Lord Russell, as we know, was 
one of Mr. Arnold's earliest admirers. Mr. Gladstone, 
however, had paramount influence, and it is said that 
he had already discovered the theological heterodoxy 
which afterwards became patent to the vulgar eye. 
It is almost inconceivable nowadays that such an 
argument should have weighed with a Minister filling 
a purely secular place. Mr. Arnold's failure was a 
disaster to the public service, and may almost be 
called a scandal. He was also unsuccessful in the 
following year, when he applied for the post of 
Librarian to the House of Commons. His application 
was supported by Mr. Disraeli, the leader of the 
House, and by many other distinguished persons. 
But Speaker Denison had determined to carry out 
one of those mysterious rearrangements in which the 
great functionaries of Parliament delight, and this 
particular plan involved the elevation of the Sub- 



9G MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

Librarian, a thoroughly competent man. In this 
case Mr. Arnold's success would have been a public 
misfortune, for it would have withdrawn him from 
work of the greatest value, and laid him, for all 
practical purposes, on the shelf. 

Mr. Arnold's last lectures as Professor of Poetry 
were devoted to the study of Celtic Literature. They 
were four in number, and were successively pub 
lished after delivery in the Cornhill Magazine. In 
1867, when Mr. Arnold retired from the Chair, they 
were reprinted in a small volume. Mr. George 
Smith, the great publisher, remarked that it was not 
exactly the sort of book which Paterfamilias would 
buy at a bookstall, and take down to his Jemima. I 
should be sorry to suggest that Mr. Smith did not get 
further than the title, to which his remark would 
apply. But no title was ever more misleading, and 
few books are easier to read. This is perhaps the 
most brilliantly audacious of all Mr. Arnold's per 
formances. Mr. Gladstone wrote a book on the Bible 
without knowing a word of Hebrew. Matthew Arnold 
wrote, not indeed on Celtic literature, but on the 
study of it, in happy and contented ignorance of 
Gaelic, Erse, and Cymry. Only men of genius can 
do these things. Upon the real nature and value of 
Celtic literature these charming pages throw little, if 
any, light. The most solid part consists of notes 
contributed by Lord Strangford, a scientific philolo 
gist, and they are comically like a tutor's corrections 
of his pupil's exercise. Mr. Arnold tells us, with en 
gaging frankness, how the idea of these lectures arose 
in his mind. He was staying at Llandudno, and got 
tired of gazing on the sea, especially on the Liverpool 



MI.] THE END OF THE PROFESSORSHIP. 97 

steamboats. So he looked inland, and studied the 
local traditions. He even attended an Eisteddfod, 
which he describes without enthusiasm. This national 
institution was attacked at that time by a great 
English newspaper in language of almost inconceivable 
brutality, which would be quite impossible now. Mr. 
Arnold, a true gentleman in the highest meaning of the 
term, resented the insult, and the chief merit of his book 
is its delicately sympathetic handling of the Celtic 
character. Admitting that all Welshmen ought to learn 
English, he pleads for the preservation of the Welsh 
language, and this led him to the " Science of Origins," 
on which French scholars have bestowed so much re 
search. He reminded the English people that they have 
a Celtic as well as a Norman element in them, and that 
to it they owed much of what was best in their poetry. 
His theory that rhyme is Celtic has been disputed, and 
certainly mediae val Latin is a more obvious source. 
The Celtic genius for style, for "melancholy and 
natural magic," is perhaps hardly borne out by the 
few fragments of translation which Mr. Arnold pro 
duces. But the notion of England as "a vast obscure 
Cymric basis with a vast visible Teutonic super 
structure " is fascinating, if unknown and unknowable. 
Of happy touches this little volume is full. There we 
have Luther and Bunyan, whose connection with 
Celtic literature is remote, labelled as " Philistines of 
genius." There we have the Celt "always ready to 
react against the despotism of fact." Touches of 
human interest are not wanting. There is Owen 
Jones, who slowly and laboriously amassed a fortune 
that he might spend it all in printing and publishing 
every Welsh manuscript upon which he could lay his 



98 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. vn. 

hands. There is Eugene 'Curry, the learned and 
indefatigable student of his native Erse, who edited 
the Annals of the Four Masters. To him enters 
Thomas Moore, lazily contemplating a History of 
Ireland, and remarks profoundly that these Annals 
"could not hare been written by fools, or for any 
foolish purpose." What the Annals of the Four Masters, 
and the My vyrian Archaeology, and Lady Charlotte Guest's 
Mabinogion, are actually worth, we know no more when 
we have finished the book than we knew when we 
began it. But for British prejudice against other 
nationalities it is a wholesome antidote. In this, as in 
so many other respects, Mr. Arnold was in advance of 
his age, unless, indeed, we prefer to say that he led 
his generation to a culture less partial and more 
urbane. The severest censor of sciolism, to which 
perhaps Mr. Arnold was not wholly a stranger, may 
well be appeased by such a charming phrase as "bel- 
lettristic trifler," which this amateur of Celtic applies 
to himself. 



CHAPTER VIIL 

THE NEW POEMS 

THE publication of Mr. Arnold's New Poems in 186, 
though directly suggested by Mr. Browning, who 
wished to see "Empedocles on Etna " restored to its 
original shape, was, as he himself said, a labour of 
love. He has expressed in familiar lines the opinion 
that poetry which gave no pleasure to the writer will- 
give no pleasure to the world. This volume had an 
immediate and a permanent success. It bore for 
motto, besides the sentiment to which reference has 
already been made, the pretty quatrain, which age 
cannot wither 

" Though the Muse be gone away, 
Though she move not earth to-day, 
Souls, erewhile who caught her word, 
Ah ! still harp on what they heard." 

With these poems the poetical career of Matthew 
Arnold may be said to close. To the end of his life 
he wrote occasional verses. But they were few in 
number, and they neither, with the exception of 
"Westminster Abbey," added to his fame nor de 
tracted from it. His outward circumstances harmon 
ised with this inward change. Mr. Arnold ceased to 



100 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

be Professor of Poetry. He remained an Inspector of 
Schools. But his poetical fame was established, and 
no living English poet except Tennyson was incon- 
testably his superior. The greatest poem in the 
volume, some think the greatest he ever wrote, is 
"Thyrsis," a monody, or elegy, on his friend Arthur 
Clough, who had died, as we have seen, at Florence in 
1861. Mr. Swinburne, a warm admirer of Matthew 
Arnold, has expressed a too contemptuous estimate of 
Clough's poetical powers. His English hexameters and 
pentameters are doggerel, though the ideas which they 
express are often subtle. But some of his shorter pieces, 
such as "Say not the struggle nought availeth," and 
"As ships at eve becalmed they lay," have retained their 
hold upon the minds and hearts of men. Clough is not 
likely ever to become a mere name, like the Reverend 
Mr. King. That "Thyrsis" is inferior to "Lycidas" 
hardly requires stating. All English dirges, except 
the dirge in "Cymbeline," are. But in truth the 
comparison is fruitless, for there is no resemblance. 
Mr. Arnold's model was not Milton, but Theocritus, 
and " Thyrsis " is thoroughly Theocritean in sentiment. 
The opening stanza strikes the keynote, and is, I 
think, unsurpassed throughout the poem. It is 
penetrated, like most of the stanzas which succeed it, 
with the spirit of the place, and is redolent of the 
beautiful country round Oxford 

" How changed is here each spot man makes or fills ! 

In the two Hinkseys nothing keeps the same ; 
The village street its haunted mansion lacks, 
And from the sign is gone Sibylla's name, 
And from the roof the twisted chimney-stacks ; 
Are ye too changed, ye hills ? 



viii.] THE NEW POEMS. 101 

See, 'tis no foot of unfamiliar men 

To-night from Oxford up your pathway strays ! 

Here came I often, often, in old days, 

Thyrsis and I ; we still had Thyrsis then." 

"Thyrsis" is avowedly a sequel to "The Scholar 
Gipsy," with which it should always be read. I do 
not feel able to decide between their relative merits. 
Even Oxford has inspired no nobler verse. 

But though "Thyrsis" was the principal of the New 
Poems, and the best example of Mr. Arnold's matured D 
powers, there are many others at once excellent arid 
characteristic. "Saint Brandan" is a picturesque 
embodiment of a strange mediaeval legend touching 
Judas Iscariot, who is supposed to be released from 
Hell for a few hours every Christmas because he had 
done in his life a single act of charity. "Calais 
Sands" and "Dover Beach" strike a higher note. 
"Calais Sands" is cold compared with the love-poems 
in "Switzerland." But it is graceful, and charming, 
and everything except real. "Dover Beach " is very $0 
different, and much deeper. Profoundly melancholy 
in tone, it expresses the peculiar turn of Mr. Arnold's 
mind, at once religious and sceptical, philosophical 
and emotional, better than his formal treatises on 
philosophy and religion. The second part of it 
deserves to be quoted at length, both on this account 
and for its literary beauty 

" The Sea of Faith 

Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore 
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furl'd ; 
But now I only hear 
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar, 
Retreating to the breath 



102 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

Of the night-wind down the vast edges drear 
And naked shingles of the world. 

Ah, love, let us be true 

To one another ! for the world, which seems 

To lie before us like a land of dreams, 

So various^ so beautiful, so new, 

Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light, 

Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain ; 

And we are here as on a darkling plain 

Swept with confused alarm of struggle and fight, 

Where ignorant armies clash by night ! " 

"The Last Word " describes the plight of a hopeless 
and exhausted straggler against a Philistine world too 
strong for him. It is one of Mr. Arnold's best known 
poems, and need not be reprinted here. The last 
stanza contains a curious, and rather awkward, am 
biguity. Thus it runs : 

" Charge once more, then, and be dumb ! 
Let the victors, when they come, 
When the forts of folly fall, 
Find thy body by the wall." 

The natural meaning of these words would be that 
the person addressed had been engaged in defending 
the forts of folly, which, it need hardly be said, is 
the precise opposite of what Mr. Arnold intended. 
"Bacchanalia, or The New Age," is perhaps the most 
fanciful among all Matthew Arnold's poems, and it is 
certainly one of the most beautiful. It must be read 
as a whole, for it illustrates the connection of the past 
with the present in the mind of a poet. But the 
following lines would be missed from any estimate or 
criticism of Matthew Arnold. The constant repetition 



I HE A'A'ir 1'UL'MX. 103 

of ;i single epithet shows where Mr. Arnold's danger 
lay, both in prose and verse. In this case, however, 
the arrangement is so skilful that the trick, for it must 
be called a trick, justifies itself 

" The epoch ends, the world is still. 
The age has talk'd and work'd its fill 
The famous orators have shone, 
The famous poets sung and gone. 
The famous men of war have fought, 
The famous speculators thought, 
The famous players, sculptors wrought, 
The famous painters fill'd their wall, 
The famous critics judg'd it all. 
The combatants are parted now, 
Unhung the spear, unbent the bow, 
The puissant crown'd, the weak laid low ! " 

"Rugby Chapel," written so far back as 1857, and 
"Heine's Grave," are Mr. Arnold's most successful/ 
efforts in lyrical metre without rhyme. That defect is 
to my mind, or rather to my ear, a fatal one. But if 
ever Mr. Arnold for a time appears to surmount it, these 
are the poems where his apparent success is achieved. 
In "Rugby Chapel" he praises his father as one of 
those who were not content with saving their own 
souls, but sought to bring others with them 

" Then, in such hour of need 
Of your fainting, dispirited race, 
Ye, like angels, appear, 
Kadiant with ardour divine. 
Beacons of hope, ye appear 1 
Languor is not in your heart, 
Weakness is not in your word, 
Weariness not on your brow." 

"Heine's Grave" is a painfully morbid poem on a 



104 MATTHEW ARNOLD. 

supremely dismal subject. It contains some grotesque 
instances of metrical eccentricity. Such a line as 

" Paris drawing-rooms and lamps " 

is Ifeyond all criticism, out of the pale. But the 
famo'us description of England, or the British Empire, 
is as good as anything of the kind can be : 

" Yes, we arraign her ! but she, 
The weary Titan ! with deaf 
Ears, and labour ~diinm'd eyes, 
Regarding neither to right, 
Nor left, goes passively by, 
Staggering on to her goal ; 
Bearing on shoulders immense, 
Atlantean, the load, 
Well-nigh not to be borne, 
Of the too vast orb of her fate." 

If the thing is to be done at all, that is how one 
should do it. 

The "Stanzas from the Grande Chartreuse," though 
included in this volume, appeared in Fraser's Magazine 
for April 1855. They are very stately and solemn 
stanzas. Every one knows the famous lines about 
Byron, and the "pageant of his bleeding-heart." LessT. 
familiar, but I think finer, is the author's ownajbtitude s 
of wistful yearning reverence for the comfort of a 
creed he cannot hold 

" Wandering between two worlds, one dead, 
The other powerless to be born, 
With nowhere yet to rest my head, 
Like these, on earth I wait forlorn. 
Their faith, my tears, the world deride 
I come to shed them at your side. 



VIM ] THE NEW POEMS. 105 

Oh, hide ine in your gloom profound, 

Ye solemn seats of holy pain ! 

Take me, cowl'd forms, and fence me round, 

Till I possess my soul again 

Till free my thoughts before me roll, 

Not chafed by hourly false control ! " 

With these pathetic lines we may take our leave 
for the present of Mr. Arnold as a poet. He had 
other work to do, and from duty he never shrank. 
From this time forth the poetic stream ran thin, 
though it never quite ran out. 



CHAPTER IX. 

EDUCATION. 
J 

EDUCATION is proverbially a dull subject. But in 

I Mr. Arnold's case it cannot be omitted, and in his 
hands it was never dull. He was an Inspector of 
Schools for^five-and-thirty years, resigning his post only 
two years before hisUeath. The Department wisely 
and properly treated him with great indulgence. He 
always had the most interesting work that there was 
to do. But his life was a laborious one. He was more 
v than willing to spend and be spent for the intellec- 

I tual improvement of his countrymen. When he was 
first appointed an Inspector there existed a sort of 

^agreement between Church and State. The Catholic 
schools were inspected by Catholics ; schools belonging 
to the Church of England were officially visited by 
clergymen. Being neither a clergyman nor a Catholic, 

..Mr. Arnold was assigned to Protestant schools not 

I 1 connected with the Church of England, or, in other 
words, to the schools of the Dissenters. He did not 
get on with Dissenters, and his irritation, as we shall 

^ see, found vent in his writings. After 1870, when 
compulsory education began, and denominational in- 
spection was abandoned, Mr. Arnold confined himself 
to the borough of Westminster, where for a long time 
there was only one Board school. He was the idol of 

iM 



. ix.] EDUCATION. 107 

the children, for he petted them and treated them with 
the easy condescension which was his charm. Upon 
the teachers his influence was still more important.^ 
"Indirectly," says Sir Joshua Fitch, "his fine taste, 
his gracious and kindly manner, his honest and 
generous recognition of any new form of excellence 
which he observed, all tended to raise the aims and 
the tone of the teachers with whom he came in contact, 
and to encourage in them self-respect, and respect for 
their work." His official reports were most inter 
esting and instructive. He had a natural insight into^ 
the real merits and defects of public teaching. He- 
saw things as they were. " The typical mental defect 
of our school children," he said, "is their almost 
incredible scantiness of vocabulary." This is a national 
deficiency ; and no one who has sat, for howsoever 
short a time, in Parliament, can believe that it is 
peculiar to children. Mr. Arnold held no narrow or 
rigid view of the difference between primary and 
secondary education. He thought that the rudi 
ments of French and Latin might well be taught in 
elementary schools. He was also an advocate for 
teaching in them the beginnings of natural science, or 
what Huxley used to call "Physiography." "The 
excuse," as he put it characteristically, "for putting 
most of these matters into our programme is that 
we are all coming to be agreed that an entire ignor 
ance of the system of nature is as grave a defect in 
our children's education as not to know that there 
ever was such a person as Charles the First." 

In 1868 appeared Mr. Arnold's Report upon 
Schools and Universities on the Continent. It 
deals with education in France, Italy, Germany, 



108 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

and Switzerland. But its practical interest is restricted 
x to France and Germany. For the Swiss system was 
almost identical with the German, and in Italy at 
that time national education was in its infancy. 

French institutions and French habits of thought 
were always thoroughly congenial to Mr. Arnold. His 

1 lucid, methodical mind was attracted by the thorough 
ness of French logic, and lie was more especially 
fascinated by the orderly sequence with which the pupil 
fy ascended from the primary school to the university. 
Himself the product of reformed Rugby, and of unre- 
formed Oxford, a child of the old learning and the 
/new spirit, he was appalled by the anomalous condi 
tion of English universities, and by the chaos of 
intermediate teaching in England. With the admir 
able schools of Scotland he had nothing to do. The 
\ secondary schools of France, all under the Minister 
I of Education, he described with hearty though not 
T uncritical praise. The University of Paris, the great 
tfVNseat of learning in the Middle Ages, moved him to 
) unwonted enthusiasm. He envied the Professors 
who were only teachers, and declared that he would 
rather have their moderate salary with abundant 
leisure than be a Master in one of our public schools, 
receiving twice their pay, but having no time to 
himself. The cole Normale, the training college for 
' French teachers, he pronounced to be excellent. No 
one in England was taught to teach, whereas in France 
ithe State made itself directly responsible for all kinds 
-of education, and the most stringent tests were applied 
to teachers. Then, again, the French language in 
France, unlike the English language in England, was 
> made the subject of thorough and serious study. 



ix.] EDUCATION. 109 

Even in learning the classics the development of the 
mother tongue, and its resources, was the first con 
sideration impressed upon the mind. Examinations, 
Mr. Arnold held, were better understood in France' 
than here. The French did not attempt to examine 
boys before they were fifteen, and he held very 
strongly the opinion that before that age intellectual^ 
pressure was dangerous. Between fifteen and twenty- 
five he thought that the mind could hardly be over 
worked. Tested by results, he showed that the 
French schools were far more successful than our 
own. When he wrote, there were in the public schools 
of England fifteen thousand boys. In the public 
schools of France there were sixty-six thousand. It 
may, however, be doubted whether the standard of- 
comparison was a fair one. The French lyceums pro 
vided for a class which in England was even more 
content than it is now with private or " adventure " 
schools. 

On one point, and that certainly not the least 
important, Mr. Arnold had to confess that Frenchl 
boarding-schools were most unsatisfactory. He gave 
the worst possible account of the ushers, the nmitres 
deludes. They were drudges, they were not required 
to teach, and they were miserably underpaid. Their 
duty was to protect the morals of the boys, but many 
of them were gravely suspected of doing exactly the 
opposite. No scientific perfection of teaching can 
make up for such an evil as this. After all, there is 
something to be said for the freedom and honour of 
Eton and Harrow, of Rugby and Winchester. There are^ 
cruelty and vice in all schools. But constant super 
vision, and absolute distrust, encourage more mischief 



110 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

| than they prevent. In French schools the hours of 
work are longer, and the means of recreation scantier, 
than English boys would endure. 

Mr. Arnold's Eeports on French, Swiss, and Italian 
Education were never republished. To his Report 
on the Education of Germany he must himself have 
attached more value, for he brought it out again in 
1874, and a third time in 1882. Perhaps he considered 
the example of a Teutonic race more likely to be con- 
. tagious. The cheapness of German education struck 
him forcibly, and though prices had nearly doubled 
before the reappearance of his Report, he maintained 
/ that the relative proportion between the two countries 
was the same. This could not be said now, but there 
is still much room for economy in the public schools 
and universities of England. German schools, as 
s Mr. Arnold found them, were denominational, with 
a conscience clause, and attendance at them was com 
pulsory for all classes. In Prussia, which Mr. Arnold 
took as typical of Germany, the Government, as in 
I France, set up an educational ladder which a pro- 
i mising boy could mount from the bottom rung to the 
top. Adepts in education were consulted by the State, 
as they were not in England. This was a point which 
Mr. Arnold put very strongly, and he urged it with 
some exaggeration. It is not quite true that expert 
opinion has been rejected by the Education Depart- 
(ment, now the Board of Education. Mr. Arnold's own 
\Reports, for instance, were very carefully considered 
! by his official superiors, and of Education Commissions 
there has been no end. The difficulties in carrying out 
their recommendations have been Parliamentary, and 
the great difficulty of all has been the religious one. 



ix.] EDUCATION. Ill 

In Germany, as in France, the mother tongue was 
carefully taught, and in the Realschule, intended to 
prepare boys for business, English was obligatory, as 
well as French. In England the teaching of foreign! 
languages has made much progress since Mr. Arnold's/ 
day, but the study of English is confined to elementary* 
schools. The public, or national, schools of Prussia 
are not boarding-schools, and the boys are, or were, 
for the most part taken in by private families. The 
German universities are the only avenue to the learned_ 
professions, and, as is well-known, a German professor, 
though receiving, according to our standard, a small 
salary, holds a position of great dignity. Admittance 
to a German university is obtained only by examination, 
and the test is a severe one. For the teachers there is 
a very stringent examination indeed. They have to 
graduate in " paedagogic " before they reach ihefacultas 
docendi. Mr. Arnold was conscious that to most English 
men all this would seem mere pedantry. No man was 
less of a pedant than he. But he held that his country 
men's ideas of education were hopelessly unscientific, 
and he did his best to correct them. He believed in 
the State as an instrument of education, as we have4 
all come to believe in it now, and the official position 
of German universities was congenial to him. At the 
same time, the German teachers were not, as the 
French were, liable to dismissal by the Government 
Mr. Arnold may fairly be said to have fallen in love 
with the German system of education. The French \ 
universities, he said, wanted liberty; the English 
universities wanted science ; the German universitiesj 
had both. 

In conclusion, Mr. Arnold recommended that Greek . 



112 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. TX. 

\ and Latin should be studied in England more after the 
I fashion of modern languages. The German boys he 
, found inferior to the English in composition, where 
English scholarship has always been peculiarly strong. 
But the making of Latin verses is not, even in this 
country, so favourite a pursuit as it was fifty or a 
hundred years ago, and the scientific study of com 
parative philology has seriously modified classical edu 
cation. Our secondary schools, to whose badness Mr. 

- Arnold traced an undue distinction between classes in 
England, are almost as bad as ever. But some of his 

- proposals have been carried out. He was the real 
father of university extension, and he recommended 
that the University of London should be made a 
teaching institution, as it was twelve years after 
his death. Of all educational reformers in the last 
century, not excepting his father, Mr. Arnold was 
the most enlightened, the most far-sighted, and the 
most fair-minded. 



CHAPTER X. 
MR. ARNOLD'S PHILOSOPHY. 

MATTHEW ARNOLD always disclaimed the epithet j 
Philosopher, just as he repudiated the title of Pro-/ 
fessor. But he had a philosophy of his own, which 
was perhaps, like_Cicexo^s, rather Academic than Stoic 
or Epicurean. He was always much interested iii^ 
the history of religion, and he took great delight in 
Deutsch's famous essay on the Talmud, which appeared 
in the Quarterly Review for October 1867. He wrote 
about it to Lady de Rothschild on the 4th of November 
in a letter which well deserves to be quoted, because 
it contains the germ of a theory that afterwards 
coloured almost the whole of his writings. What he 
liked best himself, he said, in the article, were "the 
long extracts from the Talmud itself," which gave him 
"huge satisfaction." With the Christian character of 
later Judaism he was already well acquainted. " It is 
curious," he added, "that, though Indo-European, the 
English people is so constituted and trained that there 
is a thousand times more chance of bringing it to a 
more philosophical conception of religion than its 
present conception of Christianity as something utterly 
unique, isolated, and self-subsistent, through Judaism 
and its phenomena, than through Hellenism and its 
phenomena." Mr. Arnold's interest in such matters, 

H 

f/3 



114 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

however, did not take his mind off politics, upon which 
he always kept a very keen eye. His theory of the 
Clerkenwell explosion, in December 1867, was at least 
original. He traced it to the immunity of the Hyde 
/Park rioters in 1866. "You cannot," he wrote to his 
mother on the 14th of December, "you cannot have one 
measure for Fenian rioting and another for English 
rioting, merely because the design of Fenian rioting is 
more subversive and desperate. What the State has 

I to do is to put down all rioting with a strong hand, or 
it is sure to drift into troubles." It is true, but not 
the whole truth. Sir Robert Peel once said that 
everybody told him he ought to be firm, as if he did not 
know that, and as if the whole art of statesmanship con 
sisted in firmness. The rioters of 1866 might say that 
they carried the Reform Act of 1867, and the rioters 
of 1867 might say that they disestablished the Irish 
Church in 1869. But, as a matter of fact, the rioters of 
1867 were dangerous, and the rioters of 1866 were not. 
In the same letter, Mr. Arnold mentions a tribute 
from a teacher of which he felt justly proud. He 
"was always gentle and patient with the children." 
No inspector of schools has ever been more universally 
beloved, though some, it must be confessed, have taken 
their duties in a more serious spirit. At the beginning 
of 1868 he was amused and pleased at an invitation 
from the proprietors of the Daily Telegraph to write 
them a notice of Blake the artist, and to "name his 
own price." "I sent a civil refusal," he characteristi 
cally remarks ; " but, you may depend upon it, Lord 
Lytton was right in saying that it is no inconsiderable 
advantage to you that all the writing world have a 
kind of weakness for you even at the time they are 



x.] MR. ARNOLD'S PHILOSOl'l IV. 115 

attacking you/' Early this year, Mr. Arnold moved 
from London to Harrow for the better education of his 
children. At Harrow, on the 23rd of November, his 
eldest son, who had always been an invalid, died, and 
on the next day Mr. George Russell found the father 
seeking consolation from the pages of his favourite 
Marcus Aurelius. His feeling for religion was never I 
confined to Christianity. 

Early in 1867 Messrs. Smith and Elder that is to 
say, Mr. Arnold's valued friend of a lifetime, Mr. 
George Smith published ^Culture and Anarchy, jvrhich f 
contains the writer's philosophical system, so far as hcf 
had one. Systematic thought he half ironically dis 
claimed. But he meant even by the title of his book 
to convey that lawlessness was the result of not de 
ferring to the authority of cultivated persons. / There 
was point in the sarcasm of the Nonconformist critic 
who spoke of Mr. Arnold's belief in the well known 
preference of the Almighty for University men. It is, 
however, undeniably true that whereas in France and 
Germany people have too little regard for individual 
freedom, in England adepts are slighted, knowledge 
undervalued, and the claim of every man to do as. 
he pleases elevt ted from a legal doctrine into a moral 
ideal. There is some truth, though also some exaggera 
tion, in the following passage : " While on the Continent 
the idea prevails that it is the business of the heads 
and representatives of the nation, by virtue of their 
superior means, power, and information, to set an 
example and to provide suggestions of right reason, 
among us the idea is that the business of the heads { 
and representatives of the nation is to do nothing of 
the kind, but applaud the natural taste for the bathos 



116 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

showing itself vigorously in any part of the community, 
and to encourage its works" (Culture and Anarchy, 
second edition, p 115). That is what Mr. Arnold 
would himself have called a heightened and telling way 
of putting it. But he was attacking a real error, of 
which practical politics afford numerous examples. It 
is difficult to be personal without being offensive. If I 
could avoid offence by taking two instances from the 
same party, I should say that Mr. Chamberlain repre 
sented the theory assailed by Mr. Arnold (for which 
there is much to be said), and Mr. Balfour the theory 
he would have substituted for it. 

jCulture, says Mr. Arnold in his Preface (page x.), is 
"a pursuit of our total perfection by means of getting 
to know, on all the matters which most concern us, the 
best which has been thought and said in the world." 
In this respect no man ever practised what he preached 
more thoroughly than Matthew Arnold. To use a 
phrase widely current of late, he was "the fine flower 
of Oxford culture," and there has seldom been a 
more delicate, or a more delightful specimen. Yet 
he belonged, as he often said, to the middle class, whom 
he called Philistines, implying that culture was what 
they lacked. Philistinism is a convenient and expres 
sive term. But it describes a frame of mind, not a class. 
Mr. Arnold, as I have said before, used the word " class " 
- 'as if it were synonymous with caste, which in English 
society does not exist. Common occupations, common 
professions, above all, intermarriage, make it impossible. 
There is nothing, except his title, to distinguish a lord 
I from a commoner. The richest people are not the best 
\ educated, nor the worst. Mr. Arnold called " the aristo- 
j cracy," which he would have been puzzled to define, 



x.] MR. ARNOLD'S PHILOSOPHY. 117 

barbarians, because they cared more for field sports J 

than for the improvement of their minds. Some of 

them do, some of them do not. There is no rule. The 

love of sport pervades the working classes as well as 

the House of Lords. Mr. Arnold's name for the prole-' 

tariate was a confession of failure. He simply called 

them "the populace," which is no more descriptive 

? than Mr. Bright's "residuum." The English people dot 

^ ^t/4iys-in/^cj^s<5fcs, they live as individuals, and in sets.f 

u* Tulture and ignorance, simplicity and vulgarity, high-i 
^ and low ideals, are pretty equally divided among all ) 

^ ^sections of the community, ll Mr. Arnold refers (at page 
xviii. of his Preface) to the "undesirable provincialism of 
the English Puritans and Protestant Nonconformists," 
If by provincialism (a rather "provincial" word) is 
meant narrowness of view, it might app7y r ^Thir$c"nool 
of Mr. Spurgeon, but it certainly would not apply to 
the school of Dr. Martineau. It would be as reason 
able to lump Dr. Creighton with Dr. Ryle because both 
were Anglican Bishops. 

| In Culture and Anarchy, Mr. Arnold preaches his 
favourite doctrine of "sweetness and light." The 
phrase, ;is he acknowledged, is Swift's. Swift used 
it of the bees, because they make honey and wax. 
Mr. Arnold transferred it to the operation of culture,! 
which would, if it could, "make reason and the will or- 
God prevail." He contrasted it with the motto of the 
Nonconformist newspaper: "The Dissidence of Dissent 
and the Protestantism of the Protestant religion." It 
is easy to be sarcastic upon this pugnacious device, 
and to quote St. Peter's "Be of one mind"; but 
without Protestantism, which is a form of Dissent, 
Mr. Arnold's books would have been condemned 



118 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

suppressed. The religious freedom in which he so 
lavishly indulged, was secured for him by the objects 
of his constant gibes. Mr. Arnold's official connection 
with Oxford had now ceased, but her hold upon his 
allegiance was undiminished, ( "We have not won our 
political battles," he says, at page 32, "we have not 
carried our main points, we have not stopped our 
adversaries' advance, we have not marched victoriously 
with the modern world; but we have told silently 
upon the mind of the country, we have prepared 
currents of feeling which sap our adversaries' position 
when it seems gained, we have kept up our own 
communications with the future." Who are "we"? 
\ Mr. Arnold means Oxford men, and he refers to the 
f Oxford Movement. But Oxford would have con 
demned Newman's most famous Tract if two High, 
Church proctors had not interfered, and the same Oxford 
actually degraded Dr. Ward for writing a High Church 
book. The intellectual, as distinguished from the 
political, Liberalism of Oxford dates from the admission 
of Nonconformists. It is only fair to add, before leaving 
this part of the subject, that |Mr. Arnold himself 
acknowledges his tripartite division of society not 
to be mutually exclusive. "An English barbarian 
who examines himself," he says, on page 96, "will in 
general find himself to be not so entirely a barbarian, 
but that he has in him also something of the Philistine, 
and even something of the Populace as well. And the 
same with Englishmen of the other two classes." Just 
so. But, then, what is the value of the classification?* 
One is reminded of Thurlow's famous remark about 
Kenyon and Buller. A rule with too many exceptions 
ceases to be a rule at all. 



X.] MR. ARNOLD'S PHILOSOPHY. 119 

"No man," says Mr. Arnold, at page 163, "no man 
who knows nothing else knows even his Bible." The 
sentiment is familiar ; and Mr. Eudyard Kipling has 
performed a variation upon it in his celebrated, but 
fallacious, inquiry, " What can they know of England 
who only England know 1 " The answer to Mr. Kipling * 
is " Everything, if they .read the newspapflra/^Mr. 
Arnold was aiming at Mr. Spurgeon, but he hitBunyan 
without meaning it. (if stupid people would read the 
Bible less, and clever people would read it more, the 
world would be much improved, f The objects otf 
Mr. Arnold's just scorn were not really men who 
confined themselves to the Bible, but those who trieoj 
to serve God and Mammon. Such, for example, was 
a late Chairman of the Great Western Railway, who 
quoted to the workmen at Swindon the beautiful 
sentence uttered to him every morning by his mother 
when he went to work on the line. " Ever remember, 
my dear Dan," said the good lady, " that you should 
look forward to being some day manager of that 
concern." The words of the Gospel were fulfilled in 
Dan. He had his reward. He did become manager 
of that not very well managed concern. He was 
outwardly more fortunate than the secretary of the 
insurance company who committed suicide because 
he "laboured under the apprehension that he would 
come to poverty, and that he was eternally lost." 
Against the vulgar degradation of religion, as un 
christian as it is gloomy and sordid, implied in these 
awful words, Matthew Arnold set his face, and so far 
lie followed the teaching of Christ. 

Mr. Arnold had now a European reputation as a man 
of letters, and at the beginning of 1869 the Italian 



120 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

Government proposed to him that Prince Thomas of 
Savoy, the Duke of Genoa, who a year afterwards 
refused the crown of Spain, should live with the 
Arnolds at Harrow while he attended the school. 
The proposal would not have been attractive to every 

(one, but it suited Mr. Arnold very well. He was sociable 
in his tastes, and cosmopolitan in his sympathies. 
He had travelled a good deal on the Continent, and 
knew foreign languages well. Mrs. Arnold had no 
objection, and she, after all, as he remarked to his 
mother, was the person most concerned. The arrange 
ment answered perfectly, and Mr. Arnold, who loved 
young people, became very fond of the prince. The 
boy was a Roman Catholic, but there seems to have 
been no apprehension that Mr. Arnold would subvert 
his faith; and when he left Harrow in 1871, his host 
received from Victor Emmanuel " the Order of Com 
mander of the Crown of Italy." Mr. Arnold's failure in 
getting a Commissionership under his brother-in-law's 
Endowed Schools' Act he attributed, no doubt correctly, 
to Mr. Gladstone ; but the disappointment was not very 
keen, and when the Conservatives came into power 
five years afterwards, they put a summary end to 
the Commission. On the other hand, he thoroughly 
appreciated the honorary degree conferred upon him 
by his own University at the Commemoration of 1870. 
The list was made out by the new Chancellor, Lord 
Salisbury, who had succeeded Lord Derby the year 
before, and none of the names chosen did more credit 
to his choice than Mr. Arnold's. He was presented to 
Lord Salisbury by his friend Mr. Bryce, the Professor of 
Civil Law, and received by graduates as well as under 
graduates with a heartiness which greatly pleased him. 



x.] MR. ARNOLD'S PHILOSOPHY. 121 

This year 1870 may be assigned as the date of| 
Matthew Arnold's open breach with the religious, or | 
at least the orthodox, world. The later stages of that 
quarrel, not in all respects creditable to either side, 
will be traced in the next chapter, which will be 
devoted to Mr. Arnold's theology. St. Paul and 
Protestantism, with an Essay on Puritanism in the 
Church of England, was reprinted, like Culture and 
Anarchy, from the Cornhill Magazine. It is rather 
philosophical than theological, and carries a step 
further the principles laid down in Culture and 
Anarchy. Its object was twofold. The author 
desired to contrast,, Hebraism, the philoao^hj_ c)f 
morals, with Hellenism, the philosophy of thought. 
He sought also to prove that Evangelical Puritanism, 
which grounded itself upon the doctrines of St. Paul, 
had misunderstood and perverted the teaching of the 
apostle. Of Evangelical Puritanism the Nonconformists 
were the chief representatives, and therefore they come 
in for a peculiar share of Mr. Arnold's attention ; but 
he deals also with the Evangelical party in the ChurchV 
of England, then stronger, at least among the clergy,' 
than it is now. Translating, or paraphrasing, the 
Greek word 'EirtctVccta by "sweet reasonableness," he 
urged that that was the distinguishing characteristic \ 
which St. Paul had derived from the teaching of his I 
Master. Setting this against the spirit of contentious 
ness which, in his opinion, Dissent developed, he 
proceeded to argue in favour of unity, of one Church. 
So far his position was thoroughly agreeable to the 
Anglican Establishment. But it soon appeared that 
the new and universal Church was to be purged of all 
dogma. God was no longer to be, as the Calvinists 



122 MATTHEW ABNOLD. [CHAP. 

made Him, "a magnified and non-natural man," but 
" that stream of tendency by which all things strive to 
^fulfil the law of their being." This is Pantheism, pure 
and simple. Now Pantheism, though a profoundly 
religious creed, is not regarded with favour by orthodox 
Protestants, or, for that matter, by orthodox Catholics. 
I remember that, when I was at Oxford, a Bampton 
Lecturer incurred much ridicule by this passionate 
adjuration from the pulpit : " I beseech you, brethren," 
said he, "by the mercies of Christ, that you hold fast 
to the integrity of your anthropomorphism." It was 
enough to make Dean Mansel turn in his grave. But, 
as Mr. Goldwin Smith, in a brilliant though now 
forgotten essay, and Mr. Mill, in his examination of 
Sir William Hamilton's Philosophy, reminded Mr. 
Mansel, a Deity of whom no^ jmman or natural 
qualities can be predicated is a mere abstraction, 
and for practical purposes might as well not exist. 

What, then, according to Mr. Arnold, was St. Paul's 
real doctrine ? It will be found on page 42 of the 
second edition. "This man, whom Calvin and 
Luther and their followers have shut up into, .the two 
scholastic dDctrincs_Ql^Le.ction and justification, would 
have said, could we hear him, just what he said about 
circumcision and uncircumcision in his own day : 
1* Election is nothing, and justification is nothing, but 
| the keeping of the commandments of God.' " It may be 
so. What has been said generally of the Bible is true 
especially of St. Paul. Everybody goes to the Pauline 
Epistles for his own doctrines, and everybody finds 
them. They are far more difficult to understand than 
Plato or Aristotle, and yet preachers wholly innocent 
of hermeneutics will expound them with the most 



x.] MR. ARNOLD'S PHILOSOPHY. 123 

touching confidence. Mr. Arnold had a short way of 
eliminating from St. Paul what he did not like, such 
as " the harsh and unedifying image of the clay and 
the potter." St. Paul "was led into difficulty by the 
tendency, which we have already noticed as marking 
his real imperfection both as a thinker and as a writer 
the tendency to Judaise " (page 97). It is hardly 
strange that St. Paul should have Judaised. He was 
a Jew, a Pharisee, familiar not merely with the law 
and the prophets, but also with the Rabbinical tradi 
tions, long before he heard of Christ. Conversion 
changes, or ought to change, a man's purpose and mode 
f Jlfei ^ does not jiflect_the habits ofjiisjmind. St. 
Paul wished to reconcile Christianity with Judaism, 
not to supersede one by the other. His " tendency to 
Judaise " is part of his system. Take it away, and he 
ceases to be St. Paul. 

In the essay on Puritanism and the Church of 
England Mr. Arnold points out (page 129), "that the 
High Church divines of the seventeenth century were 
Arminian, that the Church of England was the 
stronghold of Arminianism, and that ^minianism is 
an effort of man's practical good sense to get rid- of 
what is shocking to it in Calvinism." And he traces 
the existence of Nonconformity mainly to the fact that 
the Church would not "put the Calvinistic doctrines 
more distinctly into her formularies.' This is more 
than doubtful history. The persecuting policy of Laud, 
and the Act of Uniformity passed when that most 
Christian king, Charles the Second, was restored to the 
throne, w^rfi the chief causes of Protestant Dissent. 
Mr. Arnold was fond of Butler, and quoted him almost 
as often as he quoted the Vulgate. " ' The Bible, 1 said 



124 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAI-. 

the great bishop, ' contains many truths as yet un 
discovered,' and in so saying he passed sentence on 
every creed and council" (page 151). That is an 
admirable application of a profound truth, whether 
Butler would himself have made it or not. For if it 
be true, as Cardinal Newman says, that we "cannot 

i halve the gospel of God's grace," so neither can we 
limit it. Securus judicat orlris terrarum. These words of 
St. Augustine convinced Newman that the Church of 

i Rome must be in the right. For that purpose Mr. 

I Arnold, of course, rejects them. But he adopts them 
in support of his own theory that religion implies 
unity. For my part, I think that the Avords are 
much nearer the truth if construed as a classical 
Roman would have construed them. When Horace 
wrote that he was "quid Tiridaten terreat unice 
securus," he did not mean that he had infallible 
knowledge of what frightened Tiridates. He meant 
that he did not care, which is only too true of the 
world and theology. Mr. Arnold defends the Church 
England from the charge of " not knowing her own 
mind," or, rather, he denies that it is a charge, and 
claims it is as a merit. He pleads with eloquence and 
sincerity that doctrinal differences, however funda 
mental, are no ground for separation, and that Luther 
,did not separate for any such reason, but because the 
' Church of Rome was immoral, which was a true 
"ground, and the only true one. This idea of a universal 
Church, with departure from iniquity for its first prin 
ciple, is a very noble one. The invisible tie which 
unites all good men is in some sort a fulfilment of it. 
Fully realised on earth it is never likely to be. As 
Mr. Jowett so beautifully says of Plato's Republic, the 



X.] MR. ARNOLD'S PHILOSOPHY. 125 

moment we seem to comprehend it, it eludes our 
grasp, and at length fades away into the Heavens. 
Perhaps Mr. Arnold knew that. There is nothing in 
the book to prove that he did not know it. 

Mr. Arnold's "genial and somewhat esoteric philo 
sophy," if I may borrow a phrase applied by Sir George 
Trevelyan to his uncle, is nowhere more compendiously 
stated than in Friendship's Garland, which appeared 
in a complete form at the beginning of 1871. The 
history of this little book is curious. The letters of 
which it consists were first printed in the Pall Mall 
Gazette, when that journal of many vicissitudes was 
edited by Mr. Frederick Greenwood. They extend 
over a period of four years, from 1866 to 1870, dealing 
chiefly with the victories of Prussia over Austria, and 
of Germany over France. Attributed to a young 
Prussian, Arminius von Thunder-ten-Tronckh, whose 
name is of course taken from Candide, they really 
represent Mr. Arnold's views upon the characteristic 
deficiencies of his countrymen. It is a remarkable 
fact that, though an unsparing critic of English foibles, 
and also of the qualities upon which Englishmen 
particularly pride themselves, he never became 
unpopular. Such is the power of urbanity. The 
outer public, the widest circle of readers, knew 
Matthew Arnold chiefly from quotations in news 
papers, and the readers of the old Pall Mall were of 
the " kid glove persuasion." But, as he said himself, 
the writing people had a kindness for him ; and even 
those at whom his shafts of ridicule were directed 
laughed, unless they were translators of Homer, as 
heartily as anybody else. I can myself (and so can 
Mr. George Russell) testify to the fact that Mr. Sala, 



126 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

one of Mr. Arnold's favourite butts, regarded his 
facetious tormentor with friendly and respectful 
admiration. This was very creditable to Mr. Sala, but 
it was creditable to Mr. Arnold too. There was 
plenty of salt in his wit, and not much pepper. 
Friendship's Garland is by far the most amusing book 
he ever wrote, and, indeed, for anything better of its 
kind we must go to Voltaire. Yet nothing would 
induce Mr. Arnold to publish a second edition of it, 
and for many years before his death it was out of 
print. He thought it ephemeral, as parts of it no 
doubt are, and his fastidious taste condemned it to 
oblivion. Fortunately, the destinies of a book are not 
under the permanent control of the author, and in 
1898 Friendship's Garland was brought out once more. 
The special phase of smug, complacent Philistine 
Liberalism, at which it is chiefly aimed, had ceased to 
be predominant. But the fun is immortal, and the 
. (^ criticism deep as well as sound. If the book can be 
% said to have a practical moral, it is that Englishmen 
should practise the virtue of obedience, and improve 
the education of the middle classes. But the charm 
of these pages, the most vivacious that even Mr. 
Arnold ever penned, lies in the inimitable drollness of 
the social satire, and perhaps I can hardly do better 
than quote at full length the conversation between 
Arminius and the author upon the justices at petty 
sessions. 

" ' The three magistrates in that inn,' said I, ' are not three 
Government functionaries all cut out of one block ; they 
embody our whole national life ; the land, religion, commerce, 
are all represented by them. Lord Lumpington is a peer of 
old family and great estate ; Esau Hittall is a clergyman ; 



x.] MR. ARNOLD'S PHILOSOPHY. 127 

Mr. Bottles is one of our self-made niiiMU'-rlass men. Their 
politics are not all of one colour, and that colour the Govern 
ment's. Lumpington is a constitutional Whig ; Hittall is a 
benighted old Tory. As for Mr. Bottles, he is a Radical of 
the purest water ; quite one of the Manchester school. He 
was one of the earliest free-traders, he has always gone as 
straight as an arrow about Reform ; he is an ardent voluntary 
in every possible line, opposed the Ten Hours' Bill, was one of 
the leaders of the Dissenting opposition out of Parliament 
which smashed up the education clauses of Sir James Graham's 
Factory Act ; and he paid the whole expenses of a most 
important church-rate contest out of his own pocket. And, 
finally, he looks forward to marrying his deceased wife's sister. 
Table, as my friend Mr. Grant Duff says, the whole Liberal 
creed, and in not a single point of it will you find Bottles 
tripping.' 'That is all very well as to their politics,' said 
Arminius, 'but I want to hear about their education and 
intelligence.' * There, too, I can satisfy you,' I answered. 
'Lumpington was at Eton. Hittall was on the foundation at 
Charterhouse, placed there by his uncle, a distinguished 
prelate, who was one of the trustees. You know we English 
have no notion of your bureaucratic tyranny of treating the 
appointments to these great foundations as public patronage, 
and vesting them in a responsible minister ; we vest them in 
independent magnates, who relieve the State of all work and 
responsibility, and never take a shilling of salary for their 
trouble. Hittall was the last of six nephews nominated to the 
Charterhouse by his uncle, this good prelate, who had 
thoroughly learnt the divine lesson that charity begins at 
home.' 'But I want to know what his nephew learnt/ in 
terrupted Arminius, 'and what Lord Lumpington learnt at 
Eton/ ' They followed,' said I, ' the grand, old, fortifying, 
classical curriculum.' 'Did they know anything when they 
left ?' asked Arminius. ' I have seen some longs and shorts 
of Hittall's,' said I, ' about the Calydonian Boar, which were 
not bad. But you surely don't need me to tell you, Arminius, 
that it is rather in training and bracing the mind for future 
acquisition a course of mental gymnastics we call it than 
in teaching any set thing, that the classical curriculum is so 



128 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

valuable.' * Were the minds of Lord Lumpington and Mr. 
Hittall much braced by their mental gymnastics?' inquired 
Arminius. 'Well,' I answered, 'during their three years at 
Oxford they were so much occupied with Bullingdon and 
hunting, that there was no great opportunity to judge. But 
for my part I have always thought that their both getting 
their degree at last with flying colours, after three weeks of a 
famous coach for fast men, four nights without going to bed, 
and an incredible consumption of wet towels, strong cigars, 
and brandy and water, was one of the most astonishing feats of 
mental gymnastics I ever heard of.' * That will do for the land 
and the Church/ said Arminius ; 'and now let us hear about 
commerce.' ' You mean how was Bottles educated ? ' answered 
I. ' Here we get into another line altogether, but a very good 
line in its way, too. Mr. Bottles was brought up at the 
Lycurgus House Academy, Peckham. You are not to suppose 
from the name of Lycurgus that any Latin and Greek was 
taught in the establishment ; the name only indicates the 
moral discipline, and the strenuous earnest character, imparted 
there. As to the instruction, the thoughtful educator who 
was principal of the Lycurgus House Academy, Archimedes 
Silverpump, Ph.D., you must have heard of him in Germany ? 
had modern views. " We must be men of our age," he used 
.to say. " Useful knowledge, living languages, and the forming 
\of the mind through observation and experiment, these are the 
Fundamental articles of my educational creed." Or as I have 
heard his pupil Bottles put it in his expansive moments after 
ft inner : " Original man, Silverpump ! fine mind ! fine system. 
None of your antiquated rubbish all practical work latest 
discoveries in science mind constantly kept excited lots of 
interesting experiments lights of all colours fizz ! fizz ! 
bang ! bang ! That 's what I call forming a man ! " ' ' And 
pray,' cried Arminius impatiently, ' what sort of man do you 
suppose this infernal quack really formed in your precious 
friend Mr. Bottles ?' ' Well,' I replied, ' I hardly know how 
to answer that question. Bottles has certainly made an 
immense fortune ; but as to Silverptinip's effect on his mind, 
whether it was from any fault in the Lycurgus House system, 
whether it was that with a sturdy self-reliance thoroughly 



x.J MI!. ARNOLD'S PHILOSOPHY. 129 

English, Bottles, ever since he quitted Silverpuinp, left his 
mind wholly to itself, his daily newspaper, and the Particular 
Baptist minister under whom he sat, or from whatever cause 

it was, certainly his mind, qud mind ' * You need not go 

on/ interrupted Arminius, 'I know what that man's mind, 
qnd mind, is, well enough.' " 

I do not think that Matthew Arnold ever surpassed 
this dialogue. The only criticism I should make upon 
it is that the Deceased Wife's Sister Bill got upon his 
nerves, and that he always seemed to regard it as a 
compulsory measure. Public opinion, however, was to 
some extent with him, for it has not yet become law. 



CHAPTER XI. 
MR. ARNOLD'S THEOLOGY. 

IF any formal theologian should cast a roving eye 
over this book, or over this chapter, he will probably 
deny that Mr. Arnold had any theology at all. For 
just as Mr. Frederic Harrison " sought vainly in him a 
system of philosophy with principles coherent, inter 
dependent, subordinate, and derivative," so Mr. 
Gladstone observed, with less pedantry, and more 
humour, that he combined a sincere devotion to the 
/Christian religion with a faculty for presenting it in 
such a form as to be recognisable neither by friend nor 
foe. This is a more "damning sentence," to adopt 
Mr. Arnold's own phrase, than Mr. Harrison's. It 
is indeed the best and tersest criticism ever passed 
upon Mr. Arnold's theological writings. I am not 
: in the least inclined to agree with Mr. Russell, who 
dismisses those writings in a sigh, or with Professor 
Saintsbury, who disposes of them with a sneer. I 
do not understand how a real scholar like Mr. Saints- 
bury can think, that unless the Fourth Gospel is 
"revelation," its date is immaterial, whether that date 
were the first century, the fourth century, or the 
fourteenth. On the contrary, it seems to me that 
Mr. Arnold set before himself a perfectly legitimate, 
and even laudable object, but that with many brilliant 

130 



ni\i. XL] MR. ARNOLD'S THEOLOGY. 131 

qualifications there were fatal obstacles to his success. 
The date of the Gospels, and the history of their 
composition, are not merely interesting in themselves, 
but absolutely essential to the estimate of their 
historical value. Nobody says that the first Decade of 
Livy is " revelation." But its almost total worthless- 
ness as history is mainly, though not entirely, due to 
the distance between the age of Augustus and the age 
of the kings. 

Mr. Arnold's Biblical criticism was not substan- I 
tially original. He availed himself of researches made 
by more learned men, such as Ewald, Gesenius, and 
Kuenen. His treatment of the subject was his own, 
and it was not in all respects fortunate. St. Paul 
and Protestantism is not really a theological book. 
Writing on the 20th of September 1872 to his friend 
M. Fontanes, a French pastor of the broad school, he 
says : " En parlant de St. Paul, je n'ai pas parle en 
theologien, mais en homme de lettres mecontent de 
la tres mauvaise critique litteraire qu'on appliquait 
a un grand esprit; si j'avais parle en theologien on 
ne m'eut pas ecoute." The author of Literature and 
Dogma was certainly heard, and heard with attention, 
though not always with approval. Before, however, 
dealing with that work, I must mention some pre 
liminary matters. In the same letter from which 
I have just quoted, written throughout in French, 
Mr. Arnold refers to a little work on Isaiah just pub 
lished, which was succeeding " well enough." The suc 
cess was not permanent, nor was it of the kind which 
Mr. Arnold especially desired. The Great Prophecy 
of Israel's Restoration was intended for use in ele 
mentary schools. Sir Joshua Fitch informs us that 



132 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

it has never been used in a single school. It has long 
been out of print, and is now exceedingly scarce. It 
contains the last twenty-seven chapters of Isaiah, with 
a long explanatory preface, rather copious notes, 
find a few changes in the English of the Authorised 
Version. Mr. Arnold's purpose was to help English 
school-children in reading these wonderful chapters 
"without being frequently stopped by passages of 
which the meaning is almost or quite unintelligible." 
The little book appeared before the Revised Version 
of the Old Testament was finished, but it cannot be 
said to have been superseded by that translation, for 
one is almost as dead as the other. The Authorised 
Version of the Bible has defects as well as beauties, 
among which the reckless and indiscriminate use of 
pronouns is perhaps the most prominent. But it has 
a hold upon the English people which nothing can 
shake, and Dr. Newman felt its loss more acutely 
than anything else when he left the Church of Eng 
land. " Who hath believed our report 1 " may be an 
obvious mistranslation. But there is no more chance 
of getting rid of it than of expunging "I know that 
my Redeemer liveth" on similar grounds from the 
Book of Job. Still it is a good thing to read these 
chapters as a whole, and they have no connection 
whatsoever with the rest of Isaiah. 

In February 1872 Matthew Arnold's second son 
died at Harrow, aged eighteen, and was buried with 
his two, brothers at Laleham. The following year he 
removed from Harrow, which had too many sad associa 
tions for Mrs. Arnold, and settled at Pain's Hill, 
Cobham, Surrey, which was his home for the remainder 
of his life. 



XL] Mil. ARNOLD'S THEOLOGY. 133 

The publication of Literature and Dogma in 1873 
marks a distinct and definite epoch of Matthew 
Arnold's life. With this book he severed himself from\ 
orthodox Christianity, and even from Unitarianism as I 
commonly understood. He had, indeed, a curious 
dislike of Unitarians, whom he called Socinians, which 
he may have inherited from his father. Yet his own 
creed, if creed it can be called, would have horrified 
Dr. Arnold far more than theirs. For he rejected not i 
merely miracles, but the personality of God. Nor, it \ 
must l)e admitted, did he always express himself in ; 
reverent language, and with a due regard for the feel- I 
ings of others. He gave intense pain to a distinguished 
philanthropist, whose own beliefs were of the straitest, 
by comparing him with the Persons of the Trinity, and 
though he afterwards withdrew this unseemly jest, 
singularly devoid of humour as it was, the bad impres 
sion it created remained, because it was the index to 
a frame of mind. The reference to " the Bishops of 
Winchester and Gloucester" was more pardonable, 
because it was founded on a phrase or phrases used 
by themselves. But it was in bad taste, and the need- 
iless repetition of it is most wearisome. Repetition is/ 
Ithe besetting sin of Mr. Arnold's later prose. It was 
ever the fault of our English nation, said the man who 
knew the English nation best, that when they have 
a good thing they make it too common. Mr. Arnold 
happened early in life to stamp one or two happy 
expressions upon English literature. He was thereby 
encouraged to say a thing over and over again merely 
because he thought it particularly good himself. That 
is bad literature, and even bad journalism, though it 
is, alas, very common. Another tiresome trick which 



134 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHA*. 

grew upon Mr. Arnold with advancing years, was the 
use of the first person plural for the first person 
singular. " We " in a leading article may be defended 
because an article sometimes expresses the writer's 
opinion as well as the editor's. " We " in a book is mere 
affectation, unless there are more authors than one. 

These, however, are superficial criticisms, though 
necessary to be made. The book is one of great power 
and beauty, saturated with religious sentiment, and 
inculcating the loftiest standard of morals. It is, per 
haps, an instance of Nemesis that for once Mr. Arnold's 
humour fails him. The University of Cambridge pro 
vided him with an admirable opportunity by setting 
as a subject for a prize poem the words of Lucretius, 
Hominum divumque voluptas, alma Venus. But he did not 
rise to it. The attempt is a failure. The object of the 
book, on the other hand, is wholly serious, and wholly 
laudable. It is to free Christianity from excrescences 
which, in Mr. Arnold's opinion, had corrupted the essence 
and marred the utility of Christ's teaching. The quota 
tions on the title-page indicate its scope. They are from 
the Vulgate, from Senancour, the author of Obermann, 
and from Bishop Butler. Butler argues, in his weighty 
and dignified manner, that fresh discoveries may be 
made in the interpretation of the Bible, just as they 
are made in the field of natural science. Butler was 
not quite so orthodox as Mr. Gladstone would have 
us suppose. 

No candid mind could, I think, find any fault with 
the aim of Mr. Arnold's theological writings. Goethe 
told Eckermann that he thought his books had given 
men a new and enlarged sense of freedom. That was 
Mr. Arnold's desire, and it is surely a laudable one. 






XL] MR. ARNOLD'S THEOLOGY. 135 

The discussion of his methods is a delicate task. I 
know the heat of the fires which are banked beneath 
those treacherous ashes. Mr. Arnold had become 
alarmed by the attitude of the working classes towards 
jthe Christian faith. He did not know very much 
about the working classes, but some highly cultivated 
artisans read his works, and corresponded with him. 
From them he gathered that the cream of their order, 
the intellectual aristocracy of labour, were rejecting 
all religion because they could not believe in miracles, 
or in the verbal inspiration of the Bible. He thought 
it a grievous thing that people should squabble over 
such a question as disestablishment, while the very 
existence of religion itself was at stake. He therefore 
proceeded to set forth his own ideas of what reason 
able men might hold, and pious men might abandon. 
Popular theology rested on a mistaken conception of \ 
the Bible as a scientific work, whereas the Bible was 1 
literary, not scientific, and could not be broken up \ 
into propositions, like a manual of logic. Religion i 
was concerned with conduct, and conduct hejjuaintly / 
defined as_three-fourths of human lifeT Nothing was' 
so easy to understand as conduct, though nothing was 
harder than always to do right. The truth of religion 
was not to be proved by morals, nor by metaphysics, 
but by personal and practical experiment. "He that - 
doeth my will shall know of the doctrine." This view- 
was not original. Among Mr. Arnold's own contem 
poraries, Dr. Martineau, a member of the despised 
sect, was never tired of urging it. The definition of 
religion as " morality touched by emotion " is happy, 
and the most orthodox Christian might accept it, so far 
as it goes. 



136 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

But Mr. Arnold called upon us to reject a good 
deal in the hope of saving the rest. The proposition 
that "the God of the Universe is a Person" he set 
aside as unprofitable and mischievous. God was the 
Eternal, and the Eternal was the enduring power, not 
ourselves, which makes for righteousness. Therefore 
Mr. Arnold, in quoting the Bible, substituted "the 
Eternal" for "the Lord," which he regarded, Heaven 
knows why, as meaning " a magnified and non-natural 
man." The effect upon the ordinary reader, who 
knows the Authorised Version almost^bjjbeart^is like 
suddenly swallowing a fish-bone. Mr. Arnold seems to 
have been pleased with " the Eternal " from the mouths 
of boys and girls in the Jewish schools he inspected. 
But he forgot that, to say nothing of other considera 
tions, in stately and rhythmical English three syllables 
are very different from one. "Der Aberglaube ist die 
Poesie des Lebens," said Goethe ; "Extra belief is the 
Poetry of Life." Mr. Arnold, who cites this passage 
with approval, nevertheless proposes to get rid of 
the poetry by the rationalism of faith. He points out 
that a belief in the nearness of the Second Advent 
was universal among early Christians, including the 
Apostles, and that some of the words attributed to 
Christ can hardly be construed in any other sense. 
He shows that St. Paul interpreted Hebrew prophecy 
in a manner which will not bear examination, that 
Christ was far above His reporters, who may possibly 
have misunderstood Him, and that the Zeit-Geist, the 
Time-Spirit, has made belief in miracles impossible. 
"The Kingdom of God is within you " was the essence 
of the true gospel. The method and secret of Jesus 
were repentance and peace. He "restored the intui- 



XL] MR. ARNOLD'S THEOLOGY. 137 

tion" which belonged to Israel, though what this 
intuition is does not very clearly appear. "God is 
a spirit " means "God is an influence," the influence 
which preserves us against faults of temper, and faults 
of sensuality. The supposed variance between St. Paul 
and St. James is a mistake (here Mr. Arnold becomes 
unexpectedly orthodox). Works without faith are as 
futile as faith without works. " Neither circumcision 
availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but the keeping 
of the Commandments of God." 

To all which it may of course be said, that Mr. 
Arnold could not pick and choose. Christ's teaching 
must be taken as a whole, or as we have it. If He 
did not say, " Go ye and teach all nations," how do we 
know that He said, "I am the resurrection and the 
life " ? If He did not say, " Destroy this temple, and I 
will build it again in three days," how do we know 
that He said, " Blessed are the meek " ? Once begin 
to tamper with the record, and you saw the branch on 
which you are sitting between yourself and the tree. 
According to this emphatic and uncritical but not 
illogical creed, the whole of the New Testament must 
stand or fall together. The resurrection cannot in 
deed be put on the same footing as the crucifixion, 
because the crucifixion is in Tacitus. The miracle of the 
Gadarene swine cannot be bracketed with the Sermon 
on the Mount, because the Sermon on the Mount must 
have been composed by some one, though the swine 
never existed at all, or never left their pastures. But 
unless we believe that Christ said exactly what is 
attributed to Him in the gospels at the precise time 
and in the precise place there given, we must regard 
Him as a purely mythical personage. Mr. Arnold 



1S3 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

would have replied that Christ did not speak Greek, 
the most metaphysical, but Aramaic, the plainest of 
languages ; that ideas have therefore been imputed 
to Him which He never intended ; that the authority 
of the sayings reported to have been uttered after 
His death cannot be as high as if that event had 
not occurred ; that both the date and the authorship of 
the Fourth Gospel are obscure ; and that it is a function 
of true criticism to reject particular expressions incon 
sistent with ascertained character or style. He might 
have materially strengthened his position (I do not say 
that he would have established it) by a comparison of 
Christianity and Buddhism as they originally were with 
what they afterwards became. 

Some of Mr. Arnold's judgments are remarkably 
penetrating and shrewd. Such, for instance, is the 
description of Frederick Maurice, "that pure and 
devout spirit, of whom, however, the truth must at 
last be said, that in theology he passed his life beating 
the bush with deep emotion, and never starting the 
hare." So, too, of the three creeds. It may be irre 
verent, but it is exceedingly clever from Mr. Arnold's 
point of view, to call them popular science, learned 
science, and learned science with a strong dash of 
temper. To Mr. Arnold all creeds were anathema. 
He could not away with them. The Apostles' was as 
bad as the Nicene, and the Nicene no better than the 
Athanasian. Yet that he never lost his hold upon 
vital religion is surely clear from the fine passage on 
the 102nd page of the first edition, where he says that 
though religion makes for men's happiness, it does not 
rest upon that as a motive, but " finds a far surer 
ground in personal devotion to Christ, who brought the 



XL] MR. ARNOLD'S THEOLOGY. 139 

doctrine to His disciples and made a passage for it into 
their hearts; in believing that Christ is come from 
God, following Christ, loving Christ. And in the 
happiness which this believing in Him, following 
Him, and loving Him gives, it finds the mightiest of 
sanctions." Literature and Dogma never rises to the 
level of Ecce Homo either in substance or in style. It 
is less high, less deep, less penetrating, less sympathetic. 
But its moral and intellectual honesty is stamped upon 
every page. 

The storm which raged round Literature and Dogma 
found an echo even in the family circle. He had to 
defend himself to his sister Fanny, and he did so in 
words as unquestionably dignified as they are obviously 
sincere. " There is a levity," he says (Letters, vol. ii. 
page 120), " which is altogether evil; but to treat 
miracles and the common anthropomorphic ideas of God 
as what one may lose and yet keep one's hope, courage, 
and joy, as what are not really matters of life and 
death in the keeping or losing of them, this is desirable 
and necessary, if one holds, as I do, that the common 
anthropomorphic idea of God and the reliance on 
miracles must and will inevitably pass away." That 
is an accurate summary of Mr. Arnold's position, which 
was further developed in God and the Bible (1875). 
This work, reprinted from the Contemporary fievieiu, is 
a sequel to Literature and Dogma, and a reply to its 
critics. There is no levity in God and the Bible, nor is 
it entirely destructive. For while the first part aims 
at separating Christianity from the God of Miracles 
and the God of Metaphysics, the second part is directed 
against those German Rationalists who regard the 
Fourth Gospel as an elaborate fiction in the style 



140 MATTHEW ARNOLD. 

of Plato. "Religion," says Lord Salisbury in his 
incisive way, "can no more be separated from dogma 
than light from the sun." And on this point Mr. 
Gladstone would have completely agreed with him. 
But even the rare concurrence of two political opposites 
cannot alter the fact that in all ages of the world's 
history dogma has been a matter of indifference, or 
even of active dislike, to profoundly religious minds. 
To them Mr. Arnold appealed without the fervent 
piety of Archbishop Leighton, but at the same time 
with an earnest, almost passionate, desire to save 
spirituality from the onward rush of materialism. Of 
the Euhemeristic method, which makes merely quanti 
tative concession, he speaks with scorn. "It is as if 
we were startled by the extravagance of supposing 
Cinderella's fairy godmother to have actually changed 
the pumpkin into a coach and six, but should suggest 
that she really did change it into a one-horse cab." 
But in his metaphysical chapter he involves himself 
in speculations almost as fanciful. He advises his 
disciples, the readers who ran Literature and Dogma 
through so many editions in so short a time, not to use 
the word "being," or any of its tenses, when they 
speak about God. For the Greek verb dpi, it seems, 
is derived from a Sanskrit root which signifies the act 
of breathing, and is purely phsenomenal in the proper 
sense of that much abused term. But this is like 
the discovery, true or fancied, that the word God 
means "shining." Qui hceret in liter a hceret in cortice. 
Etymology only proves itself. Mr. Arnold makes 
great play with the criticism that Literature and Dogma 
was wanting in "vigour and rigour." But he cer 
tainly disposes of Descartes's Coyito, ergo sum in a 



xi.] MR. ARNOLD'S THEOLOGY. 141 

rigorous and vigorous fashion enough. Self-conscious 
ness is more than breathing, and no mere philologist 
can explain it away. Mr. Arnold is on much firmer 
ground when he deals with the historic materials for 
the life of Christ. " The record," he says, " when we 
first get it, has passed through at least half a century 
or more of oral tradition, and through more than one 
written account." Mr. Arnold's view, and since his time 
the learned Professor Harnack's view, of the Fourth! 
Gospel is that St. John was the original source from! 
which the sayings attributed to Christ in it come, but| 
that he did not write the Gospel, that he was not 
responsible for the form of it, and that spurious 
sayings, or logia t of Christ were mixed up with those 
which are genuine. "We might," says Mr. Arnold, 
"go through the Fourth Gospel chapter by chapter, 
and endeavour to assign to each and all of the logia in 
it their right character to determine what in them is 
probably Jesus, and what is the combining, repeating, 
and expanding Greek editor. But this would be 
foreign to our object." Vigorous and rigorous enough. 
But nobody, notjrven Prof ^essor ffarnack, can know as 
much as that. This Greek editor is an imaginary 
personage. He may have existed, or he may not. 
Mr. Arnold's service to Biblical criticism lies not in 
inventing him, but in showing how much more the 
interpretation of the Bible is a literary than a meta 
physical task. 

Last Essays on Church and Religion (1877) do what 
their name implies. They close the chapter of Mr. 
Arnold's theology, and may fitly close this chapter of 
mine. They are chiefly interesting for a thoughtful 
and appropriate study of Bishop Butler, originally 



142 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

delivered in the form of two lectures to the Philoso 
phical Institution at Edinburgh. The effect of these 
essays upon my mind is not precisely what Mr. Arnold 
intended it to be. " Bishop Butler and the Zeit-Geist " 
he called them. The Zeit-Geist in Mr. Arnold's hands, 
like the " Etre Supreme " in Robespierre's, began to be 
a bore. The picture of the great Bishop, or rather of 
the great man who happened to be a Bishop, drawn 
with Mr. Arnold's winning and prepossessing grace, 
allures and at the same time awes the beholder. It 
helps me at least to understand the supremacy of 
Butler at Oxford in Mr. Arnold's time, and in Mr. 
Gladstone's. True it is that Butler did not grapple, 
did not pretend to grapple, with the root of the 
question. He assumed not merely the existence of 
God, but the existence of a future life. He laid him 
self open to the logically unanswerable reply of Hume, 
that more cannot be put into the conclusion than is 
contained in the premisses, and that therefore a world 
constructed by analogy cannot be better than this, 
though it may be as good. It is possible that Butler 
has made other people atheists besides James Mill. 
Mr. Arnold says, truly enough, that the Analogy 
was aimed at the mob of freethinkers and loose livers 
who frequented Queen Caroline's routs, to whom 
Shaftesbury's Characteristics were the last word of 
philosophy. But if we put aside all that, what a 
wonderful figure remains. " To me," says Mr. Goldwin 
Smith, "an episcopal philosopher is a philosopher and 
nothing more ; a dead bishop is a dead man." Granted. 
But what a man, and what a philosopher, is Butler. 
He walked through the gay throng at St. James's, he 
preached to the fashionable congregation at the Rolls' 



XL] MR. ARNOLD'S THEOLOGY. 143 

Chapel like a being from another world. He paid 
them no compliments. He offered them no congratu 
lations. He told them the realities of things. " Things 
are what they are, and the consequences of them will 
be what they will be ; why then should we desire to 
be deceived ? " Like Pascal, he was profoundly im 
pressed with the littleness of human nature, and the 
vanity of all earthly concerns. He exposed with pitiless 
accuracy the springs and motives of men's conduct. 
Without a trace of humour, he made frivolity ridicu 
lous. He almost worshipped reason. Reason, he said, 
was the only faculty by which we could judge the 
claims even of Revelation itself. Yet this cold, 
passionless critic was full of benevolence, abounding 
in charity to the poor, and so devoted to works of 
mystical piety that he earned, or at least acquired, the 
reputation of a Papist. But this is not a life of 
Bishop Butler. 

In the preface to this volume Mr. Arnold is more 
than usually explicit about his own creed. " I believe," 
he says, " that Christianity will survive because of its 
natural truth. Those who fancied that they had done 
with it, those who had thrown it aside because what 
was presented to them under its name was so un- 
receivable, will have to return to it again, and to learn 
it better." He pleads eloquently for some "great 
soul " to arise, and purge the ore of Christianity from 
the dross. "But," as he adds somewhat bitterly, "to 
rule over the moment and the credulous has more 
attraction than to work for the future and the sane." 
It is, however, sometimes rather difficult to know what 
he would be at. For in his address to the London 
clergy at Sion College he gravely argues that the State 



144 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. xi. 



adopt "some form of religion or other that 
' which seems best suited to the majority." The London 
clergy showed him no little kindness, and politely 
made as though they agreed with him. But they 
must have been a little staggered by this Parliamentary 
view of the faith. It reminds one of the American 
who said, in the course of a discussion upon eternal 
punishment, " Well, all I can say is, that our people 
would never stand it." 

/ A higher conception of the Established Church may 
be found on page 37 of these Essays, where he says 
that it "is to be considered as a national Christian 
society for the promotion of goodness, to which a man 
cannot but wish well, and in which he might rejoice to 
minister." Mr. Arnold did not write for those who 
were satisfied with the popular theology. He wrote 
for those who were not. His object was not to disturb 
any one's faith, but to convince those who could not 
believe in the performance of miracles, or the fulfilment 

-?c of prophecies, that they need not therefore become 
materialists. He could quote many texts on his side, 
as for instance, "Except I do signs and wonders ye 
will not believe," and " The Kingdom of God is within 

* you." The occasional flippancy of Literature and 
\ Dogma, however deplorable, is a small thing compared 
Ji with the warfare against^ ignorance anji-grQSsne_ss 

J J which Mr. ArnoMTiieveFceased^ to wage. 



CHAPTER XII. 
MR. ARNOLD'S POLITICS. 

IN politics Matthew Arnold was a Liberal Conservative 
which, as Lord John Russell remarked, says in seven 
syllables what Whig says in one. His patron, Lord 
Lansdowne, was a Whig of the purest water, equally 
afraid of moving and of standing still. Mr. Arnold 
himself was never a candidate for Parliament. Even if 
he had been disposed to take part in the " Thyestean 
banquet of clap-trap," his position as a member of the 
Civil Service would have prevented him. But his 
practical interest in politics, always keen, increased 
with age, and during the year before his death he con 
tributed to the Nineteenth Century a series of articles 
on the Session of 1887. When he left off dabbling in 
theology, politics absorbed him more and more. They 
promised quicker returns. "Perhaps," he wrote to 
Mr. Grant Duff, on the 22nd of August 1879, " perhaps 
we shall end our days in the tail of a rising current of 
popular religion, both ritual and dogmatic." With 
that feeling, which I suspect was stronger than the 
expression of it, Mr. Arnold turned to more mundane 
matters. No one knew better how to deliver himself, 
as Shakespeare says, like a man of this world. His 
long experience of official work had made him 
thoroughly practical. He had received from nature a 



146 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

keen eye for the central point of a case, and a power 
of lucid exposition which is the most formidable of all 
arguments. Of working men, as I have said, he knew 
\very little, though many of them read and appreciated 
'his books. But with the upper and middle classes of 
society, their principles and prejudices, their faults and 
failings, he was thoroughly well acquainted. Nothing 
in his life is more honourable to him than the persistent 
efforts which he made, for more than twenty years, to 
1 get a decent system of secondary education established 
in this country. Only now, when he has been dead 
nearly fourteen years, is this question being really 
taken up in a practical spirit by a responsible Govern 
ment. On the other hand, he seldom mentions 
political dissenters, whose importance he recognised, 
except in terms of caricature ; and of the great driving 
force which, apart from his more conspicuous accom 
plishments, Mr. Gladstone wielded, he had a most 
imperfect idea He took the superficial view of Whig 
coteries that the author of the Irish Land Acts, and 
the greatest financier of the age, was a rhetorical 
sophist, a man of words and phrases, not of business 
and its execution. This view finds frequent utterance 
in the second volume of the published Letters. The 
piety or prudence of Mr. George Russell has in most 
instances suppressed the name of his former chief; 
but a schoolboy far less intelligent than Macaulay's 
would find no difficulty in filling the blank. 

Mr. Arnold's first incursion into practical politics 
was not a fortunate one. He was a strong, almost a 
fanatical, opponent of the Burials Bill. He did not 
take the line, logically unassailable, that an Established 
Church comprises the whole nation, that all its rites, 



xii.] MR. ARNOLD'S POLITICS. 147 

including the Burial Service, are national, and that 
as Dissenters were entitled to burial in national 
cemeteries with national rites, they had no grievance. 
If he had been a true Erastian, that is what he would 
have safd. But he chose to argue that the permission 
of other services would produce scandal, would be, as 
he repeated about fifty times, like the substitution for 
a reading from Milton of a reading from Eliza Cook. 
The twenty-three years that have elapsed since the 
Burials Bill received the Royal assent have completely 
falsified this gloomy prediction. No statute has 
worked more smoothly. Even the foolish clergymen 
who discovered to their delight that it did not compel 
them to let the bell be tolled for a schismatic have 
long since ceased to excite any interest. That the Act 
is inconsistent with the principle of an Established 
Church seems to me clear. But the people of England, 
though just, are not logical, and the removal of this 
grievance, which was really part of a much larger one, 
made the larger one more difficult to redress. Like 
many freethinkers, Mr. Arnold had a horror of dis 
establishment. He was opposed to it even in Ireland, 
where the nature of things might be said to demand 
it. The last fifteen years have vindicated his belief 
that in England public opinion was against it, and 
that the political power of Nonconformity was on the 
decline. 

Mr. Arnold's volume of Mixed Essays an unhappy 
title, suggesting biscuits contains two or three which 
may be classed as political, and which are therefore fit 
to be treated here. "Equality" is an elaborate 
argument, which never took any hold upon the 
English people, against freedom of bequest. Mr.!' 



148 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

Arnold had the support of Mill, but he had riot the 
support of the public. He saw clearly enough that 
the Real Estates Intestacy Bill, with which Liberals 
used to play, would have had no practical result, for a 
man who wanted to defeat it had only to make a will. 
There is much to be said for his case. The earth, as 
Turgot put it, belongs to the living, and not to the 
dead. It is no infringement of human liberty to 
prevent a man from fettering those who come after 
him. But this is a subject on which the most eloquent 
I and the most profound philosophers would contend in 
| vain with the_customs and instincts of the English 
- people. They did not mind Lord Cairns's Settled 
Land Act, which enables the owner of a life interest in 
land to sell it if he invests the money for the benefit 
of the reversioner. They would perhaps tolerate the 
complete abolition of all limited ownership in land. But 
of the compulsory division of property after death, which 
prevails on the Continent, they will not hear. Mr. Arnold 
tells an amusing story of an American who was asked 
what could be done in the United States, with its freedom 
of bequest, if a great landed estate were strictly entailed. 
The American replied, with more humour than candour, 
I that the will could be set aside on the ground of 
I insanity. Such is the difference of sentiment between 
I the old country and the new. In this case Mr. Arnold 
rode his hobby too hard. The feudal origin of our 
land laws is indisputable, and their practical incon 
veniences are numerous. Yet it is not freedom of 
bequest, it is influences far more subtle and profound, 
which have "the natural and necessary effect under 
present circumstances of materialising our upper class, 
vulgarising our middle class, and brutalising our lower 



xii.] MR. ARNOLD'S POLITICS. 140 

class." But, indeed, vulgarity is confined to no class. 
It is, and always must be, a property of the individual. 
" I do not," Mr. Arnold wrote (Mixed Essays, 2nd Ed. | 
p. 108), " I do not profess to be a politician, but simply I 
one of a disinterested class of observers, who, with no 1 
organised and embodied set of supporters to please, set 1 
themselves to observe honestly and to report faithfully | 
the state and prospects of our civilisation. " This passage, 
which fairly and modestly describes himself, is taken 
from his admirable essay on "Irish Catholicism and 
British Liberalism," in which Mr. Bright entirely con 
curred. Unlike freedom of bequest, this subject is full of 
vivid interest and high import at the present time. An 
Irish Catholic University, for which Mr. Arnold pleads, 
is the subject of the best and most thoughtful speeches 
Mr. Balfour has ever delivered. It is a point upon 
which he and Mr. Morley quite agree. A Eoyal Com 
mission was appointed to consider it last year, and 
though no Government will take it up, it has enlisted 
the sympathies of eminent men on both sides of 
politics. The question is beset with difficulties, and 
cannot be settled oifhaud by any formula. One of 
these difficulties is how a Catholic University should 
be defined. For Trinity College, Dublin, is a Catholic 
University in the sense that it admits Catholics, if only 
they would go there. And for a Catholic University 
endowed with public money but inaccessible to Pro 
testants nobody asks. Mr. Arnold answers the 
question in a sentence. " I call Strasburg a Protestant 
and Bonn a Catholic University in this sense : that 
religion and the matters mixed up with religion are 
taught in the one by Protestants and in the other by 
Catholics.'' In this essay Mr. Arnold intimates his 



150 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

opinion that " the prevailing form for the Christianity 
of the future will be the form of Catholicism ; but a 
Catholicism purged, opening itself to the light and 
air, having the consciousness of its own poetry, freed 
from its sacerdotal despotism, and freed from its 
pseudo-scientific apparatus of superannuated dogma." 
It hardly seems probable. But the curtains of the future 
hang. The Professors in Mr. Arnold's University 
would be " nominated and removed not by the bishops, 
but by a responsible minister of State acting for the 
Irish nation itself." A minister of what State 1 This 
simple question, which Mr. Arnold does not answer, 
raises the whole issue of Home Rule. Mr. Arnold was 
very anxious that a religious census should be taken 
in England, as it is in Ireland. In Ireland everybody 
is either a Catholic or a Protestant, and nobody 
attempts to conceal which he is, bad as his Protestant 
ism or his Catholicism may be. In England such a 
census would be fallacious, because persons holding 
Matthew Arnold's religious opinions would describe 
themselves on the census-paper as Churchmen. 

In three essays, besides his official Reports, Mr. 
Arnold pleaded earnestly for the establishment in the 
United Kingdom of secondary or intermediate schools. 
One of them is in Mixed Essays, the other is in Irish 
Essays, of which I shall have more to say in connection 
with Ireland. One of them is called "An Unregarded 
Irish Grievance." The other two have the quaint 
titles taken from the Vulgate, of which Matthew 
Arnold was almost as fond as Bacon, " Porro unum est 
necessarium," "But one Thing is Needful"; and 
"Ecce Convertimur ad Gentes," "Lo, we turn to the 
Gentiles." This last was a lecture delivered to the 



xn.l MR. ARNOLD'S POLITICS. 151 

AVorking Men's College at Ipswich, and the Gentiles 
were the working classes, whose interest in the subject 
Mr. Arnold wished to arouse. All these essays deserve 
the most careful study. They were written by a 
master of his subject, they are as full of knowledge as 
of zeal, they are eminently practical, and they have 
the most direct bearing upon the politics of the day. 
The course of events has in this matter fully justified 
Mr. Arnold, who was wiser than the statesmen, and 
ahead of his time. In his address at Ipswich he took 
another dip into the future which also showed his 
prescience. "No one in England," he said, " seems 
to imagine that municipal government is applicable 
except in towns." And he went on to suggest the 
policy, since carried out by both political parties, in 
the form of County and District and Parish Councils. 

In the preface to Irish Essays, dated 1882, Mr. 
Arnold says that " practical politicians and men of the 
world are apt rather to resent the incursion of a man 
of letters into the field of politics." They only resent 
it when he does not take their side. Both Unionists 
and Home Rulers were always boasting of their 
literary supporters in the great controversy of 1886. 
But it must be admitted that the wise men of the 
study do not always see further ahead than the mere 
politicians of the market-place. Writing, in French, 
to M. Fontanes on the 22nd of September 1882, Mr. 
Arnold says, "The English army will leave Egypt." 
The process of departure has been slow. fet*J" #XAdTW^p 

Whatever Mr. Arnold wrote about Ireland is worth 
serious attention. He took for his master Burke, ] 
perhaps the greatest intellect of the eighteenth] 
century, certainly the greatest intellect concerned with' 



152 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

Irish affairs. For Burke, though an expatriated Irish 
man, never lost his love of Ireland, and understood 
her thoroughly. Himself a Protestant, his wife was a 
Catholic, as his mother had been, and though he had 
plenty of bigotry in politics, from religious bigotry he 
was free. The great change produced upon him by 
events in France did not affect his Irish policy, and to the 
day of his death he supported Catholic Emancipation. 
Whether, if he had lived three years longer, he would 
have been in favour of a Union, we cannot certainly 
tell. That he would not have voted for it without 
emancipation we may be sure. Mr. Arnold, I think, 
failed to appreciate the greatness of the reform 
effected by the Land Act of 1881. But his acute 
analysis of its influence upon Irish opinion is quite in 
Burke's manner. Ministers, he says, declared their 
belief that there were very few extortionate landlords 
in Ireland. But the Act has led to a general reduc 
tion of rents. Therefore the Irish people will say, 
" We owe you no thanks ; you have done us justice 
without meaning it. You could not help it, our case 
was so strong." "Burke," says Mr. Arnold, truly and 
finely, " Burke is, it seems to me, the greatest of 
English statesmen in this sense at any rate : that he is 
the only one who traces the reason of things in politics, 
and enables us to trace it too." Mr. Arnold aimed at 
following that good example, and when he failed, it 
was because he had not, like Burke, the political 
training which no amount of cleverness can altogether 
supply. In one of the two essays on "The Incom- 
patibles " he says, acutely enough, " Our aristocratic 
class does not firmly protest against the unfair treat 
ment of Irish Catholicism, because it is nervous about 



xii.] MR. ARNOLD'S POLITICS. 153 

the land. Our middle class does riot firmly insist 
on breaking with the old evil system of Irish land 
lordism, because it is nervous about Popery." In the 
other he says that the English are "just, but not 
amiable," which, if not strictly and literally true, is at 
least worth thinking about. But, on the other hand, 
it was not practical politics, nor yet common sense, to 
suggest that instead of giving Irish tenants fair rent, 
free sale, and fixity of tenure, Irish landlords should 
be bought out if, in the opinions of Lord Coleridge 
and Mr. Samuel Morley, they deserved to be. Mr. 
Arnold's essay on Copyright is chiefly remarkable for 
its advocacy of international copyright with the United 
States on terms since obtained, and its repudiation of 
Lord Farrer's theory, supported by Mr. Gladstone, that 
authors could rely upon royalties. But " The Future of 
Liberalism " contains what seems to me a fundamental 
misconception on Mr. Arnold's part, and a fruitful 
parent of error. "In general," he says, "the mind of 
the country is, as I have already said, profoundly 
Liberal." Mr. Arnold was apt to think, with the 
bellman in the Hunting of the Snark, that what he 
told you three times was true. England is not pro 
foundly Liberal, and never was. She is profoundly 
Conservative, and always has been. There was an out 
burst of Liberalism in the early Thirties, caused partly 
by the Revolution of 1830 in France, and partly by the 
intolerable absurdities of our representative system. 
Mr. Gladstone had the power of rousing extraordinary 
enthusiasm on behalf of particular policies at particular 
times. But these are the exceptions to the rule, which 
is patient acquiescence in things as they are. That 
is why most of the wisest Englishmen have been 



154 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

Liberals. There is no risk of too rapid progress in 
England. The danger is the other way. 

It must, I think, be reckoned one of the few mis 
fortunes in a most happy life that Matthew Arnold 
should have been tempted to visit America as a public 
lecturer. No doubt the temptation was great. Mr. 
Arnold's means were moderate, and he had to provide 
for his family as well as for himself. His own tastes 
were of the simplest, and he was the most contented 
of men. But a large sum of money was a consideration 
to him, while both he and his wife had always been 
fond of travelling. So in the autumn of 1883 they 
went. Of course they were most warmly greeted, and 
most hospitably entertained. But the lecturing was 
not a success. Major Pond, in his Eccentricities of 
Genius, says, "Matthew Arnold came to this country 
and gave one hundred lectures. Nobody ever heard any 
of them, not even those sitting in the front row." He 
adds that General Grant, who attended the first lecture 
in Chickering Hall, New York, was overheard to say 
after a few minutes, "Well, wife, we have paid to see 
the British lion ; we cannot hear him roar, so we had 
better go home." This explains a passage in Mr. 
Arnold's letter to his sister Fanny, dated the 8th 
of November 1883, in which the General is repre 
sented as calling at the office of the Tribune "to thank 
them for their good report of the main points of my 
lecture, as he had thought the line taken so very 
important, but had heard imperfectly." Although he 
had been a Professor at Oxford, Mr. Arnold was not 
accustomed to address crowded audiences in large 
halls, and he did not understand the management of 
his voice. He took lessons in elocution at Boston, 



xii.] MR. ARNOLD'S POLITICS. 155 

but at the age of sixty it was late to learn, and the 
thing was not in his line. He took it, as he took 
everything, with invincible cheerfulness and good- 
humour. But it has a rather grotesque effect to read 
in a letter to his younger daughter, written from the 
Union Club, Chicago, on the 21st of January 1884, 
" We have had a week of good houses (I consider myself 
now as an actor, for my managers take me about with 
theatrical tickets, at reduced rates, over the railways, 
and the tickets have Matthew Arnold troupe printed on 
them)." Lord Coleridge and Sir Henry Irving, who 
were both there at the same time with him, were both 
in their respective places, but one feels that Matthew 
Arnold was out of place. He enjoyed himself of 
course, he always did. I remember the delight with 
which he told me of his invitation from Mr. Phineas 
Barnum, "the greatest showman on earth." "You, 
Mr. Arnold," wrote the great man, "are a celebrity, I 
am a notoriety; we ought to be acquainted." "I 
couldn't go," remarked Mr. Arnold, "but it was very 
nice of him." Matthew Arnold told Mr. George 
Russell that Discourses in America^ published by j 
Macmillan in 1885, was the book of all others by j 
which he should most wish to be remembered. It 
consists of three lectures, but the only one which 
can be called political is the first, on "Numbers, or 
the Majority and the Remnant." The argument of this 
essay is as follows. The majority are always wrong ; 
the remnant are always right. Isaiah represented the 
remnant of Israel; Plato represented the remnant of 
Athens. In both cases the State was so small that 
the remnant were not numerous enough to do any 
good. In the United States the population is so large 



156 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

that the remnant must be sufficient, and the United 
States are therefore safe. I cannot suppose that this 
was anything but elaborate irony on Mr. Arnold's 
part, or that his more intelligent hearers were un 
conscious of the fact. But there were many digressions. 
It is here that he rebukes his old friends the French 
for their worship of "the great goddess Lubricity," 
called by the Greeks Aselgeia, and describes Victor 
Hugo in one of his least felicitous phrases as "the 
average sensual man impassioned and grandiloquent." 
The greatest of French dramatists since Moliere is 
singularly free from the fault which Mr. Arnold here 
reprehends. 

This was not Mr. Arnold's last visit to the United 
States, where his elder daughter married and settled. 
He went there again in 1886, and arrived at the 
singular conclusion that all the best opinion of 
America, the opinion of the "remnant," was hostile 
to the Irish policy of Mr. Gladstone. Truly the 
eye sees what it brings with it the power of seeing. 
This is not the place in which to discuss whether 
Home Rule for Ireland would be a good thing or a 
bad. That the majority of intelligent and cultivated 
Americans thought it in 1886, as they think it now, to 
be a good thing, there can be no doubt whatever. 
Although he had American friends, whom he valued 
and appreciated, Mr. Arnold did not altogether like 
America. In the Nineteenth Century for April 1888, 
the year and month of his death, may be seen his 
final judgment on the subject. He had written 
the year before for his nephew, Mr. Edward Arnold, 
then editor of Murray's Magazine, two articles on 
the rather dull Memoirs of General Grant, whom, 



xii.] MR. ARNOLD'S POLITICS. 157 

in one of his freaks of waywardness, ho pronounced 
superior to Lincoln. Lincoln, it seems, the author of 
the speech at Gettysburg and the Second Inaugural, 
had no "distinction." Happy the nation where such 
classic eloquence is not distinguished. Mr. Arnold's 
last word on American life is the word " uninteresting." 
"The mere nomenclature of the country acts upon a 
cultivated person like the incessant pricking of pins." 
The "funny man" is a "national misfortune." So 
he is here. And, after all, Mark Twain is better 
than Ally Sloper. Mr. Arnold's criticism of what 
was unsound in American institutions and manners 
would have been more effective if he had had, like 
Mr. Bryce, more sympathy with what was sound 
in them. 

Any survey of Matthew Arnold's politics would be 
incomplete without a reference to his opinions on 
Home Rule. To Mr. Gladstone's Home Rule Bill of 
1886 he was decidedly opposed. Both before and after 
the General Election of that year he wrote to the 
Times a strong protest against the policy embodied in 
it. These letters, except for the personal animosity 
to Mr. Gladstone which the second displays, are 
wholly admirable in tone and temper. In them 
Mr. Arnold admits to the full the grievances of Ireland 
against England, and calls for their redress. Only he 
would redress them, not by a " separate Parliament,' 
but by a "rational and equitable system of govern 
ment." Lord Salisbury's policy of coercion suited him 
as little as Mr. Gladstone's policy of repeal. He 
proposed that the local government of Ireland should 
be thoroughly overhauled and made truly popular, 
even before such a system was introduced into the 



158 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP, xit 

rest of the United Kingdom. These letters show 
the Whig spirit at its best, and are thoroughly 
characteristic of Mr. Arnold. He followed them up 
the next year with three articles in the Nineteenth 
Century called respectively " The Zenith of Con 
servatism," "Up to Easter," and "From Easter to 
August." In these, while giving a general support 
to the Government of Lord Salisbury, he showed 
himself to be a very bad Unionist from the strictly 
orthodox point of view; for he proposed that there 
should be not a single Irish Parliament, but two Irish 
Parliaments, of which one should legislate for the 
North and the other for the South. The fact is, it 
was not Home Kule, but Gladstone's Home Rule, that 
Matthew Arnold disliked. Indeed, one might almost 
say that it was not Home Rule, but Gladstone. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

THE AFTERMATH. 

DURING the last twenty years of his life Matthew 
Arnold wrote very little poetry ; but the little he did 
write was very good There are lines in " Westminster 
Abbey " which he never surpassed, and a few which, 
in my opinion, he never equalled. This beautiful 
poem was composed in memory of Dean Stanley, and 
it could have had no worthier subject. For Stanley, 
Mr. Arnold's lifelong friend, was not merely the 
courtly ecclesiastic, the scholarly divine; he was the 
chivalrous defender of all causes and of all persons, 
however unpopular for the moment, that stood for 
freedom, charity, and truth. If the spirit of Dean 
Stanley had always dominated the Establishment, the 
Liberation Society would never have been formed. 
The chapter in Mrs. Besant's Autobiography describing 
Dr. Stanley is a noble picture of what a Christian 
minister should be. He delighted in all the traditions 
of his Abbey, and Mr. Arnold happily chose to connect 
with him the beautiful legend which tells of its mystic 
consecration by St. Peter himself. In spite of the fact 
that these sonorous stanzas recall Milton's great Ode 
on the Nativity, they are not disappointing ; they have 
the note of the grand style 

159 



160 MATTHEW ARNOLD [CHAP, 

" Kough was the winter eve ; 
Their craft the fishers leave, 
And down over the Thames the darkness drew. 
One still lags last, and turns, and eyes the Pile 
Huge in the gloom, across in Thorney Isle, 
King Sebert's work, the wondrous Minster new. 

'Tia Lambeth now, where then 
They moor'd their boats among the bulrush stems ; 

And that new Minster in tho matted fen 
The world-famed Abbey by the westering Thames.'* 

These verses deserve to be called Miltonic, even if 
they have not the inimitable touch of the master. 

But it is the later lines about Demophoon, "the 
charm'd babe of the Eleusinian king," which I should 
be disposed to select as the high-water mark ol 
Matthew Arnold's poetry. They haunt the memory 
with that ineffaceable charm which belongs only to the 
highest order of poetical expression 

" The Boy his nurse forgot, 

And bore a mortal lot. 

Long since, his name is heard on earth no more. 
In some chance battle on Cithaeron's side 
The nursling of the Mighty Mother died, 
And went where all his fathers went before." 

Here one might well take leave of Matthew Arnold's 
poems, and pass to those literary essays which he wrote 
in the full maturity of his knowledge and his power. 
For, happy in so many things, he was happiest of all 
in this, that no bodily sense, and no mental faculty, 
ever suffered in him the smallest abatement. But I 
cannot omit all mention of the pretty, facile lyrics 
in which he paid tribute to his beloved dogs and 
birds. I reier, of course, to " Geist's Grave," to "Poor 



xiii.] THE AFTERiMATH. 161 

Matthias," and to " Kaiser Dead." Geist was a Dachs 
hund, Kaiser a mixture of Dachshund and collie. 
Matthias was a canary. " Geist's Grave," is by far tho 
best of the three, and contains at least two excellent 
stanzas 

" That loving heart, that patient soul, 
Had they indeed no longer span, 
To run their course, and reach their goal, 
And read their homily to man ? 

That liquid, melancholy eye, 
From whose pathetic, soul-fed springs 
Seem'd surging the Virgilian cry, 
The sense of tears in mortal things." 

The literary criticism produced by Mr. Arnold in the 
last ten years of his life possesses the highest interest 
and value. It ranges over a great variety of topics, 
it represents the writer's profoundest mind, it comes 
next after his poetry in a comparative estimate of what 
he left to the world. In dealing with politics, or 
with theology, Mr. Arnold never moved with the same 
ease as in the realm of pure literature, which was 
his own. He loved to take a book, like Mr. Stopford 
Brooke's excellent Primer of English Literature, and 
in criticising it to express his own opinions. He pro 
tested, quite justly, and by no means unnecessarily, 
against the foolish idolatry which admires without 
discrimination everything in a volume labelled 
" Shakespeare." For it is certain that if Shakespeare 
wrote all the plays and all the scenes attributed to 
him, he wrote some very poor stuff. But when Mr. 
Arnold says of him, not in substance for the first or 
last time, "He is the richest, the most wonderful, the 
most powerful, the most delightful of poets ; he is not 

L 



162 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

altogether, nor even eminently, an artist " (Mixed 
Essays, 2nd Ed. p. 194), he provokes antagonism. 
There is more in the sonnets than art could have put 
there. But poems more consummately artistic never 
came from a human brain and heart. It is, however, 
a fascinating essay, this on Mr. Brooke's Primer, and 
so is another in the same volume on Falkland, the 
famous Lord Falkland immortalised by Clarendon. 
Yet Falkland is perhaps not most judiciously praised 
(and highly does Mr. Arnold praise him) by comparing 
him with Bolingbroke, whose levity and insincerity 
are not redeemed by the false glitter of his mere 
tricious style. Mr. Arnold is severe on Burke for 
asking " Who now reads Bolingbroke 1 " But on this 
point the popular verdict is with Burke, and I am 
not prepared to say that it is wrong. Mr. Disraeli 
did his best for Bolingbroke's public character, and 
for the principles of "The Patriot King." But, 
as Dr. Pusey said of Lord Westbury and eternal 
punishment, he had a personal interest in the ques 
tion. In "A French Critic on Milton" and "A 
French Critic on Goethe," Mr. Arnold took up the 
cudgels for the highly intelligent and respectable 
M. Scherer. M. Scherer, however, was dull, he was 
prosy, and even Matthew Arnold could not make 
him anything else. When this senator of France, 
and director of the Temps newspaper, tells us that 
Paradise Lost is "a false poem, a grotesque poem, a 
tiresome poem," we can only smile compassionately, 
and wonder what resemblance to Sainte-Beuve Mr. 
Arnold could find in M. Scherer. M. Scherer certainly 
seems to have misled Mr. Arnold on one point of some 
importance connected with Goethe. Goethe did 



THE AFTERMATH. 183 

indeed tell an Italian that "he thought the Inferno 
abominable, the Purgatorio dubious, and the Paradiso 
tiresome." But that was not Goethe's serious opinion. 
He made the remark as the surest way to get rid of 
an intolerable bore. Sic me servavit Apollo. Even 
Dante need not object to fulfilling the same functions 
as the god of light. How thoroughly Matthew Arnold 
himself appreciated Goethe, how much he learned from 
him, we all know. His final judgment (Mixed Essays, 
2nd Ed. p. 311) is contained in two short sentences. 
"It is by no means as the greatest of poets that he 
deserves the pride and praise of his German country 
men. It is as the clearest, the largest, the most 
helpful thinker of modern times." No essay in this 
volume is more charming than the memorial tribute to 
George Sand. George Sand is, I believe, out of 
fashion in France. She is certainly not half so much 
read in England as she was twenty years ago. So far 
as her best and simplest books are concerned, this is 
a great loss. For, as Mr. Arnold so happily quotes 
from her, she gives better than almost any one else 
" le sentiment de la vie idfale, qui n'est autre gue la vie 
normale telle que nous sommes appelds a la connaitre" " the 
sentiment of the ideal life, which is none other than 
the normal life as we are destined to know it." George 
Sand never brought the ideal down to the level of 
the real. 

Oddly bound up with Irish Essays are a lecture 
to Eton boys on the value of the classics, and an 
ingenious disquisition on the French Play in London. 
At Eton, where Mr. Arnold believed, or pretended to 
believe, that a scientific training was the vogue, he 
tracked Greek life through many of its phases by 



164 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 



means of the words eviyHXTrcAos and cvrpa^Xia, to 
"which perhaps the nearest English equivalents are 
"versatile" and "versatility." How evr/xxTreAos, a 
handy man, came to mean /?a>/xoAoxos, a lick-spittle, is 
a long story, and it is curious that, as Mr. Arnold points 
out, Pindar, in whose Odes it first occurs, uses it in a 
bad sense, like St. Paul, who applies it to the jesting 
which is not convenient. In Plato, however, it some 
times has an unfavourable meaning too, and this Mr. 
Arnold omits to observe. But the value of his lecture 
lies in its fruitful and suggestive comparison of Greek 
life with English. No man knew the classics better 
than Mr. Arnold. No man made a better use of his 
knowledge. The essay on the French Play is interest 
ing in many ways, not least for the personal reminiscence 
with which he introduces the subject. "I remember," 
he says, "how in my youth, after a first sight of the 
divine Rachel at the Edinburgh Theatre in the part of 
Hermione, I followed her to Paris, and for two months 
never missed one of her representations " (Irish Essays, 
Pop. Ed. p. 151.) Of course after that Mr. Arnold 
could not be expected to go into raptures over 
Mademoiselle Sarah Bernhardt, and he does not. 
"Something is wanting, or, at least, not present in 
sufficient force. ... It was here that Rachel was so 
great ; she began, one says to oneself as one recalls her 
image and dwells upon it, she began almost where 
Mademoiselle Sarah Bernhardt ends" (page 153). 
But Mr. Arnold never saw Sarah Bernhardt in Hamlet. 
Again in this essay Mr. Arnold attacks Victor Hugo, 
and attacks him where, if he sins, he sins in excellent 
company. " M. Victor Hugo's brilliant gift for versifica 
tion is exercised within the limits of a form inadequate 



xiii.] THE AFTERMATH. 165 

for true tragic poetry, and by its very presence excluding 
it " (page 164). That is very dogmatic criticism indeed: 
Mr. Arnold disliked the French Alexandrine, even as 
handled by such a master as Racine, and therefore 
he pronounced it inadequate for true tragedy. He 
would not have cared much for a criticism of Homer 
by a man who disliked hexameters, and thought 
them inadequate for epic poetry. At page 166 he 
makes the acute remark that "we have no modern 
drama, because our vast society is not at present homo 
geneous enough." Nevertheless he pleads for a national 
theatre. We shall have a national drama first. Mr. 
Arnold was an old playgoer, and wrote some lively 
dramatic notices for the Pall Mall Gazette in that name. 
But the enormous number of Englishmen who do not 
care for the play, and never go to it, would hardly 
like to be taxed for theatrical purposes. 

The second series of Essays in Criticism appeared 
after Mr. Arnold's death, with a Prefatory Note by 
Lord Coleridge. But they were collected by himself, 
and are what he deliberately judged to be worthy of 
republication. They are nine in number, but the last 
three do not, I think, add much to the value of the 
collection. The first six, on the other hand, are equal, if 
not superior, to any other critical work of Mr. Arnold's. 
"The Study of Poetry," with which the volume opens, 
was originally written for Mr. Humphry Ward's Selec 
tions from Hie English Poets. It contains Mr. Arnold's 
final and deliberate judgment upon the true nature of 
poetry. After quoting Aristotle's " profound observa 
tion " that poetry is both a more philosophical thing, 
and a more serious thing, than history, he says (page 
121) that " the substance and matter of the best poetry 



166 MATTHEW AB.NOLD. [CHAP. 

acquire their special character from possessing, in an 
eminent degree, truth and seriousness." But "the 
superior character of truth and seriousness, in the 
matter and substance of the best poetry, is inseparable 
from the superiority of diction and movement marking 
its style and manner." Little can be added to this, 
and certainly nothing can be subtracted from it. 
Next to it, the most interesting part of the essay is 
the free and candid estimate of Burns. This is the 
more welcome because, while he was writing the paper, 
in November 1880, he told his sister (Letters, vol. ii. p. 
184) that Burns was "a beast with splendid gleams." 
What would Mr. Arnold have thought of the Philistine 
who described Catullus as a beast with splendid 
gleams ? And yet Catullus, who was far grosser than 
Burns, is the poet whom, as the late Professor Sellar 
showed, Burns most resembles. In his beautiful 
address on Milton, delivered at St. Margaret's Church, 
Westminster, a few weeks before his death, Mr. Arnold 
said, with truth, force, and insight (page 66), "In our 
race are thousands of readers, presently there will be 
millions, who know not a word of Greek and Latin, 
and will never learn those languages. If this host of 
readers are ever to gain any sense of the power and 
charm of the great poets of antiquity, their way to gain 
it is not through translations of the ancients, but through 
the original poetry of Milton, who has the like power 
and charm, because he has the like great style." Only 
a born man of letters could have written that. But when 
Mr. Arnold quotes from Gray's friend, James Brown, the 
Master of Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, the words, "He 
never spoke out," and says that "in these four words 
is contained the whole history of Gray, both as a man 



XIIL] THE AFTERMATH. 167 

and as a poet," he becomes fantastic. What Brown 
means, is that Gray was not communicative about 
the state of his own health. He was a copious letter- 
writer, and his letters are among the best in the 
language. If the amount of his poetry is compara 
tively small, it had a range wide enough to include 
the "Progress of Poesy," the "Elegy in a Country 
Churchyard," and the political satires. To Keats, Mr. 
Arnold became juster as he grew older, and in this his 
final estimate he couples him, not with Maurice de 
GueYin, but with Shakespeare. This reminds one of 
Lord Young's comment on the remark that Barnes, 
the Dorset poet, might be put on the same shelf with 
Burns. "It would have to be a long shelf," said the 
witty Judge. But it is true that "no one else in 
English poetry, save Shakespeare, has in expression 
quite the fascinating felicity of Keats, his perfection 
of loveliness" (page 119). The essay on Wordsworth 
is so good, that to praise it is better than to criticise 
it, and to read it is better than either. But such a 
statement as that "the Excursion and the Prelude, his 
poems of greatest bulk, are by no means Wordsworth's 
best work" (page 135) requires a justification which 
Mr. Arnold does not give it. It would be difficult to 
find in any of Wordsworth's shorter pieces better 
verses than the lines on the Simplon Pass, or the 
passage beginning "Fabric it seemed of diamond and 
of gold." While, however, I cannot help thinking that 
Mr. Arnold exaggerates the prosiness of Wordsworth's 
prosaic passages, and dwells too much upon that familiar 
theme, he more than compensates for any trifling 
blemishes by such a noble sentence as this : " His 
expression may often be called bald, as, for instance, 



168 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

in the poem of Resolution and Independence ; but it is 
bald as the bare mountain tops are bald, with a bald 
ness which is full of grandeur." Mr. Arnold is readier 
to do Byron justice than most Wordsworthians are. 
It was Tennyson that Wordsworth prevented him from 
appreciating, not Byron. Byron's poetry seems, so far 
as one can judge, to be out of date now. It is his 
letters rather than his poems which people read. But 
his " sincerity and strength," to use the phrase which 
Mr. Arnold quotes from Mr. Swinburne, must always 
be acknowledged. 

The remaining essays in this volume deal with 
Professor Dowden's Life of Shelley, with the earlier 
writings of Count Tolstoi, and with the Diary of Amid. 
Mr. Arnold was profoundly disgusted with the details 
of Shelley's private life, with "Godwin's house of 
sordid horror," with Byron's " brutal selfishness," and 
so on. " What a set ! what a world ! " he exclaims 
naturally enough. To compare them with the Oriel 
Common Room shows perhaps a lack in the sense of 
proportion. They are more like the strange company 
who accompanied Candide on his rambles. But after 
Professor Dowden's strange apologetics, Mr. Arnold's 
rational morals and inbred sense of refinement are 
salutary and refreshing. To say of Shelley as a poet 
that he is "a beautiful and ineffectual angel, beating 
in the void his luminous wings in vain," is impressive, 
and I suppose it means something. But it does not 
account for the "Skylark," or "When the Lamp is 
shattered," or the mighty " Ode to the West Wind." 
Mr. Arnold's analysis of Anna Karenina is appreciative 
enough, and he would have thoroughly enjoyed 
Resurrection if he had lived to read it. But his 



xni.] THE AFTERMATH. 169 

recommendation that Count Tolstoi should leave 
religion and stick to literature, comes strangely from 
the author of Literature and Dogma. No living writer 
has inculcated the teaching of Christ with more 
eloquence than Count Tolstoi. Of Amiel, it is no 
doubt true that he shines more in literary criticism 
than in mystic speculation. He could hardly shine 
less. But what had Matthew Arnold to do with 
Amiel 1 



CHAPTER XIV. 

CONCLUSION. 

So early as October 1882, Mr. Arnold, in an amusing 
letter to Mr. Morley, spoke of resignation. " I an 
nounced yesterday at the office my intention of 
retiring at Easter or Whitsuntide. Gladstone will 
never promote the author of Literature and Dogma if 
he can help it, and meanwhile my life is drawing to 
an end, and I have no wish to execute the Dance of 
Death in an elementary school " (Letters, ii. 207). He 
did not, however, actually resign till the 30th of April 
1886, when he had been an Inspector for thirty-five 
years. Mr. Gladstone did not promote the author of 
Literature and Dogma. But he offered him a pension 
of two hundred and fifty pounds, "as a public recogni 
tion of service to the poetry and literature of England." 
After some quite unnecessary hesitation, Mr. Arnold 
accepted the offer. Few men, to say nothing of poetry 
and literature, ever served the public more faithfully 
for a remuneration which at no time equalled the 
salary of a police magistrate or a County Court judge. 
If he did not work so hard as some of his colleagues 
at the routine and drudgery of inspection, his reports 
are the most luminous, the most interesting, and the 
most suggestive that have ever been issued from the 
Education Department. A collection of these Reports 

170 



CHAP, xiv.] CONCLUSION. 171 

from 1852 to 1882 was published by Messrs. Macmillari 
in 1889, with an introduction from the pen of the late 
Lord Sandford, so long Secretary to the Education 
Office. 

In the autumn of 1885, Mr. Arnold was sent to 
inquire into the working of elementary education in 
Germany, France, and Switzerland. He was especially 
directed to report upon the payment of fees by the 
parent, by the municipality, and by the State. This 
Report is not quite so good a piece of composition as 
its predecessors, and there are signs that it was written 
in a hurry. His own recommendations are charac 
teristic. He thought that the balance of argument 
was against free education. But he held that it 
had better be given because the want of it put a 
powerful weapon in the hands of the agitator. This 
is thoroughly and essentially Whig. He concluded by 
urging once more that secondary education should be 
organised, as it seems likely at last to be. Free 
education was adoped three years after his death. 

This Report was Mr. Arnold's last bit of official 
work. After his resignation he used his freedom to 
write more on politics, and his pen was never idle. 
His general health was good, though he had been 
warned of hereditary weakness in the heart which 
made any sudden or violent exertion dangerous. 
While at Liverpool with his wife on Sunday the 15th 
of April 1888, he ran to catch a tramcar, and died in 
a moment. He had gone to meet his elder daughter 
on her way home from the United States, and in 
the delighted expectation of seeing her he passed 
away. Few knew anything of his malady, and no 
one looked less like an invalid. He was sixty-five at 



172 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

the time of his death, but he might easily have passed 
for a much younger man. His eye was not dim, nor 
his natural force abated. Always full of gaiety and 
good-humour, he had the high spirits of a boy, and 
the serene contentment of a philosopher. Keenly as 
he appreciated the enjoyments of life, being fastidious 
in taste and something of an epicure, his wants were 
few and soon satisfied. He was the most sociable, 
the most lovable, the most companionable of men. 
Perhaps the function in which he shone least was that 
of a public speaker. I only heard him once, but the 
occasion was sufficiently remarkable to be worth notice. 
It was the Jubilee of the Oxford Union in 1873. 
Matthew Arnold had never, so far as I am aware, any 
thing to do with the Union. But almost every Oxford 
man in the front rank of public life, except Mr. 
Gladstone, attended the dinner, including Lord 
Chancellor Selborne, who presided, Archbishop Tait, 
Cardinal Manning, Lord Salisbury, and Sir John 
Duke Coleridge. Mr. Arnold was to respond for 
Literature, which had been proposed by that accom 
plished orator, Dr. Liddon. But whether he was 
unwell, or whether he disliked Liddon's urbane irony, 
he replied in a single sentence rather too sarcastic for 
the occasion, and not worth reproducing at this dis 
tance of time. 

It is impossible to read through Mr. Arnold's books 
and letters without feeling that he was a good man in 
the best sense of that term. His character was a 
singularly engaging one, and it rested upon solid 
virtues which are less common than amiability. 
A better son, husband, father there could not be. 
His moral standard was much the same as Dr. Arnold's, 



xiv.] CONCLUSION. 173 

and how high that was everybody knows. In re 
ligious matters he departed very widely from the 
school of thought in which he had been reared. That 
he was himself a sincerely religious man, and deeply 
interested in religious questions, it is impossible to 
doubt. But his religion was so peculiar that it can 
scarcely have much permanent influence upon man 
kind. Christianity without miracles, and without 
dogmatic theology, is not only practicable, but has 
sufficed for some of the best Christians that ever lived. 
It is probably the religion of most educated laymen in 
the Church of England to-day. But Christianity with- i 
out a personal God, without anything more definite I 
than a tendency not ourselves which makes for right- * 
eousness, seems to have neither past nor future. It is, 
in the language of the book which, with all his learning, 
Mr. Arnold knew best, salt which has lost his savour. 
Mr. Arnold's unfortunate habit of quoting the Bible in 
a translation of his own deprived the passages so 
rendered of their hold upon the English mind. His 
contributions to pure literature, on the other hand, 
seem secure of a permanent place in the shelves and the 
minds of Englishmen. Mr. Arnold, as we have seen, 
had his critical limitations. He excluded too much. 
But judging his critical work, as talent should be 
judged, at its best, one can hardly overpraise it. It is 
original, penetrating, lucid, sympathetic, and just. Of 
all modern poets, except Goethe, he was the best critic. 
Of all modern critics, with the same exception, he was 
the best poet. No one, not even Mr. Lecky, more I 
abounds in telling- and appropriate quotations. As ' 
a poet he ranks only below the greatest of all. 
Though he felt the influence of Wordsworth, he was 



174 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

no imitator. He was a voice, not an echo. A popular 
poet, as Byron was, as Tennyson is, he never was, 
and is never likely to be. He may almost be said to 
have written for University men, and, as we may say 
nowadays, for. University women. As a critic he was 
incapable of obscurity or of inaccuracy. His scholar 
ship was as sound as it was brilliant. He had the 
instinct of the journalist, and was never at a loss for 
an appropriate heading. 

Matthew Arnold's appearance was both impressive 
and agreeable. He was tall, of commanding presence, 
with black hair, which never became grey, and blue 
eyes. He was shortsighted, and his eye-glass gave him 
a false air of superciliousness, accentuated by the clever 
caricaturist of Vanity Fair. In reality he was the most 
genial and amiable of men. But he had a good deal of 
manner, which those who did not know him mistook for 
assumption. It was nothing of the kind, but a mixture 
of old-fashioned courtesy and comic exaggeration. Mr. 
Arnold was always willing to tell a story, or to join 
in a laugh, against himself. Roughness or rudeness he 
could not bear. He was essentially a polished man of 
the world. He never gave himself airs, or seemed 
conscious of any superiority to those about him. Con 
siderate politeness to young and old, rich and poor, 
obscure and eminent, was the practice of his life. His 
standard was the standard of a Christian gentleman, his 
models in that respect were such men as Newman and 
Church. He enjoyed not only, with the exception of 
his hereditary complaint, good health and good spirits, 
but one of those happy temperaments which diffuse and 
radiate satisfaction. No one could be cross or bored 
when Matthew Arnold was in the room. He was 



xiv.] CONCLUSION. 175 

always amusing, and always seemed to look at the 
bright side of things. Naturally sociable, and in a 
modest way convivial, he took pleasure both in the 
exercise and in the acceptance of hospitality. He 
knew good wine from bad, and was not ashamed to 
admit the knowledge. His talk was witty, pointed, 
and often irresistibly droll. Although public speaking 
did not suit him, he had a very flexible voice, admir 
ably fitted for the dramatic rendering of a story, 6r 
for the purposes of satirical criticism. He could be 
very dogmatic in conversation, but never aggressive 
or overbearing. For a poet he was surprisingly prac 
tical, taking a lively interest in people's incomes, the 
rent of their houses, the produce of their gardens, and 
the size of their families. He had none of Words 
worth's contempt for gossip, and his father's strenuous 
earnestness had not descended to him. "Habitually 
indulging a strong propensity to mockery/' as Macaulay 
says of Halifax, he was never ill-natured, and never 
willingly gave pain. He would make fun of the people 
he loved best, but he always did it good-humouredly. 
His theoretical belief in the principle of authority had 
little influence upon his practice. Mr. Arthur Benson, 
in his portly biography of his father, tells us how 
the author of Literature and Dogma, on being con 
fronted with some paternal dictum, replied with his 
confidential smile, "Dear Dr. Arnold was not in 
fallible." Mr. Arnold's smile was like a touch of 
nature, it made the whole world kin. 

It is not unnatural to compare or contrast Matthew 
Arnold with his two great contemporaries, Tennyson 
and Browning. Tennyson was born thirteen years, 
Browning eleven years, before him. Browning survived 



176 MATTHEW ARNOLD. [CHAP. 

him by a year, Tennyson by four years. Tennyson 
stands almost alone in literature as a poet, and 
nothing but a poet, throughout his long life. All his 
scholarship, all his knowledge, all the speculative 
power of his wonderful mind, went into poetry, and 
into poetry alone. Browning, though he had no 
profession, was as constantly in the world as Tennyson 
was constantly out of it. He lived two lives, the 
imaginative and the actual, with equal zest. Matthew 
Arnold was as sociable as Browning, and as genuine 
a poet. But he had to work for his living, and either 
the Education Department or the critical faculty 
almost dried up the poetic vein. It was not that 
the quality of his verse deteriorated, as the quality 
of Browning's did, and as the quality of Tennyson's 
did not. What little poetry he wrote at the end of 
his life was good, and in the case of /'Westminster 
Abbey," very good. But he. ceased as a poet to be 
productive. The energies of his mind were drawn 
into politics, into theology, into literary criticism. 
There was much in him of his father's missionary zeal. 
He longed to make the world better, though by other 
means and in other directions than Dr. Arnold's. His 
spiritual father was Wordsworth, from whose grave 
his own poetry may be said to have sprung. Words 
worth lived to be much older than Mr. Arnold, and, 
though his prose is exquisite, there is not much of it. 
In him, too, great poet as he was, the imagination 
dwindled and decayed. After middle age he produced 
little that lives. Tennyson remained to the end as 
magical, as imaginative, as musical, as he had ever 
been. We cannot estimate Matthew Arnold's great 
ness if we separate his poetry from his criticism. His 



xiv.] CONCLUSION. 177 

theological and political writings prove his versatility 
without adding much to his permanent reputation. 
It is as the poet and critic, the man who practised 
what he preached, that he survives. Ke was an 
incarnate contradiction of the false epigram that the | 
critics are those who have failed in literature and art. 

The great fault of his prose, especially of his later 
prose, is repetition. He had, like Mr. Brooke in 
Middlemarch, a marked tendency to say what he had 
said before. His defect as a poet was the imperfection 
of his ear for rhythm. But, as Johnson said of 
Goldsmith, "enough of his failings; he was a very 
great man." Such poetry as Mycerinus, such prose as 
the Preface of the Essays in Criticism, are enough to 
make a man a classic, and to preserve his memory 
from decay. 



THE END 



INDEX. 



"Absence, "38. 

Act of Uniformity, 123. 

Addison, 81, 83. 

"Adonais,"2, 84. 

"Airy, Fairy Lilian " (Tennyson's), 
74. 

" Alaric at Rome," quotation from, 
10-11, 14. 

Alaric at Rome and Oilier Poems, 
20. 

Alexandrines, French, 53, 83, 165. 

American Civil War, 59. 

Analogy of Religion (Butler's), 
142. 

Anderson, Professor, 52. 

"Andromeda" (Kingsley's), 62. 

Anna Karenina (Tolstoi's), 168. 

Annals of the Four Masters, 98. 

Apostles' Creed, 138. 

Aristophanes, 52. 

Aristotle, 52, 53, 122, 165. 

Arminianism, Church of England 
stronghold of, 123. 

ArminiusvonThxinder-teu-Tronckh, 
125, 126-129. 

Arnold, Matthew, his birth at 
Laleham, 6 ; his father, 6-10 ; his 
mother, 6 ; goes with family to 
Rugby, 6 ; sent to Winchester, 
7 ; return*to Rugby, 7 ; education 
at Rugby, 7-11 ; enters Ralliol 
College, Oxford, 11 ; Newdigate 
Prize, 13; Fellowship at Oriel, 
14; Classical Master at Rugby, 



16; Private Secretary to Lord 
Lansdowne, 17 ; The Strayed 
Reveller and Other Poems, 20 ; 
appointed an Inspector of Schools, 
30 ; marriage, 31 ; Empedocles on 
Etna, and other Poems, 32 ; " Soh- 
rab and Rustum," 45; Poems, 
second series, 48 ; elected Pro 
fessor of Poetry at Oxford, 51 ; 
takes a house in Chester Square, 
56; visit to the Continent, 58; 
4 'On translating Homer," 61; A 
French Eton, 69 ; Essays in 
Criticism, 74 ; begins work in 
Paris, 92 ; Lectuves on Celtic 
Literature, 96 ; Xew Poems, 99 ; 
ceased to be Professor of Poetry, 
96 ; death of his eldest son, 115 ; 
Culture and Anarchy, 115 , r St. 
Paul and Protestantism, 121 ; 
Friendship's Oarland, 125 ; death 
of his second son, 132 ; settles at 
Pain's Hill, Cobham, Surrey, 132; 
Literature and Dogma, 133 ; God 
and the Bible, 139 ; Mixed Essays, 
147 ; Irish Essays, 151 ; visit to 
America, 154; Discourses in 
America, 155; Essays in Criti 
cism, second series, 165; resigns 
Inspectorship of Schools, 170; 
pension, 170 ; death, 171. 
His literary rank, 1-5 ; his politics, 
3, 23, 57, 60, 61 ; 93, 94, 114, 145, 
158, 161, 171; his philosophy, 
113-129; his theology, 130-144, 
179 



180 



MATTHEW ARNOLD. 



161, 173 ; views on education, 67- 
71, 91, 92, 106-112, 114 ; character, 
172, 173; personal characteristics, 
174, 175. 

"Arnold, Poems by Matthew" 
(second series), 48-50. 

Arnold, Edward, 156. 

Arnold, Miss Fanny (sister), 58, 
139, 154, 166. 

Arnold, Mrs. Frances Lucy Wight- 
man (wife), 31, 120, 132, 154, 171. 

Arnold, Mrs. Mary Penrose 
( Matthew Arnold's mother), 6, 9, 
18, 19, 73, 92, 93, 94, 120. 

Arnold, Dr. Thomas, 3, 6-10, 11, 
14, 16, 19, 28, 94, 103, 112, 133, 
172, 173, 175, 176. 

Arnold, William (brother), 66. 

' ' Artemis Prologises " (Browning's), 
22, 55. 

" Arundines Cami," 47. 

Aston Clinton, 72. 

" Atalanta in Calydon," 54, 92. 

Athanasian Creed, 138. 

Athenseu^i Club, 50. 

Autobiography (Mrs. Besaut's), 159. 



B 

"Bacchanalia, or The New Age," 

102 ; quotation from, 103. 
Bacon, 77, 150. 
"Balder Dead," 48, 49, 66. 
Balfour, Mr. A. J., 116, 149. 
Ballads from Herodotus (Rev. J. E. 

Bode's), 51. 

Balliol College, Oxford, 11-13, 16. 
Barnes, William, 167. 
Barry Lyndon (Thackeray's), 69. 
Belgium. Arnold's visit to, as 

Foreign Assistant Commissioner 

on Education, 58. 
Benson, Mr Arthur, 175. 
Bentley, 63. 
Bernhardt, Sarah, 164. 



Biblical Criticism, 3, 68, 88, 131, 

132, 137, 138, 141. 
"Bishop and the Philosopher, 

The," 68. 
Bismarck, 94. 
Blake, William, 114. 
Bode, Rev. John Ernest, 51. 
Bolingbroke, 162. 
Bonn University, 149. 
Bossuet, 80, 81. 
Bowood, Wiltshire, 18. 
Bright, Mr. John, 56, 93, 117, 149. 
British Quarterly Review, 79. 
Brooke, Mr. Stopford, 94, 161. 
Browning, Mrs., 27, 55. 
Browning, Robert, 20, 22, 32, 33, 

43, 55, 91, 99, 175, 176. 
Brunelleschi, 93. 
Bryce, Mr., 157. 
Buckland, Rev. John, 6. 
Buloz, M., 79. 
Bunyan, 97, 119. 
Burials Bill, 146, 147. 
"Buried Life, The," 38, 39. 
Burke, 3, 71, 76-78, 80, 151, 152, 162. 
Burns, 47, 49, 85, 166. 
Butler, Bishop, 123, 124, 134, 141- 

143. 
Byron, Lord, 10, 11, 19, 32, 33, 73, 

85, 168, 174. 



C 

Cairns, Lord, 148. 

"Calais Sands, "101. 

" Callicles," songs of, 34-36. 

Calvin, 121-123. 

Cambridge, University of, 134. 

Camoens, 48. 

Campbell, Mr. Dykes, 3. 

Candide, 125, 168. 

Canning, Lord, 98. 

Canticle of St. Francis, 86. 

Carlyle, 17, 39, 54, 76. 

Caroline, Queen, 142. 



INDEX. 



181 



Carteret, Lord, 61. 

Catholic Emancipation, 9, 152. 

Catholics, 106, 1'20, 122, 149, 150. 

Catullus, 166, 

Cavour, 57. 

Celtic Literature, 96-98. 

Centaure (Maurice de Guerin), 81. 

Chamberlain, Mr., 116. 

Chapman, 63. 

Characteristics (Shaftesbury), 142. 

Charles II., 123. 

Chateaubriand, 66. 

Chertsey, 18. 

Childe Harold, 10. 

Christian Remembrancer, 48. 

"Church of Brou, The," 46. 

Church, Dean, 14, 174. 

Church of England, 12, 16, 67, 106, 

121, 123, 124, 132, 147, 173. 
Church of England, Essay on 

Puritanism in, 121, 123-125. 
' ' Church and Religion, Last Essays 

on," 141-143. 
Church of Rome, 124. 
Cicero, 113. 
Clarendon, 162.*' 
Clerkenwell Explosion, 114. 
Clough, Arthur Hugh, 2, 12, 14, 

21, 23, 45, 46, 62, 66, 100. 
Cobden, 93. 

Code, The Revised (1862), 67, 68. 
Colenso, Bishop, 3, 68, 69. 
Colendge, Lord, 10, 12, 14, 23, 48, 

73, 153, 155, 165, 172. 
Coleridge, Samuel Taylor, 53, 87. 
Collects of the English Church, 80. 
Conington, Professor, 92. 
"Consolation," 39. 
Constantine, 89. 
Contemporary Review, 139. 
Cook, Eliza, 147. 
"Copyright," Essay, 153. 
Corn Laws, 10. 
CornhUl Magazine, 96, 121. 
Cowley, Lord, 58. 



Creweian Oration, 68, 91. 
"Cromwell" (poem), 13. 
Culture and Anarchy, 115-119, 121. 
Cymbeline,"100. 



Daily Telegraph, 75, 114. 

Dante, 163. 

De Guerin, Mademoiselle, 84. 

De Guerin, Maurice, 81, 167. 

De Guerins, 74, 81, 82. 

De Rothschild, Sir Anthony, 72. 

De Rothschild, Lady, 113. 

" Decade, The " (Debating Society), 

14. 

Deceased Wife's Sister Bill, 129. 
"Democracy," Essay, 60. 
Denison, Archdeacon, 30. 
Denison, Speaker, 95. 
Derby, Lord, 61, 72. 
Descartes, 140. 
Deutsch, 113. 
Diary of A mid, 168. 
Discourses in America, 1^5, 156. 
Disestablishment, 135, 147. 
Disraeli, Mr. (Lord Beaconsfield), 

69, 72, 95, 162. 
Dissenters, 5, 23, 79, 106, 117, 118, 

121, 123, 146, 147. 
"Dover Beach," quotation from, 

1QLJLQ2, 

DoW^ Professor, 168. 
Doyle, Sir Francis, 91. 
Dresden, 93. 
Dryden, 19, 77. 
Dublin, Trinity College, 149. 
"Dunciad" (Pope's), 63. 
Duomo, Florence, 93. 

E 

Ecce Homo, 139. 
Eccentricities of Genius (Major 

Pond's), 154. 
Eckermann, 134. 
Ecole Normale, 108. 



M 2 



182 



MATTHEW ARNOLD. 



Edinburgh Review, 79. 

Edinburgh Philosophical Institu- 

tion, 142. 

Edinburgh Theatre, 164. 
Education Department, 30, 106, 

110, 170, 171, 176. 
Egypt, 151. 
Eisteddfod, 97. 
"Elegy in a Country Churchyard " 

(Gray's), 167. 
Elizabethan Age, 151. 
Elwes, Mr. Robert, 89. 
Empedocles on Etna, and other 

Poems, 32-41. 
Empedocles on Etna, 33-36, 42, 55, 

99. 

Endowed Schools Act, 120. 
Endowed School Commissioners, 70. 
England and the Italian Question, 

57. 
English Poets, Selections from the 

(Ward's), 165. 
Epictetus, 22, 90. 
"Equality," Rssay, 147, 148. 
Erse, 96, 98. 

Esmond (Thackeray's), 69. 
Essay on Man (Pope's), 83. 
Essays and Reviews, 66. 
Essays in Criticism, 4, 72-90, 177. 
Essays in Criticism, second series, 

165-169. 

Eton, 69, 70, 109, 163. 
"Eton, A French," 69. 
Euripides, 52. 
Evangelicals, 121. 
"Evangeline" (Longfellow's), 62. 
Ewald, 3, 131. 
Examiner, The, 19. 
Excursion (Wordsworth's), 167. 



"Faded Leaves," 49, 
Falkland, Lord, 162. 
"Farewell, A," 39. 
Fenians, 114. 



Fitch, Sir Joshua, 107, 131, 132. 

Florence, 93, 100. 

Fontanes, M., 131, 151. 

Forster, W. F., 60, 61, 120. 

Forster, Mrs. (Arnold's sister), 31, 
45, 50, 54, 59, 94. 

Fourth Gospel, 180, 138, 139, 141. 

Fox How, 6. 

"Fragment of an ' Antigone,' " 22. 

France, Arnold's visit to, as Foreign 
Assistant Commissioner on Educa 
tion, 58 ; inquiry into working of 
elementary education in, 171. 

France, Popular Education in, 60. 

Fraser's Magazine, 104. 

Frederick the Great, 94. 

French Academy, 80, 81. 

French Criticism, 78, 79. 

French Education, 69-71, 107-110, 
111. 

French Language, 107, 103, 111. 

" French Play in London," essay, 
163, 164. 

French people, 58, 93, 156. 

French scholars, 97. 

Free Education, 171. 

Friendship's Garland, 125-129. ' 

"From Easter to August," Essay, 
158. 

Froude, J. A., 11, 54. 

G 

Gadarene swine, 137. 

Gaelic, 96. 

Garnett, Richard, 20. 

"Geist's Grave, "100, 161. 

Genoa, Duke of, 1 20. 

German Education, 108, 110-112. 

German Rationalists, 139. 

Germany, Arnold's visit to, as 
Foreign Assistant Commissioner 
on Education, 92 : inquiry into 
working of elementary education 
in, 171. 

Gesenius, 131. 



INDEX. 



183 



Gibbon, 38, 83. 

Gladstone, Mr., 9, f>(i, 61, 64, 72, 

95, 96, 120, 130, 134, 140, 142, 

146, 153, 156-158, 170, 172. 
" Gleam " (Tennyson's), 21. 
Gloucester, Bishop of, 133. 
God and the Bible, 139-141. 
Godwin, 168. 
Goethe, 4, 32, 33, 39, 73, 85, 83, 

134, 136, 162, 163, 173. 
" Goethe, A French Critic on," 162. 
Goldsmith, 77, 177. 
"Gorgo,"85. 
Gospels, The, 131, 138. 
Grammar of Assent( Newman's), 87. 
" Grande Chartreuse, Stanzas from 

the," 104, 105. 

Grant, General, 154, 156, 157. 
Grant, Duff, Mr., 145. 
Gray, 34, 166, 167. 
Greece, 32, 51. 
Greek drama, 43, 44, 52, 53. 
Greek language, 111, 138, 166. 
Greek life, 163, 164. 
Greenwood, Frederick, 125. 
Guest, Lady Charlotte, 98. 

H 

Hamilton, Sir William, 122. 

Hampden, Dr., 9. 

Harnack, Professor, 141. 

Harrison, Frederic, 130. 

Harrow, 70, 8t>, 109, 115, 120, 132. 

Hawkins, Dr., 7, 14. 

Hawtrey, Dr., 21, 62, 63. 

Hawtrey, Mr. Stephen, 69. 

" Hayswater Boat, The," 20, 28. 

Hazlitt, 74. 

Headington Hill, 2. 

Hebraism, 3, 121. 

Heine, 18, 19, 75, 82, 84, 85. 

"Heine's grave," 19, 103, 104. 

Hellenism, 3, 113, 121. 

Hermione, 164. 

Herodotus, 24. 



Holland, Arnold's visit to, as Foreign 
Assistant Commissioner on Edu 
cation, 58. 

Home Rule, 150, 151, 156-158. 

Homer, 17, 22, 29, 46, 48, 59, 61- 
66, 75, 125, 165. 

"Homer, Last Words on translat 
ing," 61. 66. 

Horace, 8, 83, 84, 124. 

Hugo, Victor, 83, 156, 164, 165. 

Hungarians, 57. 

Huxley, Professor, 107. 

Hyde Park Rioters, 114. 

"Hymn to Adonis," 85, 86. 

I 

Idylls of the King (Tennyson's), 59. 
"II Pensercso" (Milton's), 21. 
Iliad (Homer's), 62-64. 
In Memoriam (Tennyson's), 59, 73 
"In Memory of the late Edward 

Quillinan, Esq., "48. 
" Incompatible^ The" (Essay), 

152, 153. 

Inferno (D?nte's), 163. 
" Introduction to Collected Poems," 

42-45, 52. 
Ipswich, 151. 

Irish Catholic University, 148-150. 
"Irish Catholicism and British 

Liberalism," Essay, 149. 
Irish Church, 114, 147. 
Irish Essays, 150, 151-153, 163. 
Irish Land Acts, 146, 152. 
Irish Melodies (Moore's), 26. 
Irish question, 149, 150, 151-153, 

157, 158. 

Irving, Sir Henry, 155. 
"Isabella "(Keats), 44. 
Israel's Restoration, The Great 

Prophecy of, 131, 132. 
Italian Government, 119, 120. 
Italy, 57, 92, 93, 107. 



Jebb, Sir Richard, 64. 



184 



MATTHEW ARNOLD. 



Jenkyns, Dr., 12. 
Jones, Owen, 97, 98. 
Joubert, 81, 86, 87. 
Jowett, Dr., 12, 63, 124, 125. 
Judaism, 113, 123. 

K 

"Kaiser Dead, "161. 
Kay-Shuttleworth, Sir James, 67. 
Keats, 2, 22, 44, 63, 74, 81, 82, 167. 
Kingsley, Charles, 21, 54, 62. 
Kipling, Rudyard, 119. 
Kuenen, 131. 

L 

Lacordaire, 70. 
Laleham, 6, 13, 18, 132. 
Lang, Andrew, 64. 
Lansdowne, Lord, 17, 18, 30, 57, 

145. 

"Laodamia" (Wordsworth's), 25. 
"Last Word, Tie," 102. 
Latin, 107, 112, 166. 
Laud, Archbishop, 123. 
Lays of Ancient JRome(Macaulay's), 

26, 64. 

" L' Allegro " (Milton's), 21. 
Lecky, Mr., 173. 
Lectures on the Jewish Church 

(Stanley's), 69. 
Lectures on Modern History (Dr. 

Arnold's), 60. 
Lectures on translating Homer, 17, 

61-66. 

Leighton, Archbishop, 140. 
Letter to aNobleLord(Bwc'ke'$),77. 
Letters (Matthew Arnold's), 139, 

146, 166, 170. 
Letters on a Regicide Peace 

(Burke's), 77. 
Lewes, George Henry, 54. 
Liddon, Dr., 172. 
Life of Frederick Robertson (Stop- 

iord Brooke's), 94. 
Life of Shelley (Dowden's), 168. 
Lincoln, President, 157. 



"Lines written in Kensington- 
Gardens," 40. 

Lingen, Lord, 30, 67. 

"Literature, The Modern Element 
in," 51, 52. 

Literature and Dogma, 131, 133- 
139, 140, 144, 169, 170, 175. 

Literature, Primer of English 
(Stopford Brooke's), 161, 162. 

Livy, 131, 

London, University of, 112. 

Long, Mr., 90. 

Longfellow, 21, 62. 

Lowe, Mr. Robert, 67, 68. 

Lucan, 40. 

Lucretius, 83, 134. 

Luther, 80, 97, 122, 124. 

"Lycidas,"21, 100. 

Lytton, Lord, 45, 114. 

M 
Mdbinogion (Lady Charlotte 

Guest's), 98. 
Macaulay, Lord, 11, 17, 18, 26, 64, 

125, 146, 175. 

Macmittaris Magazine, 52, 68, 69. 
Maine, Sir Henry, 3. 
Manning, Cardinal, 172. 
Marcus Aurelius, 82, 89, 90, 115. 
"Marguerite, "38. 
Martineau, Dr. James, 92, 117, 135. 
Maurice, Frederick, 138. 
" May Queen " (Tennyson's), 74. 
Meditations (Marcus Aurelius'), 89. 
Melbourne, Lord, 11. 
" Memorial Verses," 32. 
Merimee, Prosper, 58. 
" Merman, The Forsaken," 27. 
"Merope," 52-55, 92. 
Milan, 93. 
Mill, James, 142. 
Mill, J. S.,58, 122, 148. 
"Mill on Liberty, "58. 
Milton, 2, 20, 21, 24, 77, 100, 147, 

JK9, ]60, 162, 166. 



INDEX. 



is;, 



" Milton, A French Critic on," 162. 

Mixed Essays, 147-151, 161-163. 

Moberly, Dr., 7. 

Modern Painters (Ruskiu's), 50. 

Moltfre, 156. 

Moore, Thomas, 26, 98. 

"Morality, "40, 41. 

Morley, Mr. John, 149, 170. 

Morley, Mr. Samuel, 153. 

Miiller, Max, 13. 

Murray's Magazine, 156, 157. 

My Novel, 45. 

"Mycerinus," 24-26, 177. 

Myvyrian Archaeology ', 98. 



N 

Napoleon, Emperor Louis, 57, 58. 
New Poems, 99-105. 
"New Sirens, The, "27. 
New York, 154. 
Newcastle, Duke of, 61, 67. 
Newdigate Prize, 13, 91. 
Newman, Francis, 63. 
Newman, John Henry, 11, 22, 63, 

87, 118, 124, 132, 174. 
Nicene Creed, 138. 
Nineteenth Century, 145, 156, 158. 
Nonconformist , newspaper, 117. 
Nonconformists. See Dissenters. 
"Numbers, or the Majority and the 

Remnant," Essay on, 155, 156. 



Obermann, 39, 66, 134. 

" Obermann, Stanzas in Memory of 

the Author of," 39. 
O'Curry, Eugene, 98. 
"Ode to the West Wind" (Shelley's), 

84. 

Odyssey, 63, 64. 
" On the Rhine," quotation from, 

37. 
"One Word More" (Browning's), 

21. 



Oriel College, Oxford, 12, 14, 168. 

Orpheus, 29. 

Oxford, 2, 7, 11-15, 30, 47, 67, 68, 

72, 75, 100, 101, 108, 116, 118, 

122, 142, 154, 172. 
Oxford Movement. See Tract- 

arianism. 

Oxford Union, 172. 
Oxford, University College, 12. 



Pall Mall Gazette, 125, 165. 

Palmerston, Lord, 68, 72, 93, 94. 

Pantheism, 40, 122. 

Paracelsus (Browning's), 20, 33. 

Paradiso (Dante's), 163. 

Paradise Lost, 162. 

Paris, University of, 108. 

Parliament, 145. 

"Parting, "37, 38,55. 

Pascal, 143. 

Pattison, Mark, 11, 12, 78. 

Peel, Sir Robert, 94, 114. 

Pendennis (Thackeray's), 69. 

Pentateuch, 68. 

Pericles, 51. 

Petronius, 39. 

PMdre (Racine's), 83. 

"Philistines," 75, 76, 78, 84, 116, 

118. 

Phrynichus, 44. 
Piedmont, 58. 
Pindar, 164. 
Pitt, 94. 
Plato, 1, 8, 90, 122, 125, 140, 155, 

164. 
"Poesy, Progress of " (Gray's), 35, 

167. 

Poles, 57. 
Polycarp, 89. 
Pond, Major, 154. 
" Poor Matthias," 161. 
Pope, 63, 64, 83, 84. 
" Praxinoe," 85. 



186 



MATTHEW ARNOLD. 



"Prelude" (Wordsworth's), 40, 

167. 

Prince Consort, 68. 
Procter, Adelaide, 66. 
" Progress," 41. 
Protestants, 122, 149, 1,50. 
Prussia, 57, 94, 110, 111, 125. 
Purgatorio, 163. 
Pusey, Dr., 162. 



Q 

Quarterly Review, 79, 113. 



R 

"Rabbi Ben Ezra, "34. 

Rachel (actress), 164. 

Racine, 53, 83, 165. 

Raleigh, Sir Walter, 51. 

Real Estates Intestacy Bill, 148. 

Reform Act of 1867, 114. 

Reisebilder (Heine's), 19. 

Renan, 3. 

Report upon Schools and Univer 
sities on the Continent, 107, 108. 

Republic (Plato's), 124, 125. 

" Requiescat," 47. 

" Resignation," 27-29. 

"Resolution and Independence" 
(Wordsworth's), 168. 

Resurrection (Tolstoi's), 168. 

Revue des Deux Mondes, 78, 79. 

Robertson, Rev. Frederick, 94. 

Rogers, Samuel, 40. 

Roman Empire, 89, 90. 

Rossetti, Dante Gabriel, 22. 

Rugby, 6-11, 13, 16, 17, 66, 70, 108, 

109. 

'Rugby Chapel," quotation from, 
8-9, 21, 103. 

Ruskin, John, 4, 50, 63, 74. 

Russell, Lord John, 17, 45, 95, 145. 

Russell, Mr. George, 17, 115, 125, 
ISO, 146, 155. 



S 

St. Augustine, 124. 

Sainte-Beuve, 4, 58, 66, 73, 81, 82, 
87, 162. 

"Saint Brandan," 101. 

St. Francis, 86. 

St. James, 137. 

St. Margaret's Church, West 
minster, 166. 

Si. Paul and Protestantism, 121- 
123, 131. 

St. Paul, 121-123, 136, 137, 164. 

St. Peter, 159. 

Saintsbury, Professor, 43, 82, 130. 

Sala, George Augustus, 125, 126. 

Salisbury, Lord, 140, 157, 158, 172. 

Sand, George, 82, 163. 

Sandford, Lord, 171. 

Scherer, M., 162. 

"Scholar Gypsy, The," 13, 47, 48, 
101. 

Schools Inquiry Commissioners, 92. 

Science of Origins, 97. 

Scotland, Schools of, 108. 

Second Empire, 23. 

Secondary Education, 146, 150, 151. 

Selborne, Lord Chancellor, 172. 

"Self-Dependence," 38. 

Sellar, Professor, 166. 

Senancour, 39, 134. 

Seneca, 38, 39. 

"Separation, "48-50. 

Sermon on the Mount, 137. 

Settled Land Act, 148. 

Shairp, John Campbell, 13. 

Shakespeare, 22, 23, 29, 44, 53, 59, 
77, 145, 161, 162, 167. 

Shelley, 47, 73, 84, 85, 168. 

Shotover, 2. 

" Sick King in Bokhara, The," 26. 

Sion College, 143. 

" Skylark " (Shelley's), 168. 

Smith, Mr. George, 96, 115. 

Smith, Goldwin, 78, 122. 142. 



INDEX. 



187 



Smith and Klcler, 115. 

"Sohrab and Rustum," 45-48, 49, 
66. 

Sophocles, 1, 22, 29, '44, 52, 86. 

Sorreze, 70. 

Southey, 23. 

Spain, 120. 

Spectator, 94. 

Spencer, Herbert, 92. 

Spinoza, 68, 69, 82, 88, 89. 

Staiues, 6, 18. 

Stanley, Dean, 7, 8, 12, 23, 69, 
159. 

Sterne, 19. 

Strangford, Lord, 96. 

Strasburg University, 149. 

Strayed Reveller and other Poems, 
The, 420-29. 

"Study of Poetry, The," 165-167. 

Sulpidus, 38. 

Swift, Dean, 19, 77, 118. 

Swinburne, Mr., 27, 32, 36, 100, 
168. 

Switzerland, Arnold's visit to, as 
Foreign Commissioner on Educa 
tion, 58 ; inquiry into working 
of elementary education in, 171. 
'Switzerland," poem, 38, 101. 



Tacitus, 89, 137. 

Tait, Dr., 16, 172. 

Talmud, 113. 

Tatham, Miss Emma, 84. 

Taylor, Jeremy, 80. 

Temple, Dr., 16, 54, 66. 

Temps ( newspaper }, 162. 

Tennyson, Alfred, Lord, 13, 20, 22, 

28, 32, 59, 65, 73, 74, 100, 168, 

174-176. 
Thackeray, 69. 

Theocritus, 25, 28, 85, 86, 100. 
Thompson, Dr., 63. 
Thucydides, 8, 51. 



"Thyrsis," 2, 13; quotation from, 

100-101. 

Times, The, 79. x 
" Tithonus " (Tennyson's), 74. 
" To an Independent Preacher," 23, 

87. 
" To a Gipsy Child by the Seashore, " 

27. 

"To a Republican Friend," 23, 24. 
"To the Hungarian Nation," 

quotation from, 19. 
Tolstoi, 168, 169. 
Tom, Brown's School Days, 7. 
Toulouse Lyceum, 69, 70. 
Tract xc., 118. 
Tractarianism, 3, 9, 11, 13. 
Tractatus Theologico - Politicus 

(Spinoza's), 89. 
Trevelyan, Sir George, 125. 
Tribune, New York, 154. 
Trinity College, Dublin, 149. 
" Tristram and Iseult," 36, 37. 
Tubingen School, The, 3. 
Turgot, 148. 

U 
Union of Great Britain and Ireland, 

152. 
Unitarians, Arnold's curious dislike 

of, 133. 
United States, 92, 94, 148, 153, 154, 

157, 171. 

Universities, English, 108, 110, 111. 
Universities, French, 111. 
Universities, German, 111. 



Vanity Fair (Thackei-ay's), 69. 
Vanity Fair, newspaper, 174. 
Vaughan, Master of the Temple, 8. 
Victor Emmanuel, 57, 120. 
Victoria Regia, 66. 
Villette, 45. 
Virgil, 40, 83. 

Voltaire, 52, 53; compared with 
Homer, 64, 126. 



188 



MATTHEW ARNOLD. 



W 

Walpole, Sir Robert, 61, 94. 
Ward, Dr., 118. 
Ward, Mr. Humphry, 165. 
Warton, Dr., 166, 167. 
Westbury, Lord, 162. 
"Westminster Abbey," 32, 99, 159 

quotation from, 160, 176. 
Whately, Archbishop, 14. 
"When the Lamp is shattered' 

(Shelley's), 168. 
Wightman, Mr. Justice, 31. 
Wilberforce, Bishop, 72, 73. 
Winchester, 7, 109. 
Winchester, Bishop of. 133. 



"Wine of Cyprus" (Mrs. Brown 
ing's), 27. 

" Wizard of the North," The, 52. 

Wordsworth, 1, 7, 13, 18, 20, 22, 
24, 25, 29, 32, 33, 35, 40, 48, 73, 
74,167,168,173,175,176. 

Wright, Mr., 75. 



Young, Lord, 167. 
"Youth of Man, The, "40. 
" Youth of Nature, The," 40. 



"Zenith 
158. 



of Conservatism, The," 



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