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Full text of "Modern England, by Louis Cazamian"

I 





MODERN ENGLAND 



MODERN ENGLAND 



BY 

LOUIS CAZAMIAN 

M 

LECTURER AT THE SORBONNK 




London: J. M. DENT & SONS, Ltd. 
New York: E. P. DUTTON & CO. 191s 






/4// r/fM reserved 



FOREWORD TO THE ENGLISH 
EDITION 

This book was meant for the French public, 

and aimed at giving a summary account of 

the evolution of a foreign nation. In 

submitting this translation to readers of 

this very country, the author begs to 

express his sense of diffidence in regard 

to the boldness of the undertaking. He 

wishes particularly to apologize for the 

many points in his study which, on 

this side of the Channel, must appear 

more or less obvious. The general 

economy of the book would 

have been destroyed had such 

parts been struck out. 




24I395 



CONTENTS 



PAGE 



Foreword to the English Edition v 

Introduction : Instinctive and Meditated Adaptation. 

Subject and limits of this study. I. Instinct and 

reason as main factors of the modern evolution 

of England. II. Their alternate influence in the 

nineteenth century ...... i 



BOOK I 

DEMOCRACY AND RATIONALISM (1832-1884) 

:hap. 

I Historical Conditions. 

I. Industry and the making of modern England. 
II. A change in the economic order ; towns 
and country. III. A change in the social 
order ; the middle class . . . .18 

II Doctrines. 

I. Rationalism and empiricism in English history. 
II. The utilitarian philosophy ; the political 
theory of democracy. III. The economics of 
individualism ; the Free Trade movement. 
IV. Darwinism and evolutionism ; the theory 
of adaptation. V. Religious rationalism : 
Broad Church and agnosticism . . . 34 



viii CONTENTS 

CHAP. PAGE 

III Laws and Manners. 

I. The Reform Acts ; the democratic movement; 
the evolution of parties ; Liberals and Con- 
servatives ; the mechanism of government ; 
the authority of the Crown. II. Liberal 
logic and the reform of English administration ; 
the modern evolution of social life. III. The 
new manners and the influence of the middle 
class ; public opinion ; literature. IV. The 
waning of middle-class initiative . . 64 

BOOK II 

THE REVENGE OF INSTINCT (1832-1884) 
Introduction ....... 89 

I Historical Conditions. 

I. The social elements of the reaction against the 
new order : the strength and prestige of the 
nobility ; the moral elements ; sensibility and 
the idealistic ne"eds. II. The economic un- 
rest ; the industrial anarchy ; the forms and 
effects of want in the nineteenth century . 92 

II Doctrines. 

I. The philosophy of Carlyle ; his social doctrine ; 
heroism ; State intervention and feudalism. 
His influence; the evolution of economic 
concepts. II. The religious revival; the 
Oxford Movement ; its results ; ritualism ; the 
Catholic reaction. III. The aesthetic move- 
ment ; spontaneousness and will in English art ; 
Ruskin, his artistic and social message ; his 
influence . . . . . . .109 



CONTENTS ix 

CHAP. PAGE 

III Laws and Manners. 

I. The amending of industrial anarchy ; factory 
and labour legislation ; emotional and rational 
philanthropy ; the reform of social abuses. 
II. The movement for the organization of 
labour ; English Trade-Unionism : its evolu- 
tion and means of action. III. The instinctive 
and conservative elements of the new manners ; 
snobbery ; the Puritan reaction ; social com- 
punction. IV. The literature of feeling and 
imagination. V. The psychological origins of 
Imperialism. VI. The social equilibrium and 
public optimism about 1870 . . .146 



BOOK III 

THE NEW PROBLEMS (1884-1910) 

Introduction . . . . . . .180 

I The Economic Problem. 

I. The flagging of English prosperity ; foreign 
competition; the anxiety of public opinion. 
II. The proposed remedies : the Free Trade 
Radical solution ; the Protectionist cure . 185 

II The Social Problem. 

I. New appearance and greater urgency of the 
problem. II. Contemporary English Social- 
ism ; the Marxists ; the Fabians ; municipal 
Socialism. III. The formation of the Labour 
Party ; the new Trade-Unionism ; the Labour 
Party in the House of Commons . . 20 1 



CONTENTS 



CHAP. 



III The Political Problem. 

I. The contemporary evolution of parties ; Home 
Rule and the dissenting Liberals ; the rise of 
the Unionist party ; its tendencies. II. The 
crisis of Liberalism and its new awakening ; 
the Radical elements of the Liberal party ; the 
heterogeneous character of its tendencies. 
III. The recent political conflict ; its causes 
and possible consequences . . . .218 

IV The Imperial Problem. 

I. The intellectual and emotional elements of the 
Imperialist doctrine. II. The programme of 
action ; the ends, the means, and the difficulties 
met with ....... 238 

V The Intellectual Problem. 

The leading ideas of contemporary England. 
I. Traditionalism in the religious movement, 
in education, public life, collective feelings, 
artistic tastes. II. Pragmatism ; its relation 
to English utilitarianism. The pragmatic theory $ 

of truth. Analogous tendencies : moral hygiene, 
the craving for energy, the return to Nature. 
III. Rationalism and the new conditions of 
life. Religious criticism ; the modes of un- 
belief. The criticism of the political and 
social order ; the " intellectuals " and English 
culture ; the influence of rationalism upon 
education, manners, the psychological tempera- 
ment, the artistic and literary evolution . 249 



CONTENTS xi 

PAGE 

Conclusion. The Present Time. Decadence or 

Evolution ....... 282 

General Index ..... . . 289 

Index of Dates ....... 292 



\ 



MODERN ENGLAND 
INTRODUCTION 

INSTINCTIVE AND MEDITATED ADAPTATION 

Subject and limits of this study. I. Instinct and reason as 
main factors of the modern evolution of England. II. Their 
alternate influence in the nineteenth century. 

The predominant fact in the history of England 
for the last hundred years has been a hidden conflict 
between a tendency to instinctive readjustments, 
which she owes to her early history, and a tendency 
to rational adaptations, due to the conditions of 
modern life. Taking the lead by turns, those two 
forces have combined, at every period, according to 
a complex and ever-changing ratio. One stands 
for the past, the other claims to stand for the 
future. They have both played essential parts and 
possessed rich usefulness; at the present day, the 
advantage seems to belong to the latter. But there 
is no decisive reason for believing in its complete 
and definitive victory. For it has not struck into 
the national consciousness such deep and primeval 
roots as the former; it is, after all, but one of its 
secondary growths. The same blind energy bent 
on conquering the world of facts is still finding a 
new but not self-contradictory expression in the 




.2. : . v:;: MODERN ENGLAND 

great effort of will, intelligence and method 
through which the England of to-day, resuming 
the work which that of yesterday had only begun, 
tries to adapt her national activities to the more 
scientific requirements of life, production and war. 

The traditional view of England has been widely 
diffused in France; it answered to the necessarily 
simple needs of the average mind. A lasting con- 
tact with the strong original British genius has 
sunk the feeling of a difference into the very 
marrow of our bones; two centuries of competition, 
fighting or friendship with England have driven 
home to us the pronounced characteristics of 
English empiricism, so foreign to our own tem- 
perament. The almost parallel fates of the two 
oldest nations in Europe, the common points in 
their civilizations, the analogies in their recent 
political developments, have brought out strongly 
the moral and practical differences by which the 
two sides of the Channel are so strikingly distin- 
guished in their governments, industries, societies 
and religions. 

But the notion of a stubbornly instinctive Eng- 
land became commonplace with us only at the very 
time when it ceased to be completely true. If we 
consider them no longer in their instructive con- 
trast with French logic, but as they really are, the 
modern activities of the English people must be 
depicted in more diversified colours. This book 
aims at delineating, if possible, that more accurate 
and complex view of the principles which to-day 
underlie the practical decisions of England. 

Such a study must needs remain of a very 



INTRODUCTION 3 

general order. It requires the reader's indulgence 
on many points. Obviously it cannot but be very 
incomplete. Its subject is too wide to allow of 
precision in details; its narrow bounds and its aim 
have prevented all statement of proofs or authori- 
ties. In no way can it then aspire to scientific 
rigour. It may plead as an apology the relatively 
modest nature of its claims. For it is not an 
historical survey, but an essay in the philosophy of 
history; it does not relate the facts, but tries to trace 
the main lines along which they can best be 
grouped. The author would like to supply such 
minds as wish to understand the England of yester- 
day and of to-day with a very brief account of the 
enormous source of material and moral activities 
which, at the present time, fills up such a wide 
space in the world; and to point out as clearly as 
possible the origin and growth of the forces which 
are driving her to-day towards an unknown destiny. 
As soon as one aims at going beyond the most 
summary generalities and gaining an accurate view 
of English affairs, one must admit of essential dis- 
tinctions within the physical boundaries of that 
political unit we call England, and no less essential 
adjuncts without it. To treat the matter fully, one 
should give separate attention to the diverse moral 
and social characteristics of Scotland, Ireland and 
Wales, and study the problems which contemporary 
England has to solve under the various aspects 
they assume in each of those countries, sufficiently 
distinct yet to play their own parts in the national 
drama. One should, as well, bring Imperial ques- 
tions to the forefront, and look upon the British 

B2 



4 MODERN ENGLAND 

Empire from the point of view of the world, not 
of Europe only. It is obvious enough that the 
present study is too short not to leave out those 
causes of complexity. England will be here spoken 
of as if she constituted a homogeneous whole such 
as France; and the forms of her thought and life 
will be regarded only as they belong to her central 
unity. We may as a rule object to such simplifica- 
tions; but they are perhaps pardonable when one 
tries to describe, in its general evolution, the focus 
of moral and physical activity which is the heart 
of the British Empire. 

It would not be convenient, and it is not neces- 
sary, to enumerate the authorities on which this 
book is based. Such a general view can, it goes 
without saying, be to any degree accurate only by 
constantly borrowing its substance from competent 
writers. Let us simply mention our indebtedness 
to a few essential works. 1 

1 Some of the most interesting suggestions on the general 
development of modern England have been put forth in the 
books of Messrs. Benn: (Modern England, 1908); Master- 
man (The Condition of England, 1909) ; Dicey (Law and 
Opinion in England, 1905) ; Lowell (The Government of Eng- 
land, 1908) ; Webb (Industrial Democracy, 1897) ; Mantoux 
(A tr avers VAngleterre Contemporaine, 1909); Chevrillon 
(Etudes Anglaises, 1901, etc.); Berard (VAngleterre et 
VImperialisme, 1 900) ; Bardoux (Essai d'une Psychologie de 
VAngleterre Contemporaine, 1906, etc.). As for the facts 
themselves, a summary bibliography of English history in the 
nineteenth century is collected in the book of Low and Sanders, 
The History of England during the Reign of Queen Victoria, 
1907. Again, a list of the best works on the various aspects of 
political and social life in England is to be found in Social Eng- 
land (edited by H. D. Traill), vol. vi., 1898. Those lists 
make it unnecessary for us to give here one far less complete and 
useful. 



INTRODUCTION 5 

I 

The unceasing effort by which a nation lives 
and endures, increases or sustains its life, is above 
all an adaptation. An adaptation to natural con- 
ditions, its physical and human surroundings; 
and to social conditions, a necessary economic, 
political and moral order. The development of a 
given country, whatever the period considered, is 
as a whole characterized by the manner and 
degree of that adaptation. Holding good every- 
where, this assertion is nowhere more easily veri- 
fied than in England. It is the most original trait 
of the English genius, as everybody knows, to 
have first understood, or at least adhered to, the 
practical solution of the problem of national exist- 
ence; it has ever perceived the physical or moral 
conditions in the midst of which it moved as 
supreme facts, which must be always and primarily 
investigated, and accepted or corrected, by the 
exertions of one and all. 

Thus considered, the development of England 
has been continuous through all its stages; and the 
underlying laws which direct and can explain it are 
perfectly consistent. But as soon as one has in 
view no longer the universal and necessary fact of 
adaptation, but rather the particular forms it 
assumes, two main processes appear. One is in- 
stinctive; systematically, as it were, neglecting all 
system, it gives free play to the countless different 
forces that make for readjustment, pliancy and 
balance, and through which either the units or the 
naturally constituted groups in a nation sponta- 



6 MODERN ENGLAND 

neously adapt themselves to the exigencies of life. 
In this operation, consciousness takes hardly any 
share, and reason is not called upon to take any; 
everything begins and ends in the domain of 
obscure activities by which our motions answer to 
circumstances, and our decisions to the appeals of 
the universe. Infallible whenever it pursues an 
imperfect, relative and temporary equilibrium, this 
method as a rule fails to establish at once a com- 
plex harmony with given conditions as a whole; 
nor does it succeed in bringing about continuity 
and consistency in the means chosen and the 
instruments turned to use. Such has traditionally 
been the attitude of England; its effects can be 
traced throughout history; its stamp is to be found 
at the present time on British institutions, indus- 
tries, manners, ideas and feelings. 

The other might be defined by its intellectual, 
rational character. In it, a demand for co-ordina- 
tion and symmetry, a striving after clearness and 
order, a conscious and voluntary adjustment of the 
means to their ends and to one another, are added 
to, and even to some degree replace, the sponta- 
neous effort of particular adaptations. This 
method is liable to the numberless errors by which 
the persistent clash between nature and the mind 
of man is made manifest; it possesses neither the 
safety nor the practical convenience of the former, 
and requires untiring energy of study and medita- 
tion. A profession of faith in the power of 
thought, it aims at extracting from facts an order 
all the elements of which they do not themselves 
supply, and whose principle the mind bears within 



INTRODUCTION 7 

* 

itself. Its failures can be ascribed to its superficial 
and premature application; its triumphs have 
stamped reality with a character of supreme sim- 
plicity and beauty which outlives the fleeting of 
time. It is a well-known fact that this method has 
given the development of France, especially during 
the last two centuries, its most individual quality. 

What conflicting temperaments, what physical 
and psychological dispositions, these opposed 
methods can be traced back to, and what diverging 
consequences, what diverse social features they have 
resulted in, we all know to-day. This antithesis, 
again, need no longer be stated; it belongs to the 
domain of truisms. Let us only point out that the 
former attitude is the one that life does in fact 
choose for itself, whilst the latter must be adopted 
by science; so we may say that the historical origi- 
nality of England has lain in preferring life to 
science in the general direction of her national 
effort. 

But such a preference has nothing of the strict- 
ness of a system; would it not, indeed, contradict 
itself in becoming systematic? During the last 
hundred years, the general conditions of economic, 
social and moral life have undergone a thorough 
change; and the part played by intelligence and 
science seems to have been constantly on the 
increase. Now, the vital instinct of England 
seems to be transforming itself in keeping with 
this transformation of all things; and this is no 
doubt the reason why, in the England of to-day, 
instinctive and rational adaptations are to be found 
at the same time. 



8 MODERN ENGLAND 

These two forms of man's unavoidable and self- 
interested submission to nature, these two general 
formulae of the policy of life, are rather tendencies 
than exclusive and sharply marked attitudes; they 
are not incompatible, and they shade off into each 
other. The latter is not of necessity pure rational- 
ism, deductive and absolute, in which form it has 
sometimes existed in France; nor is the former, as 
has too often been said, opposed to all rationalism 
by an a priori uncompromising hostility, as it were; 
it will not refuse the latter's co-operation under the 
pressure of facts, and will thus merge into it. No 
doubt the predominance of the one or the other is 
sufficient to characterize a people. It is agreed 
upon by all that the life-force of the English has 
on the whole chosen the ways to which it was 
impelled by instinct; and that if it has sometimes 
aimed at linking together the roads it followed, at 
organizing them into a chart of human experience, 
it was not in the hope of forecasting the aspect of 
the ground which the future would cover, of map- 
ping it out in advance, and proceeding from the 
known to the unknown by the light of reason. But 
to reduce the intellectual history of modern England 
to that one feature would mean simplifying it over- 
much. In fact, for the last century, an important 
though secondary part has been played by intelli- 
gence in directing the evolution of England; at 
the present time this part is increasing, and in the 
future it will no doubt increase even more; and 
into the very process of instinctive readjustment 
consciousness and reflection have penetrated, 
modifying it materially from within. The instinc- 



INTRODUCTION 9 

tive and the meditated modes of adaptation are 
both English to-day; the former constitutes the 
only kind of practical system spontaneously 
evolved by traditional England; the latter, the only 
theoretical philosophy of action with which the 
England of the future can rest satisfied. 

As has been said before, they predominated 
by turns during the last century. Let us give a 
summary account of their alternation; this book 
will try and fill up the outline. 

II 

Modern England has been slowly growing from 
the middle of the eighteenth century, and even, in 
a way, from the end of the sixteenth; she outgrew 
this preparatory stage, without any sudden change, 
between 18 15 and 1840, or thereabout. For 
convenience' sake, it will be assumed here that she 
came fully to light more precisely during the 
critical years which preceded the accession of Queen 
Victoria. 

Social England after Waterloo, in spite of the 
disintegrating and revolutionary forces secretly at 
work, did not, however, differ so much from the 
society Voltaire had seen as from that we see 
to-day. Nevertheless, when the young Queen 
ascended the throne in 1837, the main lines of 
English democracy were already broadly sketched, 
and economic, political, social, intellectual life 
settled into a new equilibrium on a lasting basis. 
On the other hand, the eleven years which the 
twentieth century already numbers constitute, to 



io MODERN ENGLAND 

all appearance, the beginning of a transition. As 
a whole, this book still aims at studying the Eng- 
land of the Victorian era, together with that of 
Edward VII, which followed on the same lines and 
is inseparable from it. 

Within this period of eighty years (i 830-1910), 
from the point of view we have just mentioned, 
one can distinguish three stages, the limits of which 
are in no way immovable or arbitrary. However 
relatively smooth the change which gave rise to 
modern England may have been, she grew by 
opposing herself to the England of the past; and 
however intimately the forces making for progress 
and those making for reaction may have worked 
together in that splendid social achievement, the 
former took the initiative and gave the primary 
and principal impulse. Now, these forces were by 
nature intellectual; or rather they most often found 
a rational expression, and the ideal of reorganiza- 
tion which they proposed to the older order differed 
from that order by a more logical, methodical and 
thoughtful faculty of adaptation. 

No doubt the remarkable success of the last 
English revolution (183 2-1 8 67-1 8 84), as well as 
that of the preceding one (1688), was due to the 
political and practical instincts of the English 
people; but that last revolution must be set apart 
from all the others in so far as it was at the same 
time the clear-sighted work of reflection, and the 
empirical outcome of instinctive adaptation. A 
wave of social and political rationalism, driving 
back the waters borne away at one time by the ebb 
of the anti-revolutionary movement, swelled again 



INTRODUCTION 1 1 

in England during the years which followed Water- 
loo; shortly after 1830, it overflowed the dams of 
the old constitution and the old life; bringing along 
with it a democratic reform of laws and manners, 
a systematic correction of the most glaring social 
evils, freedom in trade and in business under- 
takings, liberalism in a word and individualism, it 
spread widely over all the central part of the 
century, and made its impetus and strength still 
felt during its waning years. Modern England 
has primarily grown from a first effort to har- 
monize society, laws and thought with new, clearly 
defined conditions; she has primarily originated in 
an attempt at meditated adaptation. 

It was, on the contrary, by the free play of in- 
stinctive readjustments that she amplified and 
strengthened her existence. No sooner had the 
individualistic and liberal England which John 
Stuart Mill symbolizes realized all her inner possi- 
bilities, than a powerful reaction of instincts rose 
against her. To the light of reason many thinkers 
and poets preferred that of feeling as a guidance for 
the new nation. An unavoidable correction of 
moral callousness and social egotism was effected, in 
which the apostles of reason had no part, whilst 
other prophets extolied the saving virtue of faith 
and instinct, and the blind, fruitful powers of life. 
Having adapted herself to science and industry 
through freedom of thought and trade, England 
no longer acknowledged the cravings of the soul; 
and Carlyle, Ruskin, Newman, Browning, brought 
about a readjustment of the English conscience to 
its own spiritual wants. 



12 MODERN ENGLAND 

Along with or after them, other men re-created 
collective activities and social or moral links in a 
society put out of joint by individualism; a 
spontaneous growth gave birth to trade unions; 
State interference groped its way into the statute- 
book, and went on increasing its hold upon it 
every day; the spirit of the law, as well as that 
of custom, was permeated by a new feeling of 
solidarity; and religious or aesthetic mysticism 
fostered an enthusiastic devotion to mankind. As 
a last stage in the free expansion of instincts came 
Imperialism; a mysterious intuition of common 
interests and psychological affinities united the 
mother-country to her far-away daughters by a 
thrilling sympathy; and the intoxicating pride of 
her world-wide power seized on the mind of Eng- 
land. State Socialism, the religious revival, the 
artistic movement and Imperialism, born at the 
same time as democracy and Free Trade, were the 
various expressions of the f ' revenge of instinct." 

Having thus settled again into a stable relation 
with material and moral circumstances, England 
might well believe she had finally adapted herself 
to the new world. The prosperous years from 1 8 60 
to 1880 were a period of optimism and unfaltering 
trust in the future. But soon other problems 
arose. English industry, till then supreme in all 
markets, must now struggle against competitors 
growing daily more aggressive; new nations 
the United States, Germany threatened the com- 
mercial privileges and the political influence of 
Great Britain, though not yet her independence. 
At the same time, a crisis at home corresponded 



INTRODUCTION 13 

to perils abroad. The social question came to 
the front again in a wider, more dangerous 
shape; the Labour Party, stronger every year, 
claimed its standing by the side of the historic 
parties. The latter were weakened by an inner 
principle of decay; drawn together by the necessity 
of social conservation, they were merged into one 
mass, in which identical instincts could hardly be 
disguised under various political tenets. Liberal- 
ism, which to that day had remained living and 
efficient, was disintegrated by coming into contact 
with new needs; critical and negative in its 
principles, it proved unable to organize either 
democracy or the Empire. 

At that very moment, the necessity for a rational 
organization made itself more pressingly felt; trade 
unions demanded more clearly defined rights for 
their increasing strength ; the dogma of Free Trade 
was questioned, then shaken by the pressure of 
Protectionist tendencies; and the relations of the 
mother-country with the various parts of the 
Empire required the invention of new political 
formulae. Anxiety in men's minds answered to 
this unsettled state of affairs; the Church was 
endangered on one side by the progress of rational- 
ism, on the other by sectarian differences and the 
ritualist agitation; philosophy stood wavering 
between the old beliefs and the bold innovations 
of the day; literature was overflowed by foreign 
influences, and a hankering after emotion and 
sensation permeated the healthy artistic tradition 
of England. By the end of Queen Victoria's 
reign, at the beginning of the twentieth century, 



i 4 MODERN ENGLAND 

British greatness, though still offering a stately 
front, might seem threatened with impending 
decay. 

The present time shows us a revival of Eng- 
lish energy, passionately bent on maintaining the 
national community sound and whole. A new 
readjustment has become unavoidable, and once 
again the instinct of the race looks for it in the clear 
and well-defined paths so long distasteful to it. 
In order to bear the competition of rival nations, 
younger, better equipped with logic and method, 
to raise the standard of her human value, to make 
each citizen a more active, better taught, more 
useful agent in the common struggle, to be pre- 
pared, in case of need, to defend her territory 
against a formidably trained invader, to increase, 
in a word a watchword indeed her national 
efficiency, England is to-day straining every nerve. 
And this effort brings her to seek in science and 
her self-consciousness for means of meditated 
adaptation quicker and more consistent than those 
of life. 

Instinct with renewed and vigorous youth, im- 
bued with a radical spirit, the Liberal party boldly 
takes the lead in the necessary reforms; it now 
stands in England, more than ever before, for the 
systematic correction of social evils. The nation 
at large follows its guidance, or yields to, whilst 
fighting against it; and though the opposition of 
instinctive and conservative England succeeds in 
retarding the movement as with a powerful check, 
it fails to stop it. Nay, this very opposition 
assumes a revolutionary aspect; in the present crisis 



INTRODUCTION 



J 5 



we see two programmes of substantial reforms con- 
fronting each other; and when they rejected the 
1909 Budget, the Lords chose quite as bold a 
course as did the Asquith Ministry in the Par- 
liament Bill. 

Meanwhile, a systematic plan presides over the 
development of public education; more attention 
is being paid every day to the technical parts of 
industry and commerce; the expediency of tariff 
reform and imperial federation is eagerly discussed; 
the navy is methodically strengthened, the army 
reorganized, and the possibility of conscription 
seriously considered. Those expenses call for new 
resources; the Liberal party provides for them with 
heavier taxes on wealth; the Unionist party by 
advocating the abandonment of Free Trade; and 
for or against Finance Bills, between Lords and 
Commons, rages a political conflict of exceptional 
import. 

In that atmosphere the national type itself is 
modified; infected with the nervousness and rest- 
lessness of modern life, the Englishman of to-day 
has grown less unlike his Continental neighbour. 
At the same time, thinkers and politicians proclaim 
the necessity for England of becoming more con- 
scious of herself, more intelligent and learned ; and 
through religion, daily life, hygiene, manners, a 
new spirit is diffused, a universal pragmatism, 
eagerly watching the social and practical conse- 
quences of both notions and acts. Contemporary 
England is striving to achieve intelligent efficiency. 

Thus do the moral and social characteristics of a 
great people change under the stress of circum- 



1 6 MODERN ENGLAND 

stances. This evolution is deep and pronounced 
enough to give the England of to-day a unique 
character. Shall we say yet that it completely 
severs her from her past? As was stated above, 
it would be misleading to take it so. The ulti- 
mate cause of this new search for an equilibrium, 
as on all previous occasions, is the instinctive will 
to live; and life is still here directing towards 
method and science the forces it formerly grudged 
to anything but experience. It is by the teaching 
of facts, not by a spontaneous preference, or an 
abstract principle, that England has been or is 
being convinced of the need to substitute more 
modern ways for the ancient sacred routine of her 
action and thought; empiricism, in one word, has 
found fault with empiricism. Indeed, in the 
present instance, the general doctrines in which the 
practical philosophy of a people usually finds its 
expression neither preceded nor accompanied the 
new turn that practice was taking. Contemporary 
England has not yet clearly formulated her new 
tendencies. She is still, in spite of her craving for 
more intelligence, the country in which the leading 
influence is least wielded by systems and abstract 
ideas. The principles that guide her actions must 
be inferred from those actions themselves; and to 
study the British people at the present, or at any 
period of their history, is to investigate not so 
much their doctrines as their doings. 

In conclusion, this book will briefly state the 
impression a sympathetic observer can gather from 
the present state of England; the question will also 
be raised whether the improved method through 



INTRODUCTION 17 

which she tries to increase her efficiency seems fitted 
to produce the desired end; whether this bold 
attempt at a moral transformation may not prove 
an unnecessary violence done to an ancient habit; 
and whether we should not interpret it as a symp- 
tom of some deep-set uneasiness through which 
is revealed the flagging of English vitality. 
Whatever one's final impression may be, it is 
certain that this vitality is still admirably strong, 
and that no one can yet foresee the day when it will 
be spent. 



BOOK I 

DEMOCRACY AND RATIONALISM (1832-1884) 



CHAPTER I 

HISTORICAL CONDITIONS 

I. Industry and the making of modern England. II. A 
change in the economic order: towns and country. III. A 
change in the social order : the middle class. 

I 

The chief economic cause from which modern 
) England has sprung is the development of industry 
and commerce in the eighteenth century. More 
generally, the predominance of large-scale industry 
has been the main characteristic of English social 
activities for the last century and a half. Now, the 
very notion of industrial processes bears a direct 
relation to that of rational readjustment. The im- 
provement in mechanical production, the rise of new 
classes and of a new social order, the formation of 
political and moral theories deduced from rational 
principles, and the institution of democracy in 
government and life, are intimately connected 
phenomena. In the intricate interplay of their 
actions and reactions, whatever may be the suc- 
cession man's mind enforces upon them, a common 

18 



HISTORICAL CONDITIONS 19 

feature is apparent from the first : they all manifest 
the same effort to impose some conscious discipline 
on the forces of nature or of the race, and to intro- 
duce among them through the working of the 
intelligence a clearer and better correlation of 
means to ends. 

From the day when in the course of its experi- 
ments the English genius had discovered the 
superiority of industry on a large scale over the 
older routines of production, the germ of a reform 
was planted deep in its inmost psychological ten- 
dencies. Instead of the slow, disconnected methods 
of nature, man was substituting in an important 
province of social life proceedings elaborately co- 
ordinated so as to economize the expenditure of 
strength and increase its productive power. Thence- 
forth, the ideal of systematic and rational organiza- 
tion was sure to grow by the side of the former 
ideal exclusively based on tradition and habit; 
empiricism was receiving its due counterpart, medi- 
tated adaptation. The moment (1791) when 
Burke gave its definitive expression to the well- 
known theory of the wise political passiveness of 
the British people, was the very time when, in the 
depths of the national life, the industrial tide was 
swelling which was to bring forth a reforming 
England. Factories and works were, before Radical 
doctrines or reform bills, the first examples and the 
first fruits on English soil of rationally systema- 
tized social activity. 

By its origins, it is true, the industrial era still 
belonged to empiricism. The great inventions of 
the age were due to practical shrewdness applying 

C2 



20 MODERN ENGLAND 

itself occasionally and locally to the problems of 
production and exchange. But before long, their 
consequences accumulating and influencing one 
another through their natural affinities, they grew 
into a distinctly systematic whole, which encom- 
passed all the field of economic life in an ever- 
widening circle. From that time there appeared 
a kind of logic and, as it were, of order in inven- 
tions themselves; they sprang from needs realized 
in succession, at points which might, so to speak, 
have been expected, and thus became a part of 
rational adaptation. 

Again, natural conditions, either physical or 
moral, did greatly contribute to the development 
of English industry. The existence of large coal 
and iron fields, the situation of the mining districts 
close to navigable rivers, estuaries or sea-ports, 
could not but turn the destinies of England to- 
wards an industrial future. On the other hand, 
though the faculty of methodical organization on 
a large scale is a newly acquired and still insecure 
possession of the English mind, its powers of atten- 
tion, initiative and energy date from its very 
beginnings. Ardent from the first in its contest 
with the material world, it was destined to curb 
the forces of nature and turn them to use before 
a people of a more speculative disposition could 
have even conquered them. Thus the primary 
conditions from which the transformation of 
modern England sprang were bound up with 
the physical and moral characteristics of the Eng- 
lish land and race; here once more one may say 
that nothing happened by mere chance; that 



HISTORICAL CONDITIONS 21 

England, by undergoing the change which in- 
dustry brought about, only fulfilled her destiny. 
The length of her coast-line, her exterior and 
insular position in Europe, the preferences of her 
inhabitants, had made her a commercial nation. It 
is well known how in the eighteenth century 
economic and political causes secured for her the 
sovereignty of the sea, and how her colonial empire 
grew. The new facilities afforded for trade, the 
extension of the market, called for more intensive 
production; modern industry rose out of modern 
commerce. And in the iron, spinning and weaving 
industries, long established in England, the origi- 
nality and perseverance which resulted in the in- 
vention of new machinery, the patient efforts of 
a Boulton, a Watt, a Crompton, still belonged to 
that continuous line of exertions from which, under 
the sole guidance of instinct, without any system- 
atic view, the material welfare, the political order 
and the national greatness of the English people 
have wholly taken rise. 

But as soon as the industrial system was fully 
developed, this creation of triumphant empiricism 
proved adverse to empiricism. The inner move- 
ment with which the organism was instinct was 
quicker, more unbroken, than that of the older 
economic cycles; in it, the correspondence between 
supply and demand obeyed a more rapid and 
regular rhythm; the necessity to produce more at 
lower cost worked like a constantly accelerating 
impulse; and the formation of a world-wide market, 
all the parts of which were interdependent and 
open to the same influences, required of all manu- 



22 MODERN ENGLAND 

facturers a capacity for taking in a large field at one 
glance. Simultaneously, science, either pure or 
applied, became daily a more essential part of the 
industrial process; technical arts grew more elabor- 
ate, their operations more minute and precise. 
Every factory acted like a magnet, drawing to 
itself well-trained minds and powers of organiza- 
tion as well as daring and energetic characters. 
So industry was a radiating centre of the scientific 
spirit; it tended to undermine routine or to per- 
meate it with an empiricism ever more methodical, 
self -reforming and alert; it gave rise to quicker 
and more conscious readjustments. So far, it was 
indeed at the starting-point of that evolutionary 
process, moral as well as economic, which to this 
day characterizes modern England; and it has had 
countless ever-widening consequences in all the 
provinces of thought and action. 

For modern industry, commercial expansion, 
and the capitalistic state of society which prepared 
the way for and followed them have been influences 
unceasingly at work ; their social and moral effects 
have developed without any stop, if not without 
any check, all through the nineteenth century. It 
was between the years 1770 and 1800 that the 
industrial era opened in England. The preceding 
years had witnessed the rise of commerce and of 
the merchant class; mills, the first signs of a 
\ concentration in industry, had been built in the 
-A higher valleys, on the banks of torrents which 
supplied them with motive power. Before long 
the steam-engine was improved; the spinning- and 
weaving-machines were invented; steam was used 






HISTORICAL CONDITIONS 23 

as their motive power. The manufacture of pottery 
was transformed, that of iron renewed. In the 
northern and western counties, in Lancashire, 
Yorkshire and Staffordshire, an ever-increasing 
population, a building rage, a fever of enterprise! 
multiplied the number of factories and industrial 
centres. By the end of the eighteenth centuryl 
England was already the land of modern industry ) 

From 1800 to 1830, in spite of political or 
economic disturbances, this onward progress was 
pursued. The carrying traffic afforded new em- 
ployment to capital and the faculties of initiative, 
and new facilities to commerce. The population 
of England, the figures of her trade, her produc- 
tive activity, increased with one and the same im- 
pulse. The industrial centres grew, business towns 
of mushroom growth overtook the older, quiet 
cities; a new nation grew up outside the pale of 
ancient society. And this evolution was to be- 
come ever more intense, to the very last years of 
the century. One can perceive ups and downs in 
English economic history from 1830 to 1880. 
But, on the whole, statistics point to an ever- 
increasing industrial and commercial prosperity. 

The nineteenth century in England was filled, 
to its declining years, by that abundant, inexhaust- 
ible tidal wave of enterprise, production and wealth 
which rose on British ground during the eighteenth 
century. Whatever may be the rivalries of the 
present, the anxieties of the future, the main 
characteristic of modern England is still her intense 
economic activity; she is still the native country, 
if not the only home, of fully developed industry. 



24 MODERN ENGLAND 



II 

The consequences of this economic movement 
are all apparent in the England of to-day; but they 
came to light successively in that of yesterday. 
The first and most obvious struck all observers 
as early as the beginning of the last century. Eng- 
land still bears its strongly marked stamp. It is 
possible to describe it by saying that life ebbed 
from the country to the towns, from agriculture 
to commerce and industry, from the south to the 
north and west. Such are the chief aspects of 
what might be called a shifting of the natural and 
social equilibrium. 

When speaking of the industrial revolution, 
historians mention as well an agrarian one. In the 
latter half of the eighteenth century agriculture in 
England seemed to be struck with incurable decay. 
Till then the cultivation of the soil and the breed- 
ing of cattle had been, with commerce, the chief 
sources of public wealth. The older, still half- 
mediaeval society that which lives in Fielding's 
novels was essentially of the agricultural type. 
Governed by an aristocracy of landlords and 
squires, the English people was mainly composed of 
peasants and farmers. The country, leaving out 
the larger towns, was divided into economic circles 
rather narrow, almost independent of one another, 
producing nearly all the necessaries of life, and 
gathered round trade centres of limited attraction, 
the market towns. 

The new prosperity of commerce and industry 



HISTORICAL CONDITIONS 25 

acted like a disintegrating force upon that well- 
ordered state of things. The landowners, in whom 
the spirit of enterprise was stirring more and more, 
carried out by legal contrivances the enclosure of 
common pastures, the free use of which was an 
indispensable resource for a whole class of labourers 
and copyholders. At the same time, wealthy mer- 
chants and manufacturers were buying large 
estates and turning productive land into parks. 
Home industry the hand-loom weaving of cloth, 
which occupied the leisure-time of country people, 
was ruined by the competition of machinery. The 
bait of higher wages drew to the industrial centres 
crowds of farmers and field-labourers whom poverty 
drove from their homes. Lastly, the commercial 
expansion which came before and followed the rise 
of modern industry considerably enlarged the 
market in which England could buy her food. The 
exportation of industrial goods to foreign lands 
called for a compensatory import trade in agricul- 
tural produce. Thus was a new economic system 
organized within a few decades; agriculture was 
neglected to the advantage of industry and com- 
merce; and England became entirely dependent on 
the rest of the world for her subsistence as well as 
for her wealth. 

Such were the causes of that desertion of country 
districts which has grown more marked ever since. 
Cottages crumbled to ruin or were pulled down 
by the impatient purchasers of the ground; whole 
villages were swept away; a migrating people in- 
vaded the industrial quarters of large towns. The 
proportion of the rural population to the urban 



26 MODERN ENGLAND 

kept constantly decreasing; it is now lower in 
England than anywhere else. The various parts 
of Great Britain did not equally feel this social 
upheaval. Geological and geographical causes 
had concentrated the new industries in the north- 
western and south-western regions, and in the south 
of Scotland; in these parts chiefly the populous 
towns developed; in the eastern and southern 
counties, and in Ireland, solitude and desolation 
prevailed. The industrial, busy, energetic north, 
and the agricultural, drowsy, aristocratic south, thus 
stood opposed. At the present day, the traveller 
who goes over the gently undulating regions of 
the south and of the midlands, or follows the 
eastern coast up to the borders of Scotland, crosses 
fields which the nature of the soil and the damp 
climate keep always green, bounded by hedges, 
strewn with clumps of trees; the whole looks bright 
and pleasant, but cultivation is lacking, and human 
habitations are scarce. Wide pleasure-grounds and 
game preserves, groves, and vast meadows, sur- 
round the castles, manor-houses or farms ; here and 
there from behind the rich dark-green foliage of 
the oaks rises the grey tower of a village church. 

How different is the impression when one draws 
near the industrial districts, the more important 
harbours, London above all, the huge town which 
sums up within itself all English economic activi- 
ties; an intense, noisy life replaces the drowsy 
stillness of the fields and villages; on the dark 
misty sky stand out scores of tall chimneys, rail- 
ways stretch away in every direction; rows of small 
brick houses, huddled close together, yellow or red, 



HISTORICAL CONDITIONS 27 

all similar, surround the swarming, bustling, 
murky business centres in an ever-widening circle. 
Whole counties thus constitute vast urban dis- 
tricts, hardly chequered with scanty gardens and a 
few starved patches of green; the smoke never 
completely clears away, the thud of machines ever 
shakes the ground with a dull vibration. Caused 
by an evolution common to all the European 
countries of advanced civilization, this contrast is 
in England more striking, more thorough, than 
anywhere else. 

A more precise economic description of the Eng- 
lish land should, of course, add many shades to 
the preceding sketch. There are intermediate dis- 
tricts, in which industry and field-work are both 
practised; some branches of agriculture are still 
thriving, and life has not entirely ebbed away from 
the country. A summary survey must leave out 
anything but the pronounced traits of that 
economic and social opposition which is the salient 
feature of both the physical and the human aspects 
of England. This nation has carried to its utmost 
limit the evolution which, during the nineteenth 
century, drove European civilization out of its 
former surroundings. Turned to use only as the 
source of mineral wealth, the earth has more and 
more become the mere necessary support of all 
national activities; and its surface tends to be only 
the floor of an immense workshop. Uprooted 
from the open country which had given it its 
vigour, the race must more and more feel the 
strain of town life. One half of England is over- 
populated, the other half seems stricken with 



28 MODERN ENGLAND 

decay. A clearer realization of this essential fact 
and its consequences contributes in no small degree 
to the spirit of reform which at present urges men's 
wishes towards a salutary readjustment, a return to 
nature. 



Ill 

The new nation which grew up in the towns 
all through the nineteenth century comprised 
two equally active orders, whose unavoidable 
antagonism was thenceforth to be the main moving 
power of English politics. Along with modern 
industry were developed the urban workman and 
the middle-class tradesman. 

No doubt, the town working men were not the 
only members of that particularly disinherited 
order whose grievances, in England as elsewhere, 
have promoted or inspired most social theories, 
schemes and enactments. English Socialism has 
not only sprung from industrial poverty; the 
condition of the workers of the fields labourers, 
small farmers made still more serious by the agri- 
cultural crisis, was an important chapter of the 
social question in the nineteenth century. But, on 
the whole, the proletariat was made up of the work- 
shop and factory operatives. The distribution of 
that human mass and, as it were, that human race 
through the industrial regions of the north and 
west, the formation of its moral idiosyncrasies, 
the shaping of new economic organizations in- 
tended as weapons for the defence of its interests, 



HISTORICAL CONDITIONS 29 

the hidden or open pressure of its discontent or 
wishes on public opinion and the government, and 
the birth of a class-consciousness common to its 
various parts, are social facts of primary importance 
in the recent history of England. 

However, the working men's movements, their 
aims and efforts, as well as the feelings and actions 
which the sight of their debased condition has 
suggested to other classes, belong rather to the 
domain of instinctive than to that of meditated 
adaptation. Scientific Socialism has not met in 
England with the same fortune as in Germany; and 
the intervention of the State has not so much been 
justified by systematic theories as advocated by 
intuitive doctrines and exemplified by empirical 
activities. It was only at a recent date that the 
positive investigation of the social problem, of its 
material and moral factors, its possible solutions or 
alleviations, became a formative element of that 
general frame of mind which may be considered as 
the characteristic feature of contemporary Eng- 
land : the voluntary and thoughtful wish for a 
better national organization. Until that time, the 
direct influence of the proletariat in the psycho- 
logical or the political field must be considered as 
associated with another aspect of modern English 
history, which could be described as a recoil of 
rationalism and meditated adaptation. That in- 
fluence will be studied along with the " revenge of 
instinct." 

On the contrary, the development of the trading 
order was closely connected with the wave of 
rationalism which broke at the time when modern 



30 MODERN ENGLAND 

England was rising. The progress of the middle 
class was the social equivalent of both these move- 
ments, intellectual and spiritual alike. This 
class embodied in itself the spirit and influence of 
that large-scale industry of which it was the out- 
come; it was the focus of that zeal for a more 
conscious adaptation which seized and impelled 
the English mind after 1830. So its strength, its 
temper and tendencies must be summed up at once 
before passing on to liberal doctrines and the advent 
of democracy. 

In the eighteenth century the middle class was 
still the " gentry," half aristocratic, mostly com- 
posed of landowners, clergy, and lawyers. Even 
then, however, the increase of the merchant class 
in number and wealth introduced into that old- 
fashioned body a more modern element, imbued 
with an impatient, innovating spirit. Between 
1760 and 1830 the new recruits swamped the 
older ranks. Mill owners, manufacturers, business 
managers, merchants, brokers, capitalists, had 
multiplied along with the wonderful expansion of 
industry and commerce. In London, Manchester, 
Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle, and in a 
score of less busy centres, they had seized upon that 
social supremacy which is the privilege of riches, 
and throughout the kingdom their aspirations, 
their instincts, united them in a common will, 
stirred in them the consciousness of their strength 
and their rights. 

Their strength had to make itself felt, their 
rights to make themselves recognized; there were 
many obstacles in their path. In the former state 



HISTORICAL CONDITIONS 31 

of things, where the measure of wealth was the 
possession of land, men were fixed to one spot, the 
landlord by his interest, the tenant by the survival 
of feudal customs. The economic doctrines, yet in 
their first stage, and based on the mercantile theory, 
considered the accumulation of gold and silver as 
a standard of the wealth of nations, and everywhere 
set up barriers against their free circulation. In- 
dustry was thus hampered by laws and the habits of 
life. It needed workmen, and there were regula- 
tions to limit the number of apprentices, to forbid 
all emigration of country labourers to the towns. 
It needed free exchange of goods, that food might 
be cheap, wages low, and that British trade should 
not meet with prohibitive tariffs in foreign lands; 
the spirit of the old statute-book was protectionist, 
and after 1 8 1 5 the Corn Laws raised the price of 
bread to the advantage of landlords. 

No doubt these obstacles were not insurmount- 
able; what the law had done the law could undo. 
But at this point the new merchant class came into 
collision with the political structure of the old 
society. The English constitution about the end 
of the eighteenth century was anything but demo- 
cratic. The will of the ruling classes alone was 
consulted in the choice of the national representa- 
tives; members were nominated by noble patrons, 
corporations, or a few electors, mostly persons of 
influence and wealth. The most important centres 
of industry and commerce, the new large towns, 
were excluded from the franchise; the constitu- 
encies were the same as of old, and the decay of 
most of the old boroughs did not deprive them of 



32 MODERN ENGLAND 

their now unjustifiable privileges. Here a farm 
would appoint a member, there a populous, busy 
town would elect none. Lastly, the mind of the 
nation was yet imbued with feudal prejudices; 
social prestige was the appanage of landed wealth; 
the ownership of land was the source of honours, 
functions, responsibilities, if it was no longer the 
unique source of power; commerce and industry, 
on the other hand, were yet tainted with social 
inferiority; the nobility, the gentry, the professions, 
looked down upon manufacturers and merchants. 

In the coming struggle, the latter could count 
upon the vigour of a new-born class, and of un- 
satisfied appetites. They had courage, loved effort 
for its own sake, and possessed the faculty of 
initiative; they would naturally extend to political 
problems the methods by which they had conquered 
other more matter-of-fact difficulties. Their in- 
dependent temper, their strong will, gave them an 
individualistic bent; their positive turn of mind, 
their knowledge of business, fortified in them the 
utilitarian instincts of the race. In them expanded 
perhaps the most essential tendencies, at any rate 
the most widespread ones, of the English genius : 
the practical, concrete, realistic tendencies. They 
were to set the stamp of their idiosyncrasies on the 
new society that was the outcome of their triumph, 
on modern England; and subsequently the con- 
trary, complementary influence of other needs and 
other instincts was to smooth down that stamp 
without erasing it. 

But chiefly, the industrial and trading middle 
class carried in itself the motive power of all 



HISTORICAL CONDITIONS 33 

reforms; it felt the want of, and had a preference 
for, efficient organizations not from systematic 
views, but from the teaching of experience. It 
was galled by the burden of routine, and so destined 
to alleviate it. In these men the economic revolu- 
tion had focused its power of initiative and enter- 
prise; they had acquired the sense of improved 
methods from the use of machinery. Determined 
on getting elbow-room in the society where they 
found no breathing-space, they were to dare im- 
pose a more rational order upon it, so as to gain 
their proper place in it. As much imbued as the 
members of any other class with the matter-of-fact 
habits of the English mind, as strongly opposed to 
the disinterested play of ideas, they more fully 
realized the modern necessities of life, and were to 
rise above temporary adjustments to make empiri- 
cism into a coherent whole. It was from them that 
there rose in England, either directly or through 
the intermediary of theories, the first wave of 
political and social rationalism; they were the 
source of meditated adaptation. 



CHAPTER II 



DOCTRINES 



I. Rationalism and empiricism in English history. II. The 
utilitarian philosophy: the political theory of democracy. 
III. The economics of individualism : the Free Trade move- 
ment. IV. Darwinism and evolutionism : the theory of 
adaptation. V. Religious rationalism : Broad Church and 
agnosticism. 



What is commonly called the advent of Eng- 
lish democracy that is to say, the accession to 
power of the middle classes and the extension of 
the franchise to the people, coincided with a 
widespread philosophical and political movement, 
rational and liberal in tendency, which justified 
that evolution, or at least created around it a 
favourable atmosphere. With this movement 
were connected nearly all the doctrines, the main 
principle of which was a clearer organization of 
ideas or facts. To this, therefore, can be attributed 
one whole aspect of modern England, if not the 
most important one, at least that by which she 
is most easily differentiated from her older state. 

No doubt the application of reason to moral and 
social problems is not necessarily bound up with 
the advent of democracy; it can be traced much 
further back in England than the nineteenth cen- 

34 



DOCTRINES 35 

tury. Yet one can discover a connection, as early 
as the preceding centuries, between the rise of the 
middle class, the first phase in the development 
of modern society, and the spreading of rationalist 
doctrines; in 1688, the English merchants, who 
played a leading part in the restoration of public 
liberties, found themselves in natural agree- 
ment with the ideas of Locke, just as the manu- 
facturers of 1832 thought it expedient to follow 
the guidance of Bentham. Again, the first en- 
deavours of modern philosophy in England, the 
doctrines of Bacon and Locke, had been instinct 
with an empirical spirit; experience was their guide, 
the source from which they constantly drew, and 
it has been possible to point them out as the fittest 
illustration of the experimental tendencies of the 
English mind. But the empiricism of Locke is 
one thing, and the impassioned preference of a 
Burke for instinctive adaptation is another. What- 
ever may be the regard shown by the former for 
the sovereign right of things as they are, however 
cautious he may prove in his study of possible 
reforms, he allows thought to bring some order 
into facts, provided their unconquerable necessi- 
sities are acknowledged, and all their data taken 
into account. By refining on mere empiricism, 
Bacon and Locke diverged from intellectual 
routine, from pure and simple submission to 
nature and history; they opened the way for the 
attempts of reason to correct or change what exists. 
So far they were essentially different from Burke, 
a genuine representative of uncompromising 
empiricism. 
d 2 



2>6 MODERN ENGLAND 

So the rationalistic liberalism which took the 
lead in the formation of modern England was 
rooted on English soil in an already ancient philo- 
sophic tradition. It was, on the other hand, con- 
nected with a network of European causes and 
influences; like French rationalism, it can be traced 
back to the Renaissance; the mind freed from its 
old fetters was destined to find in itself the light 
that gives the world its coherent intelligibility. 
This result was achieved in France by the doctrine 
of Descartes as early as the seventeenth century. 
The English genius, more positive, better aware 
of natural necessities, reached it later and only by 
degrees. Bacon and Locke stated the theory of 
empiricism that is to say, formulated the laws 
which man must obey in order to rule over nature. 
By criticizing the theory of innate ideas, Locke 
overthrew the belief in a divinely established 
harmony between man's mind and the universe, 
and thus opened for us the possibility of impart- 
ing to the universe a new order, the source of 
which is in ourselves. About the middle of the 
eighteenth century, the psychological rhythm of 
English thought, at one with the European 
rhythm, showed an indisputable predominance of 
the intellectual faculties over the sensitive ones; 
it was the era of " philosophy, 55 the time of 
" enlightenment, 55 when literature, art, religion 
and life were, or tried to be, reasonable. 

A synthesis of all those elements was to be 
found in the wave of theoretical and practical 
rationalism usually called the utilitarian move- 
ment. With Hume, Adam Smith, Priestley, and 



DOCTRINES 37 

the English disciples of the French Revolution, 
Paine and Godwin, intellectualism combined with 
hopes of political and social progress reached the 
dawn of the Romantic Movement, that great swing 
of the moral pendulum by which the balance was 
restored and the sensibility given its due. With 
Bentham and the Benthamites, rationalism outlived 
the romantic reaction, and, after Waterloo, came 
in contact with a new generation, reassured but 
secretly uneasy, ripe for reforms which no revolu- 
tionary scare could longer delay. From Bentham 
and his disciples were derived the various forms 
of liberalism and rational philosophy of the nine- 
teenth century. 



II 

In the forefront of the intellectual forces which 
moulded modern England stands a liberal, individu- 
alistic and democratic movement, the utilitarian 
philosophy and political economy. Though their 
influence is not so much felt in the England of 
to-day, these doctrines nevertheless react in- 
directly on the circumstances of the present time. 
The waves they diffused over the century still 
bathe the foundations of modern England, under 
new names and by distant derivations. This is, 
then, the place to trace their main currents. 

The utilitarian philosophy was based on the 
positive and realistic instincts of the English mind. 
But it further developed these tendencies, pushed 
them to their utmost limit, and finally to a 






38 MODERN ENGLAND 

contradiction : it linked into a systematic whole 
elements the special value of which was their 
concreteness and pliancy. That is how, whilst at 
bottom in harmony with the genius of the race, 
it came at one time to be opposed to it. For 
its fortune was due to exceptional circumstances, 
to the predominance of the need for analysis and 
rational organization which accompanied the vic- 
tory of the middle classes. Helped on by the 
current of social evolution, it imparted a doctrine, 
principles and a renewed vigour to the old em- 
pirical liberalism then exhausted by its long- 
deferred and incomplete triumph; for the routine 
of the Whigs it substituted philosophical radical- 
ism ; for the vague tendencies of industrial individu- 
alism it found a justification in political economy. 
The Utilitarians had hardly any metaphysics; 
chiefly intent on practical problems, they applied 
their endeavours to the sciences of man 
psychology, ethics, law, economy. One spirit 
pervades all these doctrines. The English 
rationalism which corresponded, about 1820, to 
the French philosophy of the eighteenth century 
differed from its predecessor, whose heir it is in 
so many respects, by its more exclusively positive 
character. The question is, how to establish the 
happiness of mankind, for all pure speculation 
is futile. Now, the science of the relations 
between men implies the knowledge of the in- 
dividual; and Bentham's politics are based on his 
ethics, which in their turn are based on his 
psychology. Everybody knows the main lines of 
this concatenation of ideas, one of the clearest and 



DOCTRINES 39 

most systematic that English thought has pro- 
duced. There is not in man any irreducible 
spiritual activity, any absolute or transcendent 
self, any innate idea; taking up the task begun by 
Locke, and continued by Hume and Priestley, 
Bentham and James Mill bring it to comple- 
tion; they point out the mechanism through 
which, from elementary sensation, are derived the 
so-called higher activities of the mind. Per- 
ceptions are combined according to the laws of 
mental association : the laws of contiguity, resem- 
blance and contrast; and the most complex opera- 
tions of the intellect can be reduced to these 
simple elements. 

In the same way, the pursuit of pleasure is for 
every man a primary necessity, and, so to speak, 
a reflex action; good will thus consist in seeking 
one's true pleasure, or real interest; evil, in seek- 
ing false ones. Ethics will be the arithmetic 
of pleasures. Which are not only the most in- 
tense, but the most lasting, the most easily 
renewed ? Those, surely, which pertain less to the 
senses than to the mind. Interest well understood 
thus leads man to find his own delight in that of 
others; and altruism is the outcome of egotism. 
Human appetites are like elemental forces, whose 
interaction, enlightened by reason, must mechanic- 
ally produce moral harmony; the chief task of the 
moralist is to teach men the calculation which must 
guide their conduct; the sum total of all these 
individual computations will be for society as a 
whole the highest possible net product. The 
subsequent efforts of the utilitarian moralists were 



40 MODERN ENGLAND 

to aim at making nicer distinctions between 
pleasures, and at bringing their hierarchy into 
closer agreement with that which the human 
conscience has established among disinterested 
gratifications. 

Thus will the interest of all spring from every- 
body's personal satisfaction; and, indeed, the 
interest of all is the supreme good of the State. 
The greatest happiness of the greatest number, 
such is the true principle of government. And 
so democracy, or at least political equality, results 
from utilitarian logic as applied to human policy. 
For what is monarchy ? The exclusive rule of one 
self-seeking man; the function of the sovereign is 
vitiated in its essence, and corrupts the society 
over which he reigns. Aristocracy is the regime 
in which one class pursues its own interest at the 
expense of the public good; the traditional manage- 
ment of the commonwealth in England, according 
to Bentham and his friends, affords a sad example 
of this political absurdity. On the contrary, demo- 
cracy is in conformity with reason; each man natur- 
ally seeking his own best good, the government of 
all will seek that of all; or rather, as unanimity is 
not often realized, the rule of the majority is the 
best possible approach to social justice. Reformers 
must strive to organize such a system. 

On the narrow foundation of those simple prin- 
ciples and arguments was erected in England, 
about 1820, the rational fabric called philosophic 
Radicalism. It was conspicuous by its pronounced 
opposition to the habits of the English mind. 
No political doctrine had ever before assumed such 



DOCTRINES 41 

a clear-cut expression in its postulates, such a strict 
form in its deductions. It constituted a typical 
programme of meditated readjustment. Favoured 
by social circumstances, by the intellectual needs 
of the time, it met, about 1830, with extraordinary 
success. Spread by clubs, magazines, lectures, the 
propagandism of energetic young men, it gave a 
theoretical justification to the longing for reform 
with which public opinion was astir. But it did 
not survive the incomplete victory of 1832; 
running counter as it did, with its rigorous intel- 
lectualism, to the instinct for compromise inherent 
in the English temperament, it lost all influence 
on the day when vanished its transitory har- 
mony with the essential interests of an intensely 
active class. Diffused thenceforth, popularized 
and toned down, it merged into the Liberalism of 
the Manchester school; and its vigorous, uncom- 
promising method lay dormant, to awake only at 
the end of the century, under the stimulus of new 
social needs. It none the less gave its stamina 
to middle-class criticism of existing conditions, and 
fortified the liberal doctrines, which but for it 
would have remained purely empirical. 

About i860, the philosophical tradition within 
Liberalism was represented by John Stuart Mill. 
With him political science increased in breadth 
and complexity; adhering to the general views of 
his predecessors, he yet reacted against the too 
simple abstraction of their formulae. For the 
" geometrical " method of his father, James Mill, 
he substituted the historical or "a posteriori 
deductive " method ; on the data of history 



42 MODERN ENGLAND 

empirical generalizations were grounded, and these 
were verified by being deduced from the laws of 
human nature previously stated. One can perceive 
here the influence of Comte, whose positivism was 
then gaining a footing in England, and of that 
new spirit of scientific objectivity which character- 
izes the middle period of the century. In the field 
of practice, John Stuart Mill chiefly emphasized 
the advantages of liberty; he strove to extend the 
bounds of the domain left to individual initiative, 
and thus to arrest the downward progress towards 
tyranny of the now inevitable democracy. An 
ever-ready attention to the rights of the minority, 
a broad intellectual tolerance, an ever-watchful 
distrust of the encroachments of the State upon 
private consciences, were thenceforward essential 
traits of the political attitude of the Liberal 
doctrinaires. The influence of Spencer was to 
harmonize with theirs; he too was to set up the 
individual versus the State in a famous book; and 
English Liberalism was to preserve this negative 
standpoint till the crisis which about the end of the 
century awoke it to the vital necessity of a change. 



Ill 

At the same time that the political problem was 
being freely discussed, philosophers passed on to 
the social problem. For two centuries already 
English thinkers had been attracted by the mysteri- 
ous laws of the prosperity of nations. But modern 
political economy, created between 1750 and 1800 



I 



DOCTRINES 43 

by the French " physiocrats " and Adam Smith, 
assumed the character of a science, and was made 
into a body of strict reasonings, during the first 
thirty years of the nineteenth century. It brought 
to the industrial and trading middle classes the 
intellectual support they needed to establish the 
freedom of production and trade. 

The liberal or " orthodox " political economy, 
as it has been since called by the advocates of the 
interventionist or socialistic economy, combined 
with the utilitarian philosophy and Benthamism 
into a homogeneous whole. The same men, in 
many cases, were leaders of both movements; the 
two doctrines were united by natural affinities. 
Like Bentham's politics, Ricardo's economy is 
purely intellectual; it appeals only to reason, and 
leaves out intuition and feeling. Though both 
theories claimed to be based on experience, and 
were indeed imbued with a strong positive and 
realistic tendency, they deviated from pure objec- 
tivity and put on an abstract and deductive char- 
acter. Both expressed the individualistic and 
critical effort of the middle classes, for a time 
checked in their advance by the vestiges of the 
ancient empirical order. Political economy rose 
against mediaeval routine and protectionist regula- 
tions as eagerly as the science of politics against 
the privileges of the ruling aristocracy. So the 
system elaborated, or rather perfected, by Ricardo 
became part and parcel of the " philosophic " 
Radicalism of 1830. When public favour forsook 
the philosophic Radicals, and all influence slipped 
from their hands, their economic watchwords 



44 MODERN ENGLAND 

survived them, and supplied the Liberalism of the 
Manchester school with its dogmas. 

Each of the masters had contributed his part 
to the body of doctrines held in common. Adam 
Smith had formulated the theory of value; he had 
thrown light on the increase in production under 
the rule of the division of labour, at the very 
time when factories and works were carrying 
further the application mills had made of this 
system; he had enunciated the famous maxim of 
laisser-faire, dealing decisive blows to the inter- 
ventionist and protectionist system still in favour, 
and pointing out the advantages of unrestrained 
freedom in production and exchange. After him, 
Malthus had studied the possible consequences of 
over-population, at the very time when modern 
industry was raising its first human harvests on 
English ground. Ricardo lastly, making these 
ideas into a system, had added to them his own 
theory of rent, and had grappled with the problem 
of the distribution of wealth. The doctrine was 
then constituted in its essential and definitive 
elements. The strenuous propaganda by means of 
which the disciples James Mill, MacCulloch, 
Nassau Senior spread it far and wide from 1820 
to 1850, did not materially add to it. John 
Stuart Mill, though in close touch with the utili- 
tarian and liberal traditions, was the first to try 
and infuse a new spirit into economy; but in spite 
of his attempt, the classical views were to hold 
their ground almost unchanged to the end of the 
century. 

Ricardo's system is a theory of individualism. 
He chose to consider as natural necessities the 



DOCTRINES 45 

social conditions created by industrial competition. 
Society thus appeared as an aggregate of indi- 
viduals, exactly similar to atomic elements endowed 
with a constantly operating force, the pursuit of 
their interests; with entire mobility, thanks to the 
breaking of the fetters by which the old regulations 
hampered the free circulation of men and goods; 
with a faculty of discerning their proper advantage 
substantially equal in all. Now, those atoms are 
not whirling in empty space; they cannot leave 
the surface of the earth, the necessary plane of 
all human activity and the only source of 
all nourishment. Therefore the ownership and 
cultivation of land are the primary condition of 
social life, and the most essential privilege. As 
for the origin of private property in land, it is 
not discussed : the proprietorship of a few is a 
fact. And thus is at once determined the social 
order; three classes are now distinguishable: the 
landowners; the traders and manufacturers, who 
manipulate the produce of the soil, transform or ex- 
change it, thanks to the possession of capital; and 
lastly the wage-earners, who by their work create 
the value of things. For the value of an object 
is measured, not by its price, but by the quantity 
of human work involved in it. The fortune of 
this last theory is well known; it was to supply 
Marx with the starting-point of his doctrine of 
surplus-value, and orthodox German collectivism 
was thus to build up its main theoretical contention 
with English materials, as well as to illustrate its de- 
scription of the capitalistic order with English facts. 
But a disturbing agent interferes with the work- 
ing of the economic mechanism just constituted : 



46 MODERN ENGLAND 

population increases at a quicker rate than the 
production of food; the former in a geometrical 
progression, Malthus had said, the latter in an 
arithmetical one. Vainly has nature tried to fore- 
stall this danger : hunger, disease, war, are unable 
to check the undesirable swarming of the industrial 
class; the will of man must intervene; wisdom 
requires that all, especially the wage-earner, should 
marry late, and that one's family should not 
exceed one's income. In spite of this volun- 
tary restriction, population will always tend to 
increase quicker than wealth and food; and thus, 
this peril being constantly realized, the pheno- 
menon of rent will never fail to take place. As 
the mouths to feed are growing more numerous, 
it becomes necessary to till new lands, of necessity 
less fertile, the best soil having been everywhere 
first cultivated; and every time a zone of poorer 
ground is ploughed up round the older fields, the 
cost price of the produce in this border zone, 
higher than anywhere else, will spread level like 
a fluid over the selling prices through the whole 
land : for the law of the market is the equalization 
of selling prices for goods of the same kind, what- 
ever their diverse origins; and thus the most costly 
cultivation, that of the newly broken grounds, will 
determine the amount of the benefit or rent for 
the more cheaply cultivated estates. And in that 
progress towards the distant but inevitable cata- 
strophe of universal famine, the classes keeping 
their several attributes and functions, the distribu- 
tion of wealth remaining the same, the privilege 
of owning land will be more and more rewarded, 



DOCTRINES 47 

rents will rise more and more; commercial profits 
will, on the contrary, get lower, under the pressure 
of machinery and competition; wages will rise 
slightly less than the prices of goods. And so 
this vision of the future ends in gloom. 

Political economy, however, is not only an 
explanation of the social mechanism, in its typical 
simplicity; at the time when it received its com- 
plete expression, it made a vigorous onslaught on 
such existing institutions as stopped or hampered 
the actual working of that mechanism. The 
philosophic Radicals of 1830 urged bitter griev- 
ances against the spirit of authority and inter- 
vention. With remarkable consistency they sup- 
ported the protests of the first working men's 
unions against the Combination Laws, which 
prohibited such associations. They denounced 
the Statute of Apprentices, the old regulations 
which in every trade limited the number of 
probationers, and their time of service; the law of 
Settlement, by which the country labourer was 
bound to his parish; and the Poor Law, which 
acknowledged the right of the destitute to live, 
prevented the extinction of misery, and even 
encouraged it to multiply. On all these points 
they had already triumphed when Queen Victoria's 
reign began. 

But the great economic achievement of the 
doctrinaire Liberals was Free Trade; and to accom- 
plish it, they needed more protracted efforts, an 
alliance with all middle-class forces, and the con- 
certed action of business men and philosophers. The 
name of the Manchester school is associated with 






48 MODERN ENGLAND 

an agitation which deeply stirred the public mind; 
with the passing of a radical reform, justified in 
principle by theoretic proofs, as it was called for 
by conscious interests; with a patent example of 
meditated adaptation. 

The men of Manchester were eminent repre- 
sentatives of one aspect of English politics and 
intellectual life about the middle of last century; 
they have even contributed essential features to 
the physiognomy of Liberal middle-class England 
down to the present time. With Cobden and 
Bright, the doctrines of the philosophic Radicals 
took a more decidedly practical turn; with them 
the objective realistic character of the normal 
English mind grew predominant again. They 
abode by the principles of classical economy; but 
they dwelt more willingly on their application. 
Belonging to the industrial class, they spontane- 
ously shared its instincts, tendencies and tastes; 
they stood out as the champions of a cause, the 
leaders of a party, the examples of a moral and 
social type. Their clear-sighted activity, their 
perspicuous thinking, their firm grasp of realities, 
their energy and perseverance, were akin at the 
same time to the average qualities of the English 
race, in its traditional robustness, and to the new 
faculties developed among the factory owners and 
business men by the necessities of production and 
exchange. They reveal the depth of the moral 
transformation which was bending the empirical 
habits of English thought towards a bolder and 
more logical exercise of initiative, in both the 
practical and intellectual fields. 



DOCTRINES 49 

The history of the Free Trade movement is well 
known. It raised, about 1840, modern England 
against the England of the past; the impatient 
masses of the middle class against the haughty 
caste of the landlords. The immediate cause of 
the struggle was the protectionist system, and 
more particularly the Corn Laws; but the issues 
were wider : the nobility were fighting for their 
political influence, as well as for their economic 
privileges. To justify the artificial raising of the 
price of bread, they did not lack reasons to put 
forth : it was with taxes levied on their incomes 
that England had led Europe against Napoleon; 
a national compensation was due to them; more- 
over, the decay of English agriculture would leave 
the economic life of the country at the mercy of 
foreign nations. The men of Manchester, on the 
contrary, instinct with a philanthropic zeal, opened 
prosperous and peaceful, almost internationalist, 
prospects. They dreamt of a universal common- 
wealth based on commerce, on free relations 
between states, and on a constant exchange of 
commodities and ideas. Temperate dreams 
indeed, still fraught with wisdom and clear- 
sightedness, grounded on a positive sense of 
realities; but dreams in which their reason grew 
impassioned and ranged far and wide, losing sight 
of actual difficulties. 

One should not forget that some class-interest 
lay unquestionably at the bottom of their action; 
when Cobden and Bright demanded the suppres- 
sion of taxes on foreign goods, they promoted the 
cause of the manufacturers, as low wages depended 

E 



So MODERN ENGLAND 

on cheap food. In the contest of the landlords 
with the " cotton lords " there came clearly to light 
that struggle of the country gentry and the agricul- 
tural interest with the employers of labour which 
has been ever since a more or less general trait of 
political life in the advanced nations of Europe, 
and which is but an episode in the war of classes. 
Again, the Manchester men abated nothing of 
their corporate middle-class feeling in their deal- 
ings with the wage-earners; English Socialists have 
not forgiven them their dogmatic, stubborn oppo- 
sition to the beginnings of factory legislation. 
But with all their limitations, they were fine speci- 
mens of British energy; and in the great business 
centres, to this day, their spirit and memory have 
survived. 

After 1846, the fight was decided in favour 
of Free Trade. All England soon rallied to that 
judgment of fate; national prosperity, indeed, 
justified it and seemed to raise it above criticism. 
For fifty years the Liberal creed in commercial 
matters met with no substantial opposition, and 
English economic activity based a tranquil self- 
confidence on its splendid achievements. With 
the end of the century awoke once more the 
problem which had been considered as for ever 
solved. 



IV 

Between classical economy and Darwinism the 
affinities are profound, and the transition is easy. 
Both are the rational theory of an actual condition 



DOCTRINES 51 

of things, and of a condition of war; both derive 
from mournful statements of facts a spirit of 
optimism, or at least scientific equanimity; both 
vindicate the triumph of the strong, and agree with 
the instinctive aspirations of a thriving class or 
a vigorous society. In tender souls, in religious 
minds, they were calculated to arouse, and have in 
fact aroused, an identical feeling of aversion; both 
doctrines, on the contrary, could equally appeal to 
lucid cold thinkers on the ground of their realistic 
objectivity. No doubt Darwinism has, better 
than economy, withstood the impassioned attacks 
which were levelled at them on every side; they be- 
long none the less to the same current of thought; 
they answer to the same craving for intellectual 
systematization. One must only bear in mind that 
the investigation on which the inductions of Darwin 
the naturalist were grounded was immeasurably 
more thorough than the economic knowledge on 
which Ricardo the financier had built up his 
system. In fact, a connecting link, from the 
beginning, united evolutionism to. political econ- 
omy. The transformist doctrine grew in Darwin's 
mind from an attempt to verify the teaching of 
Malthus. The notion of a struggle for food 
between over-numerous human mouths is to be 
found again in the wider conception of the 
struggle for life; and the consequences Malthus 
had indicated, the defensive " checks " he had 
counselled, were reactions similar to those through 
which, in the animal world, living beings adapt 
themselves to their conditions of existence. 

Adaptation is indeed, as everybody knows, one 

2 



52 MODERN ENGLAND 

of the great biological facts the importance of 
which has been illustrated and made popular by- 
Darwin's transformism and Spencer's evolution- 
ism. From this point of view, the favour these 
theories have met with among the English is of 
peculiar significance. No intellectual influence 
has been more effective in bringing up from the 
unconscious to a more conscious plane the in- 
stinctive reactions and empirical processes through 
which traditional England had adjusted herself to 
the successive necessities of life. By pointing out 
and formulating the principles of these reactions, 
by showing them at the very source of vital suc- 
cess in the lives of all beings, either individual or 
collective, evolutionism has for ever destroyed the 
happy ignorance which formerly allowed the slow, 
calm progression and blind infallibility of English 
readjustments. The very method of instinct, by 
growing conscious, has ceased to be purely in- 
stinctive, and a process which preserved the 
pliancy of elementary vital actions has assumed 
the rigidity of a system. 

Burke had already seriously impaired the effici- 
ency of English political empiricism by probing 
its spirit, describing its method and proclaiming 
its superhuman value with religious zeal and 
dogmatism; his analysis had let the baneful 
light of reflection into dark depths which owed 
their fecundity only to their darkness. Over and 
over again, during the nineteenth century, the 
theory of organic growth was put forward by 
historians, philosophers, and sociologists to explain 
the English social order; and whilst the clear 



DOCTRINES 53 

realization of that instinctive process somewhat 
hampered its free play, criticism springing from 
the very feeling of admiration was led to 
dangerous comparisons between the success- 
ful routine and other possible methods. The 
mystery of the divine fortune of the English 
genius, stripped of its veils, could no longer check 
with awe the impatient spirits chafing at its tardy 
operations; and reason, encouraged to try and 
understand all, was emboldened to rule everything. 
Widely diffused, the explanation of the English 
political tradition, in its elementary simplicity, 
has not served the cause of this tradition. And 
more than any other, the evolutionist doctrine, 
by laying stress on the working of universal 
adaptation, has tended to make it everywhere 
more self-conscious and meditated. 

Evolutionism is a complete theory of the 
universe; and like all English doctrines, even the 
most realistic ones, like political economy from 
which it is derived, it aims at laying down prac- 
tical principles and reacting upon what exists. 
This tendency is chiefly conspicuous in the dis- 
ciples of Darwin. The personal contribution of 
the great naturalist is well known. Applying to 
the study of general biology his admirable 
scientific qualities, his fund of precise observation, 
his unequalled gift of concrete perception, all the 
perseverance and obstinacy of the English genius, 
he established the intuitions of Lamarck on a 
firm definitive basis. Species were shown to 
be variable; the passage from one to the other 
was explained by natural selection; and all the 



54 MODERN ENGLAND 

elements of life, in the constantly flowing stream 
of phenomena, were united by a complex inter- 
dependence. 

With Spencer, transformism is but one portion 
of a total synthesis, a scientific history of the 
world. His doctrine is not properly metaphysical; 
it asserts the relativity of knowledge, and stops on 
the verge of the unknowable. All transcendent 
research is futile; and with the coming of the new 
industrial age man has lost his persistent faith in 
dogmatic religions or philosophies. The religious 
feeling, however, will not die out; it is not starved, 
but fed by the vast hypotheses in which the 
thinker's mind soars up to the sublimity of the 
universe; it will find its outlet in the silent worship 
of the divine Unknown. But keeping within the 
limits thus set by nature, scientific investigation 
can fully encompass its object, and reach the 
supreme end it has always kept in view : the 
unification of all laws. Fusing into one the three 
main generalizations human thought had evolved, 
the system of universal gravitation, the law of 
the conservation of energy, and the nebular 
hypothesis, Spencer incorporates them into his 
own theory of evolution. From the nebula to 
the present order of the universe, primitive energy 
has kept organizing itself according to the prin- 
ciple of gravitation, and its manifold changes have 
not altered its invariable quantity. Matter, the 
outcome of the condensation of energy, has kept 
integrating itself from the homogeneous to the 
heterogeneous and from the indefinite to the finite. 
And in the domains of all particular sciences, 



DOCTRINES 55 

astronomy, geology, biology, psychology, soci- 
ology, the same principle suffices to reduce the 
complexity of phenomena to a regular and clear 
rhythm of stability and change. 

That synthesis may have lost something of its 
apparent validity during the last fifty years. The 
immediate possibility of a mechanical explanation 
of the universe, apart from the further progress 
of special sciences, is no longer readily accepted 
by cautious minds; on many points, the relations 
Spencer had established between phenomenal 
changes and the general formulae of evolution now 
seem over-simplified to us. But if we have out- 
lived the evolutionist idea as a total and definitive 
expression of scientific philosophy, it remains 
an essential element of contemporary English 
thought, one of the most plausible sketches of 
the history of the world, and an almost always 
fruitful germ of theories and hypotheses. It can 
be found in scholarly or literary works, in moral 
or social disquisitions, in the watchwords of states- 
men. It has insensibly and deeply modified the 
very foundations of thought, has introduced the 
notion of universal change into the least conscious 
habits of reflection. 

However, its influence over official philosophy, 
religious dogmas, professed principles of conduct, 
has not been proportionate to its overwhelming 
predominance in the intellectual field. For it 
roused passionate opposition from the very first. 
The theory of the animal descent of man had 
brought widespread notoriety to Darwin ; Spencer's 
attempt to drive back the supernatural into the. 



56 MODERN ENGLAND 

dim regions of the unknowable, and to extend 
the sway of the mechanical over all existence, was 
met by the open hostility of all the forces of faith 
and moral conservatism. It was only by degrees 
that emotional and idealistic tendencies, religious 
beliefs, the timidity of thinkers and of the larger 
public, could be reconciled with the new light 
which cast a strange unexpected intelligibility 
over the past and the future of the world. In 
England, as elsewhere, the common ways of think- 
ing and of feeling have accepted the evolutionist 
idea by means or a gradual assimilation, a slow 
adaptation. More elastic than Roman Catholic 
dogmas, the articles of the Protestant faith could 
easily enough yield to this inevitable modifica- 
tion. The bold attempt of Darwin and Spencer to 
unify the living and cosmic universe, and to 
account for it without the help of transcendental 
faith, was still responsible for one of the greatest 
shocks the English mind felt in its deeper sub- 
consciousness during the nineteenth century. 
That supreme effort of rational thought con- 
tributed, more than any other doctrine, to create 
an atmosphere of dry, cold, scientific clear-sighted- 
ness, in which the conscience of England could not 
long breathe; and it was to a large extent instru- 
mental in bringing about the " revenge of instinct." 
Whilst evolutionism was opposed to the 
emotional needs of the English mind, it agreed 
with its practical tendencies. More precisely, its 
inner impulse harmonized with the intellectual 
aspirations and economic wants of the new society. 
It conferred the sanction of philosophy on the 



DOCTRINES 57 

political changes by which the middle class had 
been adapting the old order to its own new power. 
It supported the contention of the Radicals and 
the economists, who claimed to consider the 
mechanical processes of production as constituting 
a social progress in themselves, and affording at 
least the means of a moral progress. Spencer's 
writings put forward the theoretic justification of 
the industrial age; like the Manchester men, he 
considers it as a decisive stage in the development 
of civilization, as the definitive advent of Liberal- 
ism and peace. 

On the other hand, his social doctrine is aimed 
against the encroachments of the State. In the 
abstract, evolutionism might just as well lead to 
constructive conclusions as to individualistic ones; 
it finds solidarity at the core of things, and by 
laying stress on the idea that progress consists in 
increasing complexity, it might conduce to develop 
further the functions of that organism the State. 
But impelled by some elements in the logical 
concatenation of his system, and no doubt by his 
own temperament as well, Spencer put the em- 
phasis on his denunciation of State tyranny. He 
refused the central power that gradual extension 
of its social and economic activities by means 
of which England was already trying to repress 
industrial anarchy. So far, again, evolutionism 
agreed with the preferences and interests of 
middle-class Liberalism; and Spencer's arguments 
were, down to the end of the century, the back- 
bone of the old-fashioned Liberals' opposition to 
the advance of State intervention. 



58 MODERN ENGLAND 



The philosophy of Spencer stopped on the 
border of the unknowable. It was thus one of 
the symptoms, as well as one of the causes, of 
the critical movement called agnosticism. Along 
with this movement we may treat of the various 
forms of religious liberalism and rationalism 
during the nineteenth century. 

Protestantism in England had, better than in 
Germany, withstood the dogmatic disintegration 
whose principle it carries within itself. Not so 
fond as German thought of abstract speculation, 
and fitter for those illogical compromises which 
traditionally secured its balance, English thought 
triumphantly reconciled private investigation with 
the authority of certain articles of faith. No 
doubt Protestant individualism had asserted itself 
in England quite as much as anywhere else; since 
the Reformation, since the prolonged transition 
from Catholicism to Anglicanism during the latter 
half of the sixteenth century, and since the 
Elizabethan religious settlement, a large portion 
of the people had sought for peace of conscience 
outside the Established Church. The sects had 
multiplied; after their swarming at the time of 
the Commonwealth, the Restoration and scepti- 
cism had not been able to quench the Puritan 
enthusiasm with which the " non-conformists " 
were instinct; and by the side of the Roman 
Catholics, yet tainted with civil inferiority, the 
eighteenth century had witnessed the rise of the 






DOCTRINES 59 

Methodists, who divided themselves before long 
into rival denominations. About 1830, the dissen- 
sions between sects were as marked as ever in 
England, pointing rather to the vitality than to the 
decay of the religious spirit. 

But those dissensions were more often due to 
social and emotional oppositions, to an unequal 
pitch of mystical fervour, than to intellectual 
differences. It is not in the rational field that 
the struggle for influence is waged among English 
sects. The higher culture, habits of logical think- 
ing and historical discussion are almost exclusively 
to be found in Anglican divines; and these were 
then sheltered from the dangerous, fearless initia- 
tives of thought by a wise passiveness. Satisfied 
with the soundness of their dogmatic position, 
protected against the vapid polemics of the 
eighteenth-century deists by the deductions of 
Butler and Paley, they but dimly caught a distant 
echo of German exegetics. The only symptom 
of life the Church then showed was the evangelical 
movement, by means of which the stirring impulse 
propagated among Dissenters by Methodism was 
extended to the Anglican clergy. 

About 1850, on the contrary, the Established 
Church was imbued with a new life. The Oxford 
revival had called forth a defensive reaction in 
her, whilst she was being permeated by it. The 
three tendencies which still prevail to-day within 
the Establishment became then more pronounced. 
The " low Church " partook of the austere spirit 
of the non-conformists, and maintained the prin- 
ciple of Protestant exclusiveness in its integrity. 



60 MODERN ENGLAND 

The " high Church " rather inclined to the hier- 
archical and gorgeous forms of Roman Catholic 
worship, and showed that retrogressive leaning 
which has led back so many religious souls, for 
the last half-century, towards the principle of 
spiritual authority. To these two tendencies, 
inherited from the preceding age, was then added 
a third one, that of the " broad Church,' ' which 
brought together the critical minds, anxious to 
reconcile reason with faith. From both the 
historical and the logical points of view, it was 
the development of the Broad Church party which 
preceded and caused the unexpected growth of 
the older High Church in a time of scientific 
scepticism. The Oxford Movement, the begin- 
ning of the Catholic revival within Anglicanism 
and outside its pale, was called to life by the first 
symptoms of that spirit which about 1830 was 
known by the name of " Liberalism," and was soon 
to become the Broad Church and agnosticism. 

Many were the origins of this moral attitude. 
Successive tributaries swelled the stream of reli- 
gious rationalism. The small school of the 
Benthamites had propagated philosophic doubt 
around them, and the Radicals boldly demanded 
Church disestablishment. On the other hand, the 
Unitarians, a small sect as well, but composed of 
cultivated families, from which distinguished 
thinkers would often spring, represented a line of 
thought less negative, but independent, and 
derived from the disciples' of Arianism. Shortly 
after 1830, the works of the German critics began 
to make their way to England; Baur and Strauss 
were translated. The translator of the latter's 



DOCTRINES 6 1 

Life of Christ, George Eliot, personified another 
current of foreign influence, the positivist ideas. 
She was deeply impressed by the religious philo- 
sophy of Auguste Comte; she eagerly adopted its 
negations, and its constructive part as well, the 
religion of humanity. Gathered round Frederic 
Harrison, a small group were to preserve that 
influence and continue that tradition to the end 
of the century. 

About i860, such men as Lewes, John Stuart 
Mill, Herbert Spencer, Huxley, belonging to 
widely different regions of the intellectual world, 
professing different beliefs, found themselves at 
one in their attitude of reserve towards dog- 
matic religions. Agnosticism was, like similar 
philosophies of the Continent, an outcome of 
the antagonism between modern criticism and 
faith. But though its tendency was negative, it 
was not markedly aggressive; the effect of the 
general environment, the atmosphere of relative 
tolerance in which religious discussions are kept 
in England, blunted the destructive edge of Eng- 
lish rationalism in its bearing upon dogma; whilst 
the tone of social life, the respect universally felt 
for moral conventions, weakened its force of 
expansion. Therefore this form of rationalism 
failed to exert the same influence on society at 
large as that which the Radical politicians or Liberal 
economists had secured for themselves. A refined 
scepticism, limited to a select group of thinkers 
and scientists, its sphere of action was then but 
narrow. The time had not come yet when were 
to converge, thanks to the advance in public 
education, such phenomena as the downward 



62 MODERN ENGLAND 

diffusion of scientific criticism, and the gradual 
breaking away from all religious observance of an 
ever-increasing number of minds in every class 
of society. Pretty general in Europe, this process 
is taking place in England, at the present time, 
more slowly than anywhere else. 

Not so radical as agnosticism, and keeping 
within the bounds of positive religion, the Broad 
Church showed yet similar tendencies. It repre- 
sented the attempt of sincere believers to reconcile 
their reason and their faith. These men were 
anxious to gather into a body all active well- 
meaning persons, engrossed like themselves by 
the moral and social problems of an unsettled age; 
they wished to give up the rigorous enforcement 
of dogma, to unite all the members of the Protestant 
family in a wider creed. Stanley, Jowett, Kingsley, 
Maurice, were instinct with the same zeal. 
Maurice was the leader; in his writings the views 
of the " Latitudinarian " school were clearly 
expressed. With him, original sin and the fall 
of man are no longer those supreme facts which 
the Protestant tradition considered as the essential 
elements in the destiny of man; they are only 
incidents in a moral development which starts 
from weakness and error. The Atonement is no 
longer the necessary redemption of a crime, but 
the purification of sinful mankind. The everlast- 
ing life, as Christ described it, is not the realm 
of material punishments and rewards which a still 
pagan imagination has called forth. The ever-liv- 
ing, ever-present personality of Christ, such is the 
centre of belief and religious life; all that conveys 
His personality and faithfully expresses it, is a 



DOCTRINES 63 

means of truth and salvation; all that obscures it 
or tries to supplant it, is a source of error. The 
claim of the Bible itself and of the Church is made 
good only by their usefulness as instruments of 
Christ. 

Those ideas, widely accepted to-day, still came 
as a shock in England about the middle of the last 
century. The bold initiative of several Broad 
Churchmen in political matters, the Christian 
Socialism of Maurice and Kingsley, must be his- 
torically and psychologically connected with the 
other main aspect of English evolution with the 
"revenge of instinct." But to scared middle- 
class minds, religious liberalism and social philan- 
thropy appeared as the inseparable expressions of 
one rash dangerous spirit. On the whole, the 
rationalism or latitudinarians, the scepticism of 
agnostics, the criticism of exegetists, contributed 
to drive back the English sensibility to the simpler 
and more spontaneous forms of faith as well as 
of life. The publication of Essays and Reviews, 
theological disquisitions inspired with a spirit of 
innovation, in 1 8 60, and the famous case of Bishop 
Colenso, who about the same time defended 
audacious propositions, were among the symptoms 
of that crisis. Thenceforth the religious problem 
showed in England, as in Germany or France, 
all the urgent, painful character it derives from 
the modern conflict between exegetics and faith. 
And in England, as elsewhere, more perhaps than 
anywhere else, one of the solutions given to this 
problem was to be the assertion that faith is 
superior to science, and belongs to another order 
than reason. 



CHAPTER III 

LAWS AND MANNERS 

I. The Reform Acts ; the democratic movement ; the 
evolution of parties ; Liberals and Conservatives ; the mechanism 
of government ; the authority of the Crown. II. Liberal logic 
and the reform of English administration ; the modern evolution 
of social life. III. The new manners and the influence of the 
middle class ; public opinion ; literature. IV. The waning of 
middle-class initiative. 

Swayed by the economic and social forces the 
industrial revolution had let loose, and by the 
theories which expressed reason's attempt to under- 
stand and organize reality better, English society 
underwent important changes in its structure and 
life. From 1830 to 1884, political power changed 
hands, the balance of government was shifted, the 
administrative system was developed; new manners 
prevailed, and, permeated by this atmosphere, 
literature, the arts and all the higher activities, were 
brought into harmony with it. A democratic 
evolution, the wiping out of some abuses, a better 
adjustment of means to ends in all the social 
mechanism, the triumph of middle-class spirit and 
art, followed close upon the advent of new classes, 
and constituted a first adaptation of national life 
as a whole to modern facts and necessities. 

64 



LAWS AND MANNERS 6$ 



I 

The English constitution has grown democratic 
without a revolution, and by degrees. The three 
successive Reform Acts (1832, 1867, 1884) point 
none the less to a political evolution bolder and 
quicker than the previous history of England 
would have allowed one to expect. 

The Reform Act of 1832 was by no means a 
radical measure. It deprived the most scandal- 
ously "rotten" boroughs of their representatives, 
and conferred them on the big industrial towns; 
in the country it gave the franchise to peasants 
owning an income of ten pounds; in the towns, to 
householders paying the same amount in rent. All 
told, there were less than 500,000 voters under the 
new regulation. But its import was decisive. 
Making the first breach in the stronghold of 
English oligarchy, it prepared and foretold the 
unavoidable victory of numbers. Long delayed 
by the impassioned opposition of conservative in- 
stincts, hailed by popular agitators as the dawn of 
a better era, it bestowed political power, in fact, 
upon the higher middle class. The Act of 1867 
did extend the basis of government to a democratic 
breadth. In the towns, it granted the franchise to 
all tax-payers; in the country, it lowered the 
standard required by the 1832 Act. The urban 
working classes were thus allowed to make their 
political influence felt. The extension of the same 
privilege to the country people could no longer be 
prevented; in 1884, this stage was reached; almost 



66 MODERN ENGLAND 

universal suffrage thenceforth prevailed in Eng- 
land. Only paupers, tramps, and a few orders of 
citizens deprived of their civil rights are excluded 
from it. Yet the electoral system, after this 
measure, still lay open to the criticisms of the 
Radicals; at the present day, they demand the 
suppression of some irregularities and of plural 
voting; and everybody knows what eager con- 
troversies the question of feminine suffrage is 
raising. 

Thus has the political balance been shifted in 
England. The predominant influence, in the 
selection of national representatives, has passed 
from an oligarchy the nobility and gentry to 
the middle class, and then to the whole people. 
But this transference of power has been gradually 
effected; it has allowed the privilege of each dis- 
possessed class to subsist and linger through the 
domination of the class newly called to power. 
The prestige of the aristocracy has remained very 
great; supreme in matters of taste and in social 
life their authority is felt in the direction of public 
affairs also, even outside the hereditary- chamber 
in which the conservative tradition is perpetu- 
ated. It was only at a very recent date that 
the unavoidable conflict between Lords and 
Commons became acute. In the same way, it 
would be misleading to say that the Reform Acts 
of 1867 and 1884 have placed political . omnipo- 
tence in the hands of the lower classes. The spirit 
of the English democracy from the very first 
proved moderate and respectful of tradition. 
Thanks to the weight of ancient habits, to the 



LAWS AND MANNERS 67 

economic strength of the wealthy classes, and to 
the fact that the higher or lower middle classes 
come in contact with the people at many points and 
shade off into it, the focus of political power is 
not placed among the workers of the field, the 
factory or the shop, but among the superintendents 
of their labour substantial farmers, tradesmen, 
employers. It is to the middle rank, in a word, 
that the extension of the franchise has imparted 
political supremacy; and down to the present time, 
this supremacy might seem undisputed. 

On several occasions, however, popular griev- 
ances emphasized the problem of national repre- 
sentation, with uncompromising vigour. The 
advent of English democracy was not altogether 
quiet and peaceful; and if the forces making for 
prudence and equilibrium have always conquered, 
it has not been without a struggle. The years 
1830-32 were a disturbed, almost revolutionary 
period. In order to overcome the resistance of the 
Lords, to secure the passing of the Reform Bill, 
the theories of the philosophic Radicals and the 
complaints of the manufacturers needed the sup- 
port of a European crisis the French Revolution 
of 1830 and its consequences as well as the last- 
ing impression left by the Bristol riots (183 1) on 
the public imagination. From that time, all social 
hope was intimately connected with the desire for 
political justice, and through the masses was 
diffused the idea, dimly understood, that the 
expression of their collective will would be the best 
means to react upon their conditions of life. 

After the measure so eagerly wished for had 

F 2 



68 MODERN ENGLAND 

deceived the fond hopes of the people, and the 
reformed Parliament had revealed its conservative 
bent, a movement of political and social vindica- 
tion, Chartism, raised a portion of the nation, for 
ten years, against the established order. It sprang 
from the widespread industrial distress which 
reached its climax about 1842; from the grudge 
left in men's minds by the new timorousness of 
the triumphant middle class; from the agitation 
propagated through the lower classes by the first 
tentative trade-unions, by the exhortations of the 
Radical leaders, which still rang in their ears, and 
by the socialist doctrines which were then begin- 
ning to spread. Chartism was a dark muddy 
wave whose waters broke over English society in 
a confused transitory period. By the mystical 
enthusiasm with which it was permeated, by the 
intuitive nature of its claims, by the impassioned, 
inspired characters of several among its chiefs, it 
belonged to the other aspect of modern England, 
the reaction of instincts against reason. But the 
people's u Charter " was none the less a direct 
outcome of liberal agitation; and by demanding 
universal suffrage, the payment of members and 
annual Parliaments, the Chartists followed the lead 
of the Radical politicians, at one with such men 
as wished for a rational reorganization of political 
justice. 

Weakened by inner dissensions, revived for a 
while by the European crisis of 1848, this move- 
ment was not to outlive it. After 1850, it 
vanished away. But its usefulness was to endure 
in the silent acquiescence of the ruling classes in 



DAWS AND MANNERS 69 

a new electoral reform; and the era of economic 
prosperity, of quiet national development upon 
which England then entered contributed to the 
same result by means of a general pacification of 
feelings. Some outbursts of popular anger and 
stormy meetings were yet necessary, in 1866-67, 
to overcome conservative misgivings and carry 
through the second Reform Bill. Thenceforth the 
transformation of the electoral system went on to 
its completion in a serene atmosphere of civic 
union, in which opposition itself grew milder and 
more easily reconciled. The self-satisfied optimism 
of the middle Victorian period easily forgot the 
disturbed beginnings of English democracy during 
the preceding age. 

As the national will now shared more and more 
in the direction of public affairs, the mechanism 
of government was adapted to these new circum- 
stances. The great political parties, after 1832, 
were modernized. The names of Whigs and 
Tories were fraught with antiquated associations; 
they evoked the memories of the eighteenth cen- 
tury, of intrigues between the leading families, of 
private competition, Court cabals, selfish struggles 
between the two portions of one oligarchy, both 
of them routine-ridden and conservative. New 
watchwords, suggestive of principles and not of 
ancient traditions, were needed for the ampler and 
graver problems raised by the industrial revolution, 
by the victory of the middle classes. The Whigs 
became Liberals, the Tories called themselves 
Conservatives. The alternation in power of the 
two parties kept its relative regularity; but the 



70 MODERN ENGLAND 

tendencies they stood for grew more clearly- 
defined, and the differences between them were 
more pronounced. These differences were to get 
gradually weaker again as years went by, down to 
the end of the century. 

In Liberalism, the Whig spirit refreshed and 
renewed its temper; it assimilated something of 
the utilitarian doctrines and the Benthamite 
philosophy; it became a force making for rational 
progress and systematic reform, positive in political 
matters, rather negative in matters social, and 
always inclined to be critical and individualistic. 
In Conservatism, the Tory spirit was to be found 
again, with its eager devotion to the prestige of 
the Crown, its loyalty to the Church, its prefer- 
ence for the upholding of the existing order. But 
to these, new elements were added, completing and 
sometimes contradicting its bland respect for tradi- 
tion : a shrewd realization of necessary changes, a 
constant anxiety to forestall political crises, a desire 
to allay revolutionary tendencies by timely con- 
cessions. Under the influence of the emotional 
reaction, the Conservative party obeyed the im- 
pulse given by a great statesman, Disraeli; it paid 
unsparing attention to social difficulties, and 
claimed to oppose a constructive ideal of patriarchal 
organic monarchy to the destructive anarchical 
aims of the Liberal party. This opposition was to 
grow oarticularly significant when a third party, 
that of labour, rose in the twentieth century. 

As for the English constitution itself, it under- 
went no substantial change; but the precedents, 
ever supple and flexible, which constituted it were 



LAWS AND MANNERS 71 

adapted to new circumstances. The House of 
Commons more directly represented the nation; 
its power and privileges were still on the increase, 
whilst those of the hereditary Chamber insensibly 
declined. It was more and more clearly under- 
stood that money bills belonged to the exclusive 
competence of the Commons ; ministers were 
responsible to them, and so conformed to the 
wishes of their majority. For the last time, in 
1834, King William IV dismissed the Melbourne 
Ministry of his own accord; for the last time in the 
nineteenth century, in i860, the Lords attempted 
to modify a Finance Bill. The predominance of 
the Commons was thenceforth the main principle 
of government; chosen from among the party in 
power, the Prime Minister was the true head of 
the executive. Great personalities, Disraeli, Glad- 
stone, soon conferred the sanction of success on 
this more logical and clearer organization, this 
simpler working of the political mechanism; and 
the same England in which Pitt and Fox were 
formerly dependent on the favour of the monarch, 
witnessed the functioning of the parliamentary 
system in conditions outwardly analogous to those 
of the French Republic. 

However, the authority of the Crown is not in 
the English democracy a mere survival of the past. 
On the contrary, during the last century it has 
resumed much of its strength and prestige. The 
Kings of the Hanoverian family, since 17 14, had 
let all material influence over State affairs slip 
from their idle or unworthy hands; the tradition 
obtained that the King reigned but governed not; 



72 MODERN ENGLAND 

irresponsible, the monarch partook neither of the 
risks nor of the privileges of power. The lowest 
ebb was reached by the English Crown in the first 
thirty years of the nineteenth century. The reign 
of Victoria was the beginning of an evolution in 
the opposite direction. The bitterest foes of the 
authority of the sovereign were the great Whig 
families, the members of the oligarchy which 
during the eighteenth century practically ruled 
over English politics. The victory of the middle 
classes in the Reform Acts, by overthrowing caste 
government, has restored a wider and more direct 
contact between the sovereign and the nation at 
large. A popular King, in the constitutional 
regime of democratic England, is a power with 
which the elected or hereditary representatives of 
the country have to reckon. 

The personal character of Queen Victoria, the 
dignity of her life, her political insight, did much 
to give these new conditions their full effect. The 
reign of Edward VII, as will be shown subse- 
quently, continued and still further increased this 
revival of the prestige of the Crown. But among 
the causes of this change, besides social circum- 
stances and the democratic evolution, other influ- 
ences of a moral and intellectual kind should not 
be forgotten. The instinctive movement of 
emotional and imaginative reconstruction which 
has, during the last sixty years, reacted against 
individualistic rationalism, is the main source of 
social monarchy as well as of imperialism. It is 
to the revenge of instinct and to the doctrines 
which embody it to the new Toryism of Disraeli 



LAWS AND MANNERS 73 

principally that the restoration of the royal 
authority in the nineteenth century must be 
ascribed. 

II 

The great wave of theoretic and practical ration- 
alism which submerged England about 1830 and 
slowly ebbed away till the end of the century, 
driven back by the ho'stile tide of instinct, has 
not only brought with it a readjustment of the 
political equilibrium and a readaptation of the 
mechanism of government to the new conditions. 
The whole social order was modified according to 
the same principles. From 1820 to 1870, the 
several provinces of administration, the criminal 
law, the great municipal or national functions were 
reorganized in agreement with the same tendencies. 
It was, so to speak, a clearing away of all the bushy 
undergrowth which the passive tradition of Eng- 
lish empiricism had allowed to thrive. The task 
was urgently needed. Whilst modern industry, 
the new facilities afforded to traffic and trade, the 
rise of towns, the development of the middle class, 
had been everywhere diffusing a new atmosphere, 
the structure of society, about the time of the first 
Reform Act, was still essentially archaic. Dickens's 
novels give us an accurate picture of it; to the end 
of his life, the great novelist drew his material from 
the rich fund of observation he had stored in his 
youth, and he described a merry quiet England, 
following the tried paths, the homely ways of the 
eighteenth century. The same society is depicted 



74 MODERN ENGLAND 

by Thackeray; it bears, too, more resemblance to 
the England of Fielding than to that of to-day. 
On the contrary, the first half of Queen Victoria's 
reign had hardly elapsed when Meredith and 
Hardy came forward, whose very different sensi- 
bilities absorbed and reflected a society so much 
transformed. The modernization of England was 
effected in laws, no less than in manners, as late 
and as slowly as possible, after the old-fashioned 
modes of life had been doomed by the political 
fate which revealed itself in 1832. And yet it has 
been effected, sooner and more completely than 
her past would have allowed one to expect. 

The first effects of this movement were per- 
ceptible as early as the eve of the Reform Act. 
The philosophic Radicals and the Benthamites 
in their propaganda rose against the body of 
customs and precedents which made up English 
law; in this intricate maze, their logic pointed out 
innumerable contradictions, their humane sense of 
justice denounced excessive severities. The legal 
protection of property was still, about that time, so 
utterly uncompromising, that the most petty theft 
was punished with death. In the years imme- 
diately after Waterloo, a series of special measures 
began the recasting and the mitigation of criminal 
law. About 1850, the penalties enacted by the 
code of punishments answered, on the whole, to 
the exigencies of the average conscience; thirty 
years before, they so obviously overshot the mark 
that sentences, in a great many cases, were not 
carried out. To the same spirit of liberal con- 
sistency the working classes, in 1824, owed the 



LAWS AND MANNERS 75 

right of combining in order to bring the pressure 
of their concerted action to' bear on the labour 
market. Strikes thus became lawful in England, 
thanks to the very men who, in a different 
field, were to oppose the beginnings of factory- 
legislation. 

Another great victory of political rationalism 
over instinct was religious emancipation. In 
1828, the abolition of the Test Act gave Dissenters 
a free access to Parliament and public functions; 
the next year, Roman Catholics in their turn were 
granted full civil rights. In these reforms, one 
must acknowledge, besides the active impulse 
originating in the Liberal party and the democratic 
doctrines, the assistance conceded by the Conserva- 
tive party. We see here at work the method of 
experimental adaptation which was to be that of 
English Toryism through the nineteenth century. 
It had already practised it during the previous 
ages; but in the period of intense evolution 
brought about by modern life, this experimental 
tradition borrowed something from the boldness 
and clearness of the reforming theories; it felt their 
influence and was carried away by them. If most 
of the measures with liberal tendencies were passed 
by the heirs of the Tories, it was because the 
pliancy of their principles allowed them to yield for 
a while to the adverse principles; it was also be- 
cause they had more clearly realized their own 
political part, and the necessary surrenders. It is 
impossible not to discern the revolutionary influ- 
ence of the new England in the remarkable 
acceleration which the slow concessions and sacri- 



j6 MODERN ENGLAND 

fices of Conservative empiricism have shown 
during the nineteenth century. An important 
aspect of instinctive adaptation, from this point 
of view, belongs in fact to meditated adaptation. 
The recent years have revealed to us how far this 
change could permeate the tactics of the party 
which boasted of being only guided by habits, 
and which to-day seems to own a method. 

Immediately after 1832, the Liberal Parliament, 
returned under the Reform Act, put into practice 
the two main principles on which the electoral 
battle had been fought and won. Public relief to 
the needy had been organized, since the time of 
Elizabeth, under the presiding notion of the 
mutual dependence which, in the older society, 
linked classes and castes to one another. Deprived 
of all assistance by the scattering of religious 
orders, the poor had been committed to the care 
of their parishes. This system implied an acknow- 
ledged right to live; by its working, it inevitably 
put a premium on the perpetuation and propaga- 
tion of misery. It was thus contrary to the 
individualistic spirit of classical economy, and to 
the recommendations of Malthus. The New Poor 
Law (1834) reorganized and systematized public 
assistance. Gathered in special asylums, where 
children and adults, men and women were kept 
apart, paupers were compelled to work, and their 
diet was made sparing enough not to encourage 
laziness. The workhouse had never been popular; 
thenceforth it was even less so, and this law has 
not a little contributed, ever since, to foster social 
rancour among the destitute. 



LAWS AND MANNERS 77 

The preceding year, slavery had been abolished 
in the English colonies. In 1835, tne Municipal 
Corporations Act remodelled the administration of 
towns. It was the starting-point of the irresistible 
movement to which elected councils, the necessary 
instruments of the democratic life of modern 
human aggregates, owed their ever-increasing 
powers and authority during the nineteenth cen- 
tury. Instead of closed privileged bodies, self- 
recruiting, the corporations became direct expres- 
sions of local interests. The creation of county 
councils, in 1888, was the final stage in this 
development. At the same time there was a 
decline in the ancient influence of the Squire, 
usually a Justice, who formerly held in his own 
hands the civil and moral government of country 
districts ; and English society started on its 
progress towards that extension of the paid bureau- 
cracy and civil services which to-day characterizes 
it as well as all European nations. To the same 
spirit were due the postal reform, which instituted 
a uniform democratic tax instead of the costly 
complexity and injustice of the old system; the 
abolition, in 1871, of the purchase of military 
commissions, by which a better order was intro- 
duced into the selection and promotion of officers; 
and the Ballot Act of 1872. 

As has been seen before, widely diverging 
interests and opposed doctrines were at the bottom 
of the agitation for the suppression of tariffs. The 
victory of Free Trade was the crowning triumph of 
the middle class; but so far as economic and 
political forces require the help of intellectual 



78 MODERN ENGLAND 

forces to find both their expression and confirma- 
tion, it was a triumph for liberal logic and classical 
economy. Even before the Reform Act, Huskis- 
son had begun relaxing the system of prohibitive 
duties. From 1838, the Anti-Corn Law League 
aimed at rousing public opinion against the privi- 
lege of landlords. In 1842, Peel, a Conservative 
minister, won over to the new ideas, commenced 
the reform of the tariff; he went on with it in 
1845 and 1846; this last year saw the complete 
abolition of the Corn Laws. In 1852, Disraeli 
solemnly discarded the protectionist doctrine in the 
name of the Tory party. 

With most of his political friends, this conver- 
sion was not so much an intellectual adhesion to 
principles, as the acknowledgment of a successful 
economic experiment. English prosperity, since 
1 842, had been constantly on the increase. Com- 
merce, like industry, had been much benefited by 
Free Trade ; agriculture seemed not to have 
materially suffered from it. A great wave of 
optimism rose at this time in the whole nation, 
and for a long period associated the success of 
Corn-Law repeal with an unconquerable hope in 
the future. Feeling secure in the assurance of its 
strength, the English shipping interest, at the same 
time, gave up the privilege it owed to the protec- 
tion of the law; the Navigation Act was abolished 
in 1849, an d foreign ships were allowed to com- 
pete, in English sea-ports, with British vessels. 
Thus was completed the work of liberation by 
means of which, thanks to the harmony between 
interests and principles, the Liberal doctrines 
and laisser-faire have extended their hold over 



LAWS AND MANNERS 79 

English economic life. In the same age, as will be 
seen, under other influences, the contrary practice 
of intervention implanted itself in social matters. 
The commercial arrangement between England 
and France (i860) was another application of 
Free Trade ; it was due, on the English side, 
to Cobden's initiative, and to the great Liberal 
minister, Gladstone. 

Lastly, the higher activities of the nation also 
were reached by the spirit of systematic readjust- 
ment. England had not yet officially recognized 
the educative function of the State. The utili- 
tarian doctrines and the theories of the philoso- 
phic Radicals had emphasized the vital importance 
of public education, the formative influence of 
free minds and enlightened wills. The advent of 
democracy, thenceforth unavoidable, called for a 
huge effort to spread culture and moral discipline. 
The new society still sought for its guiding prin- 
ciples in the morals of puritanism, the hold of 
which on public manners had been further 
strengthened by the victory of the middle class. 
But the intellectual development of the people had 
been neglected in England for the last two cen- 
turies. The average standard of knowledge was 
lower there, barring the elite, than in Germany 
and France. The old Universities had been 
drowsing in the torpor of a formal teaching and 
antiquated traditions. The private schools, free 
from all control, were most often managed by men 
destitute of conscience or culture. The public 
schools, exclusively aristocratic, at least maintained 
a pretty high ideal of civic formation, and Rugby 
was even then starting a movement of reform. 



80 MODERN ENGLAND 

It was in 1833 tnat a vei T moderate sum was 
first granted for the building of schools. In 1839, 
the grant was increased; a committee of the Privy 
Council was appointed to see that the money was 
efficiently spent. From these humble beginnings 
sprang the Board of Education, with all its present 
powers. From 1830 to 1870, the central power 
extended its sway over public instruction. 
Matthew Arnold's personal action, his theory of 
culture, his attempt to elevate English traditional 
ways to the same level as French methods and 
German pedagogy, were important influences in 
this progress. The famous Act of 1870 created 
a State system of elementary education. In every 
place where free schools were deficient, special 
Boards were to allow out of the rates for the open- 
ing of neutral schools, in which religious teaching, 
confined to the reading of the Bible, would be 
given in an undenominational spirit. As early as 
1835 had been created the University of Londoh, 
a more modern intellectual centre, freer from aristo- 
cratic and religious influences than the venerable 
colleges of Oxford and Cambridge. 

On several points besides, the logic of Liberal- 
ism reduced the traditional abuses which served 
the interest of the Established Church. In 1833, 
ten Anglican sees were suppressed in Roman 
Catholic Ireland. In 1869, the Irish branch of 
the English Church was disestablished. These 
measures were not carried without raising much 
opposition; they contributed to bring about the 
religious revival from which a new strength accrued 
to both Anglicanism and Catholicism. 



LAWS AND MANNERS 81 



III 

The victory of modern England thus found its 
echo in the laws. Political, administrative and 
social life were reorganized under the guiding 
stimulus of an aspiration towards order and logic. 
Of course the extent of this transformation should 
not be exaggerated; it was neither complete 
nor revolutionary. English society about 1880 
differed from what it had been about 1830 only by 
its mixed character. Instead of a structure still 
wholly feudal, a constant preference for the spon- 
taneous growths of life, and an entirely empirical 
adaptation to conditions of life long-standing and 
dimly perceived, we find an almost democratic 
government, partly adapted to more clearly dis- 
cerned conditions, according to better-defined 
methods. In the working of this organism, a very 
large part must still be ascribed to such forces, 
ideas, feelings and influences as were merely in- 
herited from the past. Neither the political con- 
stitution, nor the system of administration, nor 
law, nor religion, nor social habits, nor manners, 
recall to the observer's mind the centralized 
uniformity, the detachment from tradition, the 
spirit of equality, which were the main features 
of French society. 

Visiting England in i860, Taine, like so many 
others, chiefly remarked the strong stamp of her 
empiricism, and the characteristics by which the 
English nation differed from the French. Empha- 
sized by the authority of his genius, supported 



82 MODERN ENGLAND 

since by the Conservative school whose leader he 
was, his judgments, however acute they might be, 
still showed a somewhat insufficient knowledge of 
modern historical evolution. All things con- 
sidered, it was from 1830 to 1884 that there first 
appeared, under the stress of the economic changes 
which moulded contemporary Europe, that inner 
leaning of England towards a new ideal of con- 
scious efficient activity which is to-day at stake in 
her dramatic struggle against herself. Constantly 
interrupted, crossed, often thwarted by the hostile 
action of conservative forces, the weight of tradi- 
tional habits, and the irresistible rebellion of 
instinct, this intellectualization of English empiri- 
cism is none the less, below the surface ripples, 
the main current of national evolution that the 
nineteenth century has bequeathed to the twentieth. 
And the example of contemporary England may 
no longer be invoked to defend the ideal of a 
conservatism resigned only to unavoidable sur- 
renders. There is breaking out in it, working in 
it a spirit of reforming initiative and systematic 
adaptation which is the hidden soul of the present. 
During the quiet period from 1850 to 1880, 
the intellectual and social forces which were in con- 
flict in the previous age settled into a temporary 
equilibrium. The middle Victorian period was an 
era of relative stability. Typical manners developed 
then which became characteristic of the new 
English society. Middle-class habits coloured all 
the aspects of life. Their peculiar character might 
be described by means of that incomplete and 
imperfect modernization already apparent in the 



LAWS AND MANNERS 83 

social structure. In this mixed essence, two 
elements, two tendencies were discernible. So far 
as the manners of i860 manifested a new spirit, 
they partook of recent changes, of the democratic 
evolution; so far as they preserved traditional and 
older forms, they illustrated the resistance which 
checked or retarded that evolution, and thus be- 
longed to the revenge of instinct. Let us consider 
here the former tendency; the latter will be studied 
further on. 

The main features of middle-class England were 
a more conscious and strenuous effort of initiative 
applied to the utilitarian labour of economic, 
political and administrative life; the sense of enter- 
prise and a gift for business, implying some power 
of organization; and at the same time, a routine- 
ridden passive inferiority in the disinterested fields 
of thought and art. The apostle of culture, 
Matthew Arnold, imposed a name on this unfitness 
for artistic invention : Philistinism. The atten- 
tion of the industrial and trading classes, which 
owing to their activity and wealth set the tone in 
the new society, was entirely bent upon gain ; they 
took nothing into account but material facts, 
acknowledged only measurable quantities, and 
allowed the inner life to wither away. Reduced 
to narrow formalism or puritan strictness, religion 
no longer brought them a breath of beauty and 
joy. What appealed to them was cheap, common- 
place, sentimental or pointlessly pretty art; con- 
ventional and snobbish literature. This was the 
reason why the rebellion of instinct against the tame 
middle-class rationalism was headed by the prophets 
g 2 



84 MODERN ENGLAND 

of living and expansive religion, of rich spon- 
taneous art, of mystical morals by such men as 
Newman, Ruskin, Carlyle. The moral personality 
of the English people had as it were been impover- 
ished by the application of its energy to the problems 
of the material world. To the improvement in its 
external organization, brought about by more 
efficient methods, corresponded no such develop- 
ment in its disinterested faculties. The revival of 
the higher activities of the soul was produced by 
the movements opposed to democratic rationalism. 
The literature of England is not in such close 
touch as that of Germany or France with the great 
social and intellectual syntheses which yet have 
been no less powerful in shaping its course. The 
framework of philosophy is usually slighter and 
far less apparent in English writers than in the 
German ones; and the universally essential and 
deep connections between literary works and the 
phases of social life are in the former less obvious 
and suggestive than elsewhere. This seeming 
divorce between art and philosophy or life is due 
to the particular character of the English mind, to 
which abstract speculation is an unfrequent, quite 
peculiar form of activity; and to English manners, 
in which, more efficiently than in others, moral 
and social conventions stand between the creations 
of artistic imagination and the contact of crude 
realities. In spite of the favourable reception of 
the novel with a purpose and of the social descrip- 
tive novel, in spite of the vein of strong realism 
which runs through English literature as a whole, 
one may say that by means of an idealization it has 



LAWS AND MANNERS 85 

traditionally aimed at freeing itself from the 
trammels of life, politics and ideas, or at least from 
their most prosaic elements. 

We must not, then, expect to find the same close 
relation as in Germany between the succession of 
literary schools in England, and the great move- 
ments of facts and doctrines which guided her 
evolution. Neither modern industry, nor the 
liberal philosophy, permeated the imagination and 
sensibility of the public at large deeply enough 
to become part and parcel of the social or intel- 
lectual significance of all works of art; their 
influence upon literature was limited, and often 
indirect. Literature nevertheless, in some of its 
aspects, expressed from 1830 to 1880 the trans- 
formation of society and thought under the action 
of industrial rationalism. 

No school of philosophy and literature issued a 
manifesto to proclaim the principles of a demo- 
cratic and liberal art; there were, however, striking 
affinities between the liberal democracy and a 
portion at least of literature. Poets like Tennyson, 
thinkers like Carlyle, and theorists like Ruskin, 
voiced the mystical intuitions and the traditionalist 
instincts; on the contrary, the novel, whose popu- 
larity kept increasing as the reading public was 
extended, was closely connected with the needs, the 
feelings, the ideas of the new England. Taken as 
a whole, the group formed by Dickens, Thackeray 
and George Eliot constituted the transition from 
romanticism to naturalism; it illustrated the con- 
verging influences which led literature, about the 
middle of the century, towards a critical, realistic 



86 MODERN ENGLAND 

and philanthropic inspiration. English naturalism, 
as it appeared fully developed in George Eliot, 
was, as in France, the product of a time in which 
middle-class democracy came to the front, whilst 
the diffusion of scientific rationalism imparted 
more strictness and method to observation, more 
philosophical and humanitarian views to writers. 
Dickens was the novelist of the lower middle 
class; he carried within himself the desire for 
political reforms and social justice he owed to his 
birth, education and temperament. Though with 
him liberal logic was touched with emotion, though 
he denounced the hardness and dryness of the pre- 
vailing individualistic ideal, and thus partook to 
some extent of the revenge of instinct, he was none 
the less all his life long a " Radical, 5 ' the adversary 
of antiquated institutions and conservative routine. 
His novels promoted the necessary reforms; he 
contributed to clear English society of its parasitic 
abuses; and to infuse into it more kindness as well 
as more reason. Thackeray, a psychologist and an 
artist, wrote in a spirit of moral equality between 
all men. His free clear-sighted criticism dissolved 
the illusive prestige with which tradition clothed 
aristocratic bodies; he saw more nobleness and 
beauty in simple souls than among the great of this 
world; and his irony delighted in the ruthless study 
of snobbery, the fruit of conservative instincts 
which had again struck root and blossomed in 
middle-class servility. George Eliot conveyed 
through her novels an earnest, meditative thought, 
which the. scientific view of things had coloured 
with sadness and sublimity. She, too, preferred to 



LAWS AND MANNERS 87 

depict the lives of the humble; she, too, lulled and 
comforted human suffering with a gospel of pity 
and sympathy; but more consciously with her, as 
with Thackeray or Dickens, the love of mankind 
grew to assume the first place in religious life. 
Open to all the influences of critical thought, 
she stood, about i860, as a living synthesis of the 
intellectual movements derived from pure reason. 
Realistic in different degrees, unequally hostile 
to the middle-class atmosphere which permeated 
their novels as well as life, those three writers 
were still the outcome of the new society; even 
whilst outgrowing them and turning against them, 
they carried in themselves the influences of 
democracy and rationalism. 



IV 

Secure in the enjoyment of its prosperity, freed 
from the most tangible absurdities or most glaring 
injustices which galled it in its interests or instincts, 
the middle-class society born of the industrial 
revolution devo'ted itself to the pursuit of a 
practical adaptation always incomplete, always 
requiring fresh efforts: comfort. This material 
harmony of wants and life was the degenerate form 
assumed by the spirit of reforming logic which 
the triumph of the middle class had brought in its 
train. It was the only kind of improvement in 
well-being this class thenceforth clung to. When 
new problems later on forced themselves upon it, 
it had lost all nerve to grasp and solve them; and 



88 MODERN ENGLAND 

new social elements, instinct with a fresher zeal, 
were to take up again the work of necessary 
adaptation it had only begun. 

English society, however, was sometimes startled 
out of the drowsy optimism to which it abandoned 
itself from 1850 to 1880. In 1854 and 1855, tne 
Crimean War unpleasantly awoke it from its self- 
confidence. The army, the conduct of operations, 
the auxiliary departments, the home administra- 
tion, all appeared suddenly chaotic, inorganic, 
purposeless, devoid of all method and rule. A fit 
of anger and humiliation seized on all minds; for 
a while, England realized, more clearly than she 
had ever yet done, the besetting sin of her 
empiricism and routine. On all sides, a better 
adaptation, a better adjustment of means to ends 
was demanded. The question of national efficiency 
was raised for the first time. Then, the war over, 
past difficulties were forgotten ; the measures taken 
were left incomplete; public services fell back into 
their old grooves, and so'ciety returned to its 
optimism. It was to be ruthlessly shaken out of 
it at the end of the century. 



BOOK II 

THE REVENGE OF INSTINCT (1832-1884) 

INTRODUCTION 

At the same time as English democracy was 
being moulded by the pressure of the industrial 
system and the influence of liberal ideas, modern 
England was deeply stamped by a complementary 
movement of action and thought. To a different 
moral and social world belonged the works and 
doctrines which during the last half-century have 
corrected or compensated the effects of rationalism 
and industry. Instead of a conscious, methodical 
and clear adaptation, we have here a spontaneous, 
eager, confused upheaval of bodies crushed by 
suffering and souls preyed upon by secret uneasi- 
ness; no order, no system in the theoretic or 
practical complaints, no unity in the principles, no 
consistency in the doctrines; the lost equilibrium - 
blindly tended to reassert itself in a new balance; 
imperfectly adapted, the race was bound to readapt 
itself, according to the all-powerful and unjustified 
laws of instinct. The transformation of English) 
society, of its manners, its organs, its preferences ! 
and ideas, under the action of social solidarity and ] 
of the prophets' idealism, drove back the evolu- 

89 



9 o MODERN ENGLAND 

tion of England to its empirical traditions; and it 
was not by mere chance that this counter-move- 
ment of thought and will often took the shape of 
a revolt against industry, the modern spirit, the 
ways of the new time; that it sought for progress 
in a retrogression, and extolled the past as a con- 
trast to the present. A rich manifold complex of 
men, forces, acts and ideas, between which the 
obvious differences might hide the secret harmony, 
this aspect of modern England, this phase in her 
formation, was directed as a whole by the open or 
hidden influence of intuition; it may be called a 
revenge of instinct. 

It was the outcome of both the needs of the 
body and the troubles of the spirit. Its causes 
/were, first, the social anarchy brought about by the 
(industrial system, with the breaking of the old 
retters which bound but upheld men, with the 
growth of the proletariat and the extension of 
poverty; next, the slow gnawing of commercial 
calculation and utilitarian harshness on the in- 
eradicable feelings which feed the English inner 
life. Mysticism or religious faith, the belief in 
another world, the faculty of moral perception, 
family love and national or human solidarity, the 
yearning after tenderness, the craving for beauty, 
the longing for the communion of souls, all such 
aspirations were bruised by a society where the 
vile rush after ignoble pleasures and unveiled 
interests held universal sway in an atmosphere of 
universal selfishness and relentless strife. There- 
fore the equilibrium once more destroyed tried 
to re-establish itself by restoring the links 



INTRODUCTION 91 

between men and the peace between classes; by 
reviving the disused spiritual activities and emo- 
tional functions. The indignation and the endeav- 
ours of men of social good-will, the economic 
reforms, the organization of trade-unions, the birth 
of solidarity as an efficient force, the doctrines and 
fiery criticisms of the prophets, Carlyle, Ruskin; 
the religious revival and the aesthetic movement; 
the first conscious stirrings of imperialism; all that 
during the last seventy years has tended to render 
England more homogeneous, more stable, more 
serene, more earnest and beautiful or at least, all 
that has tended to this consummation by other 
ways than those of reason may be traced to one 
source, the immediate, obstinate, traditional trust 
of the English genius in its instinctive inspirations 
and infallible vitality. 



CHAPTER I 

HISTORICAL CONDITIONS 

I. The social elements of the reaction against the new 
order ; the strength and prestige of the nobility ; the moral 
elements; sensibility and the idealistic needs. II. The 
economic unrest ; the industrial anarchy ; the forms and effects 
of want in the nineteenth century. 

From 1832 to 1884, a body of facts economic 
wants, spiritual requirements called for a new 
adjustment of middle-class industrial England to 
the necessities of life. The doctrines which de- 
manded and planned out this adaptation, the laws 
which to some extent realized it in manners, sprang 
primarily from those requirements and wants, and 
must be accounted for by them. 



A well-known feature of the English mind is 
the readiness and regularity with which, in politics, 
it brings on the reaction after the action. Tradi- 
tionally swayed by a dim sense of instinctive 
wisdom, it has ever sought for a warrant against 
the possible errors of reason in the successive or 
simultaneous development of contradictory or 
complementary tendencies. The Liberal doctrin- 
aires of 1830 had tried to curb this habit by force, 

92 



HISTORICAL CONDITIONS 93 

and had succeeded for a while. Their relatively 
uncompromising principles, their radical doctrines, 
had impressed on both friends and foes the notion 
that England had just gone through a revolution- 
ary stage. It was enough to put in motion that 
deep-set silent-working spring, that inner mechan- 
ism which, with irresistible unerring strength, after 
a pronounced swing in one direction, drives men's 
thoughts back again to the other. Immediately 
after the great reforms of 1834 and 1835, tms new \ 
leaning of most minds grew evident. It brought 
back the Conservatives to power as early as 1841. 
It failed to check the progressive advent of 
democracy; it allowed the Liberal programme to be 
carried out by degrees, introducing a minimum 
dose of logic and method into the social order. 
But it was effective in raising a hostile tide of 
forces, ideas and feelings against the current which 
was carrying England away. The reaction against 
liberalism and democracy, the opposition of the 
older society to the new one, thus owed their exist- 
ence and unity to the very forces against which 
they waged war; they sprang, previous to all ex- 
perience, from pure instinct, from the fundamental 
law which rules over the balance of English 
politics, like gravitation over that of bodies. 

But at the same time, experience strengthened 
this reaction, confirmed and fostered it on every 
side. Industrial middle-class England had no 
sooner conquered the opposition of the old world, 
than along with the consequences of her prin- 
ciples, her faults came to broad daylight. The 
individualistic ideal she brought with her, if it 



94 MODERN ENGLAND 

answered to the needs of the time, if it expressed 
at once old tendencies and the fresh vigour of 
commercial forces, could not assert itself without 
hurting other instincts, other tendencies, ways of 
life no less ancient and hallowed. The new ideal 
consisted in political liberalism, by which the indi- 
vidual was set free; in democracy, which over- 
threw the traditional hierarchies; in economic 
laisser-faire, which magnified competition into a 
law of life. A destructive and negative ideal, it 
thus disintegrated the so far co-ordinated elements 
of the social organism; and all such parts of this 
organism as did not derive a necessary freedom 
from this disintegration, were bound to be injured 
by it and to set up against it a defensive reaction. 
These parts of the nation, these classes, though 
defeated, were still powerful. It v/as first and 
chiefly the landed aristocracy, the nobility and 
gentry, who stood for the old order, its feelings 
and discipline, against the encroaching middle 
classes. The landlords, still surrounded and pro- 
tected by the instinctive deference of the country 
people; the owners of those castles and manor- 
houses whence political authority, financial in- 
fluence, judicial rights and patriarchal charity had 
emanated for centuries; those barons of a feudal 
organization which economic decay had under- 
mined without destroying its prestige, in the 
England of 1840, through themselves and their 
immediate followers, still wielded an enormous 
social power. From their ranks still came, with 
the members of the Upper House, almost all the 
great dignitaries of the State. Their influence was 



HISTORICAL CONDITIONS 95 

closely connected with that of the Established 
Church; they supported her, and shared in her 
authority. Their word was still law in those wide 
provinces of Britain which the feverish anxiety of 
industry had left untouched; the whole of agricul- 
tural and pastoral England that of the South 
and East especially remained, even in the middle 
of the nineteenth century, under the undisputed 
sway of the old families and manners. The middle 
and working classes swarmed elsewhere; here, in 
this smiling quiet scenery, where national life 
grown torpid seemed to slumber, the masters of 
the soil had not conceded any of their proud 
privileges to the upstart lords of iron and cotton. 

And their authority still ruled directly or in- 
directly over a large portion of the people. Within 
the circle of their influence moved all the members 
of country society, necessarily grouped according 
to a traditional hierarchy; farmers great and small, 
peasants of all kinds; servants, from the steward 
to the gamekeeper; tradespeople, shopkeepers and 
craftsmen of the neighbouring market-town; 
lawyers, physicians and clergymen attached to the 
lord of the castle for interested motives, by his 
free hospitality, by common tastes and habits. The 
country world was thus truly a world of its own; 
the economic oppositions, both effects and causes, 
which elsewhere accompanied the rise of modern 
England, were there softened down, modified by 
the still active spirit of the old manners. 

There, the middle and the working classes i. e. 
the professional people and the field labourers 
were severed neither from the aristocracy nor 



96 MODERN ENGLAND 

from each other, by sharp and passion-stirring con- 
flicts of interest. A rationalist doctor now and 
then, a dissenting minister, would evade through 
his unbelief or his faith the powerful hold of the 
spirit which ruled over provincial society. And 
no doubt agricultural distress, in more than one 
place, roused resentment and even riot. Among 
the violent episodes of English history in that dis- 
turbed time, many rick-fires, scenes of robbery 
or murder took place in villages, farmyards 
or moors. But in spite of these local outbursts, 
the country people as a whole remained more 
respectful of the hereditary order, more submissive 
to the guidance of its temporal or spiritual masters, 
than the inhabitants of large towns and industrial 
centres. Thus were increased in number and 
diversity the social elements which, injured in their 
interests by the victory of the new England, con- 
stituted a body of forces and influences hostile to 
her. The weight of the passively accepted tradi- 
tions was superadded, to counterbalance the 
strength of aggressive individualism, to that of 
the threatened privileges struggling for existence. 
But over the whole of society, both urban and 
rural, spread far and wide another preference, a 
psychological and moral one, by which one half of 
England was united in a common reaction against 
the new spirit. The utilitarian philosophy, 
political economy, religious liberalism, evolution- 
ism, all the intellectual movements which followed 
the rise of English democracy, were equally 
characterized by their exclusive appeal to reason. 
They formed the most rationalistic body of 



HISTORICAL CONDITIONS 97 

doctrines which England had yet entrusted, were 
it for one moment, with the direction of her 
thought and conduct. Now, the average temper 
of English minds is such, that an exclusive con- 
fidence in the rational faculties has been so far 
limited to a few among them, and that this mental 
attitude has never been or seemed to be accepted 
at large without being at once eagerly opposed, 
and soon defeated, by the contrary tendencies. 

The exercise of the emotions, of practical or 
mystical faith, of fanciful or disciplined imagina- 
tion, has been indispensable, ever since the decisive 
ages in which the national idiosyncrasy was 
evolved, to the moral health of most Englishmen. 
Taken as a whole, this people, in all the periods of 
its modern history, has shown glowing religious 
passions and enthusiasms; its literature, its poetry 
are instinct with a deep tender sensibility, a free, 
rich, gorgeous imagination; its daily home life 
hides, under an assumed cold self-possession, 
genuine attachments, a full earnest sense of the 
moving and soul-ennobling aspects of life, sincere 
beliefs seriously carried out. The respect for emo- 
tion, the need of emotion are quite as essential to 
the English mind as its calm energy and firm hold 
on reality. Therefore the abundant source of 
mystical ardours, of idealistic outbursts, is ever 
ready to spring afresh in most hearts, on those 
occasions chiefly when the inborn instinct of moral 
balance is calling for a reaction against the passing 
predominance of positive reason. 

Even the advance made by meditated adaptation 
in the consciousness of modern England has not 



98 MODERN ENGLAND 

encroached upon the fund of passion, of emotion 
and faith which most of her sons preserve in them- 
selves. It is by one of those supple compromises 
in which her practical genius excels, that to-day, 
in an increasing number of men, she unites the 
clear-sighted shrewd sense of the utilitarian logic 
life requires, with loyalty to the hereditary feel- 
ings the worship of the home, of the fatherland, 
of duty, of the national Church, of Christ. Rather 
than renounce these venerable sacred occasions 
for salutary, stirring and purifying emotions, the 
average soul will prefer to remain inwardly 
divided and at war with itself, modern and prac- 
tical in most of its feelings and actions, guided by 
positive experience or science; and at the same 
time, in the province of the inner life, or on the 
public occasions for symbolic pious acts, entirely 
devoted to the collective emotions which have 
preserved the cohesion, the unity, the health of 
the national character for centuries. England has 
never been able, never been willing, never perhaps 
will consent, to disown for long the idealistic feel- 
ings from which, exclusively or concurrently with 
utilitarian reason, she expects the full satisfaction 
of her heart and instinct. Therefore the victory 
of industrial interests and rationalist doctrines, 
about 1830, and the lasting consequences of this 
social and moral transformation all through the 
century, were to call forth a contrary and com- 
pensatory movement of emotions and ideas among 
men of feeling and passion, and among the more 
numerous order of the average minds, blindly bent 
on the restoration of moral balance. 



HISTORICAL CONDITIONS 99 

The moral unrest from which this idealistic 
reaction, this revenge of instinct sprang, assumed 
many forms, was felt in many of the aspects of 
life. The middle class had conquered by means 
of industry and trade; it brought with itself and 
diffused into the national atmosphere a calculating 
spirit of interested ingenuity. The breaking of 
the old social links, the overturning of the political 
and economic order, the undermining of habits 
and traditions, everything contributed to afflict 
tender souls with the impression of a moral 
calamity. This impression was strengthened under 
the withering breath of utilitarian criticism, of 
rationalist philosophy, of evolutionism and posi- 
tivism. A humiliating, prosaic and cold view of 
human nature, of the world and of destiny was re- 
placing the soothing illusions fostered by the old 
beliefs. As at all the stages of scientific progress, 
heart-rending sufferings, crises of despair, would 
seize on such souls as were unable to find a new 
equilibrium on the new basis, or to make the 
necessary delusions bloom again on the bare walls 
within which they were imprisoned by reason. 

The irresistible impetus of a wholly material 
civilization seemed to carry mankind away in a 
feverish whirl towards lightless, joyless regions. 
Every day brought a new invention, a new victory 
of mind over matter; every day, too, destroyed 
a faith, a reason to live, a motive for pride or 
dignity, and drew man closer to matter which he 
subdued and by which he was himself absorbed. 
At a time when the eager, impatient middle classes 
were dealing the first blow to the time-honoured 

H 2 



J 

/ 



ioo MODERN ENGLAND 

fabric of political oligarchy; when clear-sighted, 
hard-hearted philosophers, whose figures, magni- 
fied and distorted, haunted the popular imagina- 
tion, Bentham, Malthus, were imposing the 
tyranny of their cold, cruel calculations upon 
society and life; when sacrilegious criticism beset 
religion and the Church, and threatened the super- 
natural without which man could not live; v/hen 
the boundless power of money was displayed in 
broad daylight, and when manners appeared 
dominated by the selfish pursuit of comfort and 
gain, it was only natural that the idealistic instincts 
of the English soul, bruised, wounded, distressed 
in the depths of subconsciousness, should awake 
from their torpor, and bring forth a rich manifold 
revival in all the fields of thought and action. 

And the concrete aspects of the present, no less 
than the moral atmosphere, were such as to call 
forth this revival. The physical and social sur- 
roundings in which the new English civilization 
was placed offended all eyes with ever more 
glaring ugliness. Town life, the uprooting and 
transplanting of the agricultural classes, put an end 
to the invigorating wholesome contact between 
man and nature; at a very early stage, in the first 
thirty years of the nineteenth century, as soon as 
the great industrial towns rose, this peculiar uneasi- 
ness was felt and tried to express itself. Severed 
from the glorious beauty of sky and earth, man 
in towns met with squalor at every step. The 
roads, grimy with soot and mud, which he trod 
between the smutty rows of low houses, through 
suburbs endlessly stretching away towards the 



HISTORICAL CONDITIONS ibi 

deserted fields, suggested to him only deep numb 
feelings of sadness. Along with the advent of 
the new manners, the victory of the middle class, 
and the extension of the franchise, a uniform 
prosaic dulness seemed to have hidden away the 
gay, many-coloured variety of the old life; under 
a sky darkened with smoke, the debasing pursuit 
of gain, the crude display of tasteless luxury, were 
the characteristics of modern society. Low mean 
souls, a harsher competition, a cold utilitarianism 
in human relations, vulgarity and ugliness in the 
visible aspects of life, such seemed to be the moral 
and social outcome of an over-praised material 
progress. 

Even in all those men whom the substitu- 
tion of the new order for the old did not injure 
in their interests and rights, the industrial and 
middle-class civilization was bound to rouse many 
a revolt; and the first consequences of rationalism 
and democracy were bound to bring about im- 
passioned reactions of sensibility and instinct 
among the very men who were benefited by their 
victory. 



II 

But industrial individualism contained another 
germ of suffering and disorder. The social evil 
from which the revenge of instinct took rise was 
before all the economic anarchy want. Directly 
felt by the labouring classes, this cause roused the 
complaints and revolts which disturbed England 



.io2 :MODERN ENGLAND 

from 1830 to 1850; indirectly perceived by others 
through emotions of pity or fear, refracted in the 
conscience of the higher classes, it resulted in the 
doctrines and efforts of social good-will, it was the 
source of State intervention. 

Modern industry, as we have seen above, had 
introduced forces making for rational and scientific 
organization into the empirical tradition of Eng- 
lish activity. But the power of co-ordination and 
system which machinery constitutes had been at 
first effective only within the factory, for the ex- 
clusive benefit of production; and its incomplete 
attraction had drawn to itself such material or 
human elements only as its working required; out- 
side, upon the whole of society, it had told, under 
the law of that stern utilitarianism, as an influence 
of disorder and social disintegration. It was by 
degrees, and thanks to the reforming energies of 
the properly human activities, that industry be- 
came, for society at large, an agent of order and 
meditated adaptation. And it is obvious enough 
that this progress has not yet reached its final 
stage. Though the industrial frame of mind, 
generally speaking, was fitter for the psychological 
changes required by modern conditions than was 
the more timid and traditional spirit of the former 
productive system; though the English middle 
class had applied to the direction of public affairs 
the more acute and more impatient realization of 
facts it owed to the practice of business, yet in- 
dustry and trade, considered in themselves, began 
but tardily to regulate the spontaneously unruly 
action of their individualistic tendencies. From the 



HISTORICAL CONDITIONS 103 

intellectual and moral point of view, the advance of 
English thought in the nineteenth century towards 
a clearer notion of efficient organization can be 
traced back to the industrial revolution. In social 
matters, about the middle of the century, this same 
revolution appeared chiefly as a cause of anarchy. 

The reason was that no law, no foresight of 
probable or certain consequences, no broad dis- 
interested reflection, had presided over the 
development of industry. It had spread along 
the lines of least resistance, through the most 
favourable districts, drawing to itself the most 
easily movable human masses, and imposing con- 
ditions of life ruthlessly derived from the principle 
of competition upon the particular world which 
came into being under its sway. The organization 
of labour, the rhythm of production and sale, 
wages, the housing and hygiene of workmen, the 
police of the working-class aggregates, all these 
material or moral aspects of industrial life, had 
been shaped exclusively by the economic forces 
and bore their rough irregular stamp : an unavoid- 
able result of pure commercial utilitarianism, un- 
aware as yet of the solicitude required by its 
human capital; a necessary consequence, too, of 
theoretic and practical individualism. Craving 
for freedom and political and social emancipation, 
the middle class had applied all its energy to 
destroy the antiquated bonds which hampered its 
productive activity; it was still unable to perceive 
the new bonds it was itself to create. Political 
economy, bent upon the demonstration of laisser- 
faire, directly or indirectly countenanced this 






104 MODERN ENGLAND 

indifference or even encouraged it. The theory of 
social intervention, before it could take shape, had 
to overthrow economic dogmatism. 

As early as the first years of the nineteenth 
century, a dim feeling of unrest had revealed to a 
few attentive observers the threatening perils im- 
plied in the new industrial activity. Before 1830, 
some incomplete measures had vainly attempted to 
check the worst abuses. It was between 1830 and 
1850 that the "condition of England" took the 
first place in the preoccupations of the public; it 
was from 1840 to 1845 tnat English distress 
reached its climax. A series of sensational blue- 
books brought into daylight the hidden scandals 
of the factory, the mine and the slum; the apostles 
of philanthropy were roused, and social charity 
grew into a bold conscious force. The inorganic 
incoherent working of industry was known as it 
really was, and called for a thorough reform. Too 
long postponed, the intervention of the collective 
will and of the law was seen to be obviously and 
immediately necessary. 

The distress of 1840 resulted from the free play 
of competition. Lowering the cost of production 
as far as possible, industry allowed the pressure of 
this economic law to bear unrestrictedly upon the 
human agents it employed. The labour of women 
and children, cheaper than that of men, was in 
great demand. Children under ten were numer- 
ous in spinning- or weaving-factories; girls, women 
pregnant or after their confinement were required 
to perform the same tasks as men. Country 
parishes would deliver into the hands of manu- 



HISTORICAL CONDITIONS 105 

facturers batches of pauper children who had fallen 
into their care; the fate of these "apprentices" 
constitutes a particularly shocking chapter in in- 
dustrial history. The discipline of the work-room 
was harsh; overseers were armed with whips; 
machines were cleaned at meal-times, or while they 
worked; accidents were numerous, and no com- 
pensation was due. The working-day was as long 
as pleased the employer; it usually exceeded twelve 
hours, reached fifteen or even sixteen hours; night 
work was everywhere exacted; the young and the 
adult were given the same tasks. Though higher 
than those of agriculture, the wages of industry, 
in different economic surroundings, hardly sup- 
ported a miserable diet. Arrangements now for- 
bidden allowed the manufacturer to pay them in 
kind, or to replace part of them by the letting of 
cottages adjoining the works. 

Nowhere else was the condition of labour harder 
than in mines. There, very young children, for 
fourteen hours running, would pull trucks along 
low-roofed flooded galleries; manners were brutal, 
life cruel, and men became more than half barbar- 
ous. The official and self-respecting England was 
horror-stricken when there suddenly rose before 
her these ghastly hidden abominations. And the 
debasement of souls answered to bodily sufferings. 
The industrial class had grown up untouched by 
any civilizing influence; the loose morals of the 
factory were a by-word; they were encouraged by 
the behaviour of employers or overseers. The 
absolutely untaught condition of the workmen, 
either children or adults, was emphasized at every 



106 MODERN ENGLAND 

page of the Parliamentary reports. Drunkenness 
had ceaselessly increased ; the consumption of 
alcohol, the number of public-houses, reached ever 
higher figures from 1 8 1 5 to 1 840; street drunkards 
became an accepted sight; Saturday nights and 
Sundays in industrial districts then assumed the 
peculiar features they have since kept. The 
number of criminal offenders was equally on the 
increase; and England maintained an army of 
convicts in Australia. 

Around the proper field of modern industry, 
in the backward or minor branches of production, 
the condition of wage-earners was no better. 
Struck with decay by the combined influences of 
the industrial and the agrarian revolutions, Eng- 
lish agriculture laboured under a deep depression 
all through the century; a series of causes or acci- 
dents, about 1840, made the distress of the country 
people equal to that of the town proletariat. From 
18 15 to 1845, m s pi te ^ tne r i sm g cost of life, 
rural wages had fallen. The average earnings of 
a field labourer, about the latter time, were from 
six to nine shillings a week. Strictly enforced, 
the New Poor Law (1 834) deprived many paupers, 
in the country, of a resource to which they had 
grown accustomed. Therefore the migration of 
rural people towards towns and factories still grew 
larger during this period; the peasants, torn from 
their native villages, went and merged, in the 
industrial quarters of great towns, into a poverty- 
stricken, degenerate crowd, contact with which 
sapped their fund of health and strength within 
two generations. 



HISTORICAL CONDITIONS 107 

Harder still was the condition of minor in- 
dustries. The handicraftsmen imprisoned in the 
routine of home work, the hand-loom weavers 
unable to stand the competition of the new 
machines, slowly and miserably died away during 
the first half of the century. The slums where 
their distress hid itself presented the most striking 
picture of economic decay. In London, in Man- 
chester, in twenty similar towns, a ragged people, 
a prey to murderous epidemics, swarmed in filthy 
rickety houses, and even in cellars. Like the 
weavers who resisted the attraction of factories, 
the men and women engaged in needlework, all the 
members of the old or unskilled trades, left aside 
by the main vivifying current of industrial activity, 
all home workers, bore the weight of competition 
even more crushingly than in the larger branches 
of industry. The sweating system developed at 
that time; tailors and needlewomen were to supply 
the social writings of the period with some of their 
most pathetic illustrations. 

Such was the predicament of the English people, 
ten years after the victory of the middle classes. 
These sad facts stood in glaring contrast with the 
hopes of bliss which the political agitators had 
stirred among the working masses before the 
Reform Act. Therefore the first gleams of class- 
consciousness and of socialism were dimly seen 
during these tragic years. The Chartist move- 
ment was instinct with an ardent spirit of social 
vindication; in its leaders, in its followers, in many 
of the enthusiastic mystical theorists who advo- 
cated rebellion or human brotherhood, historians 



108 MODERN ENGLAND 

recognize the forerunners of English Socialism. 
But these eager or naive reactions of popular in- 
stinct cannot be studied here; and the more fully 
developed doctrines of Owen, Hodgskin and 
Thompson have not sufficiently influenced the 
following course of events for this summary sketch 
to dwell upon them. 

The hard fact of want has been much more 
directly and more deeply effective in the develop- 
ment of England. Revealed to the eyes and the 
conscience of the public at large, it harmonized 
with the influences and forces which strove to start 
an emotional reaction against the new society, and 
fused them into a wide current of thought and 
action. The scandalous sight of poverty by the 
side of middle-class luxury supplied the denuncia- 
tions of social prophets with the necessary impulse; 
the ugliness of industrial squalor was an incentive 
to the hankering regrets of beauty's apostles; the 
perils of subversion and death implied in this 
social scourge spurred on the instinctive search 
after an equilibrium from which resulted that 
readjustment to life called interventionism. The 
revenge of instinct, prepared by oppositions, 
rancours, fears, prejudices, emotions, found its 
necessary nucleus and its solid starting-point in 
the concrete mass of economic evil. 



CHAPTER II 

DOCTRINES 

I. The philosophy of Carlyle ; his social doctrine ; heroism ; 
State intervention and feudalism. His influence ; the evolution 
of economic concepts. II. The religious revival ; the Oxford 
Movement ; its results ; ritualism ; the Catholic reaction. 
III. The aesthetic movement ; spontaneousness and will in 
English art ; Ruskin, his artistic and social message ; his 
influence. 

I 

There is a philosophy of intuition; and this 
philosophy, like all others, is indebted to the 
reasoning faculty for its expression and demon- 
stration. It is yet essentially different from all 
the doctrines which rely upon reason alone in their 
search after truth. Without losing touch with 
psychological realities, and keeping in mind the 
natural inner divisions of ideas, not only is it pos- 
sible to contrast the body of rationalist theories 
with the intellectual movements impelled by a con- 
trary spirit one can also trace these movements, 
by means of their characteristics, back to the 
network of social and moral tendencies which 
thwarted the logical aim of individualism. One 
may find the most conscious expression of the 
revenge of instinct in Carlyle's intuitive and ) 
mystical philosophy. 

109 



no MODERN ENGLAND 

With the Liberals and the dogmatic exponents 
of political economy, English thought had been 
attracted by the ideal of scientific lucidity; it had 
undergone the influence of the philosophers of 
France, and was thus in some way a product of 
French thought engrafted on the English tempera- 
ment. On the contrary, with Carlyle and his dis- 
ciples, the European reaction against the eighteenth 
century drove England back to the Germanic 
elements of her national originality. Owing largely 
to the puritan tradition which had kept its ground 
in Scotland better than elsewhere, Carlyle' s philo- 
sophy borrowed many of its leading ideas from 
German criticism; it was largely derived from 
Kant, Fichte and Jean-Paul. Taking up again the 
work Coleridge had begun, Carlyle opposed an 
. idealistic system of metaphysics, German in its 
origin, to French-born rationalism. 

There are two modes of existence : the real one, 
which is that of mind; the mode of appearances, 
which is that of nature; or rather, mind only exists, 
and the visible world has no other reality or value 
than that of a symbol; it is the external concrete 
expression through which mind makes itself per- 
ceptible to the senses. By clothing itself with 
matter, the divine universal soul becomes nature; 
by clothing themselves with bodies, the created 
souls become men; by clothing themselves with 
cloth and insignia, the relations between men, mere 
abstractions, become hierarchies, classes, govern- 
ments, and the whole social and moral organization. 
Thus both human society and the universe are 
based on necessary symbols; these only give sub- 



DOCTRINES in 

stance to the immaterial spirit; and one may say 
that clothes are the essence of society, the essence 
of everything, provided one only considers appear- 
ances; as soon as one looks for being, for reality, 
clothes vanish away, an illusory ghost; there re- 
mains only mind, the intelligences, wills and feel- 
ings, the hidden activity of which upholds the 
scenery we call nature and society in the infinite 
void. In the same way did Kant's forms of per- 
ception and understanding clothe the unknowable 
noumenon with time, space, and intelligible 
relations. 

The humorous " philosophy of clothes " is thus 
a picturesque expression of transcendental idealism. 
Carlyle's metaphysics are neither original nor 
complex; but the creative effort of his thought has 
tended chiefly to draw practical consequences from 
those principles. At a very early date in his 
strange and wonderful Sartor Resartus he pre- 
pared the subsequent development of his social 
doctrine. The commotion of events, the anxious 
years which followed the Reform Act, the bitter 
depressing sight of industrial anarchy, helped his 
indignation and anger to take a definite shape. 
Saying that clothes are everything in human 
society, is an ironical way of reminding us that 
they are nothing. Only the soul exists; and only 
that human order exists which is based on it. Now 
the divine soul is Justice; and society crumbles to 
ruin unless it be just. Should the hierarchy of 
clothes clash with that of souls, the former it is 
that would be wrong, and would have to be set 
right. Thus is laid down the principle of a social 



ii2 MODERN ENGLAND 

reform, grounded on an idealistic conceptio'n of 
nature and life. 

To such hearts as mean well, love justice, and 
rebel against social wrong, who shall point out the 
way ? One man, or men, if several there be, whom 
the universal Spirit has inspired with a fruitful 
emanation of itself. By probing his conscience, 
by following the obscure suggestions of instinct, 
the "hero" comes into touch with immanent 
wisdom, the source of truth and life, but before 
all the source of strength. In the superhuman 
energy of his words, his faith, his acts, will dwell 
the sign of his mission, the token of his right; 
he shall freely shape the plastic clay of minds, 
laws and nations; and his will shall have its own 
reason deeper than all reasoning. A founder of 
religions, nationalities, dynasties, a prophet or a 
seer, a tribune or a soldier, a poet or a philo- 
sopher, he shall create or destroy, as the eternities 
have decreed. But absolute sincerity, impassioned 
earnestness, a complete rejection of all petty selfish- 
ness, will always raise him above the mean crowd. 
It is through those privileged souls that the will 
of the universe speaks; and their initiative inspires 
all other men. More flatly than any doctrine, 
this mysticism of personal intuition contradicts the 
patient effort of collective clear-sightedness by 
means of which rationalism tries to erect the house 
of truth, made by all, open to all. Incommuni- 
cable, haughty, the hero's message, as Carlyle 
preaches it, brings us no demonstration but itself. 

So his social doctrine is an imperative gospel 
of authority and obedience. England is diseased, 






DOCTRINES 113 

says Carlyle; distress is spreading everywhere; to 
stop one's ears and eyes would be a guilty and 
vain attempt. Chartism, the scare of the ruling 
classes, is not an eruption of hell, one day's out- 
burst; it has its deep cause and reality; let it be 
crushed, and it will burst forth again in another 
shape; only a vast effort of will and conscience can 
spare England a revolution. If she is suffering, it 
is because her soul is diseased; and to discern the 
evil that preys upon her, we must look back 
through former ages, compare the present with the 
past. 

In the Middle Ages, society enjoyed a stable and 
relatively harmonious order because it was based 
on a discipline accepted by all, in which duties 
and rights were fairly balanced. Feudalism rested 
upon strength ; but strength was then a real superi- 
ority, and close by the sheltering walls of the castle 
rose the convent, the symbol and focus of a 
spiritual hierarchy, the spreading influence of 
which mitigated the rule of the other. In this 
organic whole, every one found his place, and 
mutual, acknowledged links bound all men to- 
gether. The lowest peasant had his legal and 
moral status, could rely on the support of the lord 
whom he served, and who knew him personally; 
the swineherd who tended his pigs, in the depths 
of the Saxon woods, never feared lest he should 
miss, when night came, the bacon he freely drew 
from his master's larder. . . . The present, on the 
contrary, is an age of anarchy and rebellion. Two 
principal errors have hastened on the downfall of 
the old order : individualism, which sets up each 



ii 4 MODERN ENGLAND 

separate being, not the aggregate, as the true social 
unit; mechanism, the superstition of material and 
industrial progress, the rash faith in the instru- 
ments, the institutions, the systems, which man has 
tried to substitute for the direct all-essential contact 
between soul and soul, between human energy and 
the matter which it must subjugate. The era of 
industry and freedom is thus that of competition 
and selfishness; no more faith, no more charity or 
hope; the sway of facts and figures is a thousand 
times more inhuman than that of feudal force. In 
the universal struggle of unchecked appetites, the 
weak are crushed, the strong triumph, until they 
succumb in their turn; and the atmosphere of 
society is but materialism. 

For this degeneration, the ruling classes are 
responsible more than any other; it is from their 
indifference that want has taken rise; theirs should 
be the initiative of the cure, since theirs was that 
of the evil. Carry le's mystical idealism led him, 
as has been seen, to an aristocratic theory of social 
salvation. To the God-appointed guides of 
nations is due the progress of mankind towards 
justice and order; and industrial anarchy will be 
cured, provided it finds its true chiefs. But where 
are they to be looked for ? The exhausted nobility 
is engrossed by a drowsy and futile dilettantism; 
it plays with life, preserves game on its lands, 
dresses itself up in the tawdry clothes of Dandy- 
ism; a decayed class, it no longer fulfils any social 
function, and so has no longer any title to live; 
let it wake up, realize its duties, enforce its rights; 
its authority will be justified from the day when 






DOCTRINES 115 

it grows salutary. The middle class has lost its 
soul; the worship of Mammon has replaced with it 
that of Christ; its eager spirit of gain and pelf 
gnaws at its heart; it turns the industrial under- 
taking into a devilish enterprise, soiled through 
and through by injustice. It thus taints a source 
of wealth which might have proved fertilizing; 
industry, taken in itself, has its own greatness 
and beauty; it fights with matter, and displays the 
sacred virtue of effort. A better organization of 
labour will restore its social function to the middle 
class, if only, inspired with a new spirit, it can 
grasp its duty, and realize the justification of its 
existence : i . e. to raise all men's lives to an ever 
higher level above material nature and its needs. 
Making a bold attack on the conclusions of 
political and economic individualism, Carlyle ex- 
tols the necessary action of beneficent authority. 
His fierce bitter criticism upsets the barriers put 
up by the doctrinaires of Liberalism. Democracy 
is the government of prattlers; liberty does not 
matter; the only right man has is to mean well; 
his only freedom, to do good. And if the ruling 
classes fail to fulfil their task, the State will inter- 
vene. Standing for the divine power, uniting in 
itself moral and physical strength, it will allow no 
legal superstition to check the free play of its ever- 
watchful activity. Inspectors of labour will visit 
works, mines, cottages; will see that nowhere is 
man turned by man to selfish uses beyond the 
bounds settled by human and religious laws. Pre- 
cise rules will fix these limits, will protect the wage- 
earner against all possible abuses. The State will 



n6 MODERN ENGLAND 

undertake that essentially national task, education; 
knowledge will kill social rebellion, born of ignor- 
ance. And should poverty prove stronger than 
laws, should there be too many men in England, 
emigrants, at the expense of the State, will go and 
people the far-away colonies, those fragments of 
an empire in the making. 

Meanwhile, economic life must be altered in its 
very principle; the obligation under which the 
employer lies to the workman will not be acknow- 
ledged only by the payment of wages; a deeper 
and more effectual solidarity, accepted by the heads 
of industry, will bind them to the troops they lead. 
After the pattern of armies, each factory will obey 
its captain, and his careful, paternal and firm dis- 
cipline. Thus will lasting relations be recreated 
between individuals; competition will no longer 
draw together human atoms, and scatter them 
again unceasingly; production and exchange will 
centre round permanent points, and life will screen 
over with its flowery growth the harsh, rigid 
framework of economic laws. Brought into closer 
touch with one another, men will no longer bruise 
and gall each other's selfishness; and society, by 
submitting to the indispensable authorities, will 
again secure that organic health which the intoxi- 
cation of freedom had ruined. 

This aristocratic mystical form of State Socialism 
was fraught with the message of the moment; it 
answered to the dim-felt needs of all minds. The 
unrest spread by industrialism at its worst, the 
bitterness of the old oligarchy undermined or 
overthrown, the sufferings of tender hearts, of 



DOCTRINES 117 

devout souls, of the imaginations shocked by the 
hard matter-of-fact life of the age, were bound to 
be soothed by this bitter criticism of the present, 
by this impassioned enthusiasm for a better past. 
Around this doctrine have crystallized all the feel- 
ings of opposition or preference which might, 
about 1850, withstand the progress of democracy 
and rationalism. Pointing out a remedy for the 
distress caused by industrial laisser-faire, it 
would win many hearts by its spirit of charitable 
intervention; leaving the ruling classes their con- 
firmed privileges, it would naturally agree with 
political conservatism. Diversely modified by 
temperaments and surroundings, it has been mainly 
efficient, now through the forces of social reform, 
now through the elements of anti-liberal reaction 
it contained; but on the whole it has been chiefly 
a source of moral energy. 

From the restlessness and depression of spirits 
in which romanticism on the wane still lingered, 
it called up a brief, clear-cut, striking idea and 
image of duty; spiritualized and diffused in the 
mists of transcendency, the puritan God, stripped 
of dogmas, was thus identified with Kant's moral 
imperative; and an absolute injunction, perceived 
by all in their deepest consciousness, brought to 
man the only revelation of the infinite he could 
receive. Thenceforth action, ceaseless action, was 
the only possible end; in it alone was life; and when 
confronted by social anarchy, by the running sores 
of misery and want, charitable, healing, construc- 
tive action proved the surest and most necessary 
virtue. This doctrine was thus an unparalleled 



n8 MODERN ENGLAND 

suggestion of positive altruistic activity; awaking 
souls, kindling the fire of zeal, it raised the elite 
of an English generation to a clearer consciousness 
of solidarity. If " social compunction," that feel- 
ing which arose about 1840, under the stress of 
stirring revelations, at the pathetic call of poets 
and novelists, has left its stamp on the history of 
England in concrete lasting activities; if it has 
altered, along with the atmosphere of public life, 
the views of philosophers and the notions of 
economists, it owed its effect chiefly to the powerful 
massive impact of the ideas of Carlyle, the prophet, 
in a new language, of an old conservative faith. 
For the reform of laws and manners, as Carlyle 
demanded it, was but a return to the empirical 
habits of English thought. Burke would not have 
disowned that bitter denunciation of rationalism; 
and there the pursuit of order, instead of being 
promoted by the exigencies of the mind, blindly 
followed the directions imposed by life. 

Next to Carlyle, a less incomplete history of 
intellectual evolution would have to notice many 
a symptom of the same movement. His influ- 
ence touched many disciples, men of thought or 
of action; the Christian Socialists of 1848 were 
imbued with it. Though F. D. Maurice, by his 
theology, was rather a representative of the Broad 
Church and of religious rationalism, the practical 
doctrines and efforts of the group whose leader he 
was were directly derived from Carlyle. Kingsley 
was true to his master's spirit when he tried to 
find a cure for poverty in the concerted, strenuous 
activity of the ruling classes; when to Chartism, 






DOCTRINES 119 

that profane levelling movement, he opposed a 
form of social charity which accepted the existing 
inequality between men, and was wholly bent on 
reviving a patriarchal Christian society; when he 
extolled co-operation as a system of production 
able to cope with all industrial difficulties. 

In the same way one might find a direct relation 
between the intellectual aspirations centring round 
Carlyle and the transformation of political economy 
with John Stuart Mill. Starting from an opposite 
point of the philosophical horizon, the great utili- 
tarian logician had been reached by the wave of 
social sentiment. A moral crisis had overthrown the 
exclusive predominance of reason in his mind; a 
feminine influence had opened him to the percep- 
tion of heart-stirring human realities. His Prin- 
ciples of Political Economy were, about 1850, the 
meeting-point of democratic rationalism and of 
instinctive interventionism. 

This book illustrates the rise of a new, eclectic 
and complex mood, in which a temporary equili- 
brium was found between the contrary require- 
ments of thought and conscience, a mood which 
prevailed in England during the quiet optimistic 
years of the middle Victorian period. John Stuart 
Mill studies, not only the production, but the dis- 
tribution of wealth; science with him dwells, not 
only on principles, but on applications. A human 
element is reintroduced into the calculations and 
deductions of the economist; he awakes to the fact 
that he does not deal with abstract quantities, but 
with living sentient beings. A new light, espe- 
cially, must be thrown upon the consideration of 



120 MODERN ENGLAND 

services; the exchange of commodities does not 
cover the whole field of economic relations. It is 
not a definite order that the scientist analyses and 
describes; social advance is still possible through 
the action of the national will; the distribution of 
riches is governed by human laws, which man has 
created and can therefore modify. And the instru- 
ment of this progress will be the State; its func- 
tions, which no theoretic prejudice must any 
longer curtail, will be justified so far as they prove 
useful. The problem of the future will be how to 
reconcile the greatest possible degree of individual 
freedom with collective ownership of the imple- 
ments of labour, and an equal share for all in 
the produce of the common industry. So Mill's 
doctrine, compatible to some extent with State 
Socialism, is not unlike Carlyle's on several points. 
Enthusiastically welcomed by some, sharply cen- 
sured by others, his book dealt the first blow to the 
prestige of Ricardo's system within the very pale 
of utilitarian orthodoxy; it marked the beginning 
of a long process of revising and correcting which 
has been during the last half-century the salient 
feature in the history of political economy. 



II 

The sources of religious life are so deep, so 
abundant in the English genius, that the historical 
periods when they seemed to run short were always 
followed by a fresh outburst of welling vitality. 
Everybody knows the rhythm of those successive 



DOCTRINES 121 

revivals since the Reformation, and even in the 
Middle Ages. The eighteenth century had wit- 
nessed a widespread movement of faith and popular 
conversion, Methodism, born at Oxford, diffused 
all over England by the indefatigable exertions of 
Wesley. But its growth had been rapid chiefly in 
the lower classes, outside the Established Church 
and the fashionable circles; an obscure and, as it 
were, subterranean growth, the social and moral 
effects of which are none the less among the chief 
formative influences of modern England. The 
tone of idealism and practical earnestness, of phi- 
lanthropy and collective charity, which became that 
of the English middle class about 1840, and the 
secret leaning of the average minds towards a 
revenge of instinct, were largely due to that quick- 
ening of conscience which Methodism effected 
among the people, and which by degrees reached 
the adjacent superior human strata. The puritanic 
temper of contemporary England, the strictness of 
her life, of her literature, of the theatre, these 
new and comparatively recent characteristics defini- 
tively prevailed about the time of the first Reform 
Act. No doubt the cause must be looked for in 
the advent of the middle class, to a large extent 
permeated by the spirit of dissenting sects; but 
among these sects, it was Methodism that directly 
or indirectly was most effective in producing that 
social transformation. 

The Anglican Church, as has been seen, had 
during the first thirty years of the nineteenth 
century continued to rest in the same drowsiness 
as in the preceding age; whilst from widely distant 



122 MODERN ENGLAND 

parts of the intellectual or political horizon were 
gathering against her the threatening storms of 
rationalism and liberalism. The Evangelical party, 
within the Established Church, alone showed initia- 
tive and life; somewhat analogous to Methodism 
in spirit, it hardly appealed to cultivated minds 
and classes. Its intellectual narrowness, its ex- 
clusive attention to moral conduct, did not impart 
to it that sympathetic quality and winning attrac- 
tiveness without which imaginations are not stirred. 
Its strength was spent in generous philanthropic 
movements, in the anti-slavery agitation, in prison 
reform; it was another unseen tributary to the 
wide stream of social intervention which by that 
time was collecting its plentiful waters from all 
regions. The spark which kindled both intelli- 
gences and hearts, restoring to the English Church, 
to religion itself, their living strength to resist the 
onslaught of modern criticism, and their power of 
initiative in the necessary work of social adaptation, 
came not from Evangelicalism. 

The general causes which brought about the 
Oxford Movement were, on the one hand, the latent 
restlessness of souls, which a torpid religious life 
deprived of the spiritual emotions they needed; 
on the other, all the forms and effects of rational- 
ism : the attacks of philosophers and politicians on 
the Establishment, on the social influence of the 
clergy, on the authority of dogma; the formation 
of a new society guided by no other light than that 
of the mind, bent on no other victories than 
worldly ones, hardly respectful of the past, and 
obeying no law but its own. The Liberal govern- 



DOCTRINES 123 

ment, in 1833, reformed the Irish episcopate. 
Two archbishoprics, ten bishoprics were abolished. 
The movement began at once; on July 14, 1833, 
John Keble delivered a sensational sermon at 
Oxford on " national apostasy." An apostasy 
might indeed be apprehended, he argued, since a 
solemn denial of the ecclesiastical privilege had 
contradicted the doctrine of apostolic succession, 
the direct link maintained by ordination between 
the Anglican bishops and the apostles. Thus to 
trace back the origins of the English Church to 
the very beginnings of Christianity, was to en- 
hance its authority, prestige and venerable sacred- 
ness. This historical contention was the main 
point in the teaching of Keble and the other leaders 
of the movement : Froude, Rose, Palmer, Percival, 
Pusey, above whom rose the rich, strong and 
versatile personality of Newman. 

It is not necessary, and it would be difficult to 
sum up here the history of this crisis. The 
essential point is to give a summary account of the 
reformers' position, of the difficulties they found 
in their path, of the results they obtained. What 
Newman and his followers wanted, was first to 
fortify the weakened authority of the Anglican 
Church; in order to reach this end, they founded 
an Association of the Friends of the Church, to 
maintain her doctrines, her worship, her discipline 
and prerogatives in their entirety. At their call 
the clergy took heart again; the widespread feeling 
of traditional loyalty to the national Church was 
roused, and expressed itself on every side by de- 
clarations of attachment; the fears aroused by the 



i2 4 MODERN ENGLAND 

threats of political liberalism were soon allayed. 
The Oxford revivalists wanted as well to stir up 
new powers of energy and activity within the 
Church; a series of " Tracts for the Times," dealing 
with dogma, discipline and morals, came out from 
September 1833; tne y appealed to the clergy, with 
a view to stimulating their efforts, and helping 
them to realize more clearly their own duty and 
faith. Lastly, the Puseyites, as they were called, 
attempted to trace the historical origins of the 
Anglican persuasion, so as to found its doctrine 
and worship on a basis more ancient and more 
stable than that of the Reformation alone. To 
their minds craving for continuity, longing for the 
consecration of centuries, secretly leaning to the 
solemn rites of Catholicism, the Protestant idea, 
in its rational and cold novelty, did not afford 
complete religious satisfaction. The principle of 
inner evolution and disintegration implied in the 
spirit of free investigation in matters of faith had 
since Luther's time brought about, and was still 
intensifying, an endless process of division among 
sects; not giving up this spirit as yet, divided from 
the Roman confession by many a difference in 
belief, they nevertheless tried to find a compromise 
between Protestant rationalism and Catholic 
tradition. 

According to Newman, the English Church does 
not date from the sixteenth century; it is as old as 
the Church of Christ, and indeed a branch of it; it 
sprang directly from the primitive stock, and pre- 
serves the direction first assigned by the apostles 
better than do the other shoots the Roman and 



DOCTRINES 125 

Greek Churches. Hence the emphasis laid on 
apostolic succession. But for the direct contact, 
from episcopal ordination to ordination, be- 
tween the Anglican bishops and the very disciples 
of Christ, the former would lack the mystical 
stamp of divine Grace; whilst this derivation, once 
placed beyond controversy, secures their sacred 
imprescriptible rights to all the clergy. Thus was a 
breach opened between the new Anglicanism and 
popular Protestantism. To the minds of Dis- 
senters and " Low Churchmen," the essential con- 
stitutive element of the reformed religion was its 
breaking away from a corrupt tradition; a negation 
before all, the Protestant idea rose in uncom- 
promising hostility against the errors of the past 
or the present. 

So Newman had to fight his Puritan adversaries 
no less than his Liberal opponents. In both 
categories, he discerned and pointed out the same 
destructive rationalism. In order to resist and 
conquer them, he looked for support among the 
great Anglican divines of the seventeenth century; 
among theologians yet free from sectarian narrow- 
ness, and uniting sound Protestant reason with 
the serene broad-mindedness of Catholic thought. 
With a view to confirm the historical basis of his 
main contention, he undertook to publish a col- 
lection of the Holy Fathers, with the help of his 
friends. And as he had already to meet the charge 
of Romanism, which the tendencies of the move- 
ment made every day more plausible, he defined 
his own attitude more clearly by the theory of 
the via media. Between the two errors and ex- 



i26 MODERN ENGLAND 

tremes Roman Catholicism, vulgar Protestantism 
the genuine tradition of the primitive Church 
is represented by a golden mean : Anglicanism. 
This thesis was not new : as early as the seven- 
teenth century, theologians had striven to bring it 
to light; but formulated by Newman, and marked 
by him with a character of perfect precision, it was 
very successful; the High Church party, even 
now, builds up its pretensions on no other ground. 

A winning speaker, a fascinating personality, 
Newman drew to his sermons in St. Mary's 
Church at Oxford enthusiastic, spell-bound flocks 
of young men; whilst his influence was spurring on 
the ever-widening group of the Tractarians. But 
on all sides resistance was breaking out. A medi- 
tated opposition with many ; an instinctive 
emotional hostility with most. Against the move- 
ment rose especially those two foes whom it itself 
attacked : first, the Protestant spirit, in its aggres- 
sive irreconcilable vigour, the old spirit of hatred 
against Rome, the Puritan preference for an inner, 
democratic and individual religion, the dislike for 
that traditional and hierarchized worship to which 
the Puseyites wanted to bring England back; so 
the successive Tracts roused much anger among 
middle-class readers ; the reformers were denounced 
as traitors, as abettors of the Roman Church. And 
on the other hand, the political and philosophic 
forces of rationalism turned against this alarming 
revival of religious mysticism. 

From 1839, tne standpoints of the conflicting 
parties grew better defined. A series of incidents 
brought to light the increasing antagonism be- 



DOCTRINES 127 

tween the' average Protestant feeling and the 
doctrines of the Puseyites. The last of the Tracts 
gave to the new Anglicanism a more and more 
pronounced bent towards the Catholic tradition. A 
long moral crisis, meanwhile, was destroying New- 
man's faith in the compromises by which he had 
hoped to find peace, and the logic of both his 
mind and his heart was driving him Romeward. 
During the following years, his disciples struck out 
two different courses; the more numerous, the 
moderates, drew nearer Anglicanism, and managed 
to make themselves acceptable to it; the others 
completed the evolution they had begun, and 
most of them went over to Catholicism. New- 
man led the way in 1845, wnen the scheme of a 
Protestant bishopric at Jerusalem, in open defiance 
to the claims of Rome, wrecked the pious endeav- 
ours by which he had tried to demonstrate the 
Catholicity of Anglicanism. 

With Newman's conversion the Oxford Move- 
ment properly so called ended, and the religious 
revival which continued it opened. Two cur- 
rents appeared, seemingly diverging, but really 
parallel, which the turn events are taking pro- 
mises some day to reunite. On the one hand, the 
Neo-Anglican party, benefited by the very calamity 
which had seemed likely to crush it, freed from a 
dangerous suspected vanguard, rallied, organized 
itself within the pale of the national Church, and 
pursued its thenceforth regular expansion. No 
doubt the opposition it had raised did not subside; 
the Protestant instinct still reawoke threateningly, 
whenever some Puseyite went over to Rome, 



128 MODERN ENGLAND 

whenever some incident revealed the advance of 
the new spirit; but neither criticism nor ridicule 
could check this progress. For many a moral 
force, many an influence did favour its course. 
In all quarters, such souls as were attached to a 
symbolical order, to the traditional hierarchy, to 
the consecrated forms, or desired solemnity in 
worship and a powerful clergy; the disciples of the 
aesthetic movement, which was even then develop- 
ing into a doctrine and a party; those whose hearts 
were attracted by the ideal of collective charity 
and the programme of Christian Socialism, united 
their efforts to restore, along with the pomp and 
beauty, the strength of religion. A number of 
edifying books came out, written with the purpose 
of reviving the poetry of the mediaeval Church, of 
quickening long-blunted sensibilities to the magic 
of the ritual pomp in which the divine service was 
performed of yore. 

The object of the ritualist movement, indeed, 
was to re-establish that pomp by slow, prudent 
stages. It found its main support in the official 
Prayer-book, and claimed to derive from it the 
Protestant worship in its undiminished beauty, 
such as it was practised before the iconoclastic rule 
of the Puritans. Sacred music, ornaments, ecclesi- 
astical vestments, by degrees thus resumed in the 
English Church the function and importance 
Roman Catholicism had left them. Free from all 
necessary connection with the Universities, diffused 
like a new ferment over the English soil, the 
ritualist spirit, whose focus was in the High 
Church party, pursued its action through the 



DOCTRINES 129 

middle Victorian period, and later. And not 
only was its influence perceptible in the greater 
solemnity of public worship and in the increased 
authority of the clergy, but it roused a more 
charitable zeal, a more strenuous realization of 
their duty among pastors. The tendency to 
Christian interventionism, on the whole, has 
harmonized with the active renovating soul of the 
religious revival. 

On the other hand, Roman Catholicism itself 
was indebted to the illustrious converts who joined 
it, to the humbler ones who followed their example, 
and to the leaning which bent devout imagina- 
tions towards ritualistic ceremonies, for a fresh 
outburst of vitality in contemporary England. The 
causes of the Catholic renaissance, and of its pro- 
gress down to our very day, are too much mixed 
up with the moral and social life of our time to 
be sketched here beforehand; they will be ex- 
plained further on. But as early as the middle of 
the Victorian era, this awakening was conspicu- 
ous. Instead of remaining in England a small 
sect, held in suspicion, still excluded but a few 
years before from the enjoyment of full civil 
rights, Catholicism appeared already as a living, 
prosperous and developing religious organization. 
Its converts were many, especially in the highest 
or lowest orders, in the nobility or the people; 
the puritanic middle classes looked less favour- 
ably upon it. The future Cardinal Manning was 
one of these converts, in 1 8 5 1 . In 1 8 50, Pius IX 
considered that the times were ripe for a solemn 
consecration of that progress; he re-established the 

K 



i 3 o MODERN ENGLAND 

ancient Roman hierarchy in England, and placed 
an Archbishop of Westminster at its head. The 
attempt was premature; spurred on by public 
indignation, Parliament laid this decree under a 
legal interdict. But twenty years later, in 1871, 
the prohibition was withdrawn. Like surplices or 
tapers in Anglican churches, the Catholic organ- 
ization has fought its way among English sects 
by dint of patience and stubbornness; deriving its 
strength mainly from the irresistible attraction 
which more and more draws the High Church, 
frightened at the havoc free criticism is working 
in matters of faith, towards the principle of 
authority. 



Ill 

The Oxford Movement was a reawakening of 
the religious spirit; the aesthetic movement which 
developed parallel to it was not a renaissance, but, 
seemingly at least, an essentially new creation, a 
positive enrichment of the English mind. Religion 
had always been the most living of spiritual 
activities in England. On the other hand, the taste 
for art, the craving for the beautiful, were not 
among the natural spontaneous growths of her soil 
or her people. No doubt, modern culture had not 
bloomed out, there as everywhere else, without 
that flower of beauty which had sprung from the 
candid faith and homely life of the Middle Ages, 
and to which the light of the antique genius, in 
the sixteenth century, had imparted a fresh 



DOCTRINES 131 

strength and brighter hues. During the luxuriant 
spring of English civilization, more particularly 
in the time of Elizabeth, the pagan intoxication 
of the mind and the senses had for a while exalted 
the faculties of a whole race; and the people of 
London had risen, for a few years, to a fairly 
subtle instinct of aesthetic appreciation. But even 
in this glorious period, or during the classical age 
of Queen Anne, literature had, among all arts, 
almost exclusively enjoyed wide popular favour. 
In spite of the endeavours of an always original 
and distinguished elite, in spite of the achieve- 
ments of composers and architects in the sixteenth 
and seventeenth centuries, of admirable painters 
in the eighteenth, painting, architecture, sculp- 
ture, music, the decorative arts, had never been 
practised in England, since the Middle Ages, with 
that universal interest, that inborn aptitude of 
the many, that assistance of a favourable moral 
and social atmosphere, which account for their 
fortune with some privileged nations and at cer- 
tain epochs of history. Capable of succeeding 
honourably in all arts, famous in several, modern 
England had never shown herself to be an artistic 
nation. 

This feature is intimately connected with the 
other characteristics of her genius. For the 
artist's attention is essentially disinterested; it 
stops the working of the instinctive mechanism 
which, in ordinary life, makes perception sub- 
servient to necessary or useful ends; it thus meets 
in England, from the strength of this concatena- 
tion more closely knit than elsewhere, unceasingly 

K 2 



132 MODERN ENGLAND 

confirmed by the preferences and wills of new 
generations, with a resistance particularly hard to 
conquer. Interested motives and the desire for 
practical action cannot assume such predominance 
with a people, without correspondingly narrowing 
the field kept apart for the free play of the mind 
and the senses. 

No doubt, the idealistic needs, the longing for 
intense emotions, for pure vivid imaginings, is 
quite as deep in England as the desire for material 
utility. But traditional English idealism has not 
sought for its satisfaction in art. It has found its 
natural vent in religious feelings, in mysticism, 
moral heroism, the attainment of puritan godliness; 
in an impassioned devotion to the commonwealth, 
or in a struggle against the hostile forces of 
matter. This is the reason why English art 
almost always aims at some end foreign to itself; 
it does not exist for its own sake, but as a means; 
it must convey a lesson or an emotion, act upon 
the mind or the heart. Therefore the most 
numerous and the greatest of English artists are 
writers; literature, of all arts that in which the 
medium of expression is most intellectual, lends 
itself most readily to the expression of a non- 
artistic ideal. And among those writers, indeed, 
the most popular have not won the admiration of 
the crowd by the merits of their manner; they 
appeal to the many by the emotional character, or 
the didactic and improving value of their inven- 
tions. 

Moreover, if the English were for long, are per- 
haps still, the least artistic nation in Western 



DOCTRINES 133 

Europe, it is because their sensibility, in the 
average, is not only guided by the perception of 
the useful; it is little gifted, as well, for aesthetic 
sensations. Leaving out brilliant exceptions, the 
power of spontaneously and strongly enjoying 
beautiful things sounds, shapes, proportions, 
colours, images is not so much developed in 
them as in other nations; those of the South for 
instance, whose naturally refined senses are better 
capable of subtle distinctions. English physical 
sensibility is not the delicate harmonious opera- 
tion of instruments ever directed by a fine tact; 
left to its free impulses, it soon turns into gross 
sensualism. So it is constantly kept down by the 
exertion of the moral will, and transmutes itself 
into glows of imagination or passion. This again 
can account for the unparalleled wealth, the 
universal success in England of emotional litera- 
ture; and for the scarceness, on the contrary, of 
the pure artist, whether in images, shapes or 
words. 

These psychological traits have been more than 
once pointed out; they are inseparably associated 
with our common notion of England. But we 
must not forget that the remarkable strength of 
the English will is an element not to be over- 
looked, whenever we consider the natural resources 
of the British genius or soil. In order to acquire 
the economic or spiritual activities which the land 
or the race seemed to have denied this people, it 
has relied, every time it found them supremely 
desirable, upon the strenuous energy by means 
of which it every day conquers the world of facts. 



134 MODERN ENGLAND 

It is well known that it has mastered physical 
nature, so far as it could not without perishing 
adapt itself to it. Everybody knows, too, that the 
English have succeeded in curbing their own inner 
nature, sufficiently at least to base on their self- 
esteem the notion they have of their moral 
individuality, and the image of it which they wish 
the world to accept. It is possible to see a similar 
effort in the heroic endeavours by which modern 
England has decided to conquer the artistic gifts 
she lacked by sheer energy of will. This enter- 
prise is older than the nineteenth century; as early 
as the Renaissance, the pride of English civiliza- 
tion, then in its prime, claimed for itself all the 
arts which antiquity boasted of, and contemporary 
nations were brilliantly reviving. Thenceforth, 
all the arts existed indeed in England, if not 
always in their fruitful reality, at least in the 
patriotic determination which insisted on not 
being deprived of them. 

The great aesthetic movement, whose leader 
Ruskin was, can be connected with that tradition; 
it was before all a crusade, an appeal to energy; 
it turned for beauty to moral enthusiasm, and 
made art into a religion, the principle of a social 
and ethical reform. The pursuit of the beautiful 
is no longer in this instance, as it is elsewhere, 
the expression of a natural sensuousness, follow- 
ing the bent of instinct in its cravings; it is the 
deliberate, earnest, almost pious action of a soul 
performing a duty. We must not, then, wonder 
that, failing all inborn faculty of aesthetic sensi- 
bility, the means and inner resources required by 






DOCTRINES 135 

this great enterprise should have been supplied by 
the religious energies of the soul; nor that the 
artistic revival should have developed by turning 
some of the old spiritual springs into new 
channels. It was not essentially a deep change, 
but rather a superficial and voluntary modifica- 
tion. So far, this aspect of the revenge of instinct 
reminds one of the artificial activities of rational- 
ism and meditated adaptation; but this resem- 
blance is misleading; though the aesthetic renais- 
sance was not the spontaneous expansion of an 
artistic people creating beauty in order to enjoy it, 
it was none the less the instinctive manifestation 
of a proud religious people, whose life-force 
wrested from nature one more greatness, grati- 
fication and strength. 

About 1840, this initiative was called for by 
the dimly felt needs of national health; the social 
and moral circumstances demanded it more press- 
ingly than ever. We have seen how the hew 
society contradicted emotional, philosophic and 
religious idealism; how it had diffused the ugli- 
ness of industrial utilitarianism over the face of 
the earth and the life of man. Vulgarity was the 
very characteristic of middle-class civilization; 
manners, clothes, language put on a monotonous, 
mean, dull colour; huge manufacturing towns 
stretched away endlessly and dismally under the 
murky sky; the railways cut geometrical gloomy 
vistas through the green loveliness of the fields; 
the soulless labour of machines turned out pro- 
ducts destitute of originality, untouched by the 
qreative hand of man; the triumph of the middle 



136 MODERN ENGLAND 

class darkened the gaiety of public life, and its 
puritan spirit impoverished an already cold and 
austere worship. An age of ugliness seemed to 
open; a physical and moral ugliness, the visible 
expression of that inner withering, that universal 
materialism which destroyed love, faith and life. 
Carlyle's philosophy was a reaction of the moral 
life, asserting its deep, primitive and all-import- 
ant reality, against the disastrous excesses of 
mechanism and logic. The Oxford Movement was 
a reaction of the religious life, striving to bloom 
out freely and assume the lustre of strength and 
magnificence. The aesthetic revival was a reaction 
of emotional life, striving to reinspire nature and 
familiar sights with the divine Presence, by 
creating joy and glory for every one. 

Ruskin's artistic teaching was very simple in 
its principles, very complex and sometimes con- 
tradictory in its deductions. It was not a rational 
system; by its inner origins, its development, its 
method, it harmonized with the intuitions of a 
Carlyle. It belonged to the same current of in- 
stincts and ideas, by all its assertions, and by its 
mode of asserting. It is primarily a burning 
glorification of the poetry of things; an effort to 
discover, express and reveal the beautiful. A 
torpor made of laziness, ignorance, hardening and 
impiousness blinds the eyes of men to the awful 
wonder of creation; let them learn to see, and they 
will be dazzled by the grand aspects of nature, 
and by the tiny miraculous beauties of the 
humblest beings. An attentive sympathetic study 
will give a voice again to the dumb eloquence of 



DOCTRINES 137 

cathedrals; the masterpieces of human art will 
appeal to our hearts in their language of noble- 
ness and sincerity. And from nature and 
art will emanate the same mystical message; 
the visible universe will appear as a divine 
symbolism. 

Carlyle's idealism, more metaphysical, aimed at 
dispelling all illusory forms, the better to reach 
the only reality, mind; Ruskin's idealism, more 
poetical, on the contrary throws a light of love 
over the visible forms, in which the will and 
lessons of the divine soul are enshrined. Its 
will, for the hidden force which brings the crystal, 
the rock, the flower and the human face to their 
intrinsic perfection, is a portion of and directly 
issues from the Intention which has created the 
world, and preserves it; its lessons, for man's life 
and the labour of his hands have no other duty, 
no higher ideal, than to realize in themselves the 
order God has appointed; and this order is essenti- 
ally the same for all creatures. Inferiority always 
rests with matter, the body, what appeals to the 
senses and only to them; superiority with form, 
the idea, what appeals to the soul. Interpreted 
as it ought to be, this world is pregnant with a 
meaning which the mind only can grasp; and all 
its parts are symbols. The artist shall enjoy the 
glorious scenery nature displays around him; he 
shall drink up the beauty of the fleeting cloud, of 
the motionless pure peaks, the endlessly varied 
hues of stones and flowers, the gracefulness of 
each detail and the harmony of the whole in trees 
and animals; but his emotion will not be artistic, 



138 MODERN ENGLAND 

unless it goes beyond mere sensation, and, imbued 
with intelligence and awe, ends in adoration. 

To this gospel of Art, the inspired, thrilling 
exegesis, the full and biblical eloquence of Ruskin 
bring unceasing support and confirmation. The 
history of painting and that of architecture abund- 
antly teach the same lesson. The painters of the soul 
have been the greatest of all; the simple buoyant 
faith, the sincere technique of the early Italian 
painters were naturally expressed by their fresh, 
pure colour, a joy to the eye and to the heart; 
on the contrary, the sensuous degeneration and 
artificial refinement of their unworthy heirs go 
along with a dark, dull colouring. What con- 
stitutes Turner's unique greatness, is that he has 
painted nature with a more clear-sighted vision, 
a deeper and more humble passion than any other; 
he has done better because he felt more, he has 
felt more because he loved better. In the same 
way do buildings contain the worst or the best 
elements of the human mind within their fresh 
or faded stones; their outlines, their proportions 
and ornaments reveal a civilization, express a faith, 
and their value is gauged by the generosity of this 
faith. No architecture is more beautiful than that 
of Gothic churches; for in it bloom out, with the 
living belief of a whole people, the absolute devo- 
tion and sincerity of artists enamoured of their 
work, and the minutely accurate imitation of 
patterns supplied by nature. The palaces and 
domes of Venice still echo the anthem of the past, 
and proclaim, in glorious unison, the courage and 
the faith which built up her greatness of yore; 



DOCTRINES 139 

the downfall of her strength and that of her art 
are both written out in the sensuous languidness 
of her painters. 

What is, then, the necessary condition, that the 
English soil may produce an artistic harvest finer, 
richer than any other? The laws of art have 
taught Ruskin those of life, for life is the very 
principle of beauty; his gospel of art widens into 
a moral doctrine. Thus the current of his 
thoughts retraces the course it had followed; more 
deeply than in aesthetic enthusiasm, its source lies 
in mystical and puritan fervour. 

What must the English people do in order to 
feel and to create the beautiful ? It must revive in 
itself the religious soul of the beautiful. Let its 
national life rise again to the level of Christian 
zeal, of public devotion it reached in the Middle 
Ages; let art find a firm basis in generous and 
widespread collective feelings. Let the artist work 
lovingly, and let his hand be guided by an earnest 
desire for truth. No lying; each piece must be 
fitted for its particular end; each ornament must 
have its justification and its use; each detail be as 
finished as the whole. The matter must be pre- 
cious, not common and vile; the style pure and 
not adulterated; the decoration realistic and not 
fanciful; the technique bold and sincere rather 
than clever. More than anything else the unfeel- 
ing, unconscious working of machinery is hateful; 
only man's life can impart life to things. In- 
dustry, the queen of modern society, has ruined 
art; that art may revive, industry must be curbed 
and driven back to its own field. And in the 



i 4 o MODERN ENGLAND 

same way that a reform of mind and heart was to 
precede the renaissance of art, a reform of the 
social order and of civilization itself will alone 
make possible the regeneration of the heart. 

It was shortly after 1850 that the first linea- 
ments of Ruskin's social gospel came out through 
his artistic preaching. During the quiet years of 
the middle Victorian period, the apostle of the 
beautiful went on inveighing against the times; 
and his growing influence was confronted by the 
stubborn resistance of startled optimism and 
threatened interests. With an eager eloquence, he 
assailed the dogmas of political economy. He 
charged this code of the principles of money- 
making with the degradation of the capitalist 
whom it debased and of the wage-earner whom 
it enslaved. The whole system of Ricardo was 
based on an over-simplification, an impoverish- 
ment of man and of collective life. It was by an 
undue abstraction that the conflicting motives and 
desires were considered in their stripped naked- 
ness; reclothed with flesh and blood, economic 
entities no longer comply with the arithmetical 
combinations of science; and if, moreover, a soul 
is given back to these living bodies, they are 
thenceforth raised to a higher and different order, 
the order of minds, the awful vital suggestions of 
which run counter to the despotic commands of 
mere self-seeking. No social science without a 
broad, human notion of man. And, passing on 
to positive affirmations, Ruskin opposes an intui- 
tive theory of value to Ricardo's materialism. 

There is no wealth but life. That country is 



DOCTRINES 141 

most wealthy which supports the greatest number 
of happy and noble human beings. The connec- 
tion of the doctrine with all the moral and 
physical complexity of social life being thus 
re-established, it is carried from the rational and 
over-simplified plane on which the utilitarian 
thinkers had kept it, to a concrete and instinctive 
feeling of the living realities with which it must 
deal. Thenceforth the ground was cleared for a 
truly objective sociology, able to encompass the 
problem of social life, with all its elements and 
data. And in the English mind which was then 
awaking to social compunction, as well as to a 
desire for charitable action, Ruskin's influence, 
confirming that of Carlyle, helped on the conscious- 
ness of solidarity, and that inner detachment from 
economic dogmatism whence an interventionist 
opinion silently issued. 

In the more precise schemes of reform to which 
Ruskin devoted himself with impatient eagerness 
the deep affinity of his thought with Carlyle's is 
more apparent still. His wishes aim at rebuilding 
an authoritative hierarchical order, ruled by the 
old disciplines, in which the individual only 
exists for the sake of the community. Verging on 
State Socialism by the supreme and beneficent in- 
fluence it grants the central power, his doctrine 
preserves its conservative and feudal character by 
maintaining the privileged classes and the elite; 
in it, an exacting spirit of Christian idealism 
enforces the Ten Commandments with a strict- 
ness quite savouring of theocracy. The State 
shall see to the fairness of the relations between 




142 MODERN ENGLAND 

captains and soldiers of labour; its control shall 
be exercised by inspectors; but its function shall 
be mainly moral. Every year, each householder 
shall give an account of the events that have 
occurred in his home; there shall be for each 
hundred families one spiritual overseer, super- 
vising the religious discipline and mental hygiene 
without which there can be no health for the 
individual or the race. The noble families, never- 
theless, shall keep their standing and their lands; 
but as their patriarchal dignity will not allow 
of mercenary pursuits, their lands shall not be 
cultivated, and their incomes shall be provided by 
the State. In each human aggregate, the leading 
functions shall rest with the natural chiefs those 
whom birth, education, an evident superiority, 
have fitted for authority. Submitted again, as 
far as possible, to the healthy influences of the 
country and the open air, industry shall return to 
the old type of home work; the family, the true 
social unit, shall be the economic cell as well. Man 
shall no longer be a machine, his labour shall no 
longer partake of the monotonous mind-destroy- 
ing rhythm of connecting-rods and cranks; things 
shall derive all their value from the amount of 
life and soul they imply, and handicrafts, as of 
old, shall fashion homely objects and works of art 
in an atmosphere of joy and love. The revived 
guilds shall jealously uphold the honour of trade 
and the pride of traditions; each of them shall 
guarantee the wares offered for sale, and set their 
prices according to the scale of that real value, 
life. 



DOCTRINES 143 

These mystical dreams and schemes have not 
withstood the onslaughts of irony or the protests 
of common sense; however, the spirit of these 
doctrines has thoroughly permeated the two 
generations which have felt their influence; and 
contemporary English life is instinct with it. 

As early as the middle of the Victorian era, the 
reforming impulse given by Ruskin combined 
with that of Carlyle, with all the forces of the 
instinctive reaction, to repress the vices of in- 
dustrial society. But it was chiefly as a prophet 
of the beautiful that Ruskin influenced this period. 
His aesthetic propaganda fell in with an artistic 
and literary movement, Pre-Raphaelitism, the rise 
of which his first books, indeed, favoured. A 
young active group of poet-painters, about 1850, 
undertook to instil a new life into English art; 
they looked for their models among those early 
Italian painters Ruskin had discovered, and set 
the sincere inspiration, the simple technique of 
these masters in contrast with the elaborate trite 
artificiality of English Academic painting. They 
were animated with that same zeal and faith which 
had roused Ruskin to write the Stones of Venice; 
they wished to root out from art the hypocrisy 
which had flourished in it ever since the Renais- 
sance; to implant in it, on the contrary, that deep- 
felt devotion, that straightforward candour which 
bloomed out in the pictures of Fra Angelico or 
Luini. And as an earnest idealism will spon- 
taneously radiate from a believing soul, and steep 
the material aspects of things in spirituality, 
they naturally tended to enrich their mystical repre- 



i 4 4 MODERN ENGLAND 

sentation with that symbolism which Ruskin 
regarded as the secret language of the universe. 
To this sincerity, lastly, to this Christian humility 
and this symbolism, necessarily answered a 
scrupulous attention to details ; they fondly painted 
those tiny wonders of each plant, each flower, each 
petal, which Ruskin's impassioned investigations 
had brought to light, and preserved all the specific 
particularities of their characters and forms. 

Thus rose and grew the school of art to which 
we owe the masterpieces of Rossetti, Millais and 
Burne-Jones. Various sources of inspiration 
swelled or altered in its course that main current 
of theory and enthusiasm; especially noteworthy 
was the contribution of the mediaeval feeling, of 
the chivalrous archaic ideal, as the romantic 
imagination had revived it. From this point of 
view, whilst the Pre-Raphaelite movement consti- 
tuted a realistic reaction, it continued romanticism 
in art after it had spent itself in literature. The 
same process of development occurred pretty 
generally at that time; one might say that in Eng- 
land about the middle of the century the seeds 
scattered forty years before by the romantic return 
to the past had struck root and were flourishing 
in the moral, artistic and social fields. This 
reactionary bent, as it were, of feeling and imagina- 
tion; had first appeared in Scott's novels; it grew 
more prominent in the comparison instituted by 
Carlyle between the present and the past. It was 
no less conspicuous in the doctrines of the 
Puseyites, and in their preference for the tradi- 
tional rites of worship. It was the very soul of 



DOCTRINES 145 

Ruskin's aesthetic theory, and gave his social 
gospel its special bias. Diffused everywhere, 
this spirit of emotional regression permeated also 
the paintings of a Burne- Jones; and it seems as 
if the mediaeval inspiration, the more or less openly 
confessed effort to rebuild on the old basis either 
society or art which rationalist individualism had 
equally disintegrated, were the most essential 
element of that moral synthesis we call here the 
revenge of instinct. 

It is impossible to pass over in silence the ever- 
widening consequences of the aesthetic renaissance 
about the end of the century, and its influence over 
English art at large, the industrial and decorative 
arts, dress, furniture, life itself. But this aspect 
of contemporary England centres round the pre- 
dominant personality of W. Morris, who will be 
mentioned further on. A few words will be said 
also, in the following chapter, about literary Pre- 
Raphaelitism. 



CHAPTER III 

LAWS AND MANNERS 

I. The amending of industrial anarchy ; factory and labour 
legislation ; emotional and rational philanthropy ; the reform of 
social abuses. II. The movement for the organization of 
labour ; English Trade-Unionism : its evolution and means of 
action. III. The instinctive and conservative elements of the 
new manners ; snobbery ; the Puritan reaction ; social com- 
punction. IV. The literature of feeling and imagination. 
V. The psychological origins of Imperialism. VI. The social 
equilibrium and public optimism about 1870. 

The preceding doctrines and movements con- 
stituted a wide complex of aspirations and ideas; 
these rested in their turn, as has been seen, on a 
yet wider basis of interests and instincts. No 
wonder, then, that the conservative, organic and 
reconstructive influences of all these forces should 
have taken effect at the same time as the reform- 
ing action of rational individualism, though in- 
dependently of it; nor that England, from 1832 to 
1884, should have felt the former no less than the 
latter. Laws and manners were moulded by the 
compensatory sway of the revenge of instinct, and 
still bear witness to it. 



I 

The vital issue around which was waged the 
fight of the conflicting social forces was the 

146 



LAWS AND MANNERS 147 

problem of industrial organization. We have seen 
what was the anarchy spontaneously developed 
and promoted by the economic laisser-faire; the 
most ominous symptoms of political disorder and 
social degeneration resulted from the overwork 
imposed upon the factory hands, and the general 
conditions of life they had to bear. State-inter- 
vention in its modern form took rise in this 
particular and significant province of production 
on a large scale; it radiated from this centre over 
the other fields of industry and commerce. 

In the very first years of the century, the State 
had foreshadowed its correcting and controlling 
action, though but timorously as yet. In 1802, 
after some agitatio'n, a regulation was promulgated; 
it prescribed measures destined to preserve the 
physical and moral health of the children employed 
in cotton and wool factories. This decree remained 
a dead letter. In 18 19, after an inquiry, a law 
prohibited the admission of children under nine 
into spinning-mills, and set the maximum working 
day for children under sixteen at twelve hours. 
This decision was ignored. During the years 
1830-32, in that atmosphere of fiery political 
vindication, the doctrines and the propaganda of 
industrial reformers grew more definite and bolder. 
The spirit of religious and philanthropic idealism, 
till then bent upon the abolition of slavery or other 
humanitarian crusades, more resolutely faced the 
pathetic distress England was finding out on her 
own soil. Such men as Fielden, Sadler, Lord 
Ashley, devoted an indefatigable zeal to the cause, 
and before long they were joined by Carlyle, 
l 2 



148 MODERN ENGLAND 

Kingsley, and other advocates of beneficent 
authority or Christian Socialism. The Factory Act 
of 1 83 1 was not more efficiently put in force than 
the preceding ones; but that of 1833, the outcome 
of a serious inquiry, constituted the first decisive 
step towards interventionism. The age-limit 
under which the working people were granted the 
protection of the State was raised to eighteen years; 
and the prescriptions of the Act were to have force 
" in any factory or mill," except silk works. But 
the effect of these regulations was again set at 
naught by the cunning of the employers; as the 
law prescribed a maximum working day, they 
devised a system of shifts and relays, so that all 
calculations were made impossible; the inspectors 
appointed under the Act were powerless, in spite 
of the sanctions with which they were armed. 

Then it was that mustering their forces, the 
leaders of the " new philanthropy " won a victory, 
the consequences of which have not yet ceased 
developing. In 1840, at the request of Lord 
Ashley, Parliament decreed a general inquiry about 
labour. The reports published from 1840 to 1845 
deeply stirred public opinion. At this critical 
moment, when poverty was reaching its climax, 
England, roused by the call of prophets and men 
of action, awoke to a realization, dim at first, 
then clearer and clearer, of the necessary reform. 
The Mines Act (1842) swept away the worst evils 
in this particularly backward industry; the Factory 
Act of 1844, bearing on textile industries, enacted 
more drastic regulations; it extended the protec- 
tion already enjoyed by children to adult women. 



LAWS AND MANNERS 149 

In 1845, soc i a l legislation overstepped the narrow 
bounds within which it had kept so far; print 
works were submitted to special prescriptions. 
Lastly, in 1847, tne long-wished-for Ten Hours 
Bill was passed; it took its full effect in 1850. 
This measure reached its end by the indirect means 
and the method of compromise typical of the 
English statute-book. Economic dogmas were 
still so powerful, that the legislator dared not 
openly intervene in the normal agreement between 
the employer and the workman; adults were not 
explicitly included in the provisions of the law; 
only weaker beings, in a condition of patent social 
inferiority, women and children, were protected 
against the consequences of their weakness. But 
the mutual dependence of tasks, in that concatena- 
tion of parallel activities constituted by the factory, 
made it impossible to deprive one class of work- 
men of the benefit of the law, whilst others enjoyed 
it; and thus the ten hours day became the rule, as 
early as the middle of the century, in the most 
prosperous and most typical English industries. 

The history of factory legislation was thence- 
forward less eventful. Though the private 
interests threatened by the control of the State still 
opposed each new extension of its domain, the 
spirit of intervention no longer met with the same 
impassioned resistance fro'm the Liberal doctrin- 
aires. Public opinion, enlightened by social litera- 
ture and the official reports, stirred by the appeals 
of the reformers, was all the more readily led to 
welcome that widening of the scope of legislation, 
as the effects of previous measures in the already 



ISO MODERN ENGLAND 

conquered provinces of labour were more obviously 
successful. The lesson of experience, ever listened 
to in England, justified the men of instinct and 
feeling in their conflict with the men of principles. 
Along with the material and moral standard of the 
workmen's life rose the stability of production, 
and in most cases the prosperity of industry. The 
new system did not bring about the baleful 
economic consequences predicted by the advocates 
of laisser-faire; and factory inspection did not 
prove fatal to that independence which mill-owners 
were so anxious to preserve. 

So this movement developed steadily and more 
peacefully during the second period of the Victorian 
era. The advance of legislation mainly consisted 
thenceforth in a progress from the main centres 
to the minor regions of industrial activity; so that, 
through successive assimilations, the advantage of 
the provisions first enacted for textile industry 
might be extended to analogous or dependent 
industries. Before long even these bounds were 
set aside; the definition of the factory, implying 
the concerted labour of a large number of work- 
men, was widened in order to include the work- 
shop, in which the operations of minor industries 
were carried out; and an inner necessity impelled 
legal protection to encompass all the forms of 
labour, however distantly akin they might be to 
spinning and weaving, the original focus of legis- 
lative intervention. The chief stages in this 
development were marked by the second general 
inquiry on the employment of children (i 861-66), 
which brought to light, besides the abuses pre- 



LAWS AND MANNERS 151 

viously revealed, the unknown hardships and 
cruelties of countless small handicrafts; by the two 
Acts of 1867, the former of which added iron- 
works, paper, glass and tobacco manufactures, 
among others, to the domain of legal protection, 
whilst the latter (Workshop Regulation Act) dealt 
explicitly with workshops, so that the whole field 
of industrial production was then encompassed ; by 
the 1874 Act, in which the influence of Trade 
Unions, taking in hand the cause of labour, was 
for the first time discernible ; by the Report which 
a new Commission published in 1876, and by the 
Act of 1878, which aimed at knitting together and 
organizing these diverse previous measures. 

Thus, about 1880, the laws for the protection of 
labour rose like a stately fabric of social wisdom. 
But the stamp of their origin and history, and that 
of traditional English empiricism, were printed oh 
every aspect of them. Guided by an obscure, 
blind instinct of justice or prudence, their growth 
had been uninfluenced by any principle or system. 
Successive and ever incomplete victories of 
emotional perception and concrete imagination over 
the resistance of selfishness or abstract logic, they 
were in no wise indebted to this logic, and recalled 
the older political structures in which England still 
sheltered her action and her life. But the definite, 
entirely modern objects those laws dealt with 
seemed to require a more systematic and conscious 
method. Industrial operations, the problems they 
implied, all the difficulties raised by the sudden 
apparition, in England, of the new world of 
factories and the new race of workmen, seemed to 



152 MODERN ENGLAND 

require of the legislation which concerned them 
some of the scientific spirit with which they were 
themselves imbued. Precedents, that normal 
fountain-head of English law, were wanting here; 
and the glaring crude light cast by the red blaze 
of furnaces upon the serfdom of the factories 
awoke in the hearts of the men they enslaved a 
more impatient and eager desire for justice. 

Therefore the code of labour, made up piece- 
meal, without any preconceived notion, from 1830 
to 1880, struck unprejudiced minds as an imper- 
fect instrument. Sufficiently developed on some 
points, very incdmplete on others; unequally cover- 
ing the various provinces of the same industry; 
sometimes aggravating the abuses it aimed at 
destroying, or giving rise to new ones; rife with 
inconsistencies and even contradictions, it might 
succeed in correcting the worst excesses of 
eco'nomic individualism; it afforded a material 
proof of the practical superiority of intervention 
over indifference; it failed either to cure all evils, 
or to make a uniform standard of humanity and 
decency prevail everywhere. The laws relating to 
industry did not obviously constitute a definitive 
achievement. 

Besides these laws, the reform of other social 
abuses, the alleviation of suffering, proceeded on 
an extensive scale, under the influence of philan- 
thropic feelings and of the doctrines o'f collective 
action. The humanitarian measures inspired by 
the revenge of instinct were thus bound up through 
their consequences, and sometimes more directly 
through their supporters, with the liberal reforms 



LAWS AND MANNERS 153 

of society suggested by the philosophic Radicals. 
On several points, the two main currents of energy 
and ideas whose ebb and flow fill up that period of 
English history came in contact with each other. 
Ho'wever far apart their sources and directions, 
these two streams watered the same ground; and 
the same men sometimes drew from both. They 
kept none the less distinct; and though their 
effects converged or combined as often as they 
compensated or destroyed one another, the 
measures which originated in one or the other are 
almost always recognizable at first sight. The 
salient feature of rationalist philanthropy was its 
anxious pursuit of logical justice and of a better 
organization; the idealist or emotional philanthropy 
was characterized by its preference for immediate 
and concrete action, for entirely spontaneous pro- 
cesses. A type of the former kind of reforms is 
to be found in the series of Reform Acts (1832 
67-84), which showed a continuous, regular, 
straight advance, and finally, by means of three 
stages, established almost universal suffrage. A 
type of the latter kind would be afforded by these 
very labour laws; they are signs of a groping 
progress, towards an uncertain goal, dimly per- 
ceived even by those who aimed at it; they were 
in perfect agreement with the traditional instincts 
of the English mind. 

From 1830 to 1880, a great number of blemishes 
were blotted out by the latter philanthropy as well 
as by the former. In 1845, f r instance, lunatic 
asylums were submitted to the control of the State; 
a new and more humane spirit in all dealings with 



154 MODERN ENGLAND 

the patients replaced the cruelty of former usages. 
In 1840, the prolonged agitation in favour of 
chimney sweepers resulted in a law; it was thence- 
forth forbidden to send up flues those children 
black with soot, very often stolen from their 
homes, who had supplied middle-class tender- 
heartedness with one of its favourite themes. 

The " pressing " of sailors was put down in 
1835. It was about 1840 that, under the influence 
of public opinion, the practice of duelling was 
definitively dropped; in 1844, ** was even pro- 
hibited among officers. Ever since the eighteenth 
century, the Puritan conscience had risen against 
that aristocratic tradition, which was no less deeply 
rooted in England than in France; it took, to 
eradicate it, the advent of the middle class, which 
was hostile to the feudal conception of honour, and 
the great movement of moral reform which 
characterized this critical period. At the same 
time, the war waged by English sentiment against 
cruelty to animals was rewarded by its first victory; 
favoured by the coarseness of old British manners, 
such games as cock-fighting and bear-baiting had 
always been popular; the Act of 1835 prohibited 
them in the streets. Everybody knows what habits 
or institutions, such as the Anti-Vivisection 
League, this generous feeling of fairness or charity 
to animals has since promoted in England. 

One may mention as well the reform of the peni- 
tentiary system, eagerly pursued by a series of 
apostles and philanthropists since the eighteenth 
century; in the first twenty years of Queen 
Victoria's reign, experiments undertaken in a 



LAWS AND MANNERS 155 

humanitarian intention, which did not always 
prove successful, resulted at last in the erection of 
prisons better adapted to physical and moral 
hygiene. Again, let us recall what private initia- 
tive, and the public authorities, did against the 
unhealthy conditions in which the poor lived; these 
efforts, spurred on by the smarting stress of events, 
and by severe epidemics of cholera or typhus, be- 
came prominent about 1848, centring round a 
"society against insanitary dwellings"; the same 
year, a Permanent Committee of Hygiene was 
created; in 1851, a Bill was passed, with a view 
to the improvement of working men's houses. 
Lastly, the movement for temperance, which as 
early as 1842 began to gain ground upon the 
scourge of alcoholism. Instinct with a religious 
zeal, led in Ireland by a Catholic priest, Father 
Matthew, helped on by the taxes Parliament set 
upon the sale of spirits, this enterprise of social 
regeneration very soon assumed in England the 
aspect of a national and mystical crusade; about the 
middle of the century, the reputation for drunken- 
ness English society had not undeservedly drawn 
upon itself began to be belied by a serious reform 
of manners. The temperance agitation was thence- 
forth one of the focuses of social morals in the 
making; one of the tendencies, at the same time 
religio'us and practical, with which the new 
Liberalism was to try and weave, later on, the web 
of a stronger doctrine. 



156 MODERN ENGLAND 



II 

While the reforming action of instinct was 
taking effect in the ruling classes, for the benefit 
of social conservation and peace, the working 
class reacted on its own plane, to its own advan- 
tages, against the deadly consequences of economic 
anarchy. Leaving aside Chartism, that unsuccess- 
ful attempt at a revolutionary organization, Trade 
Unionism constituted, from 1830 to' 1880, the 
spontaneous reaction of the working masses and 
their effort towards organic reconstruction. 

This was an effort of instinctive experimental 
wisdom, in which theory had no share. On the 
contrary, it was by giving up the vague theoretical 
ambitions of their youth that the Unions rose on a 
firm lasting basis. Everybody knows how they 
were born, in the eighteenth century, quite a new 
departure in themselves, from the needs of col- 
lective action brought about by the industrial revo- 
lution. Sternly prohibited by the law under the 
name of " combinations," they were granted their 
franchise, as has been seen, by the philosophic 
Radicals in 1824. At once began, during the 
critical years from 1829 to 1848, their revolu- 
tionary period. Deeply permeated by Owenism, 
caught in a few cases by the Chartist movement, 
the working men's associations, which then 
assumed for the first time the name of "Trade 
Unions," indulged in the dream of a federation 
of all trades, in view of a general strike. Violence 
was met by violence; this was the time when the 



LAWS AND MANNERS 157 

government sentenced to transportation the Dor- 
chester labourers, guilty of having been sworn in 
to a national union; when employers demanded a 
written declaration of their men, to the effect that 
they did not belong to any association. 

After the breakdown of those desperate 
attempts, the most famous of which was that of 
1834, after spasmodic revivals, relapsing into 
depression, the permanent elements of social 
organization contained in those confused agitations 
disentangled themselves and grew more definite. 
Owen's propaganda found its outcome in co-opera- 
tion; and enlightened by the failure of the 
associations for production, co-operators dis- 
covered in associations for consumption the form 
of practical solidarity best fitted to prepare the way 
for an economic fraternity. In 1844 was founded 
the Co-operative Society of the Rochdale Pioneers, 
a model to so many others. Meanwhile, in the 
province of labour organization, vario'us influences 
favoured the constitution of a new type; such were 
the attenuation of political differences after 1848, 
the progress of trade and of national prosperity, 
the conversion of most Trade Unionists to the 
Liberal economic ideas, spread far and wide by 
Ricardo's disciples; and the increasing ascendency 
of the Printers' Unions, won over from an early 
date to a peaceful and methodical policy. In 1 8 5 1 
was organized the Association of Engineers, which 
was to set a pattern to Unionism for forty years. 

Trade Unions thenceforth possessed lasting 
characteristics, moulded by experience. They set 
aside all revolutionary ambitions, and confined 



158 MODERN ENGLAND 

themselves to immediate precise aims. Limited to 
particular trades, and deriving strength from this 
very limitation, by degrees they developed more 
complex economic or political instruments, cal- 
culated to modify their surroundings as suited 
their interests. The " Amalgamated " Associa- 
tion of Engineers grouped a number of local 
Unions, led by a central Committee for the defence 
of the trade; and in the same way were created 
national federations of the more important crafts. 
Thanks to the fruitful training implied in the 
financial direction of such associations, they turned 
out clear-headed, shrewd, experienced men, an elite 
of labour which gradually won the recognition of 
middle-class opinion, and eventually got into 
Parliament. 

After 1 86 1 appeared the Trades' Councils, in 
which were represented the various Unions of the 
same industrial centre. The " Junto," a group of 
secretaries and officials, directed an uninterrupted 
political pressure against the prohibitive clauses of 
the law which regulated labour agreements; the 
yet contested right of workmen to confederate 
was at last fully acknowledged. This final victory 
of the trade-unionist principle (1875-76) was made 
unavoidable by the attitude of the Radicals, but for 
a while endangered by the ill-will of the Liberal 
party, still bound to economic orthodoxy; it was, 
in fact, achieved by the Conservatives, on this 
point as on many others better prepared than their 
rivals to accept interventionism and the beginnings 
of solidarity. Lastly, in 1868 was held the first 
Trade Union Congress. The yearly meeting of 



LAWS AND MANNERS 159 

this Parliament of labour was before long wel- 
comed by public opinion and the national author- 
ities; and social peace seemed secured, thanks to 
the admission of an aristocracy of labour to the 
free discussion of their own interests. When in 
1872 a Parliamentary Committee was created, 
entrusted with the promotion of Bills advantageous 
to the working class, the utmost possibilities of 
Trade Unionist initiative in legislative matters 
might seem pacifically fulfilled. 

So this new political activity was fruitful be- 
cause of its at once determined and moderate 
spirit. In the province of smaller daily cares, 
the Unions had pursued their development, still 
thwarted at times, but gradually living down all 
opposition. Between 1870 and 1875, most 
employers, following the example set by the 
government, practically accepted the collective 
discussion of labour agreements. About that time, 
the English working men's association could be 
seen in its typical form, with all the originality of 
its characteristics. It was not so much a fighting 
machine as a mutual relief society. It brought 
together in each trade a very strong proportion 
of the skilled workmen, excluding the labourers 
and helpers, who* constituted socially a lower 
stratum. Its members, bearing the strongly 
marked stamp of English respectability, partook 
of the dignity secured by economic indepen- 
dence. They regularly paid high subscriptions, 
wanted to support the insurance fund which was 
the essential element of the Union life insurance, 
assistance in case of unemployment, and pensions 



160 MODERN ENGLAND 

for the old and the disabled. Such functions im- 
plied a heavy budget, a large reserve fund, and 
all the prudence as well as the responsibilities 
which attend upon wealth. Therefore the defence 
of corporate interests was understood by the 
traditional Unions in a spirit of compromise and 
conciliation. Strikes were a desperate weapon, 
rarely used but in cases of absolute need ; on most 
occasions, a settlement was agreed upon before 
hostilities began. The first Labour members from 
the Unions brought moderate tendencies to the 
House of Commons, and worked jointly with the 
Radical wing of the Liberal party. This elite of 
secretaries and representatives of labour readily 
fell in, by their social preferences, their instincts, 
their religious and loyal feelings, with the pre- 
existing structure of the ruling middle class; and 
the prosperity of English Trade Unionism seemed 
for a while to herald the definitive mitigation of 
revolutionary appetites. 

However sincerely men of a rational and dis- 
interested turn of mind like the small group of 
the English positivists may have sympathized 
with the movement for the organization of labour, 
it belonged yet, by its history and its character- 
istics, to the reaction against individualistic 
Liberalism. Whether opposed or not by the 
moneyed classes, Trade Unionism, like factory 
legislation, expressed the spontaneous protest of a 
practical feeling of solidarity against economic 
anarchy. Thus it was, by its inner meaning, 
conservative as much as constructive. 



LAWS AND MANNERS 161 



III 

If one considers not only the working class, 
but the whole of society from 1832 to 1884, it is 
easy to see that the new manners, the outcome of 
all the previously mentioned social and moral 
influences, bore witness to the revenge of instinct 
no less than to middle class and rationalist tenden- 
cies. The conservative forces kept their hold on 
English life; and the victory of individualism was 
diminished, compensated in every way by organic 
growths or the survivals of the past. 

A foreign observer visiting England about 
i860 might fancy he found again the appearance 
and the reality of the old manners, hardly modified. 
Gathered in towns or industrial districts, the great 
business class did not make its influence felt in 
the wide expanse of the agricultural regions. 
There, secure in the enjoyment of its immemorial 
prestige, the nobility maintained its uncontested 
sway over the country people. It justified its 
power, besides, by its useful initiative; able to 
adapt itself to new needs, it often set the example 
of the social philanthropic activity on which men's 
minds were now bent. Not only did it intervene 
in the industrial strife, to support the cause of 
factory legislation, thus finding a weapon against 
the rival class of employers in an unexpected 
application of its patriarchal ideal; but, as its adver- 
saries would ironically invite it to, it looked, near 
the very gate of its own castles, at the distress of its 
tenants, and sometimes sincerely undertook to 



1 62 MODERN ENGLAND 

remedy it. If the democratic evolution of the 
English constitution has proved reconcilable with 
the maintenance of the aristocratic privilege, and 
if the influence of landlords has remained almost 
unshaken to' our very day, the reason for it must 
be sought for not only in the conservative instinct 
of the race, or in the backward economic condition 
of country districts; the efforts honestly made by 
the best landowners to raise their providential 
function to the level of a more exacting con- 
science, did much to promote this end. In most 
cases, the care the master took of the farmer, the 
copyholder or even the field-labourer was for these, 
to some extent, a moral and material security 
against the most serious risks of life; needless to 
say, this dependence implied some docility on their 
part in political or religious matters. 

The country, in England, is still the stronghold 
of the Anglican Church, while the sects have 
gained ground in the town middle class or among 
the industrial masses; and when the Reform Act 
of 1884 had given the franchise to peasants, the 
Conservative party was the stronger and not 
the weaker for this change. Under the shelter 
of the stately castle or of the simple and respected 
manor-house, close to the ivy-covered walls above 
which rises a grey slim tower, the English village 
pursued, all through the middle Victorian period, 
that calm untroubled life into which it had slowly 
fallen after the disturbed years which preceded it. 
Resigned to its economic decay as to some natural 
fate, no longer contesting the victory of Free 
Trade, it then accepted its doom, and drowsed 



LAWS AND MANNERS 163 

away into that proud torpor or that slackened 
activity which to-day impart its character and, so 
to speak, its peculiar distinction to the old English 
agriculture. The onward progress which drove the 
nation as a whole to a more modern and rational 
social organization, to a more intense life, was 
hardly felt by it; and its political and social will, 
collected in the hands of its hereditary masters, 
unswervingly supported the instinctive reactions 
thanks to which England, for a while carried away 
by the industrial fever, readjusted herself to the 
inner necessities of her genius and her race. 

Meanwhile, in towns also the new manners bore 
in many points the impress of the past, or cor- 
rected of themselves, by means of spontaneous 
growths, the excessive consequences of the forces 
from which they had sprung. The triumph of the 
middle class did not modify the aspect of English 
society so much as it had done in France. One of 
the main causes, and at the same time one of the 
essential forms of this persistence was snobbery, 
a universal phenomenon, but perhaps more 
especially British. More than elsewhere, the pres- 
tige of the nobility was accepted by the middle 
class, which had in part stripped it of its political 
power; and from this worship of the ways, the 
fashions, the tastes and ideas associated with aristo- 
cratic distinction, rose a conservative frame of 
mind in all that concerns traditional institutions 
and habits. 

The upstarts of industry and commerce never 
thought of creating a social tone answering to their 
own history and to the economic realities from 

M2 



1 64 MODERN ENGLAND 

which their fortune had risen; they strove, on the 
contrary, to force their lives into the mould shaped 
by other needs and other times. The aristocracy, 
as it had always done, opened its ranks to welcome 
the wealthiest and the most influential of these self- 
made men; but even such as could not aspire to 
this supreme reward at least insisted on copying 
as closely as possible the pattern of elegance and 
dignity which fascinated them; the rich manu- 
facturer or merchant hastened to buy an estate, 
and his country seat before long grew indistin- 
guishable from the older mansions of the gentry. 
Already permeated to the marrow of his bones 
by the social desire for respectability, obeying a 
code of laws set by others, to which he only 
added, for his own small share, a stricter and more 
puritan moral observance, he proved also a 
pious worshipper of blood and titles. Direct rela- 
tions with the members of the higher class, those 
beings of a different nature, or, failing that, 
respectful attention and admiration from a dis- 
tance, supplied his life with innocent, conservative 
ambitions and joys, the influence of which blunted 
in him the edge of individualistic instincts and 
radical ideas. 

A process of social assimilation and impregna- 
tion was thus constantly going on, reducing to the 
tone elaborated by the old order the various 
elements classes, interests, appetites, feelings 
which the new order dragged from the depths to 
the surface; and through the tone of the old 
oligarchic society, it was some of its spirit which 
was thus perpetuated, and still active. It is im- 



LAWS AND MANNERS 165 

possible to understand the half-democratic England 
of 1880, unless one sees in her, besides the reform- 
ing impulses, originating in the middle classes, 
which drove her towards a new life, the powerful 
and subtle reactionary influences, originating in 
the aristocracy, and grounded in manners, which 
acted upon the very classes from which those 
impulses issued. And as the lower middle class 
shared in the tastes of the higher, as snobbery 
afflicted even the people of towns, eager, too, to 
gild their narrow circumstances with a reflected 
gleam of borrowed dignity, this peculiar product 
of the modern conflict of classes may be looked 
upon as one of the great moral forces which during 
the last century have delayed or modified the evolu- 
tion of England. 

Other feelings, other characteristics, of longer 
standing still and more deeply rooted in the Eng- 
lish mind, were brought into play at the same 
time, and contributed to strengthen in public 
manners the organic conservative tendencies which 
were represented, in the intellectual order, by the 
doctrines of such thinkers as Carlyle and Ruskin. 
The Puritan reaction, a wider movement than the 
Oxford revival, was the no less distinct religious 
expression of the revenge of instinct. By more 
strictly subjecting private conduct and national life 
to the teaching of the Bible, it linked the present 
to the past, and partly checked the sweeping moral 
and social changes which modern industry had 
brought about. Nothing indeed could be easier, 
more natural than this inhibitory action : the 
middle class was imbued with the spirit of puritan- 



1 66 MODERN ENGLAND 

ism, and its victory, in due course, resulted in the 
religious rigour of modern England. 

After the Civil War, after the Commonwealth 
and the reign of saints, the Restoration and the 
eighteenth century had witnessed a revival of the 
free joyous tradition of Elizabethan youth; in 
spite of the fervour and frequency of religious 
feelings in a deeply Christian society, the merry 
England of the jolly pleasure-seeking manners 
had lived on down to the time of Waterloo, 
accepted and encouraged, indirectly at least, by the 
aristocratic leading class, whose private lives were 
often hardly edifying. The great lesson England 
derived from the awe and scandal of the French 
Revolution, the reaction of ideas and tastes against 
the eighteenth century, the advent of the young 
Queen Victoria, all contributed to change, from 
1800 to 1840, the moral tone of the Court and of 
the whole nation ; but the chief cause of this trans- 
formation was the shifting of the social equili- 
brium, which resulted in the predominance of the 
middle class. Mostly dissenting, partly Metho- 
dist, brought up in the stern discipline of sects 
laying more stress on conduct than on ritual 
observances, this class quenched the frivolous 
bright lustre of aristocratic life under the sober 
uniformity of its feelings and manners. An exact- 
ing public opinion, always on the look-out, 
unanimous and all-powerful, was then created, 
levelling all individual fancies or liberties under 
its relentless judgments and censures. The out- 
ward show of religious faith and respectable 
behaviour, real or not, was thenceforth imposed 



LAWS AND MANNERS 167 

upon all; and, as a consequence of this rule, cant, 
an already old aspect of puritan hypocrisy, grew, a 
brother of snobbery and inseparable from it. 
Literature, the Press, the stage, the fine arts, were 
subjected to a reserve in striking contrast with the 
tone of old England; public and private life were 
submitted to the reality or convention of a national 
austerity. 

This is not the proper place to inquire whether 
the English people has gained or lost in self- 
mastery, in inner truth and health, by that decision 
which its new masters were responsible for, but 
towards which its moral destinies had long inclined. 
Let us only repeat that this puritanic tide, which 
is hardly beginning to ebb away, constituted 
during the last century one more aspect of the 
deeper reactions of instinctive adaptation, by means 
of which England has maintained the cohesion and 
organic unity of social life against the disintegrat- 
ing effects of individualism. 

We must not forget either another feeling, a 
new one, the rise of which might be called the 
most indisputable moral gain of the nineteenth 
century : the anxious consciousness, in the ruling 
classes, of a social solidarity insufficiently recog- 
nized by laws. We have seen how active, particu- 
larly from 1840 to i860, was legislative and 
philanthropic intervention; among the causes of 
this development, we must number, no doubt, the 
conservative instinct, the intuition of a national 
peril, and the measures of defence spontaneously 
decided upon by political wisdom; and no less, the 
effects of the idealistic and emotional doctrines, of 



1 68 MODERN ENGLAND 

the philosophic, aesthetic and religious revivals, 
combining to make up a socially active frame of 
mind. But in the manners themselves, some 
general moral changes must be pointed out which 
gave this frame of mind its full reality. English 
society as a whole may be said to have accepted, 
about 1850, the notion of a necessary control of 
the State over the economic initiative of citizens 
and the interrelations of individuals, even beyond 
the limits of the legally acknowledged cases; to 
have admitted that the higher classes ought to 
take some charitable care of the destitute. 
Diffused through all consciences, touched with a 
tinge of Christian interventionism, this new feel- 
ing, this " social remorse," was at once an effect 
and a cause of the theoretic movement and 
practical decisions which gave the revenge of 
instinct its social expression. 



IV 

It was no less clearly expressed by the disin- 
terested activities of the mind. Art was renewed, 
as has been seen, by the Pre-Raphaelite movement; 
painting first, later on architecture and the decor- 
ative arts, assumed a new character of refinement 
and at the same time of sincerity. About the end 
of that period, the influence of W. Morris added 
itself to that of Ruskin, and the impulse given by 
these two rich personalities can be felt in the all- 
round effort English aestheticism is making to adorn 
with beauty the surroundings of life and life itself. 



LAWS AND MANNERS 169 

Literature, however, afforded the apostles of 
idealism the most direct means of expression. 
Carlyle, Ruskin and Newman rank among the 
greatest English writers; the first eager and in- 
tense, massive and compact, loading with Saxon 
energy the most Germanic of styles; the second 
coloured, sonorous, delicate and gorgeous, carry- 
ing along mystical ecstasy or bitter satire in the 
majestic sweep of his period; the third, firm and 
plastic, Attic and subtle, fraught with sober 
emotion and restrained ardour. By them, already, 
the intellectual and emotional contribution of the 
instinctive reaction had been cast into literary form. 
But beside these, there were many others who, less 
original than the great innovators, used poetry or 
prose as means to convey analogous tendencies. 
The literature of imagination and intuition, the 
new romanticism, transformed by an artistic or 
social inspiration, stood then in contrast with the 
rationalistic and realistic literature which we con- 
sidered above as one of the aspects of the demo- 
cratic and scientific movement. But it is essential 
to lay stress on the fact that this antithesis is to 
a large extent artificial; English writers, we have 
said, are not so much engrossed as those of 
Germany by the intellectual conflict of economic 
forces or ideas; and in their more independent 
sensibilities, the tendencies and currents of their 
times are more often mingled into wholly personal 
associations; clear-cut oppositions are with them 
less legitimate though no less necessary than with 
others. A novelist like Dickens, for instance, may 
have belonged by one aspect of his temperament to 



170 MODERN ENGLAND 

the liberal middle-class army which cleared the 
ground for the new order; by his heart-felt religion 
of human suffering, by his warm plea in favour 
of the poor, he shared in the social charity of 
1840, and his influence was one of the moral 
factors of that more organic conception of col- 
lective life, the rise of which we tried to account 
for above. 

The novel of the time, indeed, was thoroughly 
permeated with social meaning; and even in 
Thackeray or Eliot, it is difficult to tell whether 
the realistic objective spirit succeeded in keeping 
down a surging rebellion against injustice and an 
involuntary thrill of pity. But with Mrs. Gaskell, 
who tried to bring all classes together in a common 
zeal of Christian charity; with Kingsley, the leader, 
next to Maurice, of the Christian socialists of 
1848, whose works breathe an ardent spirit of 
human fraternity; with Disraeli, the inventor of 
social Toryism, one can more clearly discern the 
characteristic attitude of the revenge of instinct: 
an open hostility to the systematic application of 
cold reason to material or moral relations between 
men. Disraeli, besides, was more than a writer; he 
was among the first in England to disentangle the 
complex political tendencies of the instinctive 
reaction, and organize them into a strong body. 
The bold synthesis of conservative traditionalism, 
of religious and aesthetical mysticism, and of the 
new feeling of social charity, which he tried to 
realize about 1845 m ms n vels, was one of the 
most original contributions that were added to 
English thought in the nineteenth century. In 



LAWS AND MANNERS 171 

him grew to clearer consciousness the secret effort 
of the aristocracy and of the instinct of historical 
continuity, to destroy the work of revolutionary 
individualism, by confronting democracy with 
State Socialism. Destined to a glorious course, 
Tory democracy was to come to the front in 
political life at the end of the century; it will be 
dealt with further on. 

The two greatest poets of the age, Tennyson 
and Browning, belonged to neither of these two 
conflicting attitudes exclusively; they might serve 
to illustrate the reconciliation English sensibility 
can effect between them, and to point out the way 
in which the most richly gifted and most represen- 
tative of English minds have since tried to accom- 
plish it. Tennyson carried within himself some 
germs of the modern democratic Liberalism; his 
intelligence welcomed the prospects of national and 
human progress, under the action of reason and 
science. At the same time his instincts connected 
him with the politicians of the Young England 
group who, about 1845, accepted Disraeli's social 
gospel; and his poems, with significant stress and 
sincerity, gave vent to all the traditional feelings 
on which rested the older order in England : the 
religion of the past, the worship of ancestors and 
of the old families, the appealing beauty of 
the scenery and manners to which the patriarchal 
authority of the nobility was naturally attuned. 
No poet better knew how to to'uch with life the 
imponderable elements, images and emotions 
which feed the instinctive conservatism of the 
English race. 



172 MODERN ENGLAND 

Browning, by his artistic manner and some 
aspects of his thought, bore witness to the victory 
of philosophic and scientific objectivity over 
romanticism on the wane; he illustrated, like George 
Eliot, the inner preference which led writers to 
perceive all things and men as supreme realities; 
and his illuminating discussion of ideas makes his 
poetry a radiating source of intelligence. But 
though he was much of a rationalist, he was no 
less of a mystic; his vigorous and ample moral 
faith transfigured all the aspects of life; his deep 
sense of the events and growth of the soul did 
not stop short of intuitions and the subconscious; 
he diffused a generous fervour of pity and love 
through the impassioned analysis of characters and 
acts; the spirit of Christian charity which lies 
dormant at the bottom of almost all religious 
hearts in England was one of the suggestions 
emanating from his works, which countless readers 
devoutly study to find in them moral lessons and 
motives for edification. One might with good 
reason rank him with the literary representatives 
of the mystical reaction. 

With them should be indisputably ranked the 
Pre-Raphaelite poets the Rossettis, W. Morris, 
and, to some extent at least, Swinburne himself, 
whose inspiration and expression, about i860, were 
derived from the same principle which had just 
renovated English painting. This school of poets 
transposed to another plane the intentions and the 
programme of the Ruskinian revival; its aesthetic 
aspirations went back to the very springs of 
romantic imagination, called up the prestige of the 



LAWS AND MANNERS 173 

past, pursued a subtler refinement through 
elaborate simplicity, and liked to clothe thoughts 
at once mysterious and rich in the uncertain con- 
tours of symbols. By its exclusive, sectarian 
characteristics, by its dogmatism, it throws light 
on the reaction of aesthetic needs against the 
vulgarity and meanness of middle-class life; it 
confronted modern rationalism with the living 
contradiction of dreams, of history and beauty. 



Lastly, in public opinion, in the waves of sensi- 
bility and imagination in which moral changes are 
elaborated, was born at that time, from all those 
instinctive reactions, the psychological attitude 
and the doctrine of national action now called 
Imperialism. 

The British Empire, in fact, dates from the 
eighteenth century; older still, the expansion of 
England over the world, her peaceful search for 
markets or warlike hunger for new dominions, 
have characterized English history, as everybody 
knows, ever since its origin. But prepared by 
Elizabeth and Cromwell, realized under the 
Georges by the stubborn energy or the genius of 
their ministers, governors or captains, the Empire 
grew clearly conscious of itself only in the 
nineteenth century. This awakening was made 
possible by the exaltation of race-feeling and col- 
lective imagination, under the stimulus of the 
same rousing influences which were starting in 



174 MODERN ENGLAND 

England a moral, religious, aesthetic and social 
renaissance. The beginnings of contemporary 
imperialism indisputably belonged to the revenge 
of instinct. 

From 1820 to 1850, philosophic Radicalism 
had expressed itself in foreign affairs by the theory 
of " peace," as it claimed "retrenchment and 
reform " at home. The Manchester school, as has 
been seen, carried its humanitarian hopes of com- 
mercial harmony and freedom so far as to show 
a systematically pacific disposition. Self-centred, 
besides, engrossed by the serious preoccupation of 
her constitutional evolution, England after Water- 
loo had entered upon the least disturbed period in 
her international relations. The colonial empire 
constituted during the preceding centuries had 
not been materially increased since 18 15, when 
the Indian Mutiny, in 1857, struck public opinion, 
forgetful of those far-away difficulties, as an 
ominous warning. 

America not long before had won her indepen- 
dence; was Asia to do the same? There was no 
lack of politicians or thinkers to accept future 
separations, or even wish for them. The bond of 
interest or right linking the colonies to the mother- 
country was not clearly perceptible to the logicians 
of Liberalism; their individualistic principles led 
them, on the contrary, to dissociate those human 
aggregates scattered through space, so different in 
most respects, and joined together only by a fiction 
directly derived from the antiquated notion of 
mediaeval sovereignty. Would not England's free 
advance towards a better, juster and more rational 



LAWS AND MANNERS 175 

organization, be hampered by the heavy care of 
those nations still young or half-barbarian, less 
developed than herself, over whose destinies she 
must watch? Under all those influences had 
been formed, in the middle Victorian period, a 
current of opinion indifferent or hostile to the 
tightening of the imperial bonds; the advent of 
democracy seemed to herald, at no distant date, 
the disruption of the imperfect and chaotic world- 
wide association into which England, now con- 
scious and mistress of her fate, had formerly been 
driven by the fortune of war and commerce. 

Then it was that, in the province of foreign 
relations as well as in all others, the tendencies 
of the instinctive reaction were set in opposition 
to those of utilitarian rationalism; and that an 
exalted, strenuous feeling of the British nation- 
ality, an imaginative conception of its greatness 
and providential task, a respect and a desire for 
the struggles in which energy asserts itself and 
characters are shaped, and a more concrete percep- 
tion of material and moral realities, were roused 
into being, at the call of such men as Carlyle and 
Kingsley. 

The prophet of duty and of the will extolled 
the holy effort of conquest, the victory of the 
Christian over the barbarian being that of good 
over evil; he directed the starving crowds of the 
industrial centres to the virgin soil of the colonies, 
and saw in emigration a cure for the social disease; 
his imagination imparted an organic substantial 
value to the relations, till then abstract, that linked 
the mother-country to her daughters; he hailed 



1 76 MODERN ENGLAND 

between old Britain and the new greater England 
a close kinship, as they were of one blood, and 
had one soul. As in the divine right of heroes, 
he believed in the moral superiority of strong 
peoples; his teaching tended to stimulate in the 
Anglo-Saxon race the consciousness of its destiny, 
and an aggressive scorn for rival civilizations. 
His disciple Kingsley preached a manly, combative 
and " muscular" Christianity; with him the prac- 
tice of physical exercises, the best hygiene for body 
and soul, found its crowning completion in the 
worship of war, the most elating and noblest 
school of courage and sacrifice. The Crimean 
War (1854-55) and the Indian Mutiny, following 
close one upon the other, awoke England from her 
pacific torpor; if the latter afforded the pessi- 
mists an argument, it roused the imperialistic instinct 
and the national pride of the masses; if the former 
brought to light the disorder and the deficiency 
of the English military organization, it shook the 
country with a warlike excitement, and stirred in 
the veins of the young the old craving for heroism 
and victory. On all sides, meanwhile, the apostles 
of idealism proclaimed the new chivalry, the 
crusade of good- will against evil; naturally ex- 
panded, this imperative and instinctive dogmatism 
came to include the struggles of nations and races; 
and what Ruskin wrote to rouse social feeling and 
the pride of being English was easily turned by 
his readers into a narrow faith in the efficiency of 
English discipline applied td the corruption and 
scandals of the universe. When a problem of 
political justice (the case of Governor Eyre, in 



LAWS AND MANNERS 177 

1868), set the disciples of humanitarianism and the 
partisans of strenuous action in colonial matters 
face to face, with the former sided the men led 
by principles, the rationalists and " intellectuals," 
with the latter, the most illustrious champions of 
religious and social mysticism. 

The ingenious theorist of democratic Toryism, 
Disraeli, has perhaps the best claim to the inven- 
tion of Imperialism. Before 1850, in one of his 
novels, he invested the Asiatic mission of England 
with an Oriental halo; he tried to restore the 
monarchy and the national cohesion through the 
efficiency of new feelings, and looked upon the 
recognition of the Empire as the best fuel for the 
enthusiasm of English loyalty. Having risen to 
the post of Prime Minister, he methodically pur- 
sued the realization of his dreams, and conducted 
the foreign policy of England in a firmly imperial 
spirit. The proclamation of Queen Victoria as 
Empress of India at Delhi (1877) illustrated the 
triumph of the new idea. 

VI 

Thus the revenge of instinct resulted, like 
rationalist Liberalism, in political and social opti- 
mism. From i860 to 1880, while the industrial 
and commercial prosperity of England expanded 
triumphantly through the world, her peaceful 
evolution towards forms of life at once freer and 
no less organic seemed warranted by the alternative 
or simultaneous play of instinctive and meditated 
adaptation. A temporary, perhaps even a defini- 



178 MODERN ENGLAND 

tive equilibrium, appeared, at that time, to have 
been established between those tendencies, as be- 
tween the conflicting exigencies of individualism 
and national solidarity. Though the readjustment 
of the English constitution, or public administra- 
tion, ideas, laws and manners, to the economic 
and moral consequences of modern industry had 
endangered for a while the stability and continuity 
of the existing order, the compensatory changes 
produced by the intuitive activities and spiritual 
needs in souls, laws and manners were sufficient, to 
all appearances, to ward off the peril, and to 
restore, in England, the moral unity and the social 
peace necessary to life. 

No doubt the idealistic critics of English civi- 
lization and culture did not abate anything from 
their vehement censure; Carlyle went on denounc- 
ing the materialistic corruption of middle-class 
society; Ruskin still lamented over the drowsiness 
of souls and the squalid harshness of the economic 
system; as for Matthew Arnold, he demanded 
more intellectual freedom and moral refinement of 
the Philistines or Barbarians who shared social 
power between them. But whatever applause 
might welcome their eloquent complaints, the deep, 
hidden genius which watches over the destinies of 
England did not listen to them; the anonymous 
will of the multitude was quietly asleep; it knew 
all dangers were avoided and thought all problems 
solved. 

Were they so, however? The idealism of the 
prophets had only infused into the hearts of men 
and diffused through social life a small share of 



LAWS AND MANNERS 179 

spiritual enthusiasm and active solidarity; the 
efforts of the doctrinaires and thinkers had only 
imparted to the average English temperament, to 
its mental operations and spontaneous methods, a 
weak wavering aspiration towards intelligence. 
Meditated adaptation, in the drama just enacted, 
had been defeated by instinctive adaptation; not 
only had it failed to assert itself, but its action 
had been surpassed by the reaction it had brought 
about. Therefore, when new problems dawned 
upon England, the deficiency of her method and 
of her inner light again appeared as the main source 
of her difficulties and crises. 



N 2 



BOOK III 

THE NEW PROBLEMS (1884-1910) 

INTRODUCTION 

The evolution of modern England has assumed 
a new character during the last thirty years. The 
temporary equilibrium into which it had settled 
for a time being destroyed, it resumed its progress 
more quickly and extensively than before; and 
whilst it had till then obeyed exclusively native 
necessities, it is shaped to-day chiefly by foreign 
influences. It is no longer to her own self, but 
to the whole world as well, that England now 
aspires to be readapted. 

And it is, in fact, this exterior cause of the 
adaptation which quickens its pace and widens its 
scope. So long as the British nation found in 
itself the decisive reasons of change which started, 
between 1832 and 1880, two complementary and 
parallel movements of political and social reform, 
England was free to choose, not only the direc- 
tion, but the speed of her onward steps; and as 
the complaints which urged her on were hardly 
ever uttered by all her citizens, but usually by 
one class, the opposition or indifference of the 
other classes acted upon that innovating impulse 
like a powerful check. Therefore, both instinctive 

180 



INTRODUCTION 181 

and meditated adaptations were, all through that 
long period, dominated, restrained and retarded by 
the unconquerable and supreme sense of traditional 
wisdom which instilled into the very core of 
English reforms an abiding need of conservative 
moderation. 

But from the day when the whole nation felt 
its vitality imperilled by foreign competition, 
when even social oppositions merged into the 
general anxiety that had seized upon all classes, 
when peace at home became a condition of success 
in the international struggle, then the unity of 
interests increased and enlarged that of ideas and 
feelings; and with a more homogeneous and 
clearer will, at a pace quickened by an impending 
common danger, England sought how to react 
against the weaknesses of every description lack 
of organization, deficiencies in science and method 
she was growing conscious of. Thus was com- 
menced that active transition which she is at 
present undergoing, and which leads her to un- 
known destinies; in the course of which the great 
historic parties, modified and renovated, have 
both adopted positive programmes of action; in 
which Liberalism has been impregnated with 
Radicalism, and Conservative prudence carried 
away, as it were, by the spirit of the time, has bor- 
rowed something of its method from Radical 
daring. For the last ten years there have no 
longer been in England a party of advance and a 
party of stagnation; there are only forces of pro- 
gress, confronting one another, various and con- 
flicting; and the nation, almost unanimously, 



1 82 MODERN ENGLAND 

though more or less consciously, more or less 
resolutely, accepts an unavoidable transformation. 

As immediate or indirect consequences of the 
resistance English prosperity was meeting with 
abroad, a series of problems demanded attention, 
for which solutions had to be found. To this 
common search, some brought the taste and habit 
of instinctive adaptation; others a preference for 
meditated readjustments. The two tidal waves 
which have been seen since 1832 rising and pur- 
suing each other did not thus vanish away, but 
joined and mingled, though they are still dis- 
tinguishable; and in the turmoil of an age more 
complex than all those that came before, men and 
minds grouped themselves as best they could, 
according to their several natures and affinities. 
One may however say that, roughly speaking, the 
moral and social antithesis the first period of 
English democracy had raised is preserved in both 
its terms; for each of the new problems with which 
England is confronted, a solution of a rational 
order and another somewhat empirical have been 
proposed; and the former answers to the trend of 
thought and influence which Liberalism, by the 
light of science and reflection, still follows towards 
a more logical and better organization; the other 
continues, with a view to an organic restoration 
of the threatened balance and health, the gestures 
of protection begun by the revenge of instinct. 

On the whole, then, the two attitudes have not 
changed. But, upon closer examination, one is 
bound to conclude that the difference between 
them has somewhat decreased. Not only have 



INTRODUCTION 183 

the conservative and empirical reactions become 
bolder, they have, as well, grown more conscious. 
It looks as if the pressure of reality, and the effect 
of the opposed tendencies, had succeeded in in- 
stilling some of the contrary spirit into proceed- 
ings till then subjected to the obstinate preference 
of traditional England for instinctive solutions. 
The desire for intelligence; the suspicion of some 
weakness implied in the haughty contempt for 
clear thinking which had ever characterized Eng- 
lish action; the anxious fear of some foreign superi- 
ority, bound up with surer methods and a more 
modern organization, have to-day invaded the 
very stronghold of British pride, and destroyed 
the assurance of a providential accord between 
mental habits essentially bent upon giving facts 
their due, and the prosperous condition which facts 
seemed to have for ever established. 

So the desire for intelligence tends to grow 
predominant in contemporary England; and it 
seems that the psychological and social rhythm 
is raising and driving onward a new all-powerful 
tide of rationalism and meditated adaptation. But 
here again the secret adhesion of the average 
minds to exterior necessities is neither spontane- 
ous nor gratuitous; it is facts they still obey when 
learning how to look beyond and above them. The 
limit of the intellectual evolution which goes along 
with the recent transformation of England is fixed 
by a scarcely broadened utilitarianism; it entirely 
depends on ever-varying conditions. That higher 
degree of consciousness does not grow of itself; 
changes produce it; and in its turn it produces 



184 MODERN ENGLAND 

new changes; the reforms, arid the moral disposi- 
tions which answer to them, are causes and effects 
of one another. And at the very fountain-head 
we find foreign influences : the will to keep one's 
rank and strength, the dread of decay, main factors 
of that always-shifting equilibrium. 



CHAPTER I 

THE ECONOMIC PROBLEM 

I. The flagging of English prosperity ; foreign competition ; 
the anxiety of public opinion. II. The proposed remedies : 
the Free Trade Radical solution ; the Protectionist cure. 



The last twenty-five years of the nineteenth cen- 
tury witnessed the gradual disappearance of the 
accidental conditions which had for a long time 
favoured England in the international economic 
struggle. The decay of her agriculture had been 
accelerated; the progress of her industry and com- 
merce had been slackened; for the first time in 
several generations her supremacy in this field 
might seem endangered. Awakened from her 
proud optimism, she anxiously sought for the 
causes of this peril; and she realized the weak- 
nesses of her material organization, the faults of 
her technique. The question of foreign com- 
petition, the measures necessary to overcome it, 
on all sides took hold of public attention, and 
various solutions were put forth. Some wanted 
to stimulate English production, to supply it with 
better instruments of science and method, to make 
its processes more easily adaptable; to modify, 
if need were, the very structure of society, and 

185 



1 86 MODERN ENGLAND 

readjust it to the new exigencies of a market in 
which victory rested with the most up-to-date 
forms of commercial competition. Others, carried 
away by the concrete perception of facts and more 
directly following the suggestions of instinct, 
wished to elude the risk of a defeat by eluding 
the fight, and to erect a barrier of tariffs all round 
the British land, round the united Empire. The 
economic crisis is the focus whence radiate, on their 
several planes, all the new problems England has 
to solve; and the Protectionist agitation is but the 
most immediate of these consequences. 

English agriculture, as has been seen, had long 
ago lost its prosperity; during the industrial 
revolution life had ebbed away from the country. 
The Corn Laws had at first secured artificial profits 
to landowners; the triumph of Free Trade in 
1846 had deprived them of such gains. Till about 
1875 the consequences of this defeat were not too 
crushingly felt by English farmers; they still 
remained the almost undisputed masters of the 
national market. But as years passed the im- 
provements in land and sea traffic reduced more 
and more the ratio of distance in the determination 
of prices. Before long American corn competed 
successfully, even in England, with home-grown 
wheat. The unrestrained use of capital and 
machinery in production, a fresher and bolder 
spirit of enterprise, the endless resources of a 
virgin soil gave American farmers an increasing 
advantage over those of old Europe. But even in 
Europe, the English peasant found successful 
rivals among his neighbours, more industrious 



THE ECONOMIC PROBLEM 187 

or more favoured by circumstances. The farm 
produce of Normandy, Holland, Denmark; 
Continental fruits, vegetables, eggs, butter, milk, 
contributed more and more to the daily food of 
England. From 1875 to 1888, several bad har- 
vests suddenly brought about an acute crisis; the 
agrarian problem at once forced itself on public 
attention. Modern England seemed to have 
passed through the same economic stages as 
ancient Rome; in her wide estates, submitted to 
the authority "of noble families, man no longer 
knew how to raise from the land the bread of 
the country; and already the anxious moralist and 
sociologist fancied they saw, in the swarming 
centres of industrial activity, a parasitic mob, fed 
on foreign corn, increasing and multiplying. 

But the depression of agriculture was already 
known, had been foreseen by many, accepted by 
some with a light heart. The interruption of the 
wonderful development of industry and commerce 
from which England, for a century, had drawn 
her strength, wealth and pride, dealt a heavier 
blow to the whole nation; the effects of this 
startling discovery are unfolding before our eyes. 
Here again America was the first dangerous 
competitor. She possessed incomparable natural 
advantages abundant ore, coal-fields, navigable 
streams; the ground gained by English industry, 
thanks to its priority in the use of machinery, to 
its treasure of experience, to its practical genius, 
to its monopoly over the markets of the world, was 
regained by the United States, thanks to their 
faculty of assimilation, the very newness of their 



1 88 MODERN ENGLAND 

undertakings, an at least equal power of energy 
in the victorious struggle with matter, a more 
methodical empiricism, a more adaptable and 
active business instinct. Relieved by the Civil 
War from the painful difficulty which hampered 
their growth, they entered about 1870 upon that 
period of intense uninterrupted economic expan- 
sion which has characterized them ever since. 
Their produce soon closed the new world to Eng- 
lish commerce, then threatened it in the British 
colonies, attacked it in Europe and even in its 
native land. But before this attack had been 
realized, another more dangerous rival had come 
to the front. 

The German Empire, moulded by war, brought 
to the industrial strife its well- trained will, 
scientific intelligence, still untouched resources. 
From 1880 its industries struggled with those of 
England against heavy odds ; from 1890 they won 
successive victories. Metallurgy was one of the 
main provinces of England's industrial suprem- 
acy : Germany came up with her rival, and now 
already leaves her behind. Her chemical products 
enjoy an uncontested superiority over English 
manufactures; her woollen or cotton goods are 
beginning to supplant those of Yorkshire and 
Lancashire on foreign markets. German coal-pits 
supply some regions of Europe with fuel. At the 
same time, the colonial ambition of the German 
Empire expands with systematic and meditated 
energy; and its merchant fleet, protected by im- 
posing squadrons, sails over the oceans where the 
English flag no longer waves in undisputed sway. 



THE ECONOMIC PROBLEM 189 

The more modern implements, more scientific 
proceedings, more patient ingenuity of German 
production, its habits of thrift and cheapness, the 
democratic character of its wares, the shrewd 
methods, the clever and stubborn energy of its 
representatives abroad secure for it advantages the 
extent of which English trade, for the last twenty 
years, has been bitterly gauging. Contemporary 
political writings repeatedly bear witness to this 
haunting preoccupation. 

From all these causes sprang the economic crisis, 
the first symptoms of which appeared as early as 
1875, and which is the predominant fact in the 
present evolution of England. About that time 
the almost unbroken course of prosperity which 
English industry had so long enjoyed suddenly 
came to an end; depression now fell upon one 
branch and then upon another; a series of painful 
occasions on which workmen were thrown out of 
work, and of disastrous strikes, awoke employers 
from their optimism, and workmen from the social 
inaction in which trade-unionism, grown wiser 
through experience, had kept them. Since then, 
in spite of spells of glorious weather, the same 
sun has no longer shone upon England. Frequent 
ups and downs, bright fits of prosperity, periods 
of feverish activity, long intervals of stagnation, 
a general but slower progression in the statistics 
of trade, such was, briefly put, during the years 
that followed, the state of English production; it 
called, if not for pessimism, at least for thought 
and anxious watchfulness. One fact especially 
strikes all minds to-day : the figures of imports, 



1 9 o MODERN ENGLAND 

in the commerce of England, more and more 
exceed those of exports. She sells less than she 
purchases. A land of vast long-hoarded wealth, 
of thriving but threatened industry, of lethargic 
agriculture, she seems to bend her course towards 
the dangerous destiny of an aristocratic aged 
people, fed by the world, finding strength in its 
treasures and in the bulwark of young nations it 
has raised round itself, but no longer deriving the 
elements of an ever-renewed material and moral 
power from hard-fought economic victories. In 
the garden of her verdant fields, whose quiet the 
extinct furnaces no longer will disturb with fire 
and smoke, resigned or alarmed prophets already 
imagine the meditative sweet peace of her coming 
decay. 

Meanwhile public opinion investigates the 
hidden sources of this crisis, looks for the causes 
of the peril in order to discover its remedies. No 
influence has done so much for the last twenty-five 
years to promote the psychological evolution of 
England towards increased deliberation and con- 
sciousness, as that of economic anxieties. Natur- 
ally inclined to exaggerate in such matters, always 
liable to panics, for the frequency of which 
her political destiny and "temperament account, 
she even goes beyond the precise data of facts, 
magnifies the advantages secured by her adver- 
saries, accepts too easily and too soon the notion 
of her defeat. One of the themes most often 
developed by recent literature is that of the 
foreign invasion of the English market. Since 
the cheap wares of German industry have entered 



THE ECONOMIC PROBLEM 191 

it, the scared imaginations of many writers have 
denounced them wherever they are to be found, 
and even elsewhere. And on all sides recrimina- 
tions, criticisms or distressing interpretations were 
to be heard. Thus was stamped on the public 
mind the idea of a natural inferiority in the 
industrial or commercial habits of the English 
producer or tradesman. The reports of the British 
consuls abroad have supplied this frame of mind 
with particularly substantial elements. 

By the light of this anxious inquiry, the em- 
piricism through which England had so long 
triumphed appeared singularly depreciated in its 
native country, whilst other nations, from a dis- 
tance, felt more than ever the radiating influence 
of its ancient prestige. It was made responsible 
for the technical inferiorities, the deficiencies in 
method which the contact with German competi- 
tion was bringing out. If English supremacy is 
threatened, people said, it is because it no longer 
answers to the new requirements of production 
and exchange. The manufacturer is satisfied with 
out-of-date machinery, he adapts himself too 
slowly to the changing preferences of his cus- 
tomers; he does not early enough apply the latest 
discoveries of physics or chemistry to industrial 
processes. As for the tradesman, he still relies on 
the former superiority of English commerce; his 
initiative is no longer quick or supple enough; 
he no longer strives to win new markets or retain 
the old ones by unceasing exertions. On the 
contrary, America, Germany, daily infuse more 
science and intelligence into industry, more 



1 92 MODERN ENGLAND 

method and energy into commerce. Compared 
with the German clerk, insinuating and tenacious, 
an untiring observer of wants and preferences, 
constantly adjusting the supply to the demand, 
the English agent is handicapped by his slowness, 
by his traditional and aristocratic conception of 
business, his tendency to require that the demand 
should be fitted to the supply. Compared with 
the German engineer, turned out by modern and 
" realistic" schools, able to enlighten practice by 
theory, the English manufacturer brought up on 
classical culture or only provided with a utilitarian 
training must too often be satisfied with following 
the routine of his father's factory, without being 
able to understand or modify it. 

In a word, what this trial seemed to reveal was 
a check in the growth, perhaps the exhaustion 
and decay of English vitality; it revealed, too, the 
failure of the principles, or of the lack of principles, 
which had long secured its victory. Capable of 
a passive and fruitful subservience to realities, 
capable, too, of creative intuitions in the domain 
of experience, ceaselessly enriched by concrete 
perceptions, the English genius proved unfit for 
systematic and concerted operations, for synthetic 
organization, innovating activity. It no longer 
wrested their secrets from things, and could no 
longer subjugate nature, now that those secrets, 
better hidden, and those natural forces, less com- 
pliant, demanded other gifts than patience and 
common sense. Scientists in the English labora- 
tories still kept the fire of invention alight; but 
their individual originality could not counter- 



THE ECONOMIC PROBLEM 193 

balance, in the international struggle, the hosts 
of professors, engineers and overseers who dif- 
fused a spirit of scientific discipline throughout 
German or American economic life. 



II 

Under the influence of that national anxiety > 
two bodies of defensive forces have been spon- 
taneously constituted. They answer to the two 
general directions between which the social and 
political evolution of England is at present hesi- 
tating. 

On the purely economic plane, the battle is 
fought around freedom of trade. But the con- 
sequences of the industrial and commercial crisis 
embrace far more than the question of tariffs; they 
underlie all the problems or the present; and both 
the Free Trade and the Protectionist solutions 
belong to wider systems of interests and doctrines, 
within which they must be replaced to be well 
understood. The order followed in this study aims 
at complying, as far as possible, with this necessity. 
A necessity which chiefly asserts itself indeed 
in the case of the Free Trade solution. For this 
is not in itself a positive remedy; it implies here 
less than ever an active intervention of political 
will; it is but a persistence in a state of things 
already realized, and a vindication of previously 
established dogmas. After having formerly con- 
stituted a bold instance of logical and meditated 
adaptation, it only expresses to-day, in most cases, 



i 9 4 MODERN ENGLAND 

an intellectual routine; its supporters should not 
be chosen to illustrate the spirit of systematic 
reform which even now, under the name of 
Radicalism, opposes the spirit of empirical and con- 
servative adaptation. In order to gauge the real 
extent of the effect of the economic problem upon 
ideas and feelings, and to comprehend the tendency 
to meditated adaptation, in its vigorous and active 
reality, as it is now to be found, one must leave 
the narrow field of commercial traffic. The 
genuine answer of English Liberalism to revived 
Protectionism will be found in the more pro- 
nounced bent of its doctrines and methods towards 
the redress of social injustice, and towards the 
systematic recasting of antiquated political and 
administrative traditions. 

To fight with the most efficient weapons against 
foreign competition, to stop the alarming decrease 
in English prosperity, the new Liberals, imbued 
with an active sense of necessary intervention, no 
doubt still repeat the old reasoning of Cobden; 
it is, they say, by Free Trade that the most favour- 
able conditions will yet be secured for British 
industry; it is thanks to it that, at all events, the 
cost of life will be kept as low as possible and 
free from the unfair taxes levied on the consumer. 
And, indeed, it is a fact that since the repeal of 
tariffs, about 1850, the necessaries of life have 
become more accessible to all, and that the standard 
of comfort has risen among the working masses. 

Meanwhile, however, poverty is undiminished; 
unemployment grows more frequent. Therefore 
a regeneration of national activity, a reform of the 



THE ECONOMIC PROBLEM 195 

social organization, will be necessary to cure them. 
In contrast with the general lowering of prices, 
for example, only house-rents have risen. It is 
because an idle class, that of landlords, unduly 
reap the benefit of urban concentration and of the 
increase in population; the law, by laying heavier 
taxes on them, must restore the lost balance. 
Above all, an effort of will and science will endow 
England with the coherent and modern system of 
education, the scientific formation, the technical 
training, which alone can enable her to compete 
with her rivals. Thus the Radical programme, 
this new and more thorough application of utili- 
tarian logic to social facts, appears as the corollary 
of the Free Trade solution in the wider field of 
general politics; and it is to the economic crisis 
that we shall have to return again and again to 
understand the present position of doctrines and 
parties in England. 

Protectionism, on the contrary, is self-sufficient; 
or rather, it constitutes in the economic domain 
a direct and complete solution of the industrial 
and commercial crisis; and if this solution has been 
incorporated at once, through natural affinities, 
with the body of conservative interests, yet had 
this fusion not taken place, Protectionism would 
still have remained essentially the same. Springing 
from facts, it manifests the attempt at instinc- 
tive readjustment by which English supremacy 
hopes to defend itself; but it represents, in 
that order of spontaneous reactions, a bolder and 
more conscious initiative than those through 
which English empiricism had till now found 
o 2 



196 MODERN ENGLAND 

expression; and it clearly bears witness to that 
systematic spirit which to-day extends its sway 
even over the conservative decisions of England. 
Compared with the Liberal logic, stiffened on this 
point and grown almost mechanical, it is the Pro- 
tectionist faith which stands, one might say, in a 
manner, for meditated adaptation. In order to 
assert itself, it must overcome the force of a recent 
but firmly established tradition; it must overthrow 
a dogmatic assurance so entirely confirmed by 
experience and deeply rooted in it, that only with 
the greatest reluctance is a contrary experience 
allowed to tell against it. The conservative 
instincts, once injured by the repeal of tariffs, 
have begun living again on Free Trade itself; have 
grown all round it, and to-day identify them- 
selves with it. The return to Protectionism, an 
old and traditional doctrine, is effected now by 
the same means of propaganda and theoretic 
discussion its adversaries had formerly used. 

However, though the new English Protection- 
ism is logically self-sufficient, it is in fact insepar- 
able from another great contemporary movement, 
Imperialism. The tariff reform agitation has been, 
from the first, intimately connected with the 
public expressions and political demands of the 
imperialist feeling; and thus it is that the scheme 
of commercial protection is most narrowly bound 
up with the body of imaginative or social forces 
which make up instinctive conservatism. The 
defensive reaction of economic England, to answer 
the menaces of foreign industry, naturally agrees 
with the measures tending to a closer material and 



THE ECONOMIC PROBLEM 197 

moral union, by which she intends to avert the 
peril of a colonial dismemberment possibly 
expected by a hostile universe. This is why Pro- 
tectionism, however imbued it may be with the 
new spirit of meditated initiative, still indisputably 
belongs by its psychological character and ten- 
dencies to instinctive adaptation; it must be ranked 
with the doctrines and bodies of interests which in 
all fields oppose the attempts of Radical logic. 

Coldly listened to during the years of pros- 
perity, from 1850 to 1880, the criticisms levelled 
at Free Trade by a few irreconcilable opponents 
have assumed, since the beginning of the economic 
crisis, a new strength, wideness of range, and 
authority. The man who embodied active Im- 
perialism, Mr. Chamberlain, has given them a 
prominent place in public attention; at his in- 
stigation, indefatigable efforts have been made to 
win opinion over to the cause of tariffs; and urged 
on by its inner logic, the Unionist party, a 
synthesis of conservative interests and imperialist 
feelings, has adopted Protectionism as an essential 
part of its programme. Since the long-delayed 
adhesion of its leader, Mr. Balfour, England is 
directly called upon to decide, in every Parlia- 
mentary election, for or against tariff reform. 
Leaving aside the many points of contact by which 
Protectionism is bound up with the other tenets of 
the Unionist creed, one can easily enough describe 
the arguments it emphasizes and the instincts to 
which it appeals. From the intellectual point of 
view, it lays stress on the decay which has struck 
economic orthodoxy; it points out, in social life, the 



198 MODERN ENGLAND 

unceasing advance of interventionism, the develop- 
ment of the functions of the State, and refuses to 
find in the Liberal dogmas any theoretic difficulty 
in extending to commercial relations the methods 
of positive action and legal redress which experi- 
ence has confirmed elsewhere. Morover, it sets 
forth, with a view to the creation of a moral 
solidarity between the various parts of the Empire, 
the necessity of uniting them strongly by common 
interests; whatever draws the colonies nearer to 
the mother-country, whatever facilitates com- 
munications from the heart to the extremities of 
the imperial organism, and conduces to isolate it 
in its material independence from the outside 
world, will the more strengthen its unity and 
power. 

In what concerns more concrete realities, Pro- 
tectionism offers to win back or secure for English 
industry the command of the national market, and 
that of the colonies for Australia, Canada, South 
Africa, have lowered, or will lower, it holds, in 
favour of the mother-country, the tariffs with which 
they defended their young industry, in the same 
way that England will favour them at the expense 
of foreign countries. To agriculture it promises 
the possibility of reviving under the shelter of the 
tariff. To the budget which the military, naval and 
social expenses burden more and more heavily, it 
holds out the income afforded by protective duties. 
There lies the very core, the vital and critical 
point of the problem; at a quicker rate still than 
Germany, England must build huge men-of-war, 
SO as not to lose the margin of superiority indis- 



THE ECONOMIC PROBLEM 199 

pensable to the safety of the Empire; and in order 
to bear that heavy load, what resource could be 
more tempting and natural than the taxation of 
foreign goods? Already duties are levied on a 
few exotic imports: tea, coffee, tobacco, sugar; 
extended to food and drink, to industrial wares, 
those duties will not materially increase the cost 
of life for the working man; and their produce will 
make it possible to find new resources, without 
laying any new burden on capital, already sur- 
charged by the income tax and the death duties. 
Thus the revival of Protectionism in contempor- 
ary England can be accounted for, first, by foreign 
influences the rise of a harsher international 
competition, the development of great industrial 
states, formidably equipped, for political struggles, 
with regiments and navies, and for commercial 
fights with their customs and duties. It results 
from an economic contagion, which the pressure of 
the universe forces on the proud exception of Free 
Trade, so far triumphant. But other causes, moral 
and social, have sprung from the very course of 
English evolution. The body of instincts and 
interests which supports, at the present time, 
Unionist conservatism against Radical liberalism, 
has incorporated with itself the protective system, 
with its appeal and attraction, as a congenial force 
making for the same end. The protectionist 
reform would serve the destinies of the Empire; 
it would as well serve the moneyed classes, alarmed 
by an everyday bolder legislation, in their natural 
resistance to the advance of levelling democracy. 
It is from these expected advantages that the 



200 MODERN ENGLAND 

apostles of this crusade derive the energy neces- 
sary to eradicate deep-rooted mental and practical 
habits from a collective mind always slow in its 
changes; and it is the acute and quick sense of 
realities that here supports their bold undertaking. 
A measure of conscious logic eagerly called for by 
instinct, this reform may be carried out or rejected, 
during the coming years, without, in either case, 
necessarily influencing the general choice England 
has to make between two doctrines and two 
policies; it can as well claim the support of State 
intervention as of conservatism, and belongs to 
empiricism as much as to meditated adaptation. 






CHAPTER II 

THE SOCIAL PROBLEM 

I. New appearance and greater urgency of the problem. 
II. Contemporary English Socialism ; the Marxists ; the 
Fabians; municipal Socialism. III. The formation of the 
Labour Party ; the new Trade-Unionism ; the Labour Party 
in the House of Commons. 



The nineteenth century has witnessed every- 
where the awakening of the social question. But 
in England, after the disturbed years from 1830 
to 1850, the instinctive reaction of conservative 
prudence seemed to have, if not solved the 
problem, at least blunted its acute and threatening 
urgency. Chartism had been defeated; the first 
Socialist theorists had found no disciples; the trade- 
unions, satisfied with their incomplete victory, had 
confined themselves to the limited forms of action 
they had achieved; and a great effort of philan- 
thropy or legislative intervention had restored, in 
laws, manners and the conditions of life, the 
standard of decency and order indispensable to the 
preservation of the social body. From 1850 to 
1880, the ruling classes in England might believe 
they had evaded, through timely sacrifices, the 
social claims which had scared them for a while; 

201 



202 MODERN ENGLAND 

they might believe, too, that they had followed far 
enough the idealists such as Carlyle and Ruskin 
to find in the satisfaction of their consciences 
a sufficient ground not to follow them to the bitter 
end. 

The destruction of that equilibrium, about 
1880, put an end to all such hopes; and the re- 
awakening of the social problem was one of the 
immediate consequences of the economic unrest. 
The industrial depression and unemployment were 
crushingly felt by the unsettled masses of un- 
skilled labourers, among whom the sweating 
system found its victims; and even the aristocracy 
of labour, the elite who belonged to trade-unions, 
heavily suffered from that sudden flagging of the 
prosperity which had created a favourable atmo- 
sphere round those associations. The crises of 
1878-79, 1883-87, caused many disasters and 
much distress. Seen in that lurid light, the showy 
front of peace and comfort erected by the social 
good-will of two generations appeared frail and 
deceiving; behind it, poverty spread to hidden 
depths, still present, though concealed; an obscure 
realm, which widened or narrowed according to 
exterior influences, but never entirely disappeared. 
The inquiry of Charles Booth, undertaken in 
1886, revealed that, in London alone, 1,250,000 
persons lived below the minimum standard of 
human health and self-respect. Since then, 
statistics have not brought forth more optimistic 
figures; in spite of successive revivals in trade, 
the army of the unemployed has never substan- 
tially diminished on English ground; the number 



THE SOCIAL PROBLEM 203 

of heartless, hopeless beings, maintained by public 
relief in the dismal workhouses, is no smaller; the 
big towns and the country, despite the zeal of 
public or private charity, still present the most 
glaring contrast to be found in modern Europe 
between extreme wealth and extreme poverty. 
The rise in wages, the fall in the price of some 
goods, have been counterbalanced by the general 
increase in the cost of life, the higher rents, and, 
above all, the new needs, sprung from the very 
improvement of comfort and culture. The 
average condition of the town or country wage- 
earner, about 1890 or 1900, was far superior to 
what it was about 1840; and yet the social pheno- 
menon of poverty still appears to-day in England 
in the acute form it owed, from the first, to the 
influence of modern industry. And new circum- 
stances, the decline of commercial expansion, the 
chronic stagnation of business, the successes of 
foreign competition, told painfully, though more 
or less directly, upon a class to which its own 
efforts, or the interested help of the other classes, 
have not yet secured independence and safety from 
the risks of daily life. 

Thus does economic suffering quicken in con- 
temporary English society that obscure unrest or 
that open crisis which, at the same time, endangers 
the stability of the established order in the 
advanced nations of Europe and the world; and 
the social problem, in its turn, reverberates in ever- 
widening echoes through all the provinces of life 
and thought. Political England, for the last 
twenty years, has been greatly modified by the 



2o 4 MODERN ENGLAND 

deep, powerful influences of class struggles and 
class claims. 

All the elements of the complex web of national 
evolution are closely interwoven, and none of 
them can be conceived apart from the others. 
But, without destroying those intimate connec- 
tions, one may consider the whole successively 
from different points of view. The difficulties of a 
particularly social order which have risen and 
assumed a more urgent -character in contemporary 
England have brought about two principal 
reactions in doctrines and parties. On the one hand, 
the conservative tendencies and empirical tradi- 
tions have tried to solve them, as of yore, by 
the mitigating action and the compromises of 
feudal intervention ; on the other, the Radical 
politicians and the several Socialist sects have 
carried into practice the reforming principles of 
a rigorous theoretic logic. Thus, leaving out a 
few belated partisans of orthodox laisser-faire, 
indifference in social matters has no longer any 
representatives on English ground; the leading 
motives and ideas are divided between two equally 
active groups, one of which is rather guided by 
instinctive, and the other by meditated adaptation. 

In the Conservative or Unionist party, and in 
the Liberal-Radical one, the schemes and initiatives 
of social reform are inseparably bound up with 
the larger political systems of interests and ten- 
dencies which support these two parties in their 
conflict. This aspect of their fundamental opposi- 
tion, on which the fate of the England of to-day 
mainly depends, will be studied further on. More 



THE SOCIAL PROBLEM 205 

distantly concerned with the political fight, and 
influencing it chiefly in indirect ways, contempor- 
ary English Socialism can be considered in itself. 



II 

About thirty years ago the originality of English 
Socialism could still be found in its not only 
realistic, but conservative character. All revolu- 
tionary propaganda had failed to get the better of 
the working classes' robust political instinct; and 
the only effect of the huge effort of Chartism had 
been to create in them a tenacious desire for trade 
organization. Marxism had not gained much 
ground with them, in spite of the long stay Marx 
had made in England. The Christian Socialism 
of 1850 was very widely diffused through feelings 
and manners; but its power had only concentrated 
in the co-operative movement, constantly on the 
increase, and in groups, all of them deprived of 
active energy; it contributed to make up a moral 
atmosphere favourable to the now-accepted notion 
of national solidarity, rather than added its own 
impulse to the reforming movement in politics. 
During the more recent years, on the contrary, 
we have witnessed the development of English 
Socialism properly so called, and seen it assume a 
new character of systematic firmness. 

This evolution was furthered by diverse sects 
and tendencies. The distress of the agricultural 
proletariat roused a movement of agrarian vin- 
dication, led by the disciples of Henry George, 



206 MODERN ENGLAND 

among country labourers, from 1880 to 1900. 
Adopting, as Marx had done, Ricardo's theory of 
value, they accepted all property derived from 
work, but denied that the ownership of land could 
be thus justified. Society then would claim for 
itself the automatic rise in the value of land, 
caused by social progress as a whole. And above 
all, by means of a single tax, equal to the income 
of landowners, society would expropriate them 
without compensation. In this over-simplified 
doctrine, and in the Biblical arguments it readily 
called upon, in the religious and mystical tone of 
the propaganda instituted through country dis- 
tricts by the "Land Restoration League" and 
the " Land Nationalization Society," one can feel, 
along with the new eagerness of social vindication, 
the old spirit of Puritan communism. Therefore, 
the doctrine of Henry George, ill fitted to the 
more scientific conditions in which all problems 
must henceforth be discussed, has ceased to be a 
conspicuous force in the recent political conflicts; 
but its influence can still be felt, everywhere 
diffused, in the contemporary unrest. It is an 
element of that democratic hostility to unproduc- 
tive estates, and their privileged owners, on which 
the Liberal party relies in its struggle against the 
landlords; it contributes to maintain, in the hearts 
of the destitute, the religious hope of a fairer 
justice, based on God's will, according to which 
each man shall reap his bread from the land his 
hands have ploughed. 

So, in these aspirations and dreams revive the 
mysticism and the emotionalism which had, during 



THE SOCIAL PROBLEM 207 

the preceding period, secured the success of 
interventionist Conservatism, and on which is 
grounded, to-day, the attempt of Tory democracy 
to restore national cohesion through beneficent 
authority. But other movements, besides, mani- 
fest the advance of intellectual and scientific 
Socialism. The " Social Democratic Federation " 
is the English branch of the International 
Labourers' Association; it still adheres to the 
doctrine of Marx, to which its leaders try to win 
over new disciples. The psychological reasons 
for the comparative ill-success of orthodox collectiv- 
ism in England in contrast to Germany or France 
have often been pointed out; this foreign dis- 
cipline and frame of mind meet in the English 
temperament with obstacles, considered as insur- 
mountable; the strictness and abstraction of its 
formulae, its strongly centralized organization, the 
stress it lays on general and distant ends, at the 
expense of incomplete and immediate realizations, 
clash in British minds with the instinct of positive 
action, of necessary compromise and individual 
initiative. 

Therefore English Marxism has attracted, since 
1 88 1, only a small number of disciples; ready to 
emphasize the differences which set it apart from 
the other Socialist sects, abating nothing of its 
uncompromising formulae, considering the war of 
classes as the real basis of the working men's 
political action, expecting from a final revolution 
" the communistic organization of property, means 
of production, distribution and exchange," it does 
not constitute the main line along which is being 



208 MODERN ENGLAND 

gradually effected the increasing socialization of 
English national life. It rather plays the part of 
an outside minority, constantly reminding the 
labour associations, bent on a policy of com- 
promise, of the great ends to be reached ulti- 
mately. That part, though a secondary one, is not 
devoid of efficiency; the collectivist candidates, 
though none of them has yet forced his way into 
Parliament, have not all met with overwhelming 
defeats in recent elections; and in the unsettled 
atmosphere of the last years, under the pressure 
of the economic and moral influences which urge 
England on towards bolder and more conscious 
adaptations, the small Marxist sect has somewhat 
increased in numbers, whilst its radiating power 
has been spreading more widely over the working 
class. 

But far more significant is another form of 
intellectual Socialism, which spontaneously agrees, 
this time, with the political temperament of Eng- 
land : Fabianism. Clear-sighted and thoroughly 
objective in spirit, broadly tolerant besides, readily 
combining with the Christian Socialists or the 
Marxists, the Fabian Society might be accur- 
ately defined as a reconciliation or the practical 
opportunism to which the old English empiricism 
owed its strength, with a decided exigency of 
coherent reasoning and logic, in which the new 
tendencies that modify or correct that empiricism 
are revealed. It gathers together a small elite of 
independent minds, which found their way to 
Socialism through reflection and the study of 
economic facts, and which, admitting of no 



THE SOCIAL PROBLEM 209 

dogma, only submit, in their action and thought, 
to a very pliant organization and discipline. 
Fabianism is thus a variable and individual doc- 
trine; taken as a whole, it is rather derived from 
John Stuart Mill than from Marx; it rejects the 
war of classes; it demands precise and feasible 
measures, and seeks, through gradual stages, the 
suppression of private ownership of land and 
capital. In their tactics lies the main originality 
of the Fabians; their method consists in permeat- 
ing public opinion, by an increasing propaganda, 
with socialistic views, in pointing out detailed 
particular solutions for the problems of the day, 
without scaring people by the prospect of final 
realizations; to put it briefly, in introducing an 
increasing amount of such moral preferences and 
material conditions into the processes of common 
sense and the facts themselves, as can prepare the 
way for the gradual advent of collectivism. 

This permeation of the various political 
spheres, and chiefly of the Liberal party, by the 
spirit of Socialism, is one of the main factors which 
have caused the evolution of this party, taken as 
a whole, towards a more markedly and boldly 
democratic policy. But in spite of its influence, 
both widespread and deep, the Fabian Society 
carries in itself too many seeds of discord to be 
well fitted for political struggles; unable, for 
instance, to decide in the abstract for or against 
militant imperialism, it was split into two unequal 
fractions at the time of the Boer War. Its proper 
course of action is in abeyance, and it tends to 
dissolve into the diffused aspiration after reform 



210 MODERN ENGLAND 

and resolutely modern intelligence which it has 
itself created. Its spirit at least, should the society- 
disappear, would certainly survive it; it admirably 
answers to the ways of thinking and acting which 
attract the new generations, bent on progress, 
whilst still aware of the necessary transitions. 

The Fabian ideas have chiefly come into contact 
with the practical policy of the Radicals in the 
administrative councils of large towns; and their 
influence has been particularly felt in the province 
of municipal Socialism. Since 1832, as has been 
seen, the organization of public functions, either 
national or local, had been deeply altered by the 
successive Parliaments, in which liberal ideas 
generally prevailed ; from the older empirical 
traditions, according to which ill-defined functions 
were concentrated in the hands of a few irrespons- 
ible authorities, had gradually been evolved a 
better-ordered system, in which functionaries, 
often recruited by competition, performed care- 
fully limited tasks, under the control of competent 
chiefs or elected boards. This readjustment of 
English administration to modern wants had 
naturally imparted more extensive powers to the 
State, and to local assemblies, the most important 
of which, the county councils, were organized by 
the Act of 1888. 

The movement thus begun fell in with the j 
reforming tendencies of the Fabians, and their 
Socialism, at once logical and practical. They 
devoted their efforts to promoting it, and carried 
it further. If they have, to a large extent, suc- 
ceeded in so doing, it is because experience has 



THE SOCIAL PROBLEM 211 

confirmed their doctrine; it is to the teaching of 
facts that the municipalization of public services 
in England owes its remarkable development. In 
London, Manchester, Glasgow, in almost all very 
large towns, water, gas, means of conveyance, 
baths, markets, hospitals, docks, burial grounds, 
are no longer distributed or taken on lease by 
private companies. It cannot be denied that these 
attempts have been successful as a rule; they have 
in most cases served the interests of the consumers, 
and those of the municipal budgets. Against this 
increasing hold taken by Socialism on collective 
life rose, along with the interests it endangered, 
the theoretic preferences of individualists and 
Conservatives for laisser-faire. At a recent date, 
a reaction of the popular feeling checked this 
development for a while in London. It none the 
less constitutes one of the main forces which 
quietly effect the necessary transition leading to a 
more scientific and more democratic organization of 
public services; and municipal Socialism educates, 
if not revolutionary fanatics, at least staunch 
defenders of that efficient Radicalism in which, at 
the present day, are combined the most active ten- 
dencies of old Liberalism with the most practical 
aspirations of the associations for social reform. 



Ill 

But the chief reason why the social problem 
has come to the front in contemporary England 
lies in the fact that the working class, of late, has 
p 2 



212 MODERN ENGLAND 

learnt how to strike a middle course between the 
violent tactics of Chartism, which had been con- 
demned by experience, and the strictly limited 
outlook to which trade-unions, in their riper 
wisdom, had afterwards confined themselves. This 
class to-day makes its proper strength felt in the 
political struggle, and the "Labour Party" has 
forced its way into the House of Commons. That 
event put an end to the traditional system according 
to which a yielding Conservatism and a moderate 
Liberalism endlessly succeeded each other, both 
equally bent on a policy of prudence. So, the 
simple equilibrium which the spontaneous in- 
stincts of English empiricism had created and, 
for centuries, maintained, was modified with the 
coming of a new age and became more complex. 
The Labour Party is not a gathering of " intel- 
lectuals," like the Fabian Society, neither is it 
an organization copied from a foreign pattern, 
like the Social Democratic Federation; it is a 
movement sprung from the working class itself, 
from its temperament and its practical sense. Its 
future development was first foreshadowed by an 
association called the Independent Labour Party; 
this was an uncertain attempt of trade-unions feel- 
ing their way towards political action. Founded in 
1893, it brought together men of widely different 
opinions, equally bent upon action; it put forth 
limited social schemes; but they were precise 
and susceptible of being immediately carried out. 
Its broad spirit, free from any dogmatic formula, 
well agreed with the average preferences of the 
British workman, who, though driven by material 



THE SOCIAL PROBLEM 213 

necessities to assume a more active attitude, had 
lost none of his likings or habits. However, the 
rise of a wider, better-disciplined organization, 
the Parliamentary " Labour Party," has left the 
Independent Labour Party but the value of a 
symbolic phrase; it expresses the opposition to 
dogmatism which still separates the matter-of-fact 
Socialism of trade-unions from orthodox collectiv- 
ism; preserving a nominal existence by the side 
of the new Labour Party, it has supplied the 
latter with most of its members, in default of 
the definite principles it had proved unable to 
evolve. 

This transformation was a process of growth. 
For around the Independent Labour Party, and 
enriching it with fresh vigour, had developed the 
movement called "New Unionism." Whilst in 
the older and more powerful trade-unions was to 
be found an aristocracy of the working class, thriv- 
ing, and mostly conservative, the economic unrest 
signalized by several violent strikes gave rise after 
1889 to new associations among the unsettled 
masses of unskilled labourers dockers, porters, 
stokers, etc. Organized after a very different 
pattern, these unions required but very low sub- 
scriptions of their members; their purpose was 
not to ward off economic accidents; they were 
meant for war and levelled against the supremacy 
of capital. Instinct with the feeling of class 
hostility, the younger unions turned to Socialism; 
they accepted its doctrines in a large measure or 
entirely. This spirit was soon to radiate over 
their forerunners; and the trade-union congresses 



2i 4 MODERN ENGLAND 

passed motions more and more akin to collectivist 
formulae. 

At that very time, the scared associations of 
employers and the Conservative party, alarmed by 
the threatening attitude of the working class, 
waged war upon trade-union agitation. A series 
of judgments passed by the courts of justice or 
the House of Lords did away with the privileges 
the unions had won, like picketing; and allowed 
such employers as were wronged by the deliberate 
action of trade-unionists to sue the unions for 
compensation in money. Realizing then the 
danger that beset them, the unions organized 
themselves, and seeing it was necessary to carry 
the struggle into the open field of politics, decided 
to force their way into Parliament. Thus New 
Unionism sprang from the economic and social 
circumstances, the general effect of which was to 
give all conflicts a more definite and more acute 
aspect; from New Unionism rose the Labour Party. 

This association which brings together the 
various sections and the diverse opinions of the 
conscious working class, partakes both of the 
empirical English traditions it continues, and of 
the more energetic spirit of meditated action, one 
of the chief expressions of which it constitutes. 
Its dim, ill-defined beginnings remind one of the 
obscure growths of all British institutions. The 
"Labour Representation Committee " (1899) was 
joined by an increasing number of trade-unions, 
and by such Socialist organizations as the Fabian 
Society; its purpose was to prepare the way for 
trade-union ca\didates in Parliamentary elections, 



THE SOCIAL PROBLEM 215 

and to secure a yearly stipend for elected candidates, 
the payment of members having not yet been 
accepted by Parliament. It had no theoretic 
programme; but soon the pressure of events and 
its inner logic drove it to adopt Socialist formulae. 
It was only after the 1906 election had brought 
thirty Labour members and a score of Labour- 
Liberals to the House of Commons, along with 
a very large Liberal majority, that the name of 
Labour Party, first proposed at the Newcastle Con- 
ference in 1903, was proclaimed before the nation. 

Nor did the new party, when engaged in the 
political struggle, show the strict discipline or the 
unity of belief which are, for instance, character- 
istic of the German Social Democrats. It remains, 
upon the whole, impervious to the notion of class 
war; its members easily reconcile their demands 
with loyalty to the Crown, to the Established 
Church, to the necessities of national defence; free 
from all Marxist irreconcilability, and therefore 
denounced by the leaders of the Social Democratic 
Federation, they pursue an opportunist policy with 
a view to material results. 

However, when one takes a general view of the 
Labour Party, one cannot but detect in it a more 
and more clearly perceptible approximation 
towards the Continental aspects of the working 
class agitation; the social problem, since the rise 
of the party, has assumed a more pressing and 
acute character. Adhesions to socialistic principles 
are daily more numerous among its members; at 
the Hull Congress, in 1908, a collectivist motion 
was passed by a majority of the delegates. Inde- 



216 MODERN ENGLAND 

pendent, and in no way tied down to any of the 
traditional parties, it does not sacrifice its freedom 
of action to the Liberals; and though it ungrudg- 
ingly grants them its support on many an occasion, 
its representatives sit, to whatever party the 
ministry may belong, on the opposition benches. 
Its successes can but encourage it to adhere to that 
policy; as early as 1906, Parliament acknowledged 
the financial irresponsibility of trade-unions in 
cases of strikes, and settled their legal status; in 
1908, most of the "Labour-Liberals," yielding 
to a superior power of attraction, joined their 
Labour colleagues. In spite of its relative failure 
in the first 19 10 election, the party issued from 
it in a more homogeneous and united condition; 
its moral influence is in no way weakened, and 
it plays the part of a first-rate force in the present 
great constitutional crisis. 

Against the hereditary Chamber, the focus of 
the opposition to social progress, it not only nurses 
the natural grudge of the democracy of labour; 
it must also defend its own still threatened exist- 
ence; a judgment of the Lords, by making illegal 
the subscriptions of trade-unions to the fund of the 
Labour Party, forced it to press energetically its 
claim to the official acknowledgment of that right. 
Demanding as preliminary reforms effective 
universal suffrage, the nationalization of land and 
railways, free meals for school children, a Work- 
men's Compensation Act; numbering in 19 10 
nearly 1,500,000 members; loyal to Free Trade, 
and denouncing Protectionism as the doctrine of 
dear bread; reaping, in a word, the advantages of 



THE SOCIAL PROBLEM 217 

a definite programme and a firm though not 
revolutionary action, the Labour Party seems 
destined to wield the influence of an energetic 
compact minority over the ruling majority. In 
it are best focused the tendencies making for 
systematic progress whose impulse modern Eng- 
land is inevitably bound to follow, being awakened 
by the new difficulties from her slow habits of 
spontaneous adaptation. 



CHAPTER III 

THE POLITICAL PROBLEM 

I. The contemporary evolution of parties ; Home Rule and 
the dissenting Liberals ; the rise of the Unionist party ; its ten- 
dencies. II. The crisis of Liberalism and its new awakening ; 
the Radical elements of the Liberal party ; the heterogeneous 
character of its tendencies. III. The recent political conflict; 
tis causes and possible consequences. 

The growth of the Labour Party meant for 
England a deep modification of her political life. 
But even before it appeared there had begun, in 
the old traditional parties, and within the scope of 
their regular alternation, a crisis which fully echoed 
the economic conflicts and the wide problems of 
the new age. Once already, the 1830 Whigs and 
Tories had been rejuvenated, after the first Reform 
Act, as Liberals and Conservatives; about the end 
of the century, after the complete advent of 
democracy, Conservatism and Liberalism in their 
turn underwent necessary transformations. The 
former grew better defined, organized itself round 
particular standpoints as centres of defence 
or political action, and became Unionism; the 
latter, though it kept its name, assimilated new 
tendencies, borrowed from more precise doctrines; 
weakened by an inner process of decay, it regener- 
ated itself through the efficient virtue of principles 

218 



THE POLITICAL PROBLEM 219 

of positive action, and adopted the social pro- 
gramme of Radicalism. Lastly, the unavoidable 
conflict between the conservative tradition of Eng- 
lish empiricism, and the need of more sweeping 
reforms awakened by the conscious democracy, set 
the hereditary Chamber in opposition to the elected 
House. The very soundness of the English con- 
stitution was questioned. Henceforth the political 
drama developed on the English stage; and what- 
ever may be its temporary issue, a period of rapid 
and critical evolution has doubtlessly begun. 



The Irish question was the starting-point of 
the first political change which brought to light 
the inner transformation of the old parties. By 
causing the scission of the " Liberal Unionists," it 
freed Liberalism from its most moderate elements, 
and prepared the way for its evolution towards 
Radicalism; on the other hand, it created a new 
situation, from which a new principle clearly 
resulted; and round this principle the conservative 
tendencies crystallized. 

The chapter of Irish sufferings, of their causes, 
of their consequences in England, of the efforts 
made to allay them, has been for three centuries 
one of the most distressing in history; it should 
be studied apart. One should inquire also by 
what stages, under what influences the Home Rule 
scheme took shape in Gladstone's mind. Tradi- 
tionally inclined to conceive in a broader and more 



220 MODERN ENGLAND 

tolerant spirit the relations of the central power 
with the local authorities or the colonies, the 
Liberal party had chosen a leader in whom burned 
a generous zeal for justice. Along with the bold 
plan of granting Ireland an almost independent 
Parliament, was brought forth quite as bold an 
agricultural scheme, meant to transfer ownership 
from the landlords to the tenants with the help of 
the Imperial government. Thus Liberalism, whose 
proper doctrine had been exhausted by its victory, 
was reinvigorated by a programme of positive 
action due to Gladstone; it extended the benefit 
of its political principles to Ireland, and came into 
close contact with the economic necessities it had 
always too much ignored. 

But at the same time, Conservatism too was 
recovering a doctrine and a precise object for its 
action and strength. In the course of the century 
it had exhausted itself quite as much as its rival. 
Wholly taken up by the task of checking the 
democratic evolution, of securing the necessary 
transitions, it found itself purposeless, that evolu- 
tion once achieved; nor was the alternative of 
again questioning the final issue open to it; for it 
had from the beginning accepted it. Surviving 
only as a vague instinct, or a diffused tendency, 
separated from Liberalism only by shades of feel- 
ings and family traditions, it owed its regeneration 
to the two new predominant facts in the contem- 
porary history of England : to the Home Rule 
scheme, which helped the Imperialist formulae to 
reach a definite conscious form, and made the 
unity of the Empire into a national article of 



THE POLITICAL PROBLEM 221 

faith; to the progress of the working class move- 
ment, which transferred the Conservative defence 
from the political to the social domain. 

The scheme granting political autonomy to 
Ireland met, as everybody knows, with much 
opposition even within the Liberal party; it 
seemed to endanger that Imperial unity, the power- 
ful feeling for which by that time had come to be 
clearly realized. Nothing can be more suggestive 
than to follow the course of the dissenting group 
which broke away from Gladstone and caused the 
failure of Home Rule. The " Liberal Unionists " 
did not at first officially belong to the Conserva- 
tive majority, though they voted with it; but, 
before long, they completely merged into it, and 
their leaders were admitted, in 1895, into the 
Salisbury Ministry. Thenceforth, the new element 
of strenuous national resistance they brought with 
themselves quickly won a predominant influence 
over the hesitating passiveness which characterized 
most Conservatives; a few years later, the name 
" Unionist" became that of the whole party. 

Under this flag, from that time, this party faced 
the electoral fights. No symbol, indeed, could 
better stand for the synthesis of manifold 
tendencies, the coalition of which opposed the 
renewed vigour of Liberalism; to the richer blood 
infused by the " Liberal Unionists," was due the 
greater vitality, the radiating and assimilating 
power of that composite doctrine. Asserting the 
integrity of the national bond in the case of 
Ireland, Unionism naturally claimed for itself 
the popularity of new-born imperialism; it made 






222 MODERN ENGLAND 

military and commercial defence against the enter- 
prises of foreign nations its privilege and special 
care; and Protectionism, too, became part and 
parcel of the system. So, Conservatism, renewed 
under the name of Unionism, is a body of political 
feelings centring round the cause of social resist- 
ance; one may say that in it is focused, at the 
present time, the preference of traditional England 
for instinctive readjustments. 

The Unionist party, no doubt, has retained 
much of the old Conservative spirit. In religious 
and ecclesiastical matters, it stands for the privi- 
leges of the Establishment. Like the Tories of 
old, it favours the claims of the " High Church " ; 
and in the confused struggle, brought about by 
the attempt of England to organize a system of 
public education, it throws all its weight on the 
side of Anglicanism, helping it to secure its hold 
upon the State-aided schools. Like the Tories, 
it is as loyal to the Crown as to the Church; the 
authority of the King finds in it even stauncher 
supporters than in the Liberal party. Though no 
longer contesting democracy, now a fact, it opposes 
the measures meant to make it more real and 
efficient; the payment of members has long been 
rejected owing to its uncompromising resistance; 
it maintains plural voting, and the clauses of 
exception which still limit the franchise in Eng- 
land. The interests of the wealthy classes are 
respected by it all the more for the threatening 
onslaughts of the Liberal party. When the 
Puritan tendencies often predominant among its 
adversaries bring them to wage war upon alcohol- 



THE POLITICAL PROBLEM 223 

ism, it takes up the cause of the vexed publicans; 
when the financial policy of a Radical minister leads 
him to shift the balance of taxation to the benefit 
of the people, it defends the traditional immunities 
of capital. 

The new party of social resistance, with regard 
to the historic objects to which loyalty is tradition- 
ally due the Crown, the Church, private property 
thus continues in the attitude Conservatism has 
bequeathed to it. But on essential points, it yields 
to the spirit of efficient reform and of initiative 
called forth by the complexity of modern circum- 
stances and problems; demanding a closer union 
of the Empire, a better adaptation of imperial 
strength to diplomatic or military action, it per- 
meates the instinctive elements of Imperialism with 
conscious reasoning will; challenging the prestige 
of Free Trade, and proclaiming the necessity of a 
return to Protectionism, it proves revolutionary 
in its way. During the present constitutional 
crisis, schemes of political reform have sprung 
from this very party. Unionism, therefore, may 
be regarded as a more energetic combination of 
Conservative empiricism with strenuous initiative, 
due to the irresistible influence of the new needs. 

In social matters, lastly, it prolongs the inter- 
ventionist tradition of the Tories, and improves 
upon it. Feudal socialism is not extinct in Eng- 
land; many still turn to it in the hope of either 
alleviating the religious and human compunction 
awakened by poverty, or checking the advance of 
collectivism. That providential notion of the 
duty of the ruling classes, as has been seen, was 



224 MODERN ENGLAND 

yet rooted in the patriarchal country manners, in 
the beneficent authority of the noble families and 
the gentry; it was accepted by the docile peasantry; 
it is now being extended to all the provinces of 
national life. In Ireland the Conservative party, 
in spite of its opposition to Home Rule, has 
effected agricultural reforms, sought to allay the 
distress of tenants, and created administrative in- 
stitutions to promote local self-government. In 
England, it has decided that primary instruction 
should be free, and organized the county councils; 
it is ready to favour social hygiene and moral 
regeneration in every way, provided the chosen 
means keep within the bounds of its instincts, and 
comply with its inner clinging to moderation. 

The expropriation of large estates in the interest 
of the public, with compensation to the owners, 
the reviving of small holdings, are among the 
reforms accepted or demanded by the Unionist 
party, though its connections with the landlord 
class prevent it from carrying them out syste- 
matically. By advocating tariff reform, it pretends 
to cope with unemployment and poverty, the main 
cause of which it finds in Free Trade. The limita- 
tions of that social activity are easily discernible; 
still one should not forget that it exists, and con- 
stitutes the effort of a great party, always ready 
for plastic adaptations, in order to meet the require- 
ments of the present by the aid of the formulae of 
the past. 



THE POLITICAL PROBLEM 225 



II 

About the end of the nineteenth century, Eng- 
lish Liberalism was undergoing a severe crisis. It 
had reached that hour, fraught with danger to all 
parties, when, their principles being exhausted, 
they must either be rejuvenated or perish. On 
the chief points of its programme, the democratic 
evolution of England and Free Trade had brought 
its wishes full realization. On others, experience 
had contradicted its doctrine, or imposed upon it 
the acknowledgment of contrary facts. Ireland 
did not enjoy the self-government it had, for a 
while, tried to give her, without devoting its 
whole strength to the purpose. The Empire, 
whose ever more pressing claims and growth it 
had ignored, was coming to the front in political 
life, and demanded new formulae, answering the 
necessities of its incipient organization. In the 
province of social problems, meanwhile, and in the 
mutual relations of economic forces and of classes, 
a moral solidarity had asserted itself, in harmony 
with the narrow interdependence of units and 
groups in national life, and State intervention had 
gained more and more ground, whilst the Liberal 
orthodoxy found itself powerless. On all sides, 
needs had been discovered which it could not 
satisfy, or solutions had been accepted with which 
its own principles could not be reconciled. 

The reason was that these principles were the 
merely negative expression of the obscure striving 
after freedom, thanks to which a modern nation 
Q 



226 MODERN ENGLAND 

had been evolved out of the England of yore. 
The individualistic philosophy of the Utilitarians, 
and the impatient efforts of the middle class, had 
successively overthrown all the barriers with which 
the old society checked the free expansion of in- 
dustry and trade; the shifting of balance thus 
effected had exceeded the desires of the middle 
class, according to the usual law of loosened 
forces; and democracy had spread its level far and 
wide over the still visible remnants of the 
oligarchic constitution. But, wholly bent on the 
criticism of the past, Liberalism proved unable to 
shape the future it had made unavoidable. To 
meet the needs of a reconstructive age, it lacked 
organic ideas. Already contained within political 
democracy, the rough outlines of social democracy 
came out through it; and, hostile to this new 
development, Liberalism lacked the necessary 
authority to stop it. Therefore it seemed doomed 
to immediate decay; by its side Conservatism was 
holding its own, still vigorous, fostered by eternal 
instincts, for it is its privilege to undergo a con- 
tinual process of change without ever changing; 
while Socialism on the increase threatened to take 
its own place before long. 

A complexity of causes and influences have dur- 
ing the last ten years restored to Liberalism much 
of the strength it had lost. As a party, at least, 
it has known how to modify itself in order to live; 
and thanks to the happy indetermination which 
has ever been a characteristic of English political 
tenets, it has, too, succeeded in realizing such a 
temporary synthesis as that which the Unionist 









THE POLITICAL PROBLEM 227 



party was setting as an example to it. First it 
availed itself of its opponents' faults; the mistakes 
they made during the South African War made it 
reap the benefit of that tendency to regular oscilla- 
tions which, in the normal course of things, brings 
back the opposition to power almost necessarily. 
Then, the tariff reform agitation imparted an actual 
fecundity to its economic principles, which their 
triumph, now old, had deprived of their former 
vigour; identifying itself with the reaction of 
public opinion against the initiative of tariff 
reformers, it has undertaken the defence of Free 
Trade, on behalf of the interests of the people. 

But chiefly, the Liberal party has been borne 
onward by the wave of social progress and reform 
which has risen from the depths of national life. 
From democracy that still grows and better realizes 
its own powers, from the economic crisis and the 
awakening of the Labour Party, from the psycho- 
logical rhythm which, in England, called for a 
new period of national criticism, from all the causes, 
in short, which, at the same time, opened the new 
problems and, to some extent, predetermined their 
solutions, an irresistible impulse sprang which 
revived decaying Liberalism. The tendencies 
which this impulse brought with it, proved to be 
alien enough to those which had made up the 
Liberal doctrine during the last century. Whilst 
this doctrine had remained individualistic, the 
spirit which emanated from the working class was 
one of closer and more interdependent social 
organization; whilst the old Liberalism above all 
submitted to the established order and kept, in its 
Q 2 



228 MODERN ENGLAND 

political action, within the bounds of constitutional 
precedents, in its new form it boldly opposed the 
mediaeval fabric of English tradition, by proclaim- 
ing the need for intelligence, method, and superior 
efficiency. 

The intermediaries, through which that fresh 
vigour permeated the old Liberal party, were first 
the influential group of the Radicals, a minority 
of energetic, thoroughgoing democrats, whose 
number the recent elections have increased, and 
who keep in close touch with the aspirations of 
labour; it was, next, the diffusion of Fabian ideas, 
and the gradual conversion of opinion, in advanced 
circles, to an opportunist and practical Socialism; 
it was as well the influence of thinkers, who, from 
the general circumstances in which England finds 
herself, infer the necessity of a systematic and 
meditated readaptation to modern life; one should 
mention lastly the opposition of dissenters, who 
have been traditionally staunch supporters of 
Liberalism, against the encroachments of the Estab- 
lished Church and her attempt at monopolizing 
public education. All these causes contributed to 
bring about the triumph of the Liberals in the 
1 906 election ; they created that powerful coalition 
of interests and forces to which are due such bold 
innovations in the financial and political domains, 
and which all the gathered strength of the Unionist 
party has not yet proved able to overcome. 

If English Liberalism has been revived, it is 
because a profound desire for progress and change 
rose from the very conditions of the time, and 
because, the Labour Party being still looked upon 



THE POLITICAL PROBLEM 229 

as politically inferior, an ancient tradition con- 
ferred upon the descendants of the Whigs the 
privilege of acting as interpreters and champions 
of those desires. Their inconsistent principles 
could not withstand that influx of new tendencies; 
and so, individualist and moderate Liberalism 
found itself saturated with a reforming Radicalism, 
ready to advocate the intervention of the State. 

And the inner weakness of both the party and 
its doctrine is perhaps due precisely to this com- 
posite character; to the incomplete conciliation of 
the old and the new elements. The attitude of 
contemporary Liberalism is approximately consist- 
ent only in political warfare, under the rule of the 
discipline enforced by the chiefs. In the abstract, 
nothing can be more unsettled than its general 
directions. It has yielded to the spirit of social 
solidarity, but has not officially given over 
economic orthodoxy, and State interference is still 
opposed by many of its representatives. Goaded 
on by circumstances, it has boldly attacked some 
privileges of the wealthy classes, and, on a few 
occasions, the very principle of the existing order; 
but the traditional preference of Liberalism for 
compromises and empirical solutions is denounced 
by the Radicals only; theoretically, there is among 
the Liberals, in Parliament or in the country, no 
unanimous adhesion to such ideas or beliefs as 
would, of necessity, unite them in a common 
opposition to the Conservative solutions of the new 
difficulties. The unflinching strength of Liberal 
action is derived from external conditions, from 
the pressure of popular enthusiasm, rather than 



2 3 o MODERN ENGLAND 

from its own guiding principles; and this will be 
the case until the day comes, if it is to come, when 
intellectual Radicalism succeeds in effecting the 
moral unity of the party. 

In the same way, when confronted with the 
other problems now pending, Liberalism is apt to 
waver and adopt contradictory views. In what 
concerns education, it is divided between the unde- 
nominational idea, in which the Radicals are ready 
to find the guiding principle of primary instruc- 
tion, and the system of equal advantages to all 
denominational schools, which many others con- 
sider as the only kind of neutrality compatible 
with the present state of public opinion. About 
the Empire and national defence also the Liberals 
do not agree. Among them are found the 
last of the " Little Englanders," the theorists 
opposed to colonial expansion, the disciples of the 
Manchester school, clinging to the dream of peace- 
ful international competition, and the humanitarian 
advocates of peace and disarmament; but on the 
other hand, the Liberal party in its official policy 
has shown itself anxious to maintain the naval 
supremacy of Britain; it has taken its share in the 
great work of military reform; and many of its 
members not only acknowledge those necessities 
of international politics, but feel at one with the 
combative Imperialists. 

Therefore the general impression one gathers 
from present Liberalism is that of an imperfect and 
confused synthesis, whose unity is preserved only 
by the eagerness of the struggle, and the pressure 
of the opposed synthesis; of a traditional, individu- 



THE POLITICAL PROBLEM 231 

alistic and moderate background of ideas, not 
opposed to the slow advent of political democracy, 
but deeply hostile to all abstract doctrines and sud- 
den changes, from which there stands out in strong 
relief a Radicalism of the French type, vigorous, 
socialistic, and not adverse to systems. It is the 
chief characteristic of the present time that cir- 
cumstances should have endowed the latter ten- 
dency with a remarkable power of attraction, so far 
unparalleled in the history of England; and that 
the inert mass of the Liberal party as a whole 
should have been sufficiently permeated by that 
spirit to be carried away by it. 



Ill 

The acute political crisis which began in 1909 
is the outcome of those general conditions. On 
the one hand, the democratic and reforming im- 
pulse which the Liberal party had brought with it 
on its return to power was bound to result in ever 
bolder encroachments upon traditional privileges; 
on the other hand, Conservatism renewed and 
reinvigorated as " Unionism " was bound to infuse 
greater strength for resistance and even for attack 
into the institutions whose part it is to defend those 
privileges. The conflict of Lords and Commons 
was the consequence and striking symbol of that 
opposition between two aspects of England. 

The clash might long have been foreseen. 
When making the political equilibrium depend 
on the concerted working of the hereditary and 



2 3 2 MODERN ENGLAND 

the elected Chambers, the English constitution, 
that organic growth of ancient experience, had not 
foreseen the modern rise of industrial democracy. 
From the day when the will of the people was 
freely expressed and directly felt through the 
Commons, the germ of a conflict threatened the 
smooth functioning of the venerable constitutional 
machine. No doubt, the faculty of spontaneous 
adaptation which characterizes English empiricism 
proved efficient in this instance as in others, by 
realizing the necessary compromises; gradually, 
in the course of the century, the democratic evolu- 
tion took place, without any serious shock; the 
Crown, superior to all parties, and the supreme 
arbiter of desperate conflicts, intervened at the 
most critical time, in 1832, to impose the first 
Reform Bill upon the Lords. Entitled to create 
new peers freely, and so to displace the majority, 
it could alone soften down the jarring contrast 
between the conservative interest of the oligarchy 
and the impatient will of the people; and about 
the end of the century there were some grounds 
for hoping that, thanks to the pacifying action of 
the Crown, the hereditary Chamber resigned to 
unavoidable sacrifices had outlived a dangerous 
period of constitutional change unharmed. 

But the growing demands of the democratic 
spirit, and the daring of the new Liberalism, were 
to ruin that optimistic trust in the future. Already 
the " Home Rule " quarrel had stirred and em- 
bittered the hostility of the two Chambers. In 
spite of the patriarchal tendencies of the Conserva- 
tive policy, and of the active part often played by 



THE POLITICAL PROBLEM 233 

the Lords in social legislation, they were bound 
to stand in an attitude of more and more irrecon- 
cilable opposition to the reforms demanded by the 
majority of the nation. Content with simply pass- 
ing the bills brought in by a Conservative ministry, 
ready to rest satisfied, in such a case, with merely 
honorary functions, they would resume their active 
part as soon as their adversaries came again into 
power. Since the 1906 election, more especially, 
their veto had thrown out almost all the reforms 
proposed by the Commons. The uneasiness pre- 
vailing in Parliament, the anger of Liberals and 
Radicals pointed to a crisis; the Budget of Mr. 
Lloyd George was but the occasion which hastened 
the course of events. 

The conflict was thus a natural outcome of all 
the internal causes which have reawakened in con- 
temporary England the political problem like all 
others. But, as has been seen, the characteristic trait 
of recent English evolution lies in its being 
quickened by external influences. In this case, 
again, the foreign factor was felt; international 
competition, either economic or military, was the 
immediate cause of the crisis. If the Liberal 
government has laid new taxes on capital, it is not 
only to meet the social expenses required for old 
age pensions, it is chiefly to bear the very heavy 
burden of national defence. Challenged by the 
constant increase of the German navy, England 
spends more and more on new ships; spurred on 
by public opinion, astir with the sensational warn- 
ings of the Press, the Liberal party must give up 
its traditions of retrenchment, the pacific dreams 



234 MODERN ENGLAND 

of some of its leaders; bent upon maintaining, as 
the famous phrase has it, the two-power standard 
of superiority, the British Admiralty gives orders 
for ever more numerous men-of-war. 

And on the other hand, the peril of a German 
invasion, complacently pictured in dismal colours 
by many writers; the possibility of intervention 
in a Continental war; and all the dangers and com- 
petitions with which combative Imperialism has 
clogged the " splendid isolation " England was 
once proud of, compel her to give herself a stand- 
ing army. Conscription, yesterday distasteful to 
all, is gaining ground every day; the regular 
troops are kept in thorough training; the territorial 
army, completely reorganized, constitutes a defen- 
sive force by no means to be despised. It was to 
meet these heavy financial needs that, for the first 
time, a Chancellor of the Exchequer carried Radical 
notions into practice on a large scale, and levied 
twenty millions sterling on capital and land. 

It would be out of place here to sum up the 
events which followed the bringing in of the 1909 
Budget. Everybody still remembers how the 
opposition of the Lords decided the obscure ques- 
tion of their rights in money matters, and wrested 
from the Commons the privilege they had, so they 
thought, securely held for forty years. This initia- 
tive of the conservative interests, opposed to that 
of the reforming forces, clearly reveals the acute, 
violent nature of the present crisis; it shows as 
well how much contemporary influences have 
roused the spirit of action in the two conflicting 
parties. Whilst the Unionists denounced socia- 



THE POLITICAL PROBLEM 235 

listic articles in the Budget, the Liberals had some 
grounds to charge the Lords with a revolutionary 
proceeding. 

Thenceforth the struggle had begun. It went 
on and is still going on, without its being possible 
at the present time to foresee its final solution. 
The first 19 10 election marked a pause in the 
advance of Liberalism, but did not result in a 
victory for the other side; the two bodies of 
opposed forces counterbalanced each other for a 
while, and the Liberal party remained in power. 
The accession of a new king still hampered the 
logical development of the consequences implied 
in the initial conditions. The constitutional con- 
ference met in vain; Parliament was dissolved, 
and a new election left Liberalism again uncon- 
quered. After the truce of the Coronation, the 
Parliament Bill is now fighting its way through 
the Lords. The next months will probably witness 
the victory of the democratic principle in matters 
of taxation. However widespread and deep the 
feelings and instincts, however vigorous the social 
elements of all kinds may be which stand for the 
present order, in spite of the possible success of 
Protectionism, the benefit of which would no doubt 
accrue to the Conservative party, one can but ex- 
pect that the popular wave will overthrow the 
barriers raised by the Lords. Whatever the com- 
promise agreed upon, and the degree of indepen- 
dence left to the Upper House, it can hardly 
preserve any effective political power unless it 
undergoes serious changes in its composition or 
spirit. Let us not forget, moreover, that in face 



236 MODERN ENGLAND 

of the measures pressed for by the Liberals the 
financial privileges of the Commons, the limited 
veto of the Lords, the restriction of Parliament to 
five years schemes of self-reform, making some 
allowance for the elective principle, have come to 
light within the hereditary Chamber. The Eng- 
lish instinct for necessary compromise seems to 
point to an incomplete victory of the Commons; 
but after the momentous innovation by which the 
Lords opened the fight, even a mitigated defeat 
will be for them a disaster in principle. The only 
uncertainty the future still holds in store is that 
of the form which the democratic and logical pro- 
gress required by the conditions of modern life 
will assume, when the constitution has been 
modernized and made more precise. 

For such is, to the impartial observer, the 
meaning of the present crisis. It brings into broad 
daylight the hidden discrepancy between contem- 
porary England and her traditional empiricism. 
Unheard-of words have been uttered on both 
sides; whilst it used to be a commonplace to extol 
the happy pliancy the English constitution owed 
to its vague outline; whilst the political pride 
of the British was fond of setting their " un- 
written " constitution in contrast with the syste- 
matic fabrics raised by the delusive Continental 
reason, they have been heard to regret that very 
vagueness and uncertainty, the source of insoluble 
conflicts; a general desire for clearness and scientific 
efficiency, the outcome of the industrial civiliza- 
tion, has conquered the devout respect which 
screened the time-honoured edifice. When looked 



THE POLITICAL PROBLEM 237 

at in the light of an all-important contest, its 
plan was found to be chaotic, intricate and anti- 
quated. However living may still be the faith of 
the British people in that political shrine, their 
shrewd sense has perceived the decaying state of at 
least some of its parts; the reconstruction of those 
parts has been at once decided upon. For the 
law of adaptation, the very condition of life, is 
even superior to that of conservation ; if life 
requires that conscious reflection should more and 
more take the place of instinctive spontaneity in 
the process of adjustment, empiricism will know 
how to remain true to itself, were it by surrender- 
ing its stubbornly fought for and most essential 
position. 



CHAPTER IV 

THE IMPERIAL PROBLEM 

I. The intellectual and emotional elements of the Imperialist 
doctrine. II. The programme of action; the ends, the means, 
and the difficulties met with. 

1 

We have seen under what influence the im- 
perialist feeling awoke between 1850 and 1880. 
Growing since the sixteenth century, without any 
clear-sighted will or preconceived method, a mere 
outcome of the aggressive vigour and the com- 
mercial genius of the race, the Empire became 
conscious of itself during the nineteenth century. 
Its emergence into the inner light is an aspect 
of the general psychological development which 
characterizes modern England ; and Imperialism, 
the doctrine and the religion of the Empire, is an 
expression of the impassioned desire for efficiency 
which is the salient feature of the contemporary 
period. 

But no sooner had the imperialist feeling be- 
come an element of the general consciousness, 
than its realization met with unforeseen difficul- 
ties. For the problem of imperial organization is 
bound up with other problems, both internal and 
foreign; and the interests of England must in this 
instance be yielding enough to harmonize with 
those of young and lusty colonies, endowed with a 

238 



THE IMPERIAL PROBLEM 239 

robustly realistic spirit. By formulating itself, the 
imperialist tendency entered the political arena. 
Diffused through all doctrines and parties, it is 
yet more narrowly associated with Unionism, 
whose inner connection with it has been pointed 
out above. It belongs consequently to the body 
of forces which includes social and religious Con- 
servatism, militarism and Protectionism. There- 
fore its complete triumph depends to some extent 
on the success of the Unionist coalition; and the 
Liberal party, in spite of the sacrifices it has made 
to national defence and the unity of the Empire, is 
suspected not to desire this unity with the same 
combative zeal as the adverse party. 

Accepted to-day by the majority of the nation, 
imperialism is not officially in power. It has none 
the less for the last thirty years presided over the 
foreign policy of England and her relations with 
her colonies. 

Around the feeling which is the soul of im- 
perialism, a body of ideas and a programme of 
action are aggregated. These ideas are mainly 
derived from the vague evolutionism from which 
all strong nations, since the time of Darwin, have 
deduced the theory of the survival of the fittest. 
The notion of races, widely spread in England as 
elsewhere, has supplied the instinctive belief in 
the natural superiority of the Anglo-Saxon with 
a scientific basis. Nothing more was needed to 
found the doctrine; its starting-point was the exist- 
ence of the Empire, created beyond the seas by 
the swarming of British vitality. It found in it 
sufficient proof of the expansive, assimilative and 



2 4 o MODERN ENGLAND 

commanding virtue of the English race, and in- 
ferred from those premises the necessity of helping 
on, by means of a conscious policy, the full 
development of that spontaneously commenced 
process. Other elements came into play : the 
belief in an imperialist tendency at work through 
history; the assertion that our era must carry 
further the political centralization from which 
modern nations have issued; a conception of the 
world according to which, whilst the peoples 
deprived of radiating power must dwindle away, 
a few gigantic federations the Russian, the 
American, the German, the British Empires will 
struggle for the sovereignty of the earth. 

In a word, notions borrowed from biology, 
sociology, history, are combined by the presiding 
impulse of a powerful feeling, which is the 
common link between them; imperialism partakes 
both of science and of religion. To religion, again, 
it is indebted for the mystical idea of the divinely 
appointed mission of the chosen races the British 
race more especially which sets before them the 
duty of extending as far as possible a Christian and 
civilizing order. Lastly, side by side with those 
idealistic elements, utilitarian aspirations are to be 
found; the expansion of the Empire opens a larger 
field for the imperial people td rule and to exploit; 
and chiefly, industry hopes to find, in the 
Dominions or Crown colonies, free markets, the 
access of which will never be barred by prohibitive 
tariffs. " Trade follows the flag " is the watch- 
word which has brought over most British 
merchants to the religion of the Empire. 



THE IMPERIAL PROBLEM 241 

Thus the doctrine is very similar to those which 
a wave of conscious and clear-sighted ambition, 
of passionate and mystical pride, has brought forth 
at the same time in other nations, throughout 
Europe and the world. It is fraught with the 
same worship of strength, the same contempt for 
humanitarian sentimentalism, the same desire to 
ascribe the victories of races to the inner will of 
the universe, which have fostered the reaction 
of the declining century against the romanticism 
of its early years. It manifests, besides the natural 
growth of the seeds sown by Carry le's doctrine 
of energy, the effect of the deep-seated decay under 
which traditional Liberalism is labouring. The 
critical formulae on which the individualistic move- 
ment of the nineteenth century was based being 
exhausted, all the minds craving for organic 
notions turned to' the doctrine of imperial unity 
and political greatness, as well as to the idea of 
social solidarity. One can trace, too, in the most 
subtle prophets of imperialism that vein of prag- 
matism which to-day runs through English 
thought, that weariness of futile pursuits, that new 
indifference to any scientific creed, that preference 
for a conservative and nationalist realism, which 
brings together the scepticism of a Balfour and 
that of a Biilow in a common feeling of respect 
for the hard solid imperial fact. 

As for the particular character of British im- 
perialism, it lies in the programme of action by 
which its adherents seek to carry it out. In 
contrast to Germany, England must consider the 
imperial problem as mainly bearing on an incom- 



242 MODERN ENGLAND 

plete unity, which has yet to be achieved, and on 
the institution through common interests and feel- 
ings of a closer union between the very distant, 
very diverse parts of a single whole. The British 
Empire is essentially an aggregate of colonies. 

ii 

The first and chief aim of imperialism is to 
avert all risks of dissension and separation. It 
strives before all to organize the colonies, amongst 
themselves and with the mother-country. Federa- 
tions or homogeneous states, united to Great 
Britain by an ever stronger and more elastic bond, 
would best serve its purpose. This bond should 
be a sentimental one, because the instinctive 
acknowledgment of a common blood is at the 
very core of imperial consciousness; it should be 
political, because unity of will and action can alone 
secure the cohesion of the Empire under the 
jealous scrutiny of its foes; being political, it 
should be commercial, for common interests must 
cement even the strongest friendships; and it 
should be military too, for the cause of national 
defence cannot be ignored by the far-away 
Dominions which English squadrons may be called 
upon to protect. 

That programme has already been to some 
extent carried out. First, the idea of the Empire 
is officially associated with all the public utterances, 
and all the important steps of the central govern- 
ment. Speeches from the throne, ministerial 
declarations emphasize the imperial character of the 






THE IMPERIAL PROBLEM 243 

British Crown. It is the Imperial Parliament that 
sits at Westminster, and the chief instruments of 
general administration are invested, too, with this 
title. The Press and literature endeavour to revive 
and foster the sentiment of the Empire, that in- 
heritance of the race, the pride and care of every 
citizen, a glorious brotherhood spreading over the 
face of the earth. The greater speed of communi- 
cation, the improvement in the means of convey- 
ance, the immediate echo of all national emotions 
in the universe roused to a homogeneous life, 
endow the various parts of the Empire with a 
common and constantly thrilling sensibility. On 
striking occasions, the tangible image of the 
imperial unity has been displayed in London, as a 
manifold variegated pageant; jubilees, coronations, 
anniversaries or ceremonies, public joys or griefs 
for all Englishmen and subject races, have shown 
to all eyes the invisible bond which links together 
so many lands, climates, civilizations and customs. 
England had never ceased td keep fastened upon 
herself the gaze of all her overseas children; but 
her own sons, once pent up in their insular pride, 
have now enlarged their prospects and their souls 
to the magnitude of the destiny of which they are 
no longer ignorant. 

Meanwhile the Empire is undergoing an un- 
interrupted process of unification. Its main 
provinces, made up of scattered elements, the 
natural and spontaneous growths of British in- 
dividualism, are brought, of their own accord and 
through the cautious intervention of the mother- 
country, to more centralized forms. Rejecting 
r 2 



244 MODERN ENGLAND 

nothing of the Liberalism which was the main 
principle of colonial policy in the nineteenth 
century, leaving her Dominions their political 
autonomy and representative institutions, England 
takes care that this freedom shall strengthen the 
national or federal bond, instead of destroying it. 
Australia, Canada thus constitute organic aggre- 
gates of districts unequal in population, in wealth, 
but gradually rising to more perfect homogeneity. 
Newly conquered from a rival race, South Africa 
is already united into one State in which provincial 
grudges will be softened down and the memories 
of the War will lose their sting, without destroying 
the local feeling which the public spirit of both 
Englishmen and Boers is equally bent upon pre- 
serving. And with strenuous energy, the British 
government tries to create an instrument and a 
symbol for the supreme federation in the very 
centre of the Empire : the " Colonial Confer- 
ences, 55 meeting in London, are regular Parlia- 
ments of the Empire, in which are discussed the 
best means to further the common interests, to 
make more efficient the solidarity of the sister- 
nations, called upon to reinforce natural affinities 
by their conscious will. 

Among the problems the Colonial Conferences 
have to solve, the most important ones concern the 
tariffs and the military organization of the Empire. 
The idea of an English Zollverein has become an 
article of the immediate prdgramme of imperial- 
ism; the agitation for Tariff Reform, in England, 
lays stress on the possibility and expediency of 
an economic federation entirely self-sufficient, 



THE IMPERIAL PROBLEM 245 

closed to the rest of the world, within which the 
diverging interests of the mother-country and the 
colonies would be reconciled through a series of 
compromises. Though the young countries which 
Anglo-Saxon energy is calling to new wealth want 
protective tariffs to shelter their growth, they 
might at least and several already do grant a 
preference to Great Britain. As for England, she 
would offer them, should she give up Free Trade, 
an open market or commercial privileges. 

On the other hand, the participation of the 
colonies in the defence of the Empire is contem- 
plated in various ways. In some cases, subsidies 
granted by colonial parliaments wduld be added 
to the military or naval resources of England; an 
ironclad here, a cruiser there would be thus pre- 
sented to the mother-country. As an alternative, 
colonial forces would join English armies on 
prearranged occasions. During the South African 
War, this military solidarity of the Empire was 
partly realized. In most cases, the colonies will 
themselves provide for their own squadrons and 
troops, and will be entrusted with their own 
defence, thus alleviating the burden of the imperial 
diplomacy and navy. This last solution seems best 
suited to the particularist spirit, and the often 
susceptible independence, of the new nations 
created by British expansion. 

For thorough imperialism finds many obstacles 
in its path, and it is not yet possible to say whether 
they will be overcome. The great Dominions, 
Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, 
are united to old England by reverent feelings of 



246 MODERN ENGLAND 

filial devotion; however diverse may be the races 
which make up those nations, they all own them- 
selves indebted to the historic centre and chief 
focus of the energy which created them; the more 
sincerely as their representative institutions have 
endowed them with full civil and political individu- 
ality. But the very vitality of those new peoples 
tends to weaken the radiating influence of England 
over them; either because they fret under it, and 
claim to be themselves centres of influence; or 
because they yield to the stronger attraction of 
human aggregates nearer to them and connected 
with them by greater natural affinities. Australia 
and New Zealand are so necessarily destined to 
rule over the new civilization of Oceania that their 
relations with an island in old Europe cannot long 
remain essential to them; the economic, political, 
intellectual intercourse of Canada with the United 
States binds her every day more closely to the 
destinies of America. 

And, conscious of their strength, of their future, 
these young nations stand for their rights with all 
the vigorous individualism and all the utilitarian 
spirit their Anglo-Saxon forefathers have taught 
them. The Colonial Conferences have not proved 
so far very successful. The contributions for the 
imperial navy have not been very willingly 
granted; and the colonies do not readily renounce 
their Protectionist policy. As for England, she 
cannot possibly sacrifice the needs of her industry 
or agriculture; it cannot fairly be expected that 
colonial wheat should, under the contemplated 
tariff system, be spared the duty levied on foreign 



THE IMPERIAL PROBLEM 247 

corn. And in the conflict of interests, aggravated 
by the extreme diversity of local conditions, the 
supreme principle of the unity of the Empire is 
not easily enforced. 

On the other hand, some Crown colonies seri- 
ously imperil this very principle. India and Egypt 
are seething with the agitation for rebellion and 
independence which the Asiatic awakening and the 
Islamic propaganda have stirred during the last ten 
years. Egyptian or Indian nationalists secretly or 
publicly demand that English domination should 
come to an end. 

Meeting with these difficulties, the imperialist 
doctrine to which in fact all English political 
parties, except the majority of the Labour Party, 
adhere, admits of two main attitudes, which on the 
whole correspond severally to the Liberal and the 
Unionist tendencies. The Liberal government 
sets forth a broader ideal, in which the autdnomy 
of both Dominions and colonies may some day 
find place; in which the civilizing mission of Eng- 
land is given the predominant importance in her 
imperial destiny. In India, the nationalist aspira- 
tions are firmly kept down, but some satisfaction 
is granted to the desire for independence and 
initiative of the natives. In Egypt, the measures 
of repression are still softened by some respect for 
the liberty of local opinion. The accession of the 
Conservatives to power would no doubt be fol- 
lowed by more energetic coercive measures. For 
with the Unionist party is more especially asso- 
ciated the other ideal of imperialism the ideal 
both defensive and offensive of a fighting military 



248 MODERN ENGLAND 

organization, forcibly maintaining the subjection 
of conquered peoples, and raising round the heart 
of the Empire a shield of young and warlike 
nations. A natural corollary of this ambition, con- 
scription is demanded in England, as everybody 
knows, by more and more numerous competent 
authorities. 

Thus the imperial problem first consists in 
imparting to the incomplete fact of the Empire a 
more perfect and more solid reality; it consists as 
well in breathing into that body, once shaped, a 
soul of peaceful freedom or of pro'ud and martial 
energy. The latter, needless to say, is better fitted 
than the former to dwell in it; and will probably 
prevail, should it definitively be brought to full 
life. The imperial question is a more thorny 
difficulty for the rationalists and Radicals than for 
the disciples of instinct and empiricism. So far 
as England still demurs at giving herself up to 
imperialism, one may say that, in this field as in 
all others, the rational forces are waging the same 
fight against the same adverse forces, with a more 
uncertain issue. 



CHAPTER V 

THE INTELLECTUAL PROBLEM 

The leading ideas of contemporary England. I. Traditional- 
ism in the religious movement, in education, public life, collective 
feelings, artistic tastes. II. Pragmatism ; its relation to English 
utilitarianism. The pragmatic theory of truth. Analogous 
tendencies : moral hygiene, the craving for energy, the return 
to Nature. III. Rationalism and the new conditions of life. 
Religious criticism ; the modes of unbelief. The criticism of the 
political and social order ; the " intellectuals " and English 
culture ; the influence of rationalism upon education, manners, 
the psychological temperament, the artistic and literary evolution. 

Contemporary England has to face the last, 
highest and most comprehensive of all problems, 
that of general ideas and intellectual tendencies. 
However small may still relatively be the active 
part played by pure speculation on English ground, 
modern life is everywhere, as is well known, more 
and more intimately connected with the principles 
of action and thought whether these principles 
be only the outcome of facts, or really direct them. 
Still usually as little addicted to philosophizing as 
ever, but more anxious to acquire this faculty, the 
British people experience the searchings of the mind 
at the present time more than ever before; and an 
increasing portion of it has recourse to intelligence 
to explain the course of events, or to guide it. 
Therefore the unrest which characterized the 
economic, social and political activity of England, 

249 



2 5 o MODERN ENGLAND 

is to be found again in her literary, artistic and 
philosophic activities. In this field, as in all 
others, one witnesses a transition and a crisis. For 
the old order new tendencies demand to be sub- 
stituted; and even traditional ideas must assume 
bold, unexpected shapes, the better to resist the 
attack. The conflict is obscure and manifold; con- 
servatives and revolutionaries oppose one another, 
and do not always fully grasp the grounds of their 
opposition. One gathers the vague impression of 
a moral division from that confused struggle of 
opinions and parties; and it is in a common desire 
for active energy, for practical efficiency, that the 
conciliation of those warring forces tends to be 
least imperfectly effected. 

Ceasing to consider only the systems of 
thinkers, one may say that life and manners are 
ever pregnant with a potential philosophy. From 
this point of view, the general or directing ideas of 
contemporary England seem to fall under three 
main tendencies : they are either traditionalistic, or 
pragmatic, or rationalistic. The second category 
may easily be traced back to the first; it represents 
its modernized form, adapted, so to speak, to the 
needs of the time. It is still distinct enough from 
it to deserve separate consideration. 



English traditionalism is in its essence em- 
pirical; it chiefly consists in obeying the decisions 
of instinct; it is thus much more akin to practice 



THE INTELLECTUAL PROBLEM 251 

than to theory. Public and private life alike bear 
witness to the unshaken hold which that spirit, 
inherited from the past, retains on the realities 
of the present. On the other hand, the various 
activities of England afford us more definite, more 
conscious expressions of the same spirit, which by 
degrees rise to the level of real doctrines. The 
same decided preference for the traditional deter- 
minations of feeling and the results of experience 
rules over the hereditary manners, preserved in 
far-off country districts, as well as over the subtle 
disquisitions of the pragmatist and humanist 
philosophers. 

The characteristic trait of this preference, at 
the present time, is that it has to defend itself. 
The offensive taken by the new manners and 
ideas is no less pronounced in England than in 
the other civilized countries; a wave of rational 
criticism has once more swelled in the nation which 
the revenge of instinct had won back, while demo- 
cracy and industry are on all sides threatening 
the balance they seemed to have consented to 
support. Therefore a defensive attitude is im- 
posed upon all the habits, emotions, beliefs, in- 
stitutions and doctrines which are based on the 
ancient foundations of England the aristocratic 
and patriarchal organization, religious faith and 
public worship, the respect of experience, and 
loyalty to the existing order. Ruling classes, 
Churches, traditions and routines feel equally 
imperilled; their authority is alarmed; they are 
fighting, or preparing for the struggle. 

The conflict of dogmatic religion with the 



252 MODERN ENGLAND 

various forms of unbelief is carried on in England 
with an eagerness heightened by the now wide- 
spread notion of the utilitarian value of faith, 
regarded as the mainspring of individual energy 
or collective will. For a time discouraged by the 
destructive advance of Biblical criticism, Christian 
apologetics have mustered new strength since a 
reaction has set in against the excesses of rational- 
ist exegesis. The authority, the supernatural 
origin of the holy books, the mission and the 
divine inspiration of Christ, are emphasized and 
demonstrated every year by an abundant sacred 
literature; apparently at least, the theological 
positions of the Established Church are unshaken, 
whilst dissenting sects still easily gather the 
elements of an unsettled subjective orthodoxy 
from the free interpretation of Scripture. 

But leaving out religious congresses, such as 
the Pan- Anglican conference; or the revivals, 
those popular movements of mystical enthusiasm, 
recurrent fires which will blaze in some part of 
England and burn out, leaving only the ashes 
of indifference, the most striking phenomenon of 
the present time is the slow and secret drifting 
of the English Church towards the Catholic prin- 
ciple of authority. The prestige of the Roman 
persuasion is undoubtedly greater; the diffusion 
of tolerance and culture more and more allays 
the old Protestant hostility, tenacious still and 
deep-rooted in public feelings; and the recent 
suppression of the traditional words by which 
the King, on his coronation day, used to 
condemn the Roman error, points to some change 



THE INTELLECTUAL PROBLEM 253 

in the mind of the nation. Conversions to 
Catholicism are pretty frequent, but for all that, 
they do not give any ground for regarding as any- 
thing more than a dream the hope that the English 
people may one day return to the faith of their 
forefathers. 

More significant are the slow transitions by 
means of which Anglicanism seems to open the 
way for an implicit or public agreement with 
the Church which, in the universal disintegration 
of beliefs, makes the strongest stand for the 
forces of social and theological coherence and 
conservation hierarchy, infallibility, rites and 
dogmas. Ritualism has continued its advance 
within the High Church; its influence has even 
spread over the whole of the clergy; the current 
opinions, the observances accepted at the present 
time in the English Church, tend to distinguish 
the priest from the congregation by a more sacred 
character, to enhance the beauty of the divine 
service by more august gestures and a more visible 
sublimity, to trace back the historical links by 
which Anglicanism is connected with Christian 
origins, to forbid the primary and mysterious 
truths of Revelation to private interpretations. 
Though tapers, incense, the confessional itself, 
admitted into a few churches, are an occasion for 
scandal and rouse bitter hostility, public opinion 
on the whole seems resigned to that necessary 
evolution; for the classes to which the established 
religion appears as an element of order and of the 
national equilibrium are warned, by an obscure 
intuition, of the vital necessity which drives all 



254 MODERN ENGLAND 

ecclesiastical organizations, in a sceptical age, to 
a firmer and more lasting basis than the free 
examination of Scripture. 

The spirit of political authority is grounded on 
these strong foundations : the prestige of the old 
families ; the aristocratic traditions of country 
districts; popular preferences, wherever the new 
impulse of aggressive democracy has not yet made 
itself felt; and middle-class snobbishness, now 
one of the main supports of moral and political 
conservatism. That spirit asserts itself in electoral 
fights and the daily conflict of opinions, as well 
as in the silent pressure of the corporate bodies 
and institutions which cast the future of mankind 
in the mould of the past. The Universities and 
public schools, the army and navy, the Church 
and the patriarchal manners of the provinces, most 
efficiently contribute to that transmission of un- 
conscious energy, through which the vanished 
generations still impose their own discipline upon 
those that follow them. In the public schools, 
instruction and education aim at the formation 
of character and class-feeling; in these schools 
self-respect, the sense of historical continuity and 
of the national inheritance, submission to the 
social hierarchy, and the desire for energy, are 
based on the clear and ever-present notion of 
a natural insuperable difference between men, 
according as they are above' or beneath a certain 
standard of birth, wealth and manners. The 
students' life in the old Universities, proudly 
closed against democracy, against the utilitarian 
application of sciences and, one might almost say, 



THE INTELLECTUAL PROBLEM 255 

against modern culture, is entirely organized so 
as to make them the leaders and supporters of a 
traditional, undisputed order. The old ideal of 
the gentleman, the religious and faultless cham- 
pion of middle-class chivalry, the heir of the feudal 
baron, of the Renaissance courtier, and of the 
puritan citizen, is no doubt somewhat undermined 
at the present time; yet this ideal still prevails 
in the governing classes and in the main centres 
of social education, from which its widely and 
deeply conservative influence radiates over the 
civil service, the law, Parliament, business, and the 
very tone of public life. 

The official proceedings of England are indeed 
instinct with the spirit of the past. Nothing 
savours of the modern notion of a State totally 
independent of religion; every detail in the rites 
of the Court, of Parliament, of the law, is archaic, 
antiquated, fraught with historic associations; 
everything suggests to the eye and the thought 
an ancient greatness, and loyalty to time-conse- 
crated customs. Attire, words, habits, pomp, 
ceremonies and functions; the impressive display 
with which, in London and other large towns, 
imperial or municipal authorities are surrounded; 
the Guildhall, the Houses of Lords and Commons, 
Windsor and the great processions of joy or grief 
which issue from the castle or end there; every- 
thing bears the deep-set stamp of religious faith, 
of respect for the Crown, of the worship of the 
Fatherland. The prayers with which the sittings 
of Parliament begin and end, the earnest, almost 
devout strains of the national anthem, the litanies 



256 MODERN ENGLAND 

which in the divine service call down the ex- 
clusive protection of the British God upon the 
country, the King and his people everything 
impresses on the festivals and the daily occurrences 
of English life a traditional character which the 
anonymous will of the multitude demands, and 
which in its turn reacts on the public sensibility 
as a conservative influence. 

But perhaps the most efficient shape which Eng- 
lish traditionalism, at the present time, assumes 
to defend itself, is Imperialism, which boldly meets 
the attacks of foreign and home foes by taking 
the offensive. As its foreign foes it reckons all 
the nations whose open competition or secret envy 
endangers the greatness, the supremacy, the irre- 
sistible expansion of the Empire; against them, 
against the German gift of hard work and petty 
commercial intelligence; against the futile brag- 
ging and corrupt subtlety of the Latin races; 
against Russian treachery, the barbarousness of 
heathens and of yellow peoples, against American 
boasting, should it forget blood-relationship, the 
imperialist religion extols the divinely appointed 
mission of England; and it calls up the sacred 
guard of British energies, to defend the national 
idea and the institutions which are incorporated 
with it. Its foes at home are the humanitarian 
democrats, the Radical talkers, the pacific dreamers, 
the men of analytical and critical reason. To resist 
them, the patriotism of the Empire makes it a 
duty, for all genuine British souls, to adhere un- 
restrictedly and at once to the beliefs and hierarchy 
which have till now supported English greatness, 



THE INTELLECTUAL PROBLEM 257 

and whose ruin would instantly cause its over- 
throw. 

The imperialist literature advocates the moral 
and intellectual discipline, without which there 
can be no individual worth or collective health. 
The writings of Kipling eloquently and crudely 
appeal to the feelings, passions, and instincts, 
the germs of which, innate in English hearts, 
Carlyle had already developed; but with Kipling, 
idealism has vanished away, or dwindled into the 
outward show of a pharisaic Christianity. The 
revenge of instinct has been stripped of the bright 
halo of generosity which had shone upon its 
mystical youth; seen in its bare realism, it is now 
only the still heart-stirring worship of righting 
energy, hardened against itself as well as against 
the universe, seeking no other beauty than 
courage, no other justice than strength. 

As in religion, politics, education, manners and 
literature, one might easily find the expression 
of traditionalism in the arts. In spite of the 
aesthetic movement started by Ruskin and Morris, 
in spite of the curious and diverging attempts of 
impressionism and symbolism, the art which comes 
nearest to the average sensibility of the race is 
that which simply serves a moral purpose and 
rouses the emotions; and the preferences of the 
English people are still governed by the dear old 
habits, the tastes inherited from the bygone 
generations. From Christmas cards, with their 
artless display of sweet hues and mottoes, there 
breathes a powerful pervading atmosphere of con- 
servatism. In the yearly exhibitions, the most 



258 MODERN ENGLAND 

popular pictures are still those with a sentimental 
subject, the religious and Academic paintings; 
together with sacred music, with Handel's 
oratorios, it is the pathos of drawing-room songs 
which best moves all hearts; and English music 
is still a sapless growth with colourless, scentless 
blossoms. No doubt the influences of modern 
style and of the new hygiene are modifying the 
architecture and decoration of the home; but one 
still commonly finds in wealthy mansions or in 
cottages the same dulness which reveals cheaply 
satisfied artistic instincts, the same craving for 
mere unrefined comfort, the same lack of graceful- 
ness, redeemed by the fresh cleanliness of grass- 
plots, creepers and flower-beds. Blindly following 
the suggestions of its life-force, the nation, in spite 
of all, clings to the main modes of eye and feeling 
which it owes to the past; and it still finds beauty 
as well as truth within the limits laid down for 
ever by a docile sensibility. 



II 

The pragmatist philosophy can be traced to two 
sources; on one hand, it represents an attempt of 
instinctive traditionalism to express and justify 
itself no longer in the sphere of feeling only, but 
in that of reason as well. It thus agrees with the 
general tendency we have pointed out above in 
contemporary England, which leads even the con- 
servative doctrines and preferences to assume more 
conscious and rational forms. Pragmatism may be 



THE INTELLECTUAL PROBLEM 259 

described as a refined theory of empiricism. On 
the other hand, it is derived from the anti-rational 
and mystical reaction which outlived the latter 
half of the nineteenth century, and to which the 
twentieth seems to have imparted greater vitality. 
During the last fifteen years, as everybody knows, 
a more marked movement of opposition to the 
supreme requirements of reason has begun at the 
same time in all the countries of advanced civi- 
lization; religious souls, tender hearts, poetical 
imaginations, tempers craving for faith and anxious 
to preserve their cherished or sacred illusions, 
minds tired out or repelled by the stern discipline 
of thought, have proclaimed the futility of science, 
and disowned the delusive worship of a distressing, 
baleful or ever inaccessible truth. 

The pragmatist philosophy, properly so called, 
is an element of that revival of intuition which 
blooms in all countries, a rich complex mysticism 
in which prevails the haunting intoxication of life. 
It appeared first in America, before it developed 
in England, where it was known as " humanism "; 
but previously, on English ground, between 
Spencer's evolutionism and the contemporary 
reaction, one might have found a transition and 
a sign of the coming change in T. H. Green's 
works. The Oxford philosopher had vigorously 
criticized the sceptical rationalism of Hume and 
of his successors, and had thus opened the way 
for the return to idealism. His apostolic zeal, 
his broad, devout Christian faith can be traced 
in the social movement of the University Settle- 
ments; and this practical active tendency of his 
s 2 



260 MODERN ENGLAND 

doctrine affords sufficient proof of its harmony 
with the essential aims of pragmatism. 

Indeed, pragmatism, all things considered, is 
quite as old as English thought; it gives expres- 
sion to its most characteristic and most ancient 
preferences, and naturally springs from its inner 
growth towards the full light of consciousness. 
Utilitarianism may be regarded as the chief ten- 
dency of that thought; but the so-called utilitarian 
philosophy impoverished and distorted its real 
complexity; so that the no less primitive needs 
of feeling, imagination and faith rebelled against 
this philosophy. Pragmatism attempts to connect 
closely, if not to reconcile, the utilitarianism and 
the idealism between which the English mind had 
been fluctuating for a century; on a utilitarian 
basis it builds up idealistic conclusions; or rather, 
it turns idealistic observances into the means of 
a higher utilitarianism. 

The obstinate search after an indefinable, abso- 
lute scientific truth is as absurd as it is futile; for 
the universe cannot be known by the intelligence 
only; it refuses to comply with the ready-made 
outlines drawn by our logic, and cannot be reduced 
to simple laws. Through the shifting ocean of the 
approximate, the uncertain and the provisional, 
the necessities of action alone lay out safe, lasting 
paths; it is the network of these paths which con- 
stitutes the intellectual geography of the world; 
and the task of human wisdom is to explore and 
follow them all. Science is no doubt one of these 
rough charts allowing us to foresee natural 
sequences. But, though it owes its value to its 



THE INTELLECTUAL PROBLEM 261 

everyday verified applications, it cannot hold good 
outside the field of these particular applications; 
other domains are not ruled by it, lie beyond it. 
Confronting it, in opposition to it, the intuitions 
of the soul remain no less valuable and precious; 
they too are verified every day by facts; and against 
this verification the hostility of logic, ill qualified 
to attack them, is powerless. 

Moreover, had we to make a choice, the method 
of the heart would be the more truly philosophic 
one. The substantial satisfaction afforded by the 
beliefs which give us the greatest power over 
Nature, is more fruitful than the proud enjoyment 
of a would-be harmony between our mind and 
things; and as the most fruitful idea is that which 
serves best the needs of action, it is the truest as 
well : what other criterion of truth is there for 
man, than that which he derives from the con- 
firmations of experience ? Thirsting thenceforward 
for realities and no longer for illusions, philosophy 
shall examine by what incentives the unknowable 
universe meets the gropings of our will to live; 
and each of us shall find truth in the rules, the 
maxims, the faith which can sustain his life. Thus 
sheltered from the withering destructive analyses 
of tyrannous reason, the salutary images of the 
world we owe to tradition, to experience, to old 
moral notions and tried religions, resume all their 
value and their strength; and the philosopher finds 
himself at one with the artless common sense of 
popular conservatism in its instinctive preferences 
and stubborn prepossessions. 

To care only for those truths which derive their 



262 MODERN ENGLAND 

reality from facts themselves, such is the method 
of pragmatism; to care only for the human truths, 
the measure of which is man, such is that of 
humanism; it is easy to recognize in both doctrines 
the same sceptical giving up of the hopes of 
abstract reason, the same utilitarian and realistic 
assertion of the rights of concrete experience. 
These ideas are even more significant than one 
might gather from the way they fare with philo- 
sophers; for they give definite shape to tendencies 
no less widely diffused in England than in 
America. From all intellectual quarters are con- 
verging the elements of a moral atmosphere which 
agrees with them; a synthesis centres round them, 
as round a focus of opposition to the still threaten- 
ing rationalism. If political men, such as Mr. 
Balfour or Mr. Haldane, take to philosophizing, 
their thoughts prove singularly akin to those of 
James and Schiller. If one opens a treatise of 
Christian apologetics or questions an average cul- 
tivated man about his beliefs, one discovers that 
the foundations of faith are to-day in almost every 
case consciously or unconsciously pragmatic argu- 
ments. The explicitly utilitarian table of intel- 
lectual values is now widely accepted; and more 
deeply than exterior influences, it results from 
the spontaneous instinct of temperaments. 

One may say that at the present time most 
Anglo-Saxon minds begin to be chiefly concerned 
with energetics and efficiency. Shrewder, more 
supple and subtle than the old form, this new 
utilitarianism annexes the inner province of feel- 
ings and ideas to the previously conquered 



THE INTELLECTUAL PROBLEM 263 

domains of industry, commerce, politics and com- 
fort; and to the self-interested rules of conduct is 
added a moral hygiene, which aims at discovering 
and replenishing the sources of spiritual energy. 
How to govern one's thoughts in order to enjoy 
moral health; what bent to give one's mental life 
in order to increase its unity, stability, consistency; 
by what means to revive in oneself that wholesome 
joy in the daily work and in its monotony, from 
which optimism and success naturally spring, such 
are the new therapeutics with which physicians, 
pastors, moralists, faith-healers and Christian 
Scientists have enriched the practical thirst for 
knowledge of the modern man. 

The power of influencing oneself is easily 
widened into that of influencing other people; and 
the cultivation of personal magnetism, of char- 
acter and will as weapons in the struggle for life, 
is now part and parcel of practical education. 
Widening still, moral hygiene passes on from an 
individual to a social standpoint; and the sociolo- 
gist, the theologian, the critic, on all occasions 
sacrifice the desire for truth at any price to the 
search after useful untruths, collective illusions 
and salutary fictions. The preference for intel- 
lectual sincerity, and its very notion, are thus 
getting blunted in many minds, whilst an un- 
avowed renunciation of inner candour becomes 
the rule. One easily perceives the connection 
between this universal craving for efficient energy 
and the already mentioned movement which is 
bringing many Englishmen to the search for 
national efficiency. And thus the pragmatist qx 



264 MODERN ENGLAND 

neo-utilitarian tendencies harmonize with the 
rationalist and reforming tendencies opposed to 
them in so many respects. 

But next to that moral hygiene, one may con- 
sider the kindred manifestations of the same intel- 
lectual and active impulse in other provinces of 
national life. The pursuit of health and joy, under 
the guiding influence of feeling and instinct, such 
is the object of the artistic and social currents 
through which Ruskin's aesthetic mysticism still 
diffuses itself. The regeneration of English art 
by a refreshed inspiration and a renewed technique, 
such is the aim of the "Arts' and Crafts" move- 
ment, in which the disciples of Morris earnestly 
devote themselves to adorn with beauty the daily 
surroundings of life; their endeavours have 
already imparted to many English homes a tasteful 
simplicity, an ingenious and sober adjustment of 
ornamental devices to the practical uses of things. 
The "modern" style is a composite and cosmo- 
politan product in which an English origin is yet 
discernible. In sometimes unexpected shapes, a 
return to nature can be traced in it; and this very 
return is the main influence perceptible in many 
other phenomena of collective psychology. 

The development of open-air exercises in Eng- 
land preceded their favour on the Continent; but 
it was a more modern growth than is generally 
believed, and assumed the importance or a social 
feature only in the latter half of the nineteenth 
century. The recent years have witnessed its 
further advance, promoted by the infinitely 
greater facilities of touring. The pursuit of 



THE INTELLECTUAL PROBLEM 265 

physical energy through athletics and fresh air, 
the training of the will through self-imposed 
exertions, are to-day practised by almost all young 
people, in nearly all classes of society. Open-air 
exercises have increased the taste for travelling, 
already encouraged by so many material circum- 
stances and moral influences; and both travelling 
and field diversions have considerably multiplied 
the points of contact between man and wild nature. 
Now, this contact had long been sought for by 
some, pointed out and recommended by others, 
as the necessary means of a social cure, the in- 
strument of an equilibrium that industrial civi- 
lization had destroyed. For a century, the feeling 
of natural scenery had resumed, in English art 
and literature, the place of which it had been, for 
a time, deprived by the rationalism of the classical 
ideal; for half a century, Ruskin's teaching had 
extolled nature as a source of beauty, health and 
happiness. Later on, W. Morris, drawing a 
sketch of the brotherly society of the future, set 
it in the lovely quiet green scenery of the English 
country, restored to its primeval freshness and 
purity. On the other hand, under the influence 
of scientific monism, and religious scepticism, in 
most souls surged the wave of the vague pan- 
theism, at the same time instinctive and meditated, 
in which meet to-day the intelligences and the 
sensibilities of both the Old World and the New. 
Lastly, the boundless extension of towns, the decay 
of agriculture, the regeneration of the race under 
urban conditions, and the painful acuteness of 
labour problems in congested districts, again drew 



266 MODERN ENGLAND 

the attention of all to the agrarian question, and 
directed the hopes of reformers towards the saving 
possibilities held in store by health-giving Mother 
Earth. 

All these causes have brought about in Eng- 
land, during the last twenty years, a powerful 
widespread reaction against the estrangement 
between nature and the sensitive life of man which 
civilization, ever since the Middle Ages, had 
caused to deepen more and more. Various are 
the aspects of that movement; one might point 
out, for instance, the migration of citizens to 
suburban villas, the central districts being entirely 
left to daily business and trade, whilst financiers, 
merchants, mill-owners choose to live out of the 
towns; the "week-ends," which place the country, 
the sea, fresh air within the reach of all; the open- 
ing of " garden cities," with their groves, lawns, 
flower-beds, sheltered from industrial ugliness and 
dirt, which seem to foreshadow the human aggre- 
gates of the future; all the social charities which 
take sickly children away from the towns, give 
them for a while the life of the fields or the moun- 
tain air; and all that " back-to-the-land move- 
ment," the influence of which is felt in municipal 
or national councils. 

Wide avenues are laid out through the old 
quarters, new parks are opened, the planning of 
future towns is supervised by a special law; the 
reviving of agriculture and the reconstitution of 
small holdings are indefatigably pursued; in Eng- 
land and Ireland, farmers are unsparingly granted 
the support of the State to allow them to acquire 



THE INTELLECTUAL PROBLEM 267 

the ownership of their land; loans are made to 
them for long periods; in some cases the expropria- 
tion of absentee or idle landlords is promoted by 
Act of Parliament; and a series of measures, about 
which Liberals and Conservatives find themselves 
at one, have striven, so far not very successfully, 
to call to life again the vanished race of yeomen. 

Pragmatism, a broader and more flexible form 
of utilitarianism, illustrates with remarkable clear- 
ness the direction and nature of a far-reaching 
psychological and social movement, aiming at an 
increase of life by means of energy. As this 
energy in which the vital instinct hopes to find 
health and joy is that of the body, of sensibility, 
of intuition, of faith, one may say that through 
moral hygiene and the return to nature, English 
traditionalism, more conscious and meditated, is 
still expressing itself. On the contrary, it is chiefly 
from the intelligence that rationalism expects 
greater efficiency for the individual or the nation. 



Ill 

The chief movements of contemporary English 
thought are connected together, as is always 
the case, by numberless intermediate shades and 
degrees. The doctrines, the ideas and tendencies 
which are more especially derived from rational 
principles are not necessarily hostile to tradition; 
and even less are they necessarily averse to prac- 
tical ends. It is easy to find a conservative and 



268 MODERN ENGLAND 

traditional element in almost all English rational- 
ists; and the utilitarian tendency, the pursuit of 
efficiency, is essential with almost all of them. 
Thus are determined the individual species of 
those general and abstract types, rarely to be 
found in their unadulterated state. More par- 
ticularly, pragmatism, though it rebels against 
science and reason, is rational, and in some way 
affords a justification of experience; it is recon- 
ciled, it goes without saying, in many minds, with 
vigorous powers of reasoning and an entire sin- 
cerity of thought; and so far as English traditional- 
ism assumes this new shape, it approaches the 
intellectual ideal of definiteness and consistency 
which it had always eagerly opposed. 

It is yet necessary to draw a line between the 
various forms which the traditional spirit may 
assume at the present time and, on the other 
hand, those which are taken by the free search for 
truth or efficiency through a meditated adjustment 
of man to things and things to man. For the 
predominant characteristic of this search is the 
criticism of existing opinions, beliefs and institu- 
tions. Now, the critical mood is essentially repug- 
nant to English conservatism, however willingly 
it may have often consented to correct itself. Ever 
since Burke, the advocates of historical continuity 
have denounced pure rationalism of the French 
type as a tool of destruction and ruin; and even 
more than the clinging to what is, the fear of 
what might be, the dread of a void into which 
society would be hurled body and soul by the 
downfall of order, lies at the root of the hatred 



THE INTELLECTUAL PROBLEM 269 

the average British instinct still feels against 
political, moral and social ideology. 

Therefore rationalism in England, for the last 
three centuries, has had an eventful course, often 
checked, constantly threatened by the aggressive 
reaction of feeling and instinct. In order to live, 
it was obliged to adapt itself to its surroundings; 
and it was for practical ends, on the firm English 
basis of utility, that the greatest movement of 
rational thought, the so-called utilitarian philo- 
sophy, developed in the nineteenth century. In 
the same way, evolutionism is not a metaphysical 
construction, but a hypothesis, grounded on the 
data of science; positivism partly owed its success 
in England to its practical and realistic intentions. 
Leaving out those general doctrines, and such 
foreign influences German or French as may 
have been felt, the spontaneous growth of many 
minds, chiefly among the intellectual elite, has led 
them to adopt the logical agreement of thought 
with things or with itself as a criterion of truth 
more or less systematically adhered to. That 
strange effervescence of the mind which wants to 
understand even before it wants to live, or in 
order to live better, and which submits all ideas, 
institutions and men to a close scientific scrutiny, 
has been aroused in some English brains. One 
might even say that at the present time it is being 
aroused, or tending to be, in an increasing number 
of brains; though the day is yet far off when, as 
Meredith wished, every Englishman will know 
how to chew his provision of ideas. The usual 
course of nature, which introduces variety every- 



270 MODERN ENGLAND 

where, and invalidates the rule by the exception, 
must be held responsible for that differentiation 
of the race; to it must be attributed too, as has 
been seen, the general circumstances of the pre- 
sent, under the influence of which English idio- 
syncrasies come ever nearer the common type of 
industrial and modern civilization. 

The conflict of the critical spirit against religious 
dogmatism is going on in England, as on the 
Continent; it is hardly possible clearly to mark its 
phases. For the exception taken yet by public 
opinion to the open confession of infidelity con- 
ceals the fact that many consciences are silently 
drifting away from their old moorings. Still, in 
spite of the official loyalty of the State, of civil 
life, and literature, to the Christian religion, one 
can perceive a wavering of beliefs, shaken by 
scientific culture, by the new independence of 
thought, by the wish for moral sincerity, and, no 
less, by the eager craving for social justice. The 
close alliance of the forces making for political 
conservation with the Established Church is 
rousing against her the hostility of the democratic 
working class, though English Socialism as a whole 
is far from openly breaking with Christianity; on 
the contrary, everybody knows how frequently the 
Christian Socialist tendency is still to be met with. 

Going by the name of " secularism," free 
thinking progresses among all classes; it possesses 
its own associations and regular means of expres- 
sion. Its real strength, however, dwells in the 
secret adhesion of minds, and in the seeds of 
tolerance, of agnosticism, which the very atmo- 



THE INTELLECTUAL PROBLEM 271 

sphere of modern civilization is laying deep in 
the least conscious intelligences. Prepared by the 
numberless shades and degrees of the Protestant 
religion, already instinct with a spirit of free 
criticism; retarded and allayed by the habits of 
public life and the temper of the race, the evolu- 
tion of the English mind towards purely human 
beliefs promises to be if it is to be at all an 
insensible and very slow transition. 

On the other hand, the various mental attitudes 
which may be the outcome of the rational criticism 
of dogmas are represented in England, though 
not so profusely, perhaps, or so freely as in Ger- 
many and in France. Liberal protestantism has 
many disciples there, and its extreme varieties 
constitute, as elsewhere, a form of religion hardly 
distinguishable from mere morals. A faith in the 
saving virtue of the example set to men by the 
remarkable personality of Christ is the strongest 
and most general element of those now widely 
diffused beliefs; they easily shade off into the 
diverse forms of humanitarianism which in many 
minds has replaced all more definite religion. One 
of the most famous attempts to clear Christianity 
of the charge of irrationality was that of Matthew 
Arnold; the formulae in which his criticism results 
rebuild on the ruins of traditional dogma a kind 
of moral pantheism, according to which the stream 
of tendency making for righteousness in the 
universe and in man's heart becomes the very 
substance of the Divine. More original is George 
Meredith's naturalistic and idealistic pantheism; 
from the cosmic laws embraced by our own mind, 



272 MODERN ENGLAND 

from our contact with Mother Earth, which 
fosters our energy and health, and from the broad 
culture of the most human elements in our beings, 
emanates an ennobling influence through which 
the will of the universe radiates down to us. A 
feeling of respect touched with emotion for 
humanity, for nature, and for duty, either singly 
or combined, such are, then, the chief sources of 
spiritual elevation from which English rationalism 
is willing to draw. 

Lastly, in its most uncompromising shape, it 
rests satisfied with the mere denial of the super- 
natural, and does not indulge in any measure of 
idealistic faith, however guarded. Modern pessi- 
mism, which owes much to the cold vision of a 
world deprived of all finality and justice, has found 
disciples in the traditional home of active opti- 
mism. James Thomson and Thomas Hardy, for 
instance, have expressed in their poems or their 
novels the tragic or calm despair of a mind 
detached from all soothing fiction. This attitude 
is still exceptional; such men are generally, in 
England, characterized by an unshaken equi- 
librium of thought and emotion, to which contri- 
bute their instinctive adaptation to daily life, their 
share of the robust will of the race, and their 
practical devotion to scientific, humane or social 
objects; and yet, such is the resistance of the very 
homogeneous moral atmosphere in opposition to 
which they live and think, that they might have 
been expected to feel very strongly indeed the 
anxiety of intellectual loneliness. 

The rational criticism of the political and social 



THE INTELLECTUAL PROBLEM 273 

order is made, as has been seen, by the various 
Socialist sects and the Radicals; but outside public 
and parliamentary life, there are many thinkers 
who find fault with the ancient foundations of 
modern England. The divorce between the intel- 
ligence and reality is doubtless widening and 
deepening in England; and though there is no 
ground to foresee that a revolution may be its 
final outcome, this separation still can account for 
the quick transition and the crisis the country is 
now undergoing. Needless to say, the reformers 
do not agree in their reconstructive plans; but the 
main lines of their criticisms undeniably converge. 
These fall under three heads : either they 
denounce the unequal distribution of wealth, and 
the unfair social organization; or they take excep- 
tion to this same organization from the point of 
view of its working, and of national efficiency; or 
then, going up to the very source of institutions 
and manners, they point out the weaknesses of 
the traditional English mind, and its imperfect 
adjustment to contemporary civilization. Thus 
the criticism of society finds its necessary com- 
pletion in a criticism of thought and culture. 

Already, with W. Morris, Ruskin's mystical 
Socialism had been strengthened by a more direct 
perception of realities, a more precise economic 
reflection; his Utopia bears the stamp of his rich 
original imagination; his analysis of present con- 
ditions is a relatively objective study. George 
Meredith's acutely penetrating irony criticized the 
hierarchy of classes, the alternate play of the two 
great political parties, the prestige of the aris- 



274 MODERN ENGLAND 

tocracy, the action of public opinion and of the 
Press, the influences which mould public opinion, 
and the general organization of political and social 
justice in England; on the one hand, too much of a 
democrat to accept the existing order, he was on 
the other too much preoccupied with the necessity 
of educating the democracy to expect an immediate 
salvation from the overthrow of that order. The 
intellectual and Fabian Socialism of H. G. Wells 
analyses with unsparing clearness the incurably 
composite character of English society; its ad- 
vanced economic evolution, its half-feudal struc- 
ture ; the power still wielded by the landed 
nobility, the concentration of industrial and com- 
mercial capital in the hands of a plutocracy, and 
the haphazard swarming of the multitudes below 
the standard of human dignity, doomed to an 
incomplete and precarious life. His reforming 
zeal chiefly attacks the conservative and empirical 
routine which interferes with the working of 
nearly all administrative organs ; his scientific 
intelligence perceives the imperfect adaptation of 
institutions to their ends. 

Bernard Shaw's aggressive and uncompromising 
rationalism not only dispels the economic mysteries 
or conventions by which capitalism tries to justify 
itself; it destroys the illusions or fallacies on which 
are based the historical forms of collective life and 
thought property, the family, marriage, patriot- 
ism, the established religion, and morals. Never 
before had the exclusive rights of instinct, experi- 
ence and feeling, affirmed and illustrated by all the 
development of the English people, been denied 



THE INTELLECTUAL PROBLEM 275 

or derided with harsher critical vigour. Coming 
to no precise conclusions, exerting no precise in- 
fluence, for that pitiless dry logic too violently 
clashes with the average requirements of the 
British heart, Shaw's writings do away with all 
the accepted values, if they do not clearly set up 
a table of new values. His fame is chiefly due 
to the exterior merits of his manner; his fortune 
with the elite might be taken as a sign that the 
philosophic, social, moral uncertainties of contem- 
porary thought have more than superficially pene- 
trated into the land of intellectual discipline and 
hereditary beliefs. 

Matthew Arnold had once called on England 
to choose between "anarchy" and " culture"; 
and nicknaming the nobility Barbarians, the 
middle class Philistines, the people a populace, 
he could point no other way to salvation than the 
meditated search after sweetness and light; so the 
more recent critics of English irrationality aim at 
reaching the lasting core of the common psycho- 
logical tendencies, through the external institu- 
tions. Meredith, Wells and Shaw do not stop 
short of criticizing the national culture itself. They 
charge it with granting the intelligence too small 
a share, with clinging to traditional solutions and 
conservative routine, with weakening the critical 
faculties, and encouraging submission to received 
formulae and established untruths. More pre- 
cisely, they seem to perceive an alarming opposi- 
tion between the English mind and the contempor- 
ary exigencies of moral sincerity, of individual and 
collective efficiency. 

T 2 



276 MODERN ENGLAND 

Meredith longed for the day when a versatile 
and free thought would play round those im- 
movable bare pillars, John Bull's beliefs, feelings 
and prejudices. Wells emphasizes the scientific 
character of modern civilization; he foresees the 
peril of a new international competition in which 
the intellectual faculties will play an ever more 
important part; he sketches the picture of the 
society of the future, directed by engineers, elec- 
tricians, chemists, and concludes that English 
empiricism must adapt itself or perish. Shaw 
indefatigably lashes the ruminating self-satisfac- 
tion which British " stupidity " opposes to all 
moral progress; his stinging paradoxes goad the 
robust slow beast, trying to awake, in its lumpish 
body, consciousness through anger. 

What influence have those advocates of intel- 
ligence ? Their action must obviously be limited. 
But it agrees too well with the very conditions 
of contemporary life, and the general evolution of 
modern England, not to be accompanied, if not 
followed, by a pretty wide and deep psychological 
change. The disciples of the " intellectuals " are 
many among the young generation of politicians, 
of administrators, of writers, who give its com- 
posite aspect to the England of to-day; their 
number is likely to increase still further in the 
future. For already education has partly received 
the stamp of the new spirit; it communicates it 
in its turn. The board-schools have been created 
after an almost undenominational and decidedly 
modern pattern; the concentration of powers, the 
unification of methods in secondary schools are 
carried on everywhere; a clear systematic will pre- 



THE INTELLECTUAL PROBLEM 277 

sides over the reform of the inorganic empiricism 
which characterized English public education. 
Technical studies are developed, more attention is 
paid to living languages; the formal classicism 
and the low utilitarianism which shared the domain 
of education between them, are correcting and 
completing each other, and by means of each 
other. The old Universities seem to open more 
widely to the breath of scientific life, and the 
recently created Universities are not loaded with 
the crushing weight of a glorious tradition. 

Above all, industrial operations, the concentra- 
tion of life in towns, the vividness of sensations, 
the eagerness of the struggle, and the diffusion of 
culture, are changing the very temper of the race, 
making it more refined and nervous. The young 
Englishman of the ruling classes, however 
strongly marked he may still be with the here- 
ditary stamp, on many points shares in the in- 
creasing internationalism of ideas and tastes. The 
young workman of the skilled trades, the engineer, 
the constructor of bicycles or motor-cars, the man 
who supervises the machines which spin, weave, 
cut or shape cloths and metals, is naturally en- 
dowed with nervous, intellectual, moral disposi- 
tions different from those of the farmer or field- 
labourer. The " coming man " of Mr. Wells and 
of the Fabians will be less of an Englishman than 
his forefathers were; already at the present time, 
the first appearance of this type is rousing an 
obscure feeling of unlikeness and distrust in the 
instinctive and routine-ridden masses. Whether 
the historic metal of the race proves able to 
abide that unavoidable evolution, or breaks under 

T 3 



278 MODERN ENGLAND 

that unavoidable evolution, or breaks under the 
strain before its completion, the very metal of the 
English race seems to be undergoing a process 
of transformation. 

Meanwhile, the disinterested activities of the 
mind bear witness, too, to that inner change. To 
the critical and rationalist tendencies one can trace 
back the artistic and literary attempts which 
deviate from the traditional preferences of the 
English taste, i. e. sentimentalism, an edifying 
purpose, the predominance of matter over manner. 
Roughly speaking, one might say that French 
influence always answered in England to a swing- 
ing of the national temper towards the intellectual- 
ist pole; more particularly, the influence of French 
art tends to bend English art towards another ideal 
than that which resulted from the spontaneous 
faculties of the race. Now, the literature of Eng- 
land, for about thirty years, seems to have fol- 
lowed closely enough the main phases of that of 
France. The " Parnassian" school of " art for 
art's sake " and objectivity, the Symbolist, the 
decadent and the neo-romantic school, have had 
in England their periods of favour and their repre- 
sentatives in the same order as in France, and, 
as it were, conforming to her example. Such a 
coincidence can as well be accounted for by the 
independent development of the national taste, 
and by the countless European interactions which 
weave the web of artistic life, as by the influence 
of a single country; nevertheless it throws light 
on the psychological evolution of English sensi- 
bility towards new longings, cravings, curiosities 
and needs. 



THE INTELLECTUAL PROBLEM 279 

The publication of Swinburne's first poems 
came as a shock on the British readers; to the 
open admission of sensuous love among the sub- 
jects for analytic poetry, the author added a spirited 
rationalistic inspiration. In spite of all the pro- 
tests of the public taste, one may assert that this 
bold naturalism and this contempt for the religi- 
ous, moral and social conventions which fettered 
art on all sides, have been constantly perceptible 
like a revolutionary vein running through the 
English literature of the last thirty years. The 
mind and the senses are thus, so to speak, slowly 
freeing themselves, encouraged by an awakening 
of the critical spirit and by modern daring. Round 
Swinburne had gathered the "fleshly school" of 
poetry, so called by the reprobation of traditional 
England. The harmless perversity of a Dante 
Gabriel Rossetti was continued and improved upon 
by the aesthetic sect, with whom Ruskin's devout 
worship of the beautiful was mixed with the 
subtle refinements of a decadent morbidity. 

Any one who has been following the subsequent 
course of English literature must needs see that it 
is labouring under the same restlessness as that 
of France; and its various attempts in the direction 
of symbols and the incommunicable, of delicate 
impressions and exquisite sensations, express an 
evolution of taste analogous to that which prevails 
in Germany and France. In the same way, the 
impressionist school of painting points to an 
education of the eye and a progress in nervous 
complexity, on this side of the Channel, which 
are not easily reconcilable with the simple whole- 
some tradition of the great landscape and portrait 



280 MODERN ENGLAND 

painters of the English school. Everything tends 
to suggest that the artistic sensibility of the British 
people is growing more complex, and, at the same 
time, less narrowly national in character. 

It thus shares in the general advance of con- 
sciousness, of analysis and critical reflection. 
For if one goes deeper than the particular traits 
of some rare or audacious endeavours, one finds 
that the very conception of the function of art 
and of its relation to life is growing more com- 
prehensive in those various movements. The 
national tradition considered the beautiful as a 
means for useful emotions; the subordination of 
aesthetics to ethics, the utilitarian notion of art, 
had characterized English literature, painting and 
architecture, since the time of the Puritans. 
Ruskin's doctrine, whilst reviving the worship of 
beauty, had not essentially modified that relation; 
the foundations of his aesthetic creed lie outside 
the domain of art itself. 

On the contrary, the modern idea of the com- 
plete independence of the artist has recently 
gained much ground in England. The writings 
of Meredith, though rife with a manly and noble 
philosophy of life, freely appeal to the investiga- 
tions of thought, like a wide-reaching and subtle 
pursuit of the beautiful through sincerity. Those 
of Hardy constitute an artistic and moral inquiry 
into the picturesque aspects and the psychological 
intricacies of a transitional age, and this inquiry 
dares pursue no other end than itself. Even more 
significant is the admirable and multiform effort 
of R. L. Stevenson, a pure artist, creating 



THE INTELLECTUAL PROBLEM 281 

emotions for the sake of their intrinsic beauty, 
earnestly devoting his powers to style as to the 
wonderful instrument of an intellectual activity 
the virtue of which is inferior to none. So far 
as the present generation is following the example 
of these masters, one may say that the conscious- 
ness of artistic liberty dawns upon modern Eng- 
land as a surer and freer consciousness of herself. 
So the contemporary evolution of English 
thought seems to follow diverging courses; on 
one side, conservatism prepares for a defensive 
fight, and seeks more strength in a reasoned-out 
contempt for reason; on the other side, critical 
rationalism, aided by the needs of the time, slowly 
diffuses itself through facts and ideas. If both are 
progressing, it is because their converts are made 
among the party of mere numbers and over-intel- 
lectual passiveness. It is less and less easy for 
an Englishman to remain unaware of the grounds 
on which he shows hostility or favour to the 
modern spirit of democratic reform and moral 
freedom. Thus it is perhaps possible to perceive 
a general feature in that complex situation; the 
common aspiration after efficient energy unites the 
two great conflicting syntheses in a common effort 
of greater self-knowledge and surer self-posses- 
sion. And thus, too, the social evolution perhaps 
tends to promote the doctrines of rational clear- 
sightedness more than the others; for whatever is 
lost by the unconscious is lost for instinct; and 
whatever consciousness wins is half-won for 
reason. 



CONCLUSION 

THE PRESENT TIME 
DECADENCE OR EVOLUTION 

Such, then, seems to be the condition of con- 
temporary England: that of a nation perhaps 
unimpaired in its greatness, but alarmed, and 
anxiously interrogating itself; of an Empire which 
is being organized after having slowly developed, 
and which progresses from actual existence to self- 
consciousness, whilst the German Empire followed 
a contrary cdurse, from consciousness and desire 
to actual existence. 

No doubt the path England is to follow is not 
so arduous; but dangers of its own beset it. And 
first, will this progress from instinct to intelligence 
be effected ? Will the supple faculty of adaptation 
the race has always displayed prove sufficient when 
the very mode of adaptation must be altered? 
Must an archaic constitution, traditional manners, 
a conservative temperament, be thoroughly modern- 
ized, and will they allow of such a change ? And 
on the other hand, during that necessary transi- 
tion, that prolonged crisis in which the country 
seems now involved, will it, without serious injury, 
resist the agitations of home politics, as well as 
the aggressive competition and hostility of foreign 
countries? Do not ten centuries of a glorious 
history, filled with the triumphs of empiricism, 
forbid to English hopes the era of intense and 

282 



CONCLUSION 283 

scientific civilization into which mankind is rush- 
ing in its now world-wide domain ? Will the fund 
of vitality, of moral and physical strength, the 
English people still can find in itself, allow it to 
vie with younger, better-equipped nations, in the 
very field of industrial and economic activity in 
which its robust genius once ruled supreme? 

Belonging, like France, to the class of the old 
nations which are bent on maintaining their rank, 
and not to that of the new nations which want to 
assert their rights, England has to face the question 
of her decadence. Her own alarms have opened 
it. Behind a front of admirable prosperity, some 
fissures have not escaped the watchful eyes of 
English patriots. The commercial expansion 
brought to a standstill, the compared figures of 
imports and exports, a few defeats in production 
or exchange, the necessity of ever more strenuous 
exertions to keep the positions already won, and 
all such particular facts, may not be of decisive 
importance; the essential point is the loss of that 
industrial supremacy, to which British pride had 
become accustomed ; there again, as in inter- 
national politics, the conception of an equilibrium 
seems to replace that of the ruling power. In the 
division of labour which tends to prevail, English 
workshops seem destined to preserve no other 
advantage in the market of the world than that 
of their geographical situation in Europe, and of 
coal and iron fields so far inexhaustible. But no 
unique gift in her children, no inimitable superior- 
ity in art, or practical cleverness, promises England 
a privileged situation in the economic develop- 
ment of the future against the merciless laws of 



284 MODERN ENGLAND 

competition. And the rise of new Imperialisms, 
hostile to her own, the advance of German ambi- 
tion, the inevitable pressure which drives the flood 
of German strength, dammed up in Europe, to- 
wards the outlet of the sea and the colonies, the 
duel fought with millions between the navies of 
the two countries, have shifted the maritime 
supremacy of the British people, from the range 
of unquestioned commonplaces, to that of dis- 
puted facts, which cannot hold their ground with- 
out a contest. 

Liberals as well as Unionists give orders for the 
construction of formidable " Dreadnoughts," and 
the English navy will probably keep, for a few 
more years, the margin of superiority considered 
indispensable for the safety of the Empire. 
Courageously, the burden of militarism is accepted 
by a nation formerly averse to it; conscription 
is among the possibilities of the near future. The 
territorial forces are reorganized and undergo 
serious training ; whatever in recent inventions 
may be turned to use for national defence sub- 
marines, airships, flying machines is being 
eagerly studied, tried, utilized; quickly and eagerly 
alive to any danger threatening her safety, Eng- 
land stands and will stand in an ever more energetic 
attitude of combative defence against possible 
attacks, by many deemed probable, by many un- 
avoidable. But the dire dream of an Anglo- 
German war, in which naval supremacy and the 
fate of the Empire would be at stake, broods only 
like an impending shadow over the confines of the 
future; that incalculable issue cannot be taken into 
account in an estimate of the present. 



CONCLUSION 285 

Meanwhile, a political crisis only too real has 
begun, the final dutcome of which remains doubt- 
ful. After the 19 10 elections, and the incomplete 
victory of the Liberals, a temporary settlement of 
the constitutional difficulties will, no doubt, be 
effected; but will the problem raised be thus 
solved ? If the democracy, conscious of its greater 
strength and putting forth new claims, comes into 
collision with the very fabric of the English con- 
stitution, if the forms of the past can no longer 
comply with its wishes, it is the era of radical re- 
casting which will perhaps begin, after that of 
readjustments. The threats of the Liberals against 
the House of Lords are met by the bold tactics of 
the Unionist party; on one side, the supremacy of 
the Commons; on the other, the referendum. 
Like Ireland, Scotland and Wales are now demand- 
ing some degree of self-government; the tendency 
to separation lies dormant at the core of British 
unity; will the federative ideal which radiates from 
the heart to the extremities of the Empire ebb 
back innocuously from the extremities to the heart ? 
In the old " United Kingdom of Great Britain and 
Ireland," will the Home Rule of each portion, if it 
is ever realized, be compatible with the harmony 
of the whole ? Moreover, will not a social organ- 
ization in which the property of land is concen- 
trated among a few thousand owners, in which 
extreme wealth and extreme poverty everywhere 
confront each other, ultimately prove less stable, 
in spite of appearances, than that of a country like 
France, in which riches are better distributed, and 
where agriculture is still the most important 
industry ? 



286 MODERN ENGLAND 

And the sociologist, the moralist, scrutinizing 
national life, discern in it symptoms of decay and 
fatigue. The birth-rate, for instance, formerly 
very high, is now slowly but regularly falling; 
England must face the decline of that source of 
strength which lies in numbers, whilst the enjoy- 
ment of a recently acquired wealth has not yet 
impaired German fecundity. Then, in the urban 
centres where everything degenerates, signs are 
perceptible which point to some weakening of the 
race : such are the lowering of the average height 
among the London-born recruits; the stunted, 
wasted appearance of young people in the East- 
end and in many industrial towns; the new ner- 
vousness preying upon that famous stolid stub- 
bornness, an essential trait in John Bull's moral 
physiognomy; have not the English mobs, the 
audiences of music halls, the crowds of Mafeking 
day and night, lost the dignity of an Imperial 
people by becoming an Imperialist one? Whilst 
the teaching of defeat, and the desire for energy, 
have instilled a temper of cool calculation into so 
many Frenchmen, does it not look as if French 
excitability had now crossed the Channel? And 
that indefatigable initiative, that conquering 
ardour, that intoxicating life and activity and 
pride, which have won half the world for the 
fleets and the merchants of England, are they not 
seen to flag, to degenerate into a preference for 
cheaply bought successes, for self-indulgence, for 
the routine of mechanical effort, for the slow 
methods of administrative inertia? How can it 
be that English trade, in its conflict with German 
competition, should bear the burden of the same 



CONCLUSION 287 

faults which, for a long time, caused the inferiority 
of French as compared with British trade ? 

Such are the painful questions consciousness will 
naturally ask itself, at the pessimistic hour when 
it takes the place of instinct. These symptoms 
are certainly not to be overlooked; but what nation 
with a long civilized past does not offer signs of 
a similar or even worse kind? And is not the 
increasing strain of modern life obviously level- 
ling, as under the same weight of fatigue, all 
nations, both young and old? As a counterpart, 
how could we forget the manifold universal effort 
of English energy to assert itself again, and not to 
decay r In the task of military defence, there are 
very few who refuse to co-operate; to the task of 
economic defence, all unanimously bend their wills. 
Either by traditional instruments, the instinctive 
disciplines, the hierarchies of the past, the historic 
authorities, or by the new means, the fresh 
resources which science and intelligence can supply, 
conservatives, pragmatists and rationalists jointly 
work to maintain, to strengthen the body of moral 
forces on which the greatness of England rests. 

In all orders of collective activity, the social 
fruits of that solidarity, which the diversity of 
opinions and beliefs is powerless to destroy, are 
still among the finest, the most hopeful this earth 
can show. Such are an unrivalled system of 
philanthropic laws, the recently instituted old age 
pensions, the war resolutely waged against un- 
employment, the laws relating to agriculture, the 
experiments of municipal Socialism, the extension 
of some political rights to women, perhaps at no 
distant date their final enfranchisement. Such are, 



288 MODERN ENGLAND 

again, the feeling of duty, the everyday courage, 
the public spirit, the devotion to all glorious or 
obscure tasks, which still make up, at home or 
under distant skies, the proud and stoical virtue, 
the physical stamina and moral fibre of so many 
servants of the Empire. If the will to live is the 
safest source of life, English vitality does not seem 
seriously undermined. 

Will England consent, will she be able, to 
undergo without injury the social and psycho- 
logical transformations which seem to be demanded 
by international competition? Will her empiri- 
cism know how to rise above itself, and fearlessly 
to enter the higher sphere of meditated readjust- 
ments, without losing the benefit of its blind and 
groping infallibility? Or, stiffening in the rigid 
mould of her hereditary genius, will she, in spite 
of all, perpetuate in our old Europe the belated 
but achieved type of pre-scientific civilization? 
Between these two extremes, no doubt the wisdom 
of England will strike a middle course. The 
necessity of modernizing her institutions and her 
mind does not press upon her like a simple and 
immediate force; it is one of those slow, continu- 
ous, undefined, diffused pressures, with which life 
and history are familiar, whose countless com- 
posing forces allow of countless diverse reactions. 
England will succeed, no doubt, in yielding to it 
enough, without yielding to it always, to remain 
herself, and to open for herself new destinies. 



GENERAL INDEX 



America, 174, 187, 240, 259, 

262 
Angelico, Fra, 143 
Anne, Queen, 131 
Apprentices, Statute of, 47 
Arnold, Matthew, 80, 178,271, 

275 
Ashley, Lord, 147, 148 
Asia, 174 

Asquith Ministry, 15 
Australia, 198, 244, 245, 246 

Bacon, 35, 36 

Balfour, Mr., 197, 262 

Ballot Act (1872), 77 

Baur, 60 

Bentham, 35, 37, 38, 39, 4, 43, 

100 
Birmingham, 30 
Boers, 244 

Boer War, 209, 227, 245 
Booth, Charles, 202 
Boulton, 21 
Bright, 48, 49 
Bristol Riots (1 831), 67 
Browning, II, 171, 172 
Budget of 1909, 15 
Burke, 19, 52, 118, 268 
Burne-Jones, 144 
Butler, 59 

Cambridge, 80 

Canada, 198, 244, 245 

Carlyle, II, 84,85,91, 109, no, 
in, 112, 113, 115, 118, 119, 
120, 136, 137, 14I1 H3, 144, 
147, 165, 168, 175, 178, 257 



Chamberlain, Mr., 197 
Christ, Life of 61 
Civil War, The, 166 
Cobden, 48, 49, 79 
Colenso, Bishop, 63 
Coleridge, no 
Combination Laws, 47 
Commons, House of, 1 5, 66, 70, 

71, 212, 215, 219, 231, 234, 

255, 285 
Commonwealth, The, 58, 166 
Comte, Auguste, 42, 61 
Co-operative Society of the 

Rochdale Pioneers, 157 
Corn Laws, 49 

Crimean War (1854-5), 88, 176 
Crompton, 21 
Cromwell, 173 

Darwin, 51, 52,53,55,56,239 

Denmark, 187 

Descartes, 36 

Dickens, Charles, 73, 85, 86, 87 

Disraeli, 70,71,72,78, 170, 177 

Dorchester Labourers, 157 

Education, Board of, 80 
Edward VII, 10, 72 
Egypt, 247 
Eliot, George, 61, 85, 86, 170, 

172 
Elizabeth, Queen, 76, 130, 173 
Engineers, Association of, 157 
Essays and Reviews, 63 
Eyre, Governor, 177 

Fabian Society, 208 



289 



290 



GENERAL INDEX 



Factory Acts, The, 148 

Fichte, no 

Fielden, 147 

Fielding, 73 

Fox, 71 

France, 2, 36, 54, 63, 207, 271, 

279, 283, 285 
Froude, 123 

Gaskell, Mrs., 170 
George I, 173 
George II, 173 
George III, 173 
George IV, 173 
George, Henry, 205, 206 
George, Lloyd, Mr., 233 
Germany, 12, 58, 63, 79, 84, 

187, 198, 279, 282 
Gladstone, 71, 79, 219, 220, 221 
Glasgow, 2 1 1 
Godwin, 37 
Green, T. H., 259 
Guildhall, 255 

Haldane, Lord, 262 

Handel, 258 

Hardy, 74 

Harrison, Frederic, 61 

Hodgskin, 108 

Holland, 187 

Hull Congress (1908), 215 

Hume, 36, 39, 259 

Huskisson, jy 

Huxley, 61 

India, 247 

Indian Mutiny (1857), 174, 176 
International Labourers' Asso- 
ciation, 207 
Ireland, 3, 224, 285 

James, 262 
Jean-Paul, no 
Jowett, 62 

Kant, no, 117 
Keble, John, 123 



Kingsley, 62, 63, 118, 147, 170, 

175, 176 
Kipling, 257 

Labour Representation Com- 
mittee, 214 

Lamarck, 53 1 

Lancashire, 23, 188 

Land Nationalization League, 
602 

Land Restoration League, 206 

Leeds, 30 

Lewes, 61 

Liverpool, 30 

Locke, 35, 36 

London, 26, 30, 107, 131, 211, 

255 
London, University of, 80 
Lords, House of, 15,66,71,94, 

124, 143, 214, 219, 231, 232, 

234, 255, 285 

MacCulloch, 44 

Malthus, 44, 46, 51, 76, 101 

Manchester, 30, 41, 43, 47, 4&, 

49, 5o, 57, 107, 174,211,230 
Manning, Cardinal, 129 
Marx, 45, 205, 206, 207, 209 
Matthew, Father, 155 
Maurice, F. D., 62, 63, 118, 170 
Melbourne Ministry, 71 
Meredith, George, 74, 270, 272, 

274, 275, 276, 280 
Millais, 144 
Mill, James, 39, 41, 44 
Mill, John Stuart, 1 1, 41, 42, 44, 

61, 119, 120, 209 
Mines Act, The, 148 
Morris, W., 145, 168, 172, 257, 

265, 273 
Municipal Corporations Act, 

(i835), 76 

Napoleon, 49 
Navigation Act, 78 
Newcastle, 30 



GENERAL INDEX 



291 



Newman, 11, 84, 124, 125, 126, 

127, 169 
New Zealand, 245, 246 
Normandy, 187 

Oxford, 59, 60, 80, 121, 122, 
123, 126, 130, 136, 165 

Oxford, St. Mary's Church, 
126 

Owen, 108, 157 

Paine, 37 

Paley, 59 

Palmer, 123 

Parliamentary Bill, 15 

Peel, 78 

Percival, 123 

Permanent Committee of Hy- 
giene, 155 

Pitt, 71 

Pius IX, Pope, 129 

Poor Law, 47 

Poor Law, The New (1834), 76, 
106 

Priestley, 36, 39 

Principles of Political Econ- 
omy, 119 

Printers' Unions, 157 

Pusey, 123 

Renaissance, The, 36 
Reform Act (1832), 65, 66, 73, 

74, 76, 218, 232 
Reform Act (1867), 65, 66 
Reform Act (1884), 65, 66, 72, 

77, in 
Revolution, French, 37, 166 
Ricardo, 43, 51, 120, 140, 157, 

206 
Rose, 123 
Rossetti, Dante Gabriel, 144, 

172, 279 
Ruskin, 1 1, 84, 85, 91, 134, 136, 

139, 140, 141, 143, 144, 165, 

168, 169, 176, 178, 251, 264, 

265, 273 
Russia, 240 



Sadler, 147 

Salisbury Ministry, 221 

Sartor Resartus, 1 1 1 

Schiller, 262 

Scotland, 3, 285 

Scott, 144 

Senior, Nassau, 44 

Settlement, Law of, 47 

Shaw, Bernard, 274, 275, 276 

Smith, Adam, 36, 42, 44 

Social Democratic Federation, 

207,212,215 
South Africa, 198, 244, 245 
Spencer, Herbert, 54, 55, 56, 

57, 58, 61 
Staffordshire, 23 
Stanley, 62 
Stevenson, R. L., 281 
Stones of Venice, 143 
Strauss, 60 
Swinburne, 172, 279 

Taine, 81 

Ten Hours Bill, 149 

Tennyson, 85, 171 

Thackeray, 73, 85, 86, 87, 170 

Thompson, 108 

Trades' Councils, 158 

Turner, J. M. W., 138 

United States of America, 12 
University Settlements, 260 

Venice, 138 

Victoria, Queen, 9, 13, 47, 72, 
73, 155, 166, 177 

Wales, 3, 285 

Waterloo, Battle of, 9, 37, 74, 

166, 174 
Watt, 21 

Wells, H. G., 274, 275, 276, 277 
Wesley, 121 
William IV, 71 
Windsor, 255 
Workshop Regulation Act, 151 

Yorkshire, 23, 188 



INDEX TO DATES 

1 8 19. Law prohibiting admission of Children under nine into 

Spinning Mills, 147 
1828. Abolition of Test Act, 75 
1 83 1. Bristol Riots, 67 

1 83 1. Factory Act, 148 

1832. First Reform Act, 65, 66, 67 

1833. Factory Act, 148 

1833. First Grant of Money for Schools, 79 

1833. Ten Anglican Sees suppressed in Ireland, 80 

1834. Dismissal of Melbourne Ministry by William IV, 71 

1834. The New Poor Law, 76, 106 

1835. Cock-fighting and Bear-baiting prohibited in the streets, 154 
1835. Municipal Corporations Act, 76 

1835. "Pressing" of Sailors abolished, 154 

1839. Grant of Money for Schools increased, 79 

1840. Duelling dropped, 154 

1840-5. General Inquiry about Labour, 148 

1842. The Mines Act, 148 

1844. Co-operative Society of the Rochdale Pioneers founded, 1 57 

1844. Duelling prohibited amongst Officers, 154 

1844. Factory Act, 148 

1845. Lunatic Asylums submitted to control of the State, 153 

1846. Abolition of Corn Laws, 78 

1847. Ten Hours Bill passed, 149 

1848. Permanent Committee of Hygiene created, 155 

1849. Abolition of Navigation Act, 78 

1 85 1. Association of Engineers founded, 157 

185 1. Bill Passed for Improvement of Working-men's Houses, 1 55 

1854-5. Crimean War, 88, 176 

1857. Indian Mutiny, 174, 176 

i860. Lords attempted to modify a Finance Bill, 71 

1 86 1. Trades' Councils, 158 

1 86 1 -6. Second General Inquiry on Employment of Children, 150 

1867. Second Reform Act, 65, 66, 69 

1867. Workshop Regulation Act, 151 

1868. The Case of Governor Eyre, 177 

1868. First Trade Union Congress held, 158 

1869. Irish Branch of English Church disestablished, 80 

1 87 1. Abolition of Purchase of Military Commissions, 77 

1872. Ballot Act, 77 

1876. Report Published by New Commission, 151 

1877. Queen Victoria proclaimed Empress of India at Delhi, 177 
1884. Third Reform Act, 65, 66 

1886. Inquiry of Charles Booth undertaken, 202 
1888. Creation of County Councils, 77 
1908, Hull Congress, 215 



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